NGC 4565, Needle Galaxy


This galaxy was discovered by William Herschel on April 6, 1785 and cataloged as V 24 (class V = very large nebulae). As for most of his discoveries he was using his 18.7 inch reflecting telescope with 20 feet focal length. He described the galaxy as «a lucid ray 20' long or more, 3 or 4' broad, north preceeding, south following, very bright in the middle, a beautiful appearance». [463]

NGC 4565
NGC 4565: Edge-On Galaxy in Coma Berenices; 500 mm Cassegrain 5800 mm f/11.4; SBIG STL11K; 60+10+10+10 min LRGB; Bernese Highlands; © 2005 Radek Chromik
NGC 4565
NGC 4565: Edge-On Galaxy in Coma Berenices; RC 500 on Herkules V48 mount; SBIG STL-11000M/C2; -25 °C chip temperature, L unbinned 7x10 min, R 2x2 binning 5x10 min, G 2x2 binning 4x10 min, B 2x2 binning, 4x10 min; Son Bi Observatory, Mallorca; © 14.-15. 1. 2016 Beat Kohler, Hansjörg Wälchli

Physical Properties

NGC 4565 is the largest of the Edge-On galaxies — i. e. a spiral galaxy which we see from its side. It has been nicknamed the «Needle Galaxy» and is of morphological type Sab. It is an outlying and close member of the Virgo cluster, although it lies about 13° north of its main concentration. Radial velocity measurements range from 1178 km/s to 1282 km/s, distance measurements vary from 12 Mpc to 18 Mpc (39 to 58 million light years). [4, 145, 196]

«Catalogue of Principal Galaxies (PGC)», Paturel et al. 1989 [144]
NameRA [hms]Dec [dms]mTypeDim [']Btot [mag]HRV [km/s]PA [°]
NGC 456212 35 35.1+25 51 03SB2.4 x .714.4136348
NGC 456512 36 20.5+25 59 20S14.9 x 2.010.31226136
IC 358212 36 30.9+26 12 04C.4 x .214.5712145

Finder Chart

The Needle Galaxy is located in the constellation Coma Berenices just 1.7° east of the variable binary star 17 Comae, which at mag 5.25 is still visible to the unaided eye. The galaxy is best observed from January to July.

Chart NGC 4565
Chart created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. [149, 160]

Visual Observation

400 mm Aperture: In the 21 mm ethos (85x) the galaxy NGC 4565 stands out as a bright, long, thin stripe with a thickened centre. The dust band is well visible here. With increasing magnification, the contrast increases compared to the sky background. — 400 mm f/4.5 Taurus Dobsonian, Glaubenberg, SQM 21.34, a bit windy, Sahara dust and hazy und dunstig, 22. 5. 2022, Bernd Nies


4«Burnham's Celestial Handbook: An Observer's Guide to the Universe Beyond the Solar System» by Robert Burnham; Dover Publications, Inc.; Voume I: ISBN 0-486-23567-X; Volume II: ISBN 0-486-23568-8; Volume III: ISBN 0-486-23673-0
144Catalogue of Principal Galaxies (PGC); Paturel G., Fouque P., Bottinelli L., Gouguenheim L.; Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. Ser. 80, 299 (1989); (2021-02-18)
145SIMBAD astronomical database;
149SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum;
160The STScI Digitized Sky Survey;
196Celestial Atlas by Curtney Seligman; (2020-12-28)
463«Catalogue of one thousand new nebulae and clusters of stars» William Herschel, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, 1 January 1786; DOI:10.1098/rstl.1786.0027