M 81 and M 82 Galaxies in Ursa Major. February 2004. M81 is a beautiful spiral some 4.5 million light years from Earth. The needle shaped M 82 is 17 million light years distant. M81 plowed through M82 200 million years ago resulting in about 40 supernovae exploding in the intense central region of the needle! Technical: Canon 10D, Pentax 105 SHDF APO at prime focus. 5 x 5 min exposures. Summit County, CO.