Saturday, April 20, 2013

M81 & M82

Last week, I attempted to capture an image for the beautiful galaxy pair M81 & M82 in the constellation of Ursa Major. Since I live in a heavily light polluted city in Kuwait, I knew that broadband imaging is quite challenging, and was quite shocked when I found out that the background level due to light pollution noise cuts half the dynamic range of the CCD!

So even after processing, I ended up with a quite poor image:

So I decided to pick my gear, and head to AlSalmy, which is an isolated desert area northwest of Kuwait. While the skies there are not as dark as I'd like it to be, it's the best thing we have in Kuwait, for the time being at least as I'm pretty sure light pollution will ruin it within a decade or less. The trip was well worth the effort, and despite a waxing gibbous moon that lured close to the zenith, the background noise was substantially better than the inner city, no surprises here.

Here is the final image, taken with Ekos, and processed with PixInsight.

Lum: 8x240
Red: 5x240
Green: 5x240
Blue: 5x240