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[M 3]

Messier 3

Observations and Descriptions

Discovered by Charles Messier on May 3, 1764.

Messier: M3.
May 3, 1764. 3. 13h 31m 25s (202d 51' 19") +29d 32' 57"
Nebula discovered between Bootes & one of the Hunting Dogs of Hevelius [Canes Venatici], it doesn't contain any star, its center is brilliant, & its light is gradually fading away, it is round; in a beautiful [dark] sky, one can see it in a telescope of 1-foot [FL]: It is reported on the chart of the comet observed in 1779. Memoirs of the Academy of the same year. Reviewed on March 29, 1781, always very beautiful. (Diam. 3')

[Handwritten remark in Messier's copy:] Reviewed on January 9, 1790.

[Mem. Acad. for 1771, p. 437 (first Messier catalog)]
On May 3, 1764, when working on a catalog of the nebulae, I have discovered one between Bootes & one of the Hunting Dogs [Canes Venatici] of Hevelius, the southernmore of the two, exactly between the tail & the paws of this Dog, according to the charts of Flamsteed. I have observed that nebula on the meridian, & I compared with Mu Bootis; its right ascension has been found as 202d 51' 19", & its declination as 29d 32' 57" north. That nebula which I have examined with a Gregorian telescope of 30 pouces focal length, which magnifies 104 times, doesn't contain any star; the center is brilliant, & the light gets lost fading [outward]; it is round, & could have 3 minutes of arc in diameter. One can see it in a good sky with an ordinary [nonachromatic] refractor of one foot [FL].
[p. 454] 1764.May. 3. RA: 202.51.19, Dec: 29.32.57.B, Diam: 0. 3. Nebula without stars, between the tail & the legs of one of the Hunting Dogs of Hevelius.

[Letter to J.E. Bode of June 17, 1782] Some days ago I have discovered a nebulous star not included in your catalog [Bode's catalog] near the 3rd and 9th star of Bootes, with that stars if makes an almost equilateral triangle. It has the following position [..], RA 203d 4' 0" [13h 32m 16s], Dec +29d 24' 45", [and is of] rather vivid magnitude.

Bode (1782): Canes Venatici 48.
[From: Vorstellung der Gestirne auf XXXIV Kupfertafeln (Introduction to the Stars on 34 Copper Plates), 1782. P. 8, plate 7]
CVn 48, after Messier. RA: 203:03 [13:32.2], Dec: +26:28. Nebulous patch.

William Herschel:
[1784. PT Vol. LXXIV=74 (1784), p. 437-451, here p. 440] .. To these may added the 1st, 3d [M3], 27, 33, 57, 79, 81, 82, 101 [of Messier's catalog], which in my 7, 10, and 20-feet reflectors shewed a mottled kind of nebulosity, which I shall call resolvable; so that I expect my present telescope will, perhaps, render the stars visible of which I suppose them to be composed. ..

[PT 1814, p. 276, SP2 p. 536] Sept. 24, 1810. Large 10 feet Newtonian telescope. Space penetrating power 75.82. Magnifying powers 71, 108, 171, 220. "The 3rd of the Connoiss. [M3, NGC 5272] is one of the globular clusters; very brilliant and beautiful. The compression of the stars begins to increase pretty suddenly from the outside at 3/4 of the radius, and continues gradually up to its centre, its diameter taking in the outside is full half of the field of the glass magnifying 171 times, giving 4'30"."

[PT 1818, p. 436, SP2 p. 595]
The 3rd of the Connoissance.
"1813, 7 feet finder of the telescope. It is at a small distance from a star of equal brightness ; the star is clear, the object is hazy, and somewhat larger than the star."
"1783, 7 feet telescope. With 460 the light is so feeble that the object can hardly be seen; I suspect some stars in it. 1813, with 80, many stars are visible in it."
"1799, 10 feet telescope, power 120; with an aperture of 4 inches it is resolvable; with 5 easily resolvable; with 6 it is resolvable; with 7 and all open the stars may be easily perceived."
"1784, 1785, 20 feet telescope. A beautiful cluster of stars, about 5 or 6 minutes in diameter."
"1810, Large 10 feet telescope. With 171 the diameter is full 4'30". (*)" (*) see above observation from [WH 1814].
By the observation of the 7 feet telescope this cluster must be of the 243rd order.

John Herschel (1833): h 1663.
h 1663 = M3.
Sweep 417 (April 20, 1832).
RA 13h 34m 12.2s, NPD 60d 46' 22" (1830.0) [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
A most superb object, diam = 10s.0 time in RA. Not less than 1000 stars 11m and under. They run into a blaze at the centre, and form as it were radiating lines and pointed projections from the mass, with many stragglers.

Sweep 64 (March 26, 1827).
RA 13h 34m 18.0s, NPD 60d 45' 51" (1830.0)
I just see the stars through a cloud so thick as almost to obscure Arcturus; 6' diam, but in a clear night no doubt more.

Sweep 415 (April 17, 1832). RA 13h 34m 18.1s, NPD 60d 46' 8" (1830.0)
Observed with Capt. Smyth, who "saw something remarkable" in a small * 2m or 3m preceding it, which proved on closer examination to be a fine first class double *.

Sweep 65 (March 30, 1827). RA 13h 34m 19.5s, NPD 60d 45' 46" (1830.0)
Very beautiful; stars 11 .... 15m; fills field, making lines and irregular rays of stars, and coming up to a blaze in the middle.

Sweep 343 (April 13, 1831). RA 13h 34m 20.7s, NPD 60d 45' 38" (1830.0)
A noble globular cluster 5 or 6' diam, entirely resolved when not a star near it, even Arcturus, was visible to the naked eye for clouds.

Smyth: CCCCXCII [492]. M3.
CCCCXCII. 3 M. Canum Venaticorum.
AR 13h 34m 45s, Dec N 29d 10'.6
Mean Epoch of Observation: 1831.26 [Apr 1831]
[with drawing]
A brilliant and beautiful globular congregation of not less than 1000 small stars, between the southern Hound and the knee of Boötes; it blazes splendidly towards the centre, and has outliers in all directions, except the sf [south following; SE], where it is so compressed that, with its stragglers, it has something of the figure of the luminous oceanic creature called Medusa pellucens. This noble object is situated in a triangle formed by three small stars in the np [north preceding; NW], nf [north following; NE], and sf [south following, SE] quadrabts, which, by their comparative brightness, add to the beauty of the field. It is nearly in mid-distance between Arcturus and Cor Caroli, at 11deg north-west of the former star. brp> This mass is one of those balls of compact and wedged stars, whose laws of aggregation it is so impossible to assign; but the rotundity of figure gives full indication of some general attractive bond of union. It was discovered in 1764 by Messier, who described it as "a nebula without a star, brilliant and round:" his instrument must have been rather moderate not to resolve this object, and it is matter of regret, that the exertions of such a man were straitened to such means. It was next pronounced to be a "mottled nebulosity;" but in 1784, Sir W. Herschel attacked it with his 20-foot reflector, and resolved it into a "beautiful cluster of stars, about 5' or 6' in diameter." By the gauging process, which he has fully described, he estimated its profundity to be of the 243rd order.

John Herschel, General Catalogue: GC 3636.
GC 3636 = h 1663 = M3.
RA 13h 35m 40.8s, NPD 60d 55' 6.0" (1860.0) [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
!!; Glob. Cl.; eB; vL; vsmbM; st 11 ... 14 observations by W. & J. Herschel.
Very remarkable; globular cluster; extremely bright; very large; very suddenly much brighter toward the middle; stars of 11th magnitude and fainter.

[Further Observations on the Spectra of some Nebulae, with a Mode of determining the Brightness of these Bodies. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., Vol. 156 (1866), p. 381-397; here p. 389]
[No. [GC] 3636. 1663 h. 3 M. R.A. 13h 35m 40s. N.P.D. 60d 55' 6". Cluster; extremely bright.]
"Ein leicht auflöslicher Hauf zahlloser Sterne, in der Mitte zu einem einzigen Lichte von grosser Helligkeit zusammenlaufend." [An easily resolvable cluster of innummerable stars, converging to a single light of great brightness in the middle.] - D'Arrest
Spectrum continuous.

Dreyer: NGC 5272.
NGC 5272 = GC 3636 = h 1663; M 3.
RA 13h 35m 44s, NPD 60d 54.9' (1860.0) [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
!!, Glob. Cl., eB, vL, vsmbM, st 11 ...; = M3
Very remarkable, globular cluster, extremely bright, very large, very suddenly much brighter toward the middle, stars of 11th magnitude and fainter.

[Descriptions of 762 Nebulae ans Clusters photographed with the Crossley Reflector. Publ. Lick Obs., No. 13, Part I, p. 9-42]
NGC 5272, RA=13:37.6, Dec=+28:53. [Publ. Lick Obs.] Vol. VIII, Plate 48. M. 3. The main portion of this beautiful cluster is about 8' in diameter. 1 s.n.
  • Observing Reports for M3 (IAAC Netastrocatalog)

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: January 27, 2005