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Mr Flibble

Messier list completed 18th april 2015 :-)

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I finally bagged the elusive M83 last night to complete the Messier list. I officially started counting the M's in spring 2012 so its taken a good three years with which I'm pleased, especially given the constraints of working full time and the relatively few opportunities of a clear night and a new moon which falls on the weekend!

 I bagged them all from my usual observing spots in the brecon beacons and/or SGL star parties but for M83 I used an alternate site. Due to its low altitude I decided to take a 45 minute drive to a spot on the south wales coast which gave a flat horizon out over the sea. The location was great, the skies were clear, the southerly horizon was nice and black especially as the next land mass was Exmoor, and as this was a public car park overlooking the sea thankfully the "locals" were relatively well behaved and didn't feel the need to shine their car headlights on me too often!

So about half an hour before astro dark kicked in I tried a few testers to see what the conditions were like - I found the leo triplet straight away with the fainter NGC3628 quite prominent. Then I swung the dob round to Canes Venatici for M51 - stuck in the 14mm eyepiece and got some dust lanes. Given that it wasn't even astro dark yet I started to think it might be the night to finally get M83 :-) But before M83 was at maximum altitude from midnight onwards I started off with a few Caldwells to check off and keep me occupied.

The Cat's Eye nebula NGC6543 in Draco was first, a nice blue disc which handled magnification well. Then I tried for NGC5248 a mag 10 galaxy in Bootes, I failed at SGLX to bag this, and again at a later date although it could just be made out in my mate's 16" dob. Last night I found it almost straight away so it was another indicator of good transparancy for the night. Next I moved to the upper section of Hydra and targetted another planetary nebula NGC3242 the Ghost of Jupiter. Again this had a nice bluish tinge with which I could ramp up the magnification. My notes say it has a central star but I couldn't see it. I might have spent more time on it but I couldn't resist moving onto M83 as it was nearing midnight.

The telrad, as suspected, was of no use here due to a lack of finder stars so low down near the horizon but I could see gamma and pi hydra so I used a pre-prepared star map to star hop using my RACI from gamma hydra down to the right location. Once I found the mag 6 and 7 stars HD118646 and HD118600 I knew M83 would be just off to the side. At first I couldn't see anything but after about 20 minutes with my eye glued to the 14mm I slowly started to make out surrounding fainter stars. I'm not sure why this took so long, it may be due to initially poor dark adaption due to the occasional car headlight washing over me or it may just be that the area of sky was just gradually lifting out of the lower horizon murk. In any case I eventually detected the tell tale sign of a non stellar object, it turned out to be the brighter central core of the galaxy and it gradually became more and more distinct. I couldn't make out any spiral structure but then I wasn't expecting to at that altitude.

For anyone interested in trying to locate M83 who hasn't already, there is a dead straight row of three mag 10 stars leading off HD118600 which is quite distinct, M83 lies directly below the middle one.

Needless to say there was a fair amount of whooping at this point and to mark the occasion and calm the adrenaline I decided to celebrate with a melton mowbray and a soft drink :-)

Not to pass up the opportunity I then shifted over slightly to another Caldwell in Hydra at the same low altitude, the globular cluster NGC5694. This was tricky because it was so small but I used my RACI to hone in on the exact location and then with a bit of magnification I found it. I then waved goodbye to Hydra and moved slightly higher up into Corvus and quickly bagged the planetary nebula NGC 4361 and then lastly to round off the night I moved across to the Antennae galaxies NGC4038 and 4039. These were much easier and brighter than M83 and I could just make out a vague irregularity in the shape to hint at the two bodies colliding. Now it was just gone 1am and time to pack up.

So there we go :-) Messier list is complete :-) Chuffed to bits :-) Thanks for reading :-)

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Well done.  It's a nice little landmark to reach.  I do seem to recall having a pig of a job finding M83 myself.

James

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Congrats  :smiley: .

Nice read. From my latitude its impossible to complete the list.

Rune

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That's a great read. I've hardly scratched the list, but then I have really only just started, although here the light pollution is so bad it would be impossible to complete. I need to start looking for dark sites rather than trying to get stuff done in the back garden.

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Good achievement! And from the UK! I'll bet that it brought a smile to your face.

M83 was my last one too. But I need to bag the most southerly two from the UK to really claim it as completed.

What next? Herschel 400?

Paul

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Well done and a great report. I will have to travel a fair distance to find the elusive M 83

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Great achievement, and the extra effort to get through the finishing tape must have made it even more special. Great write-up too.

Paul

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Good achievement! And from the UK! I'll bet that it brought a smile to your face.

M83 was my last one too. But I need to bag the most southerly two from the UK to really claim it as completed.

What next? Herschel 400?

Paul

Cheers Paul. Yep I'm targetting the remaining Caldwells and pressing on with the H400 now. So much stuff up there to see it boggles the mind!

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Congratulations for a great work! I'm yet to figure out a way to finish my Messier list.

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I'm hoping to try for M83 tonight from the Lizard - the best chance of seeing it in the UK I reckon! I managed "M102" last night along with a few others unviable from home. Part of me wants to get up at 4am and take a tour round Scorpius too, but I'm supposed to be on holiday!

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