20120506

Now, I am become astrophotographer, the painter of worlds.

And here it finally is - my first ever real astrophotography image! It was made with a Takahashi TOA-150 refractor telescope located in New Mexico, courtesy of iTelescope.Net, an open-to-public network of telescopes connected via the Internet. I think this is a beautiful idea, to let people who do not own a professional telescope to use one of your own. Of course, you have to pay if you want to use other telescopes and make longer exposures, but since it's a self-funding and nonprofit organization, that is more than fair, I believe. Anyhow, lo and behold: a 10 minute exposure of M51, also known as the Whirlpool Galaxy, a spiral galaxy approx. 25 million light-years away, and NGC 5195, a dwarf galaxy interacting with it. Located in the constellation Canes Venatici, or 'hunting dogs', these two galaxies are one of the most famous interacting galaxy pairs, according to Wikipedia (and a quick Google search). And now I have a personal portrait of them, too!
Click to embiggen.
Now, I know pretty much absolutely nothing about the post-processing in astrophotography, so you may notice this image is also an original, unedited one. That will change, I promise. Got any tips about what programs and/or processes to use? Leave them in the comments, and help a young newcomer. I will be very thankful. :)

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