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[M 49]

Messier 49

Observations and Descriptions

Discovered by Charles Messier on February 19, 1771.

Messier: M49.
February 19, 1771. 49. 12h 17m 48s (184d 26' 58") +9d 16' 09"
"Nebula discovered near the star Rho Virginis. One cannot see it without difficulty with an ordinary telescope of 3.5-feet [FL]. The Comet of 1779 was compared by M. Messier with this nebula on April 22 and 23: The comet and the nebula had the same light. M. Messier has reported this nebula on the chart of the route of the comet, which appeared in the volume of the Academy of the same year 1779. Seen again on April 10, 1781."

April 22, 1779
"Very pale and looking exactly like the comet [1779 Bode, C/1779 A1]."

William Herschel
[Unpublished Observations of Messier's Nebulae and Clusters. Scientific Papers, Vol. 2, p. 657]
1785, Dec. 28 (Sw. 498). Very bright, considerably large, gradually much brighter in the middle, extended with faint branches. (*)
(*: Dreyer's note: This is the only observation being recorded as being of M.49. But see Vol. I [SP1] pp. 294-295, under I.7 and II.19.)

John Herschel (1833): h 1294.
h 1294 = M49.
Sweep 153 (May 9, 1828)
RA 12h 21m 7.0s, NPD 81d 3' 32" (1830.0) [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
R; p g m b M; 40". Through clouds, twilight.
Round; pretty gradually much brighter toward the middle; 40" [diameter]. [Seen] Through clouds, [at] twilight.

Sweep 154 (May 11, 1828)
RA 12h 21m 7.3s, NPD 81d 3' 33" (1830.0)
Seen in strong twilight; a very good obs of place; has a * 13 m 0deg f; 60".
Seen in strong twilight; a very good observation of the place; has a star of 13 m at 0 deg following [exactly to the East]; 60" [diameter ? distance of star ?]

Sweep 250 (April 17, 1830)
RA 12h 21m 8.1s, NPD 81d 4' 6" (1830.0)
v B; R; v s b M; 2' diam; a * 4.0s f
Very bright; round; very suddenly brighter toward the middle; 2' diameter; a star 4.0s following [to the East]

Sweep 253 (April 24, 1830)
RA 12h 21m 8.7s, NPD 81d 3' 57" (1830.0)
eB; L; R; p s m b M; insensibly fading away, has a * 13 m f; by diag the star is just beyond the nebula.
Extremely bright; large; round; pretty suddenly much brighter toward the middle; insensibly fading away, has a star of 13 m following [to the East]; by diag the star is just beyond the nebula.

Sweep 252 (April 20, 1830)
RA 12h 21m 10.1s::, NPD 81d 3' 43" (1830.0)
B; L. Cloudy.
Bright; large. Cloudy [weather].

Smyth: CCCCXLVII [447]. M49.
CCCCXLVII. 49 M. Virginis.
AR 12h 21m 36s, Dec N 8d 52'.9
Mean Epoch of Observation: 1836.37 [Apr 1836]
A bright, round, and well-defined nebula, on the Virgin's left shoulder; exactly on the line between Delta Virginis and Beta Leonis, 8deg, or less than half-way, from the former star. With an eyepiece magnifying 93 times, there are only two telescopic stars in the field, one of which is in the sp and the other in the sf quadrant; and the nebula has a very pearly aspect. This object was discovered by Oriani in 1771 [this is wrong: it was Messier who discovered it that year; Oriani found it only in 1779], and registered by Messier as a "faint nebula, not seen without difficulty," with a telescope of 3 1/2 feet in length. It is a pity that this active and very assiduous astronomer could not have been furnished with one of the giant telescopes of the present days. Had he possessed efficient means, there can be no doubt of the augmentation of his useful and, in its day, unique Catalogue: a collection of objects for which sidereal astronomy must ever remain indebted to him.

John Herschel, General Catalogue: GC 3021.
GC 3021 = h 1294 = M49.
RA 12h 22m 39.3s, NPD 81d 13' 44.5" (1860.0). [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
vB; vL; {H. E, h. R}; mbM. 6 observations by W. & J. Herschel.
Very bright; very large; described by W.H. as elongated, by J.H. as round; much brighter toward the middle.
Remark: 3021 h.1294 = M49. Discovered by Oriani in 1771.
[This remark by JH is wrong; Oriani only rediscovered M49 in 1779 when finding M61]

Dreyer: NGC 4472.
NGC 4472 = GC 3021 = h 1294; Oriani, M 49.
RA 12h 22m 40s, NPD 81d 13.5' (1860.0). [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
vB, L, R, mbM, r; = M49
Very bright, large, round, much brighter toward the middle, mottled.
Remark: 4472. G.C. 3023, 3024 (Ld R [Lord Rosse]) have been struck out, as only h 1293, 1294, 1305, and G.C. 5653 (d'A [d'Arrest]) were seen at Birr.
[The assignment of this object's discovery to Oriani is a repitition of John Herschel's error.]

[Descriptions of 762 Nebulae and Clusters photographed with the Crossley Reflector. Publ. Lick Obs., No. 13, Part I, p. 9-42]
NGC 4472, RA=12:24.7, Dec=+ 8:33. The very bright nucleus is not stellar; shown well in a 3m exposure. Nearly round, 2' in diameter, fading out rapidly toward the edges. No structure discernible, though spiral character is suspected near the center in the short exposures. 28 s.n.
  • Observing Reports for M49 (IAAC Netastrocatalog)

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: March 29, 2005