Discovered by William Herschel in 1787.
NGC 4631 is a large spiral galaxy seen in an edge on perspective from our location. The small elliptical companion galaxy, NGC 4656, is interacting gravitationally with its larger neighbor and its influence is heavily distorting the shape of NGC 4631. This distortion makes the larger galaxy appear to some as a “Great Whale” and the galaxy is sometimes referred to as the “Whale Galaxy”. There is a great amount of “star-burst” activity being triggered in NGC 4631 and is probably due to the influence of the companion galaxy. NGC 4631 is approximately 30 million light years distant and lies in the direction of the constellation Canes Venatici.