M101 (NGC 5457)


M101 (NGC 5457) is the well-known "Pinwheel Galaxy", a splendid spiral galaxy seen face-on. It's about 23 million light years away.

To find M101, follow the 'dipper' out to zeta, then move west (or east if the constellation is upside down) star hopping the four bright stars 81, 83, 84, and 86: binoculars.

You may be disappointed viewing the galaxy in binoculars (as so often happens with deep sky objects). Even small telescopes only bring out a fuzzy object without detail. This very large spiral (half the size of the full moon) requires a large telescope to fully appreciate. At any rate, you know now where it is, for the day you finally get that telescope...

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1999-2014 by Richard Dibon-Smith.