help_outline Skip to main content
Add Me To Your Mailing List

Posts & Articles

Object of the Month June 2023

John Hobbs | Published on 12/2/2023



by Glenn Chaple

NGC 5774/5 Galaxies in Virgo (NGC 5774 Magnitude 12.1, Size 3.0’ X 2.4’; NGC 5775 Magnitude  11.4, Size 4.2’ X 1.0’)


            About 2 degrees northeast of the 4th magnitude star 109 Virginis is the interacting galactic pair NGC 5774 and NGC 5775. Both are spirals, the former being somewhat face-on, while the latter is basically edge-on. Their difficulty for visual observation is evidenced by the fact that the brighter of the two, NGC 5775, was designated as a Class III object (Very Faint Nebulae) by William Herschel, who discovered it in 1786. The even fainter NGC 5774 remained undetected until the mid-1800s when the Irish engineer/astronomer Bindon Stoney spotted it with William Parson’s great 72-inch reflecting telescope (the “Leviathon of Parsonstown”).

            While NGC 5774/5 can be captured visually with today’s smaller but optically superior instruments, you’ll need reasonably dark skies if you expect to view them with an 8 to 10-inch scope. Start with the brighter NGC 5775, which is located at 2000.0 coordinates RA 14h53m57.7s, Dec +3o32’40.1”. If you find it, NGC 5774 should appear as a fainter roundish glow 4.5 arc-minutes to its northwest. Even knowing exactly where to look directly or with averted vision, I saw neither with my 10-inch f/5 reflector under magnitude 5 suburban skies. Most guides assign NGC 5775 a magnitude of around 11.4. However, Burnham’s Celestial Handbook gives it a magnitude of 12.3, which would be more in keeping with a Class III Herschel object (and a handy excuse for my being unable to see it with my 10-inch!). Greg Crinklaw’s Skyhound website ( agrees with Burnhan’s magnitude for NGC 5775 and lists NGC 5774’s as 12.8. Suffice it to say, these galaxies will challenge the experienced visual observer.

Image by Mario Motta