NGC 4565, also known as the Needle Galaxy, is the finest and brightest example of an edge-on spiral galaxy in the sky. It shines at magnitude +9.5 and therefore is bright enough to be seen with small telescopes. The galaxy is located in the constellation of Coma Berenices. Since positioned at the eastern edge of the sprawling naked eye Coma Star Cluster (Mel 111), it's easy to find.

NGC 4565 was discovered by William Herschel on April 6, 1785. It's number 38 in the Caldwell catalogue and is best seen from northern locations during the months of March, April and May. This spiral is physically large and similar in size to the Andromeda Galaxy (M31).

NGC 4565 (credit:- Ken Crawford)

Finder Chart for NGC 4565 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for NGC 4565 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

The Needle Galaxy is located only 3 degrees from the North Galactic Pole and less than 2 degrees east of star, 17 Comae Berenices (mag. +5.3). Along with other naked eye stars, 17 Comae Berenices is a member of the Coma Star Cluster, which also includes 12,13,14,16 and 21 Comae Berenices.

NGC 4565 is a challenging object to spot with 7x50 and 10x50 binoculars. Through an 80mm (3.1-inch) scope at high powers, it appears as a thin line of nebulosity with a hint of a central bulge. In total, this slither of light spans some 15.8 x 2.0 arc minutes of apparent sky. Since edge-on from our perspective, it does have a high surface brightness.

With larger scopes, the galaxy is a wonderful sight. A 200m (8-inch) instrument at high powers reveals a long needle of nebulosity. The nucleus appears bright and star like with a broad dust band running along its edge. Surrounding the nucleus is a round haze of light. Through even larger scopes, it's possible to tease out finer details in the dust lane. This galaxy is stunning and certainly one of the best deep-sky objects not included in the Messier catalogue.

NGC 4565 is 30 Million light-years distant. It has a spatial diameter of 140,000 light-years and is estimated to contain a trillion stars. Located 2 degrees north of NGC 4565 is another bright spiral, NGC 4559 (mag. +10.0).

NGC 4565 Data Table

NameNeedle Galaxy
Object TypeSpiral Galaxy
ClassificationSA(s) b
ConstellationComa Berenices
Distance (light-years)30 Million
Apparent Mag.+9.5
RA (J2000)12h 36m 21s
DEC (J2000)+25d 59m 19s
Apparent Size (arc mins)15.8 x 2.0
Radius (light-years)70,000
Number of Stars1 Trillion
Notable FeatureProminent example of an edge-on spiral galaxy

Sky Highlights - May 2017

Mercury reaches greatest elongation west on May 17, 2017

Meteor Shower
Eta Aquariids meteor shower peaks on May 5th and 6th, 2017

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for May 2017

Northern Hemisphere
West:- Mars (mag. +1.6)
South:- Jupiter (mag. -2.4)
Southwest:- Jupiter
Southeast:- Saturn (mag. +0.2)
South:- Saturn
East:- Venus (mag. -4.7)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Mars
North:- Jupiter
Northwest:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
Northwest:- Saturn
East:- Venus, Mercury (mag. +2.5 to -0.3), Neptune (mag. +7.9)

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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