Date: March 20/29, April 3rd, 2023

51 x 4 minutes /RGB (3h 24min)
63 x 5 minutes /RGB (5h 15min)
55 x 5 minutes /H-Alpha (4h 35min)
Total: 13h 14min

About This Image


Telescope: Sky-Watcher Equinox 120ED
Mount: Software Bisque Paramount MX
Camera: Player One Poseidon-C Pro (IMX571)
Filter: IDAS LPS-D3 2" • Optolong L-Ultimate
Accessories: ESATTO 2" Focuser • Astro Hutech SCA 2" Flattener
Guiding: SVBony SV165 Mini Guide Scope • ASI462MC
Software: Photoshop • PixInsight • TheSkyX • Starkeeper Voyager


The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as Messier 51 or M51, is a stunning spiral galaxy located about 31 million light-years away in the constellation Canes Venatici. It is one of the most famous and photogenic galaxies in the night sky, and its distinctive spiral arms and swirling patterns make it a favorite target for astronomers and astrophotographers alike. With a diameter of about 75,000 light-years, the Whirlpool Galaxy is roughly the same size of our own Milky Way galaxy, and it contains over 100 billion stars.

The Whirlpool Galaxy is also notable for its interaction with a smaller companion galaxy, NGC 5195, which is seen here as the small yellowish object to the left of the larger spiral. The gravitational pull between the two galaxies has triggered a burst of star formation in the Whirlpool's outer arms, where bright pink regions of ionized hydrogen gas mark the birthplaces of massive new stars. The Whirlpool Galaxy is a prime example of the dynamic and evolving nature of galaxies, and it serves as a testament to the awe-inspiring complexity and beauty of the cosmos.

Distance to M51: 31 Million light-years
Size of M51: 75,000 light-years

Distance to IC4263: 131 Million light-years
Size of IC4263: 24,000 light-years


Annotated Version

Location in the Night Sky

(Annotation & Star Chart created using PixInsight)


All Images    Craig Sherris