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M101 is popularly known as the Pinwheel Galaxy for obvious reasons. It is a face-on spiral galaxy that lives in Ursa Major.

It has an apparent size of just under 0.5 degrees by 0.5 degrees, just smaller than the full moon appears but at 20 million light years away it is one big galaxy! According to Wikipedia it is estimated to have one trillion stars (this is where you get to imagine Dr. Evil saying “one trillion stars”).

This project spanned two years. It was started in the early summer of 2020 in Loudoun County but I ran out of time before I had enough data. I picked up on it in late winter of 2021 from our new location in the Shenandoah Valley. This was a move from Bortle 7 to 4 so the sky is quite a bit darker.

This was a long integration at a bit over 31 hours and the extra time was quite helpful. The amount of detail the small 80mm refractor is able to capture is amazing. I’m hoping to purchase a larger refractor this year but this little Stellarvue refractor has never let me down.

You can find all the technical details at astrobin.

5 replies »

  1. An impressive project and continued success
    in the implementation and in the expansion of the instruments.
    Best regards, Thomas


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