Astronomy Proposal

I will study the galaxy categorized as M51. The galaxy is also categorized in the NGC catalogue as NGC 5194 and 5195. It has two listings since there are two interacting galaxies involved. My study will be focused mainly on the larger, brighter galaxy (NGC 5194).


What is it?

M51 is actually 2 galaxies. The larger one which appears face on is suspected of having the smaller galaxy pass through it in “recent” history. The large galaxy has clear, well defined arms full of young stars, possibly formed due to the interaction of the two galaxies.


Location, Size and Brightness

M51 can be found at:

Right Ascension: 13 29 .9

Declination: +47 12

(Jnow Coordinates taken from the Observers handbook 2008)

It is relatively bright for a galaxy at magnitude 8.4 and has an apparent diameter of 8 arc minutes.

For our observations (From January to the end of April 2009) M51 will be:




January 1/ 7PM

7° 4’ 1’’

357° 59’ 28’’

January 1/11PM

18° 52’ 26’’

37° 10’ 45’’

March 31/7PM

`24° 8’ 22’’

44° 21’ 31’’

March 31/11PM

57° 19’ 57’’

75° 6’ 1’’


So basically M51 will appear here in the sky: from the program WinStars set to Jan 1 2009 at 7:00 PM

M51 is marked with a red cross

M51 (NGC 5194 and 5195)

The field of view of this image is 15x15 arc minutes and one pixel in the image is 1.7 arc seconds, this image was taken with optical wavelengths.

Taken from the STScI digital sky survey, it was taken with the Samuel Oschin Telescope located in San Diego County California which has a 48 inch aperture. I was unable to Identify the exposure time for this image because I did not know how to determine that from the Digital sky survey website.


I will be using the Evans 40 cm telescope located at the Glenlea Astronomical Observatory, and I hope to be able to achieve an image at least comparable in detail to the image shown above.




Other Research

I will also be researching the topic of dark matter, in the universe. I hope to be able to plot the rotation curve of NGC 5194 using old images, and possibly the image I will obtain using the Evans 40 cm telescope at the Glenlea observatory, and figure out how much visual matter there is and how much missing “Dark Matter” there should be. I will also research dark matter and its importance in other galaxies or galaxy clusters.






References Specs on the Samuel Oschin Telescope - Digitized sky survey

Royal Astronomical Society of Canada – Observers Handbook 2008, Editor Patrick Kelly