Galactic Maelstrom M81


Messier 81 (M81), or as it is also called, Bode's Galaxy, is a bright, swirling spiral galaxy located in the constellation Ursa Major just up and to the right of the top of the Big Dipper asterism. This image was captured at Grand Mesa Observatory by Tom Masterson and Terry Hancock, and it beautifully highlights the interesting and delicate structures of the spiral arms.

First discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1774, M81's relative brightness (apparent magnitude 6.94) and closeness (11.8 million light-years distant) makes it one of the most studied and photographed galaxies in the night sky. It contains an active galactic nucleus powered by a supermassive black hole at its center and was host to one of the brightest supernovae of the 20th century, SN 1993J. Also in this image, the blue blob above M81 is a satellite galaxy gravitationally locked to M81 called Holmberg IX, which is thought to have formed within the last 200 million years, making it the youngest nearby galaxy.

M81 wiki:

M81 in 60 seconds from NASA:

Holmberg IX:


Technical Info:

Grand Mesa Observatory System #2

Telescope: AGO 12.5” Astrograph/Newtonian
Camera: QHY163M Monocrome CMOS
Guiding: OAG
Mount: Paramount ME

LUM 25x 300sec 1x
RGB 25x 300sec 1x1 (4h10min total)

Processing/Stacking: PixInsight, PhotoshopCC, Registar, Straton

Location: Grand Mesa Observatory, Purdy Mesa, CO