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Littleguy80

M101 - It's there but I can't see it!

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I've gone searching for M101 twice now. On both occasions, I've found the right location. The star patterns around it are quite easy to recognise but I've not been able to see the galaxy itself. Does M101 have a lot lower surface brightness than say M51? I thinking that this is perhaps a dark site only target?

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If its any consolation i could see it with my 12" two nights ago ,it really needs a dark site,and a dark sky,better when the darker nights come back in.

 

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Yes, M101 has very low surface brightness.. I've captured it on camera several times, but never observed it with my own eye... M51 is a shining beacon by comparison!

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M101 is a bit of a sod - face on and reasonably large, so diffuse with a low surface brightness. A bit like M33 but more so. I've detected (I won't dignify it with the word "seen") it in my 200 mm Dob from decent skies. It is certainly doable with a 130mm Newtonian. But I think you would need a properly dark sky and M101 fairly close to the zenith. Low to medium magnification is best for this sort of object; they are so faint that if they fill the eyepiece they are impossible to see - you need enough dark sky around them top pick up on the contrast.

Billy

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52 minutes ago, paul mc c said:

If its any consolation i could see it with my 12" two nights ago ,it really needs a dark site,and a dark sky,better when the darker nights come back in.

 

Sorry that should have read "couldn't see".

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I've found it hard to get a decent photo of, it's definitely not as bright as many galaxies.

I coudln't find it in my bins a few nights ago and it was really good conditions and I'm sure I was staring right at it.

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1 hour ago, billyharris72 said:

 Low to medium magnification is best for this sort of object; they are so faint that if they fill the eyepiece they are impossible to see - 

This bit didn't make sense to me until I saw this bit

1 hour ago, billyharris72 said:

 you need enough dark sky around them top pick up on the contrast.

 

A good lesson indeed:thumbsup:

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Earlier this spring I had surprisingly very good views of M101 (8"F6dob). With maybe 4 or even more Bright patches in the Galaxys arms.

But at that time it was astronomical darkness (sun more than 18 degrees below horizon), and the Galaxy positioned in a pretty dark part of my mildly LP sky.

Maybe youll better off waiting till August before you give it another go?

 

Rune

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Infact : Observing M101 was probably the highlight of my astronomical 'season' 2016/17.

Cant wait to spend a bit more time With this Object.

 

Rune

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go somewere dark. its amazing, the arms are massive , my favourite object at the moment, on a good night you can see traces of HA.

could also be a lot to do with no A/D at the moment so contast will suffer. only 20 days left untill the longest day :headbang:

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I've seen it better than this at Elan....but only once

M101-01-April-17.jpg

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Thanks all, some good tips and reassuring to know that it's viewable with my scope under the right conditions. I've managed to arrange some viewing under what should be some proper dark skies. Just need a cloud and moon free night now! 

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That galaxy has also evaded me so far, with an 8 inch aperture.  With darker skies (i.e. time of year), patience, averted vision, and trying a range of mags to get the right size and contrast, I'll crack it.  

As you say, knowing where it is in the starfield is the starting point!

Doug.

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1 hour ago, Littleguy80 said:

Thanks all, some good tips and reassuring to know that it's viewable with my scope under the right conditions. I've managed to arrange some viewing under what should be some proper dark skies. Just need a cloud and moon free night now! 

You haven't got to go that far from Norwich to find a dark site, Great Ellingham has an observatory and is a recognised dark sky location... I sometimes visit Great Hockham which is nearby but closer to me... Nice and dark there!!

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59 minutes ago, Art Gecko said:

You haven't got to go that far from Norwich to find a dark site, Great Ellingham has an observatory and is a recognised dark sky location...

Good shout. Didn't know that was there!

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5 hours ago, estwing said:

I've seen it better than this at Elan....but only once

M101-01-April-17.jpg

get a bigger dob then calv, we can see it like that when the moon is full swing:hiding:

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A month ago I observed M 101 in 4" TeleVue refractor in Wales from a very dark site in Beddgelert. It was fantastic! The spiral structure of the galaxy was obvious. Seeing and transparency were excellent. So weather condition and dark sites can make huge difference. 

This target is easy and full of details in 10" when transparency is good and in 20", 24"  this galaxy showes many minuscule details. I observed it many times from Norfolk and this target worth to persevere with.

I am sure you will see it soon.

All the best ??

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When my club still had its old (and tarnished) 10-inch newtonian I saw M101 more easily in my 16x70 binocs that in the larger scope. That was a direct side-by-side comparison. The galaxy was a completely featureless small round mist in the bino, but much more extended in the scope, and with a detectable starlike nucleus.

However the mist in the newtonian was so diffuse you could look quick and not see it, you really had to insist. The binocs, on the other hand, made the galaxy visible at first sight. Another difference is the glow seemed totally round in the 16x70, but its oval shape was recognized in the 10-incher. I don't remember the magnification, was necessarily much higher than the binocs' 16x.

Weather has to be dry, galaxy has to be at the highest of its path above the horizon for a profitable view. A small improvement in sky darkness will change the galaxy from just detectable to obvious, that's the lesson in surface brightness.

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On 6/1/2017 at 07:05, Littleguy80 said:

I've gone searching for M101 twice now. On both occasions, I've found the right location. The star patterns around it are quite easy to recognise but I've not been able to see the galaxy itself. Does M101 have a lot lower surface brightness than say M51? I thinking that this is perhaps a dark site only target?

It takes exposure time to get it.  Here is a shot of M101 from May 28 that was done using the Atik mono Infinity with an Explore Scientific 102ED.  It was a stack of 40 stacked in the Infinity SW with each image being 40 sec.

I am now experimenting with the Beta Release of the Infinity SW that now allows it to be used with all Atik series 400 cameras.

 

Autosave_m101_40_1600sec_ps.jpg

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On 6/1/2017 at 17:47, estwing said:

I've seen it better than this at Elan....but only once

M101-01-April-17.jpg

Me and Faulksy bagged it at Bala in the early hours. In the 13E it just filled the eyepiece what an epic night that was :wink:

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I'm going have to have a trip to Bala only trouble is feel inadequate with my 200p. 

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It will loosen that jaw under proper dark skies mate

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17 minutes ago, mapstar said:

Me and Faulksy bagged it at Bala in the early hours. In the 13E it just filled the eyepiece what an epic night that was :wink:

One of the best nights for me was in Beddgelert, Wales. M101 was so prominent in a TeleVue 4"  refractor. I think Wales is getting my favorite place for observing. Climbing during the day and observing at night. What else could I wish in my life when it is not raining? :) 

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10 minutes ago, wookie1965 said:

I'm going have to have a trip to Bala only trouble is feel inadequate with my 200p. 

Good scope the 200p and wouldn't be embarrassed in any viewing session :wink:

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