|Right Ascension||01 : 36.7 (h:m)
|Declination||+15 : 47 (deg:m)
|Visual Brightness||9.4 (mag)
|Apparent Dimension||10.2x9.5 (arc min)
This conspicuous spiral is a prototype of a grand-design Sc galaxy. Its distance may be about 30 to 40 million light years (R. Brent Tully's Nearby Galaxies Catalog has 32), as it recedes with 793 km/sec. Then its spiral arms are about 1000 light years broad. They are traced with clusters of blue young stars in color photos, and reach out to cover a region of more than 10 minutes of arc in diameter, corresponding to roughly 95,000 light years, or about the same size as our Milky Way galaxy. The nucleus is small and bright.
M74 is probably the chief member of a very small physical group of galaxies, which includes the peculiar SBa barred spiral NGC 660, the peculiar Sm galaxy UGC 891 (of a mixed type between spirals and irregulars), and the irregulars UGC 1176, UGC 1195, and UGCA 20.
For the amateur, very good conditions are needed to see more than this nucleus. But if they are given, suggestions of the magnificient spiral arms become apparent in telescopes starting at 4-inch.
Messier marathoners often miss this galaxy in the evening, as it stands near the limit of the "Messier-Free Zone" in the sky. Only globular cluster M30 is missed more frequently than this galaxy.
Last Modification: 20 Nov 1997, 22:10 MET