Messier 51, Whirlpool Galaxy

Messier 51. Image Credit: CAHA, Descubre Foundation, DSA, OAUV, Vicent Peris (OAUV/PixInsight), Jack Harvey (SSRO), Steve Mazlin (SSRO), Juan Conejero (PixInsight), Carlos Sonnenstein (Valkanik).
Messier 51: The spiral galaxy M51 is quite well known by amateur astronomers due to its brightness and unique features. M51 is a face on spiral that is heavily interacting with a far smaller galaxy. In fact, it is thought that the interaction with this smaller galaxy is what caused M51 to become a spiral. The distance to M51 is somewhat disputed but the number is likely between 30 and 37 million light years away from Earth. Not only is Messier 51 relatively bright at magnitude 8.4, it is fairly easy to find too. Start by finding the last handle star of the big dipper asterism in the constellation Ursa Major. Then trace about a third of the way between that star and Canes Venatici. You’ll then see M51 slide into your field of view. In dark skies M51 can be seen with fairly small telescopes. As with most galaxies, M51 doesn’t hold up too well against light pollution although it may hold up better than most. However, if your skies aren’t too dark, even some small telescopes will pick out surface details with ease.

No comments:

Post a Comment