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Scytale

Observing Leo Triplet with Travelscope 70mm

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Recently I've been trying to observe the Leo triplet of M65/M66/NGC3628. On my first attempt I saw absolutely no sign of anything faint and fuzzy, but I did notice shortly afterwards that my scope had dewed up. After clearing the dew, I didn't try them again, but I was easily able to observe either M51 or M101 (I don't remember which).

I tried again last night, and I can't say I succeeded. I maybe had the odd period where there was something fuzzy in the region of M66, but it might have just been my imagination. And there was absolutely nothing in the region of the other two. Admittedly, there was some thin cloud around, and it's in the worst direction for light pollution for me (although I thought it would be high enough to avoid the worst of it), but I thought I would have been able to observe it. There was a very light dew on the scope when I finally gave up, but it was definitely clear when I started.

Is this something that should be observable with my scope? Do I need to find some darker skies, or should it be visible on a really clear night?

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Hello and welcome to SGL

With most DSO the rule of thumb is dark sky , as dark as you can possibly get to allow these faint fuzzys to become more apparent and even then sometimes indirect vision helps a great deal.  Patience and a good knowledge of the sky's can assist in finding DSO.

And aperture, you really need as much aperture as possible with most DSO, as you need to get as many as those photons in as possible. So bigger really is better with DSO.  

I hope the above helps☺   

 

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I have the same 70mm travelscope, but have never pointed it in the direction of the "Leo Trio". However, i do have a set of 20x90 bins and have observed the trio with these bins.

"faint fuzzies", but visible in my 20x90 bins. I think the 70mm travelscope should be able to handle it under the right conditions..........but they will just be faint fuzzies.

High thin cloud of any kind simply will not help. The 3 galaxies will just fade into the clouds.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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41 minutes ago, LukeSkywatcher said:

High thin cloud of any kind simply will not help. The 3 galaxies will just fade into the clouds.

It was a weird kind of cloud. To the naked eye it looked pretty clear when looking at the zenith, and the cloud wasn't apparent unless looking much lower down.

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They won't be easy with a 70mm aperture scope unless your skies are pretty dark.

I saw them the other night with my 120mm refractor plus a few more in Leo but I had to work at it.

Any light pollution (either man-made or moonlight) and these faint objects become almost invisible in small scopes and much harder to see even with larger ones.

M101 is very large but very diffuse so it was probably M51 that you saw but that is rather small.

Galaxy spotting with a 70mm scope is hard work but good for you for having a go !

 

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32 minutes ago, John said:

They won't be easy with a 70mm aperture scope unless your skies are pretty dark.

I saw them the other night with my 120mm refractor plus a few more in Leo but I had to work at it.

Any light pollution (either man-made or moonlight) and these faint objects become almost invisible in small scopes and much harder to see even with larger ones.

M101 is very large but very diffuse so it was probably M51 that you saw but that is rather small.

Galaxy spotting with a 70mm scope is hard work but good for you for having a go !

 

Galaxy hunting with a 70mm is hard, but thats where i find the Vixen NPL's great. Great contrast and sharpness.

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Messier himself used several different telescopes during his carreer and his numbering the 'objects' that bear his name:

http://messier.seds.org/xtra/history/m-scopes.html

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Messier

So my thoughts here and now is your greater problem is dark skies, not the lack of aperture alone. As the top article I linked points out, the optical-quality of his scopes are quite poor when using today's standards. If I was in your place, I'd keep trying for the best 'seeing' and darkness of the sky. As well as fine-tuning my own eyes by practicing using averted-vision. A good thing to be skilled with. It truly can make all the difference - in all sorts of things aside from astronomy. I find myself using it for many things like seeing if my trash-cans are upright in pitch-darkness (don't ask why! :p).

Do take your time. Allow any stress to go away. Relax, relax, relax. This also can help I've found.

Happy Hunting!

Dave

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Thanks for the replies guys. I guess this means I just need to defeat the clouds and light pollution.

16 hours ago, LukeSkywatcher said:

Galaxy hunting with a 70mm is hard, but thats where i find the Vixen NPL's great. Great contrast and sharpness.

I'm still using the 20mm eyepiece that came with it for this. I have bought a Revelations Astro star diagonal though, which has made a massive improvement to the views I get. I do have an 8.8mm ES82 (bought more for use in my next scope). I didn't try using that one as I thought it would it make it dimmer, but I guess it would make the LP dimmer too? I'll try it next time.

17 hours ago, John said:

Galaxy spotting with a 70mm scope is hard work but good for you for having a go !

I like a challenge! It would be nice to complete the Messier list with this scope, but I expect I'll upgrade before I complete it - anything below Sirius is pretty much swamped with LP where I live, and some of the fainter galaxies in Andromeda are now too low in the sky by the time I get out to observe.

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The two Leo galaxy trios aren't easy in small scopes. As an experienced observer, under moderate skies,  Jan. 29, I could make out M 95 and 96 as faint smudges only with averted vision in my 80/400 frac. M 65 and M 66 were a bit brighter and could be seen with direct vision, but far from spectacular, NGC 3628 about 20% of the observing time with AV. But don't give up. Really helpful in light polluted areas  is a piece of dark cloth, that you put over your head and the focuser/eyepiece to eliminate stray light (think of some ancient photographer's arrangements).

As far as I know, the Messier Marathons have been completed by observers with 60 mm aperture scopes (dark skies needed). I'd start with the easier ones, e.g. M 81/82; or, in Leo's head, NGC 2903 (not Messier, but a nice sight).

Good luck and Clear Skies !

Stephan

Edited by Nyctimene
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20 hours ago, Scytale said:

Is this something that should be observable with my scope? Do I need to find some darker skies, or should it be visible on a really clear night?

You can see 2 of the Triplet for sure under very dark, transparent skies and yes try the 8.8mm. A friend can see them in a 60mm and it seems that this aperture range likes a bit more mag even with the "dimming" effect.

Lets us know!

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Primarily you will need a dark sky, otherwise they will just blend in too easily also even thin cloud is against you.

I see they are all within 1/2 degree of each other. Get the magnification down to say 30x or less and try to locate them as dim patches, or patch at that low. May just appear, then increase the magnification but I guess that greater then 50x will be a bit too much. I am thinking here of getting all 3 very dim items in the same field of view. 50x being about 1 degree field.

They will be difficult. If you think about it they say Messiers scope was about the same as a modern 4" (not sure how true that is). Now he managed 2 of them but didn't get the third - thats why it is an NGC not an M.

To get "observable" things I start up Stellarium then set the DSO magnitude to say 6 by pressing f4 and setting the value. The Leo Triplets are classed as mag 9 to 10, so dim and being an extended object that value is the sum of light from all of it. So the surface magnitude is less.

Try setting DSO mag to 8 and see what Stellarium leaves displayed. They may be a little easier, easier still is set to 6.

Half guess you will need to head out of Chelmsford possibly North towards Braintree would be easiest, but maybe darker North West direction.

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The 70 travelscope is obviously very easy to set up and move, and a dark location will make a huge difference as has been said. Here's a sketch made with 15x70 binoculars to give a rough guide of what to expect - note how much more difficult NGC3628 is. Enjoy the skies!

 

andrew

Leo Triplet-1.jpg

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Hi, I want to give them a try in my 70mm but I'm not confident. I've seen M77 which is 8.90 magnitude and it took me a long time to decide if it was really there. I had to make sure I was sure I had exactly the right place and I knew exactly where it should be in the field of view. When I thought I'd found it I had to move the view away and find it again just to make sure. I found moving it to the edge helped me a bit too as I tend to look straight at the middle. By the third night it was almost a doddle.

Let us know if you find it as it would give me the push to really have a good go myself as I've never seen anything so faint. (As people above said, it depends on the darkness of our skies)

Good luck.

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1 hour ago, domstar said:

Hi, I want to give them a try in my 70mm but I'm not confident. I've seen M77 which is 8.90 magnitude and it took me a long time to decide if it was really there. I had to make sure I was sure I had exactly the right place and I knew exactly where it should be in the field of view. When I thought I'd found it I had to move the view away and find it again just to make sure. I found moving it to the edge helped me a bit too as I tend to look straight at the middle. By the third night it was almost a doddle...

 

So good tips there on using a small scope to see galaxies. It can be done but you need to work at it and sometimes it's not entirely clear if you are seeing an object, or not !

It's the same as the aperture increases of course but the threshold of the "is it there or not" point moves to fainter objects :rolleyes2:

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3 minutes ago, John said:

It's the same as the aperture increases of course but the threshold of the "is it there or not" point moves to fainter objects :rolleyes2:

That's a great point John, and it shows that it is always worth observing with whatever scope you have available. You can always challenge yourself to observe something which is difficult with the aperture available and it will improve your observing skills for times when more aperture is available.

I enjoyed viewing the GRS and shadow transits with my 66mm William Optics scope, not easy but definitely there!

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I'd have a crack at M81/2 up in Ursa Major. Nice and high and brightish! Then work your way fainter from there.

I spent ages trying to track down M33 with my 10" scope. Finally bagged it using a pair of 10x50 binoculars. So don't give up!

Paul

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12 hours ago, andrew63 said:

The 70 travelscope is obviously very easy to set up and move, and a dark location will make a huge difference as has been said. Here's a sketch made with 15x70 binoculars to give a rough guide of what to expect - note how much more difficult NGC3628 is. Enjoy the skies!

 

andrew

Leo Triplet-1.jpg

 

Very nice example of limited aperture and what you may be able to see" is it there or is it not" I had to have a good look at this sketch, .

I think what this does show is that it is possible to do DSO but the results can be very very faint , if you can spot them at all sometimes.

Therefore I feel this does clearly show the need for dark sky's to try and get those faint fuzzys to "ping " to the eye so you can spot it at all

And secondly this does show that limited aperture does really make certain DSO extremely hard to spot, never mind observe.

So to stand the best chance of DSO IMO, very dark sky's, clear seeing conditions and as much aperture as you can get will  give you the best results.

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9 minutes ago, Paul73 said:

I'd have a crack at M81/2 up in Ursa Major. Nice and high and brightish! Then work your way fainter from there.

I spent ages trying to track down M33 with my 10" scope. Finally bagged it using a pair of 10x50 binoculars. So don't give up!

Paul

Agreed. M81 and M82 were the first galaxies I ever saw with a scope. I was chuffed to bits to find them with my old 1960's 60mm refractor and studied them for ages hardly believing what my little scope was showing me :icon_biggrin:

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19 hours ago, andrew63 said:

The 70 travelscope is obviously very easy to set up and move, and a dark location will make a huge difference as has been said. Here's a sketch made with 15x70 binoculars to give a rough guide of what to expect - note how much more difficult NGC3628 is. Enjoy the skies!

 

andrew

Leo Triplet-1.jpg

That's an excellent sketch, and I think for M66 matches what I thought I briefly saw. I've got a few options for darker skies - the south west looks a bit darker for me, so it may be easier in a month or two. And certainly would be with a relatively short walk into the countryside. I'd probably need a new mount though - I need to have the tripod set to the minimum height on a tabletop to get acceptable stability.

Not sure why I haven't tried M81/82 yet, but they'll be on my target list for the next moonless session.

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On 4 March 2017 at 02:08, Dave In Vermont said:

Messier himself used several different telescopes during his carreer and his numbering the 'objects' that bear his name:

http://messier.seds.org/xtra/history/m-scopes.html

and

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Messier

So my thoughts here and now is your greater problem is dark skies, not the lack of aperture alone. As the top article I linked points out, the optical-quality of his scopes are quite poor when using today's standards. If I was in your place, I'd keep trying for the best 'seeing' and darkness of the sky. As well as fine-tuning my own eyes by practicing using averted-vision. A good thing to be skilled with. It truly can make all the difference - in all sorts of things aside from astronomy. I find myself using it for many things like seeing if my trash-cans are upright in pitch-darkness (don't ask why! :p).

Do take your time. Allow any stress to go away. Relax, relax, relax. This also can help I've found.

Happy Hunting!

Dave

Fascinating links and great post Dave

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On 03/08/2017 at 09:18, subhas barma said:

Many times I tried .  But I am failed . M81 and m82 .

How about your sky conditions? Perhaps you can find a sufficiently dark sky area nearby; have a look at this:

https://www.lightpollutionmap.info/#zoom=12&lat=6384022&lon=990748&layers=B0TFFFFF

In a 150/750 scope, M 81/82 are visible quite well even in moderate skies (naked eye limiting magnitude = NELM of 4.7 mag to 5.0 mag), in the same field of view.

There are some good hints from the Binocular section:

 

Don't give up - the two are worth seeking; and look for a dark sky area!

Clear Skies

Stephan

 

Edited by Nyctimene
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I have seen M65/M66 in my 10x50 binoculars, so you definitely have the aperture required.

So echoing others sentiments, I'd suggest the skies are the issue.

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I tried for the M81/82 galaxies when I was last out.  I had no clouds, but that direction is not good for light pollution and I could make out nothing  Polaris and the Plough are right above our floodlit factory neighbour.  I'm keen to have another try now I have a couple of Skywatcher filters - a UHC and one that claims to help with Light Pollution.  It is possible that one or the other might help, but I don't think I will hold my breath.

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