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NGC 3115 (6,657 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Spindle Galaxy

NGC 3115, LEDA 29265, MCG-01-26-018, UGCA 199, Bennett 42, Caldwell 53, Spindle Galaxy, I 163, h 668, h 3223, GC 2008

RA: 10h 05m 13.8s
Dec: −07° 43′ 8″

Con: Sextans
Ch: MSA:804, U2:279, SA:13


(reference key)

Type: galaxy (in cluster), S0

Mag: B=11, V=?

Size: 7.244′ x 3.235′
PA: 43°

Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

Synonyms: H I-163

Discovered in 1787 by William Herschel with an 18.7-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He called it "eB, cL, much extended 45 degrees sp-nf, has a nucleus 2' long, faint branch 5' long."

John Herschel (1847) Cape Observations

Observed by Sir John Herschel at the Cape of Good Hope with an 18-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He recorded it as "vB, L, vmE, vsvmbM; observed among clouds."

This 10th magnitude galaxy lies in the star-poor constellation of Sextans. It is aptly nicknamed the Spindle. It has an evenly illuminated elliptical disc about 4' long and 1' wide.

Published comments

Photo index

Photo Index by Jim Lucyk: Sky&Tel. 4/84 p382, Burnhams V3 p1796, Hubble Atl.of Gal. (Sandage 1961) p1.

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 10.5 mag galaxy. Their coded description reads E,EL,BM,HISB,DIFHALO.

Sandage, A. (1961) The Hubble Atlas of Galaxies

This galaxy appears on page 1 of "The Hubble Atlas of Galaxies" by Allan Sandage (1961, Washington, DC).

Schmidt, K.-H. et al. (1993)

Schmidt K.-H., Priebe A. & Boller T. (1993) Nearby galaxies. Revised machine-readable version of the catalogue. Astron. Nachr., 314, 371. [1993AN....314..371S]

Other names: "-01-26-018". Inclination: (face-on, in degrees) 80 Total photoelectric blue mag 9.87 Total colour index .97 Logarithm of the angular diameter D25 (arcminutes) 1.86 Blue photographic magnitude 9.71 This galaxy is included in a sample of galaxies with velocity less than 500km/s with respect to the centroid of the Local Group. [Nearby Galaxies. Schmidt K.-H., Priebe A., Boller T. (Astron. Nachr. 314, 371 (1993))]

Doig, P. (1925)

Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part IV. M.N.R.A.S., 36(2), 58.

Modern observations

Walter Scott Houston

Houston calls this a "fine galaxy for small telescopes. Powers as low as 20 will show the spindle shape of 4' long." He recalls observing the galaxy with a 10-inch, and notes that "even the pointed ends on its oval disc were visible" He recalls that he failed in several attempts to locate this edge-on galaxy with his 4-inch Clark when he first moved to Connecticut in 1962: "This was a surprise because it always appeared bright as seen though my 10-inch reflector in the dark skies of Kansas. My notes from then even mention viewing it with the 4-inch at 300x and commenting on how sharp the edges of the 8'-long galaxy seemed. NGC 3115 is known for having a higher-than-average surface brightness, so don't let light pollution discourage you."

This 9th mag galaxy stands high powers. Some 4' by 1' in extent, it is shaped like a cigar, "or perhaps a tiny torpedo cruising the depths of space" according to Houston. He notes that there are two 7th mag stars half a degree east.

Ancient City Astron.Club (1980)

Listed by the Herschel Club, described as "quite small in appearance, circular in shape. 6-inch, 35x."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "10M; 4' x 1' extent; fairly bright and large; axis oriented NE-SW; bears high-x well; 1.5 degrees WNW of 17-18 SEX; stellar nucleus clear at 285x; outer flange visible; 12.5M star 5' due S; 13.5M star 2' due S; !good supernova prospect! see photo at HAG-1."

Mullaney, J

Mullaney writes: "Glowing softly at magnitude 9.2, this isolated elliptical galaxy lies in Sextans .. it measures 8' by 3' ... although seldom observed, the Spindle galaxy, as it is called, is easy to spot in a 3-inch telescope on a dark night and is actually more attractive that many of Messier's galaxies."

Ware, Donald J

Donald J. Ware:"The Spindle Galaxy. This striking object is bright and moderately large in size, about 6'x1' in extent. It has a sharply brighter core and a stellar nucleus. A very pretty object."

Geldorp, Michael (IAAC)

Observer: Michael Geldorp; Your skills: Beginner (< one year); Date/time of observation: 8/4/1999 21.30 UT; Location of site: Alphen ad Rijn, Netherlands (Lat 52.09N, Elev ); Site classification: Suburban; Sky darkness: 4.0 Limiting magnitude; Seeing: III I-V Seeing Scale (I best); Moon presence: None - moon not in sky; Instrument: 8" F/6 Dobsonian; Magnification: 49X, 98X, 203X, 244X; Filter(s): none; Object(s): NGC 3115; Category: External galaxy.; Class: E6; Constellation: Sex; Data: mag 9.2 size 8'.3 x 3'.2; Position: RA 10:05 DEC -07:43

Description: A very elongated galaxy with a very bright nucleus. Seen at 98X and 203X. The galaxy seemed a bit brighter on its eastern side compared to its western side.

Steve Coe

Steve Coe, observing with a 13" f/5.6, notes: "Bright, large, very much elongated 4 X 1 in PA 45, much brighter in the middle at 135X. It is just seen in the 11 X 80 finder. The center is a bright envelope that has an oval, very bright nucleus, all of which at elongated in the same PA as the main body of the galaxy."

AJ Crayon

AJ Crayon, using an 8" f/6 Newtonian, notes: "is an elliptical galaxy. At 160X it is 8'x3' 9m in position angle northeast with a brighter 2'x1' elongated core. The edges come to a point at both ends. There is a 12m star to south and a 12m star to east, both within 5'. The sizes and magnitudes are visual estimates."

Brian Skiff

15cm - vf sm gx E of m11 *. circ, 15" diam, reaches halfway to br *. strong even concen. m15 * 30" S. BS, 27Feb1990, LCO.

Contemporary observations

Gabriel Giust

1994 April 10

8-inch f/6.7 reflector, 9.7mm Super Plossl

San Isidro, Buenos Aires

"Galaxy with a prominent and elongated centre. With averted vision it extends more but faintly to the extremes (greater in the nf side). The orientation is determined clearly with respect to the two brighter stars in the field. There is also a third star closer to the galaxy."

Magda Streicher

2008 June 13

NGC 3115 Sextans galaxy

Tel: 16" S/C 102x - 127x - 290x - Date: 13 June 2008 - Site: Pburg - Good

The galactic nucleus of this galaxy resembles that somewhat of a flattened lens. Uneven brightness towards the spiral outskirts.

2008 Feb 01



Tel: 12" S/C 76x - 218x - Date: 1 Feb 2008 Site: Alldays - good

One beautiful galaxy which is bright and outstanding in a elongated thin oval shape NE-SW. The light of the outstanding elongated bar nucleus seems to light up the whole surface. The outer part of the galaxy seems woolly and hazy.

1998 February 27

Location: Campsite (23 16 South 29 26 East)

Sky conditions: 7 magnitude clear.

Instrument: Meade 8" (Super wide angle 18mm eyepiece)

Date: 27 February 1998.

Meade 8" (Super fossel 26mm) Field of view 40.6.

Beautiful large, bright, very much elongated galaxy with a stretch bright nucleus. Edges running out thinly, extended south to north.

1997 April 05

Location: Campsite (23 16 South 29 26 East)

Sky conditions: 7 magnitude clear.

Instrument: Meade 8" (Super wide angle 18mm eyepiece)

Date: 1997 April 5

Edge-on galaxy with a sudden bright core. Tilted a little on the one side from core going out with two bright stars inside. The edges run out thinly. I estimate this galaxy about 9 magnitude in brightness, and about 8' in size.

(no date)

12-inch f/10 SCT (EP: 2-inch 40mm SW 76x 53' fov; 2-inch 14mm UW 218x 23' fov)

Bright, elongated galaxy with a sudden bright core and outer envelope, thinning out towards the edges and extending northwest to southeast with no trace of dust lanes. Its width is about 1 x 3 and reflects an equal brightness overall, yet slightly brighter to the nucleus (218x). Two 10th magnitude field stars situated 6' arc minutes towards the east. Pleasing bright object. Discovered by William Herschel in 1787 and also called the Spindle Galaxy.

Auke Slotegraaf

2007 April 15

Sutherland (Ouberg Quarry)

11x80 tripod mounted binoculars

Conditions: NELM: fainter than 6.0 at the S.pole

Round smudge, perhaps slightly elongated?, 2.5' diameter, V=8.5. Forms a very flat isoceles triangle with three 7th magnitude stars. Used Uranometria chart 279 to identify it. A=HD 87807, B=87855, d = 1/3 AB = 2.5'.

Richard Ford

2017, January, 25th

Location:Blesfontein, Guest Farm.


Sky Conditions:The most clear sky possible.Dark moon and stars magnitude 6 and fainter are visible with the naked eye.Excellent clean sky,limited star flickering and brilliant objects.

Instrument:12-inch Dobsonian.

This bright galaxy has two bright extensions which lie edge on towards each other which has the shape of either a spindle or lens. On the far outskirts of this galaxy there are some areas of uneven brightness being seen. This galaxy measures 3.5'x 2.3' with P.A:NE/SW.Chart No: 383.NSOG Vol.2

2011 April, 30th, Saturday


Instrument:12-inch Dobsonian Reflector Telescope.

Sky Conditions:The fainter parts of the Milky Way are barely visible.

Transparency of the Sky:Haziness only visible on the horizon.

Seeing:Atmosphere stable with little interference.

Limiting Magnitude:4.9.

NGC 3115


Object Type:Galaxy.

First Impression:This object looks like a lens.


Chart Number:No.159(Extract taken out of "Star Gazer's Deep Space Atlas").

Size:26mm Super Wide Field Eyepiece:Field Of View:57'/11=5.1'.

20mm Ultra Wide Angle Eyepiece:Field Of View:50'/10=5'.

5.1'+ 5'= 10.1'

10.1'/2= 5'.

Size in Arc Minutes:5'.


Major Axis:5'.

5'/4= 1.2'.

Minor Axis:1.2'.

Galaxy is 5'* 1.2'.

Brightness:Magnitude 9.2.

Brightness Profile:This galaxy's nucleus grows brighter in the centre.

Challenge Rating:Easy.

Position Angle: WNW/ESE.



This galaxy has an oval shape which looks like a compact lens and is well defined.The galactic nucleus of this galaxy is very bright.The small spiral arms are seen edge on.

Tom Bryant

2007-03-18 10:30:00

Observing site: Pinnacles overlook

Telescope: C-8

[10h 5m 12s, -7 43' 0"] Bright Nucleus surrounded by a fuzzy envelope, a pronounced streak along the axis of the disk augmented the galaxy's core.

Simon Peach

12 jan 2014

Location: Woodleigh vic. au.

Time: 23.52

Telescope: 150mm cat

Limiting magnitude:

Sky conditions: fair

Very dim, only see able in picture taken at 60 sec exposure

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