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A couple of hours, making a messier of it.


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The last time I was out, it would have been the 10th Feb,  I looked for M1 but with no luck.  According to Stelarium later on, I was in the right place, just a little off to the side.  The ocular view in Stelarium informs me that if I can see Tianguan in the top of the FOV, I should have M1 towards mid-left. 

Armed with that knowledge I tried again tonight.  I found the right place very quickly, but the crab nebula was almost invisible.  I just manged to see it with a bit of wishful thinking, averted view, and moving the scope slightly to see if the little fuzzy patch moved as well.  I'll call it 'seen' but I'll admit to being underwhelmed.

The next target was the Leo triplet, which I'd read about on this page.  I looked, and looked and looked.  Nope.  No sign of it.  I drew a little sketch of where I thought I was supposed to be, and what i could see there and then came back inside to check.  Again, I was slightly to one side of target.  back outside, i re-sighted and found the same patch of sky, but devoid of triplets.

The scope is away for the night5, but I've checked again, and one of the objects I could see was the core of M66.  

 

I think the skies are not very clear, white stars on a GREY background, however dark the grey, is not ideal viewing.  I'm not discouraged though.  I'm quite chuffed with how quickly i can find the same obscure bit of sky and recognise the star patterns in it, time after time and from one night to another.  What can't be seen is hardly my fault.  :)

 

BTW  Slightly confused that what I see in Stelarium isn't what i see through the scope, despite having all the parameters set correctly for ocular view.  I see a slightly more magnified image/smaller FOV.  Any idea why?

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It would help us to advise you if we knew what telescope and which eyepiece you were using.

Also how dark is your viewing site , is it in a city or in dark countryside

 

M1 is a very small target , many other Messier targets are easier to see.

 

z  Bortle_Scale.jpg

Edited by fifeskies
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Messier 1 is a tough one, and really suffers from light pollution or poor transparency. Then again, it also depends on your expectations. Most deep-sky objects are just that: dim, fuzzy patches. Stellarium shows a photographic view that doesn't look anything like the view through the eyepiece.

There are some deep-sky objects though that will lift your spirit: try the double cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884), the Orion Nebula (Messier 42), Messier 13, and the 'charioteers' Messier 36, 37 and 38 for example. They are easy to find and bright enough to observe under less-than-optimal conditions. Good luck!

Edited by Waddensky
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I have a Skywatcher 150mm, f=750.  I live midway between  Derby  and Nottingham on line between the two, so my skies are pretty poor I know.  I'd say i was  on Bortle 5 at best.  As a guide, my Star Count for Orion (see CPRE Star Count elsewhere in this section of the forums) was around 15 to 16 last night.

I realise that stelarium gives the very best representation, I learned that fairly quickly with easier targets.  

As I said though, I'm not discouraged by it and I'm learning all the time.  Last year I could only identify Cassie, The Plough and Orion in the sky, I've at least doubled that :).  My Messier finds include  M81, M82, M35, M103, M57 as well as the Double that Weddensky recommended.  I found the Shoe Buckle just bumbleing around.

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You have a reasonable telescope with the 150 / 750 , and Bortle 5 is still better than a lot of the country.

Try M31 as it doesn't seem to be on your list (use a low power eyepiece not high magnification on this one).

The big planets (Jupiter and Saturn) are both poorly placed just now but once they return your scope will give nice views of them. 

 

You would probably benefit from upgrading the stock supplied eyepieces if that is what you are using. They get you started but don't allow the scope to perform to its best capability.

BST Starguiders and Celestron X-Cel are both lower cost but good upgrades and both are common second hand , (on here or other astro site).

You will get much better (wider) field of view and improved contrast which are going to allow you to spot DSO far easier.

For unguided mounts the wider field of view is a big help to find your target. Also consider a Telrad as it is a good match for a scope of this size and can save a lot of time trying to find targets. (Stellarium has a handy Telrad targetting app under oculars).

This will help to get a clear view of the Leo triplet which is well within the capability of your telescope as long as they are not sitting in a bright part of the sky (above a city for example).

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I think the reality is that galaxies beyond a small number of "easy" ones (M31, M81 and M82 and very few others) and many nebulae are actually hard to see objects.

Even the much talked about ones such as the Leo Triplet really do not jump out of the sky at you unless you observe under really dark skies and have some experience of what you are looking for in the eyepiece.

When I'm doing an outreach event, I rather dread being asked to show case a galaxy other than one of the really bright ones because I know, even with my 12 inch scope, that many folks will see either nothing in the eyepiece or something barely distinguishable. Sometimes even my astro society colleagues have struggled to see the target !

While the star charts might list a galaxy at, say magnitude 8, the actual surface brightness, that is the difference between the background sky and the galaxy itself, is often much, much less than that. Any light pollution serves to dim that contrast variation down as well.

Practice will gradually start to deliver more results but these will be in the form of noticing a small patch of sky that is a little brighter than the rest or a sliver of faint light that is visible when you look slightly away from it (averted vision). This is what most galaxy observing in moderate aperture scopes under the sort of skies that many of us observe under, is about.

Much of the excitement about galaxy observing is the realisation that the barely detectable smudge that you can just about make out but you are not 100% sure you can even see, is actually the combined light of stars thousands or hundreds of thousands of light years away.

 

 

Edited by John
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Conditions on the night are going to make a big difference, I think.  I've seen M1, and I know where it is, but last time I looked, I couldn't see it (and I'm in Bortle 4).  There was a lot of thin cloud around and everything was very hazy and bright.

I would have thought you'd be able to see open clusters ok, like M44 (beehive) - assuming that you can find Cancer, which I have trouble seeing unless it's dark.  Double cluster in Perseus is nice.....plus then there are lots of nice double/multiple stars to find.

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My list wasn't inclusive, but yes, i have seen M31.

I didn't get any 'stock' eyepieces as it was a second ( third? ) hand scope, which i bought for £60 (this fact is a continuing joy to me).  It did come with a poor 10mm to which I added a poor 4mm (it's okay for the moon) and a reasonable 20mm Plossl.  I would like to get something better, a decent 25mm would seem a good choice.

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26 minutes ago, Capt Slog said:

My list wasn't inclusive, but yes, i have seen M31.

I didn't get any 'stock' eyepieces as it was a second ( third? ) hand scope, which i bought for £60 (this fact is a continuing joy to me).  It did come with a poor 10mm to which I added a poor 4mm (it's okay for the moon) and a reasonable 20mm Plossl.  I would like to get something better, a decent 25mm would seem a good choice.

Someone that I know who has the same scope bought a Vixen NPL 30mm (a plossl design) and really likes it as a low power eyepiece. The trick is to find one in stock !:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/vixen-eyepieces/vixen-npl-eyepieces.html

Though they do cost more, a wider angle eyepiece such as the Explore Scientific 24mm 68 degree is great under moderately light polluted skies because the higher magnification that it delivers gives a darker background sky so faint targets stand out a little more.

 

 

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24 minutes ago, Capt Slog said:

a decent 25mm would seem a good choice.

My first decent scope was the 200 version of your 150 , My very first upgrade eyepiece was an X-Cel 25mm. (2nd hand on Facebook)

It was a chalk and cheese moment , the stock 20mm I got with the scope was the better of the 2 supplied but the difference with the X-Cel 25mm was a "Wow" moment.

First thing I saw in it was the Pleiades, and it was so much clearer and with so many more stars that I had seen in the cluster before, and of course a much wider view of the sky.

 

I am sure the BST 25mm would be just as good a choice (tho not used one).

It is the eyepiece you will always use first to find where you are , even if you need to swap to higher power once on target.

 

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Don't underestimate the effect of atmospheric extinction especially in light polluted skies. You should try to discover in which direction you have darkest sky and look for galaxies there. South will be best of course.

To illustrate I was looking at Vesta in Leo last night around 10 pm. Right now it is at magnitude 6. I saw it in 20x80 binoculars and I could see the mag 6 stars around it, but not much else. The bins should be able show me stars up to mag 10 and even the Leo triplet which was nearby but I didn't  see even a hint of it. Had I waited until midnight when the Leo triplet passes the meridian my chances would have been much better. 

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2 hours ago, Nik271 said:

Don't underestimate the effect of atmospheric extinction especially in light polluted skies. You should try to discover in which direction you have darkest sky and look for galaxies there. South will be best of course.

To illustrate I was looking at Vesta in Leo last night around 10 pm. Right now it is at magnitude 6. I saw it in 20x80 binoculars and I could see the mag 6 stars around it, but not much else. The bins should be able show me stars up to mag 10 and even the Leo triplet which was nearby but I didn't  see even a hint of it. Had I waited until midnight when the Leo triplet passes the meridian my chances would have been much better. 

Cheers for that, it's not something I immediately consider when looking, I'm more concerned with the time I can get out rather than the time I should.

Thnaks for the other replies, too.   Food for thought and it's also nice to know that I'm not doing it wrong.  :)

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