How to Find the Spindle Galaxy, Messier 102

How to Find the Spindle Galaxy, Messier 102

Spindle galaxy NASA.png

This galaxy has a fascinating history having been removed and then reinstated in the Messier list. Read on for more about this galaxy found in the constellation of Draco.

M102 is an edge-on galaxy lying 45 million light years away with an unusual history. First discovered by Pierre Marchain in March 1781. He later wrote a letter stating that M102 was an accidental duplication of the pin-wheel galaxy M101. M102 was then removed from the Messier list. However, NGC 5866 was found to fit the description and position of the orginal M102 described by Marchain and so,  NGC5866 was later added to the Messier list to fill the M102 gap. Even though it was probably the actual object that Marchain originally discovered anyway.

Image credit: HST/NASA/ESA.

Other Names:

Messier 102

M 102

NGC 5866

Telescope Image to Scale:


This image is 30 arc minutes by 30 arcminutes which is about the size of the full moon.


Magnitude = 11

Surface Brightness = 12

Telescope Aperture City Suburbs Rural Dark Sky
4 inches 9 10 11 12.5
5 inches 9.5 10.5 11.5 13
6 inches 10 11 12 13.5
8 inches 10.5 11.5 12.5 14
10 inches 11 12 13 14.5

Use this chart to estimate if you can see the object from your location with your telescope. For more help on using this chart click here.

How to See It:

Draco is a northern circumpolar constellation. It can be quite difficult to work out the constellation. Polaris is included on the map below to make it easier. Draco forms the third point of a triangle around Polaris, the other two constellations are the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia. The Spindle galaxy is in the crosshairs on the chart below. It's co-ordinates are: RA 15h 06m 51.96 DEC +55° 42′ 41.9″ if you are using guiding software.

How to find the Spindle Galaxy, messier 102

To find more space objects have a look at the constellation guide by clicking the link or go back to the list of deep space objects.

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