aquisition Hubble telescope
The Whirlpool Galaxy (also known as Messier 51a, M51a, or NGC 5194) is an interacting grand design spiral galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici. Recently it was estimated to be 23 ± 4 million light-years from the Milky Way galaxy but different methods yield distances between 15 and 35 million ly. Messier 51 is one of the best known galaxies in the sky. The galaxy and its companion (NGC5195) are easily observed by amatur astronomers, and the two galaxies may even be seen with binocilars. The Whirlpool Galaxy is also a popular target for professional astronomers, who study it to further understand galaxy structure (particularly structure associated with the spiral arms) and galaxy interactions.