Messier 85 or M85 (also designated NGC 4382) is a lenticular galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices. It has an apparent visual magnitude of 9.1 and its angular diameter is 7.1x5.2 arc-minutes. M85 lies at an estimated distance of 60 million light years. The Equinox 2000 coordinates are RA= 12h 25.5m, Dec= +18° 12´ which makes M85 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 M85 through the Takahashi E-180 Astrograph (North is up). A 3x enlargement of this image appears to the right. About 8 arc-minutes to the east is the small barred spiral galaxy NGC 4394.

This lenticular galaxy was discovered by P. Méchain in 1781 and it appears very similar to M84. M85 is the northernmost member of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies in the Messier Catalog. It is also one of four lenticular galaxies in the Messier Catalog (M84, M85, M86, and M102). According to Stoyan et al. (2010), the distance of M85 is 47.8 million light years and its diameter is 99,000 light years. Its estimated mass is 400 billion solar masses.

For more information, see the Messier Catalog as well as specific entries for M85 in Wikipedia and SEDS.

Messier's Description of M85

March 18, 1781
`Nebula without star, above and near to the ear of the Virgin [Virgo], between the two stars in Coma Berenices, No.s 11 and 14 of the Catalog of Flamsteed: this nebula is very faint. M. Méchain had determined its position on March 4, 1781.'

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