Enchanted Skies


Galaxies M81 and M82 (imaged near Fort Davis, TX)

M81 and M82 Map of the Region near M81 and M82


Object Information                                            Imaging Details

M81 and M82 are two splendid galaxies in the Northern sky. The pair are only about 12 million light years distant from Earth so are practically in our celestial backyard. In fact, with the exception of the Sculptor Group, the M81 group is the closest group of galaxies to our own local group. M81 (aka Bode's Galaxy) is about the size of our Milky Way. M82 (aka the Cigar Galaxy) is about half as large.

The galaxy pair is easily located by drawing a line from Phecda through Dubhe in Ursa Major (or the Big Dipper). M81/M82 is about as far from Dubhe as is Phecda. At magnitude 7.9, M81 is easily spotted using binoculars or any telescope. M82 is somewhat less bright (mag 9.3), but still easily spotted with a small telescope. Larger aperture scopes bring out additional detail.

This image was taken at the 2006 Texas Star Party. Transparency was good; seeing was moderate. Galaxy PGC 29146 is visible in the upper right of the above image.

Clicking the above image will bring up a wider field and slightly higher resoltuion image. Placing the curser over the map (or clicking the map) gives a more detailed image of the location of the galaxies.


Orion ED80

Canon 300D (type 1 modified)
Misc. Optics:
Williams Optics 0.8x reducer/field flattener
28 x 4 minutes @ ISO 800
ED80 piggybacked atop an ATP wedge-mounted Celestron NexStar GPS11. Guiding performed with GuideDog using a ToUCam.
Images aligned and stacked in Photoshop CS. Curves/levels adjustments with Photoshop CS. Noise reduction performed with Noise Ninja.

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Enchanted Skies - Astrophotography by Rich Richins (all images copyright, Rich Richins)