In his book, The Messier Objects, Stephan James O’Meara calls this galaxy ‘The Phantom,’ writing: “No object in the Messier catalogue has proven more troublesome, more elusive, more provocative to amateur astronomers than this giant spiral.” M74, also known as NGC 628, is a galaxy with 40 billion stars and a diameter of 97,000 light years. Compare this to our own Milky Way galaxy which has at least 100 billion stars and a diameter of 100,000 light years. While more diffuse than the Milky Way, M74 has a similar armed spiral structure.
I was drawn to trying to capture an image of M74 as I can imagine a sentient being on a planet around one of those stars looking up in their night sky and contemplating us in a galaxy 32 million light years away that looks not that much different.
This image is a combination of thirty 6-minute exposures on the night of October 4-5, 2015 through a Takahashi Mewlon 250 telescope operating at f/19.2 with a Canon 6D camera.