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NGC 1365 Galaxy | Pictures, Facts, What You Should Know

Updated: May 17

NGC 1365, also known as "The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy", is a double-barred spiral galaxy that is twice the length of our Milky Way. It is located 56 million light-years away and has a magnitude of 10.3. In this post, you will find pictures, information, and more to help you observe and photograph the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy!

NGC 1365 all you need to know to observe and image the great barred spiral galaxy


NGC 1365 Astrophotography using a Remote Telescope

The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy is in the southern constellation Fornax, and so is not visible from the northern hemisphere. Because we live in Las Vegas, the only way for us to capture this galaxy is to either travel to a country in the southern hemisphere with our equipment or to use an online remote telescope service like "Telescope Live" to remotely image the object.

We will talk about this interesting process in-depth later in this post.

PlaneWave CDK24 reflector telescope

This image was taken using an FLI Proline PL9000 cooled monochrome camera attached to a PlaneWave 24" f/6.5 CDK telescope with a focal length of 3962mm! The mount is a Mathis MI-1000/1250 with absolute encoders.

I processed the data using Pixinsight, with the final touches done in Adobe Lightroom and the Topaz Suite.

This image was shot from a Bortle 1 zone at El Sauce Observatories in Chile and totals 9 hours of integration time shooting 10-minute long exposures. The filters used were Astrodon LRGB filters.

The Andromeda Galaxy QHY600C SV130X

Want to process your images following our workflow? Download our PixInsight Workflow Guide!


How to find the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy in the Sky?

NGC 1365 is a Seyfert galaxy located in the southern constellation Fornax. The easiest way to find the object is to find the variable stars X1, X2, and X3 Fornax, which are actually on the very edge of the constellation, towards Eridanus. These stars are very close to both NGC 1365 and another popular galaxy, Fornax A (NGC 1316).

Location of NGC1365 with Fornax A

You can see the galaxy circled on a planetarium software above, with the three variable stars on top and Fornax A on the right. You can also see the object location circled on a constellation map below.

Constellation map to find the Andromeda Galaxy in the sky

Finding NGC 1365 can be tricky, because it is away from the bright stars making up the constellation Fornax, and is right on the edge of Eridanus. A GoTo mount will be very helpful if you plan on pointing your telescope at this galaxy. If you do not own a GoTo mount, you can use a planetarium app (like SkySafari or Stellarium) to either star hop to the object using nearby bright stars, or get the exact coordinates and aim your instrument there manually.


The Fornax Constellation

Drawing of Fornax constellation by Lacaille
Drawing of Fornax by Lacaille

The constellation Fornax is not very large, especially compared to its gigantic neighbor Eridanus.

Fornax was first introduced in 1756 by Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille. Lacaille was mapping the stars in the southern hemisphere and added 14 new constellations to the world. The name "Fornax" means "The Furnace" and was originally named Fornax Chemica before being shortened. It represents the small heater widely used in chemistry during Lacaille’s time.

Fornax is home to the Fornax cluster, one of the richest clusters of galaxies “close” to ours, at 62 million light years away. The constellation also contains several more deep-sky objects, mostly galaxies, and star clusters.

Learn the full story and learn about all 88 constellations in The Constellations Handbook.


When is the Best Time to See the NGC 1365 Galaxy?

The best time to observe the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy is in Fall. You can spot NGC 1365 several weeks before and after this period, but the constellation Fornax, where the galaxy is located, peaks in Fall.

NGC 1365 is best observed from the southern hemisphere, but you might also be able to see it if you live near the equator.


How far away is NGC 1365 from Earth?

NGC 1365 is a galaxy, so unlike most clusters and nebulae we know, it is not within our Milky Way. The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy is located approximately 56 million light-years away from Earth. For comparison, the Andromeda Galaxy, which is the closest large galaxy to the Milky Way, lies at 2.537 million light-years. NGC 1365 is more than twenty-two times farther away than M31.

NGC 1365 is part of the Fornax Cluster, which you can see circled on the graph below. The Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way are both located in the Local Group, written below in blue.

Laniakea universe
Laniakea - Andrew Z. Colvin - Wikicommons

The Fornax Cluster is, after the Virgo supercluster, the most massive galaxy cluster within 100 million light-years.


How long would it take to reach the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy?

As we said, NGC 1365 is located about 56 million light-years away... meaning it would take a spaceship capable of traveling the speed of light 56 million years to arrive there. There is no such thing as a spaceship that can go the speed of light, so let's grab Voyager 1 as an example. Voyager 1 was launched in 1977 and is traveling at 38,210 miles per hour. If we were to hop on it, and never run out of fuel or power, it would take 74 billion years to reach NGC 1365.


NGC 1365 Size - How Big is the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy?

The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy is very large and spans more than 200,000 light-years across, making it one of the largest studied galaxies in the universe. Most reports state that NGC 1365 is twice the size of the Milky Way galaxy, but recent studies confirmed that the Milky Way was actually also about 200,000 light-years in size. If this is true, then NGC 1365 and our Milky Way have a similar diameter.

The Fornax Cluster Group of galaxy
The Fornax Cluster - ESO

NGC 1365 is the largest spiral galaxy in the Fornax cluster, both in real size and in apparent size from our point of view on Earth. You can see the galaxy being much larger than its neighbors in the picture of the Fornax Cluster above.

The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy has an apparent size of 50” x 40” and is, in our opinion, the most impressive member of the Fornax Cluster thanks to its bright barred core and extending Z-shaped spiral arms.


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How to Observe the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy

NGC 1365 is large and bright enough to be observed visually. If you want to get a good sight of the galaxy, is very important that you escape light pollution and park somewhere far from the city. Deserts, national parks, and large forests are usually good dark sites for astronomy.

Can You See the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy with Your Naked Eye, Binoculars, or a Telescope?

The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy has a fairly good size and magnitude, but it is not possible to see it with your unaided eye.

Under dark skies, it is visible through a pair of astronomy binoculars, we recommend going with either a 15x70 or 20x80 pair. This size is great for viewing hundreds of deep-sky objects in the night sky.

Using a telescope is your best option if you want to observe NGC 1365. You can view the galaxy with a beginner Dobsonian telescope like the Sky-Watcher Classic 200P or the popular Newtonian 8". For an even better view, get your hands on a 10" or 12" Dobsonian with a GoTo mount. The

For more information about purchasing your first telescope, be sure to read our beginner telescope buying guide!


The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy with a Beginner Telescope

As we said earlier, It is not possible for us to capture NGC 1365 with our amateur equipment because of our location. Fornax never rises high enough in the sky and so we used a professional-grade telescope to get the image displayed early in this post.

If you live in the southern hemisphere and are planning on imaging this target soon, we wanted to show you what you could expect with your own amateur equipment.

The image below was taken by 'McFlyMoose" on Reddit, using an 8" Sky-Watcher reflector telescope at f/6. It shows a single exposure image of 120 seconds at ISO 1600 taken with a cheap beginner DSLR camera, the Canon T3i.

NGC 1365 with beginner telescope and DSLR single shot

As you can see, the galaxy appears really well in a 2-minute exposure, and has a decent apparent size! Hopefully, this gives you some motivation to image this object yourself, assuming it rises high enough in the sky from your location. If you do capture it, please attach it to the comments section of this post, we would love to see it!


Using a Remote Telescope in Chile to Capture the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy

The data we processed and uploaded at the beginning of this post was taken using a remote telescope located in Chile. It may sound daunting, but this was achieved very easily using Telescope Live, a website that allows you to photograph any object in the sky with professional-grade equipment.

We've only used these services a few times in the past, once to capture the Bug Nebula and another time to photograph the Tarantula Nebula. Although we much prefer doing astrophotography "the hard way" by driving out to a dark site and getting data using our equipment, we like to use Telescope Live once in a while to capture southern targets, which are simply impossible to get from our location.

Telescope Live Coupon

If you'd like to give Telescope Live a try, you can go to and use the coupon code "TL4GH" which will give you one week of free trial as well as half off for the next two months on both the Silver and Gold plans. Thanks to Telescope Live for generously offering this discount to our Galactic Hunter subscribers!


Picture of the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy by the James Webb Space Telescope

In August of 2022, the James Webb Space Telescope captured a beautiful image of NGC 1365 in infrared. A lot of details can be seen in the image below, processed by Judy Smith.

Judy states that the colors were mapped according to the following filters:

  • Red (screen layer mode): MIRI F2100W

  • Orange: MIRI F1130W

  • Cyan: MIRI F770W

  • Extra overall brightness in grayscale: MIRI F1000W

At the center of the galaxy is an active galactic nucleus that is overlayed by thick dust lanes. NGC 1365 is a double-barred galaxy, the main bar draws gases and space dust towards it, which interacts with other nearby elements and creates new stars. This area rich in star-forming activity can be seen in red/pink in the image below, which glows from all the bright young stars recently born. Scientists calculated that the bar rotates at a speed of 2,000 km/s clockwise, and makes a full rotation every 350 million years.

All of this activity near the core feeds the supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 1365. It is believed to be 2 million miles wide, and to rotate at 84 percent the speed of light.

NGC 1365 great barred spiral galaxy by JWST

Just like most of the other JWST images, this picture is made up of several panels that constitute a mosaic. This is why we have a close-up view of the core and inner spiral arms of the galaxy and not a widefield look at the entire galaxy. It would take much more time and resources for the James Webb Space Telescope to image each of its targets in widefield. A close-up like this where scientists can study both the core section and some of the galaxy arms is more than enough for scientific reasons.


Fun Facts about NGC 1365

  • The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy is the largest galaxy visible in the Fornax Cluster

  • NGC 1365 was discovered in November 1837 by John Herschel from Cape Town

  • NGC 1365 was believed to be a nebula until 1923

  • Four supernovas were detected in NGC 1365: SN 1957C, SN 1983V, SN 2001du, and SN 2012fr.

  • Distance from Earth to NGC 1365 in light-years: 56 million light-years

  • Distance from Earth to NGC 1365 in miles: 3.29203021e+20 miles

  • Distance from Earth to NGC 1365 in kilometers: 5.29800906e+20 km

Are there any additional interesting facts about the Great Barred Spiral Galaxy we missed? Let us know in the comments and we will add them to the list!


Final Thoughts

The Great Barred Spiral Galaxy is one of the most impressive and beautiful southern galaxies that you can capture with both professional and amateur equipment. Its colors, Z-shape, and barred core make for a very nice image.

If you have already imaged NGC 1365, please attach your picture in the comments section for all of us to see!

If you would like to give Telescope Live a try, click on the image on the right to open the website. Be sure to use the coupon code TL4GH for a free trial and discount!

Make sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to stay up to date with our work!

Clear Skies,

Antoine & Dalia Grelin

Galactic Hunter

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