The Whirlpool Galaxy

The Whirlpool Galaxy is exactly the shape that everyone imagines galaxies to be- it’s a classic spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici and is estimated to be a mind-bending 23 ±4 million light-years from our home galaxy The Milky Way.

Discovered on October 13 1773 by French astronomer Charles Messier, with its companion the less catchily named NGC 5195 it can easily be observed by amateur astronomers with a pair of binoculars.

The Wihrlpool Galaxy
photo: NASA/ESA

This mesmerizing image of the galaxy is by Australian photographer Martin Pugh and took first place in the fourth annual Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards, with judge Will Gater saying,  “This is arguably one of the finest images of M51 ever taken by an amateur astronomer”.

The Whirlpool Galaxy
Photo by Martin Pugh via Science Now

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