NGC 4244, also known as Caldwell 26, is an edge-on spiral galaxy located in the constellation of Canes Venatici. With an apparent mag. of +10.0, it can be spotted with small telescopes under dark skies but much easier with larger instruments. The galaxy appears highly flattened, spanning 16 x 2 arc minutes and as a result is often referred to as the Silver Needle galaxy. It's a superb example of an edge-on needle spiral, that's bettered only by NGC 4565 in Coma Berenices.

NGC 4244 was discovered by William Herschel on March 17, 1787. It's part of the M94 Group or Canes Venatici I group of galaxies, which contains at least 24 members. The galaxy is best seen from Northern Hemisphere locations during the months of March, April and May.

NGC 4244 (credit:- NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA))

Finder Chart for NGC 4244 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for NGC 4244 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

NGC 4244 is located 7.5 degrees west of Cor Caroli (α CVn - mag. +2.9) and 4.75 degrees southwest of Chara (β CVn - mag. +4.2). Tenth mag. irregular galaxy NGC 4214 is positioned 1.5 degrees south of the galaxy; with 11th mag. spiral galaxy NGC 4151 situated 2 degrees northwest of NGC 4244.

A 100mm (4-inch) refractor shows NGC 4244 as a thin streak of greyish light, which makes a welcome change from the hazy oval look of most spirals. Through larger scopes it appears brighter, especially towards the centre but spotting additional details is difficult. Under dark skies and with averted vision, an observer using a 300mm (12-inch) scope may be able to see subtle markings, such as mottling and dark dust lanes.

Like a number of spiral galaxies, NGC 4244 contains a tiny but massive nuclear star cluster at its centre. This type of cluster is flattened and contains significant numbers of stars. It's about the same size as a normal globular cluster.

NGC 4244 is approx. 14 Million light-years distant. It has a spatial diameter of 65,000 light-years and is estimated to contain 40 billion stars.

NGC 4244 Data Table

Object TypeSpiral Galaxy
ClassificationSA(s) cd
ConstellationCanes Venatici
Distance (light-years)14 Million
Apparent Mag.+10.0
RA (J2000)12h 17m 30s
DEC (J2000)+37d 48m 24s
Apparent Size (arc mins)16.2 x 1.8
Radius (light-years)32,500
Number of Stars40 Billion
Notable FeatureA member of the M94 Group of galaxies

Sky Highlights - March 2017

Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak now visible with binoculars as it heads towards perihelion

Mercury heading towards greatest elongation east

Minor Planet
Vesta now visible with binoculars and small telescopes.

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for March 2017

Northern Hemisphere
West:- Venus (mag. -4.8 to -4.1 - first half of month), Mars (mag. +1.3 to +1.5), Uranus (mag. +5.9), Mercury (mag. -1.5 to -0.4 - second half of month)
Southeast:- Jupiter (mag. -2.3 to -2.5)
Southwest:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.5)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Venus (first half of month), Mars, Uranus
North:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
West:- Jupiter
Northeast:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +8.0 - second half of month)

Deep Sky
Naked eye / binoculars:-
Melotte 111 - Mel 111 - The Coma Star Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 44 - M44 - The Praesepe (Open Cluster)

Messier 67 - M67 - Open Cluster
Messier 51 - M51 - The Whirlpool Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 97 - M97 - The Owl Nebula (Planetary Nebula)
Messier 101 - M101 - The Pinwheel Galaxy (Spiral Galaxy)
Messier 65 – M65 – Spiral Galaxy
Messier 66 - M66 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
Messier 95 - M95 - Barred Spiral Galaxy
Messier 96 - M96 - Intermediate Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4244 - Spiral Galaxy
NGC 4565 - Needle Galaxy - Spiral Galaxy

Shop at Amazon US

Shop at Amazon US

Current Moon Phase



If you like the website and want to contribute to the running costs then please do so below. All contributions are most welcome.