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lenscap

M81 from Bortle 8 skies in Moonlight ???

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In the couple of years that I've had my 200p (which is on an old, originally manual,  EQ3-2 ) I've searched for galaxies from time to time , without success. (apart from the core of M31).

Maybe my Bortle 8 skies are just too bright, but a recent thread about hunting galaxies in light-polluted skies has prompted me to have another try.

My usual observing spot, the patio, would be brightly moonlit - no good. So I set up on the lawn where I would be shaded from the Moon by a big Sycamore, now in full leaf. I regularly curse this tree when my targets slip behind it, but tonight it would help with dark adaptation & prevent reflections.

Went outside at 11pm (not yet astro-dark) and did a very rough polar alignment, just putting the mount more or less level with the North leg pointed in the direction of Polaris. Onstep offered me a choice of 10 alignment stars. I could only see 2 of them between the trees, but 2 is enough. I aligned on Arcturus & Izar,  opened Skysafari 6 and did a Goto to Dubhe in UMajor, centered & synched.

Here goes;   click on M81/Goto.

There were no dim fuzzies visible in the Finder but the star pattern matched Skysafari, so I'm in the right place.

Looked in the 32mm Plossl (x31). There's a small faint fuzzy blob near the centre of the field! It's definitely not a star! Checked & double-checked the eyepiece star-field against Skysafari.

It's M81 !

I increased the power. A 10mm Plossl (x100) seemed to hit the sweet spot. It darkened the sky. I could see a brighter core surrounded by a fainter " halo ". It wasn't circular, more oblong.  This must be the elliptical part of the galaxy. I couldn't see the spiral arms. Higher powers made the image too faint & shapeless.

So I've bagged M81, a Galaxy, 12 million LY away, in unsuitable conditions from a Bortle 8 site. A Result ! :hello2:

Can't wait for a moonless night to try and spot the spiral arms of M81 & maybe glimpse it's companion M82.

 

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It's always a great feeling grabbing an object you've tried hard to see...

Winter skies, no moon ... Who knows what might pop up

Well done 😀

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Congratulations! Excellent achievement under challenging conditions. If you ever get the chance to try your scope from dark skies you’ll be blown away!

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Congratulations on bagging M81. I've seen galaxy cores and sometimes can get the shape/elongation from light polluted home (where I can see mag 4.5 stars naked eye)  but seeing any structure in my case  requires going somewhere darker.

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On ‎15‎/‎05‎/‎2019 at 17:11, lenscap said:

So I've bagged M81, a Galaxy, 12 million LY away, in unsuitable conditions from a Bortle 8 site. A Result ! :hello2:

Can't wait for a moonless night to try and spot the spiral arms of M81 & maybe glimpse it's companion M82.

Nice one!

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