cigar galaxy M81 M82 supernova nikon 180mm


Eleven and a half million years ago, a massive explosion lit up the Cigar galaxy (M82), and just last week, the light from this dying star finally arrived on Earth.

cigar galaxy supernova barn door trackerThis is a rare supernova event (and the closest to Earth in 20 years) so I thought I’d have a go at capturing it as best I could with the 180mm lens.

Although not very impressive (yet), it can clearly be seen in this stacked image of 66 30 second exposures. Unusually, the supernova stands out a lot more in the single 30 second exposures, as the stacking process increases the brightness of the galaxy.

Many more galaxies also show up in the stacked image (see labelled version below). Alongside M82 (the Cigar galaxy) and M81 (Bode’s galaxy) is NGC 301 (bottom of image) and NGC 2976 (right of image), with at least half a dozen more distant galaxies (up to magnitude 14.9) visible as faint blobs. Click here for a larger view.

The supernova in M82 is an ongoing event and should continue to brighten for a couple of weeks. I hope to get out (weather permitting!) and improve on this shot in the coming nights.

Details: Nikon D7000Nikkor 180mm f2.8 at f2.8. 33 minutes (66 x 30 seconds) at iso 800. Using didymium filter. Stacked with Deep Sky Stacker and tracked with barn door tracker.

M81 M82 galaxy cluster


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