Bode’s and Cigar galaxies are one of the firsts galaxies every beginner astrophotographer starts with. These astrophotography targets are often imaged together due to their closeness to each other (although you can photograph them separately if you have a huge telescope or a very small sensor in
Bode’s and Cigar galaxies facts
|Object||Bode’s Galaxy||Cigar Galaxy|
|Object type||Spiral galaxy||Starburst galaxy|
|Other names||M81, NGC 3031||M82, NGC 3034|
|Constellation||Ursa Major||Ursa Major|
|RA (right ascension)||09h 55m 33.2s||09h 55m 52.2s|
|DEC (declination)||+69° 3′ 55″||+69° 40′ 47″|
|Size||26 × 14 arcmins||11 × 5 arcmins|
How to photograph Bode and Cigar Galaxies
M81 and M82 are relatively small astrophotography targets, so it is best to use a bigger refractor or Newtonian telescope on a solid equatorial mount. Although it’s best to use heavy equipment to reveal a lot of details of those galaxies, it’s totally fine to photograph them even with a small telephoto lens (as you can see below). The most important thing to do is an accurate polar alignment. Those targets are small, so you will probably be cropping your final picture. Be sure not to have star trails, because they will be perfectly visible on the galaxies too. To enrich your pictures even more, capture and add some H-alpha data.
My progress on photographing Bode’s and Cigar galaxies
With a telephoto lens (Samyang/Rokinon 135mm f/2)
If you want to try some bigger galaxies, check out how to photograph the Andromeda Galaxy.