Caldwell 26

Also called NGC 4244 and the Silver Needle Galaxy, Caldwell 23 is part of the same galactic super cluster as the Milky Way.


13 million light-years

Apparent Magnitude



Canes Venatici

object type

Spiral Galaxy

Also called NGC 4244 and the Silver Needle Galaxy, Caldwell 23 is part of the same galactic super cluster as the Milky Way.
NASA & ESA; Acknowledgment: Roelof de Jong

Not to be confused with the Needle galaxy (Caldwell 38), Caldwell 26 is often called the Silver Needle galaxy. The Silver Needle is a spiral galaxy that spans about 65,000 light-years across and lies over 13 million light-years from Earth toward the Canes Venatici constellation. It is a member of the M94 group, which is a small collection of galaxies that is part of the same galactic supercluster as the Milky Way.

While it’s one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe, the Silver Needle’s strange appearance sets it apart. Most spiral galaxies have a Saturn-like shape, with a spherical central bulge surrounded by a relatively flat disk (both of which are surrounded by a “halo” of old stars). As this Hubble image shows, however, the Silver Needle is extremely thin. The galaxy’s central bulge is much less pronounced than we see in most spiral galaxies and its halo is very faint.

This cosmic oddity’s spiral arms are not visible since we see the galaxy edge-on, but its orientation and diminutive central bulge make the galaxy’s halo easier to study. Hubble’s observations of the Silver Needle, taken in visible and infrared light by the Advanced Camera for Surveys, were part of the Galaxy Halos, Outer disks, Substructure, Thick disks and Star clusters (GHOSTS) survey to look at the fossil record preserved in the resolved stellar populations of local galaxies. The survey has yielded significant advances in the study of galaxy assembly and evolution.

The Silver Needle was discovered by astronomer William Herschel in 1787 and is also cataloged as NGC 4244. It is best viewed from the Northern Hemisphere during spring (autumn in the Southern Hemisphere), away from city lights, though even then it will be difficult to spot in small telescopes. In larger telescopes, the magnitude-10.4 galaxy will appear like a thin, silvery splinter cutting through the sky.

For more information about Hubble’s observations of Caldwell 26, see:
A Silver Needle in the Sky

This star chart for Caldwell 26 represents the view from mid-northern latitudes for the given month and time.
Image courtesy of Stellarium


Galactic Bulge - A dense collection of stars at the center of a spiral galaxy, possibly hosting a supermassive black hole.

Galactic Halo - A roughly spherical collection of old stars and globular clusters surrounding a spiral galaxy.

Magnitude - The brightness of an astronomical object, represented by a number; bright objects have low numbers on the magnitude scale, while dim objects have high numbers.

Spiral Galaxy - A galaxy characterized by its spiral structure, with star-filled arms that extend out from the center of the galaxy and host regions of star formation.

Explore Hubble's Caldwell Catalog

The following pages contain some of Hubble’s best images of Caldwell objects.

Stars with four diffraction spikes dot the scene against a black backdrop.

Caldwell 1

Also known as NGC 188, this group of stars formed from a large cloud of gas making the stars roughly…

Red cloud of dust with a bright white star in the center of it. Lots of reddish and orangish stars in the background.

Caldwell 2

This shell of gas is expanding outward, away from the dying star within.

Large grouping of bright white, blue and red stars. Lightly colored blue dust surrounds the stars.

Caldwell 3

This barred spiral galaxy was first spotted by British astronomer William Herschel in April 1793 in the constellation Draco.