NGC 4559 is a spiral galaxy located in the constellation Coma Berenices. At mag. +10.0 it can be spotted with binoculars, but is challenging, requiring dark skies and patience. However, its high surface brightness does somewhat help. The galaxy is a nice telescope target that offers something for all sizes of backyard instruments.

NGC 4559 was discovered by William Herschel on April 11, 1785 and is estimated to be 30 million light-years distant. It's best seen from northern locations during the months of March, April and May.

NGC 4559 (credit:- NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA))

Finder Chart for NGC 4559 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for NGC 4559 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

NGC 4559 is located at the northeastern edge of the large naked eye Coma Star Cluster, which contains approx. 50 members including 12,13,14,16 and 21 Comae Berenices. Positioned a couple of degrees to the west is Gamma Comae Berenices (γ Com - mag. +4.4). The superb Needle Galaxy (NGC 4565) is located 2 degrees south of NGC 4559.

Through a 100mm (4-inch) scope at low magnifications, NGC 4559 is obviously oval shaped, spanning 10 x 4 arc minutes. The nucleus appears condensed, bright and surrounded by a hazy stream of soft light. Larger backyard scopes show significant mottling within the halo, which corresponds to the numerous dust lanes and bright nebulae located within the galaxy's arms. There are three 13th magnitude stars visible that curve in shape at the southeastern edge of the galaxy.

In 1941, a mag. +13.2 supernova (SN 1941a) was seen in NGC 4559. The galaxy is number 36 in the Caldwell catalogue.

NGC 4559 Data Table

Object TypeSpiral Galaxy
ClassificationSAB(rs) cd
ConstellationComa Berenices
Distance (light-years)30 Million
Apparent Mag.+10.0
RA (J2000)12h 35m 57s
DEC (J2000)+27d 57m 35s
Apparent Size (arc mins)10.7 x 4.4
Radius (light-years)45,000
Number of Stars250 Billion

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

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