The Andromeda Galaxy by abirkill

The Andromeda Galaxy

Here's a photo I took on Thursday night with an early birthday present I bought myself, an equatorial mount. This is a motorised mount that rotates at precisely the same speed as the Earth, but in the opposite direction. When correctly set up (it needs to be aligned extremely precisely), it allows the camera to track the stars as they move across the sky.

This is a photo of the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31. This galaxy is about 2.5 million light years from Earth (which means, of course, that we're seeing it as it looked 2.5 million years ago), and is estimated to contain one trillion stars, at least twice the number in the Milky Way.

The galaxy is visible with the naked eye in good viewing conditions, and often shows up in my wide angle night sky photography, so it was a good target to test out the new tracking mount with. The nucleus, which looks like one big star here, is actually a dense cluster of stars, from which emerge the spiral arms of the galaxy. The different colours show stars in different stages of their lifetime.

The Andromeda galaxy is moving towards the Milky Way and they are expected to collide in a little under four billion years, eventually forming a single galaxy.

This shot is made up of 60 photos taken at 550mm, f/6.3, ISO 5000, for 30 seconds each, stacked using DeepSkyStacker (a total of about 30 minutes of exposure). I'm pretty pleased for a first attempt, especially as I don't really know what I'm doing!

Click to view on a black background for best effect!
Incredible -- instant fav. WOW! Magical.
November 16th, 2014  
Amazing! FAV.
November 16th, 2014  
Wow, literally "out of this world" Alexis. Your dialogue is so intriguing and informative too. Thank you for sharing. One big fav.
November 16th, 2014  
Fabulous image!bAstro photos are my favorites! Are you using an auto guider? It allows you to track more accurately so the stars are rounder.
November 16th, 2014  
What can one say. Fav
November 16th, 2014  
Fav!
November 16th, 2014  
Absolutely amazing
November 16th, 2014  
This is very cool. Now I want that toy too.
November 16th, 2014  
I agree AMAZING A Fav
November 16th, 2014  
Amazing! Fav
November 16th, 2014  
Wow! Fabulous
November 16th, 2014  
Probably the best image I have ever seen. Amazing.
November 16th, 2014  
And of coursr, FAV.
November 16th, 2014  
I never thought your photography could get even better but this is mind blowing! So beautiful! Absolutely breathtaking! Huge Fav!
November 16th, 2014  
Fantastic and amazing. My old friend Sir Patrick Moore would have been impressed. Fav.
November 16th, 2014  
Fantastic, you've exceeded the best you've ever posted. Fav seems inadequate.
November 16th, 2014  
Wow. We really are on a spaceship cruising through the universe.... Fav
November 16th, 2014  
Fab. Out of this world ! Fav
November 16th, 2014  
Wow Alexis, that is such a cool birthday present! Didn't know the existence of it but wow, what an amazing shot! Instant fav!
November 16th, 2014  
Wow - amazing!
November 16th, 2014  
Wow! Simply amazing! And as for a first attempt .... words fail me! Instant fav.
November 16th, 2014  
Great shot!
November 16th, 2014  
WOW!!FAV!!!
November 16th, 2014  
Just wow, I learned so much from your information that I had no idea about. Fav
November 16th, 2014  
How amazing to be able to take a shot like that! Fantastic, spectacular result. Fav!
November 16th, 2014  
Even Mrs J said this was lovely and it's hard to get her interested in photos. FAV!
November 16th, 2014  
Spectacular, awe-inspiring photography and superbly explained narrative. A big fav. That should be quite a show in four billion years! Too bad we won't be around to see it :)
November 16th, 2014  
Happy Birthday! Fav! And I can't wait to see what you come up with when you've figured out how to use the thing properly ;p
November 16th, 2014  
I agree with @pamknowler ! Just amazing!!!
November 16th, 2014  
This is totally awesome! It's my birthday today and I wish I could have a birthday present like this!
November 16th, 2014  
Big FAV
November 16th, 2014  
All I can say is "Wow," and it sounds to me like you know what you are doing :) fav.
November 16th, 2014  
This image really blows me away. You could post a space image everyday and I'll never tire of it. (hint, hint!!!!!!)
November 16th, 2014  
Well that's just the coolest thing ever!! This is awesome and I can't wait to see what else you get from it!
November 16th, 2014  
Look like you nailed it to me.... WOW what a talent you possess
November 16th, 2014  
M32 is one of the skies most beautiful objects and you have done a great job of bringing it's splendor to us.
November 16th, 2014  
You keep getting more and more fabulous night sky shots. This is over the top
November 16th, 2014  
Amazing is the first word that comes to mind, even if so many others said it first! fav
November 16th, 2014  
Cool shot
November 16th, 2014  
Wow! I am seriously impressed. This is a stunning display of your talent. Fav.
November 16th, 2014  
WOAH! Gorgeous! And your first attempt? Amazing. Simply amazing. And an absolute FAV!
November 16th, 2014  
I'll wait till you do know what you are doing ;)
November 16th, 2014  
OMG THIS IS AMAZING
November 16th, 2014  
#sojealous ;)
November 16th, 2014  
Wow, amazing
November 16th, 2014  
Wow oh wow oh wow! fav
Alexis, another beautiful capture- something spectacular which I needed to see today to lift my spirits. Your photos always inspire me.
November 16th, 2014  
Pam
Amazing!
November 16th, 2014  
This is just incredible! Fav!
November 16th, 2014  
AWESOME!!
November 16th, 2014  
OMG Incredible fav
November 16th, 2014  
Wow!! Super talent. FAV
November 16th, 2014  
Wow! Fav!
November 17th, 2014  
Wonderful and magical. Fav
November 17th, 2014  
Out of this world-fav!!
November 17th, 2014  
And we are stardust, not to be cut off from the stars. ~ Rilke ~ Fav.
November 17th, 2014  
Lee
Incredible shot Alexis.
November 17th, 2014  
Brilliant - fav
November 17th, 2014  
Spectacular - fav
November 17th, 2014  
Wow, simply amazing. You are seriously talented! Fav
November 17th, 2014  
You don't know what you are doing. Well not bad for a beginner then. Fav.
November 17th, 2014  
Great image. Went to a lecture on astro photography about a year ago, Astonishing what these guys were achieving and the equipment they had. Sadly much to much light pollution where I live.
November 17th, 2014  
Incredible. I don't know what else to say! Wow!!
November 20th, 2014  
So glad to see this magnificent image as #4 for the week - congratulations!
November 21st, 2014  
very wow
November 21st, 2014  
Outta this world, man. Fav!!
November 21st, 2014  
Amazing shot, well done.
November 21st, 2014  
Awesome
November 21st, 2014  
Wowser!
November 22nd, 2014  
What lens are you using for these Alexis?
Excellent work!
November 22nd, 2014  
That is just breathtaking Alexis, as instant fav and congrats on TT.
November 22nd, 2014  
@jannkc Thanks Jann! I used the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 for this shot.
November 22nd, 2014  
You have outdone yourself. This is beyond words amazing. Fav.
November 22nd, 2014  
This is terrific. Very nice job on your first try.
November 22nd, 2014  
This is Mind Boggling! Unbelievable image!!
November 23rd, 2014  
Wow! You are the night sky King!! That is stunning! Thanks so much for sharing this with us.
November 23rd, 2014  
Blown away... this is incredible. I am in complete awe of your astrophotography already and this has just topped it. Obviously a fav.
November 23rd, 2014  
Wow! And Wow again.
November 24th, 2014  
Wish I could fav this more than once!!!
November 27th, 2014  
@abirkill Hi Alexis- a friend who has the same lens would like to know what equilateral mount you bought to use with this lens and camera? He has found the need for a better mount with this lens. Thank you!
November 27th, 2014  
@jannkc Hi Jann, this is using the newer version of the iOptron SkyTracker, but I was still over the load limit with the head, camera and lens, but most of that is because I have a very heavy head (on the tripod, before anyone comments...)

The load limit is for the mount is 7.7lbs and the Tamron is 4.3lbs, so with a lightish ball head it's not too tricky to keep everything under the load limit. You'll still need a very stable tripod, extremely precise polar alignment, and a totally windless night to shoot at 600mm for longish exposures though.
November 27th, 2014  
Quite impressive - WOW & a fav
December 6th, 2014  
i hate it when something like this escapes by me! how the heck could i have missed this is beyond me. (i know, those three or four people who mass upload a century's worth of photos in my feed!) this is awesomer than awesome, alexis! i am so enthralled by this photograph. i love looking at the clear night sky ever since i was a little child, and to see this from someone who is not an astro-scientist (if there's such a word, i'm at a loss for it, right now seeing this) is simply amazing. in october i was able to take long exposures of the night sky and i was quite pleased with what i got. not aiming for something like this (or should i?) but something almost similar. i bow to you, young man. you are a genius!
December 15th, 2014  
That is insane. I'd hate to think what you could come up with when you do know what you are doing ;). Amazing!
December 16th, 2014  
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