M51- The Whirlpool Galaxy

With your telescope, a little south from the handle of the Big Dipper, you might find this stunning pair of interacting galaxies, the 51st entry in Charles Messier catalog, the Whirlpool Galaxy.   Image Credit: Marco Burali, Tiziano Capecchi, Marco Mancini (Osservatorio MTM)

Perhaps the original spiral nebula, the large galaxy with well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as NGC 5194. Its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (top), NGC 5195.

The pair are about 31 million light-years distant and officially lie within the angular boundaries of the small constellation Canes Venatici.

M51- The Whirlpool Galaxy, map

via apod