The Pinwheel Galaxy, also known as M101, is a spiral galaxy that measures 170,000 lightyears across and is located 25 million lightyears away from Earth in the Ursa Major constellation.
The galaxy is about twice the diameter of our own galaxy the Milky Way and is thought to contain about 1 trillion stars.
Images of the Pinwheel Galaxy show a predominance of scorching hot young stars glowing bright blue within the arms of the spiral galaxy.
These regions are subject to intense bursts of star formation among the cosmic dust and gas, within molecular hydrogen clouds.
Hubble’s stunning image of the gigantic Pinwheel Galaxy, M101, was captured over 10 years. It shows the detail of the galaxy’s spiral arms, which are sprinkled with large regions of star-forming nebulae. Credit: NASA, ESA, K. Kuntz (JHU), F. Bresolin (University of Hawaii), J. Trauger (Jet Propulsion Lab), J. Mould (NOAO), Y.-H. Chu (University of Illinois, Urbana) and STScI.
The Pinwheel Galaxy was discovered by Perre Méchain, a colleague of Charles Messier, in 1781, and Messier eventually included it in his famous Messier Catalogue of deep-sky objects.
Below is a selection of some of the best pictures of the Pinwheel Galaxy captured by BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers and astrophotographers around the world.
If you would like to try and observe the Pinwheel or photograph it for yourself, it is best seen in the northern hemisphere in April and can be observed through a small telescope.
For more astrophotography, read our astrophotography guides or discover our pick of the best astrophotography cameras.
And don’t forget to send us your images or share them with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Pinwheel Galaxy James Harrison, Witney, Oxfordshire, March 2020 Equipment: ZWO ASI 183MM Pro mono camera, Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P Newtonian reflector, Sky-Watcher EQ6-R Pro mount
M101 supernova by John Slinn, Loxwood, West Sussex, UK. Equipment: VMC200L and modded Canon 450D.
Supernova SN 2011fe by Phil Robinson, Malta. Equipment: Equinox 80ED Pro, Atik 314L+, EQ6 Pro Mount
SN2011fe in M101 by Phil Robinson, Malta. Equipment: Equinox 80ED Pro, Atik 314L+, Magrez 72, Atik 16IC-S, EQ6 Pro.
M101 by Mark Casto, Halesworth, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 200p EQ5mount with single ra axis unguided, Canon 350D.
M101 by Andy Jensen, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 120mm E Refractor, Atik 383l Mono CCD Camera
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron c11 sct, skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Canon Eos 1100d self-modified and Astronomik CLS CCD clip filter.
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy by Tracey Snelus, Isle of Anglesey. Equipment: Williams Optics 80mm refractor telescope, EQ5, Orion 50mm guidescope and QHY5 camera.
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy LRGB+H Alpha by Harry Piper, North Watford, UK. Equipment: William Optics 71mm F5.9 refractor, Orion 50mm mini guider, HEQ5 mount, Astronomik H alpha filter, QHY LRGB filters, manual filter wheel. Atik 428EX mono CCD camera.
Pinwheel Galaxy by Tom Howard, Isle of Wight, UK. Equipment: Nikon D7000 DSLR camera, Meade 5000 127mm refractor, EQ6 mount.
M101 The Pinwheel Galaxy by Ian Russell, Sutton Courtenay, UK. Equipment: EdgeHD 1100 with Celestron x0.7 reducer, iOptron CEM60-EC, Atik 460ex, Atik OAG, IMG0H, PHD2
M101 – Pinwheel Galaxy by Alastair Woodward, Derby, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 150p, HEQ5, Modded Canon 1000d, ST80, QHY5L-II
Pinwheel Galaxy – M101 by John Dolan, Dublin. Equipment: Orion 250mm F4 scope, SXVR-H16 CCD camera, Losmandy G11 mount with Lodestar and OAG guider. Captured and processed with MaximDL and Photoshop in difficult Light pollution conditions.
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy by Mark Griffith Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12″ Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount,Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik LRGB filters, Hutech IDAS light pollution filter, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
M101 by Haim Huli, Israel. Equipment: Skywatcher P250 F4.8, QSI586 Mono, ASA DDM60, Astrodon Gen2 LRGB
M101 – The Pinwheel Galaxy by Gavin James, Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron EdgeHD 800 with reducer, QSI-683-WSG8 and Baader filters on a Skywatcher HEQ5 Pro.
Pinwheel by James Robertson, Lake District, UK. Equipment: Celestron Edge 8HD f7/1400, Canon 1100d, iso 1600
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12″ Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount, Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik LRGB filters, Hutech IDAS light pollution filter, Astro physics 0.67 reducer.
M 101, The Pinwheel Galaxy by Gary Opitz, Rochester, NY, USA. Equipment: ZWO ASI071MC-Cool camera. Telescope Engineering Company 140 APO refractor. Orion Atlas mount.
M101 – The Pinwheel Galaxy by Keith Bramley, Pilling, Lancashire, UK. Equipment: Atik 383L+ Mono, 190MN, EQ6, Baader LRGB Filters
M 101 by Mario Richter, Finsterwalde, Germany. Equipment: Celestron 200/1000, EQ6 Sky Scan, AMP Image Master, Canon 60d mod
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy by Jay Bolt, Wakefield, UK. Equipment: QHY163m using Baader filters, Skywatcher EQ6-r, Skywatcher 130pds
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy by Kevin Jackson, Southport, UK. Equipment: Altair Astro Starwave 102ED-R Doublet Refractor, SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro Mount, Altair Hypercam 183C V2, Guide Cam: Altair GPCAM 130M + PHD2, Captured with SharpCap Pro
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy by Chris Maher, Middlesbrough, UK. Equipment: Altair Astro Hypercam 183c v2. Celestron 8″ EdgeHD & f7.1 reducer @1400mm on a AVX mount. Acquired with Sharpcap Pro & calibrated in DSS64. Processed with Startools.
M 101 The Pinwheel by Gary Opitz, Rochester, NY, USA. Equipment: Telescope Engineering Company 140 APO refractor, ZWO ASI1600MM mono camera with filter wheel, ZWO LRGB filters, 80 mm Orion Shortube guiding refractor, Orion Starshoot Autoguider camera, Orion Atlas mount
M101 Pinwheel Galaxy by Kevin Jackson, Southport, UK. Equipment: Altair Astro Starwave 102ED-R Doublet Refractor, SkyWatcher EQ6-R Pro Mount, Altair Hypercam 183C V2, Guide cam: Altair GPCAM 130M + PHD2, Captured with SharpCap Pro