Messier 81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy) is a grand design spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away, with a diameter of 90,000 light years, and is located in the constellation Ursa Major (The Big Dipper Area). Due to its proximity to Earth, it appears large in size, and has a very bright active galactic nucleus (which harbors a 70 million mass supermassive black hole), the orange core is filled with the oldest red giant stars swirling around the central Super massive black hole. Most of the new young hot blue stars are in the outer spiral arms…and you can even see some pink nebulae dotting the spiral arms of the galaxy. There is a small cloud like Dwarf irregular satellite galaxy off to the left known as Holmberg IX. There are also lots of smaller galaxies in the background of my image as well.

Messier 81 has been studied extensively by professional astronomers. The galaxy’s large size and relatively high brightness also makes it a popular target for amateur astronomers, and you can see it visually with a pair of binoculars or small telescope from a dark site. And with the right Astro equipment and lots of practice you can actually photograph M81 right from the city like I did from my backyard in Dayton. This is a 5 hour LRGB exposure(180sec subs, bin 1×1) with a QHY183M cooled monochrome camera(Lum) & QHY 183 C Cooled color camera(RGB) & C6 Newtonian telescope, Baader coma corrector, and Bisque MyT mount. Captured with the Sky X camera module, and stacked in Deep Sky Stacker, Aligned in Maxim DL, Processed Pixinsight & Adobe CC2020. it turned out better than I expected considering the last few nights there were lots of high thin clouds passing through…but the auto-guider never lost the star, …but unfortunately i did have to toss away about a dozen 3 minute subs exposures due to way too much reflected light off the clouds fogging some of the images.

Best Regards,

John Chumack