NGC 59
DSS image of NGC 59
Overlaid DSS image of NGC 59, 30' x 30' with north at top and west to the right

Aladin viewer for the region around NGC 59
MCG-04-01-026, ESO 539-4, IRAS F00129-2143, PGC 1034, GSC 05845-00034

Type  Galaxy
Magnitude  12.59
Size  1.02' x 0.571' @ 120°
Right Ascension  0h 15' 25.1"  (2000)
Declination  21° 26' 40" S
Constellation  Cetus
Description  vF, pS, iR, gbM
Classification  E-SO
Observing Notes

Harold Corwin

NGC 59 is one of the nebulae found by Ormond Stone with the 26-inch refractor at the Leander McCormick Observatory in the mid-1880s. While most of the positions for these first nebulae found at LM are pretty poor, we have in this case (and about 190 others) a sketch to confirm the object in its surrounding star field. In addition, Stone has written the discovery date on the sketch cover sheet: November 10.4 1885.

Bob Erdmann was curious about that "10.4": Was that really the date -- and time -- of the discovery? That set me to pondering, and this is what I eventually sent to Bob.
The ".4" is indeed 4/10 of a day, or 9h 36m. I do not know if this is UT or local time, though. But I suspose we could work it out: I don't think they observed the thing at 9:36 in the morning, and since L-M is 6hr behind Greenwich, that would make local time at 10.4 UT something like 10:15 or 3:15+-AM local, which sort of makes sense for an observation of an object at RA = 0h 10m, -22d 03m (1890) in November. We can check that: Let's see ... on November 10, N59 crosses the meridian at about 3+ hours before midnight, so its hour angle at 3:15AM local time is about 3h25m which puts it pretty deep into the southwestern sky. Assuming they did not have a right-angle prism on the 26-inch, that would make for pretty comfortable observing, which at that time on a cool, fall night would be important.
The LM observers wrote the RA and Dec on the cover sheets, too, providing an additional check on the identities. Finally, they gave us the page number and "book" number, probably an observing or log book, along with the power at which they observed the object. In this case, the power is 250, as it is for most of the observations. Some of the smaller and fainter nebulae, though, were observed at magnifications of up to 500.
NGC Notes by Harold Corwin
Other Data Sources for NGC 59
Nearby objects for NGC 59
6 objects found within 120'
HD 319 NGC 45 NGC 65
NGC 66 NGC 77 T Ceti

Drawings, descriptions, and CCD photos are copyright Andrew Cooper unless otherwise noted, no usage without permission.

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NGC 59