Orlop welcomes April 2016
The Orlop has been in the doldrums, due to the changing internet and human sloth. The answer seemed to be a merciful death for my blog, but I finally decided to temporize by writing a first of every month post for a while. Time will tell whether this is simply “April fool” or a new life for the Orlop.
Oh, yes. The celestial portrait above. It is the Whirlpool Galaxy, designated M51. In early March I took the image using a remote telescope located in New Mexico. Here’s what you may or may not be interested in knowing about this deep space object. Source: Atlas of the Messier Objects, by Ronald Stoyan.
This famous spiral galaxy was discovered by Charles Messier on the 13th of October 1773, when he was following the comet of that year. With its companion galaxy, it represents the most popular example of a pair of interacting galaxies in our sky. M51, the main galaxy, is about 28 light-years distant, and the companion galaxy is 500,000 light-years behind the northern spiral arm of the main galaxy. The last close encounter was about 400 million years ago. Now you know “the rest of the story.”
P.S. Do you see the little edge-on galaxy at the upper right-hand corner of the image? One of these days I might find out some facts about it. Or I might not.