Enchanted Skies


Supernova SN2005cs in M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy

Supernova in M51 Map of region near M51


Object Information                                            Imaging Details

Supernovae are among the most spectacular events in the universe (so long as you're not close to one). They occur when a star of at least a few solar masses depletes its usable nuclear fuel in its core. With no outward pressure supplied by fusion, the Iron core collapses into either a neutron star or a black hole. The surrounding layers first begin to collapse, then rebound outward in a huge explosion that can briefly produce as much light and energy as an entire galaxy. SN2005cs occured in M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy) was was clearly visible in an 8" telescope.

M51 lies just a few degrees from Alkaid, the bright star at the end of the Big Dipper's Handle, so it's fairly easy to find. At magnitude 10.15, it requires a small telescope or large binoculars to see. Structure becomes apparent only in larger aperture scopes.

This image was taken from ASLC's 'Upham' darksky site on July 2, 2005 a few days after the supernova was reported.

Orion ED80 (prime focus)
Canon 300D
Misc. Optics:
2 x 5 min., 2 x 4 min., 2 x 3 min. @ ISO 800
ED80 piggybacked atop an Celestron Heavy-Duty wedge-mounted Celestron NexStar GPS11. Autoguiding performed with GuideDog using a ToUCam.
Images aligned and stacked in Photoshop CS. Curves/levels adjustments with Photoshop CS.

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