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I finally found Andromeda!


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I have been looking for Andromeda ever since I got my telescope, and I finally found it tonight. I feel so accomplished!

But I have a question... Why did it look "better" under lower magnification?

I found it while scanning the area in a grid like fashion, using the wide field 25mm EP. I eventually saw a clear "smudge" that followed the field of view, while the rest of the stars on view were perfectly focused. So I centered on it, and sure enough, when my eyes adjusted enough, I could see that it was a well-defined smudge. My Android app confirmed I was looking at the Andromeda galaxy.

Then I put the 10mm EP in, and it didn't look as good for some reason. I'm pretty sure I focused on it. It just didn't look any better, I guess I should say. It seemed to be the same size and shape... only, it became the only thing in the field of view.

Why is that? I thought I would see it bigger or something. Maybe more detail. But it was practically the same way it looked in the 25mm one. Honestly, I swear it looks better in that one, for some reason I can't put my finger on.

I have a small telescope, and I know that matters. But I still thought there would be a bigger difference. It's a refractor with 80mm aperture, 350 focal length.

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All advice above is spot on. Andromeda is huge, and needs a dark sky to get the best out of it. This screen shot shows the field of view of the two eyepieces you were using, the 10mm being the smalle

Congrats on finding m31  When i got my first glimpse of her i was a bit disappointed not the view i was expecting but when i took a step back and thought about it i have just seen another galaxy just

It certainly has a wow factor not so much for what you can see but for what it is i have notice on imaging sessions that my Labrador does look up too makes you wonder what those canine eyes can see.

Congrats! Nice! Yeah, as cantab says - low power is king on these wide-field objects. Larger magnification = smaller field of view. The details will not visually stand out at any magnification really, it takes long exposure photo to see any of that. Well worth adding, it also in general take pretty good sky conditions to be able to crank up the magnification with maintained quality. I usually work my way up from the smallest magnicifation to the one most suitable for the evening - and of course also let the observed object decide which EP/mag to use.

Next challange could perhaps be M33. Harder to see but all of a sudden it will pop out!

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M31 is BIG, very BIG.

So you need a low power to get it all, or most of it in view. You are talking about magnifications down at 20x or less.

So that way you see more of it.

Also being big the actual surface brightness is low, so a smaller image concentrates the light more and it comes out brighter on the back of your eye. So then you see more of it. Equally it is still a faint fuzzy oval to me.

The other aspect about finding it is that forever more you will be able to go out look up and tell someone where it is, and in the majority of cases they won't quite see it either. M31 is a funny object. In a couple of billion years it will show more detail, just you will need a wider view again.

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All advice above is spot on. Andromeda is huge, and needs a dark sky to get the best out of it. This screen shot shows the field of view of the two eyepieces you were using, the 10mm being the smaller one.

With higher magnification, you only really see the core of the galaxy. With low mag and a widefield scope under a dark sky, you can begin to see the whole extent of it, plus the two satellite galaxies.

Posted Image

This one shows the scale vs the size of the moon.

Posted Image

Cheers,

Stu

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Yes I know the feeling. I spotted it for the first time a few weeks ago. It more or less was straight overhead, which in my case can make it difficult to find. I have since invested in a right angled finder which has improved things. My best views were with my 32mm eyepiece. I tried looking at it with my 8mm as an experiment, but it just didn't work really. One day I'll invest in a 2" eyepiece and hopefully it will look even better. 

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I STILL haven't found it ... frustrating as I know it is a large entity in the sky. Is it visible with the naked eye, as a smudge, or only through magnification.

I can go to the ring nebula really easily now but I do struggle with Andromeda and other DSOs ... Down to experience I guess.

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I STILL haven't found it ... frustrating as I know it is a large entity in the sky. Is it visible with the naked eye, as a smudge, or only through magnification.

I can go to the ring nebula really easily now but I do struggle with Andromeda and other DSOs ... Down to experience I guess.

It is a naked eye object under dark skies but not if you have bad LP. It should be easily visible with binoculars under almost any skies so give that a go, probably easier to find like this.

Work out a star hop to it, it is relatively easy to find from the top left star of the square of Pegasus, working along Andromeda then up.

Cheers,

Stu

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The trouble with larger dobs is that they cannot for the whole thing in because of their longer focal length.

A widefield refractor, with a nice widefield ep under a very dark sky, with good dark adaptation is probably the best way of appreciating the whole thing at once. Of course you will get more detail of part of it in a big dob.

Stu

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Congrats on finding m31 

When i got my first glimpse of her i was a bit disappointed not the view i was expecting but when i took a step back and thought about it

i have just seen another galaxy just like our own milky way then the wow factor kicked in

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binoculars and a reasonable sky was the best way I found to locate it for the first time. Once you know what you're looking for you can go there almost straight away - but it's gradual luminosity change make it very hard to find, esp. against light skies. I practiced for a while putting the binoculars straight to it just by looking at the star positions - can normally get it in the field on 1st go now, or maybe 2nd. Can be annoyingly hard to find directly in telescope, a low power eyepiece helps. Since I got the 9x50 RACI finder it's easily visible in there, perfect for locating it with no fuss at all.

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church..........Hi,.......When I first found M31 from my back garden, using the 200P,  with either the 8mm or 25mm I could just see  little more than a grey smudge, and slightly elongated. but least I can see it. I then chanced a dark sky site, on an almost disused road nearby and wow! M31 over-fills my 25mm  so I'm thinking I need something with a wider view to get it all in. The set-up is the same, its the viewing conditions from light polluted to almost dark. I was about 5 miles in all directions from city sky glow, so still not perfect, but a massive improvement. My mind is set for newer sites, further afield. Congratulations on your find.

Edit* BigMakStutov provides one method. I choose the Constellation of Cassiopeia, the great ` \ /\ /` in the Sky. Using the right half of the 'W' as a pointer which now becomes a ` \ / ` move slowly in the direction of the  `\ / ` and you'll find M31.

church........You also say..".But I have a question... Why did it look "better" under lower magnification?"  When we say that a telescope with a bigger aperture collects more light to see fainter objects in the night sky, In simple terms, think  of the lens doing the same. Higher focal length gathers more light and wider field of view compared to a  lower focal length, higher  magnification, darker view. This catches out many folk. Higher magnifications are not always the best for Deep space Nebula.

Edited by Charic
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Agree with LouisJB - I found it for the first time a couple of weeks ago with my binoculars. I used the starhop from Cassiopeia. Took a bit of trying, but I reckon I can go out and find it pretty quickly now. One tip - it's much easier if you have a garden recliner to lie back in, as it's almost directly overhead at the moment.

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I go from Cassiopeia too myself. It's like a handy pointer.

If you find it with anything less than a 25mm eyepiece on a 1000mm focal length scope you're probably mostly seeing just the core. It's really big, at 25mm on the 650mm focal length you can start to see it's full extent and companions M101 and M32, but even then you probably need to go wider to see it all, it will fade into the night sky so you will see more the darker the skies. Fabulous sight against a really dark sky. Just one time I saw it like no other, with M32 and M101 in a single wide field. It was one of the best things I've seen so far, amazing!

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It certainly has a wow factor not so much for what you can see but for what it is i have notice on imaging sessions that my Labrador does look up too makes you wonder what those canine eyes can see.

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well done i had the same trouble and eventualy found it with my celestron 130mm and was a little shocked at how it appeared as i was used to the pics seen in magazines ect.i bumped up the mag and it was much better but lost all outside detail the core was nicely detailed. apature fever has hit me and im getting a 12 inch dob next year,that will gobble up the andromeda galaxy and show off its glory.good luck with your future in astronomy im new and its hit me hard lol

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So... I THINK I've just seen the Andromeda galaxy at last, despite the bright moon fairly close by. I have just been out with the 15x70s (no time to set up and observe with the telescope tonight sadly!) and I followed Charic's tip above of using one ' V ' of Cassiopeia to point to an area to scan ... And lo and behold I saw a fairly obvious smudge through the binocs (not with the naked eye as the sky was quite washed out by the moon). It wasn't a huge smudge but was quite distinct... And as I looked, after a few minutes I could sense the total area was larger, and the smudge was perhaps just the most obvious part of a larger entity with faint surrounds.

How exciting! If it was M31 it means I will know where to look next time with my telescope (I was able to re-find it several times tonight and I take that to be an achievement).

Actually, despite the brightness of the moon, I had a good, though brief, binocular session tonight: Jupiter and moons, the beautiful Orion nebula, that nice nebula by one of Gemini's feet (sorry, terrible memory and I haven't looked it up yet).

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When I first found it under suburban skies it looked dim and un impressive yet I was just satisfied to have found it. A week later found it under rural skies in the mountains and was ASTONISHED, I could not believe it was the same target and remains the nicest Messier find yet.

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Took me a little while too, I found the v in cassiopia points to Mirach then come back on yourself, there are two stars (part of pegasus) for me that are just visible with our light pollution and just beyond those is M31. My daughter (9) couldn't find it either but then I had one of those eureeka moments, I got my cycle repair stand and clamped the bins in and pointed up, now she can find it every time. I remember tho the first time I gazed upon it I was in awe thinking wow I am looking at a galaxy that one day we will collide with!

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