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Famous Galaxies

The most famous galaxy, other than our own Milky Way, is the Andromeda galaxy, M31. Like the Milky Way it is a spiral galaxy, and its distance is about 2.5 million light years. The nearest galaxies are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. M81 is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major, famous for its near perfect arms spiraling into the very center. M51, the Whirlpool Galaxy at a distance of approximately 23 million light-years in the constellation Canes Venatici is also one of the most beautiful spiral galaxies in the sky seen face-on. The galaxy and its companion (NGC 5195) are easily observed by amateur astronomers, and the two galaxies may even be seen with binoculars.