“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.  

     The “Virgo 9” allows anyone with an 8-inch or larger telescope, the opportunity to use a wide-field eyepiece with greater than a magnification of 100x to observe all nine.  

     I thought this unique galaxy group needed a unique name, and a modern name at that:  The “Virgo 9” sounded perfect.  

     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, but of course, not in a 1º field.  

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

Digital images following:   

     A excellent image of the nine galaxies 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 Motta 


The following cropped image is from the above, which is a 1º FOV, as an illustration for an EP field, via the visual observer. 

Don’t expect the following view visually, as the three faintest galaxies will require a magnification of 150x or greater, at least for me, using a 10-inch reflector from a suburban back yard.  


      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.”   http://www.1000plus.com/#fs


     Tom asked me while waiting for darkness in a cow pasture in (March 1993) if I’d ever viewed all nine galaxies within a 1° field of view, when centered on M86.  I had not…

      However, my attempt would come a few years later on March 16, 1999.  My notes from that night are listed below, and my sketch is 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. 

Roger Ivester

The following image by Barry Yomtov.  Telescope:  Celestron RASA 11; Stacking of 126 subs at 30 sec exposure, 63 minutes on March 15, 2020.   

Picture saved with settings applied.

The following image by James Dire:

Date/Location     April 18, 2015 KEASA Observatory, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii
Camera and Settings     SBIG STF-8300C CCD Camera -10°C
Telescope     William Optics Star 71 – 71mm f/4.9 apochromatic refractor
Mount     Paramount ME
Exposure     100 minutes (10 x 10 min)

At a star party on Kauai, using two 14-inch reflectors, and a 26mm Nagler with an 82º AF, and an 82x magnification for a perfect 1º true field, many counted ten galaxies in both scopes.

Click on image to enlarge for identifications:

Hello Roger,

I have attached a “zoomed” in image of M86, which I took last Friday night (April 2-3, 2021) with a 5.2-inch f/7 apochromatic refractor.

James Dire

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