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niallk

Best M51 - EVER!

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Posted (edited)

Last night I popped out around 11pm to my "usual" local spot on the coast.  As I got out of the car i noticed that the house with the session wrecking security light had it switched off, and wow, the sky was looking good overhead and to the south.  There are low horizons all round with the beach/sea to the south.  It was like being in a snow globe that had been shook :)

The LP domes from towns to the east and west were not as bad as they often are - transparency was decent.  I threw up the scope, popped in a 10E, and first target was M51.

Wow.

I wasn't even dark adapted, but there it was, big and swirly. Spiral arms obvious with averted vision, as was the bridge.  I returned to it several times over the next hour, and as my eyes adapted, I could see beautiful knotty spiral structure with direct vision with a 17E, with teeny foreground stars sprinkled and superimposed on the arms.  I could have packed up and gone home happy with just that one familiar target that I've visited so many times.

I think I skipped M101 for some reason, had a quick look at the Owl neb, then went down to M64 (nice view of the black eye feature).  I saw IC3483 and Zwicky's Virgo triplet, NGC4568 (Siamese Twins), M99 (Coma Pinwheel, teasing that structure was on the brink of averted visibility, but not giving up its secrets). With the 10E I hit the Needle, NGC4565 - big and impressive, with the dust lane in averted vision.

Then I paid a visit to M87, and on up to Makarians Chain - with the 10E, just panning around :) I more often use a N31T5 here - on one hand stunning to take in all the galaxies in one fov, but very rewarding to get in closer and explore.

Next up was the Mini Sombrero NGC 5746.  A new one for me, a lovely dust lane, well worth a visit.  Then the streak that is the Silver Needle NGC 4244.

I then went to test transparency on M81/82.  First with the 10E on M81: big, hints of sweeping structure.  Panned over to M82 - wow, the size, brightness and mottling with the 10E.  Switched to the 17E and yep, could better see the sweep of the two arms in M81, to the extent of one pointing towards M82, and the other away from it.  I once saw fine leading edges on these from my back garden, but not last night.

My hands were really frozen at this point and I took a last look at the Cats eye, with a 6E - very bright and green blue, central star, but I didn't see the internal structure I've seen before - but I didn't attach my O-III last night.

Very happy I went out: only an hour and a half, not fully dark adapted but saw lots from a local spot that is decent but not very dark.

The views of M51 will stay with me ;)

Edited by niallk
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Great report. I enjoyed M51 last night as well. Looking through someone else's telescope!

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What an excellent session Niall! Wish I had gone out but was too tired, the skies looked excellent and you certainly made the most of them. 

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Lovely report. Niallk.

Sounds like a great night. Congrats.

Thanks for sharing.

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Posted (edited)

Fine skies here again, and also had nice views of M51. Tonight in 10x50 binoculars - for the first time.  Glad you had a good view.

 

andrew

Edited by andrew63
spell
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On 05/05/2019 at 09:28, niallk said:

Last night I popped out around 11pm to my "usual" local spot on the coast.  As I got out of the car i noticed that the house with the session wrecking security light had it switched off, and wow, the sky was looking good ...

... My hands were really frozen at this point ...

Great read Niall, thanks. Although I was out on 3rd May not too far from you, by the time you were out for this one I was on the Rosslare-Pembroke Dock ferry, looking longingly out of the dirty cabin window at a lovely clear night, very jealous.

I'm going to have to develop a strategy for frozen hands, I nearly couldn't pack up they were so weak.

Magnus

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Cool stuff mate ...caught M51 at Elan couple of years ago on a special weekend. The Friday it was fantastic and 101 was just good. The next night M51 was good but M101 was simply the best view of a galaxy I have ever seen. We were picking up mag 15 galaxies with relative ease. The 21E works in a 18/20" and it seems the 17E is perfect for your 15".

Happy hunting. 

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On ‎05‎/‎05‎/‎2019 at 10:28, niallk said:

I could see beautiful knotty spiral structure with direct vision with a 17E, with teeny foreground stars sprinkled and superimposed on the arms. 

Great stuff, nice report

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