M64 -- Black-Eye Galaxy in Coma Berenices
How Did M64 Get A Black Eye?
A distinctive dark dust-lane runs along the edge of the bright nucleus of the Spiral Galaxy
M64.  For that reason, it is called the Black-Eye Galaxy.  From my backyard in suburbia, I
can, on a good night, make out the dust-lane “the black eye” with my 6-inch refractor, but it
is a challenge.  John Mallas, author of the 1978 “The Messier Album” claimed that he could
make out the black eye with a 2.4-inch refractor.  I have tried to repeat this feat with my own
2.4-inch f/15 refractor several times under truly dark skies but have always failed.  Regardless,
I think that a good quality moderate-sized telescope under clear skies can make out the
Black-Eye in M64 even in skies with some light pollution.

M64 is also noted as a galaxy that has two rotating disks of ionized gas and neutral hydrogen
moving in opposite directions at different distances from the nucleus. The galaxy has obviously
been stressed.  

Both the counter-rotating disks of gas and the dark dust-lane are the result of a collision a billion or
so years ago with another smaller galaxy. The Black-Eye was formed during the heavy-weight
merger fight.