Jasper Dark Sky Festival

Photo of the Week

Circumpolar Whirlpool Galaxy by Barry Schellenberg

Circumpolar Whirlpool Galaxy by Barry SchellenbergCanadian deep-sky aficionados face a number of disadvantages. Inclement weather in the winter and short (or even, non-existent) summer nights are two of the most obvious challenges. But there are also advantages to the country’s northern latitude—not least of which is that some spectacular objects can be enjoyed all year round. A case in point: the famed Whirlpool Galaxy, M51. Although M51 is ocated in the unremarkable constellation Canes Venatici, most observers associate it with the Big Dipper since the galaxy is found just below Alkaid, the last star in the Dipper’s handle. Except for locations that don’t experience darkness around the summer solstice, this magnificent spiral can be appreciated any night of the year across Canada.

Astrophotographer Barry Schellenberg captured the Whirlpool from Burlington, Ontario, over several nights this past spring. He used a Meade 10-inch ACF Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and a QSI 683WSG-8 cooled CCD camera to acquire the 22½ hours exposure time for this for this beautiful Whirlpool portrait.

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