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NGC 1851 (3,476 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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NGC 1851

NGC 1851, Dunlop 508, C 0512-400, GCl 9, ESO 305-16, Bennett 32, Caldwell 73, h 2777, GC 1061

RA: 05h 14m 6.63s
Dec: −40° 02′ 46.5″

Con: Columba
Ch: MSA:417, U2:393, SA:19

Ref: SIMBAD, SEDS, Corwin (2004)

(reference key)

Type: globular cluster

Mag: B=8.8, V=8.05

Size: 12′
PA: ?

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Sketches  (1)

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Historical observations

Dunlop, James (1828)

Dunlop, J. (1828) A Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars in the Southern Hemisphere, Observed at Paramatta in New South Wales. Phil. Trans. Roy. Soc., 118, 113-151. [1828RSPT..118..113D]

James Dunlop discovered this 7.3 magnitude globular cluster from Paramatta, New South Wales, and included it as No. 508 in his catalogue of 1827. Using a 9-inch f/12 telescope, he described it as "An exceedingly bright, round, well-defined nebula, about 1.5' diameter, exceedingly condensed, almost to the very margin. This is the brightest small nebula that I have seen. I tried several magnifying powers on this beautiful globe; a considerable portion round the margin is resolvable, but the compression to the centre is so great that I cannot reasonably expect to separate the stars. I compared this with the 68 Conn. des Tems, and this nebula greatly exceeds the 68 in condensation and brightness." Dunlop observed it on 5 occasions.

John Herschel

John Herschel recorded it as "superb globular cluster; all resolved into stars of 14th mag.; very suddenly much brighter in the middle to a blaze or nucleus of light; diam. in RA = 15 seconds of time. Difference of left and right eyes in resolving this cluster very remarkable. Returning from the left to the right eye, the object (in comparison) appears as if glazed over with a kind of dull film." He recorded it a second time as "very bright; round; very suddenly very much brighter in the middle; 3'; all clearly resolved into stars from 14 to 16 mag except at the centre, where they are massed together into a blaze of light." His final observation recorded it as "Superb globular cluster, very bright; round; first very gradually then suddenly very much brighter in the middle; 4'; resolved, the stars barely visible in strong twilight."

Published comments

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"! globular cluster, fairly condensed."

Bailey, S.I. (1908) A catalogue of bright stars and nebulae. Ann.Harv.Coll.Obs., 60(8), 199.

Helwan Obs. Bulletin No 9 (1912)

Globular cluster, vB, 6' in diameter, very condensed in centre.

Melotte, P.J. (1915)

A catalogue of star clusters shown on Franklin-Adams chart plates. Mem.R.A.S., 60(5), 175-186.

Doig, P. (1925)

Doig, P. (1925) Notes on the nebulae and clusters in Webb's 'Celestial Objects for Common Telescopes' (Sixth edition, Vol.ii). Part V. M.N.R.A.S., 36(3), 89.

Van den Bergh and Hagen (1968)

("UBV photometry of star clusters in the Magellanic Clouds", Astronomical Journal, Vol. 73, 1968) find that the integrated V magnitude through a 60'' diaphragm is 8.02. They remark: "color peculiar."

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

(Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 7.5 mag globular cluster.

Sanford (1989) Observing the Constellations

Sanford calls it a "large 11' globular cluster, easily resolved with a 10-inch."

Harris, W.E. (1996)

Distance from the Sun: 12.1 kpc

Distance from the Milky Way centre: 16.7 kpc

Mass: 1.8 x 10E5 solar

Harris, W.E. (1997)

RA 05 14 06.3 (2000) Dec -40 02 50 Integrated V magnitude 7.14 Central surface brightness, V magnitudes per square arcsecond 14.15 Integrated spectral type F7 Central concentration, c = log(r_total/r_core); a 'c' denotes a core-collapsed cluster 2.24 Core radius in arcmin .08. ["Catalog Of Parameters For Milky Way Globular Clusters", compiled by William E. Harris, McMaster University. (Revised: May 15, 1997; from http://www.physics.mcmaster.ca/Globular.html; Harris, W.E. 1996, AJ, 112, 1487) ]

Photo index

by Jim Lucyk: Astronomy mag. 12/87 p110.

Modern observations

Walter Scott Houston

Houston observed this cluster with 20x 5-inch binoculars and wrote: "This ball of stars is quite bright, about 7th magnitude, and must be a fine sight from the Southern Hemisphere. It was readily seen at 20x."

Hartung, E.J. (1968) Astron.Obj.South.Tel

Hartung writes "This beautiful globular cluster rises sharply to a very bright centre; including outliers it is about 4' across and well resolved into gleaming points. It is round but somewhat unsymmetrical and resolution is doubtful with a 6-inch telescope but 3-inch is enough to show the strong central condensation..."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "7M; 10' diameter; large and soft; low in S sky; wait for culmination."

Harrington, Phil (1990)

Phil Harrington (1990, Touring the Universe through Binoculars) notes "NGC 1851 is the only nonstellar deep sky object found in Columba through binoculars. Due to its isolation from any bright stars, observers should be prepared to search for a while. Once spotted, however, this magnitude 7.3 globular cluster stands out quite well as a small, circular patch of fuzzy light."

Brian Skiff

POSS: m13.5 * 3'.25 W/sl S of center, implies 15cm diam ~7'.

Stetson: m13.5 * W: V=13.40/1.61.

15cm - 4' diam w/lg core. gran w/a few *s.

- sm vintense cl @ 50x, which shows a few *s, brtst thus m~13.5. 195x: 9' diam, extending at least as far as m13.5 * isolated due W of center. strong sharp concen to vbr cen pip 10" across. 50-75 *s res. BS, 17Feb1990, LCO.

25cm - 5' diam. vbr and sharp core 1' across. fades quickly to widely spaced outliers. many *s spread beyond concen part of cl. flattened on SE, producing a rounded triangular shape.

Harrington, Phil (1986)

Harrington, P. (1986) More globulars for observers. Sky&Telescope, Sep, 310.

".. an 8-inch telescope will show a very bright central core, which fades rapidly outward. The cluster is difficult to resolve even with large amateur teelscopes because the individual suns appear quite faint."

Steve Gottlieb

05 14.1 -40 03

17.5: small bright core, large very mottled halo. About 20 stars are resolved mostly W of the core.

13: mottled bright core, not resolved except for two or three faint stars at the W edge.

8: small, very small bright core, faint halo.

Steve Coe

Steve Coe, using a 13" f/5.6, notes: "Very bright, very large, round, very suddenly very bright middle, well resolved at 220X. Averted vision makes this globular cluster grow much larger. About 30 stars are resolved with several chains of stars winding outward from a blazing core that is about 10" across. This cluster was seen in the finder."

Contemporary observations

Gabriel Giust

1995 January 25

8-inch Newtonian, 66x: 1995-01-25 "Very small, circular and symmetric. Intensely bright centre with a faint halo. Very easily found but very difficult to resolve into stars." [Gabriel Giust, San Isidro, Argentina]

Auke Slotegraaf

2007 April 15

Sutherland (Ouberg Quarry)

11x80 tripod mounted binoculars

Conditions: NELM: fainter than 6.0 at the S.pole

Small, very bright, round, almost stellar glow. Grows very suddently very much brighter to the middle. Easy to spot. Used Uranometria chart 393 to locate it.

1997 April 29

1997 April 29, 11x80 binoculars, Technopark, light and air pollution, 19:40. Very bright cluster, not much fuzziness; looks like a star with a tiny halo, or a slightly out-of-focus star.


It appears faint and diffuse in 8x40 binoculars, but takes on an interesting appearance though a 15.5-inch at 220x. It has a bright nucleus and overall mottled appearance. A number of stars sparkle out close to the nucleus. The nucleus is very small compared to the rest of the body.

Magda Streicher

2010 February 9

Location: Polokwane

16-inch f/10 SCT (127x 290x)

The bigger telescope show this globular beautiful. Very compact small core with a halo around it given the impression of see through frosted glass which flowing into another halo. Splinters of faint light specks extended into the outer edge and into the field of view. The outer edge of the globular is quite interesting and show splashes of faint stars stringing along. A string of stars although not outstanding is cutting through the north-western edge of the globular.

1997 July 04

Location: Pietersburg South 23o 53. East 29o 28.

Sky conditions: Clear.

Date: 4 Julie 1997.

Field of view: 52.7 arc minutes.

ASSA-DSO - Report J

NGC 1851 Mag 7 size 11

Large, very bright globular. Haziness extended further out from the core as usual. No sharp edges, outliers well resolved in pinhead stars, globular stands out beautiful.

(no date)

12-inch f/10 SCT

Large and bright, when compare to other globular's that extended out unusually far into the field of view. The hazy core area is quite large and spans about two thirds of the globular in total. The outer part is speckled with faint star points and a few noticeable star strings. Outstanding and beautiful against a speckled background star-field. HD 34125, a white 9.5 magnitude star, can be seen about 8' arc minutes west of the globular. (Mag 7.2; size 11.0'; brightest stars = 13.2 mag.)

Richard Ford

2015, February, 22nd



Sky Conditions:The fainter parts of the Milky Way are barely visible.Haziness only visible on horizon.Atmosphere stable with little interference.

Instrument:12-inch Dobsonian.

The stars in this globular cluster is very well resolved and that the stars in this cluster are strongly concentrated towards each other.The nucleus of this cluster is strongly condensed and the shape of the cluster looks like a frozen snowball.This globular cluster measures 3.7'x 3'.Chart No.174,NSOG Vol.1.

2009 January 25, 00:20 SAST


12-inch f5 (EP: 26mm SW, 20mm UW, 7mm UW)

Conditions: The most clear sky possible. Dark moon and stars magnitude 6 and fainter are visible with the naked eye. Excellent clean sky, limited star flickering and brilliant objects. Limiting Magnitude: 6.2.

Globular cluster located in Columba. Extremely Bright, oval shape. Well resolved into hundreds of thousands of individual stars very close towards the centre. There are a few bright companions radiating away from the centre of this globular cluster. Very centrally concentrated, nucleus 10 arcmin, halo 12.2 arcmin. There are slight clumps of stars, it appears as a mottled snowball. On the outskirts of this globular cluster there are prominent empty spaces.

Tom Bryant

2007-04-20 22:00:00

Observing site: Pinnacles overlook

Telescope: C-8

[5h 14m 6s, -40 3' 0"] A bright globular (Burnham lists it as 9 Mv) with 20 - 30 stars seen with averted vision, granular otherwise. This implies a limiting magnitude of around 14.5 Mv, based on a paper by Walker, 1992.

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