Messier 59 or M59 (also designated NGC 4621) is a elliptical galaxy in the constellation Virgo. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 9.6 and its angular diameter is 5x3.5 arc-minutes. M59 lies at an estimated distance of 60 million light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 12h 42m, Dec= +11° 39´ which makes M59 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 M59, M58, and M60 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is up). A 3x enlargement of this image centered on M59 appears to the right.

M59 was discovered by J. G. Koehler in 1779. It is one of the larger elliptical galaxies in the Virgo Cluster of galaxies. According to Stoyan et al. (2010), the distance of M59 is 48.3 million light years and its diameter is 76,000 light years. It contains 1500 or more globular clusters.

For more information, see the Messier Catalog as well as specific entries for M59 in Wikipedia and SEDS.

Messier's Description of M59

April 15, 1779
`Nebula in Virgo and in the neighborhood of the preceding [M58], on the parallel of epsilon [Virginis], which has served for its [position] determination: it is of the same light as the above, equally faint. M. Messier reported it on the Chart of the Comet of 1779.'

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