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[M 41]

Messier 41

Observations and Descriptions

Perhaps known to Aristotle about 325 B.C.
Discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654.
Discovered by John Flamsteed on February 16, 1702.

Messier: M41.
January 16, 1765. 41. 6h 35m 53s (98d 58' 12") -20d 33' 00"
Cluster of stars below Sirius, near Rho Canis Majoris; this cluster appears nebulous in an ordinary telescope of one foot [FL]; it is nothing more than a cluster of small stars.

[Mem. Acad. for 1771, p. 450 (first Messier catalog)]
In the night of January 16 to 17, 1765, I have observed below Sirius & near the star Rho of Canis Major a star cluster; when examining it with a night refractor, this cluster appeared nebulous; instead, there is nothing but a cluster of small stars. I have compared the middle with the nearest known star; & I found its right ascension of 98d 58' 12", & its declination 20d 33' 50" north [actually, south; see table below].
[p. 458] 1765.Jan.16. RA: 98.58.12, Dec: 20.33. 0.A. Cluster of stars below Sirius, & near the star Rho Canis Majoris.

[from Meteorologica, Book I, Chapter 6]
.. some of the fixed stars have tails. And for this we need not rely only on the evidence of the Egyptians who say they have observed it; we have observed it also ourselves. For one of the stars in the thigh of the Dog had a tail, though a dim one: if you looked hard at it the light used to become dim, but to less intent glance it was brighter.
[Identification reference from John Ellard Gore]

Bode: Bode 15.
A star cluster.

Bode (1782): CMa 57.
[From: Vorstellung der Gestirne auf XXXIV Kupfertafeln (Introduction to the Stars on 34 Copper Plates), 1782. Here p. 32, plate 25]
CMa 57, after Messier. RA: 99:08 [06:36.5], Dec: -20:33. Small Star Cluster.

Caroline Herschel
February 26, 1783. Observed M41 and "missing" M47.

William Herschel
[Unpublished Observations of Messier's Nebulae and Clusters. Scientific Papers, Vol. 2, p. 654]
1784, Oct. 20 (Sw. 304). A large cluster of very coarsely scattered large [bright] stars.

John Herschel (1833): h 411.
h 411 = M41.
Sweep 236 (March 4, 1830)
RA 6h 39m 43s, NPD 110d 34' 13" (1830.0) [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
Coarse; fills field. The chief, 8m, is red; a poor cl. (The place is estimated from a D * in the cl.)
Coarse; fills field. The chief [star], of 8th magnitude, is red; a poor cluster. (The place [position] is estimated from a double star in the cluster.)

Smyth: CCLXV [265]. M41.
CCLXV. 41 M. Canis Majoris.
AR 6h 39m 55s, Dec S 20d 34'.8
Mean Epoch of Observation: 1836.17 [March 1836]
Position 85d.0 (w 1), Distance 45".0 (w 1)
A double star, in a scattered cluster, on the Great Dog's chest. A [mag] 9, lucid white; B 10, pale white. This was registered by Messier in 1764, as a "mass of small stars;" but it is divided into five groups, of which the central one is the richest, and marked by three bright stars forming a crescent. In the np [north preceing, NW] is the open double star which is here estimated; and 41 Messier may be struck upon by running a ray from Aldebaran, through Epsilon in the centre of Orion's belt, and from thence between Sirius and Mirzam to about 4deg in the southeast space beyond them. But a beacon is rather acceptable in so low a declination, the tyro may hit his object by first directing his telescope - charged with a low power - upon Sirius, and then depressint it 4deg 5', when in about a minute a pair of 8th magnitudes will appear, constituting 233 and 236 P. Hora VI., and in about another minute, the cluster under discussion will follow.

John Herschel, General Catalogue: GC 1454.
GC 1454 = h 411 = M41.
RA 6h 41m 0.3s, NPD 110d 36' 2.2" (1860.0) [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
vL; B; lC; st 8,... 3 observations by W. & J. Herschel.
Very large; bright; little compressed; stars of 8th magnitude and fainter.
Remark: 1454 = h 411 = M41. This nebula [sic] was also observed by Flamsteed.

Dreyer: NGC 2287.
NGC 2287 = GC 1454 = h 411. Flamsteed Legentil, M14 [actually M 41].
RA 6h 41m 0s, NPD 110d 36.0' (1860.0) [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
Cl, vL, B, lC, st 8...; = M41
Cluster, very large, bright, little compressed, stars of 8th 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 2287, RA= 6:42.7, Dec=-20:38. A large, very coarse and sparse cluster, about 25' in diameter. 0 s.n.
  • Observing Reports for M41 (IAAC Netastrocatalog)

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: March 25, 2005