Alt. Designations: NGC 5194, ARP 85
Object Type: Spiral Galaxy
Constellation: Canes Venatici
Distance: 37 mly
Right Ascension: 13h 29m 52.6s
Declination: +47° 11´ 44"
Visual Magnitude: 9.6
Apparent Dimension: 11.2´ x 6.9´
Best Month To View: Apr

Located in the constellation of Canes Venatici is an exquisite object known as M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy. This was one of Messier's original discoveries. He found it in 1773 while observing a comet. M51 is a beautiful example of a face-on spiral galaxy. The obvious spiral shape of this object is what gave it the name, Whirlpool. It was the first spiral galaxy to be discovered. Careful observation reveals that this object is actually two galaxies. The second, known as NGC 5195, is interacting with M51. The outer regions of the two galaxies actually touch each other. M51 is located about 37 million light-years from Earth. Under dark skies, it is an easy target for small telescopes. It is one of the brightest and easiest galaxies to locate for the experienced amateur.