Everything posted by Skybrowser
Whilst on honeymoon in the Maldives in July....yes honeymoon and I still took the binos..............we sat on the beach loungers one night and looked up. Oh my goodness, or words to that effect. I hadn't seen a sky that dark in my life. It was so dark that I could hardly make out any constellations - too many stars. But...managed to see Andromeda and pointed out M31 to my wife. She looked first, found M31, said "oh, that's nice" and then I had a look. Lots of forum sites go on about light pollution, well they are spot on. It affects viewing massively. I could not believe the level of detail in M31 from a cheap pair of binos. It was of course, pitch black, no moon and an amazing site.
I think a lot of people see fantastic photographs of M31 and buy a telescope hoping to see all that detail. I know a couple of guys who were incredibly disappointed when they bought fairly expensive scopes, only to see the proverbial "grey smudge - bit brighter in the middle". After only a few weeks, they gave up on astronomy, thinking, well, if M31 is the biggest thing I'm going to see, everything else will be even worse. It's OK, they have been rescued now.... I think it's up to the more experienced of us to point out out that there is so much good stuff to see and perhaps in better detail than M31. Too often, forums get carried away with more experienced astronomers waxing lyrical about new kit they've bought costing £000's when we should also be encouraging the newbies by managing their expectations on what they are likely to see. I for one found it very frustrating when I returned to the hobby after a gap of over 30 years, but by asking for advice, getting it in droves, understanding the limitations of my scope, having a crack at imaging, albeit not great quality, but hey ho, worth a go. I now find myself easily finding new objects to view, plus I have the confidence to ask questions by the bucketload and not be embarrassed about not inderstanding the myriad of abbreviations, "astro-speak" and I've stopped looking at kit which will always be beyond my budget. I'm really enjoying these clear skies!
The advice on using the W in cassiopiea is the best route. The great square in Pegasus is tough to see in most locations as to see all 4 stars forming the square isn't easy - and the square is massive. There always seems to be one of the stars in the square missing so you'll be staring at the sky for ages! As advised above, use the right hand side of the "W" - it's a sharper "V" shape. This points to a fairly bright star....up a bit and you'll see a less bright one, quite faint in my location and when full moon strikes like tonight, forget it. Anyway, quite close to the fainter star (slightly above it) is M31. Through most small scopes it's as described, a faint "galaxy shaped" cloud, but you won't see the spiral shape you see in all the photos - a camera can see a lot more than your eye. Good luck - have a go for the globular cluster in Hercules. I think that's easier to nail than M31!