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theblazingak

Dull "cloud" in sky through 7x50 binos

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I was stargazing tonight through my celestron cometron 8x50 binoculars and saw a small, dull gray cloud among the stars. It was clear out and it didn't appear to be blocking any starlight. My binoculars weren't having any issues. Is this what I think it is? I'm just asking because I would rather not jump to conclusions. This is my first day owning astronomy binoculars and I also just moved to a new address with a much darker night sky.

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Whereabouts in the sky was it? If it was the middle of 'star' in Orion's sword, then it's the Orion nebula. If you look at nebulae through binoculars or a telescope, you won't see colour because they're just too far away for the human eye process the right wavelengths. However, it's still an impressive sight.

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Very much depends on where it was in amongst the constellations.

If just below the 3 bright belt stars of Orion then as previously M42 - Orion Nebula.

That is however reasonably bright, well at least in astronomy terms.

Another is M31 - Andromeda Galaxy.

Depending on how good your eyes are and how good/bad the binoculars then it could be a globular cluster, cannot suggest anything specific as there are a fair number of these.

Are you talking a small patch or something that filled the width and more of the binoculars, just wondering if it could have been the Milky Way showing through.

Doubt it is/was a nebula as they are generally too dim (other then M42) for anything small.

My guess is M31, then M42.

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M31 is distinctly elongated, M33 more rounded, M42 shows stars inside a hazy nebula, which is not what was described. Several open clusters in Auriga also appear as clouds in my 10x50 bins

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I think the catch is that there are so many options, and without knowing us where this "dull cloud" actually was, there is no time mentioned for the observation either - some of the things we are guessing at may have been below the horizon if it was the evening of Monday and not Tuesday Morning, or the other way round. M13 will have gone Tueday AM but would have been around Monday PM.

Suppose it couldn't have been a small dispersing bit of cloud could it ?  :grin: :grin: :grin:

There tends to be a few around, mind you if they are disguising themselves as DSO's then it really is time to give up. :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

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Is this what I think it is?

With all due respect, how exactly would we know what you think it is? Edited by BeanerSA

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Perhaps you should download Stellarium, Mr. Gak. Stellarium is a very large planetarium-program that will help you find and to identify what is up there and where. You set it for your location and it will show you an accurate and realistic view of your night sky. Other programs like it cost upwards of £200. Stellarium - which is one of the best - is FREE.

Here you are:

http://www.stellarium.org/
 
As for instructions, the most current one's are posted in Wiki due to their being new features & functions being created almost daily. There is also a Pdf. that's almost up-to-date. Here's the Wiki-Link:
 
http://www.stellarium.org/wiki/index.php/Stellarium_User_Guide
 
And the Pdf. is here:
 
http://barry.sarcasmogerdes.com/stellarium/stellarium_user_guide-new.pdf
 
This should help you to find just about everything under the Sun.

Clear skies,

Dave

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Thank you for your replies everyone. I do wish I knew where it was, but since I do not have a red flashlight to read a star chart out there and(being a beginner) don't know the sky well enough to be able to say much more than that it was "over there". I read elsewhere in the forums that nebulae look like gray clouds through binoculars or low power telescopes. I do have stellarium but haven't really used it yet. It seems quite impressive, I'll get to setting up my location on it soon. Thanks again!

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Impossible to say without more info on colour,shape and location. What we can say is that it was most likely a galaxy or a nebula. With your bins, my bets are on either M31 (Andromeda galaxy) or M42 (Orion nebula). There are of course other objects it may have been, but "dull cloud" to me screams galaxy............but which one?

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Thank you for your replies everyone. I do wish I knew where it was, but since I do not have a red flashlight to read a star chart out there and(being a beginner) don't know the sky well enough to be able to say much more than that it was "over there". I read elsewhere in the forums that nebulae look like gray clouds through binoculars or low power telescopes. I do have stellarium but haven't really used it yet. It seems quite impressive, I'll get to setting up my location on it soon. Thanks again!

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Can you tell us even in which direction you saw it and a rough time estimate?. That would be a big help in narrowing down the guesses.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher

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Northeast p

Roughly northeast? In Dubuque, Iowa, USA


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Probably Andromeda Galaxy, Traingulum galaxy is probably too faint to see through a bino 7*50. Can you give us a time estimate?

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I suppose it's like waking up in a city you've never visited before. You ask a passerby for directions and they talk with alien tongue...

So much to see, do and learn! :)

It probably was a nebula or one of the brighter galaxies and right now it doesn't really matter which one. Until you have your celestial bearings you might never see it again!

This is a great time of year for starting to learn the constellations. As soon as darkness falls you have the "summer triangle" high in the sky. Or as the evening progresses you have one of the most recognisable asterisms rising in the east - Orion's Belt. Not that the rest of Orion isn't worthy of mention!

Once you identify those you can make some real progress with various star charts. 

Sounds like you have a real dark sky. I'd recommend something like Stellarium on a mobile device (phone or tablet). You can then take all the info you need with you when you observe.

Edited by Paul M

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Iwatchstars I.... Think so? Paul M I agree. Lots of learning to be done. I have stellarium on desktop, how good is it on mobile? Mobile version costs money.

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North-east sound more like the Double Cluster or the clusters in Auriga than M31. BTW, M33 is a fairly easy target in my 50mm bins. I have spotted it even in 8x40s. That too is more east to south-east.

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. I have stellarium on desktop, how good is it on mobile? Mobile version costs money.

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It's improved drastically on mobile and costs less than a beer! :)

My own preference is SkySafari but that can cost serious money and requires some experience to fully appreciate it.

Stellarium Mobile will serve you well as you start out. Not over-complicated and any features it doesn't have would only confuse the challenge even further.

It's perfect for locating the constellations and then some of the objects of interest within them. As with optical instruments, your software of choice will likely change as you progress.

I think one of the main turning points in finding your way round the sky is realising the visual scale of things. It was for me anyway. Are the constellations the size of the Moon or the half the size of the sky? Orion's Belt is for me a great reference. There is nothing even close for ease of identification and once you have that you are well on the way. Orion is everyone's favorite signpost to the stars and a welcome friend of cold winter nights!

Edited by Paul M

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Did it look roughly like this?

M31.jpg

Ive viewed Andromeda with my 20x90's and i dont remember it looking anything like this. Maybe i should try again from my new location which is much darker.

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Ive viewed Andromeda with my 20x90's and i dont remember it looking anything like this. Maybe i should try again from my new location which is much darker.

I remember it looking like that with my naked eye - when I was a lad and had dark skies.

Now it isn't worth the effort visually with any equipment from home. 

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Ive viewed Andromeda with my 20x90's and i dont remember it looking anything like this. Maybe i should try again from my new location which is much darker.

I view from an edge of village location with moderate LP and on a good transparent night using 8 x 42 bins the view is at least as good, probably better than these views.

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I view from an edge of village location with moderate LP and on a good transparent night using 8 x 42 bins the view is at least as good, probably better than these views.

Encouraging.

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