M 94 - Spiral Galaxy
A Bit of General Knowledge
M 94 is a spiral galaxy some 15 to 17 million light years away from us. It has a diameter of about 56,000 light years and contains some 60,000 million stars. In this sense, M 94 is considered a generally modest galaxy but it does have some rather special qualities. Like M 82, M 94 is a Starburst galaxy, which means it is in the process of creating stars. It appears that high density stellar waves are compressing cosmic matter into protostars at an exceptionally high rate.
Although face on, the galaxy highlights some kind of spiral structure and is said to resemble an onion, being made up of four complex ring-like regions. The first is a central region of ancient red stars estimated to be around 10,000 million years old. The second area is a starburst region giving itself over to star formation. This is followed by another ring-like area made up of more ancient red stars and another starburst region. Finally, there's been observed a very faint outer ring. In this sense, M 94 is a rather rare galaxy whereby two interstellar cosmic waves are creating stars simultaneously in two very distinct regions.
Observation from the City
M 94 has a special place in my records for it was the first galaxy observed with the Tal 100rs. With the scope on that particular Spring evening in the city, M 94 appeared at first like a bright, luminous planetary nebula, but resting with her for a little while revealed a brighter core surrounded by a nebulous like halo. A rather pretty sight, especially as framed by the surrounding stars and with the use of a Telrad and decent scope finder, shouldn't cause much problem to find in an urban setting.