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Share Your Story • Zachary Luppen • June 13, 2019

A Whirlpool Seen from a Desert

A Whirlpool Seen from a Desert

During my time studying astronomy and physics at the University of Iowa, I had ample opportunities to take pictures using the university's robotic research telescope located in Arizona. While we would have loved to have this telescope in Iowa, the light pollution of Iowa City and the humidity makes the area rather poor for astrophotography. Hence, our research-grade telescope, a Planewave CDK-20, is located in the middle of the desert near Sonoita, Arizona. Astronomy students are given access to the telescope throughout their degrees, provided they're performing observations for a class or research. Seldom did we get to take images of other celestial objects. This is one of those few images. This color image of the Whirlpool Galaxy is composed of several red, green and blue images stacked together, taking a total of about 30 minutes to capture. I then ran the image through a low-pass filter in the Maxim DL image software in order to bring out the fainter features. It is by far my favorite image from my collection!

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