Messier 49 or M49 (also designated NGC 4472) is a elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 8.4 and its angular diameter is 9x7.5 arc-minutes. M49 lies at an estimated distance of 60 million light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 12h 29.8m, Dec= +08° 00´ which makes M49 best seen during the spring. The Messier Spring Star Chart shows the position of all Messier objects visible during that season.

The image above shows the uncropped view of M49 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is up). A 3x enlargement of this image appears to the right.

This elliptical galaxy was the first member of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies to be discovered by Messier in 1771. Along with M60 and M87, it is one of the giant elliptical galaxies of this cluster. According to Stoyan et al. (2010), the distance of M49 is 53.1 million light years and its diameter is 157,000 light years. Its estimated mass is 200 billion solar masses.

For more information, see the Messier Catalog as well as specific entries for M49 in Wikipedia and SEDS.

Messier's Description of M49

February 19, 1771
`Nebula discovered near the star Rho Virginis. One cannot see it without difficulty with an simple refractor of 3.5 feet. The Comet of 1779 was compared by M. Messier with this nebula on April 22 and 23: The comet and the nebula had the same light. M. Messier has reported this nebula on the chart of the route of the comet, which appeared in the volume of the Academy of the same year 1779. Reviewed on April 10, 1781.'

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