How to Find the Pinwheel Galaxy, Messier 101

How to Find the Pinwheel Galaxy, Messier 101

M101 hires STScI-PRC2006-10a.jpg

This fantastic galaxy can be found near the Big Dipper. It is a Messier object, M101. Find out more about the  galaxy and how to find it below.

Messier 101, the Pinwheel Galaxy is a spiral galaxy found 21 million light years away. It was discovered by Mechain in March 1781. This is a beautiful face-on galaxy. It is one of the largest galaxies known spanning 170,000 light years and its full of star forming regions and supernovae activity. All this activity is thought to be a result of a recent interaction with another galaxy which explains its slightly lop-sided appearance.

Image: European Space Agency & NASA

Telescopic Image to Scale:


This image is the size of a full moon for size comparison.

Other Names:

The Pinwheel Galaxy

Messier 101


NGC 5457

UGC 8981

PGC 50063

MCG 9-23-28

CGCG 272-21

Arp 26


Magnitude = 8.6

Surface brightness = 15

Telescope Aperture City Suburbs Rural Dark Sky
4 inches 9 10 11 12.5
5 inches 9.5 10.5 11.5 13
6 inches 10 11 12 13.5
8 inches 10.5 11.5 12.5 14
10 inches 11 12 13 14.5

Use this chart to estimate if you can see the object from your location with your telescope. For more help on using this chart click here.

How to Find It:

This galaxy resides in the constellation of Ursa Major and is in the crosshairs on the map below of the Big Dipper asterism. It's co-ordinates are: RA 14h 03m 40.7 DEC +54° 17′ 7.4″ if you are using guiding software.

How to find the Pinwheel Galaxy, messier 101

To find more space objects have a look at the constellation guide by clicking the link or go back to the list of deep space objects.

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