NGC 4697 -- Elliptical Galaxy in Virgo
Sir Patrick Caldwell-Moore’s Virgo Galaxy
The constellation Virgo marks the center of the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies. The
constellation is dripping with galaxies. But only a single entry from this constellation made
it into the famous Caldwell list of deep sky objects (#52). But it was a good choice; NGC
4697 is impressive. Even at a distance of 38 million light years, I can see its
concentrated glow from my suburban backyard in my vintage, early-1960s, 60mm f/15
Using the far superior 155mm apochromatic refractor its elongated glow is distinctly
brighter at its core. That is not surprising when you consider that a supermassive Black
Hole with a combined mass of over 100 million suns fuels its center.
This massive Elliptical Galaxy is the dominant member of at least 16 additional tightly
bound galaxies that rests in the southern extension of the Virgo Supercluster. One
additional galaxy was detected through the 155mm refractor in the same field-of-view.
However, NGC 4731 was far dimmer than NGC 4697 and required a higher magnification