Messier 74 or M74 (also designated NGC 628) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Pisces. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 9.4 and its angular diameter is 10.2x9.5 arc-minutes. M74 lies at an estimated distance of 35 million light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 1h 36.7m, Dec= +15° 47´ which makes M74 best seen during the autumn. The Messier Autumn Star Chart shows the position of all Messier objects visible during that season.
The image above shows the uncropped view of M74 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is to right). A 3x enlargement of this image appears to the right.
This symmetric face-on spiral galaxy was discovered by P. Méchain in 1780. The 3rd Earl of Rosse included it in his list of 14 "spiral nebulae" in 1850. According to Stoyan et al. (2010), the distance of M74 is 25.1 million light years and its diameter is 77,000 light years. Its estimated mass is 300 billion solar masses.
Messier's Description of M74
October 18, 1780
`Nebula without stars, near the star Eta Piscium, seen by M. Méchain at the end of September 1780, and he reports: "This nebula doesn't contain any stars; it is fairly large, very obscure, and extremely difficult to observe; one can recognize it with more certainty in fine, frosty conditions". M. Messier looked for it and found it, as M. Méchain describes it: it has been compared directly with the star Eta Piscium.'
- Object: M74
- Other Names: NGC 628
- Object Type: spiral galaxy
- Object Data: Apparent Magnitude = 9.4, Angular Size = 10.2x9.5 arc-minutes
- Object Position (Equinox 2000): RA= 1h 36.7m, Dec= +15° 47´, Constellation = Pisces
- Date/Time: 2011 Oct 19 at 04:47 UTC
- Location: Bifrost Astronomical Observatory, Portal, AZ
- Mount: Astro-Physics 1200GTO
- Telescope: Takahashi Epsilon 180 Hyperbolic Astrograph
- Camera: Canon EOS 550D (Rebel T2i) (modified with a Baader UV/IR filter)
- Field of View: 1.70° x 2.56° at 1.7 arc-sec/pixel (web version: 10.0 arc-sec/pixel)
- Exposure: 4 x 300s, f/2.8, ISO 800
- File Name: M73-01w.jpg
- Processing (Adobe Camera Raw): Graduated Filter, Vignetting Correction, Noise Reduction, White Balance, Curves
- Processing (Photoshop CS5): Average Images, Curves, Noise Reduction
- Original Image Size: 3454 × 5179 pixels (17.9 MP); 11.5" x 17.3" @ 300 dpi
- Rights: Copyright 2011 by Fred Espenak. All Rights Reserved. See: Image Licensing.