About the image

The M51 Galaxy is known as the 'Whirlpool galaxy' – and you can see why from this image.

The dramatic space spiral is beautifully captured by photographer Martin Pugh, who won the overall prize in Astronomy Photographer of the Year in 2012.

An astronomy photograph showing the M51 'Whirlpool Galaxy'. The galaxy appears as a purple-yellow spiral in the centre of the frame
M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy © Martin Pugh

"I was always going to be excited about this image given the exceptional seeing conditions M51 was photographed under, and the addition of several hours of H-alpha data has really boosted the HII regions," he says.

This is arguably one of the finest images of M51 ever taken by an amateur astronomer. It’s not just the detail in the spiral arms of the Galaxy that’s remarkable – look closely and you’ll see many very distant galaxies in the background too

Will Gater, competition judge

See all the past winners

Take a trip back in space and time and find out more about past winners of Astronomy Photographer of the Year