M85 and NGC 4394: Galaxies in Coma Berenices: Observer’s Challenge Report for May 2020: #136

MONTHLY OBSERVER’S CHALLENGE

Compiled by:

Roger Ivester, North Carolina

&

Sue French, New York

May 2020

Report #136 

M85 and NGC 4394:  Galaxies in Coma Berenices 

“Sharing Observations and Bringing Amateur Astronomers Together”

 

Uwe Glahn:  Observer from Germany 

Objects: Messier 85, NGC 4394, MCG+03-32-028

Telescope: 27-inch f/4.2 Newtonian

Magnification: 172× – 293×

NELM: 6.5+

Seeing: III

 Location: Sudefeld  

Pencil Sketch: 

M85 Uwe inv

 

Sue French:  Observer from New York 

Roger and I corresponded about the galaxy NGC 4293, which is in the general vicinity of this month’s targets. This inspired me to sketch the three galaxies together as seen through my 105mm refractor at 47×, with a true field of 99 arcminutes. North is up and east is to the right.

M85 is bright with a large brighter core that greatly intensifies toward the center. Its close neighbor NGC 4394 hosts a spindle-shaped interior with a small brighter bulge at its heart, all wrapped in a very faint halo. More distant, elongated NGC 4293 holds a slightly brighter center.

With more magnification, NGC 4293 is an interesting galaxy. Even at 76×, the little refractor teases out a subtle brightening that looks to me like a very shallow S curve or integral sign running the length of the galaxy. This shows better with my 10-inch reflector at 187× where the slight S shape of the broad core blends into the galaxy’s slightly brighter edges, mainly along the west-northwest and east-southeast flanks.

fullsizeoutput_124e

 

Rony De Laet: Observer from Belgium

Telescope: 10-inch f/5 truss Dobson

Much to my delight, I was able to fit both galaxies in the same high power eyepiece. An interesting comparison!  M85 is obviously the brightest of the two, but it shows no structure in my scope. It is just an amorphous elliptical glow with a stellar nucleus.  NGC 4394 is the fainter companion. My bortle 5 sky allows me to see only its central bar with a faint stellar nucleus embedded within.

The sketch is a digital reproduction of a raw pencil sketch behind the eyepiece at 200x.

The fov is 22 arcminutes

North is up and west to the right

M85_sketch_ES10_rdl

 

Dale Holt:  Observer from England

I use a 505mm f/3.74 Newtonian on a fork mount and an old analogue Watec 120N+ deep sky video camera with custom cooling. The camera is B&W and delivers its image in near real time, typically 15 sec exposure to a CRT monitor in my observatory office where I sketch from the screen. Most commonly I used graphite pencil on sketch paper although sometimes I use white on black hard pastels where the object is nebulous. Post drawing I scan the image and invert using paint. Limiting magnitude of my set up is around 19-20th mag.

2018-04-18 M85 + NGC 4394 505mm + Watec 120N+ vid cam D Holt b&w

 

Ed Fraini:  Observer from Texas 

Observation report: M85 and NGC 4394

Date:  May 2020

Our observation of the galaxy pair was made on the evening of May 18th from 2140 CDT till 2200 CDT.  The Houston Astronomical dark site had average conditions, meaning high humidity so moderate seeing and an SQM of 19.45. The target field is near azimuth, located centrally between Virgo, Leo, and Coma Berenices giving us the best possible conditions.

Time 2140

40 mm (50x – 1.42º field of view)

M85 is visible, and NGC 4394 observed only with a blink of the eye.  Both show as hazy circular patches with no structure other than a slightly brighter core.  The core of M85 is distinct, and the outer edges of the circle are defused with no firm location. Both galaxies seem to be facing us.  The star PPM 129045, to the southeast is quite bright and clearly spaced away from the visible disk.

Time 2153

13 mm (100º AF)  (147x – 41 arcseconds)

At this power, the background is extremely black.  M85 is still void of structure, and the core is more distinctly differentiated from the disk. Now the gap between the bright companion star is much smaller. The thin veil of the outer disk reaches closer to it. Moved M85 out and placed NGC 4394 in the center of the field.  At this magnification, NGC 4394 is oval-shaped. Two exceedingly small dim stars on a line to the southwest of NGC 4394 can barely be detected.

Time 2205

6 mm (100º AF) (318x – 18 arcseconds)

Stars very dim, no useful observations made.

These two make a nice pair, how could they not be on the Two in the View AL program?  We only had about 30 more minutes of observing in this night before the clouds moved in, so this observation became the highlight of the night.  

 

Michael Brown:  Observer from Massachusetts 

I observed M85 and NGC 4394 on May 13, photographed them on May 20, and observed them again visually on May 21.  I cherish observing the sky in the middle of spring.  Each year there is that very first truly enjoyable night, when it is finally comfortably warm and dry after the long New England winter, yet the mosquitoes have not yet appeared.  I hear flocks of geese flying north overhead and owls in the woods around my house.  I have a strong association between those sounds and the galaxies populating the spring sky.

My cursory research indicated that M85 is an elliptical (or perhaps lenticular) galaxy, NGC 4394 is a barred spiral, and both are members of the Virgo Cluster about 60 million light-years distant.  In my 8-inch scope with the 9mm eyepiece, M85 appeared quite bright, with an extended bright center (definitely not star-like) surrounded by a faint halo.  The galaxy was elliptical in shape with a north-northeast to south-southwest orientation.  I glimpsed a bright spot northeast of the center.  In my first observation I thought this could be either a foreground star of a bright spot within the galaxy (I have confirmed that it is in fact a star).  A brighter star is visible in the field southeast of the galaxy.

NGC 4394 is in the same telescopic field east of M85.  This smaller, dimmer galaxy was still fairly easy to see.  However, it was simply a round smudge with no significant detail.  

My photograph (with my Canon Digital Rebel SLR) has a total exposure of 17 minutes.  The photo shows the bright core and surrounding halo of M85.  The core and bar are clearly visible on NGC 4394.  The two spiral arms are faintly visible, with the general appearance of two rings.  I believe I see two other fuzzy objects in the photo:  one beneath (south of) M85, and one to its right (west).  I’d be interested in any information on these objects that anybody might have.

M85 and NGC 4494 (2)

 

Vladislav Mich:  Observer from Massachusetts 

Date: April 18 and May 13, 2020

Location: White Mountains National forest, New Hampshire

Conditions: Bortle 2, average seeing

Telescope:  22-inch f/3.3 DOB with 10mm eyepiece (185x, FOV=33′)

Filter:  No filter

Notes: M85 (NGC 4382) and NGC 4394 are located among about a dozen of foreground stars.  Even thou NGC 4382 is lenticular galaxy and NGC 4394 is a barred spiral galaxy they looked alike to me. Besides bright central regions I did not note any other details.

Pencil sketch as following:   

M85+ Slav inv2

 

Mario Motta:  Observer from Massachusetts:

M85 and NGC 4394 image taken through 32-inch telescope for two hours integration time, with my new ZWP ASI6200 camera, processed in PixInsight.  It is 60 million light years away, has faint shells in its structure, and a cloud of globular clusters swarming around it. 

NGC 4394 is another nice example of an ansae type barred spiral.  

2540995_1_M85_NGC4394

 

James Dire:  Observer from Illinois 

Located in Coma Berenices, M85 is a lenticular galaxy. Its integrated magnitude is estimated between 9 and 10.  Because it is nearly face-on, M85 appears as an elliptical galaxy. Were it more edge on, its disk might be more apparent.

M85 was discovered by Pierre Mechain in 1781 and confirmed by Messier soon thereafter. The galaxy measures 6.9 by 5.4 arcminutes.  The galaxy is 60 million light years away.

Less than 10 arc minutes east of M85 lies the barred spiral galaxy NGC 4394 which shines at magnitude 11.3.  The galaxy has a star-like core with a very bright bar running from northwest to southeast. While apparently close to M85 in the sky, in the literature distance estimates to NGC 4394 range from 39 to 121 million light years away. The most reliable distance is 58 million light years away, putting it close to M85.  Both galaxies have the same red shift; more evidence they are physically close in the heavens.

I took the wide field shot of M85 and NGC 4394 on May 24, 2020 using a 70mm f/6 Apo along with a 0.8x field flattener, focal reducer.  The image was a 110-minute exposure using a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera. The mount was a CGEM II. 

In the image the galaxy pair reside on the left side (east) of the image. The shot was framed to include the nearly edge on spiral galaxy NGC 4293 which lies one degree away from M85 (right side of the image).  NGC 4293 is a 10th magnitude galaxy measuring 6.2 x 3.6 arcminutes in size.  The bright star on the lower right side of the image is 11 Comae Berenices, which shines at magnitude 4.75. This is a binary star with the fainter component shining at magnitude 12.9 located 8.8 arcseconds northeast of the primary.

My second image has M85 and NGC 4394 centered.  It was taken using an 8-inch f/8 Ritchey–Chrétien with 0.8x focal reducer/field flattener. This 50-minute exposure also used a SBIG ST-2000XCM CCD camera.  This image shows the bright core of M85 and its spiral-armless halo.  NGC 4394’s bar is clearly visible as well as its faint spiral arms.

All of the stars in the image embedded in M85’s halo are foreground objects.  The brightest star, just southeast of M85’s halo is magnitude 10.5.  The small, faint smudge 10 arcminutes to the east of M85 is IC3292. It is magnitude 15.3. This galaxy is visible in the wide field shot of M85. Just on the south edge of M85’s halo lies a 17th magnitude galaxy PGC40512, barely visible on the narrow field shot.

M85_RC8

M85_SV70

 

Roger Ivester:  Observer from North Carolina

M85 and NGC 4394

Date:  April 16, 2020

Telescope:  10-inch f/4.5 reflector 

Sketch Magnification:  200x

Field of View:  0.33º 

M85:  A bright, high surface brightness galaxy with a subtle elongation, oriented NNE-SSW.  The galaxy is much brighter and very concentrated in the central region with a faint outer halo.  A mag. 12 star lies on the north tip, seemingly a bit brighter, and it stands out very well, at all magnifications.  

NGC 4394:  Smaller and much fainter than Messier 85, with a bright stellar nucleus, lens shaped and elongated NW-SE. 

M85 Roger

 

Glenn Chaple:  Observer from Massachusetts

M85 (NGC 4382) – Lenticular Galaxy in Coma Berenices (Mag: 9.1 Size: 7.1’ X 5.5’)  

NGC 4394 Barred Spiral Galaxy in Coma Berenices (Mag. 10.9 Size: 3.6’ X 3.2’)

The last two Observer’s Challenges, the 11th magnitude galaxies NGC 2859 (March) and NGC 3877 (April), were, well – challenges! If you’d like an easier target this month, we have something for you. If you’d like another challenge, we have something for you as well. The “easy challenge” is the 9th magnitude lenticular galaxy M85; the “challenging challenge” is its 11th magnitude neighbor, the barred spiral galaxy NGC 4394.

M85 is the northernmost Messier galaxy in the Virgo Galaxy Cluster and can be found about a degree ENE of the Magnitude 4.7 star 11 Comae Berenices. I described M85 is “easy,” because it’s relatively bright. I’ve seen it with a 3-inch reflector and a magnifying power of 30x.  Here’s a challenge. Can you capture it with binoculars?

If you look 8.5 arcminutes east of M85, you’ll see the faint glimmer of the barred spiral NGC 4394. Under dark sky conditions, a 10-inch scope will reveal the bar, which has a NW-SE orientation.  If you’re viewing NGC 4394 with a large-aperture scope, look for the outer halo, as seen in large telescope images. 

M85 was discovered by Pierre Méchain in early 1781. William Herschel picked up NGC 4394 three years later. Both galaxies are about 60 million light years away.

fullsizeoutput_1246

 

 

 

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