I once spent hours with my 12″ Meade LX 200 trying to visually spot this galaxy. Located near the Big Dipper, I thought for sure I would be able to find it since all the pictures I had seen were always so big and detailed. Freezing cold, and still with no sightings, I packed up and came back inside pondering what I was doing wrong. Of course, what I did wrong was expect to find a big vibrant picture of “obviously there it is”. Visually this galaxy is extremely boring and looks like nothing more than a slightly less pinpoint star than usual. No dust trails. No brilliant blue-ness.

It’s proximity to the North Celestial Pole also makes this target heavily subjected to field rotation even with short exposures. Using a f/6.3 focal reducer on the CPC 1100 even 15 second exposures will show rotation on the outside of the field!  So, I took a different approach the other night and got a pretty nice image:

M101, The Pinwheel Galaxy

M101, The Pinwheel Galaxy

This image is a heavily cropped image from the Televue NP101is on CGEM.  10 frames at 60 seconds each, processed in MaximDL.  Of course, the huge field of view from this scope needs to be cropped down and shows a more timid appearance — but splendid nonetheless.

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