Messier 81 is a spiral galaxy about 12 million light-years away in the constellation Ursa Major. M81 is one of the most striking examples of a grand design spiral galaxy, with near perfect arms spiralling into the very centre. Because of its proximity to Earth, its large size, and its active galactic nucleus (which harbours a 70 million solar mass supermassive black hole). It is close by M82 which is also worth a look if you are in this region.

Images by Simon Dawes

M81 and M81 SD 01

Images by Julian Tworek

M81_JT01

Images by Neil Webster

M81 Neil Webster 01