How to find the Whirlpool Galaxy

Galaxies are beautiful, awe-inspiring targets. However, they are often drowned out by light pollution, making them difficult to see. The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) is an easy to find all year round target for northern hemisphere observers.

The usual advice when you want to observe a galaxy is to observe the Andromeda galaxy, but in a light polluted sky so many stars are missing that it can be difficult to star hop to the galaxy.

That's why I recommend viewing the Whirlpool Galaxy, it is very close to the end of the handle in Ursa Major constellation, also known as the plough or big dipper.

The Whirlpool Galaxy is actually made up of two galaxies, M51a and M51b which is also sometimes refereed to as NGC 5194 and NGC 5195 is easy to find after you watch this video.

What equipment do you need to see M33?

This is a spectacular galaxy if the night is dark, it requires a telescope to see it with a low or medium power eyepiece. Larger telescopes will be able to resolve its companion galaxy. Alternativley you could use a pair of giant binoculars.