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Thread: If Messier had travelled to Australia ...

  1. #1
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    If Messier had travelled to Australia ...

    What galaxies would he have been included in his list?

    Assume he'd gone far enough south so the ecliptic pole was high enough to be easily seen, and stayed long enough to have had a chance to scan the whole sky.

    The Magellanic Clouds are either obvious choices, or too big (and bright) to count.

    And yes, there are certainly star clusters, nebulae, and globular clusters he'd have listed, but I'm only interested in galaxies.

    And no, doesn't have to be Australia; could be New Zealand, (most of) South America, southern Africa, ...

  2. #2
    At an alternate-historical guess, certainly NGC 253, 6744, 5128=Centaurus A. (And he got NGC 5236=M83 anyway).

    Likely NGC 4945, 55, 247, 300, 7793, 1316.

    Maybe NGC 1566.

    The Fornax cluster is about Virgo's distance so he might have picked up 5 or so members (NGC 1365 might be the most obvious after 1316, though both may not actually belong).

    NGC 2207/IC 2163 might take sort of the role of M51, but this pair is a good bit more distant and looks maybe half the size.

    I'll otherwise await the opinions of people who actually live under those skies...

    Pretty clearly, though, Messier would not have gotten to NGC 3314, anyway.

  3. #3
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    Sir Patrick Moore compiled just such an alternative list fifteen years ago, and called it the Caldwell catalogue: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caldwell_catalogue

    It contains more than just southern galaxies though, some northern objects as well

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by grapes View Post
    Sir Patrick Moore compiled just such an alternative list fifteen years ago, and called it the Caldwell catalogue: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caldwell_catalogue

    It contains more than just southern galaxies though, some northern objects as well

    I had heard of Moore but did not know of this list --very nice link

    Thanks

  5. #5
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    Thanks! That page says there are 35 galaxies in the list (109 objects total, what an odd number ), but some, probably most, are not in the southern far reaches.

  6. #6
    The question equates to asking how many galaxies are south of -35° latitude with magnitude >10.

    btw Nereid - the south ecliptic pole (adjacent to the Large Magellanic Cloud - aka kurma the turtle at the bottom of the universe) is visible from 23° north latitude. There are objects between it and the South Celestial Pole which do not rise above the northern hemisphere horizon in the present age.

  7. #7
    On http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:...lStarChart.svg I counted five galaxies south of the Messier visibility line of -35°

    C101
    C77
    C83
    C70
    C73

  8. #8
    NED comes through - this query lists galaxies brighter than B magnitude 10.9 (I picked that because catalog data have historically been more complete there than other filters, and B=10.9 corresponds to V=10.0 for the reddest galaxies).

    South of declination -35, the list includes (N-58):
    NGC 55
    SMC
    NGC 300
    NGC 1291
    NGC 1313
    NGC 1316
    NGC 1365
    NGC 1399
    NGC 1404
    NGC 1433
    NGC 1448
    NGC 1543
    NGC 1549
    NGC 1553
    NGC 1559
    NGC 1566
    NGC 1672
    NGC 1792
    NGC 1808
    LMC
    ESO 121-G006
    NGC 2442
    ESO 209-G009
    NGC 3059
    NGC 3136
    IC 2554
    NGC 3136B
    NGC 3263
    NGC 3557
    NGC 4696
    NGC 4945
    NGC 4976
    NGC 5102
    NGC 5128
    ESO 270-G017
    ESO 383-G087
    Circinus Galaxy
    NGC 5643
    ESO 274-G001
    ESO 137-G006
    ESO 137-G008
    ESO 137-G010
    ESO 137-G012
    ESO 137-G014
    NGC 6156
    ESO 137-G034
    ESO 137-G038
    NGC 6125
    NGC 6221
    ESO 138-G010
    NGC 6300
    NGC 6744
    IC 5052
    NGC 7090
    NGC 7410
    IC 1459
    NGC 6424
    NGC 7592

    I'm still not sure all these magnitudes have been consistently selected I had in mind B(T), extrapolated to a total magnitude using a typical curve of growth for the galaxy's brightness profile; the listed magnitudes cannot all be of the same kind given the spread fainter than 10.9. V=10 is not an exact proxy for galaxies Messier found; there are way too many in the northern hemisphere compared to the 40 Messier objects. So maybe he would actually have found about half of these.

  9. #9
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    Many thanks everyone!

    Answering in random order.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Tulip View Post
    The question equates to asking how many galaxies are south of -35° latitude with magnitude >10.
    That's close, and probably close enough for a first approximation.

    However, the "with magnitude >10" is a tricky criterion, as ngc3314 has noted in his posts. Strictly speaking, my question has less to do with a simple search of some database (such as NED) - though that would be a very good start - than with what a keen amateur astronomer, with normal eyesight[1] could (or would) find, if equipped with a replica of Messier's telescope (or telescopes? or a modern telescope with similar characteristics), and skies as clear (or not!) as the best he observed under.

    btw Nereid - the south ecliptic pole (adjacent to the Large Magellanic Cloud - aka kurma the turtle at the bottom of the universe) is visible from 23° north latitude. There are objects between it and the South Celestial Pole which do not rise above the northern hemisphere horizon in the present age.
    Indeed. My mind said "celestial", but my mischievous fingers wrote "ecliptic"

    It's actually a little trickier than that (beyond the first approximation): an object that Messier listed, with a Dec of +25° (say) may be one he'd've missed, had it been at -25° (or -35°). My own experience - not recent, sadly - is that you need superb conditions (exceptionally dark, clear skies) to reliably observe more difficult objects at an altitude of 10° or even 20°; objects that aren't really hard at all at altitudes of, say, >60°. Galaxies are diffuse objects, so the optics of your telescope (or binoculars) don't have to be all that good to see them (surface brightness contrast is what counts) ...

    [1] As far as we know, Messier had as close to normal eyesight as never mind, didn't he?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by grapes View Post
    Sir Patrick Moore compiled just such an alternative list fifteen years ago, and called it the Caldwell catalogue: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caldwell_catalogue

    It contains more than just southern galaxies though, some northern objects as well
    This too is a good start.

    Re the northern C galaxies: to what extent do they overlap with the M galaxies? Are they all as faint/difficult as the faintest/most difficult of the M galaxies? Or are there some which we can agree are anomalies, in the sense that they're certainly not in Messier's list, but certainly should be, because several fainter/more difficult ones are?

    For example, C24/NGC 1275 is almost certainly an object Messier would not have listed; C65/NGC 253 is, in one sense, an outlier (it's both bright and easy), but at a Dec of -25° it may well be too faint/difficult for a Messier-like observer; however, what about C7/NGC 2403?

    (more on the Caldwell objects later)

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314 View Post
    NED comes through - this query lists galaxies brighter than B magnitude 10.9 (I picked that because catalog data have historically been more complete there than other filters, and B=10.9 corresponds to V=10.0 for the reddest galaxies).

    South of declination -35, the list includes (N-58):
    NGC 55
    SMC
    NGC 300
    NGC 1291
    NGC 1313
    NGC 1316
    NGC 1365
    NGC 1399
    NGC 1404
    NGC 1433
    NGC 1448
    NGC 1543
    NGC 1549
    NGC 1553
    NGC 1559
    NGC 1566
    NGC 1672
    NGC 1792
    NGC 1808
    LMC
    ESO 121-G006
    NGC 2442
    ESO 209-G009
    NGC 3059
    NGC 3136
    IC 2554
    NGC 3136B
    NGC 3263
    NGC 3557
    NGC 4696
    NGC 4945
    NGC 4976
    NGC 5102
    NGC 5128
    ESO 270-G017
    ESO 383-G087
    Circinus Galaxy
    NGC 5643
    ESO 274-G001
    ESO 137-G006
    ESO 137-G008
    ESO 137-G010
    ESO 137-G012
    ESO 137-G014
    NGC 6156
    ESO 137-G034
    ESO 137-G038
    NGC 6125
    NGC 6221
    ESO 138-G010
    NGC 6300
    NGC 6744
    IC 5052
    NGC 7090
    NGC 7410
    IC 1459
    NGC 6424
    NGC 7592

    I'm still not sure all these magnitudes have been consistently selected I had in mind B(T), extrapolated to a total magnitude using a typical curve of growth for the galaxy's brightness profile; the listed magnitudes cannot all be of the same kind given the spread fainter than 10.9. V=10 is not an exact proxy for galaxies Messier found; there are way too many in the northern hemisphere compared to the 40 Messier objects. So maybe he would actually have found about half of these.
    SEDS lists the Messier objects by type: 27 spirals, four lenticulars, eight ellipticals, and one irregular.

    Rewriting this list in terms of cluster/group/orphan status (no particular order within subgroup):

    Virgo cluster: M49, M58, M59, M60, M61, M84, M85, M86, M87, M89, M88, M90, M91 (the faintest M galaxy?), M98, M99, and M100 (16 in all)
    Local Group: M31, M32, M33, M110 (four)
    M96 group: M95, M96, M105
    CVn II cloud: M106, M108, M109
    CVn I cloud: M64 (?), M94
    M51 group: M51, M63
    M66 group: M65, M66
    M81 group: M81, M82
    M77 group: M77 [1]
    M83 group: M83 [2]
    M74 group: M74
    M101 group: M101
    M104 group: M104
    NGC 5866 group: M102 (assuming M102 is not a duplicate of M101)

    Interesting, no orphans!

    Are any of the groups significantly more distant than (the core of) the Virgo cluster, I wonder? This is, of course, a genuine question; but I intend to research the answer myself, when I have time. I'll also check whether any M object is a Markarian galaxy, and find out if M77 is, indeed, the only Seyfert galaxy in the list. Of course, M87 is famous for having an AGN (but it's not a Seyfert)!

    [1] also the only Seyfert among the M objects? SEDS says this is one of the biggest galaxies (locally), "its bright part measuring about 120,000 light years, but its faint extensions (which are well visible e.g. in the DSSM image) going perhaps out to nearly 170,000 light years." (doesn't say if that's a radius or diameter)

    [2] the SEDS notes makes the same point I did, in a previous post: "Messier 83 (M83, NGC 5236) is one of the most conspicuous spiral galaxies in the sky. Situated in constellation Hydra, it is the southernmost galaxy in Messier's catalog. [...] It was next cataloged by Charles Messier on February 17, 1781; from his mid-northern location in Paris (at 49 degrees Northern latitude), it is such a difficult object that he stated that: "One is only able with the greatest concentration to see it at all." The present author can confirm it is one of the most difficult Messier objects from South Germany. Due to this fact, older Northern-compiled catalogs tended to underestimate its brightness considerably; e.g., Becvar has it at a mere 10.1 mag only."

    (to be continued)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314 View Post
    NED comes through - this query lists galaxies brighter than B magnitude 10.9 (I picked that because catalog data have historically been more complete there than other filters, and B=10.9 corresponds to V=10.0 for the reddest galaxies).

    South of declination -35, the list includes (N-58):
    [...]
    SMC
    [...]
    LMC
    ESO 121-G006
    [...]
    ESO 209-G009
    [...]
    ESO 270-G017
    ESO 383-G087
    Circinus Galaxy
    [...]
    ESO 274-G001
    ESO 137-G006
    ESO 137-G008
    ESO 137-G010
    ESO 137-G012
    ESO 137-G014
    [...]
    ESO 137-G034
    ESO 137-G038
    [...]
    ESO 138-G010
    [...]

    I'm still not sure all these magnitudes have been consistently selected I had in mind B(T), extrapolated to a total magnitude using a typical curve of growth for the galaxy's brightness profile; the listed magnitudes cannot all be of the same kind given the spread fainter than 10.9. V=10 is not an exact proxy for galaxies Messier found; there are way too many in the northern hemisphere compared to the 40 Messier objects. So maybe he would actually have found about half of these.
    This is what's left of ngc3314's list after the NGC/IC objects have been deleted.

    The LMC and SMC would, obviously, have been seen by a southern Messier; however, they may have been too obvious for him to have bothered listing.

    What would he have made of the Circinus Galaxy? Would he have noted it, along with a dozen or three (southern) Milky Way nebulae and star clusters? Or would it have just not stood out enough for him to have even noticed? That source of always-accurate-never-wrong information (NOT!), Wikipedia, says "The Circinus galaxy can be seen using a small telescope, however it was not noticed until 25 years ago because it was obscured by material from our own galaxy."

    And what to make of the 13 objects with ESO designations? If they weren't included in the NGC/IC catalogues, does that mean they're too faint/difficult for a southern Messier to have noticed them?

    I recently joined an Australian amateur astronomy forum (IceInSpace); I'll ask about these galaxies on that forum ...

  13. #13
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    Hi Nereid;

    Not exactly an answer to your question .. more of an aside ...

    Australia had their very own 'Messier' called James Dunlop (1793 to 1848). He published his catalogue in 1828. (Mind you, Messier was born in 1730 and published 67 years earlier, in 1781).

    In 1828, Dunlop published 'A Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars in the Southern Hemisphere', observed in New South Wales, which contains 629 objects (although not all were confirmed) . His most famous discovery was NGC 5128, though he discovered many more open star clusters, globular clusters, bright nebulae and planetary nebulae, previously unknown.

    Australia also had several other famous Astronomers like Francis Abbott (1799 to 1883) and also, much later, Grote Reber, (1911 to 2002), whose mother was a lecturer who lectured Edwin Hubble.

    A little trivia there .. but a scan of Dunlop's original catalogue is here (Warning: its 13 MB, so patience may be required).

    Regards.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    Hi Nereid;

    Not exactly an answer to your question .. more of an aside ...

    Australia had their very own 'Messier' called James Dunlop (1793 to 1848). He published his catalogue in 1828. (Mind you, Messier was born in 1730 and published 67 years earlier, in 1781).

    In 1828, Dunlop published 'A Catalogue of Nebulae and Clusters of Stars in the Southern Hemisphere', observed in New South Wales, which contains 629 objects (although not all were confirmed) . His most famous discovery was NGC 5128, though he discovered many more open star clusters, globular clusters, bright nebulae and planetary nebulae, previously unknown.

    Australia also had several other famous Astronomers like Francis Abbott (1799 to 1883) and also, much later, Grote Reber, (1911 to 2002), whose mother was a lecturer who lectured Edwin Hubble.

    A little trivia there .. but a scan of Dunlop's original catalogue is here (Warning: its 13 MB, so patience may be required).

    Regards.
    Thanks!

    The key take-away - for me, anyway - is that whatever list an Aussie Messier would have compiled, it would have to be in Dunlop's catalogue.

    In this respect, it would be (or will be; I'll do it myself, when I have time) fascinating to run ngc3314's list against Dunlop's catalogue; if the number of objects which falls out is ~40 (must take cosmic variance into account, in addition to the appropriate statistical variance), I'd say the question would be close to being answered.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    He published his catalogue in 1828. (Mind you, Messier was born in 1730 and published 67 years earlier, in 1781).
    …ooops ! Slight typo there … '67' should read '47' (years earlier).

    Regards

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Selfsim View Post
    Australia had their very own 'Messier' called James Dunlop (1793 to 1848). He published his catalogue in 1828..
    Dunlop is a local 'celebrity' hereabouts!

    As a point of interest to probably not another soul, I live about 3km from Dunlop Hill in Kincumber. Dunlop had a farm here and was buried in Kincumber in 1848.

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