NGC/IC Objects

NGC 4874 & NGC 4889 "Coma Galaxy Cluster": Galaxy Cluster (Coma Berencies) RA: 12h 59.9m / DEC: +27° 58'.1
Instrument: 10-inch Starfinder

Few sights are as awe inspiring as seeing a true galaxy cluster. To see a handful of star cities contained within a single eyepiece field gives one a sense of both the vastness and the fragility of the universe. The sketch at left presents the Coma galaxy cluster as it appears in my 10-inch Meade Starfinder Newtonian. The cluster, located 2.5 degrees west of 4.2 magnitude Beta (43) Comae Berenices, lies about 300 million light-years from Earth. MegaStar plots more than 50 galaxies within a 2-degree radius of the brightest members, NGC 4874 and NGC 4889. My drawing, made at 129X, shows ten galaxies within a 30' diameter field.

11.6 magnitude NGC 4874 is visible just east of center. Its 2'.5x2'.0 glow is aligned east-to-west. A 12th magnitude GSC star marks the spot. NGC 4864, a 13.6 magnitude class 2 elliptical galaxy, is glimpsed some 5' to the east. HD 112887 stands 6' to the north of NGC 4874. HD 112886 is another 10' to the north. Two faint galaxies are visible northeast of HD 112887. The first, lieing 3' from the 7.2 magnitude star, is NGC 4865. NGC 4860 lies another 4' along the same line. Both weigh in at a scant 13.6 magnitude.

NGC 4889, an 11.5 magnitude elliptical galaxy, casts a soft glow just 7' west of NGC 4874. Its 2'.0X1'.5 form is arranged along a northwest-southeast line. 13.5 magnitude NGC 4898, 2'.5 to the west-southwest, blinks in-and-out with averted vision. IC 4051 is a 13.2 magnitude elliptical galaxy standing 10' west of NGC 4874.

Finally, three galaxies are gathered along the northwest field boundary. These include 13.6 magnitude NGC 4881, which lies 5'.5 west of 8.2 magnitude HD 112886. NGC 4885 is a 13.2 magnitude SO-type galaxy positioned 5' west-southwest from NGC 4881. Just inside the northwest field boundary with a 12th magnitude GSC star stuck in its side is NGC 4907, a 13.5 magnitude stellar metropolis. This field presents a good deep-sky challenge for observers with moderate aperture.

Instrument: 18-inch Obsession

Turning the Obsession towards this galaxy cluster reveals a host of new objects. My drawing renders a 199X view centered on the bright galaxies, NGC 4874 and NGC 4889. NGC 4874 is the bright object near the southwest corner of the field. Among the 16 galaxies visible in this field, three are huddled near this giant elliptical. They are 14.1 magnitude NGC 4871, 14.4 mag. NGC 4872 and 14.1 mag. NGC 4873. 13.8 magnitude NGC 4869 is spotted nearly 4' to the southwest adjacent to a 14th mag. GSC star. HD 112887, the brightest star in the field, blazes 6'.5 north of NGC 4874. A pair of galaxies lie west of this 7.2 mag. star. NGC 4865 and 14.6 magnitude MCG +5-31-63 are stationed just inside the field boundary. Just inside the southwest field edge, NGC 4864 and 14.5 magnitude NGC 4867 are seen. NGC 4889 lies near the east field boundary. This giant elliptical is flanked to the east by 15.2 mag. NGC 4894 and to the west by 13.9 mag. NGC 4886. Needles to say, this is an area of the sky a galaxy lover could spend many hours exploring without observing the same galaxy twice.

NGC 4866 NGC 4900


Navigation Image, see text links below Web Links Glossary Sketching Astrophotography Planetary Observing Deep-sky Observing Getting Started About Cosmic Voyage Home

Home | About Cosmic Voyage | Getting Started | Deep-sky Observing | Planetary Observing | Astrophotography | Sketching | Glossary | Web Links


Layout, design & revisions © W. D. Ferris
Comments and Suggestions:

Revised: March 13, 2005 [WDF]