The Virtual Amateur Astronomer®, Image of M81 and M82, Internet Astronomy by Jupiter Scientific
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A Pair of Galaxies

     Starting with Phecda, the lower innermost star in the "cup of the ladle" of the Big Dipper (Ursa Major), and continuing along a line through Dubhe, the brightest, uppermost, outer star in the "cup of the ladle", for about one-and-a-half times the arc length between these two stars, one comes to a pair of galaxies M81 and M82:
image M81 M82
M81 (to the left in the above image) is a spiral galaxy, while M82 (to the right) is irregularly shaped. The two galaxies are about 12 million light-years away from us and are part of a nearby galaxy cluster that includes about 20 members. Since it has taken 12 million years for the light from M81 and M82 to arrive to us, the light was emitted from the galaxies when Earth was in the Miocene Epoch.



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