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Had myself a good dark sight on Tuesday night and my eyes were well dark adapted I'm sure, but when scoping around Leo I found the trio but could only see a duo! I'm sure there is a third, very faint one and I thought that my 8" aperture had enough light grab to see all three, is there something I'm missing??

If it's any help I managed to see the owl nebula in Ursa Major without filter so I figured I should be able to see the Leo Trio??

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The third member is tricky but it should be within reach of your scope. If you know exactly where it is relative to the other pair then that will help. I had a look tonight, almost quarter moon, and I could only see the brighter pair. You need a good dark night as the faint one is edge on and a dust lane blocks quit a lot of the light. Playing with the magnification can also help with the contrast.

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The 3rd galaxy in the trio is elongated NGC 3628 and it is that bit fainter than M65 and M66. I could just make it out with my ED120 refractor last night at 43x. Using averted vision can help pick it out if the conditions are making it marginal.

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You should be able to see NGC 3628 in an 8" scope from a dark site. Low magnification if you want to see all three. About 40' fov should get it. If you have the two brighter galaxies in view move the scope up a bit perpendicular to them & you should see a faint much larger edge on galaxy. Have seen it several times from mag 5+ dark site with my old 8".

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An 8" scope is perfectly adequate to pick up the Trio. Transparency needs to be good, any mist or thin cloud cover and this galaxy group can be underwhelming, also as mentioned, NGC 3628 is fainter and may require averted vision in less than ideal circumstances. I focused on the trio with my 14" on Tuesday night at a dark site and considered the view to be poor on this occasion. Other galaxies observed such as M104, M81 and M82 much brighter and engaging. 

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Thanks, I shall try again on the next clear night and play with the mag a little.

On a similar note I'm failing to understand many reports of DSO's that include much detail of the views, especially galaxies, comments about spiral arms, dust lanes, bright cores etc? Am I too optimistic that that level of detail can be achieved with apertures of <10"? I can make out the shapes and the occasional dot of light in the centre of some but that's about it.

Am I needing to recheck collimation?? It was pretty spot on that night at the dark sight. Closest small village was couple of miles away and the nearest town was 10 miles away, so light pollution was.at minimal.

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I think that most galaxies won't yield much detail in an 8" scope and you really need something fairly large to get much detail in even fairly bright galaxies. Still, the whirlpool galaxy is quite something in my scope and I can see quite a lot of detail, even hints of spiral arms, on a transparent dark night. I expect that a dark sky is the real limiting factor - no matter what the aperture is.

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I have a 12" dob and that just shows hints of the spiral structure of M51 (which I believe is commonly known as the Whirlpool) from my back yard. Under really dark skies the structure is more clearly defined. Observing experience also plays a part in the amount of detail that can be discerned - it's something that needs to be practiced and learned. Subtle details don't just jump out at you even with quite large scopes.

Some of our members do have 16" - 20" scopes though and they will be picking up 4x or more light than an 8" scope can. That plus the ability to find dark skies are major advantages in viewing galaxies.

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Thanks, I shall try again on the next clear night and play with the mag a little.

On a similar note I'm failing to understand many reports of DSO's that include much detail of the views, especially galaxies, comments about spiral arms, dust lanes, bright cores etc? Am I too optimistic that that level of detail can be achieved with apertures of <10"? I can make out the shapes and the occasional dot of light in the centre of some but that's about it.

Am I needing to recheck collimation?? It was pretty spot on that night at the dark sight. Closest small village was couple of miles away and the nearest town was 10 miles away, so light pollution was.at minimal.

as john says dark skies make a massive difference, were you observed from is not that good, even though you think it was the light dome still comes over from liverpool were you was. you need to come out with me :grin:

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as john says dark skies make a massive difference, were you observed from is not that good, even though you think it was the light dome still comes over from liverpool were you was. you need to come out with me :grin:

There's a great invitation. Mike knows some pretty good locations to observe from. I'd jump at the chance if I was you ;)

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It took me ages with my 10" to see that third galaxy in the Leo Triplet - but when I did it was (finally) under clear, dark skies. I found myself thinking "how did I miss it?" Answers - light pollution, cloud, and the Moon.

Keep trying, it's definitely possible.

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Can I come too please Faulksy. As you know I am only 30 min drive from you near Flint !

Now look what you've started a breakaway Star Party in North Wales (That should read in Beautiful North Wales)!

Edited by Sirius Starwatcher

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Yep, if you are blighted by city lights as I am, you really do need need to journey some distance in order to get away from the quite oppressive light dome. My spot read - SQM 21.35 at best, so the 55 min journey was worth it, the problem is much, much later when you are feeling tired you then (probably) have to get home.

Keep at the Trio, I first encountered them with an 8" scope and when the sky is favourable, all three are apparent and worth lingering over, revealing some profiling.

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There's a great invitation. Mike knows some pretty good locations to observe from. I'd jump at the chance if I was you ;)

Trust me I've been trying to meet up with mike for months!! Seems we work on opposite rotas, maybe it's a blessing to stop me spending all my money after viewing through his Ep's!!
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