Two Famous Galaxies
Messier Designation: M 81 / M 82
Constellation: Ursa Maior - The Bear


These are probably king and queen of the early spring's skyscape. Forming the center of the M 81 galaxy group, the two galaxies belong to the brightest extragalactic objects beyond our local group members M 31 and M 33. As M 81 was discovered in the late 18th century by Johann Bode, it is sometimes called "Bode's Galaxy". The pair is considerable different in nature. M 81 is a giant spiral in which you may discover tiny knots and beads representing areas in which vivid star formation occurs. But this is fairly within what astronomers would expect from a spiral galaxy like this. M82 in turn is a very peculiar galaxy. Detailed pictures taken with research equipment reveal the signs of an outburst probably fuelled by a central supermassive black hole. I my picture, you can guess the unusual nature of M 82 from the odd dark streaks through the center of the galaxy.

North is to the right.

I took this 3hr36min picture under extremely difficult conditions. In the -4C night thick frost covered nearly everything except the optical components, that were to some extent protected by the dew tubes. I had colder nights out there on the mountain, but this was some of the most difficult conditions I ever had.


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