Staring Into a Starburst Galaxy

Underneath the tail of Ursa Major lies M94

Sarah Marie
4 min readAug 1, 2022
A zoomed-in image of the Messier 94 spiral galaxy. A bright white oval sits at the center with spirals of dust in a bright haze around it. Towards the edges, countless bright white stars peak through the spirals of dust.
Starburst Galaxy M94 from Hubble from NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 7/31/2022. Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA

Welcome back to the Monday Astronomy Picture Ponderings (MAPPs) series where every Monday I normally pick one of NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) entries from the past seven days to focus on in some way.

Astronomy is a particularly interesting field of science, especially when introducing it to new, especially young, learners because it’s just so enticing on a basic level. Who hasn’t looked up in awe on a particularly clear, gorgeous night filled with stars? Who hasn’t, at least once, wondered what else is out there in the heavens above?

Images of astronomical objects are beautiful, awe-inspiring, question-inducing, and incredibly humbling. They tap into innate human curiosity today just as much as they did hundreds and thousands of years ago. We have always been fascinated by the night sky.

The feature image above is a gorgeous view of the inner rings of a galaxy known as Messier 94, located within the Canes Ventatici (Hunting Dogs) constellation located directly beneath the tail of Ursa Major (Big Bear). You may also know it as the handle of the Big Dipper (a well-known collection of stars within in the Ursa Major constellation).

A star map showing the constellation Canes Venatici, the Hunting Dogs, with the other stars and constellations around it shaded gray (for contrast). Bootes lies to the left. Canes Venatici is directly underneath the tail of Ursa Major and above Coma Berenices.
Canes Venitici Constellation star map. You can see Messier 94 (M94) as a red dot in the center-right of the Canes Venatici area. Image Credit: By IAU and Sky & Telescope magazine (Roger Sinnott & Rick Fienberg) — [1], CC BY 3.0,

The Hunting Dogs constellation is one of the many that can be difficult to envision the subject from just the stars. Even connecting them in the right way makes very abstract art that doesn’t easily help you envision dogs. Below you can see an 1825 star chart with illustrations to depict both Canes Venitici and Bootes to the left, though you can see that the illustrations of the dogs don’t perfectly line up with the stars.

An historical star chart with illustrations of the constellations on top of the star locations of the part of the night sky containing Canes Venatici in the top center with Bootes the Herdsman to the left and Coma Berencis, depicted as a wig, below.
“Bootes, Canes Venatici, Coma Berenices, and Quadrans Muralis”, plate 10 in Urania’s Mirror, a set of celestial cards accompanied by A familiar treatise on astronomy … by Jehoshaphat Aspin. London. Astronomical chart, 1 print on layered paper board : etching, hand-colored. Image Credit: By See file page for creator info., Public Domain,

However, let’s get back to the Messier 94 galaxy within the Hunting Dogs, about 15 million lightyears away from us, a relatively close distance in space, pictured again below for easy…



Sarah Marie

Author & Freelance Writer | Top Writer in Space | A little bit of everything: Science, books, personal development, fiction, poetry, hobbies, and art