Messier 1 (HOS)

This is the second time I’ve imaged M1. The first was using a friend’s equipment in West Virginia back in 2021, just under two years prior. I hadn’t intended to revisit it but the team I’m a part of at SRO decided they wanted to allocate some time to M1 and I figured it would be a chance for me to explore an old friend in a new way. There were some advantages to the new attempt. The image scale is much finer at 0.72 arcseconds/pixel vs. 1.1. This should allow for capturing finer details. The number of clear nights at SRO also allowed for dedicating more time to it than was possible in West Virginia. We ended up with three times as much data and it turned out to be a very worthwhile redo for me!

M1 is better known as the Crab Nebula and it really can at least vaguely resemble a crab in the eyepiece. However, even small telescopes capture enough detail to shatter the crab illusion. However, what we are left with gives us a view into one of the most cataclysmic events in the universe: a supernova. Or, more properly the remains of a supernova. M1. The star went supernova in 1054 and nearly one thousand years later, the remnants remain. They nebula is expanding over time. This has actually be measured and is obvious over the scale of a human lifetime. The supernova that generated M1 was actually the first documented supernova. it was recorded by Chinese astronomers. For a few days the star was so bright it was actually still visible in the day. This was from a distance of about 6,500 light years!

The nebula is still fairly small as scene from Earth. It’s width in the longest dimension is only about 7 arcminutes or about ¼ as wide as the full moon. That makes it a fairly challenging nebula to image. Even though it’s relatively close it is small and that means that it’s hard for amateur equipment to resolve a lot of detail. Thankfully, amateur equipment has become quite good and modern cameras combined with good optics riding on a good mount can do remarkable work!

If you would like all the technical details, see the astrobin.

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