Markarian’s Chain

Sketch of Markarian's Chain in the Virgo Cluster

Sketch of Markarian’s Chain in the Virgo Cluster

Move mouse over image to view labels (magnitudes listed in parentheses)
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Observation Notes:

The heart of the Virgo Cluster is a wonderful place to visit from a dark site. Every nudge of the telescope brings another galaxy…or three or five into the eyepiece…and it’s hard to beat the density around Markarian’s Chain.

In preparation for a tour of the area, I printed a chart and pre-traced 31 of the brightest stars to serve as a multi-field framework on a 9″ x 12″ sketch sheet. This saved a lot of sketching frustration as I panned across the 2.5° x 4° field. Over the course of the three hour observation, I ended up with 27 galaxies from 8.8 magnitude Messier 87 to 13.1 magnitude IC 3258. Most were quick catches, but a few required some star chart scrutiny to locate.

The list of galaxies observed:

  • Messier 84 (vMag 9.4)
  • Messier 86 (vMag 9.0)
  • Messier 87 (vMag 8.8)
  • Messier 88 (vMag 9.7)
  • NGC 4351 (vMag 12.3)
  • NGC 4377 (vMag 11.9)
  • NGC 4387 (vMag 12.1)
  • NGC 4388 (vMag 11.3)
  • NGC 4402 (vMag 12.2)
  • NGC 4413 (vMag 12.3)
  • NGC 4425 (vMag 11.8)
  • NGC 4431 (vMag 12.9)
  • NGC 4435 (vMag 10.8)
  • NGC 4438 (vMag 10.0)
  • NGC 4440 (vMag 12.1)
  • NGC 4458 (vMag 12.1)
  • NGC 4459 (vMag 10.4)
  • NGC 4461 (vMag 11.1)
  • NGC 4468 (vMag 13.0)
  • NGC 4473 (vMag 10.1)
  • NGC 4474 (vMag 11.8)
  • NGC 4476 (vMag 12.1)
  • NGC 4477 (vMag 10.4)
  • NGC 4478 (vMag 11.3)
  • NGC 4479 (vMag 12.6)
  • NGC 4506 (vMag 12.9)
  • IC 3258 (vMag 13.1)

Each of these galaxies is worth its own dedicated observation and sketch, but I wanted this to be more about the swarm than the individuals. Fortunately, the full page size of the sketch allowed some leeway for conveying a little detail in most of the galaxies–particularly Messier 88 and NGC 4438. As David Moody often advises, don’t let your eyepiece field stop dictate the extent of your sketch. It’s good advice.

Subject Markarian’s Chain:
Classification Galaxy Chain
Position (J2000)* Virgo and Coma Berenices
Date/Time JAN 15, 2010: 02:00 – 05:00 AM (JAN 15, 2010: 09:00 – 12:00 UT)
Observing Loc. Cinder Hills Overlook, Sunset Crater National Monument, AZ
Instrument Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dobsonian (203 mm dia./1200 mm F/L)
Eyepieces/Mag. 32 mm Sirius Plössl (37.5X); Pentax XW10 (120X); + 2X Barlow (240X)
Conditions Clear, cold, slight breeze
Seeing 5/10 Pickering
Transparency Mag 7.0+ NELM
*References Starry Night Pro Plus 5.x; NGCIC Project

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