The Whirlpool Galaxy is arguably the most impressive galaxy for amateur astronomers. It is easy to locate with binoculars as it lies just over 3 degrees northwest of Alkaid, the star at the end of the Big Dipper’s handle. The Whirlpool is a “face-on” galaxy, making its spiral structure easy to observe. A telescope, dark skies and moderate power will begin to reveal the spiral arms. M51 has a bright central core but no stars can be resolved. The core likely contains a supermassive black hole. Of special interest is the bridge of nebulosity that connects M51 to its companion galaxy, NGC 5195. Recent research suggests that the gravitational pull of NGC 5195 is causing star formation in the Whirlpool Galaxy.
|Scope||C8 & meade 6.3 fr|
|Exposure Info||5.75 hours total exposure time (23 x 15min)|
|Date||April 15, 2007|
|Copyright||Photo copyright Thomas Kerns, Beluga Lake Observatory|