M58 is a magnitude +9.8 barred spiral galaxy that's one of the brightest members of the Virgo cluster. At a distance of 68 million light-years it's one of the furthest objects in the Messier Catalogue, but bright enough to be visible in large binoculars and small telescopes. Although not realised at the time of discovery, M58 was the most distant object - up to that date - ever observed. It's best seen during the months of March, April and May.

The centre of the Virgo cluster is positioned approximately halfway along a line connecting Denebola (β Leo - mag. +2.1) to Vindemiatrix (ε Vir - mag. +2.8). M58 is located a few degrees southeast of the central region. Positioned a degree east of M58 are M59 and M60, with M89 located a degree northwest of M58.

This galaxy was one of Charles Messier original discoveries, which he found on April 15, 1779. On the same night he located elliptical galaxies M59 and M60, which were discovered a few days earlier by Johann Gottfried Koehler. Along with M91, M95 and M109, M58 is one of four barred spirals in the Messier catalogue.

M58 Barred Spiral Galaxy (credit:- NOAO/AURA/NSF)

Finder Chart for M58 (credit:- freestarcharts)

Finder Chart for M58 - pdf format (credit:- freestarcharts)

M58 is a fine galaxy for backyard observers. It's visible in larger binoculars (e.g. 20x80s), appearing as a faint small near circular haze of light. A 100mm (4-inch) scope will easily show the bright nucleus. With a 200mm (8-inch) telescope under dark skies and good seeing conditions, it's possible to see hints of the central bar structure. Larger scopes show subtle details but not a great deal more. In total, the galaxy covers 6.0 x 4.8 arc minutes of apparent sky. Despite not being terrifically detailed, it's large and bright enough to be rewarding through most backyard scopes. Some 30 arc minutes southwest of M58 are a curious pair of interacting galaxies, NGC 4567 and NGC 4568, popularly known as the Siamese Twins.

M58 has an active galactic nucleus, which contains a supermassive black hole and some starburst activity. Two supernovae have been observed in M58, a type II at mag. +13.5 in 1998 and a mag. +12.2 type I a year later.

The galaxy is one of the earliest recognised spiral galaxies and was listed by Lord Rosse as one of 14 "spiral nebulae" discovered to 1850.

M58 Data Table

Object TypeBarred spiral galaxy
Distance (light-years)68 Million
Apparent Mag.+9.8
RA (J2000)12h 37m 44s
DEC (J2000)+11d 49m 05s
Apparent Size (arc mins)6.0 x 4.8
Radius (light-years)58,000
Number of Stars400 Billion
Notable FeatureM58 is one of the brightest galaxies in the Virgo cluster

Sky Highlights - July 2017

The Planets
This Month's Guide

Algol Minima
Algol eclipse dates and times for July

Meteor Shower
Southern Delta Aquariids (Aquarids) meteor shower peaks on July 29

Northern Hemisphere
West:- Mercury (mag. -0.5 to +0.3) (second half of month)
Southwest:- Jupiter (mag. -2.0)
South:- Saturn (mag. +0.2)
West:- Jupiter
South:- Saturn
East:- Neptune (mag. +7.8)
Southwest:- Saturn
South:- Neptune
Southeast:- Uranus (mag. +5.8)
East:- Venus (mag. -4.1)

Southern Hemisphere
West:- Mercury (second half of month)
Northwest:- Jupiter
East:- Saturn
West:- Jupiter
North:- Saturn
East:- Neptune
West:- Saturn
North:- Neptune
Northeast:- Venus, Uranus

Deep Sky

Small telescopes:-
Messier 13 - M13 - Great Hercules Globular Cluster
Messier 92 - M92 - Globular Cluster
Messier 11 - M11 - The Wild Duck Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 7 - M7 - The Ptolemy Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 6 - M6 - The Butterfly Cluster (Open Cluster)
Messier 4 - M4 - Globular Cluster
Messier 8 - M8 - Lagoon Nebula (Emission Nebula)
Messier 16 - M16 - Eagle Nebula (Emission Nebula with Open Cluster)
Messier 20 - M20 - Trifid Nebula (Emission and Reflection Nebula)

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