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

NGC4244
Caldwell26
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 - August 2017

Total Solar Eclipse
Total Solar Eclipse of August 21st

Meteor Shower
Perseids meteor shower peaks on August 12th

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for August

Northern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (mag. +0.4) (start of month)
Southwest:- Jupiter (mag. -1.9)
South:- Saturn (mag. +0.3)
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Midnight
Southwest:- Saturn
Southeast:- Neptune
East:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
Morning
Southwest:- Neptune
South:- Uranus
East:- Venus (mag. -4.0)

Southern Hemisphere
Evening
West:- Mercury (first half of month)
Northwest:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
Midnight
West:- Jupiter
Northwest:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
East:- Uranus
Morning
West:- Neptune
North:- Uranus
Northeast:- Venus

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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