Saturday Space Sight: The Whirlpool Galaxy

If you’ve ever had a passing interest in space, this picture should seem familiar.  This is the Whirlpool Galaxy.  It is a classic spiral galaxy, and practically the headliner for the amazing space photos. At only 30 million light years distant and fully 60 thousand light years across, M51, also known as NGC 5194, is one of the brightest and most picturesque galaxies on the sky.

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This image is a digital combination of a ground-based image from the 0.9-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory and a space-based image from the Hubble Space Telescope highlighting sharp features normally too red to be seen.

Image Credit: NASA/Hubble

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