Not all galaxies appear as beautiful spirals when seen from Earth, as anyone who has observed or photographed the Leo Triplet will be aware.
Some galaxies appear edge-on from our perspective, and one of the most famous edge-on galaxies has to be NGC 4546, also known as the Needle Galaxy.
When seen through a telescope or when photographed, the galaxy appears like a thin streak across the deep sky.
What’s most interesting about the Needle Galaxy is the thick, dark dust lane that bisects the glowing galactic core.
Edge-on galaxies may not appear as beautiful as face-on spiral galaxies, but they do offer astronomers a unique perspective.
NGC4565 Needle Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Teleskop service 12″ Richey-Chretien telescope, Skywatcher EQ8 mount,Atik 383L+ camera, Astronomik LRGB filters, Hutech IDAS light pollution filter.
The Needle Galaxy is about 40 million lightyears away and is about one third larger than our home galaxy the Milky Way.
Below is a selection of pictures of the Needle Galaxy captured by BBC Sky at Night Magazine readers and astrophotographers from around the world.
For more info on deep-sky observing and imaging, read our astrophotography guides or our tutorial on deep-sky astronomy.
And if you’re already a seasoned deep-sky astrophotographer, fine-tune your processing skills with our guide to deep-sky image processing.
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Needle Galaxy by Mark Casto, Halesworth, Suffolk, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 200p, Eq5 mount, Cannon 350d modded.
C38 Needle Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron c11 sct, skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount, Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik LRGB filter set.
NGC4565 Galaxy by Simon Hollingdale, East Sussex, UK. Equipment: Atik 314L mono ccd, TS optics 10″ newtonian, neq6 mount
C38 Needle Galaxy by Mark Griffith, Swindon, Wiltshire, UK. Equipment: Celestron C11 Sct, Skywatcher NEQ6 pro mount,Atik 383L+ camera, motorised filter wheel and Astronomik filters.
NGC 4565 Needle Galaxy by Mark Large, Layer de la Haye, Essex, UK. Equipment: Williams Optics FLT110, Modified Canon EOS 1000d
NGC 4565 by Ron Brecher, Ontario, Canada. Equipment: SBIG STL-11000M camera, Baader LRGB filters, 10″ f/6.8 ASA astrograph, Paramount MX. Guided with STL-11000’s internal guider. Focusing with FocusMax. Acquistion, guiding and calibration using Maxim-DL.
Needle Galaxy by Dan Crowson, Animas, New Mexico, USA. Equipment: SBIG STF-8300M, Astro-Tech AT12RCT
NGC4565 LRGB by Chris Heapy, Macclesfield, UK. Equipment: Orion Optics ODK12 @ f/6.8, Atik 490EX @ 1×1 binning, Baader LRGB, 10-Micron GM2000HPS
NGC4565 by Richard Wykes, Kettering, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher AZ EQ6 GT mount, Skywatcher 250PX scope, QHY8 CCD OSC camera & Baader MPCC, ST80 & ASI 120MM camera used for guiding. Capture Software Nebulosity 3, guiding software the latest version of PHD2.
Needle galaxy by Clive Roberts, Pwllglas, Denbighshire, UK. Equipment: Skywatcher 130 PDS, Canon 1000d, HEQ5, Orion guidescope, QHY5L-IIC guide camera
NGC4565 The Needle Galaxy by Duan Yusef, Canvey Island, Essex, UK. Equipment: kharos 10″ Truss RC telescope, SW EQ8 Mount, ZWO ASI1600MM-C, ZWO Filter Wheel, Badder 36mm NB Filters, Lodestar Guide Cam, Primaluce Lad Airy 72 Guide scope
NGC 4565 by Mario Richter, Finsterwalde, Germany. Equipment: Takahashi TSA 102/816, Sky Watcher EQ6 Sky Scan, AMP Superguider, MGEN 2, IDAS LPS1, Canon 60d mod.