M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy
The Whirlpool Galaxy is not actually 1 galaxy, it is 2 galaxies (NGC5194 & NGC5195 – the smaller of the 2) that are merging together. This is in fact what will happen many billions of years from now with our own Milkyway and the Andromeda galaxy.
M51 is located some 31Million Light Years from us in the constellation of Cannes Venatici (It’s very near the ‘Plough’ Artesim)
This image was taken over 2 nights – the 26th and 28th of February 2011 and is a combination of 36 7 minute light frames stacked up to give a total exposure of a little over 4hrs of exposure. The scope was a Meade 8″ SCT with a 0.63 reducer and the imager was my QHY8.
Towards the top right of the image can be seen another galaxy – IC4263 which must be located at a much larger distance.