Galaxies & clusters




Solar system

Narrow band

Wide field







Canon 40D baader modified

The Whirlpool galaxy (or M51 or NGC5194), was first discovered by Charles Messier on October 13th 1773. Its companion NGC5195 was discovered on March 21st 1781 by Messier's friend Pierre Méchain. There does not seem to be an agreement on the distance from Earth with values between 20 and 37 Million light years, with the Hubble site stating 31 Million light years.

Irish astronomer William Parsons (also known as Lord Rosse) first gave this galaxy the name Whirlpool inspired by its distinctive spiral shape.

Since the Whirlpool galaxy is too far away from us, the stars we see "in it" are actually in the Milky Way and thus they are really in front.

According to our present understanding, the pronounced spiral structure is a result of M51's current encounter with its neighbour, NGC5195 (the fainter one in Messier's description). Due to this interaction, the gas in the galaxy was disturbed and compressed in some regions, resulting in the formation of new young stars. As is common in galactic encounters, spiral structure is preferably induced in the more massive galaxy.

This image was entered in the April challenge at astrophotogallery.com and finished second. Afterwards I improved it slightly to what is displayed here. You can compare with the old image by mouse over the image (the old image then appears).



Celestron C8 at f10

MOUNT:  Celestron CGE

99x120s + 21x300s = 5hrs 5min @ISO1600

FILTER: None    


Autoguiding with MaximDL


William Optics 66Zenith Star

GUIDE CAMERA: Orion Deep Space Star Shooter
CALIBRATION: 32 Darks/32 Flats
DATE: April 25 to May 1, 2009
LOCATION: Älta, Sweden

Copyright: All images © 2009 Matts Sporre. All Rights Reserved