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Jarvo

Galaxies in a Bortle 8 area

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It was so nice yesterday I had to go out in the evening. 

Spring time galaxy hunting has always been a bit of a damp squib where I live in Leeds. The light pollution and modest equipment has always rendered the evenings a bit muted. 

But without the planets about I decided to have another go. 

With expectations lowered I set off and headed towards Leo. What I did find surprising was how easily I managed to find objects. Previously trying to find faint galaxies with an F/15 Mak was pretty fruitless but with the Esprit 100 at F/5.5 the faint smudges were much easier to find. 
 

M65 and M66 were there. That’s pretty much it. No structure visible but thats a combination of modest kit and light pollution but also the observers experience of picking out detail which comes with practice.
 

Stayed for a while using a variety of magnifications but increased magnification did not make much difference. 
 

At this point it sounds like I should have been disappointed but far from it. 
 

Moving on I noticed that Virgo was up and confidently decided to look for a personal favourite M104 (The Sombrero Galaxy). 
 

Took a couple of goes but that was my fault. The galaxy has 3 small stars in a line in the same field of view which helps. 
 

Again I couldn’t discern any detail,  just a very faint glow against the light polluted backdrop. I was hoping to get a glimpse of the dust band but had to settle for the satisfaction of finding a favourite from the books plus I know where to look if I want to attempt to take an image. 
 

Finally I skipped over to M51. Easily located.  The centers of both galaxies visible but no spiral structure.

By this time it was getting late so decided to pack up.

This write up read like I was perhaps disappointed with the evening but in reality I wasn’t. I was happy to be out in the fresh air, I tracked and found the objects with relative ease and I managed to find one of my favourites in M104 (although I could have looked over my shoulder at the poster of it I have in the observatory for a better view!).

This afternoon thanks to this site I found a very handy application called Clear Outside it turns out my back garden is Bortle 8  (out of 9) and that doesn’t include the street light to the South.

So I take solace from the fact I can still find some faint galaxies from my back yard against the backdrop of heavily light polluted skies and I regards myself as a novice galaxy hunter. 
 

Thanks for looking.

 

Steve

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Galaxy (smudge) hunting is pretty useless from here in Belfast too.  But you are right, it dosn't really matter.  The satisfaction is with just locating that faint smudge from an urban area under very poor seeing.  

All the best. 

Ciaran. 

Have just added M104 to my list. DSO Planner gives 7.9 mag so doable from home. Cheers. 

Edited by Ciaran Meier
Update.
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On 23/03/2020 at 17:03, Ciaran Meier said:

Galaxy (smudge) hunting is pretty useless from here in Belfast too.  But you are right, it dosn't really matter.  The satisfaction is with just locating that faint smudge from an urban area under very poor seeing

Totally agree, I’m under Bortle 6, according to Clear Outside but I suspect it may be higher so I never expect to see any detail in galaxies, the aim is just to find them and see something even if it’s so faint you need to use averted vision. I’ve been out the last 4 nights under clear skies and not seen a single spiral arm!! But with my 8 inch reflector I’ve been patrolling Leo and identified plenty of smudges to tick off the Messier and NGC lists.....Great fun!!!

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My typical sky is Bortle 5 but I seem to do OK on actually finding galaxies. Seeing details in them, spiral arms etc is another matter though. That is limited here except on a really good night.

Still, I'm lucky that I can have a good galaxy hunting night from my patio. Many folks have to take their scope somewhere dark to do that.

 

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I have mixed results quite often based on the transparency. Last night was pretty good but, like you John, no detail. I did have a fantastic view of M94 though, it was really bright and jumped right out. M94 is a lovely target for galaxy hunters, almost appearing as a globular cluster with its bright core

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1 hour ago, John said:

My typical sky is Bortle 5 but I seem to do OK on actually finding galaxies. Seeing details in them, spiral arms etc is another matter though. That is limited here except on a really good night.

Still, I'm lucky that I can have a good galaxy hunting night from my patio. Many folks have to take their scope somewhere dark to do that.

 

Big difference between Bortle 5 and Bortle 7 or 8 John as I’m sure you know. Even in a decent sized scope, galaxies are very tricky from my skies which are 7, and 8 would be trickier still. I tend to focus on globular and open clusters from here for that reason.

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1 hour ago, Jiggy 67 said:

I have mixed results quite often based on the transparency. Last night was pretty good but, like you John, no detail. I did have a fantastic view of M94 though, it was really bright and jumped right out. M94 is a lovely target for galaxy hunters, almost appearing as a globular cluster with its bright core

its funny you should say that, last night i grabbed m94 in the little st80 after I noticed it on my star map and the notes I take at the eyepiece I marked it as a Glob😁

it wasnt untill I came indoors and noticed it was a galaxy which confused me and made me wonder if I was looking at something completly different.....

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1 minute ago, Stu said:

Big difference between Bortle 5 and Bortle 7 or 8 John as I’m sure you know. Even in a decent sized scope, galaxies are very tricky from my skies which are 7, and 8 would be trickier still. I tend to focus on globular and open clusters from here for that reason.

I have occasionally done outreach under bortle 7-8 skies. It is hard work showing folks galaxies I agree, even the bright ones (galaxies, not folks).

 

 

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Posted (edited)
36 minutes ago, mark81 said:

its funny you should say that, last night i grabbed m94 in the little st80 after I noticed it on my star map and the notes I take at the eyepiece I marked it as a Glob😁

it wasnt untill I came indoors and noticed it was a galaxy which confused me and made me wonder if I was looking at something completly different.....

Impressed you saw it a small scope......and that you found it using nothing more than a star map!!......It is indeed, very glob like

Edited by Jiggy 67
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Not a bad result for Bortle 8. The light pollution here seems to have gotten worse here in the last twelve months. Not helped by cutting my two lylandii down. I'm kicking myself now. Should've left one up to at least partially block out an LED street light.

DSO hunting has been pretty fruitless and frustrating this week, both with an ST120 and 8" dob.

The first night out this week M81 & M82 where great through the ST120. Second night M3 and M53 smudges and no luck observing any other DSO. Third night using the Dob, no luck again, although M3 and M5 almost filled a 15mm BST eyepiece, they were still just smudges. 

It's frustrating when you just know the scope is pointing right at an object, but there's not even a glimmer of light coming from it. It seems anything over mag 7 is a waste of time even trying.

 

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Great results given the circumstances, congratulations! Seeing detail in galaxies requires excellent conditions, but just the idea that these photons travelled such incredible distances makes detecting even the faintest smudge a wonderful experience, in my opinion.

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