Follow the handle of
Big Dipper away from the dipper's bowl until
you get to the handle's last bright star.
Then, just slide your telescope a little
south and west and
you might find this
stunning pair of interacting galaxies,
the 51st entry
in Charles Messier famous catalog.
spiral nebula, the large galaxy with
well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as
Its spiral arms and dust lanes
clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (top),
The pair are
about 31 million light-years distant and
officially lie within the angular boundaries of the small constellation
Though M51 looks faint and fuzzy to the human eye,
deep images like
this one can reveal the faint
debris around the smaller galaxy.