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**Space*Hopper**

Just cannot find M51

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Hi all,

Compared to my previous successful globular cluster hunts, I had thought that because M51 is right by the star at the end of the handle of the Big Dipper it would be easy to find in comparison but it is proving not to be so. The first night I tried I put it down to the bright moon washing out the sky, but I have since tried several times without success, (I even tried imaging the area just in case it was not visible to my naked eye but still no luck). I can see many objects such as M81 / 82 from my location but is M51 considerably dimmer ? What could I be doing wrong please ?

Any guidance would be great ;)

Thanks in advance

:hello1:

Ian

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M51 can be very tricky unless the sky is good.

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Thanks Russ,

You have confirmed what I half suspected in that it needs a good dark sky and unfortunately this is something that I don't have from my back garden location. I will keep trying though and perhaps a filter might help but it sounds like this is possibly one to try if I ever venture out of my back garden to a better location :)

Thanks again

Ian

;) P.S. thanks for the additional directions, I will keep trying ! :(

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With my Canon 350d and 120mm achro, it takes around 20-30s exposure at ISO-1600 to show up, so its pretty dim - you may need to image longer than you expect to confirm you have it in the frame...

The finder chart in "Turn Left @ Orion" is pretty good - I found it first time using that (can't see it visually though - way too much LP)

Trev

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There's also a finder chart here:

http://www.astrosurf.com/jwisn/m51.htm

Notice the three mag-7 stars that form a right-angled triangle with M51 close to one corner - that's what you need to look for in the finder. I've viewed the galaxy in binos - but you do need a dark sky for that. Should still be visible through moderate light pollution though.

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I find M51 much harder than M81/2. What I do is travel from the second last to the last stars in the plough handle, and make a 90-degree left turn, and go just over half the distance again in that direction. An RDF assists greatly. I use the widest power available and scan the area until there appears an area which could be just very slightly brighter than the surrounding sky. You think you're imagining it, but centre it and up the power to perhaps 50-70x and the patch should be more obvious.

HTH

Andrew

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Before I was naughty and got GOTO ;) .... I used Turn Left at Orion which showed nearby stars in finder view and telescopic view. There is a distinctive triangle of stars which M51 resides in. I apologise for not remembering its orientation in relation to this triangle at the moment, but it made it easy to find exactly the right patch of sky to point at even if you couldn't see it due to bad conditions. The only test for me was finding this triangle (which got easier at each attempt).

Matt

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As I remember "TL@O", centre the finder on the last star in the Plough handle, then look for a reasonably bright star near teh edge of the finder, recentre on that. That's 24CVn. Then consider a clock face with 24CVn at the centre, last star in Plough is at 3 o'clock, M51 is roughly at 11 o'clock at the same distance from the centre.

Trev

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I,ve detected m51 with my 150mm newt from my back garden. As my my garden is so light poluted as to resemble the face of the sun, I'll have to settle for that. So you should, with good conditions at least manage that with the 100mm refactor. However it is definately a case of detected it rather than seen it for me.

I used turn left as well B.T.W

luke

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I found M51 in about two seconds the first time I looked for it and have never had a problem finding it since.

M31 is a different story. A much larger brighter object and I've seen me search for ages before finding it. I know where it is but when I point the scope its gone. I track it down with binoculars, put them down, line up the scope and its gone awol again. I swear that it's the shyest of all galaxies.

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Thanks for all your help - last night I tried again and found it :hello1:

From my light polluted garden I still could not see it visually but kept imaging the area until it appeared on my cameras lcd ;)

I had a quick fiddle with one of the subs and the light pollution appears to be more of a problem with this target than the other DSO's I have imaged, (think I might have to look into a filter to reduce this), but M51 is definitely there. I will of course post the final result once I have stacked all of the subs and had a proper go at processing.

Thanks again for all your encouragement

:hello1:

Ian

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post the pic ian lol always nice to see efforts even from light polluted skies, gives me an idea of what to expect when i blunder into imaging

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Got a visual of M51 lat night with my Celestron C9.25 using the GOTO on my EQ6 Pro mount and Seben 8-24 zoom at about the 20mm setting. The galaxy was visible (just) in my light polluted sky (I'm in Blackpool) as almost a ghostly mist in the centre of the eyepiece against the dark sky background. Using greater magnification lost it and opening up to 24mm lost the contrast making it difficult to see. I haven't tried imaging it yet, but I was pleased that the GOTO found it and I was able to make it out.

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M31 is a different story. A much larger brighter object and I've seen me search for ages before finding it. I know where it is but when I point the scope its gone. I track it down with binoculars, put them down, line up the scope and its gone awol again. I swear that it's the shyest of all galaxies.

Oooohhh! I thought I was the only one this happened to! Faint fuzzies, no problem. Microscopic planetaries, no big deal. Biggest, brightest, closest galaxy? Forget it! Of course, now it's not a problem, but early on, it was. :shock:

BTW, I spent quite a bit of time during the Messier Marathon laerning to find M101 and 51, just to be sure. 8)

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