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Finding The 'Whirlpool' Galaxy


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Hello, tried finding the whirlpool last night & failed :-/, I was wondering if I could get a bit of advice please.

I started off at Alkaid (I'm on a standard mount), set the dec. to it (can do this to 0.1deg.), set the r.a to it (within 3 or so minutes) with the vernier scale missing, quickly slew the telescope to where the galaxy should be but all I found was, all I could make out were stars. I have a skymax 127, have seen andromeda before, thats fine, but was wondering if anybody knows if there is a good reason why I couldn't see the whirlpool. 2nd attempt @ it now too, have been using stellarium for co-ordinations & such also if it helps but am just a bit baffled now as to why theres nothing to make out, no fuzzy blobs with discs surrounding them, just a bunch of stars around the same patch of sky.... Apparently with a 20mm & a 0.6 deg. fov it's supposed to fill the eyepiece according to stellarium...

Does this make any sense?

Thanks!

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this is how i find it, its a doddle. 1. Find Alkaid. 2. See two stars in a sort of line away from alkaid, go along the line to 2nd star 3. Below 2nd star see a group of 3 stars in a triangle. 4. Imagi

There we go.

i just drew it in paint. the hop is my own. just make them up looking at star atlas during the day and remember them. i have a good memory which helps

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i would say that unless you have good skies you wont see much more than 2 dots of light and a small fuzzy patch arround one of them unless your looking from a really dark site!i cant see the whirlpool in my 12" dob from the garden

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Took me 9 months of intermittent hunting to find this one. I have a 5" scope and managed to get a sketch of it so with dark skies it sould be visable with your mak.

My sketch below:

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this is how i find it, its a doddle.

1. Find Alkaid.

2. See two stars in a sort of line away from alkaid, go along the line to 2nd star

3. Below 2nd star see a group of 3 stars in a triangle.

4. Imagine the 3 stars are the ends of a cross. Place your finder in the empty space where a 4th star would be. I drew a picture to illustrate it (blue cross)

post-19910-0-08152500-1364928325_thumb.j

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this is how i find it, its a doddle.

1. Find Alkaid.

2. See two stars in a sort of line away from alkaid, go along the line to 2nd star

3. Below 2nd star see a group of 3 stars in a triangle.

4. Imagine the 3 stars are the ends of a cross. Place your finder in the empty space where a 4th star would be. I drew a picture to illustrate it (blue cross)

post-19910-0-08152500-1364928325_thumb.j

Thanks, tried to do it by eye also last night but not nearly as thorough as your directions, will definitely give it a try fingers crossed 3rd time lucky & all that I will see something :-)!

Where do you get these instructions from they seem great!

Cheers

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From my moderately light polluted garden sky i can see The Whirlpool (with my 4" scope) only when it has risen to about 50 degrees above the horizon. I find it by looking in the region which lies about 1/5 of the way to alpha Canes Venatici. Incidentally, the galaxy M94 lies relatively close to alpha Canes Venatici and is normally a bit easier to see.

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Found another picture i made for someone struggling to find M81 M82. Many struggle with the whole, draw a line through the 2 stars in the plough at a diagonal and sort of shoot of into space. that hop is all a bit hit and miss for me and puts begginers off. The method I have to find them is far more reliable, you get them everytime.

Picture attached

post-19910-0-10349700-1364929920_thumb.j

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If you think that you are are in the right spot then you might need to apply averted vision and perhaps jiggle the scope a little in order to detect it. M51 / NGC 5195 is a fairly substantial object, but the light is spread so quite diffused. Still it is quite well placed at the moment for observing but it may appear fairly washed out in any light pollution. In this instance a dew shield might also help keep out some stray light and improve contrast.

It is of course completely different from a dark site. When I observed it over the weekend, it was stunning, revealing the spiral arms with good distinct contrast. However when I returned to it later in the evening, the seeing conditions had deteriorated a little and it was much less defined. So depending on the seeing the profile can come and go.

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Been looking at this (M51) with my 8SE tonight - first time for me; never been able to see it in my 4" or 5" fracs, but possibly because I was looking in the wrong place. I was convinced my go-to was off for a second when I first punched it in ahving tried to find it by star hopping previosuly, but sure enough, there it was. Still not enough definition to see spirals, but the distinction from the NGC is pretty clear, or rather its obvious they are tow separate (but apparently joined) things. I guess it would be much better from a dark site rather than my back garden :).

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Stargazing00, that is exactly the hop I've used for a number of years, works every time! It really easy from a dark site where you can see those 'hopping' stars with the naked eye!

Dark skies make such a difference with M51. From Bourton in the Water at the weekend I found it easily in 15x50 binos. From the back garden tonight, I couldn't see it with the four inch scope.

Stu

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I can find M51 in about five seconds just by forming a L in the area you describe. it's generally in the eyepiece then but depending which scope I a using (6", 12" or 16") and the conditions/declination it's easy - hard to see.

M81/2 I always rather embarrassingly struggled with but 'discovered' the hop you describe myself quite independently recently when I got sick of struggling and decided to actually learn the method of location. I now find it easily every time although to be honest LP is so bad here I sometimes struggle to see Upsilon and 23 UMa!!

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Get a Telrad, download the free maps, install Stellarium and open the Telrad Circles (F11, then Press ALT-O) select the Telrad option F11 back to full screen, with a little bit of practice you will land of top of any thing you choose to view,,,,,

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I really need to start taking books/maps/printed off sheets outside with me to star hop, as opposed to trying to read up inside then remember everything after setting up. Then I obviously forget where to look, then have to come back inside to reread the atlas or look at a map again, ruin my night vision and start over...doh! Will try some of the hopping routes in this thread next time I'm out :)

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I looked at the whirlpool for the first time tonight.

I struggled to see it through my scope. A couple of fuzzy blobs

with a smudge, and thats with no light pollution in the eastern skys from

my back garden. Its placed pretty well at the moment too. The leo trio,

or in my case the duo were so faint i could barely see them with averted vision.

Great to get out though, after all the cloud cover we have had. May the clear nights

continue.

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Certainly is, you can get some good detail in a 10" Dob at x120, providing seeing conditions are ace. One of those along with M33 that you can see by eye from pristine sites,

Nick.

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I found it the other night for the first time. But i had tried and failed many times before. It is really faint so unless the skies are good, i dont think you stand much chance. The night i found it was good and could just make out the center glow of both the galaxies.

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Hello, tried finding the whirlpool last night & failed :-/, I was wondering if I could get a bit of advice please.

I started off at Alkaid (I'm on a standard mount), set the dec. to it (can do this to 0.1deg.), set the r.a to it (within 3 or so minutes) with the vernier scale missing, quickly slew the telescope to where the galaxy should be but all I found was, all I could make out were stars. I have a skymax 127, have seen andromeda before, thats fine, but was wondering if anybody knows if there is a good reason why I couldn't see the whirlpool. 2nd attempt @ it now too, have been using stellarium for co-ordinations & such also if it helps but am just a bit baffled now as to why theres nothing to make out, no fuzzy blobs with discs surrounding them, just a bunch of stars around the same patch of sky.... Apparently with a 20mm & a 0.6 deg. fov it's supposed to fill the eyepiece according to stellarium...

Does this make any sense?

Thanks!

Hi,

A few weeks ago I managed to see M81, M82, M51 all on the same night through a 15 X 70 Bino, the seeing was good and the sky was really dark, not much detail but I knew that I was looking at fuzzy things.

Good luck and clear skies,

Ali

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Hi,

A few weeks ago I managed to see M81, M82, M51 all on the same night through a 15 X 70 Bino, the seeing was good and the sky was really dark, not much detail but I knew that I was looking at fuzzy things.

Good luck and clear skies,

Ali

When you say seeing not great, do you mean transparency?

Seeing is the steadiness of the air. This is important for planetary observing, but bears very little on observing DSO,s like galaxies. Transparency on the other hand s vitally important when hunting DSO,s like galaxies, but of no interest to planetary observing.

We can observe planets when transparency is poor, often hazy nights provide the very best planetary views. These nights are pretty useless for us galaxy nuts.

We often find the nights that are crystal clear with excellent transparency have awful seeing, but are superb for galaxies. It's very rare to get nights that are not only transparent but have steady "good seeing" for planets. :)

LP is always an issue for the galaxy observer. Any LP can quickly make even the brightest ones shy and tough to spot.

If LP is a major factor from where you observe, try a road trip to a darker sky, this is where galaxies come alive :)

Sorry about the mass of quotes but I couldn't be bothered to write it myself :p

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