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15th April: A fist full of fuzzies.


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With clear transparent skies and no moon in prospect my plan was to try a few of the faint fuzzies from the Messier and Caldwell catalogues with the 8" newt and to do bit of general browsing with the 80mm in between. It was only intended as a short dash to see how many I could do, and then I’ll come back to my favourites another day and take more time. Apologies in advance as this ended up being a longer list than I’d intended and there’s no piccies. 😧

I set up the newt pointing south; my darkest horizon, with the little frac free to wander. I’d planned a bit of a route to make it easier and so by 9.30 the scopes were cooled, and it was dark enough to make a start.

Venus was a lovely if featureless crescent in the binoviewers. It is noticeably larger than last time I viewed it, and the crescent more pronounced. It’s due to get larger and larger over the next few weeks reaching over 50" so well worth checking in on when you can in order to see the change.

Open clusters

M37. One of the open clusters in Auriga and a good place to start my dsos. An appealing cluster with lots of pin sharp stars on a lovely dark background.

M35. Naked eye from here, just. In the scope another cluster beside it - NGC2158 which is apparently the same size but 6x further away.


Galaxies - mostly 

M65 M66 and NGC3628 the Leo trio. Still can’t see how Messier missed NGC3628 as its just as bright to me as M65. 

After that it’s into Virgo and up towards Coma Berenices.

M61. Swelling spiral. Not a spiral for me but does show a hint of something rather than being an oval fuzzy. It's supposed to be one of the most pleasing of the spirals for the amateur telescope but I think I need a darker sky. local lights only go down after midnight here and do make a difference. 

M49. Easy enough to find but pretty uniform to me. As are M58, M59 and M60. Three fuzzy ellipses, not that exciting in my scope.

M84 and M86 Markarian’s chain. Several galaxies in one field of view. All fuzzy patches but several fairly obvious ones besides the Messiers make this a view worth teasing more out of.

M87 Smoking gun. Well, if you say so. O'Meara has it as one of the more massive galaxies known, with a central black hole of 3billion solar masses!

M89 and M90 with 90 being the brighter and seeming to show a little structure maybe? I think that'll deserve more time.

M91 faint, need averted vision to find. M88 faint. M85 faint but also something nearby. Think it’s NGC4394

M53 Nice little globular. Several bright stars nearby including a useful guide pair make it easier to find.

M64 Black eye. Fairly bright elongated galaxy. Not much in same field with it.

M3 Lovely globular. Easy in bins and scope. It’s now 2am and reasonably dark..for here anyway, at 20.5 and starts to resolve with a little patience. Lovely to study with a bigger mirror, but as it gets darker it's getting better.

M63 Sunflower. Bright enough elongated fuzzy. Two faint stars nearby help locate.

M94 Crocs eye. Bright elongated galaxy.

M101 I find it reasonably easily. A definite large faint misty patch with direct vision, slightly better indirect with a hint structure visible?

M51 Whirlpool and NGC5195 easy enough to see together with direct vision but no real structure.

C21 a fairly obviously bright patch.

C32 Whale galaxy. Yes. Decent sized bright elongated.


Globulars and planetaries

With galaxies out of the way it’s onto some easier targets.

M5 Lovely globular. Resolves well with higher mag. It almost has fine wings of stars spreading to either side the more I study it.

M12 M10 and M14. Three more but not quite to the same level, although M10 is good.

M13 and M92 in Hercules. A favourite to begin my wind down as the sky brightens; whilst M92 is lovely too and oddly neglected in favour of its neighbour. Worth more time under darker sky.

M57 ring nebula compact and clear planetary nebula with I’m sure a hint of colour, whilst M27 dumbbell nebula is much larger, grey and has less well-defined boundaries. 

C27 crescent nebula. It’s around 4am now and too light for dsos (sqm 18) so this one is a washout. Therefore over to the rising planets skulking behind the trees.



I started with a planet so only fair to see these to end with.

Jupiter looked lovely with 2 moons to either side. I’d forgotten how much I missed the planets and the image is stable as it climbs higher so seeing is still good and in the little frac with binoviewers I can make out several belts. Good to see again.

Saturn looks serene in the brightening sky, hanging at an angle, but too small in this scope to show much.

Mars is small and wobbly so I'm moving on, but looking forward to autumn when it high and hopefully full of detail.

Moon makes an appearance, low down and deep amber coloured. The crater Aristarchus brightly showing bright rays to one side is the highlight.

I end at around 6.30. There’s been no wind, no frost, no dew and packing up in daylight is so much easier.

Next - breakfast and bed!


Summary and lessons learned.

Plan a schedule and you get more in. I checked out around 50+ objects and even took a few photos on the way but that's really too much. I'm frazzled. 

9 hours still goes quite quickly when you’re engrossed.

My drive motors sound incredibly loud when slewing to the next thing at 2am!

They say an 8inch scope can show you stuff for a lifetime and based on this session that’s true, but I can’t help feel I need a scope at least twice as big to be sure I’ve seen some of the hints of structure. Aperture fever is stoked by this kind of night. Either that or a move to darker skies but a scope is cheaper than a house in the country. 😀

Actually if you've struggled this far you deserve a pic. M13 through the 80mm. A few frames stacked. A starting point even if the colour is a bit off.


M13 80mm crop - Copy.jpg

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An excellent haul ShrewView! Thanks for taking the time to write this up. Just wish I had skies even as dark as yours where I am; NGC3628 basically invisible from here and 65/66 very faint.

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Absolutely superb!  You can put your feet up now for the rest of the year, or at least until autumn. You'd have to spend a lot of money to beat the Astrosystems 8.5" I'd imagine. They used David Hinds mirrors if I remember rightly, and if so, I'd be tempted to keep hold of that one. Shrewsbury - is that near Hawaii? :icon_cyclops_ani:  Great report and a real motivator! Lovely pic too!! :thumbsup:

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3 hours ago, mikeDnight said:

Absolutely superb!  You can put your feet up now for the rest of the year, or at least until autumn. You'd have to spend a lot of money to beat the Astrosystems 8.5" I'd imagine. They used David Hinds mirrors if I remember rightly, and if so, I'd be tempted to keep hold of that one. Shrewsbury - is that near Hawaii? :icon_cyclops_ani:  Great report and a real motivator! Lovely pic too!! :thumbsup:


Yes its a good scope. Had it since the 80s so it feels like family. I think if there were a fire it'd be one of the things I'd rescue first!

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