FUZZY SPOT, June 1999, Virgo
Virgo is such a large constellation, both in size and number of objects, that it is hard to figure out where to go or where even to start. This month I will cover some galaxies that appear in pairs or groups. To me, these multiple galaxies are very impressive and interesting, even if the galaxies themselves are so so. Note that the coordinates are given only for one object.
Try not to get lost and have fun rambling through Virgo. (Note that I have dropped the NGC prefix in order to save a little space and make it a little easier to read).
4206 and 4216 (12h15.9 +13 09) 4216 is the dominant galaxy in this duo. It is pretty bright, large, somewhat brighter in the middle, possibly contains a non-stellar nucleus. Using averted vision makes the somewhat faint halo grow, and no matter how you look at it, it is extremely elongated NE/SW. There are some stars or stellarings near the nucleus that come out once in a while, and some mottling is suspected in middle. To the WSW is 4206. It is a fainter twin, with the elongation NE/SW, the same as 4216. The galaxy is pretty faint, large, extremely elongated, and slightly brighter in the middle. You really need to use averted vision to bring it out. This is a very nice pair, I would describe the fainter one as a ghost or reflection of the brighter one.
4273 and 4281, also 4270 and 4268 (12h20.4 +05 24) 4281 is the brightest of this group, which I saw as a little bright, pretty small, elongated 2:1 E/W, and containing a very faint halo which slowly brightens to a brighter middle and a sub-stellar nucleus. There is a possible star close to the nucleus. 4273 is somewhat faint, pretty small, with uncertain elongation. A very faint halo slightly brightens up to the middle, but no nucleus was seen. Averted vision helps bring out the halo. 4270 is pretty faint, pretty small, with uncertain elongation. Occasionally I could see a stellar nucleus in a very slightly brighter middle. 4269 was only suspected as a stellar spot with a very faint and pretty small haze.
4374 (M-84), 4388, and 4406 (M-86), also 4387 and 4402 (12h26.3 +12 57) This group of the primary three galaxies, which includes 2 Messier objects, forms what I refer to as the Virgo Triangle. I have always considered this as one of the most impressive galaxy formation in the constellation, and it is the beginning of the Markarian Chain. Centered nicely in this triangle is the small galaxy 4387. Using a little imagination, one can make out a sort of a face, with M-84 and M-86 forming the eyes, 4387 forming the nose, 4388 forming an expressionless mouth, and 4402 forming an eyebrow (the other eyebrow must have been burnt off or something). Take some time enjoying this unique grouping in the sky.
4435 and 4438 (12h27.7 +13 05) 4435 is pretty bright, somewhat large, and has a slightly brighter middle which suddenly brightens up to a non-stellar nucleus. The halo is somewhat faint, with suspected mottling seen and a possible spiral structure. It is slightly elongated NNE/SSW. To the SSE is 4438 which is pretty bright, pretty large, and elongated N/S. There is no structure seen, although the N side is slightly brighter than S side.
4476, 4478, and 4486 (12h30.9 +12 24). Here is another grouping around an Messier object. M-87, (4486) was seen as pretty bright, pretty big, with a halo that smoothly brightens up to the middle, without a nucleus. It was round with no structure at all. To the SSW is 4478, pretty small, somewhat faint, round, with a much brighter middle and a non-stellar nucleus which is not at all prominent. Finally to the W is 4476, the faintest of the group. It is very faint and slightly brighter in the middle. Other than this, I could see no detail.
4550 and 4551 (12h35.6 +12 14) These two galaxies form a nice pair. I saw 4550 as somewhat faint, pretty small, and very elongated N/S, a very thin galaxy. It was somewhat brighter middle, and contained a stellar nucleus. On the other hand, 4551 was seen as round, somewhat faint, pretty small, somewhat brighter in the middle, but with no nucleus seen.
4564, 4567, and 4568 (12h36.5 +11 27) Here is a trio with two galaxies interacting. 4564 is the lone galaxy, somewhat bright, somewhat small, and elongated 2:1 ENE/WSW. The middle is somewhat brighter and contains a stellar nucleus. 4567 and 4568 are known as the Siamese Twins. They are a pair with 4567 being the portion to the N. They are an elongated spot about 2:1 N/S, somewhat faint, pretty large, with a notch in the middle. There are 2 slightly brighter spots forming the middle of each galaxy, and some mottling is suspected.
4638, 4647, and 4649 (12h43.7 +11 34). Here we have two galaxies surrounding M-60 (4649) M-60 is somewhat bright, somewhat large, and is first gradually then suddenly much brighter in the middle, but with no nucleus. It may be elongated N/S, and the middle may be offset to the E. To the N is 4647. It's halo is about as bright as M-60, but is lacking the bright middle. Finally, 4638 is somewhat faint, somewhat small, with a little brightening toward the middle and a pretty bright non-stellar nucleus. There is a possible second bright spot.
4666 and 4668 (12h45.2 -00 27) 4666 is a nice edge on galaxy, seen as pretty bright, pretty big, extremely elongated NNE/SSW, and a bright elongated middle. I suspected seeing a dust lane through the middle, but it was uncertain. To the SE is a nice grouping of 3 stars along with 4668. It is very faint, pretty small, little brighter towards the middle. I really needed to use averted vision to see much of this one.
4754 and 4762 (12h53.0 +11 14) 4762 is the main galaxy here, it is pretty bright, somewhat large, and elongated 5:1 NE/SW. There is a gradually brighter middle with an occasional stellar nucleus. The galaxy is framed nicely between stars on the E and W, with a faint star to the S. The companion, 4754, is pretty bright, somewhat small, and round. It has a brighter middle with a stellar nucleus. This galaxy forms the third `star' of 3 in a row.
5363 and 5364 (13h56.2 +05 16) These observations were taken on a windy night, which shook the scope enough to obliterate some of the details. 5363 is very bright, pretty small, round, with a much brighter middle, but I was unable to tell if there is a nucleus due to the wind. Some mottling was suspected, and there is a star to the E which does not interfere with the observations but makes it easy to locate. To the SW is 5364, which is somewhat bright, pretty large and a little brighter in the middle. Using averted vision definitely helps halo grow. This is a nice area with both galaxies. There are several other galaxies in this area, they are just on threshold of vision. It shows up as a lumpiness in the background, but without any real detection.
5574 and 5576 (14h21.1 +03 16) 5576 is a little bright, somewhat small, round, much brighter in the middle, and contains a non-stellar nucleus. To the W is a faint star. Using averted vision helps bring out the faint halo. 5574 is pretty faint, pretty small, slightly brighter in the middle, and possibly elongated N/S. These galaxies remind me of a small and faint version of M-51 and its companion.