Located in the constellation of Canes Venatici, roughly midway between ruddy Arcturus and where the handle attaches to the bowl of the Big Dipper, M94 is a very dusty galaxy whose most remarkable feature is a bright inner ring that blazes with the radiance of thousands of hot, bright stars reflecting off the nearby clouds of nebulosity. Beyond this inner ring are broad, dense spiral arms made of gas and dust- so thick and impenetrable that the light of most stars remains trapped inside, hidden- only seen by each other. These arms cover an enormous amount of distance and are estimated to span over 15,000 light years from tip to tip. That means it takes fifteen thousand years for light, traveling at 186,000 miles a second, to journey from one side of this galaxy to the other. For comparison, we see the moon with only a one fourth second delay due to its relative proximity. This galaxy is huge!
Holding a camera shutter open for such a long time through a relatively large telescope enabled the capture of a very large amounts of light. Things that would not be visible in shorter exposures with smaller optical instruments can suddenly pop into view. The picture demonstrates this by showing M94's true size- there are extended spiral arms filled with star clusters and nebulae that more than double the diameter normally presented.