top of page

Messier 51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy | 255-Hour Astrophotography Collaboration

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

Messier 51, also called the Whirlpool Galaxy, is an exciting deep-sky object for both beginner and advanced astrophotographers. It is a grand-design spiral galaxy, famous for its gravitational interaction with a second galaxy, NGC 5195 (M51b). Located in Canes Venatici, M51 is a fine target for amateur astrophotographers. Below are photos and information about the galaxy - perhaps you'll try your hand at it!

Object Designation: M51

Also known as: The Whirlpool Galaxy

Constellation: Canes Venatici

Object Type: Grand-Design Spiral Galaxy

Distance: 23 million light-years away

Magnitude: 8.4

Discovered in: October 13, 1773, by Charles Messier

We spent 25 hours imaging this target from a dark site, but collaborated with 15 other astrophotographers to increase the integration time to 255 hours. The results are incredible. Learn all about this collaboration below, and watch our video on YouTube!


255 Hours on the Whirlpool Galaxy

May-August 2023

We love spending many hours on our images, our two longest integration times being 61 hours on the Seagull Nebula, and 81 hours on the Christmas Tree an Cone Nebula. The image below totals 255 hours of exposure time, and was taken by 16 astrophotographers including us! Be sure to read the information in this post to learn more about this collaboration, and how you can also join!

225 hours on the Whirlpool Galaxy astrophotography

GEAR USED (for our part of the data):

Camera: QHY600M

Telescope: Stellarvue SVX130

Mount: 10Micron GM1000 HPS

Accessories: Moonlite Nitecrawler focuser / Pegasus Astro Ultimate Powerbox

Processing: Done by William, using Pixinsight and R-C Astro plugins


Total Exposure Time: 25 hours for us, 255 hours total

Exposure Time per frame: 10 minutes

Gain: 56