Discussion and Conclusion
The researching of M51 has proven to be quite interesting. From start to finish, this project consisted of preparing a research question, researching M51 from various sources, taking our own images of M51 at the Glenlea Observatory, and analyzing our images. I learned a great deal about M51, the observatory and astronomy in general.
Most of the general information about M51 was fairly easy to find but, as with most scientific studies, those on M51 had some varying theories. One of the main discrepancies is whether the companion galaxy is sitting beside NGC 5194, or if it is actually behind it (from our point of view). Most of the current research and articles lead me to believe that it is currently residing behind the main galaxy.
There is alot of research out on M51, but since it is such a popular target, and easy to locate alot of amateur astromers study it, so alot of the research online is not nesscessarily credible. Most of the research I was able to find that was done by professionals were those of NASA, which were mostly on the supernova in 2005 and taking images with greater detail and better quality. There also have been some in regards to the black hole study.
Collecting other images of M51 was not that difficult as there was alot available online. It was difficult, sometimes, to get all the information about the image so some factors remain unknown.
Once we learned how to use the observatory collecting our own images of M51 was not that difficult. It was pretty easy to collect the bias frames, dark frames, flat frames, and M51 images. Following the instructions we were given, it was quite easy to create the master bias, master dark, master flat, and final image of M51. I'm not very good on computers, so it was challenging at first but once I got the hang of it it was quite easy. The only problem I found to be an issue is the fact that the computers we were working on were not able to have the plugin for StackReg and TurboReg. This was very inconvienient as you had to do most of the work, email it to yourself, complete it at home, email it back and then complete it back at school. It became even more annoying if you forgot to email a certain image or something and you were unable to work on it again. It's quite a hassle when you only have half of what you need at any given location.
I think it would have been useful for us to have more nights at the observatory and learn more about the equipment before taking our images for our data. Granted, this year we had extremely bad weather and we were unable to do this. It seemed that everyone had very little experience in what we were doing as we were going along, as many of us had only been at the observatory once or twice prior to the time we were going to collect our data.
Our images were taken on a clear night, and we had good conditions so our images turned out quite well. Granted, our equipment is not the best but they still do take fairly good images. Even though our pictures were taken unguided they still worked out well.
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