Mike's Astro Photos
Dec.29 2011

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy

by , under Galaxies

Here’s a photo I took from my observatory of Messier 51, the famous Whirlpool Galaxy.

M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy - December 28th, 2011

At an estimated 23 million light years away, M51 is one of the most famous galaxies in the sky and a popular target for amateur astronomers. M51 is an interacting, grand-design, spiral galaxy. Interacting means, the galaxy is merging with another galaxy resulting in a disturbance of both galaxies because the gravitational fields of each are ‘interacting’ with each other. Grand-design is a designation for a special type of spiral galaxy that has prominent, well defined continuous spiral arms. Less than 10% of all spiral galaxies are designated grand-design.

Earlier this year in June 2011, a super nova was discovered inside M51 bringing renewed attention to the galaxy. I don’t think the supernova is still visible in last night’s image. I did look to see if it was there though.

Happy New Year!

Astro Photo Details
30 minutes RGB & 60 minutes of L / 150 total minutes (2.5 hours)
SBIG ST8300 Camera
MMOAG & SBIG 402 Guide Camera
Paramount ME Mount
RCOS 14.5
The Sky X / CCDStack / CCDSoft


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