Whirlpool Galaxy (M51), California

Whirlpool Galaxy (M51)
Darwin Plateau, California   –   May 26, 2020
— Ralph Paonessa
QSI 683wsg-8 -15° C   *   Takahashi FSQ-106EDX III refractor + Extender-QE 1.6X   *   f/8

The Whirlpool Galaxy is a favorite of astrophotographers and amateur observers because of its beautiful spiral shape. It is a (relatively) close 31 million light years from Earth. and visible even in binoculars.

The Whirlpool (M51, NGC 5194) has a close interacting companion galaxy (NGC %195) seen here to its right, with diffuse arms of stars as it is pulled apart by its massive neighbor.

The red areas in M51's arms are regions of intense star formation that glow with Hydrogen-alpha emission.

LRGB composite. Total exposure 15.2 hr. East is up.

L 27 x 10 min = 4.5 hr

R 18 x 10 min = 3 hr

G 24 x 10 min = 4 hr

B 22 x 10 min = 3.7 hr

Photo ID: M51 Whirlpool LRGB v1