Discovered on April 11, 1779 by Johann Gottfried Koehler.
Independently discovered on April 12, 1779 by Barnabus Oriani.
Independently discovered on April 15, 1779 by Charles Messier.
[Bode's announce of Koehler's discovery] "On the occasion of tracking the comet of this year , on April 11 and 13, Mr. Köhler has discovered another two very small [faint] nebulae barely visible in the 3-ft Dollond telescope northwest in a triangle with Rho and the 34th star of Virgo, situated closely the one above the other, and on May 5, again three other somewhat nebulous stars in the area of the northern shoulder of Virgo, at quite a distance of each other."
Sweep 22 (March 13, 1826)
RA 12h 35m 3.1s, NPD 77d 30' 35" (1830.0)
A double neb; a very fine and curious object. The p is v F the f v B; both large estimated dist of centres = 4'; pos 45deg n p.
A double nebula; a very fine and curious object. The preceding [Western one; NGC 4647] is very faint, the following [Eastern; M60] very bright; both [are] large, estimated distance of centers is 4'; position angle 45deg north preceding [NW].
Sweep 4 (May 9, 1825)
RA 12h 35m 3.9s:, NPD 77d 29' 39": (1830.0)
Sweep 191 (May 2, 1829)
RA 12h 35m 4.1s, NPD 77d 31' 10" (1830.0)
v B; R; has a v F oval neb n p; pos 30deg n p, dist 3' by estim
Very bright; round; has a very faint oval nebula north preceding; position angle 30deg north preceding [NW], distance 3' by estimate.
Sweep 338 (April 4, 1831)
RA 12h 35m 6.5s, NPD 77d 30' 49" (1830.0)
B; R; v s m b M; 90"; the s f of 2
Bright; round; very suddenly much brighter toward the middle; 90" [diameter]; the south following [SE] of 2.
Sweep 3 (April 11, 1825)
...., NPD 77d 31' +/- (1830.0)
A most curious double neb 3' dist centre from centre, but the nebulae join with v F nebulosity. The fainter rather oval.
A most curious double nebula with 3' distance from center to center, but the nebulae join with very faint nebulosity. The fainter [NGC 4647] rather oval.
The hypothesis of Sir John Herschel, upon double nebulae, is new and
attracting. They may be stellar systems each revolving round the other: each
a universe, according to ancient notions. But as these revolutionary
principles of those vast and distant firmamental clusters connot for ages yet
be established, the mind lingers in admiration, rather than comprehension of
such mysterious collocations. Meantime our clear duty is, so industriously to
collect facts, that much of what is now unintelligible, may become plain to
our successors, and a portion of the grand mechanism now beyond our
conception, revealed. "How much," exclaims Sir John Herschel, "how much is
escaping us! How unworthy is it in them who call themselves philosophers, to
let these great phenomena of nature, these slow but majestic manifestations
of power and the glory of God, glide unnoticed, and drop out of memory beyond
the reach of recovery, because we will not take the pains to note them in
their unobstrusive and furtive passage, because we see them in their
every-day dress, and mark no sudden change, and conclude that all is dead,
because we will not look for signs of life; and that all is uninteresting,
because we are not impressed and dazzled." ..... "To say, indeed, that every
individual star in the Milky Way, to the amount of eight or ten millions, is
to have its place determined, and its motion watched, would be extravagant;
but at least let samples be taken, at least let monographs of parts be made
with powerful telescopes and refined instruments, that we may know what is
going on in that abyss of stars, where at present imagination wanders without
a guide!" Such is the enthusiastic call of one, whose father cleared the road
by which we are introduced to the grandest phenomena of the stellar universe.
This mysterious and shadowy doublet will be found 5deg west of Vindemiatriy, in the direction of Regulus, where there is a very large and wonderful nebulous region.
Last Modification: March 30, 2005