Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors
Astrophotography © Brian A. Morganti
M51 Whirlpool Galaxy
100% crop resolution view of Whirlpool Galaxy below
The much larger of the two galaxies in this image is M51, commonly referred to as the Whirlpool Galaxy. It is interacting with its companion galaxy NGC 5195, the smaller galaxy to the left (north) in this image. M51 shines at magnitude 8.4, is a little over 10 arc minutes in visual size and is located about 30 million light years from Earth. The actual size of the of the galaxy is estimated to have a radius of 43,000 light years. The "Whirlpool" is one of the most popular objects to be observed in the night sky by amateur astronomers, and it can even be glimpsed with binoculars under reasonably dark skies.
A closer look at the top image will reveal at least two faint distant galaxies in the upper right quadrant of the image.
Astrophotography - Nightscapes & Deep Sky Colors