A galaxy is an isolated system of stars, gas, and dust, bound by gravity, floating
freely through space, embedded in a halo of dark matter. Galaxies are the
largest, most massive, 'single' objects in the universe; and they are estimated to
number more than one hundred billion.
The Whirlpool Galaxy is a fantastic example of merging galaxies. As the two individual galaxies become one, millions of star systems are thrown out of their host galaxies, in a dim 'cloud' that even a DSLR can pick up!
And just above the background noise, this image managed to capture a quasar, 11 billion light-years away!
The Andromeda Galaxy is perhaps the most well-known, and most observed and photographed object in the night sky. It is around six times larger than the Full Moon, and is visible as a fuzzy patch to the naked eye under dark skies.
This galaxy will only get closer and resolve in better detail as it continues on its collision course with our own Milky Way!
The Leo Triplet of Galaxies is a well known set of interacting galaxies. An annual favourite for astrophotographers, the gravitational influence of these galaxies on one another can be seen in their distorted features, 35 million light-years away!
The Triangulum Galaxy is one of the closest major galaxies to us, and makes a great target for both astrophotography and visual observing.
In dark sites, with good eyes, it's possible to pick out this object with the naked eye - making it the furthest object the human eye can see!
Bode's and the Cigar Galaxies are one of the most famous pairings of galaxies in the night sky. Bright enough to be observed by modest telescopes, and showing great detail in images, these two interacting galaxies are some of the most well-studied galaxies outside our Local Group!
It's been claimed by some observers that M81 (left) can be seen naked eye. If this is true, it would make M81 the furthest object ever observed by the naked eye, at 12 million light-years distant!
The Pinwheel Galaxy is an excellent example of a face-on spiral galaxy! It can be hard to see, even through a telescope in dark skies, but still reveals its wonderful structure in its images.
It may not appear very large in images, but this galaxy is huge! At 170,000 light-years in diameter, it is larger than the Milky Way!
M106 is one of many in a large field of galaxies! In this wideshot, you can see over a dozen smaller galaxies, all over the frame. From the stars scattering the image, hundreds of light-years away, to some galaxies 300 million light-years away, this image spans a timescale that takes us back in time to when the Earth was a different place!
The Needle Galaxy is one of the most famous edge-on spiral galaxies in the night sky! Situated near the north galactic pole, this giant spiral makes a dramatic streak through the night sky, making it an object of great interest for observers and astrophotographers alike!
The Black Eye Galaxy is famous for its dramatic inner dust lane that gives it such an unusual structure. This feature, visible in modest telescopes, becomes stranger and stranger the closer up the view is. Even Hubble's view reveals a spectacular region of dust! The relatively smooth galactic disk makes M64 a strange sight to behold or photograph!
The Whale Galaxy is an edge-on spiral galaxy, notable for its wedge-shaped structure and deep blue disk colour. An interesting sight for visual observers, it also makes a stunning target for astrophotographers!
The Sunflower Galaxy is a spiral galaxy, and one of the first galaxies to have such structure observed through a telescope. A nice sight in moderate sized telescopes, M63 is a good target for observers and astrophotographers alike!