Friday, September 21, 2012


M51 or the  'Whirlpool Galaxy'

The image is by Martin Pugh who won the Royal Observatory Greenwich's Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012.

From the Royal Observatory link above:
M51 or the Whirlpool is the archetypal spiral galaxy and for centuries astronomers have studied it in order to understand how galaxies form and evolve. Here the photographer has made use of exceptionally stable atmospheric conditions, minimising the twinkling or ‘seeing’ caused by air turbulence to produce a sharp, clear image in which every detail of the galaxy is visible.
M51 has been drawn and photographed many times, from the sketches of astronomer Lord Rosse in the 19th century to modern studies by the Hubble Space Telescope. This photograph is a worthy addition to that catalogue. It combines fine detail in the spiral arms with the faint tails of light that show how M51’s small companion galaxy is being torn apart by the gravity of its giant neighbour.

What the judges say:

Melanie Grant says: The depth and clarity of this photograph makes me want to go into deep space myself!  A breath-taking look at the Whirlpool Galaxy.
Will Gater says: This is arguably one of the finest images of M51 ever taken by an amateur astronomer. It’s not just the detail in the spiral arms of the galaxy that’s remarkable – look closely and you’ll see many, very distant, galaxies in the background too.

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