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M 58
53 of 111

M 58

February 18, 2005
Spiral Galaxy M58 (NGC 4579), type SBc, in Virgo

Right Ascension: 12 : 37.7 (h:m)
Declination: +11 : 49 (deg:m)
Distance: 60000 (kly)
Visual Brightness: 9.7 (mag)
Apparent Dimension: 5.5x4.5 (arc min)

Discovered 1779 by Charles Messier.

M58 is one of the four barred spiral galaxies in Messier's catalog (the others are M91, M95, and M109), although it is sometimes classified as intermediate between normal and barred spirals (e.g., in R. Brent Tully's Nearby Galaxies Catalog). It is one of the brightest galaxies in the Virgo cluster.

Charles Messier discovered M58, together with the apparently nearby elliptical galaxies M59 and M60, on the occasion of following the comet of 1779, and cataloged it on April 15, 1779. M58 is one of the earliest recognized spiral galaxies, and listed by Lord Rosse as one of 14 "spiral nebulae" discovered to 1850.

Smaller telescopes let it look similar to the Virgo ellipticals, showing only its bright nucleus. Under good conditions, 4-inch or larger scopes show a halo of uneven brightness with condensations which seem to coincide with brighter areas of the spiral arms. A suggestion of M58's bar may be noticed with telescopes starting from 8-inch, as an "extension of the central nucleus in an EW direction" (Kenneth Glyn Jones).

Two supernovae have been observed in M58: the type II supernova 1988A, found by Ikeya on January 18, 1988, 40" south of the nucleus at mag 13.5, and the type I supernova 1989M, discovered by Kimeridze on June 28, 1989 at mag 12.2 and 33"N, 44"W of M58's center.