The York University Astronomical Observatory┬áis an undergrad driven research and public outreach machine. Even located under the light-polluted skies of Toronto, it’s still able to do some pretty great imaging. A while back, I tested my hand at astrophotography with some decent results:

While they certainly aren’t Hubble quality, I was pretty happy with what I got. Note isn’t the best the York Observatory can do, the undergrads have some pretty serious talent. Check out the website (linked above) to see some of their great work.
Side story: The objects have the designation M51 and M64 because they are part of the original Messier Catalog created by Charles Messier, a French astronomer who lived from 1730-1817. Messier was a comet hunter. As he toured the night sky looking for comets, he would often run across fuzzy objects (nebulae, clusters, galaxies, etc.) that he didn’t want to mistake for comets in the future. As a result he compiled these objects into the now famous list of ‘Messier objects.’ His original final version of the list was 103 objects long; since then 7 more have been added to make a final total of 110. Nowadays, the Messier Objects are a bunch of fantastic targets for both amateur and professional astronomers alike.


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