M51 (The Whirlpool Galaxy)


    M51 (NGC 5194), Magnitude 8.40 Sc Spiral Galaxy, Size 11'x7', Constellation: Canes Venatici.


Image Details:

Comments: I never tire of imaging M51, and one of these days I will do it justice. It's bright and photogenic, and, for me, just spells "galaxy."

M51 has suffered a close encounter with the small galaxy NGC 5195, which is in the background and is receding. Otherwise, it's a fairly normal (if now slightly stretched-looking) spiral, that's the most prominent member of a small group lying 37 million light years away, give or take. The galaxy's exaggerated spiral pattern is thought to have been caused, like its elongation, by the passing of NGC 5195. This spiral structure was first discovered by Lord Rosse with his enormous Irish telescope. For this reason, M51 has occasionally been referred to as "Rosse's Galaxy," but this name seems to have fallen out of use.

I was fairly happy with this shot, which shows off the details in 5195 pretty well.

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