M 59 (NGC 4621) Galaxy in Virgo

Located at: RA 12 hours 42 minutes 02 seconds, Dec +11 degrees 38 minutes 52 seconds

Size: 5.3' x 3.2' Magnitude: 10.6 blue Class: E5

Image includes (counter clockwise from the east <left>): NGC 4649 (M 60), NGC 4637 & NGC 4638, NGC 4606 & NGC 4607

Size: M 60, 1.1' x 0.4' & 2.2' x 1.3', 2.7' x 1.4' & 3.6' x 0.7

Magnitude: M 60, 14.8 & 12.1 blue, 12.7 blue & 13.8 blue

Class: M 60, S0? & S0- sp, SB(s)a: & SBb? sp

North is up

West to the right


8" f5 Newtonian reflector


ST-8XME, self-guided, binned 1x1, temp -20c, camera control MaxIm DL 4.56


 Lumicon Red filter, 620 minutes (62 x 10 minute subs), 06/10/11/12/14/16/17/2012; seeing FWHM 2.4-3.7 per CCDStack


CCDStack 2.66.4490.32361, Photoshop CS5.1


Rolling Roof Observatory, Thousand Oaks, California 91360 (+34d 13m 29s -118h 52m 20s)


I had a hard time getting enough time on this field, as the marine layer (fog) has been very aggressive this past week ... Fog came in anywhere from before sunset to just before midnight.

See this marked image for identifications. M 59 is centered. Not identified are various IC and VCC galaxies in this field.

From the NGC / IC Project:

Historical Research Notes / Correction for NGC 4637
NGC 4637 and NGC 4638.  The brighter of the two galaxies now carrying these 
numbers was found by WH (he actually found it twice, so it has two entries in 
his catalogue).  The fainter, a much smaller spiral of fairly low surface 
brightness with a faint star superposed west of the nucleus, was seen only 
once in 1854 by Lord Rosse (or his observer), who noted only a "Double
nebula; faint nebulosity connects them."  Given this sparce description,
Dreyer assigned an approximate position to the fainter and called it NGC 4637,
giving NGC 4638 to WH's brighter object.  He also added a note in the NGC
suggesting that Lord Rosse had actually seen M60 (NGC 4649) and NGC 4647,
which are just 12 arcmin northeast.  This would explain why no other observers
(aside from LdR and Herman Schultz) recorded the object as a double nebula.

Schultz's observation is an interesting one.  He has an extensive note in
which he claims that the nebula is clearly double (in spite of relatively poor
seeing on the night of observation), nearly on the parallel, and with a star
of 10th magnitude north-preceding (which there indeed is; there is no such
star north-preceding N4647 and M60).  Like LdR, he says nothing about the
relative brightness of the objects, but records his surprise that neither of
the Herschel's noticed that the object was double and extended.  Curiously, he
gives measurements (on two different nights) of only one of the nebulae,
though he specifically mentions that the micrometer wire, aligned with the
equator, nearly bisected both objects.  His reduced position is that of NGC
4638, the brighter object.

In his Virgo Cluster survey, Schwassmann listed only one object here and
assigned it the first NGC number of the pair.  His description fits the
brighter object, however, and he noted that the identity was uncertain and
that the object could be NGC 4638 instead.  His position is peculiar, too: the
RA is that of the fainter eastern galaxy, while the declination is that of the
brighter western object.  Remembering that Schwassmann's plate was taken with
a 6-inch lens, I suspect that the plate recorded only the brighter object and
that Schwassmann made a measurement or reduction error in his RA.

Dreyer, however, had only Schwassmann's entry to go on, not a modern sky
survey.  So, he could not know about the potential problems in the Heidelberg
observation.  Thus, he adopted Schwassmann's observation as applying to the
fainter object, and put a note in IC2 to that effect.

My own guess, without Schultz's confirmation of the duplicity of the object,
would have been that Dreyer was correct in his supposition about LdR having
misidentified the objects he observed in 1854.  If this is the case, then NGC
4637 is a reobservation of NGC 4647 (found by JH) rather than the very faint
companion to NGC 4638.  However, Schultz's observation seems to clearly point
not to M60 and its companion, but N4637 and N4638.

Still, LdR and Schultz could have seen the fainter object -- both have others
just as faint in their lists -- especially since it is enhanced by the
superposed star, so the "classic" numbering for this pair of galaxies is
still a possibility.  I should note, too, that there has been some confusion
in the modern catalogues as to which number applies to which object.  Dreyer
unfortunately confused the issue a bit with his IC2 note, and also with his
original numbering:  JH had the fainter companion coming second in the GC.
Nevertheless, Dreyer clearly meant NGC 4638 to apply to WH's object, so that
is the identification I've adopted, leaving NGC 4637 as possibly applying to
the faint companion -- or to NGC 4647. - Dr. Harold G. Corwin, Jr.

Contemporary Visual Observation(s) for NGC 4638

NGC 4638 = UGC 07880 = MCG +02-32-187 = CGCG 070-230 = CGCG 071-006 = N4667? = 
PGC 42728
12 42 47.4 +11 26 32
V = 11.2;  Size 2.2x1.4;  SB = 12.3;  PA = 125d

17.5": moderately bright, very elongated 5:2 WNW-ESE, fairly small, bright core, 
substellar nucleus.  Located between M59 and M60.

13": fairly bright, small, bright core, elongated.

- by Steve Gottlieb

NGC 4667 = N4638? = U07880 = MCG +02-32-187 = CGCG 070-230 = CGCG 071-006 = PGC 
12 42 47.4 +11 26 32

See observing notes for N4638.  Identification suggested by Corwin.

Discovered by JH (h1421). Not found by Reinmuth, Frost, d'Arrest and Vogel.  As 
h described this object as bright, it seems likely that is a duplicate 
observation of a bright galaxy with a poor position although there is no galaxy 
near h's place.  Perhaps a fairly bright star appeared nebulous in poor seeing?  
In NGCBUGS, Corwin suggests "NGC 4667 is probably = NGC 4638 with a 2 minute 30 
second error in RA."

- by Steve Gottlieb
Historical Research Notes / Correction for NGC 4638 (same notes as for NGC 4637 above)
Contemporary/Current Data for  NGC 4606 (No Contemporary Visual Observation)
Right Ascension (2000): 12h 40m 57.5s Declination (2000): +11º 54' 42" Object Type: Galaxy Object Classification: S... Constellation: Virgo Position Angle: 33 °Visual Magnitude: 11.8 Surface Brightness: 13.4 
Blue Magnitude: 12.5 Object Size: 3.2'X1.6' Also Cataloged As: UGC 7839, MCG+02-32-174, CGCG 070.213, H III-43, h 1382,
GC 3143, VCC 1859, IRAS 12384+1211, PGC 42516 Catalogue Notes: Paired with NGC 4607.
Contemporary Visual Observation(s) for NGC 4607
NGC 4607 = UGC 07843 = MCG +02-32-176 = CGCG 070-216 = PGC 42544
12 41 12.4 +11 53 08
V = 12.8;  Size 2.9x0.7;  SB = 13.4;  PA = 2d

17.5": extremely faint, edge-on streak N-S, low even surface brightness.  
Located 3.8' ESE of much brighter N4606.

13": extremely faint, near visual threshold, very elongated N-S, low surface 

- by Steve Gottlieb