|NGC 4631 "Whale" & NGC 4656 "Hockey Stick": Galaxy Group (Canes Venatici) RA: 12h 43.1m / DEC: +32° 20'.8|
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder
You'll find a whale and a hockey stick about 5.5 degrees northeast of 4.4 magnitude Gamma (15) Comae Berenices. NGC 4631 is the brightest of the four galaxies in the sketch at left. This 9.2 magnitude Sc-type spiral is elongated 10'x2' at 82X in the 10-inch. Its humpback shape has garnered the moniker, the "Whale." A faint star is centrally positioned along the northern edge of NGC 4631. NGC 4656 stands about 35' to the southeast. The odd shape of this 10.6 magnitude irregular galaxy has earned the nickname, the "Hockey Stick." The irregular blade-like feature at the southeastern end of NGC 4656 is designated as NGC 4657. However, this is not a separate galaxy. It is part of NGC 4656. This bend at the outer reaches of the galactic disk may have resulted from gravitational interaction with NGC 4631. NGC 4627, a 12.5 magnitude elliptical galaxy, is visible immediately to the north of NGC 4631. NGC 4627 a radial velocity similar to NGC 4631, suggesting they may be close enough to be gravitationally bound.
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Revised: January 21, 2003 [WDF]