Messier Objects

M84 & M86 "Virgo Cluster": Galaxy Pair (Virgo)
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder

M84 and M86 M84 and M86 are a pair of galaxies at the heart of the Virgo cluster. I begin the hop to this grouping at 2.1 magnitude Denebola in Leo. A T-shaped asterism of five stars resides about 7.5 degrees to the east. The top two stars in the T-stem point the way to M84 and M86, 2.2 degrees to the southeast.

The drawing at left is based on a 129X view in the 10-inch Starfinder Newtonian. M84 and M86 are easy to spot at magnitudes 9.1 and 8.9, respectively. The pair is surrounded by several bright NGC galaxies. In fact, a moderate aperture telescope under dark skies will reveal no fewer than 14 galaxies in a chain leading to M88. This "Murderer's Row" of galaxies is known as Markarian's Chain.

M84: SO-Type Galaxy (Virgo) RA: 12h 25.1m / DEC: +12° 53'.3
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder

M84 Higher magnification reveals subtle differences between M84 and M86. M84 displays a bright, stellar core at 189X in the 10-inch. This is captured in the drawing at right. There is a gradual but steady fade in brightness from the core to the outer edge of this 3' diameter SO-type galaxy.

M86: Elliptical Galaxy (Virgo) RA: 12h 26.2m / DEC: +12° 57'.0
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder

M86 Nearby M86 is an elliptical galaxy in the Hubble scheme. It also features a bright, condensed core. However, M86 is oval in appearance, 4'x2'.5 in dimension. Also, M86 does not gradually fade into the sky background. The core appears surrounded by a 45" diameter zone. This core zone is, itself, surround by a 1' diameter region of almost uniform brightness. The outer nebulosity is quite subtle and gradually fades into the sky.

Click on the button to see a map of the Virgo cluster.

Virgo Cluster

M83 M85


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Revised: May 29, 2002 [WDF]