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M51 - where is it?


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had a satisfactory 1st go outside with 6" starhopper last night (was so excited at seeing stars resolve in m13 that i posted a report on the observing section).

can't find m51 though. not even through my 15/70 bins.

am i missing something, or is this particularly tricky one to do.

tried scanning with the scope on low mag, but find it hard to adjust to backward motion etc.

any suggestions on what kind of power i need to make this object pop up?

ta..

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You`ll need much darker skies to visually see M51. With my 8" SCT, it just appears as a two fuzzy blobs, one larger than the other, and thats when the sky is dark. Wait until the end of July/Start of August when it gets really dark at night, then have another go. Just dont expect to see the usual two galaxies interacting... look for two fuzzy blobs.

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ok thanks.

isn't it funny how different books give you different ideas about what you can see.

i have a book which tells me its visible in 10x50 bins.

thats why i was a bit puzzled when i couldn't make it out at all in my 15x70's, let alone with the scope.

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It's also worth noting that M51 is quite a small object as far as galaxies go. Its a hard target to find even in dark skies. I'd never find it in June/July without a perfectly aligned GOTO. I first found it (before I had GOTO) by star hopping from Alkaid (star at the end of the big dipper's handle)...

m51_finder.jpg

Circle is the FOV of my finderscope

Problem with this diagram is its orientation (I think its for Spring time and mirrored to immitate my finderscope's view).

This might help for orientation purposes....

m51.jpg

Matt

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If you have dark skies M51 is a very easy object in 10x50 bins, the lighter summer skies would make if difficult to spot.

Using the orientation the star map Vega put up I use the following star hops to find it. From eta UMa (Alkaid) go down and right 2 deg to 24 CVn (4th mag) then down and left to a triangle of 7th mag stars. M51 sits just below the base of the triangle. In 10x50s the whole thing from eta UMa to M51 fits in the FOV. as the the pic shows (from SkyMap Pro)

Scotastro

GAC

Galloway Astronomy Centre

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thanks again.

that sounds like a good method.

i think i'll try and find the triangle.

at least then i'll know where it's supposed to be.

very very glad i found this forum.

don't feel so much like a "weirdo nerd" anymore trying to talk to people about it!

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If you have an Alt/Az mount it can be that it's easiest to wait until your target is directly above or below some bright beacon. For instance, at around 01:26 tonight, M51 will be directly below Alkaid (3? 35' distance)

(well, at least from MY location )

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very very glad i found this forum.

don't feel so much like a "weirdo nerd" anymore trying to talk to people about it!

You're among friends here :) We all know the 'glaze over' look of partners and friends when we start to talk astronomy...

Helen

PS to get used to the fact that things move the wrong way I tend to think of pulling a star to where it needs to be... but you do get used to it

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I prefer a red-dot finder over starhopping, and have a different but very intuitive way to find M51. I eyeball the distance between Eta and Zeta, and then drop down from Eta at a right angle, half that distance.

Works every time using the 32mm ep (49' fov, 62x) in my f/10 8" SCT. :)

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Hello Mikey, I observe with a pair of 15x70 binoculars and I've never been able to resolve M51 in my urban location. Don't despair because there are other easier binocular/telescope early summer targets to consider. M92 (globular cluster) can be found about 10 degrees or so from M13, M29 (open cluster) in Cygnus; locate the star Sadr in your binoculars move it around the periphery of your field of view and the cluster should appear before you, M3 (globular cluster) I find this one by locating the stars Arcturus and Muphrid then drawing lines to meet at a point to form a triangle just make sure you orientate yourself beforehand, M27 (Dumbbell nebular) you will really need to star hop for this one and can be found close to the point where Albireo bisect Deneb and Altair, M11 (the wild duck cluster) a little early but should be visible, M57 (Ring nebula) is nestled between the stars of Sheliak and Sulafat in Lyra, the constellation Delphinus should fit nicely in the F.O.V. of your binoculars, Albireo (beta cygni) a beautiful double and an easy target to locate; Albireo will also point you in the general direction of the Coathanger cluster. I am sorry if the instructions are somewhat vague, they only act as a very rough guide to these (supposedly) accessible targets.

Good hunting!

Jack.

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Thanks for all those Jack!

Will be looking for them.

Actually, the other night i was scanning the Sagittarius area with binos and came across m22.

Was excited when i found out what it was I saw.

I'm going to be working in Croatia, along the coast for a couple of weeks at end of july, and when i checked out what would be visible from that location on stellarium, it appears that i'll be able to view the whole of scorpius and sagittarius.

So I'll definately be taking the 15x70's with me!

Having very recently aquired a 6"dob (only been out with it 1 night really), its made me appreciate even more the immediacy and intuituveness of using a pair of binoculars!

Probably mean I'll use them even more with the scope..

cheers,

mike.

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