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Silver Needle Galaxy

C26, NGC 4244

Proper NameSilver Needle Galaxy
Caldwell NumberC26
NGC/IC NumberNGC 4244
ConstellationCanes Venatici
Right Ascension12h 17m 30s
Declination+37° 48' 26"
Distancec.14,200,000 light years
c.4,300,000 parsecs
MagnitudeApparent: +9.85
Absolute: -18.34
DiameterApparent: 16.2'
Actual: 66,900 light years
Hubble TypeSc spiral
Optimum VisibilityApril
NotesThe Needle Galaxy has the morphology of a spiral with broad arms spreading from a relatively small nucleus, though the detail of this structure cannot be seen from Earth due to its edge-on orientation. Instead, only the outer edge of its disc is visible, forming a narrow needle-like shape. It lies almost directly westward of third-magnitude Cor Caroli in Canes Venatici.

A spiral galaxy that falls within the western parts of Canes Venatici, in the region where that constellation meets Ursa Major in the northern sky. Though of spiral form, this galaxy is oriented to that it appears almost exactly edge-on from Earth, and so the structure of its spiral arms cannot be directly seen. Instead its arms appear as narrow tapering lines extending from a bright galactic core, reaching out to terminate in sharp needle-like points that give the galaxy its name.

Imagery provided by Aladin sky atlas

The Silver Needle is part of the Canes Venatici I Group (also called the M94 Group), a small group of galaxies that neigbours the Milky Way's own Local Group. This is one the closer members of the group, lying some fourteen million light years from the Milky Way.

The Silver Needle Galaxy is not to be confused with an object known simply as the Needle Galaxy, C38. That object is another spiral galaxy seen edge-on from Earth, and so presents the same narrow, tapering needle shape. The two galaxies are otherwise unrelated, and indeed the Needle Galaxy lies much farther away than the Silver Needle, at a distance of approximately 39 million light years in the direction of Coma Berenices. Nor is the Silver Needle to be confused with the Silver Sliver Galaxy, C23, another more distant edge-on galaxy in Andromeda.


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