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Whirlpool Galaxy and Companion

Whirlpool Galaxy, M51, NGC 5194 and NGC 5195


A face-on spiral galaxy with companion


Found in the northern constellation Canes Venatici

Distance from Earth

About 9.6 megaparsecs (31 million light-years)


The distance across the Whirlpool Galaxy and its companion is roughly 27 kiloparsecs (87,000 light-years).

The Whirlpool Galaxy spreads its majestic, star-studded arms to form a giant, celestial pinwheel. Its "companion" galaxy sits at top right, in this view.

Enlarge Image


"Fast Facts: Whirlpool Galaxy and Companion" is a table that lists the name, description, location, size, and distance of the galaxy from Earth. A picture of the Whirpool and its companion galaxy is included.

Printer-friendly web page
Adaptable, at teacher's discretion
How to use in the classroom

Use this resource as:

A source of information. Read the table to find out about this galaxy.

A mapping activity. Locate the galaxy's associated constellation on a star map.

A large-number recognition activity. Have students study this table and other galaxy Fast Fact tables.  Students can order objects based upon their distances from Earth.

An inquiry tool. Have students write down questions they would like answered about the image and the information in the Fast Facts table.

An engagement tool. Involve students in a discussion.

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Amazing Space resources by topic: Galaxies