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The Black Eye Galaxy – Messier 64

The Black Eye Galaxy (Messier 64) is a spiral galaxy with an apparent magnitude of 9.36, lying approximately 24 million light years from Earth. It is sometimes also called the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy or Evil Eye Galaxy.
It is a popular object among amateur astronomers, as it can be easily observed in small telescopes. The Black Eye Galaxy has a bright nucleus and a dark band of dust in front of it, which earned it the nickname the Evil Eye.


The galaxy is an unusual one; the gas in its outer regions rotates in the opposite direction from the stars and gas in its inner regions. Astronomers speculate that this could be a result of M64 having absorbed a smaller satellite galaxy about a billion years ago.
The inner region spans only 3,000 light years in radius, while the outer parts extend to another 40,000 light years. The region separating the two is a site of active star formation.
Messier 64 was independently discovered by Edward Pigott and Johann Elert Bode in 1779, and then by Charles Messier, who included the galaxy in his catalogue in 1780.
The Black Eye can be found one degree east-northeast of the star 35 Comae Berenices.

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