The Whirlpool Galaxy

The Whirlpool Galaxy – M51a in the Messier Catalogue or NGC 5194 – is a spiral galaxy interacting with a smaller companion galaxy – M51b or NGC 5195 – in the constellation of Canes Venatici.

Whirlpool Galaxy – M51
Hubble Space Telescope image of the Whirlpool Galaxy – M51, NGC 5195 – and its companion galaxy – NGC 5195. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) – Click to Enlarge – From:

With an apparent magnitude of 8.4, the spiral structure of M51a can be seen through a good small telescope. 

The Whirlpool Galaxy is around 9.5 million parsecs (31 million light-years) away from Earth and approximately 23,000 parsecs (76,000 light-years) in diameter (see Astronomical Distance Measurements).

Location of M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy
Location of M51, The Whirlpool Galaxy, near the tail of the Great Bear (Ursa Major)

The equatorial coordinates of the the Whirlpool Galaxy are:
Right Ascension: 13h 29m, Declination: 52.7s +47° 11′ 43″

To find the current position of the Whirlpool Galaxy in the sky from your location, visit our Night Sky Simulator.

Astronomy, Cosmology, Space and Astrophysics