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[M 88]

Messier 88

Observations and Descriptions

Discovered by Charles Messier on March 18, 1781.

Messier: M88.
March 18, 1781. 88. 12h 21m 03s (185d 15' 49") +15d 37' 51"
"Nebula without star, in Virgo, between two small stars & one star of the sixth magnitude, which appear at the same time as the nebula in the field of the telescope. Its luminosity is one of the faintest, & [it] resembles the one reported in Virgo, No. 58."

William Herschel
[Unpublished Observations of Messier's Nebulae and Clusters. Scientific Papers, Vol. 2, p. 660]
1784, Apr. 8 (Sw. 187). B. pL. r. [bright, pretty large, round] with a S. [small] one after it; moon light so strong that I had nearly overlooked the latter. (*)
[(*) Dreyer's note: See Scientific Papers, Vol. 1, p. 297, note to II.118]
1787, Jan. 14 (Sw. 691). vB. vL. E. [very bright, very large, extended].

On H II.118:
H II.118, 1784 April 8, compared to 6 Comae. Small. See note.
Note: Just following the 88. of the Connoissace des Temps.

John Herschel (1833): h 1312.
h 1312 = M88.
Sweep 422 (April 28, 1832)
RA 12h 23m 23.4s, NPD 74d 38' 19" (1830.0). [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
B; vL; vmE; 8'L, 1'br. The northern half is brighter than the southern.
Bright; very large; very much extended; 8' long, 1' broad. The northern half is brighter than the southern.

Sweep 24 (April 3, 1826)
RA 12h 23m 23.5s, NPD 74d 38' 17" (1830.0).
B; L; E; bM to nucl; pos. (by diag) = 140deg.0 +/-; has a * just at its s f extremity.
Bright; large; extended; brighter toward the middle to a nucleus; position angle (by diag) = 140.0 deg +/-; has a star just at its south following [SE] extremity.

Sweep 23 (April 1, 1826)
RA 12h 23m 24.0s, NPD 74d 38' 50" (1830.0).
vB; vL; E; gbM. Seen trough cloud.
Very bright; very large; extended. Seen trough cloud.

Sweep 419 (April 23, 1832)
RA 12h 23m 24.0s, NPD 74d 38' 50" (1830.0).
Viewed; mE in pos = 143 deg.4 by microm; psmbM; 7'l, 1'br.
Viewed; much extended in position angle = 143.4 deg [measured] by micrometer; pretty suddenly much brighter toward the middle; 7' long, 1' broad.

Sweep 418 (April 21, 1832)
RA 12h 23m 24.0s, NPD 74d 37' 9": (1830.0).
A mere glimpse through a cloud

Sweep 421 (April 26, 1832)
RA 12h 23m 24.0s, NPD 74d 38' +/- (1830.0).
pos = 145 deg.3 by microm; 8'l, 1'br; svmbM; has a double star s f.
Position angle [of extension] = 145.3 deg [measured] by micrometer; 8' long, 1' broad; suddenly very much brighter toward the middle; has a double star south following [to the SE].

Smyth: CCCCXLVIII [448]. M88.
CCCCXLVIII. 88 M. Virginis [now Comae Berenices].
AR 12h 23m 54s, Dec N 15d 18'.5
Mean Epoch of Observation: 1836.37 [May 1836]
[with chart including other objects: M84, M86, M87, M88, M89, M90, M58 and Messier's erroneous position of M91, and several Herschel objects]
A long elliptical nebula, on the outer side of Virgo's left wing. It is pale-white in colour, and trends in a line bearing np [NW] to sf [SE]; and with its attendant stars, forms a pretty pageant. The lower or northern part in the inverted field is brighter than the southern, a circumstance which, with its spindle figure, opens a large field for conjecture.
This is a wonderful nebulous region, and the diffused matter occupies an extensive space, in which several of the finest objects of Messier and the Herschels will readily be picked up by the keen observer in extraordinary proximity. The following diagram exhibits the local disposition of the immense nebulous neighbors north [actually south] of 88 Messier; they being preceded by M., No. 84 and followed by M. 58, 89, 90 and 91, in the same zone; thus describing a spot only 2 deg 1/2 from north to south, and 3 deg from east to west, as the micrometer shows it. And it will be convenient to keep in mind, that the situation of the extraordinary conglomerate of nebulae and compressed spherical clusters which crowd the Virgin's left wing and shoulder, is pretty well pointed out to the practised naked eye by Epsilon, Delta, Gamma, Eta, and Beta Virginisforming a semi-circle to the east, whilst due north of the last-mentioned star, Beta Leonis marks the north-west boundary. Reasoning upon the Herschelian principle, this may reverently be assumed as the thinnest or shallowest part of our firmament; and the vast laboratory of the segregating mechanism by which compression and insulation are ripened, in the course of unfathomed ages. The theme, however imaginative, is solemn and sublime.

John Herschel, General Catalogue: GC 3049.
GC 3049 = h 1312 = M88.
RA 12h 24m 54.5s, NPD 74d 48' 26.9" (1860.0). [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
B; vL; vmE; p od D neb... 8 observations by W. & J. Herschel.
Bright; very large; very much extended; preceding of a double nebula.

[the following of WH's double nebula is non-existent H II.118 = GC 3050, given at RA 12:24:+, NPD=74:48:- (1860.0) in GC, described as F; S; f of D neb - faint; small; following of a double nebula - with the remark "(not observed by h [JH])"]

[Memoirs of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. XXXVI (36)]
[Drawing on Plate IV, Fig. 20]

[Dr. H.C. Vogel: Positionsbestimmungen von Nebelflecken und Sternhaufen zwischen +9d 30' und +15d 30' Decl. Leipzig, 1876]
[Drawing on Plate I, Fig. 9]

Dreyer (1877)
GC 3049, h. 1312 [M 88]. Drawings in Lassell, Plate IV, Fig. 20, and in Vogel, Plate I, Fig. 9.

Dreyer: NGC 4501.
NGC 4501 = GC 3049 = h 1312; M 88.
RA 12h 24m 55s, NPD 74d 48.2' (1860.0). [Right Ascension and North Polar Distance]
B, vL, vmE; = M88
Bright, very large, very much extended (elongated).
Remark: 4501. [H] II.118, "just following M 88," has been left out, as nobody after H [William Herschel] has seen any neb[ula] f[ollowing] M 88.
Figures in Lass 2 [Lassell, Memoirs R.A.S. xol. xxxvi], plate IV, fig. 20; Vogel ["Positionsbestimmungen der Nebelflecken und Sternhaufen zw. +9d 30' und +15d 30' Decl. (Leipziger Beob. Band I)"], plate I, fig. 9; Ld R [Observations of Nebulae and Clusters at Birr Castle, 1748-78 (Transactions Royal Dublin Society, vol. ii, 1880)], plate III.

[Descriptions of 762 Nebulae ans Clusters photographed with the Crossley Reflector. Publ. Lick Obs., No. 13, Part I, p. 9-42]
NGC 4501, RA=12:26.9, Dec=+14:58. [Publ. Lick Obs.] Vol. VIII, Plate 37. A bright, beautiful spiral 5'x2.5' in p.a. 140deg. Bright, elongated nuclear region, including a bright, almost stellar nucleus. The whorls are rather close, and show numerous condensations. 17 s.n.
  • Observing Reports for M88 (IAAC Netastrocatalog)

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: February 20, 2005