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NGC 1904 (3,596 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Messier 79

NGC 1904, C 0522-245, GCl 10, ESO 487-7, Bennett 34, Messier 79, GC 1112

RA: 05h 24m 10.59s
Dec: −24° 31′ 27.3″

Con: Lepus
Ch: MSA:350, U2:315, SA:19


(reference key)

Type: globular cluster

Mag: B=9.21, V=8.56

Size: 9.6′
PA: ?

Image gallery

Sketches  (1)

Select a sketch and click the button to view


This globular cluster in Lepus was discovered by Pierre Mechain (1780 October 26). It is also the southern-most object Mechain discovered.

Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

In the Philosophical Transactions, 1814, William Herschel wrote "January 13, 1806. Large 10 feet Newtonian telescope. The 79th of the Connoissance des Temps is a cluster of stars of a globular construction, and certainly extremely rich. Towards the centre the stars are extremely compressed, and even a good way from it. With 171 power the diameter is a little less than 1/2 of the field, and with 220 a little more; the field of one being 9' and of the other 8', a mean of both gives the diameter of the cluster 2' 50 arcseconds, but I suppose that the lowness of the situation prevents my seeing the thinly scattered stars, so that this cluster is probably larges that it appears." In the Philosophical Transactions, 1818, William Herschel wrote: "1783, 7 feet telescope. With 57 nebulous; with 86 a strong suspicion of its being stars. 1799, 10 feet telescope. 300 power shows the stars of it with difficulty. 1784, 20 feet telescope, a beautiful cluster of stars, nearly 3' diameter. 1806, large 10 feet telescope. A globular cluster, the stars of which are extremely compressed in the middle; with 171 and 220 the diameter is 2' 50 seconds, but the lowness of the situation probably prevents my seeing the whole of its extent."

NGC/IC Dreyer (1888, 1895, 1908)

The NGC description reads: "pretty large, extremely rich, extremely compressed, clearly resolved into stars".

Lassell, W. (1866)

Bibcode: [1866MmRAS..36....1L]

Sketched and described.

Published comments

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 II. M.N.R.A.S., 35(8), 280.

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.

Remarks, p.217: "This cluster contains 5 known variable stars."

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

The RNGC (Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 8.5 mag globular cluster.

Harris, W.E. (1996)

Distance from the Sun: 12.9 kpc

Distance from the Milky Way centre: 18.8 kpc

Mass: 1.2 x 10E5 solar

Harris, W.E. (1997)

RA 05 24 10.6 (2000) Dec -24 31 27 Integrated V magnitude 7.73 Central surface brightness, V magnitudes per square arcsecond 16.23 Integrated spectral type F5 Central concentration, c = log(r_total/r_core); a 'c' denotes a core-collapsed cluster 1.72 Core radius in arcmin .16. ["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) ]

Modern observations

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

Hartung notes that a 4-inch telescope "will show the outlying stars faintly. It is bright, of moderate condensed type and about 2.5' across with outliers extending considerably wider. Large apertures show gleaming points right to the centre. It lies in a fine field..."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "8.4M; 7.5' diameter; rich, compressed and faint; bright center, off center to S; DBL ST ADS3954 is 35' to WSW."

Harrington, Phil (1986)

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

A modern 6 to 8 inch telescope will show a mottled surface, as if on the verge of resolution. A 10-inch should show some of the 14th mag stars."

Sanford (1989) Observing the Constellations

Sanford notes that "in small telescopes, it remains unresolved, but shows a few stars around the edges in an 8-inch. A 12-inch or larger will show the object richly resolved into a tight ball of faint stars."

Gross, Todd (IAAC)

Observer: Todd Gross; Your skill: Intermediate ; Date and UT of observation: 10/02/97 0815 GMT; Location & latitude: 22 miles west of Boston, Ma. 42.3N; Site classification: Suburban; Limiting magnitude (visual): 5.3 (estimated) 3.8 (est) in vicinity of object; Seeing (1 to 10 - worst-best): est. 4; Moon up (phase?): No; Instrument: 16" Newtonian-dob w. 96/99% coatings f/4.59; Magnifications: 69x, 277x; Filters used: none; Object: M79; Constellation: ; Object data: Globular cluster

Skies were terribly light polluted this far south in my sky..(well south of Orion) with a limiting magnitude of no more than 4, perhaps even 3.5 (this while I was running 5.3-5.5 or so nr. the zenith) Nevertheless, high power was able to almost completely resolve M79, and I would have had even more luck had the skies been steadier, and thus the stars crisper.

A barely resolved blob, looking much like M13 does in 4" aperture was noted when I first found it at 69x. It was an easy find. However, when increasing the magnification up to 277x, I cracked through most of the light pollution, and resolved it nicely. In fact, M79 at this aperture looks very much like the figure of a headless man holding a hockey stick (on our left, his right) with the central core of M79 as his tummy. This is with South facing up, and west left.

This was a mid-sized globular, again it was fully resolved on the edges, mostly resolved towards the middle, (but stars were a bit blurry) with a lumpy & fairly tight core. Interesting to see this in the winter sky where Globulars are rare.

- Todd

At 11:01 AM 10/2/97 -0400, you wrote:

]Headless man holding a hockey stick?? This gives a new name for the Lepus cluster, Todd - the Halloween Globular!!!


Vollmann, W

Dear Astro'ers,

there has been some discussion lately on the visibility of the globular cluster M 79 in Lepus, under the feet of Orion.

Last night was cold but clear. I tried for M 79 with 10x50 binoculars, star-hopping down from Alpha to Beta Lep and along the same line about as far again to a non-labeled 7 mag star (in Tirions Sky Atlas). There it was, about a degree to the North-East of this star, 10 arcmin north of a star of about magnitude 8 or 8 1/2: a small cloud, easily distinguishable from the 8.5 mag star. M 79 was distinctly visible in the binoculars, round and about 1 or 1.5 arc minutes diameter. Its magnitude is about 8 mag, a bit brighter than the 8.5 mag star to the south. What do you see?


Wolfgang Vollmann


Wolfgang, just been looking at M79 with 7x50 binoculars ( used as a monocular,; because I dont use binocular vision).; I found a small fuzzy patch using averted vision in the position; noted in Uranometria 2000. At my latitude oc course its about elevation; 85 degrees. Of course against that I am only 5Km SE from City Centre.; Pleasantly cool night about 15C light SE wind.; Cheers Tony Beresford

Shaffer, Alan (IAAC)

Observer: Alan Shaffer (e-mail: milkyway@gte.net); Instrument: 10-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector Location: Redondo Beach, CA, USA; Light pollution: moderate Transparency: good Seeing: good; Time: Mon Feb 10 06:00:00 1997 UT Obs. no.: 62

Nice object in 10". Spotted first with 7X20 bino and 4.5" refractor. Compact field. Used line from Alpha through Beta to object. Nice view!!

Steve Gottlieb

05 24.2 -24 32

17.5: 40-50 stars resolved mostly in halo or at the edge of the very mottled core. A string of six stars is just E of center and a long string passes through the core. The brightest mag 12.5 is N of the core.

13: about 40 stars resolved including a few over the core.

8: small bright core, few stars at edge and core, mottled. The outer halo is well resolved in excellent conditions.

Steve Coe

Steve Coe, observing with a 13" f/5.6, notes: "(M 79) Pretty bright, pretty large, round, very bright in the middle at 135X. Well resolved, with about 12 stars in the compressed central section and another 50 stars in the outer portions. All against a very grainy backround. Easily seen in the finder."

Brian Skiff

= M79

Stetson: * N 2'.15, V=12.21/0.30. triangle *s: V=13.02/1.54 (farthest @ 3'.05); V=13.61/1.29 (Wmost); V=13.44/1.36 (closest to center). br *s N (V=9.4) and S (V=8.8) 19'.4 apart.

6cm - br, btwn two m9 *s N & S. 3' diam w/almost *ar center. m11.5 * off N side.

15cm - at lox appears as a m8 haze. 180x: graininess obs'd. 320x: gran and some *s res. BS, 25Oct1970, FtL.

- br and partially res @ 100x. 3' diam w/outliers to 5'.

- mod br cl part res @ 80x. 140x/195x: 4' diam, outliers reaching beyond consp m12 * sl W of due N, and as far as most distant * of a triangle of m13 *s sl W of due S. mod even concen, although somewhat clumpy. main body reaches as far as * N, core 1/5 of this. assuming *s just mentioned are brtst, the cl members are m12.5-13 and fntr. BS, 28Feb1990, LCO.

- mod br gc part res @ 80x. 195x: 100 *s m13.5+ in 5' diam, reaching to m12.5 * nrly due S. BS, 9Nov1993, LCO.

25cm - 180x & 240x: 4'.5 diam, 1' core. well res. on N edge is m12 *. mod concen.

30cm - well res, best @ 220x. 4'x3'.5 in pa15. core 1'.25 across; sparse rel br outliers. well concen broad core.

Contemporary observations

Magda Streicher

1997 July 4

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 1904

Mag 8 size 8

Large, relative bright globular, not very dense, faint stars shattered from the core to the fringes. Brighter stars standing out to the southeast. Brighter to the middle.

(no date)

12-inch f/10 SCT (EP: 2-inch 40mm SW 76x 53' fov; 2-inch 32mm SW 95x 42' fov; 2-inch 14mm UW 218x 23' fov; 2-inch 8.8mm UW 346x 15' fov)

An exceptional beautiful object. Brightens slowly to the middle, which does not appear very tight with numerous star strings at the outskirts that extend like lace to give a refined appearance. Somewhat of a more lengthened appearance on the south side. Possibly faint stars that justify this appearance. With high power (218x and 346x) and averted vision faint stardust sprays this exceptional globular cluster. To the south a white 8.7 magnitude star and to the north a 9.4 magnitude star can be seen. Very busy star field.

2006 November 18


12-inch f/10 SCT (76x, 218x, 346x)

Conditions: Good

The more you look the more you see. An envelope around the core let it double in its size blending with the faint compact stars around it. Higher power, show a condensed core with faint stars around spraying into the field of view. The north east of the cluster seems more busy with faint stars that fly out into the field of view.

Auke Slotegraaf

2007 April 15

Sutherland (Ouberg Quarry)

11x80 tripod mounted binoculars

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

A quick glance shows three stars in a row; one is subsequently seen as being clearly fuzzy. The globular is a small round glow, 9th magnitude, flanked north and south by two stars of similar magnitude (HD 35513, 8.8V and HD 35511, 9.4V). 5th magnitude HR 1771 lies 3/4 degree westward. Used Uranometria chart 315 to locate.

1994 February 08

1994-02-08, Die Boord, 11x80's tripod-mounted. Observed this globular quite low on horizon, soon after setting up so dark adaptation not fully set in. It can be missed while sweeping, looking star-like. The nebulous atmosphere, however, is evident with direct vision once located. It is neatly flanked by two 8th mag stars due north/south. A slightly ornage 5th mag star, shown as double, lies over half a degree to the west-southwest, serving as a convenient marker.


Through a 15.5-inch telescope at 220x the cluster appears very bright and large. It is surrounded by a perimeter of field-stars and there is a single star to the southwest. The definite nucleus appears angular, with a straight edge running southwest to northeast. There is a gradual decrease in brightness to the outer edge of this very charming cluster.

Richard Ford

2013 November 3rd, Sunday



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

Instrument:12-inch Dobsonian.

This globular cluster takes the form of a slightly irregular stone and what I have noticed is that the stars in this cluster are well resolved.The nucleus of this globular cluster is slightly concentrated towards each other as a spherical halo of soft pale light.This globular cluster measures 3.1'x 2.5'.

2010 February 14,Sunday


Instrument:12"Dobsonian Reflector Telescope.

Sky Conditions:Dark moon and stars magnitude 6 and fainter are barely visible with the naked eye.

Transparency of the Sky:The most clear sky possible.

Seeing:Excellent clean sky,limited star flickering and brilliant objects.

Limiting Magnitude:6.5.

First Impression:Globular Cluster.



Chart Number:No.15(Extract taken out of "Atlas of the Night Sky").

Size:26mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:57'/10=5.7'.

20mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:50'/8.5=5.8'.



Size in Arc Minutes:5.8'.

Size of nucleus vs.halo:10/5.8'=1.7'.



Size of halo:3.1'.

Brightness:Very Bright.

Brightness Profile:Medium Surface Brightness.

Challenge Rating:Easy to observe in moderate dark skies but spectacular in a large telescope under very dark skies.



The stars in this cluster are indivually resolved around the outskirts of this globular cluster which give M79 a granular appearance.The stars are concentrated as a uniform snowball of bright stars radiating away from each other.There are some chains of stars around this globular cluster.In this cluster I have found tiny empty spaces of starless patches.

Tom Bryant

2006-11-03 03:30:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[5h 24m 30s, -24 33' 0"] Barely granulated, if at all. The stars in this cluster are 14 Mv or fainter.

2006-10-29 03:00:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[5h 24m 30s, -24 33' 0"] The seeing this morning was horrible, the cluster was not even granulated.

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