The Ambiguously Galactic Duo

M81 and M82 are two galaxies hanging out in the constellation Ursa Major, the Big Dipper. M81, on the right, is also referred to as Bode's Galaxy (for its discoverer, Johann Elert Bode). M82, on the left, is also know as the Cigar Galaxy.

Here are the wacky things about images like this one...

(1) Every single star you see in this image is in our own galaxy. It's easy to think you're seeing individual stars in M81 and M82 but that's simply not the case. At 12 million light years away, the galaxies are fairly close to us but they're still much too far to be able to resolve individual stars. Also, while there are such things as rogue stars that get flung out of their home galaxies due to gravitational disturbances, it would be quite rare for one to show up in an amateur astronomer's image.

(2) If your monitor is bright enough and calibrated well, you can see a lot of fuzzy patches, each of which is another galaxy!

Don't look at them too closely... M81 harbors a supermassive black hole. I wouldn't want anyone getting spaghettified.

Galaxies M81 (R) and M82 (L) in Ursa Major.
Takahashi TOA-150 telescope, FLI ML11002-C camera, 120 minutes of exposures (12 x 10 minutes)
CaliforniaStars Observatory, GMARS, Landers


  1. I don't think I want to be stretched into spaghetti, lasagna, or anything else as a result of a singularity. If I encounter a duplerity, then pasta adjectives would be a strong (and likely) consideration.

    And, last, if aliens were to make contact with D. Perry, I would humbly request you recall our carpooling episodes with Radiohead and negotiate with the aliens on my behest.

  2. As a follow up comment, my 5.5 year old daughter is asking for more frequent updates (and photos) on your website.


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