M81 by Rémi Lacasse
M81 by Rémi Lacasse

M81 by Rémi Lacasse

It had been about 10 years since Rémi Lacasse had taken a picture of M81 — but his newest image of the spiral galaxy has won him Photo of the Week.

It had been about 10 years since Rémi Lacasse had taken a picture of M81.

With today’s technology and 10 more years of experience in image processing, he said he wanted to take another shot. And that image won him the Photo of the Week for February 14, 2020.

M81 by Rémi Lacasse

“The capture was over three nights at the end of January (20, 21, 28) and is a composition of 10.5 hours,” he wrote in an email. “The photo was taken from my home observatory located in the Laurentians near Mont-Tremblant, north of Montreal … I am privileged to have my observatory attached to the house, which is a great benefit when the weather is as cold as it was (around -20C) during the three nights it took for the data acquisition.”

The judges believed the image was certainly worth the second shot.

One noted there is great detail and clarity in the galaxy itself; the stars are nicely controlled; and the H2 regions are tastefully included. They said they liked the technical aspects of combining LHaRGB in a competent manner, noting it was “just an all-around good job!”

Often called Bode’s galaxy — after its discoverer the German astronomer Johann Elert Bode in 1774 — M81 is one of the brightest galaxies in the night sky, Lacasse noted.

“It is amazing to think that the photons captured in this photo took approximately 12 million light-years to get to the camera,” he wrote.

Lacasse said he used a 12.5-inch Ritchey-Chretien RCOS telescope at f/9 (2858 mm) mounted on a Paramount ME11 mount. He used his SBIG STX 16803 camera (binned 2) for the data capture with MaxImDL and PixInsight for the processing. It is a composition of LHaRGB, and the data was captured as follows: 20 images of five minutes each for each of the RGB filters, 30 x five minutes for the luminance, and 6 x 30 minutes using a Ha filter — for the total of 10.5 hours.

The judges also wanted to commend a couple more images, noting this week’s batch of entries was quite nice.

IC1396 by Grzegorz Gurdak

Grzegorz Gurdak’s shot of IC1396 — the Elephant’s Trunk Nebula — is a striking image, nicely deep at 12.5 hours of integration. He said the data used was taken from locations in Machar and Mississauga in Ontario in 2019.

Rosette Nebula by Oleg Bouevitch

The exposures for Oleg Bouevitch’s image of the Rosette Nebula were taken from Nepean, Ontario, from December 2019 to January 2020.

“I always like to see excellent imaging through custom made Newtonians, as with Boulevitch Rosette Nebula,” one judge said.