“The Virgo 9” Nine Galaxies All within a 1° Field of View, When Centered on M86

     A great galaxy group of nine galaxies when (centered on M86) however, there are a number of other galaxies in this area in very close proximity.  

     But the “Virgo 9” allows anyone with an 8-inch or larger telescope, the opportunity to use a wide-field eyepiece with “hopefully” enough magnification and field to observe all nine.  

     I thought this unique galaxy group needed a unique name…and a modern name at that.  So I thought the “Virgo 9” sounded perfect. 

     The galaxies are identified in the following photo, and in the sketch at the bottom of this article.  

     Something to NOTE:   I was unable to see three of the faintest galaxies with my 10-inch reflector at 57x, as I needed more magnification.  I could see all galaxies at 114x, but my best views of the fainter members came at 160x.  

     I tried to sketch the fainter galaxies in their appropriate location, at 160x, and to scale as best as I could.  

     However, I now have an eyepiece that will give me a magnification of 103x, and only slightly less than a 1º FOV.  All galaxies will be visible at the 103x magnification, and if I like, I can increase the magnification to sketch in the fainter details of the three faintest members.  

Digital images following:   

     A excellent image of the nine galaxies “designated” all within a 1º field of view, by Mario Motta of Massachusetts.   

Specifications:  A two hour twenty minute exposure stacked of five minute subs.  Taken with my 6-inch f/7.2 refractor that piggybacks on my 32-inch telescope.  This image was taken with a new latest camera.  A ZWO AS16200, processed in pixinsight.   Mario 


Image reduced to an approximate 1º FOV, as an illustration for an EP field.  But as you know, don’t expect the following view…as the fainter galaxies will be very faint when using an eyepiece and an 8 or 10-inch telescope.    




I first found out about this galaxy cluster, from the late Tom Lorenzin, author of “1000+ The Amateur Astronomer’s Field Guide to Deep-Sky Observing.”  

     Tom asked me on the evening of (March 1993) if I’d ever viewed all nine galaxies within a 1° field of view, when centered on M86.  

However, my attempt would come a few years later on March 16, 1999:

My notes from that night are listed below, and my sketch following: 


M 84:  (mag. sfc. br. 12.6)  Bright, with a brighter more concentrated middle, mostly round.

M 86:  (mag. sfc. br. 13.2)  Bright, brighter middle, round, very similar to M84, but not as well concentrated.

NGC 4387:  (mag. sfc. br. 12.9)  A very faint mostly round blur. Difficult at best, requiring averted vision.

NGC 4388:  (mag. sfc. br. 13.1)  Low surface brightness, elongated slash with an E-W orientation.

NGC 4402:  (mag. sfc. br. 13.0)  Very faint slash, low surface brightness.

NGC 4413:  (mag. sfc. br. 14.3)  Small, very faint and dim, diffuse with little concentration, mostly round.

NGC 4425:  (mag. sfc br. 13.2)  Very faint, elongated, axis N-S, small and dim.

NGC 4435:  (mag. sfc. br. 12.6)  Fairly bright, mostly round, stellar nucleus, smaller than NGC 4438.

NGC 4438: (mag. sfc.br. 13.8)  Bright, elongated with a brighter middle.


Since I making the following sketch, it has been my desire to observe this galaxy cluster again and with an improved sketch, but then I would say:  “maybe next year, and with so many other galaxies to sketch and so little time”  

Roger Ivester

Virgo Galaxy Cluster


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