With a natural, unforced image of our closest galactic neighbour, Roger Menard wins the Photo of the Week title on September 3, 2021, for his image of the Andromeda Galaxy.
Also known as Messier 31, the Andromeda Galaxy is about 2.5 million light-years away, one of the farthest things objects visible with the naked eye. Tucked in beside Andromeda are Messier 32 (the bright glow just above the centre) and Messier 110 (to the bottom centre). M32 is a dwarf “early-type” galaxy, and M110 is a dwarf elliptical galaxy — and both are satellite galaxies of Andromeda.
Menard said he usually shoots small or unusual galaxies. After he decided to acquire a new piece of equipment that could easily travel to dark sky locations, he realized he had to change his imaging style.
“I bought a William Optics GT81 and a iOptron CEM26EC mount and was confronted with the reality that the targets that I need to select are of a completely different nature,” he wrote. “While I normally try to select targets that are out of the beaten path (easy to do with a large scope), I had to accept the fact that I will have to choose objects that every other astrophotographer has done dozens of time. Like M31…
“I was delighted with the first light with my new equipment,” he continued. “Thirty-two unguided exposures of four minutes with a Canon 6D at ISO 1600. William Optics GT81 and 0.8x focal reducer on iOptron CEM26EC. Very light processing with PixInsight. Captured while vacationing at Isle-aux-Coudres, Quebec, under a Bortle 4 sky, on the night of August 15-16 2021.”
“He’s right it’s a very popular target,” wrote one of our judges. “But his rendition shows a very good balance in tonal range, excellent detail for the equipment and tasteful processing.”
Our honourable mention this week goes to this image of the Milky Way and airglow above Smoke Creek in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park, taken by Travis Newbigin.
Newbigin said he used a Sony A7iii sporting a Sony 20mm 1.8 lens. The shot was a 15-second exposure taken on July 10, 2021.
Prizes for the 2021-22 SkyNews Photo of the Week contest are sponsored by Sky-Watcher, Celestron, iOptron, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and SkyNews. Find more here on the amazing telescopes, prize packages and gift vouchers awarded to the best photos this year.