This beauty is M81 (also known as NGC 3031 or Bode’s Galaxy), a spiral galaxy that is located about 12-million light-years away in the constellation of Ursa Major. M81 is a large galaxy similar to the Milky Way in many ways. For starters, it has a large active galactic nucleus making it very bright – because of its brightness, it is a popular object for amateur and professional astronomers alike.
Furthermore, M81 is also the largest of 34 other galaxies that belong to the M81 Galaxy Group (it is similar to the Local Group, the galaxy cluster we call home).
Download a larger image here.