NGC 4236 -- Barred Spiral Galaxy in Draco
Ghost Sliver Galaxy
Being able to see the nearly edge-on Spiral Galaxy NGC 4236 with the 4.3-inch (110mm)
refractor from a Park near my house was unexpected. I had failed several times with the
larger 155mm refractor from my house a few miles away and several times from local parks,
with darker skies, using the 110mm refractor. With a magnitude of 10.5 one would think that
this would be a somewhat easy target, but it is not. I knew that low power was best for spotting
this galaxy. Clark’s “Visual Astronomy of the Deep Sky (1990)” gave the best detection
magnification of spotting NGC 4236 in a 4-inch telescope as 27x.
Under an exceptionally transparent sky at Alpha Ridge Park on March 7th, I was finally able to
see NGC 4236 using a magnification of 25x in the small refractor. I tried higher magnifications
as well, but it disappeared due to the slight decrease in contrast between the galaxy and the
surrounding black background. It is truly a ghostly sliver of light. I could see no indication of a
nucleus, only a thin ethereal line of light using averted vision and a black cloth draped over my
head to keep out ambient light. A subtle but treasured sight.
The name Ghost Sliver Galaxy is my name for NGC 4236. As far as I know it has no widely
used common name.