M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy in Canes Venatici


Copyright 2005 Thom Iwancio

Always a favorite...the exquisite Whirlpool Galaxy, known as M51.  Actually, this object is two galaxies caught in a gravitational cosmic  dance.  The larger spiral is M51 and the smaller disrupted galaxy is NGC 5195, although the combination is often called simply, M51.  The strong spiral arm structure is thought to be caused by the interaction of these two neighbors, whereby gas in the galaxy was compressed in some regions, forming hot blue star forming regions.  

M51 lies at a distance of 37 million light-years. 


Date/Location:    April 9, 2005     Griffin/Hunter Observatory    Bethune, SC
Instrument:    Canon 10D Digital SLR through f10 8" Meade SCT on a German Equatorial Mount 
Focal Ratio:   Approx. f6.3 using Lumicon Focal Reducer
Guiding:    Auto through Orion ST-80 w/ SBIG ST-5
Conditions:    Visually clear
Weather:    43 deg. F 
Exposure: 95 minutes total @ ISO 800 (19 x 5 min exposures)
Filters:    None
Processing:    Focused and captured with DSLRFocus.  Frame alignment and stacking, Adaptive Richardson_Lucy deconvolution, scaling and JPEG conversion with ImagesPlus.  Color correction and levels with Photoshop 6.  Noise reduction with NeatImage.