M94 (NGC 4736) Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici
The Croc's Eye Galaxy
I only had about half an hour of dark-sky this evening. The just pasted Full Moon was rising
in the East, not long after the sun had set in the west. A short window for sure, before the
bright moon washed out the sky, but it was clear out and the Croc’s Eye Galaxy (M94) was
well placed in the sky over my house.
This galaxy, through my telescope, has a bright core, a layer of brighter material
surrounding the core and then a soft external outer layer. This three-layers of brightness
gave me the impression that I was looking at an unresolved Globular Cluster. I could also
see why it got its common name – it does look like it is looking back at you like a big eye.
To be more exact a 65,000-light-year sized-eye staring at me from 17 million light years.
M94 is famous for a bright ring around its core (active star forming region), which shows
up well in photographs. This bright ring was what I was seeing as the second layer of
brightness through my telescope, but I could not make out the ring proper, just the
increased glow. I have always found the Croc’s Eye Galaxy a pleasing and somewhat
easy galaxy to view from my suburban home – it was a good way to spend 30-minutes
before the moon dominated the sky.