NGC 488 -- Spiral Galaxy in Pisces
The Whirligig Galaxy
NGC 488 is a nearly face-on spiral galaxy that has tightly wound multiple arms. Even in
photographs taken by professional observatories, it is difficult to count the number of spiral
arms this galaxy possesses. It is believed that the fewer and thicker arms, seen in most
spiral galaxies, are developed over time. The name Whirligig Galaxy was coined by
Stephen O’Meara for NGC 488 in his book “The Secret Deep” where he lists this interesting
galaxy as his number 3 entry.
The spiral arms, of NGC 488, are well below the ability of my telescope to see, but the
compactness of this galaxy makes it an easy object to see visually in a modest-sized
telescope even under suburban skies. It appeared like a massive spherical swollen star or
planetary nebula in the 155mm refractor.