M81 - NGC 3031
DSS image of M81
Overlaid DSS image of M81, 60' x 60' with north at top and west to the right

Aladin viewer for the region around M81
Bode's Galaxy
Bode 17, h 649, GC 1949, GC 1953, MCG +12-10-010, UGC 5318, PGC 28630, SDSS J095533.16+690355.1

Type  Galaxy
Magnitude  6.9
Size  26.9' x 14.1' @ 157°
Right Ascension  9h 55' 33.1"  (2000)
Declination  69° 3' 55" N
Constellation  Ursa Major
Description  ! eB, eL, E 156, gsvmbM, BN
Classification  SA(s)ab
Observing Notes

Andrew Cooper
Dec 29, 2019    Kaʻohe, Mauna Kea, HI (map)
46cm f/4.5 Newtonian, Deep Violet @ 175x

Very large, spanning the 1/2° field, a bright core with a large halo, darker rifts in the halo betray the spiral arms, the core is about 5' across

Andrew Cooper
Oct 22, 2006    TIMPA, Avra Valley, AZ (map)
12x36 Canon Image Stabilized Binoculars

Easy to find, bright, elongated with a brighter core, M82 visible 40' north

Andrew Cooper
Jun 12, 1999    Pinal Peak, AZ (map)
20cm f/10 SCT

Large, bright, obvious core and evenly bright outwards, two nice stars on the south edge to confuse supernova hunters

Rev. T.W. Webb
May 19, 1885    Hardwick, Herefordshire, England (map)

Two neb. ½° apart[M81 and M82]; 81 bright, with vivid nucleus, finely grouped with small stars, two of which are projected upon the haze, to which h. gives nearly 15' of length. Two little pairs sp, making the field very interesting. The nearer is Σ1387: 9.5, 9.5: 269°.6: 8"".9; the further is Σ1386: 8.2: 8.2: 296°: 2"". 82 (Bode's neb.), curious narrow curved ray. D'A., 7' x100"", two nuclei, and sparkling as if resolvable, which 81 is not. Huggins finds both spectra continuous, but deficient at the red end, like the Androm. neb., etc. L.P., spiral; spect. one absorption and two bright lines.
― Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes, T. W. Webb, 1917

John Herschel
Oct 28, 1831    

Extremely bright; extremely large; elongated, at position angle 156 deg; gradually brighter and then very suddenly much brighter toward the middle, with faint rays of light nearly to extremities of field (15'). The most condensed part is 4' long and 3' broad.

Charles Messier
Feb 9, 1781    

A nebula near the ear of the great Bear, on the parallel of the star d, of fourth or fifth magnitude: its position was determined from that star. This nebula is a little oval, the center clear, & one can see it well in an ordinary telescope of 3.5 feet. It was discovered by M. Bode at Berlin on December 31, 1774, & by M. Méchain, in the month August 1779."
― Connaissance des Temps, 1781

Johann Elert Bode
Dec 31, 1774    Berlin Observatory, Germany (map)

On December 31, 1774, I found through the seven-foot telescope, closely above the head of UMa, east near the star d at its ear, two small nebulous patches separated by about 0.75 degrees, the positions of which relative to the neighbored small stars are shown in the tenth figure. The patch Alpha (M81) appears mostly round and has a dense nucleus in the middle. The other, Beta, on the other hand, is very pale and of elongated shape. I could determine the separation of Alpha to d as 2°7', to Rho as 5°2' and to 2 Sigma as 4°32' with some acuracy; Beta was too faint and disappeared from my eyes as soon as I shifted apart the halves of the objective glass.
Other Data Sources for M81
Nearby objects for M81
2 objects found within 120'
M82 NGC 3077
Credits...

Drawings, descriptions, and CCD photos are copyright Andrew Cooper unless otherwise noted, no usage without permission.

A complete list of credits and sources can be found on the about page

M81