This spiral galaxy was discovered by Edward Pigott on March 23, 1779, just 12 days before Johann Elert Bode found it independently on April 4, 1779. Roughly a year later, Charles Messier has rediscovered it on March 1, 1780 and cataloged it as M64. Its distance from Earth is ~17 million light-years, its diameter ~51,000 light years, and its visual magnitude is 8.5.
M64 is said be the end product of a merger of two other galaxies, perhaps more than one billion years ago. The galaxy has received its name due to the dark lane of dust lining its inner near-side which give it its "black-eye" appearance. William Herschel, who discovered this feature, observed it twice (in 1785 and 1789), and has already compared it to a "Black Eye." The feature comprises huge dust clouds associated with star formation. Obscuring the light from stars behind them, they give a notion of the galaxy's position, i.e. that the dark lane lays in the direction of Earth. Another interesting feature of M64 is its counter-rotating star systems - the inner 3000 light years region rotating at about 300 km/sec. in the opposite direction of the other system extending to 40,000 light-years.