Visible-light view of Messier 81
Ssc2003 06d2

Credit: N.A. Sharp (NOAO/AURA/NSF)

Observation • December 18th, 2003 • ssc2003-06d2


This image shows a visible-light view of the nearby galaxy Messier 81 (M81). Located in the northern constellation of Ursa Major (which also includes the Big Dipper), M81 is easily visible through binoculars or a small telescope. M81 is located at a distance of 12 million light-years. This image was obtained with a ground-based telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory and traces the distribution of stars in M81. The image reveals a very smooth stellar mass distribution, with the spiral arms relatively subdued.

About the Object

Bode's GalaxyMessier 81M81NGC 3031UGC 5318
Galaxy > Type > Spiral
12,000,000 Light Years

Color Mapping

Band Wavelength Telescope
Optical 440 nm NOAO
Optical 550 nm NOAO
Optical 700 nm NOAO


Position (J2000)
RA =9h 55m 34.0s
Dec = 69° 3' 54.9"
Field of View
23.5 x 17.9 arcminutes
North is 268.7° left of vertical