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Lacaille I.6 (11,654 of 18,816)


oc gc pln bn dn gx gxcl ast aka lost




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Southern Pinwheel Galaxy

Lacaille I.6, Messier 83, Dunlop 628, NGC 5236, ESO 444-81, LEDA 48082, MCG-05-32-050, SGC 133411-2936.8, Bennett 63, Southern Pinwheel Galaxy, h 3523, GC 3606

RA: 13h 37m 0.78s
Dec: −29° 51′ 58.6″

Con: Hydra
Ch: MSA:889, U2:370, SA:21


(reference key)

Type: galaxy (starburst), SBc

Mag: B=8.51, V=7.89

Size: 10′ x 10′
PA: ?

Image gallery

Photos  (12)

Select a photo and click the button to view


This galaxy is a member of the fairly nearby Centaurus group of galaxies, which includes NGC 4945, 5102, 5128, 5236 and NGC 5253.

Historical observations

Lacaille (1755)

This galaxy in Hydra was discovered by Lacaille and included in his 1755 catalogue as Class I No. 6. In his half-an-inch 8x telescope he saw it as a "small, shapeless" nebula. It is also the only galaxy in Lacaille's list.

William Herschel (c.1784)

In the Appendix to the 1912 'Scientific Papers of Sir William Herschel' this object is described as "1787, March 15. vB, a B. resolvable nucleus in the middle with faint branches about 5' or 6' long, E sp-nf. 1793 May 5. vB, a SBN with very extensive and vF nebulosity; it more than fills the field, it seems to be rather stronger from sp to nf. It may be ranked among the nebulous stars."

Dunlop, James (1827)

James Dunlop observed it from Paramatta, New South Wales, and included it as No. 628 in his 1827 catalogue of 629 southern nebulae. Using a 9-inch f/12 telescope, he described it as "185 Centauri is a very beautiful round nebula, with an exceedingly bright well-defined disk or nucleus, about 7 or 8 arcseconds diameter, surrounded by a luminous atmosphere or chevelure, about 6' diameter. The nebulous matter is rather a lttle brighter towards the edge of the planetary disk, but very slightly so. I can see several extremely minute points or stars in the chevelure, but I do not consider them as indications of its being resolvable, although I have no doubt it is composed of stars."

John Herschel

Sir John Herschel observed it at the Cape of Good Hope with an 18-inch f/13 speculum telescope. He sketched the galaxy, and commented on it as follows: "This is Bode's 185 Centauri, observed by Lacaille, and remarked by him as nebulous. The reader will not fail to compare it with V.43 [NGC 4258], figured in my Northern catalogue, to which it bears a perfect analogy. They are the two finest specimens of their class - that of large, faint, oval nebulae with small, bright, exceedingly condensed, oval nuclei. And it will not escape notice, on comparison of the figure, that in both cases the nucleus appears to contain within it a still smaller round kernel. The minute scrutiny of these objects with instruments of larger aperture and high magnifying powers, would be in the highest degree interesting and instructive. The situation of 185 Centauri, is however far too low for very satisfactory observation in these latitudes." In the records of his sweeps he recorded it as "very bright, very large, suddenly brighter in the middle to a centre equal to a star 9th mag, diam 8 arcseconds, of a resolvable character like a globular cluster, surrounded by an immensely large, extremely dilute almost equable light 7' or 8' diameter, somewhat oval, and passing with excessive suddenness into the central light." On the next sweep, he saw it as "faint, very large, elongated, very suddenly very much brighter in the middle to a sharp nucleus (ill seen, owing to clouds)." On the sweep after this, he recorded it as "185 Bode Centauri. Elongated; pos of axis = 55.1 , which is also that of the two stars involved in it = 10th mag." His final observation of the galaxy was recorded as "very large, very bright, much elongated, very suddenly very much brighter in the middle to a nucleus; diam in RA = 17.5 seconds = 3 arcseconds, 49 arcseconds in arc; a small star involved; pos with nucleus 80 approx. by a rough diagram made at the time."

Lassell, W. (1866)

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

Sketched and described.

Published comments

Helwan Obs. Bulletin No 21 (1920)

! B, 9'x9' spiral with vB irr N and many alm. stell. condensations. See HOB 9.

Laustsen, S., Madsen, C. & West, R.M. (1987)

Exploring the Southern Sky: A pictorial atlas from the European Southern Observatory. Springer-Verlag.

Scanned image on disk. [1987EtSS.........0L], plate 47.

Helwan Obs. Bulletin No 9 (1912)

! vB, 10'x10', open spiral with many condensations.

Shapley, H. & Paraskevopoulos, J.S. (1940)

Galactic and Extragalactic Studies, III. Photographs of thirty southern nebulae and clusters. Proc. N.A.S., 26, 31-36.

Thackeray, A.D. (1968)

Thackeray, A.D. (1968) Supernova in Messier 83. Sky&Telescope, Nov, 295.

Bailey, S.I. (1908)

"!! nebula, spiral, nucleus, several branches"

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

de Vaucouleurs, G. (1975)

de Vaucouleurs, G. (1975) Nearby groups of galaxies. In: Kuiper, G. (ed) Stars and Stellar Systems. Volume 9: Galaxies and the Universe. Chapter 14, p557.

5. The nearer groups within 10 megaparsecs

G4. NGC 5128 Group

Brightest members: 5236,5128,4945,5102,5068,5253.

Several large southern galaxies having low velocities may form a loose group or chain centred on NGC 5128, 4945, 5102, 5236 and NGC 5253 and possibly NGC 5068. Two (NGC 5102 and perhaps NGC 5128=CenA) are lenticulars, three are late-type spirals Sc-Scd and one (NGC 5253) is peculiar, possibly an I0 irregular (the BGC classificaion Imp is incorrect). The overall length of the chain is 30� = 2.1Mpc or 20� = 1.4 Mpc (excluding NGC 5068 which has the highest velocity). ... Even if this chain does not form a physical (bound) group, it is useful to obtain some estimate of the distance of NGC 5128.


Five supernovae erupted in this galaxy; 1923 (15.0p), 1950 (16.0p), 1957 (7.5p), 1968 (7.8p), 1983 (12.5v)

Sulentic & Tifft (1973)

(Sulentic and Tifft 1973) notes that this is a 8.5 mag galaxy. Their coded description reads LGBS,WD,ICOMPLEXSSTR DKLNS&KNS.

Sandage & Tammann (1975)

Sandage, A. & Tammann, G. A. (1975) Steps toward the Hubble constant. V - The Hubble constant from nearby galaxies and the regularity of the local velocity field. ApJ, 196, 313-328. [1975ApJ...196..313S]

Includes this galaxy in the NGC 5128 Group. Members include NGC 4945, NGC 5068, NGC 5102, NGC 5128 & NGC 5236.

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

This galaxy appears on page 28 of "The Hubble Atlas of Galaxies" by Allan Sandage (1961, Washington, DC).

Schmidt, K.-H. et al. (1993)

Schmidt K.-H., Priebe A. & Boller T. (1993) Nearby galaxies. Revised machine-readable version of the catalogue. Astron. Nachr., 314, 371. [1993AN....314..371S]

Other names: "E444-81,M83,UA366". Inclination: (face-on, in degrees) 33 Total photoelectric blue mag 8.20 Total colour index .66 Logarithm of the angular diameter D25 (arcminutes) 2.11 Blue photographic magnitude 8.08 This galaxy is included in a sample of galaxies with velocity less than 500km/s with respect to the centroid of the Local Group. [Nearby Galaxies. Schmidt K.-H., Priebe A., Boller T. (Astron. Nachr. 314, 371 (1993))]

Modern observations

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

Hartung notes: "it is a large ellipse about 7' x 5' in pa 60 deg rising steadily to a very bright nucleus hardly 20 arcsec across . . I see evidence of concentric structure, apparent also with 20cm . . it is an easy object for small apertures."

Tsang, Simon

Simon Tsang notes that "in binoculars this famous southern face-on spiral galaxy appeared diffuse and faint, rather like M33. I detected two arms in an 8-inch telescope and a hint of the fainter third arm with the 13-inch Dobsonian."

Walter Scott Houston

Houston includes this galaxy in his Hydra Hysteria. He calls it a "delightful spiral for small telescopes. Its 8th mag disk is 10' in diameter." In 1972 he wrote: "Charles Messier, observing from Paris, regarded this 8th mag spiral as a difficult object, perhaps because it never climbed more than 13 degrees above his horizon. That he saw M83 at all should encourage users of large binoculars and small telescopes, especially those who live in more southerly latitudes. On a clear dark night, averted vision and patience will enable nearly all of the 8' diameter of M83 to be seen in a 10-inch or larger telescope. However, at low power one can sweep past this galaxy, since its bright core is easily mistaken for a star."

Tom Lorenzin

Tom Lorenzin, in the e-version of "1000+ The Amateur Astronomers' Field Guide to Deep Sky Observing", notes: "8M; 10' x 8' extent; very large and a little elongated in a NE-SW direction; very bright with soft, splotchy outer reaches; very much brighter center and stellar core; larger aperture shows detail in spiral arms; 12M star 4' SW of core; 9M stars 5' E of core and 8' SW of core; !good supernova prospect! see photo at HAG -28; 25' NE is bright star 6M SAO 181825; 15' due E is dimmer 7M SAO 181821."

Ware, Donald J

"This is one of the finest examples of a face on barred spiral galaxies in the sky. It is large, about 10' in diameter, with an obvious central bar and spiral arms which seem to go all the way around the galaxy. Often photographed by amateurs, this is a real gem of the night sky."

Steve Coe

Steve Coe, observing with a 17.5" f/4.5 at 100X, notes: "Very Bright, Large, elongated, very bright in the middle easy in finder, three arm spiral structure visible at 165X

Steve Coe (1992, The Deep-Sky Observer, Webb Society, Issue 1) observing with a 17.5-inch f/4.5 at 100x notes: "vB, L, elongated, vbM, easy in finder, three arm spiral structure visible at x165."

Coe, Steve (IAAC)

Observer: Steve Coe

Your skills: Advanced (many years)

Date/time of observation: April 1995

Location of site: McDonald Obs., Texas (Lat +31, Elev 6000)

Site classification: Rural

Sky darkness: 8 1-10 Scale (10 best)

Seeing: 7 1-10 Seeing Scale (10 best)

Moon presence: None - moon not in sky

Instrument: 36" f/5 Dobsonian

Magnification: 220X

Object(s): M 83

Category: External galaxy

Constellation: Hya

36" f/5 20mm Nagler spiral detail is easy, averted vision makes the spiralstructure more obvious and increases size 30%. Many small knots in the arms. Amazing amount of detail in the spiral arms. In moments of good seeing there are 10 bright spots within the arms in a variety of sizes. Several dark lanes show scalloped detail at the edges of the spiral arms and the arms themselves are silvery in color. The core of this bright galaxy is a very light yellow, allowing an observer to see the difference between Population I and Population II stars right at the eyepiece!

[amastro] M83 revisited

Instead of the 'quest for the Holy Grail' (ie: finding objects that emitt the fewest photons in the sky) - I like to offer a different challenge. Several weeks ago I observed M83 using a friends 18-inch f/5. What makes this observation "unique" is the incredible amount of detail that was resolved. Not only were the spiral arms easily resolved - but also numerous bright knots and _dark rifts_ in the bar and the arms. The sheer profusion of dark rifts was astounding, and something not expected. I have observed M83 a number of times before with scopes up to 25-inches, but never really noticed the dark absorption structures. I believe the key lies in use of high magnification, in this case 260x. I generally use fairly low (100 to 175x) magnification based on its sheer size and relatively low constrast of the spiral arms and it seemed to do well revealing details. I've reviewed a number of sources including those by Lord Rosse and William Lassell and I find sparse mention of dark rifts in the arms/bar. Perhaps the best description can be found in vol 2 of Night Observer's Guide. I'm sending a composite drawing of M83 ( based on several sketches I have plus the last observation) as an attachment.

- Rich Jakiel

Brian Skiff

POSS: pair 5'.2 NE of center: 12"; 212.

Wood & Andrews MNRAS 167, 13: pair V=10.6,11.7; * @ SW end of bar V=12.0.

7x35mm - fairly br, lg. ssems asym w/brtst part twd NW side/ f * on S edge?

BS, 28May1995, TSP.

6cm - nice. mottled w/not-good concen. small 30" core w/elong inner halo in pa70, 5'x2'. halo extends to a f m11 * S. overal diam 8'.

15cm - surprised, brtr than expected. mod sized core w/lg fntr halo.

- br, consp @ 50x as lg modlosfcbr glow w/br vsm center set among sev *s. outermost reaches of halo extend @ 80x to dbl* 6' SE of center. 165x: bar wkly vis extending NE-SW w/m12 *s nr each end. core 45" across, irreg round; sub*ar nuc has strong sharp concen rel to sl brtning of core. at 80x halo better seen: oval elong NE-SW, nrly uniform overall brtness, but some wk struc occas vis. BS, 14May1988, TSP.

25cm - lg, vbr. elong NE-SW. NE side has sharply defined edge. core 1' across, circ. S of core is broad dk band curving E-W. several *s inv. evenly graduated in brtness.

30cm - 149x: 19' E is br *. on W is f *, on NW is brtning nr nuc. nuc less than 1' across. f spot on NE.

Danie L. Cronje


Danie Cronje, observing with 10x50 binoculars, calls it "very faint - just a circular glow. Can be seen directly, but no detail."

Hampson, Kerry

(no date)

Kerry Hampson, DSOS ASSA, notes that the tiny corona of stars 2 degrees south of M83 "is a beautiful sight."

Steve Gottlieb

Southern galaxies from Australia

[amastro] posting, Apr 30, 2008

13 37 00.3 -29 51 58

V = 07.5; Size 12.9x11.5; Surf Br = 12.8

24" (4/11/08): M83 had a photographic appearance in the 24" at 200x. The bright "bar" was elongated SW-NE and roughly 3'x1' in size with a well-defined bright, round core, 1' in diameter. The first prominent arm is attached at the NE end of the bar and sweeps south (counter-clockwise) on the east side of the core, wrapping around the southwest side and spreading out a bit as it terminates to the south of the core (~3' from the center). This arm has a high contrast along its outer edge and a couple of faint stars are superimposed near where it attached to the bar. On the southwest end of the bar a second prominent inner arm emerges and abruptly wraps counter- clockwise around the galaxy on the west side as it heads north. This arm continues to wrap around the north side before spreading out on the NE side and merging into the outer halo ~3.5' from center on the NE edge of the halo. A more ill-defined third arm also emerges from the core on the south but sweeps more gently to the west (instead of heading north) on the outside of the second arm. It spreads out and fades into the general glow about 3.5' SW of center near a mag 13-13.5 star. Offshoots of the main arms are difficult to trace and contribute to the general background glow of the halo.

Contemporary observations

Auke Slotegraaf

1994 February 10

1994-02-10, Die Boord, 11x80 tripod-mounted. Easily seen as a 10' across, round smudge. A row of three 9th mag stars lies to the southeast of the galaxy; they point northeast-southwest. With averted vision, the galaxy takes on a mottled appearance! The northwest side appears brighter, and there seems to be a small almost star-like point in the centre, with two other stars on the southeast edge of the galaxy. The whole view cries out for more aperture!

2009 January 29

Sutherland (Huis Lana)

"Bertha" 12-inch f/4.8 Dobsonian (EP: 32mm, 25mm, 10mm, 6.3mm Plossls, 2x Barlow, 32mm Erfle)

Conditions: Clear, dark.

This impressive galaxy lies in eastern Hydra, at the border with Centaurus. To find its general location, pick out the northernmost bright stars of the Centaur (iota and theta); the galaxy makes a 9� isosceles triangle northward with these two stars. 9x50 finder: Easy; even, round glow, pretty bright. 60x, 120x, 150x: A huge, moderately bright, non-symmetrical, glow with an anomalous small disk like but very bright nucleus. Odd! Its made up of soft, broad, curving loops of nebulosity, leaving dark spaces open � stunning. I mean, this thing just looks plain weird; like a planetary nebula in the centre of a large soft structured mass. Imagine adding the Ghost of Jupiter to a blurred version of the Tarantula Nebula, and you've got it. There are two large loop-enclosed dark(er) oval areas, their major axes roughly ENE-WSW. Beyond the southern (larger, more pronounced) one is abrupt darkness. Beyond the northern oval is a definite extended area of unstructured nebulosity, particularly to the north & northeast (crudely triangular in shape). One prominent curve of nebulosity runs eastward of the nucleus before turning south and then south-west, apparently. Another curved glow, shorter, starts roughly west of the nucleus, curving northward. (D: 20090129/30. Own star charts)

Magda Streicher

1997 May 14

Location: Campsite Farm. (South 23 16 East 29 26)

Sky conditions: clear.

Instrument: Meade 8 inch (Super wide-angle 18mm eyepiece.

Date: 14 May 1979.

ASSA-DSO - Report H

Delicate open spiral galaxy with definite arms clearly visible. Bright nucleus, and the galaxy standing out beautiful towards the background with a few stars in the field.

Large, bright, delicate spiral galaxy with a definite flimsy arm structure clearly visible. Bright nucleus, with hazy surroundings. The galaxy stands out beautifully towards the background, with a few stars in the field.

(no date)

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

Large, bright, delicate spiral galaxy with a bright nucleus, not star-like but very hazy. With averted vision a definite flimsy arm-like structure visible on the northeast surrounding. The galaxy stands out beautifully towards the background, with a few stars in the field. A few faint stars are sided just off the extreme eastern edge of the galaxy. Since 1923, six known supernovas is been found in this galaxy.

Gabriel Giust

1995 April 30

8-inch Newtonian, 66x: 1995-04-30 "Little circular patch, easily visible. With low power, its aspect is of an unfocused star. It forms a 'T' with three equidistant and aligned stars (WWS-EEN)" [Gabriel Giust, San Isidro, Argentina]

Richard Ford

2015, February, 23rd



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 galaxy has an oval and well defined shape with bright extensions stretching all over this galaxy looking like the shape of a barred spiral galaxy.The galactic nucleus of this galaxy is very bright and strongly condensed where this galaxy's barred-like shape is visible at 75x.This galaxy measures 8.2'x 6.8'.Chart No.222,NSOG Vol.2.

2011 March, 5th Saturday

Location:Night Sky,Bonnievale.

Instrument:12-inch Dobsonain Reflector Telescope.

Sky Conditions:Whole Milky Way is visible.

Transparency of the Sky:The sky is clean.

Seeing:Atmosphere is stable with little interference.

Limiting Magnitude:Magnitude 6.



Object Type:Galaxy.

First Impression:This object looks like a galaxy.



Chart Number:No.17(Extract taken out of "Atlas of the Night Sky").

Size:26mm Super Wide Field Eyepiece:Field Of View:57'/8=7.1'.

20mm Ultra Wide Angle Eyepiece:Field Of View:50'/7=7.1'.



Size in Arc Minutes:7.1'.


Major Axis:7.1'.


Minor Axis:1.4'.

Galaxy is 7.1'*1.4'.

Brightness:Magnitude 8.2.

Brightness Profile:The far outskirts of this galaxy is slightly faint while the bright nucleus of this galaxy is very bright.

Challenge Rating:Fantastic Sight.



M83 the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy is oval with some subtle spiral-like structure seen edge on.I have found no darker areas within this galaxy.This galaxy has a very bright nucleus and some of the spiral arms are just on the brink of visiblity.

Tom Bryant

2007-03-18 10:30:00

Observing site: Pinnacles overlook

Telescope: C-8

[13h 37m 0s, -29� 52' 0"] C-8@80x: An oval blob surrounding a bright, round nucleus.

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