Messier 81 was first discovered by Johann Elert Bode in 1774. Consequently, the galaxy is sometimes referred to as “Bode’s Galaxy”. In 1779, Pierre Méchain and Charles Messier reidentified Bode’s object, which was subsequently listed in the Messier Catalogue.
Messier 81 is the largest galaxy in the M81 Group, a group of 34 galaxies located in the constellation Ursa Major. The distance from the Earth to the group is approximately 11.7 Mly (3.6 Mpc), making this one of the closest groups to the Local Group, which contains the Milky Way.
M81 is gravitationally interacting with Messier 82 and NGC 3077. The interactions have stripped some hydrogen gas away from all three galaxies, leading to the formation of filamentary gas structures in the group. Moreover, the interactions have also caused some interstellar gas to fall into the centers of Messier 82 and NGC 3077, which has led to strong starburst activity (or the formation of many stars) within the centers of these two galaxies.
It is hard to belive, but it is my first picture of this object.
Taken during last 2 nights at the observatory.
LRGB image, ~25 x 300s per channel, RGB binned x2.