NGC 4546 -- Lenticular Galaxy in Virgo
The Lenticular galaxy, NGC 4546, is an easy target in my 155mm refractor from my suburban
backyard. Not so for many of the numerous galaxies that dot the constellation of the Virgin.
Its elongated shape did allude me at first (it looked spherical) -- I think because I was just
seeing the galactic core which was slightly brighter than the out reaches of NGC 4546. After
spending a few minutes with it, I could start to make out the fainter lateral sections of the galaxy.
My impression was that I was looking at a very dim, badly out-of-focus Saturn. I am sure that
with a bit more telescope aperture or under darker skies it’s true elliptical shape would have
been more apparent.
NGC 4546 is not only bright but is bound within a triangle of stars – very easy to locate even at
low power. And it is a pleasing star hop beginning from Zaniah (Eta Virginis) and heading
south three-degrees to an obvious and pretty double star even at low power (Struve 1627),
and then east four degrees to our bright target galaxy bound by three stars. Not only is NGC
4546 a worthy galaxy for small to medium-sized telescopes, but one also gets to enjoy a pretty
low-power double star on the way to it. What is there not to like?