Archive for July 2018

M51 and Companion Galaxy NGC 5195 – June 2018 Observer’s Challenge Report

July 12, 2018


Observing notes: 

Messier 51 is visible along with companion NGC 5195 in a 60mm (2.4-inch) refractor.  M51 is mostly round with a bright stellar nucleus and a very faint halo.  The small companion galaxy, NGC 5195, just to the north was very faint and small.  If sky conditions are poor, this galaxy pair can be extremely difficult to see using a telescope this small.

In a 10-inch reflector on an exceptional night at 190x, spiral structure is easily visible.  I could trace the prominent eastern arm almost in contact with companion galaxy, NGC 5195.  The nuclei of both NGC 5194 and NGC 5195 are both stellar, with the smaller companion galaxy, NGC 5195, having a brighter, more intense nucleus. 

M51 has a mag. 13.5 star a couple of minutes to the SW of the core, still within the halo, and a mag. 14 star, (requiring averted vision) just off to the east, outside of the halo.

One of my most memorable views of NGC 5194 and NGC 5195 came during an early spring night in 1993, using a 14.5-inch reflector.  The spiral arm of M51 (NGC 5194) was incredible “almost” touching the companion galaxy to the north.  This view rivaled that of many photographs.

On the night of April 14, 1994, supernova 1994I was visible.  I estimated the mag. of the SN on that night at 13.8.  The following pencil sketch was made that night. 


Rogers M-051 New a Inverted
The following image by Mario Motta, observer from Massachusetts using a 32-inch telescope.
I imaged M51 last night (May 10th 2023) and it came out nicely, using Lum, R/G/B, and Ha filters, 5 hours total.