The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) is one of the favorite objects for northern hemisphere skywatchers. At a distance of about 24 million light-years, this galaxy tucked in Canes Venatici near the handle of the Big Dipper shines at about 8th magnitude and covers 8.2' by 5.6', making it visible in virtually any telescope from a reasonably dark sky. The Whirlpool is not only oriented face-on to our line of sight, giving it a beautiful spiral appearance, but it is also a Type 2 Seyfert galaxy, meaning its nucleus and central hub are undergoing a burst of star formation, and it’s an interacting galaxy. The little interloper NGC 5195, visible above the main galaxy, is a separate galaxy swooshing its way past M51 and drawing a luminous bridge of material away from the center. Tiny background galaxies pepper the frame. Within the arms of M51, pinkish areas of HII regions indicate explosive events of star forming. What a cosmic perspective!
It is the first time I have EVER seen the full extent of the thing. He got all the outlying low density star fuzz. It is a lot larger than most images show. Many galaxies are probably like that. If you try to capture the faint outer edges, the center gets washed out from too much accumulated light. Great job, Mr. Chumack.