M74 - The Phantom Galaxy

Credits: Keith Turnecliff, Long Itchington

M74, nicknamed the Phantom Galaxy, is a grand design spiral galaxy located in the constellationPisces. The galaxy appears face-on and has an apparent magnitude of 10. It lies at an approximate distance of 30 million light years from Earth. Its designation in the New General Catalogue is NGC 628.

M74 occupies an area of 10.5 by 9.5 arc minutes of apparent sky, which corresponds to a linear diameter of 95,000 light years, almost the size of the Milky Way. The galaxy is home to about 100 billion stars.

Facts about M74 by Keith Turnecliff

Messier 74 can be seen in large binoculars, but it only appears as a faint patch of light. Small telescopes will reveal the galaxy’s bright nucleus surrounded by a hazy halo, while larger telescopes will show the galaxy’s spiral arms. The galaxy looks similar to the Triangulum Galaxy (M33), but has a more defined nucleus. The best time of year to observe M74 is during the months of October, November and December.

This star chart represents the view from Long Itchington for mid September at 10pm.
Credits: Image courtesy of Starry Night Pro Plus 8, researched and implemented by Keith Turnecliff.