Image Credit & Copyright: NASA Chandra X-ray Observatory & Hubble Space Telescope on the left and mine is on the right (obviously).  CLICK image for larger view and look below for information and related links.


OK, this is round three in the “ME vs.” series and this time I’m taking on two of the most incredible space telescopes ever created.  NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope.

I will preface this as I always do by saying of course I don’t seriously think of this as me vs these incredible telescopes.  I could never in my wildest dreams, in the darkest skies and with the most expensive equipment achieve this level of data collection.  What I am doing here is giving the beginner an idea of what you can see in the eyepiece of an actual telescope vs what you get through the incredible powers of some of the major space and land based telescopes of the world.

Often when beginners save up and purchase their first telescopes their delusions of seeing filaments in the Crab Nebula or the towering star forming Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula etc. are quickly dashed, thoroughly deflating any motivation they may have had to get into amateur astronomy or sky watching.  Hopefully this series can help give you a feel for what you’re getting into.  Also, there’s no substitute for looking through an eyepiece yourself.  I seriously urge you, if you’re on the market for a telescope, locate your local astronomical society (astronomy club) or university and visit one of their local sky watches/star parties and typically they will have a handful of different telescope options for you to check out.


This time my object of interest is Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy.  This object is a Northern hemisphere favorite as at an apparent magnitude of around 8.5 it can be seen with binoculars from a dark sky.  If you’re confused as to how apparent magnitudes work here’s a rough write up I did on the subject: or just look to the top of my blog page and look for the “MAGNITUDES” tab.

The combined Chandra/Hubble image here is a massive 232 hours of image collection.  That’s nearly 10 days of data from two incredible devices to create the image you see on the left.  My image on the right is 120 seconds (2 min) with my Nikon D90 attached to my Celestron C8 (8” Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope) on a Celestron German Equatorial Mount (CGEM).  I have cropped the image to give a fair side by side comparison as far as size goes but other than that my image is unprocessed.

So 120 seconds, that’s not very long but still long enough to mention that your eyes have a zero second data collection ability thus, even this image is slightly more than you will be able to see through the eyepiece.  If you have dark skies (which I don’t) you really won’t be too far off from this view with the same telescope.  If you’re interested in whether or not you have dark skies check this page out:


For my previous “ME vs.” editions check here:


NAME: Messier 51, M51, NGC 5194, Whirlpool Galaxy and its companion Messier 51B, M51B, NGC 5195.

WHAT IS IT?: Grand Design Spiral Galaxy with a Seyfert 2 Active Galactic Nucleus (Supermassive Black Hole).

WHEN WAS IT DISCOVERED?: October 13, 1773 by Charles Messier.

HOW FAR AWAY IS IT?: Approximately 30 million light years.

HOW BIG IS IT?: 11’ x 7’ arcminutes on the night sky or about 52,000 by 87,000 light years in diameter.

APPARENT MAGNITUDE?: 8.4 or +8.4 or within binocular view in dark skies.

WHERE IS IT? (General): Northern constellation Canes Venatici “The Hunting Dogs.”

WHERE IS IT? (Exact RA/DEC J2000):RA 13h 29m 55.7s / Dec +47° 13′ 53″.

Chandra X-ray Observatory page for this image:

Chandra Twitter:

Chandra Facebook:

SEDS data page on M51:

SIMBAD data page on M51:

International Dark Sky Association (IDA):

IDA Facebook:

IDA Twitter:

Image | This entry was posted in Astronomy (Learning), Astrophotography (DSOs), Galaxies, Images, ME vs. .........., Telescopes & Detection Equip. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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