Discovered 1779 by Edward Pigott.
M64, located approximately 24.5 million light years distant, is the famous "Black Eye Galaxy" and sometimes also called the "Sleeping Beauty Galaxy". The conspicuous dark dust cloud is the prominent visual feature of the galaxy. This cloud is sometimes referred to as the evil eye and is also the galaxy's black eye. This dust feature is readily visible in moderate sized amateur telescopes.
M64 was recently shown to have two counter-rotating systems of stars and gas in its disk. The inner disk, of about 3,000 light years radius, is rubbing along the edge of the outer disk. This outer disk structure rotates opposite the inner disk structure. It extends radially at least 40,000 light years and is rotating at a speed of approximately 300 km/sec. The resulting rubbing process between the two disks is probably the reason for the observed vigorous star formation process currently under way. This star formation activity can be observed as bright knots imbedded in the dust lane on one side of the nucleus. Current speculation is that the formation of this peculiar disk and dust lane was caused by material from a former companion spiral galaxy which has been accreted but has yet to settle into the mean orbital plane of the disk.