M 51 "The Whirlpool Galaxy" also known as NGC 5194
(click on image for cropped view)

The Whirlpool is located within the Constellation Canes Venatici, just down 3.5° from the last star of the handle of the Big Dipper (URSA Major). This galaxy show up well in a moderate sized telescope and apertures of 10" or more begin to show detail from a dark sky site. M51 lies 37 million light years from earth and is viewed by amateurs and professionals alike. Several background galaxies are also visible in the image. M51 (14.2x9.5 arc minutes) is interacting with it's companion Galaxy NGC5195 (8.9 x 7.4 arc minutes). Both galaxies have a magnitude of 8.35 & 9.49 respectfully and are not visible to the unaided eye but do show up in good quality binoculars. The edge-on galaxy lower right is IC 4263 (UGC8470), magnitude 15.7 and 1.8 x 0.4 arc minutes in size, it lies 18 arc minutes South of M51.

 
Telescope / Lens TEC 140 f/7
Mount Type Astrophysics 1200
Camera SBIG ST10XME
 Filters Astrodon LRGB
 Film  CCD
 Exposure 185 minutes (3 hours 5 min); LRGB (L=125,RGB=60) 5 min. exposures
 Processing CCDSoft, CCDStack, AIP, Photoshop CS2
 Date  04/20/2009
 Location North Eugene, Oregon (backyard)
 Conditions 700' magnitude 4.5 Skies; Clear ; light pollution within city of Eugene

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