Pictures of the Whale Galaxy and Pup Galaxy

Images and facts about NGC 4631 the Whale Galaxy and its companion Pup.

NGC4631 Whale Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.

NGC 4631 is a spiral galaxy that lies 25 million lightyears away and appears edge-on when seen from Earth. It is located in the Canes Venatici constellation and is often referred to as the Whale Galaxy, due to its similarity in shape to the aquatic mammal.

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The Whale Galaxy is interacting gravitationally with dwarf elliptical galaxy NGC 4627, which can be seen just above NGC 4631 in images of the pair.

NGC 4627 looks like a smaller companion accompanying the massive Whale Galaxy on its journey through the cosmic ocean, earning it the nickname the Pup Galaxy. The pair are often known as the Whale and the Pup.

NGC 4631 Whale Galaxy by Andre van der Hoeven, HI-Ambacht, The Netherlands.
NGC 4631 Whale Galaxy by Andre van der Hoeven, HI-Ambacht, The Netherlands. Equipment: SXV-H9, NEQ-6, C11 f6.3

The Whale Galaxy is a huge star-forming region, as is clear by the pockets of hot newborn stars that glow bright blue in images.

Despite the fact that the galaxy appears edge-on from our perspective (just like NGC 891 or the Needle Galaxy, for example), images of the Whale Galaxy still reveal a bright, luminous centre and incredibly dusty disc.

The centre is so bright because of the tremendous light coming from newborn stars along with the heating of cosmic gas by stellar explosions known as supernovae.

The Whale galaxy is also known as Caldwell 32 – part of the Caldwell Catalogue conceived by astronomer Sir Patrick Moore – and was discovered by William Herschel.

Below is a selection of images of the Whale Galaxy with its companion the Pup Galaxy captured by astrophotographers and BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers from around the world.

For more info on photographing galaxies, read our guide to deep-sky astrophotography or discover our pick of the best astrophotography cameras.

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And don’t forget to send us your images or share them with us via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

NGC4631 Whale and Pup galaxy by Tom Richardson, West Midlands, UK.
NGC4631 Whale and Pup galaxy by Tom Richardson, West Midlands, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher ED80 DS PRO, Atik 314E mono ccd, ST80, Meade DSI ccd, Hitecastro guider interface with PHD guiding software.
C32 Whale Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
C32 Whale 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.
C32 Whale Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
C32 Whale Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 Sct, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount,Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
The Whale and Hockey Stick Nebulae by Mike Garbett, Walsall, West Midlands, UK.
The Whale and Hockey Stick Nebulae by Mike Garbett, Walsall, West Midlands, UK. Equipment: HEQ6 Pro, Equinox 80, Atik 428EX,Baader Filters
C32 Whale Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
C32 Whale 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.
Whale and Hockey Stick Galaxies by Ron Brecher, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Whale and Hockey Stick Galaxies by Ron Brecher, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Equipment: SBIG STL-11000M camera, Baader RGB filters, 10″ f/6.8 ASA astrograph, Paramount MX, FocusMax, MaximDL.
C32 Whale Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
C32 Whale Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12″ Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount,Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik LRGB filters,
NGC4631 Whale Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK.
NGC4631 Whale 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.
Walfischgalaxie by Mario Richter, Finsterwalde, Germany.
Walfischgalaxie by Mario Richter, Finsterwalde, Germany. Equipment: Celestron N 200/1000, EQ 6 Sky Scan, Canon 60d mod, IDAS LPS D1 Filter, MGEN II.