The Whirlpool Galaxy, also known as Messier 51 (M51) and NGC 5194, is a grand-design spiral galaxy in Canes Venatici. The galaxy appears face-on when seen from Earth. Its designation in the New General Catalogue is NGC 5194. The galaxy lies about 23 million light years from Earth. It was named the Whirlpool because of its swirling spiral structure.
The Whirlpool Galaxy is one of the brightest and most famous galaxies in the night sky, notable for its two striking spiral arms that make M51 a grand design galaxy. The spiral arms are really lanes of stars and starburst regions interspersed with dust. They compress hydrogen gas and are responsible for creating new clusters of stars.
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The Big Dipper is one of the most easily recognizable asterisms in the night sky, found in the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. The star pattern, formed by the seven brightest stars of Ursa Major, is well-known in many cultures and goes by many other names, among them the Plough, the Great Wagon, Saptarishi, and the Saucepan. The Big Dipper is particularly prominent in the northern sky in the summer, and is one of the first star patterns we learn to identify.
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