Silver Dollar, Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253)

NGC 253
NGC 253: Silver Dollar Galaxy in Sculptor; 4" Vixen ED100, Canon EOS 20Da; 5 x 302s + 3 x 348s / 1600 ISO; Hakos / Namibia; © 2005 Eduard von Bergen


This galaxy was discovered by Caroline Herschel on 23 September 1783 with her Newtonian telescope of 4.2 inch aperture, 27 inches focal length and a power of 30. She was searching systematically for comets. William Herschel catalogued it on 30 October 1783 as V 1 (Class V = very large nebulae) and noted: «Considerably bright, much elongated, south preceding, north following, much brighter in the middle, above 50' length and 7 or 8' broad.» [277, 463]

NGC 253 is also known as the Sculptor Galaxy or Silver Dollar.

NGC 253
NGC 253: Image taken with the 2.2 metre telescope on La Silla. © ESO [511]

Physical Properties

The galaxy is of the morphological type SAB(s)c and a Seyfert galaxy with massive, active star formation. Measured distances range from 3 Mpc to 4.1 Mpc. [145] NGC 253 is one of the brightest and most dusty galaxies in the night sky.

Revised+Historic NGC/IC, Version 22/9, © Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke [277]
DesignationNGC 253
TypeGx (SBc)
Right Ascension00h 47m 33.1s
Declination-25° 17' 15"
Diameter29 × 6.8 arcmin
Photographic (blue) magnitude8.0 mag
Visual magnitude7.2 mag
Surface brightness12.7 mag·arcmin-2
Position angle52°
Distance derived from z3.43 Mpc
Metric Distance3.140 Mpc
Dreyer Description!! vvB, vvL, vmE 54°, gbM
Identification, RemarksESO 474-29, MCG -4-3-9, UGCA 13, Sculptor galaxy, Silver Dollar

Finder Chart

Deep in the south, the declination of -25° is one of the more difficult to access objects in our northern latitudes. The Sculptor Galaxy in the constellation Sculptor is probably one of the most beautiful and richly structured galaxies that can be viewed from the side. The best observation time is September to November. [192]

Chart Silver Dollar, Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253)
Silver Dollar, Sculptor Galaxy (NGC 253) in constellation Sculptor. Chart created using SkySafari 6 Pro and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. [149, 160]

More Objects Nearby (±30°)


145SIMBAD astronomical database;
149SkySafari 6 Pro, Simulation Curriculum;
160The STScI Digitized Sky Survey;
192Deep-Sky Guide; (2020-12-25)
277«Historische Deep-Sky Kataloge» von Dr. Wolfgang Steinicke; (2021-02-17)
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
511Spiral galaxy NGC 253; (2022-10-16)