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M81/82 Are They Visible To The Naked Eye?

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Always thought that Andromeda was the furthest we could see naked eye, but wondered if anyone has seen M81/M82 with naked eye?

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I think it is theoretically possible, in fact if you read Stephen O'Meara's book on the Messier Objects he mentions in there that he has done it I believe. I assume though, that you need spectacularly dark skies, great transparency and pretty good eyesight too!

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I've heard of some people being able to see M81 with the naked eye, out near Death Valley, California. I've never heard of anyone being able to M82 with naked eye though. I've also heard of some people being able to see M33 with naked eye as well.

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M33 used to be my naked eye test for transparency in my younger days, I now need a binocular. I've never seen M81/2 without optical aid.

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Thank you, I've not seen 81/82 or M33 naked eye. Have found 33 thru my 76mm Tak, manually and was ecstatic to have seen it, in the eyepiece.

Thanks for the replies.

Chris

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There have been a small number of claims of naked-eye sightings of M81 by very experienced observers at very dark sites. They report it as looking like a star of magnitude fainter than 7. Obviously to see something so faint and small you need to know exactly where to look; there are other stars of similar or greater brightness in the close vicinity.

M33 should be naked-eye visible if you can see stars to about 6.6 mag (according to theoretical modelling). I might have managed it when I was younger but never tried. Certainly not now, no matter how dark the sky.

Limiting magnitude is a test of two things: sky darkness and your own vision. If someone tells you they've got a mag 5.5 sky it might mean they've got a great sky and poor vision, or a poor sky and great vision. But it does tell you that they should probably be able to see the same sort of things as someone else with a "mag 5.5 sky". So if you can manage fainter than 6 it's worth trying for M33, if you can see beyond 7 then try M81 (once you've studied a chart and memorised the pattern of surrounding stars). To see M31 naked-eye requires a limit of about 5.2 (in theory), making it easy from any moderately dark site, and justifying its status as the most distant object that most people can ever hope to see without a telescope.

Edited by acey
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Always thought that Andromeda was the furthest we could see naked eye, but wondered if anyone has seen M81/M82 with naked eye?

I'm also in Norfolk (north) and had quite clear dark skies a couple of nights ago and saw m81 & 82 through my 10 inch dob.

From what I saw, I would have though it is impossible to see it with the naked eye, but from what others have said, it does depend on a few variables.

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I have seen M33 naked eye a couple of times from both North Devon and Anglesey.

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I've seen M33 with the naked eye a few times from dark sites (France and 3000m Alpine Lodge), but I've never managed M81/M82. I see something in the right place, but assumed I was just seeing the brighter field stars.

Chris

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Like a few other i saw M33 the other night but I never knew it was possible before being told. As for M81 and 82 I think you would need to be somewhere like Namibia where it is very dark and very dry.

Alan

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Hmm! Not had a very serious naked eye attempt at M81/2 from a really dark sky yet. Might get the sight tube out and give it a bash next time I'm somewhere good. 

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Under UK sky?

Not a chance.

Wouldn't mind trying from Hawaii, but I suspect that Mr O'Meara's eyes / skill levels are superior to my own! Although I'm sure that I wouldn't let it spoil my trip.?

M33 I can believe. I'll have to try Steve's cardboard tube method.

Paul

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On 17/1/2016 at 12:34, alan potts said:

Like a few other i saw M33 the other night but I never knew it was possible before being told. As for M81 and 82 I think you would need to be somewhere like Namibia where it is very dark and very dry.

Alan

I think you may have overlooked something Alan! Namibia has transparent skies but a disconcertingly opaque horizon!!! 

:icon_biggrin:lly

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