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Astr110 Photography Projects, Spring 2009

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Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), Caleb Caldwell

Whirlpool Galaxy

One of the most well know galaxy in the sky, the Whirlpool Galaxy or Messier 51 was discovered in 1773 by Charles Messier while he was watching a comet. This spiral galaxy of the type SC is 31 million lights years away, but it is one of the brightest galaxies in the sky. The Whirlpool galaxy is the largest galaxy the in the Canes Venatici (the Hunting Dogs) galaxy cluster. The smaller object above M51 is the Spiral Galaxy NGC 5915 or sometimes called M51B because it connects to M51 but it is not a part of it.

Interestingly, M51 has a black hole at its center that forms a shape of a cross. The black hole cannot be seen in this picture because the black hole is too small to see at such as broad perspective of the galaxy. Although the color is quite dim in this picture, M51 has a combination of red, tan, blue and brown colors that makes it one of the most picturesque galaxies that can be seen with binoculars. M51 is made up of dust and stars which give its bright misty spirals. The angular size of this object is 5.7 arc minutes. And the linear size of the object is 51,000 light years across.

References:
Hartmut, Frommery. "Whirlpool Galazy" SEDS. <http://seds.org/messier/m/m051.html>.

S, Beckwith. "Hubble Celebrates 15th Anniversary with Spectacular New Images." Hubblesite. <http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2005/12/image/a>

Right Ascension (J2000) '13:29:53.30'
Declination (J2000) +47:11:48.0'
Filters used blue(B), green(V), red(R), and clear(C)
Exposure time per filter 30 seconds in BVRC
Date observed

April 2, 2009 (BVC)

April 5, 2009 (R)