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 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.