M 109 - The Phantom Galaxy
This is one of the most difficult hence most beautiful Messier Objects to photograph. The galaxy contains two clearly defined spiral arms and is therefore used as an archetypal example of a grand design spiral galaxy.
The relatively large angular size of the galaxy and the galaxy's face-on orientation make it an ideal object for professional astronomers who want to study spiral arm structure and spiral density waves. It is estimated that M74 is home to about 100 billion stars. It is the brightest member of the M74 Group, a group of 5–7 galaxies that also includes the peculiar spiral galaxy NGC 660 and a few irregular galaxies.
The galaxy raised peculiar attention in the last decades because of multiple Supernova Explosions (SN) occurig in a short period of time. One of these SN (SN 2002ap) was of the very rare Type Ic SN (Hypernova) and could be used to test theories connecting those events to highly energetic Gamma Ray Bursts.
Photographed from Heidelberg, Germany under Bortle 7 conditions.