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Ivor Scope

Galaxy Help

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Morning,

I spent snatched an hour or two between the cloud last night an managed to get good views of M31 and a small but defined M57.

After a frustrating amount of time I gave up trying to find both M101 and M51, which I know are 'starter' galaxies. I am happy I was looking in the right place, and my ipad starwalk confirmed it.

The seeing was top notch, it was 2300hrs, I am using a 200p skywatcher, no motor, with 25 wide and 10mm lenses, and a 2x barlow.

Can anyone prehaps show an image of what I should be expecting to see through this set up, in case I have my expectations set too high. Additionally if anyone can recommend an eyepiece particularly for viewing these galaxies I would be grateful. Ivor :p

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Stellarium bottom toolbar , click on your object, then click on ocular view.

nice!

I use a 21mm Hyperion on a 200p, useful for finding and gives a good wide view,then a 12mm Bst. You'll not be needing high magnifications.

Never found anything using an optical finder. Telradand the charts will let you find easily enough, good seeing!

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Hi

The two Galaxies you mention (M51 &M101) are not what I would call "starter Galaxies"

They are both large faint face on spirals ( these are notoriously difficult ), and both are difficult objects from skies with any LP.

In fact you may not see M101 at all if your sky has LP.

I observed the Supernova inside M101 only the other week from a LP sky through my 10" Dob, and couldn't even see the Galaxy.

From a LP sky I can just make out M101 in my 15x70 bins on clear nights as a slight brightening of the sky background, it's very diffuse indeed with my 10" Dob only the very core is really seen. M51 is slightly easier and can just be seen through my 10" Dob as an oval glow with another smaller glow beside it.

To see these objects well needs dark skies.

Regards Steve

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Morning,

The seeing was top notch, it was 2300hrs, I am using a 200p skywatcher, no motor, with 25 wide and 10mm lenses, and a 2x barlow.

If the sky was dark enough and you were looking in the right place then you would get good views of both M101 and M51 using your present scope and eyepiece. If we assume you were looking in the right place then the most likely problem is that the sky was too bright.

You say the seeing was excellent. Usually by "seeing" we mean the steadiness of the air (the extent - or lack - of atmospheric "boiling" when viewing at high power). More important for deep sky is "transparency" (the presence or lack of any fine mist in the air that will cut light), and "limiting magnitude" (the faintest stars you can see naked eye).

Perhaps the transparency wasn't good (you could see clear spaces between the clouds, but those spaces were actually covered with very fine mist). Or perhaps there was too much light pollution. Either would reduce the limiting magnitude, and hence make galaxies harder to see.

To get really good views of galaxies you want a sky that's dark enough for you to see the Milky Way with the naked eye. If you can't see the Milky Way then you can still see galaxies with a telescope, but you'll see far fewer, and not nearly as well. M51 is easier than M101, the latter is very large with faint arms. With a genuinely dark sky you can see both in binoculars, and it's just about possible to see the spiral arms of M51 with the sort of set-up you've got (and a fair bit of experience). It's also possible to see quite a lot of detail in M101. But in a less perfect sky you might not be able to see them at all.

But if your sky was dark enough (i.e. the Milky Way was visible) then you were looking in the wrong place. In that case a better star map may be needed, or just a bit more practice. Something that takes a bit of getting used to is getting the correct orientation of the map in relation to what you're seeing. Watch stars in the field of view and see where they're leaving the field: that's celestial west, which is on the right when north is at the top, and will be on the right of a normal star map.

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Hi Ivor,

If you're up for an observing session at around 5am (or patient enough to let a few months pass so that they're fairly high in the sky), have a crack at M81 and M82, I'd say that they're good "starter galaxies". They're fairly satisfying, the different shapes will be obvious and M82 has surprisingly high surface brightness, showing some mottled structure.

Still, for nearly all the galaxies up there, dark skies are a must if you want to see anything at all. Worth making a trip though, your 200mm scope should show plenty of them under the right conditions :p

Cheers, S

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Im very grateful for the advice and help. I will keep at it and put my thoughts of entering the olympic skywatcher hurling challenge to bed. Its been so long since ive had clear skies i may have expected too much. I will keep at it and let you know how i go on

Thanks again

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Another surprisingly easy one to find and observe is NGC 404, which is just above Mirach (beta Andromedae). A little smudge stands out distinctly next to the star.

As others have said, M101 is hard, unless it is higher up in the sky. In my C8 from a dark site it is spectacular when high in the sky. Low in the sky from a different dark site it is all but invisible. M51 is a lot easier, but also rather low now.

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Thanks everyone for the guidance and advice. I have restrained from giving my scope a basil faulty style thrashing and went out much later last night and got some good quality views of m27 and andromeda. Setting myself small targets each night rather trying to do too much and rushing. To infinity and beyond.

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One more question on this thread if I may, i currently have the supplied SW 25mm and 10mm eyepieces. If I smash my piggybank and had a 100 quid to spend, what is the best eyepiece purely for galaxy viewing I can get?

Again, grateful in advance for any help

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One more question on this thread if I may, i currently have the supplied SW 25mm and 10mm eyepieces. If I smash my piggybank and had a 100 quid to spend, what is the best eyepiece purely for galaxy viewing I can get?

Again, grateful in advance for any help

well if you could stretch your budget a bit this First Light Optics - Baader Hyperion Zoom Eyepiece is a very highly regarded eyepiece and in essence you are buying 5 separate ones so its worth consideration.

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I have the Hyperion zoom and use it on galaxies, but it doesn't show anything I can't see with my TeleVue plossls. The advantage of a zoom for galaxy viewing is that small, faint DSOs will only become visible when you magnify them to a certain size. When looking for such objects I find the field with the zoom at lowest power, then work over it, raising the power in search of the object. This is more efficient than swapping between low and high power eyepieces, where you can be apt to lose the field altogether.

As a way of finding the smallest, faintest NGCs it's highly efficient. For extremely large, bright objects (Messiers) it's not necessary. Two eyepieces will do: 25mm and 10mm sound fine.

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