How to Observe Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy #SpaceSaturday

If you have a telescope, even a small one, and you live in a suburban location — or a place with even less light pollution — you may well be able to find Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. Here’s more from Astronomy Now:

Magnificent Messier 51 (NGC 5194), the Whirlpool Galaxy in Canes Venatici, is without doubt the best and most famous example of a spiral galaxy that is presented face-on to our perspective. Indeed, probably only Messier 31, the Great Nebula in Andromeda, is a galaxy as popular and as well-known.

Shining at magnitude +8.1, it’s not too hard to track it down and observe it; from a suburban location, Messier 51 can be seen through a small telescope, while at semi—rural site it can be captured in a humble pair of 10 x 50 binoculars as a small hazy patch. Gazing at it through a high-power eyepiece coupled to a 200–300mm (eight- to twelve-inch) telescope sited under a dark, countryside location, some traces of the splendid spiral structure – so familiar in deep images – can be gleaned.

Learn more!


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