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22 Sep - Targets for Tonight


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Weather forecast for Devizes is clear skies from around 10pm onwards, so having got my scope up and running again I'm off for my first viewing session in over a year tonight.

Looking at Turn Left at Orion, M15 and M31, M32 and M110 might be good targets at this time of year. I try to have just a few each session rather than dashing from one target to the next.

Does anyone have any advice/thoughts on this set of targets?

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Yes, a good set of targets. M15 is a fantastic globular, not too far from the others. M31 is the Andromeda Galaxy, and M32 and M110 are its neighbour satellite galaxies, so you can easily get all three in the same low-power field of view. M32 and M110 are great to compare, flanking the core of M31.

If you manage them and have time for more, try the double cluster (NGC 884 and 869) in Perseus if you haven't seen them already - fantastic pair of open clusters.


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M15 is dense and requires high magnification to see it at its best.

The Galaxies all benefit from the darkest sky you can get to. M31 will want your widest field eyepiece to observe the spiral arms in, then ramp up the power to inspect the core.

M32 & M110 are best at medium to higher powers to reveal their shapes better.

While in that part of the sky try for M33, this is a bit more of a challenge if your skies have LP.

Good hunting and clear skies

Regards Steve

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Thanks guys, just off out now while the sky is still clear. Little bit of a drive - either Etchilhampton (just off a minor road so might not too good), or just north of Urchfont on the edge Salisbury Plain. Not tried either spot before but both look over the Plain so should be reasonably dark.

Edited by Wiltshiresaint
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It proved to be an interesting and slightly frustrating evening.

The site I'd chosen looked pretty good in daylight, but at night it wasn't as dark as I was hoping. Too many odd street lights in the distance, cars visible on roads in the distance, etc.

I set up my ED80 (I always forget how heavy it is with that mount) but couldn't align it. I found the first alignment star without a hitch, but just couldn't locate the second. SO it was good old fashioned looking for the main constellations, following the guidelines in 'TLAO' and hoping for the best. Actually, it wasn't too bad...

First target was what I thought would be the easiest, and this proved to be the case. M31. A couple of minutes and I was onto it. The usual grey smudge, but averted vision helped to give a better idea of it's size. Seeing just wasn't dark enough to bring out much detail unfortunately, although the central core was discernable, showing brighter than the rest of the galaxy. From there I looked for M32 and M110. Here's where the fun started - I could see a faint smudge to the upper left of M31 but couldn't make out if it was M110 or M32. I thought it was the latter but if so, why couldn't I find M110 on the other side of Andromeda? I always thought M110 was more prominent than than M32?

Anyway, after a fair bit of puzzling, and with my viewing time passing by, I switched to another TLAO target, Almach. More joy here - found it easily enough and could see both Almach A and Almach B. Very pleased, although tinged with some wishful thinking about having a scope big enough to one day see Almach C!

I'd have liked to have looked at some of the other targets but without clear direction I was totally lost I'm afraid. My dependence on the 'goto' system is a little embarrassing. So with time moving on that was it for the night.

An enjoyable session, but definitely a few lessons learned:-

1. Must download an App to my phone which tells me the general direction of the stars used in my alignment system.

2. Study and remember more constellations so an alignment issue doesn't stop me locating (eventually) most targets.

3. Choose a darker site next time.

4. Start a notebook. If I'd have drawn M31 and the nearby stars that I was seeing in my viewfinder, I'd have been better equipped to find out what the fuzzy blob was when I got home.

5. Remember to take my eyepieces - I forgot mine and was limited to the 2" eyepiece on the scope. Probably the best one last night anyway, but a higher power eyepiece would have been handy for Almach.

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Sounds like you had fun :glasses2:

The ED80 with its small aperture really makes you work hard to find stuff and appreciate it when you find it.

From my own experience I found M32 easy to find but under my skies M110 was not visible. In my view M32 is below and left of M31. M101 is above and to the right. (north/south correct/ East/West flipped)

If you have an iPhone I recommend SkySafari as the app of choice :rolleyes:

Southern Stars • Products • SkySafari

Edited by MjrTom
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From my own experience I found M32 easy to find but under my skies M110 was not visible. In my view M32 is below and left of M31. M101 is above and to the right. (north/south correct/ East/West flipped)

The more I think about it, the more I believe it was M110. But I'm still not sure...

It's definitely one to go back to.

Downloaded SkySafari by the way, thanks for the tip. I went for the least expensive version for now.

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