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M 51 The Whirlpool Galaxy       

M 51 also known as The Whirlpool Galaxy  is an interacting grand-design spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. It has recently estimated, in 2005, to be about 23 million light years from the earth, but different methods suggest the distance is between 15 and 35 million light years away and the galaxy has a circumference of about 43,000 light years, and is equivalent to 160 billion times the mass of our own sun.

M  51 is one of the best known galaxies in the sky. The galaxy and its smaller companion NGC 5195 are easily seen by amateur astronomers, and the two galaxies can even be seen through binoculars on moonless nights. The Whirlpool Galaxy is also a popular target for professional astronomers, who study the galaxy to get a better understanding of galaxy structure.

The Whirlpool Galaxy was discovered on October 13, 1773 by Charles Messier, and is designated as M51 in his Messier catalog.  

A black hole is thought to exist at the heart of the spiral, surrounded by a ring of dust. The dust ring stands almost perpendicular to the relatively flat spiral nebula. A secondary ring crosses the primary ring on a different axis, a phenomenon that is contrary to expectations. There is a pair of ionization cones that extend from the axis of the main dust ring.

 I have tried to capture this image for over 10 years and this is the first time I have been able to acquire data that was useful for processing, this image was taken on May 2, thru May 16, 2013 with relatively short exposures and I am sure with more data I will be able to improve on this image.

This image consists of : 35 X 10mins RGB, 65 X 10mins L, 11 X 10mins HA    Total time = 29 hours










Hyperion 12.5 Astrograph

The Sky 6

ST11000 External guide head

Oak Hills Observatory

Mountain Instruments MI250

Maxim DL 4.64

Takahashi  FS-60c

Hesperia, California


Photo Shop CS2



Astrodon G2 LRGB Filters