sponsored by psychohistorian.org


Deep Sky Observer's Companion – the online database


Welcome, guest!

If you've already registered, please log in,

or register an observer profile for added functionality.


log in to manage your observing lists























Full database:

Entire DOCdb database of 18,816 objects.



NGC 4303 (9,196 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




finder chart

altitude today

altitude (year)


½°, , in DOCdb

Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /home/yivumoo/public_html/show_object.php on line 167

show browsing

Messier 61

NGC 4303, LEDA 40001, MCG+01-32-022, MRC 1219+047, UGC 7420, Messier 61, I 139, h 1202, GC 2878

RA: 12h 21m 55.03s
Dec: +04° 28′ 28.7″

Con: Virgo
Ch: MSA:749, U2:238, SA:13


(reference key)

Type: galaxy (Seyfert 2)

Mag: B=10.9, V=?

Size: 6.165′ x 5.888′
PA: 162°

Historical observations

William Herschel (c.1784)

Synonyms: H I-139

Discovered in 1786 by William Herschel with an 18.7-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He called it "eB, vBN, resolvable, 6' or 7' diameter."

Published comments


Three supernovae erupted in this galaxy; 1926 (12.6p), 1961 (10.8p), 1964 (13.0b)

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.

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

(Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 10.5 mag galaxy. Their coded description reads SC,HISBCT,PD,.

Sandage, A. et al. (1975) Galaxies and the Universe

G. de Vaucouleurs ("Galaxies and the Universe", Chapter 14 - Nearby Groups of Galaxies) notes that the five brightest members of the Virgo X group, a part of the Virgo II cloud complex, are NGC 4303, NGC 4636, NGC 4536, NGC 4517 & NGC 4643.

Sandage, A. (1961) The Hubble Atlas of Galaxies

This galaxy appears on page 29 of "The Hubble Atlas of Galaxies" by Allan Sandage (1961, Washington, DC).

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"nebula, bright nucleus, spiral."

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

Modern observations

Tom Lorenzin

Lorenzin, in the electronic version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "10M; 5' diameter; large, soft nebulosity with patchy spiral arm sectors surrounds stellar core; see photo at HAG-29; extremely faint companion EL GAL N4303a (13.5M; 1' diameter) lies 8' to NE, 3' due E of a 12M star."

Steve Coe

Coe, observing with a 13" f/5.6, notes: "(M 61) is bright, large, irregularly round, much brighter in the middle and has a distinct nucleus using powers from 135X to 200X. The arms are mottled and in moments of good seeing some spiral structure can be seen. This observation was made in the central mountains of Arizona on a night I rated 7/10 for seeing and 8/10 for contrast. 4301 is a companion and is very faint, small, round and not brighter in the middle. Averted vision helps pick out this dim galaxy."

Contemporary observations

Richard Ford

2011 February 6th, Sunday


Instrument:12-inch Dobsonian Reflector Telescope.

Eyepieces:26mm Super Wide Field Eyepiece.

20mm Ultra Wide Angle Eyepiece.

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.

Object Type:Galaxy.

First Impression:This object looks like a large smudge of light.



Chart Number:No.11(Extract taken out of "Atlas of the Night Sky").

Size:26mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:57'/6=9.5'.

20mm Eyepiece:Field Of View:50'/5.5=9.0'.



Size in Arc Minutes:9.2'.


Major Axis:9.2'.


Minor Axis:2.3'.

Galaxy is 9.2'*2.3'.

Brightness:Magnitude 9.7.

Brightness Profile:From the far outskirts of this galaxy it is fairly faint while towards the central outskirts of this galaxy it grows brighter in the central nucleus.

Challenge Rating:Difficult.



By observing this galaxy I have found that the galactic nucleus is slightly oval with some spiral structure.Around this galaxy I have found areas of uneven brightness.This galaxy has a fairly bright nucleus.The spiral arms of this galaxy are very faint to observe.

Tom Bryant

2008-03-17 03:00:00

Observing site: Little Tycho Observatory

Telescope: C-8

[12h 21m 54s, 4 28m 0s] M 61

Favourite lists

Lacaille's catalogue

The Messier objects

Dunlop's catalogue

The Bennett objects

The Caldwell list

Named DSOs

Object search

First search phrase


Second search phrase

Type of object to include:

open cluster
globular cluster
planetary nebula
bright nebula
dark nebula
galaxy cluster
asterism & stars

The Bug Report

DOCdb is still in beta-release.

Known issues, feature requests, and updates on bug fixes, are here:

> Bug Report


Found a bug? Have a comment or suggestion to improve DOCdb? Please let us know!

> Contact us


DOCdb is a free online resource that exists to promote deep sky observing.

You could help by sharing your observations, writing an article, digitizing and proof-reading historical material, and more.

> Find out more

Everything on DOCdb.net is © 2004-2010 by Auke Slotegraaf, unless stated otherwise or if you can prove you have divine permission to use it. Before using material published here, please consult the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.5 License. Some material on DOCdb is copyright the individual authors. If in doubt, don't reproduce. And that goes for having children, too. Please note that the recommended browser for DOCdb is Firefox 3.x. You may also get good results with K-Meleon. Good luck if you're using IE. A successful experience with other browsers, including Opera and Safari, may vary.