This image of our nearest galactic neighbor was taken from the Golden State Star Party. I am quite honored to say that this image of the Andromeda Galaxy was chosen by NASA as their Astronomy Picture of the Day. Here's what they had to say:
"Explanation: Andromeda is the nearest major galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy. Our Galaxy is thought to look much like Andromeda. Together these two galaxies dominate the Local Group of galaxies. The diffuse light from Andromeda is caused by the hundreds of billions of stars that compose it. The several distinct stars that surround Andromeda's image are actually stars in our Galaxy that are well in front of the background object. Andromeda is frequently referred to as M31 since it is the 31st object on Messier's list of diffuse sky objects. M31 is so distant it takes about two million years for light to reach us from there. Although visible without aid, the above image of M31 was taken with a standard camera through a small telescope. Much about M31 remains unknown, including how it acquired its unusual double-peaked center."
On a personal note, this is by far my favorite image that I've taken. For this project, I set out to capture not only the outer stellar bands of the galaxy, but details in its core. This meant that I would have to combine multiple sets of different length exposures. The only time I had previously done this was with my image of M42 about a year earlier. The processing challenge of combining the different exposure sets was a fantastic learning experience, and I still use techniques that I leaned and created processing this image to this day.
Despite a rushed setup, everything seemed to go right when taking this image. Tracking was dead accurate, framing was nice, skies were clear. The only problem is my field flatterer doesn't seem to do be doing much in the way of flattening. A closer look at the stars around the edges reveal significant aberrations.
Orion Sirius Eq-g
18x420s Iso 800