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Hello I wondering if any one can help me please , I recently brought a skywatcher discovery 150p and using a gps mouse , I've done all the alignments correctly with the 2 stars . The problem im having is I can't see the galaxies ,the telescope goes to the correct position and ive scanned the area moving the mount and used both eyepiece 10mm and 23mm but nothing . Any advice or tips would be welcome please 

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This is a really good thread packed with great advice.  I got my 5in Mak six months ago - not the ideal galaxy hunter’s scope - and have been on the same journey with regard to galactic frustration,

... not alone, I think there's a badge and T-shirt for that one now.   Could be an excuse to wheel out this one again:    

Hi and welcome to SGL. You now have about 4h of astronomical night (based on your location in Luton), so start observing around midnight (at least after 11pm). In fact - don't try to observe

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The skies are getting too light now to really see any galaxies well. I can just about see M65 & M66 in my C8 or 10inch newtonian. M31 should be doable soon, but not in a good position to view until June/July onwards really. Try for some globulars instead like M13 or M92. They should be easy to see even with the lighter skies.

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It also depends what galaxies you are looking for as well, try for some of the bigger and brighter ones first so you get a feel for what you will see. Its nothing like the pictures you will see on the internet, mostly just grey smudges for the most part.

Also make sure that your vision is fully dark adapted as much as possible try to avoid any bright light shining on where you have set up the scope. I also find that using "averted vision" -where you look slightly away from your target and see it out of the corner of your eye really helps pick out details as well.

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Unfortunately most galaxies are fairly dim objects.  Even mighty Andromeda (M31) is little more than a central blur from an urban or suburban location.  All the usual advice applies, dark adaptation, not using phone, tablet or laptop screens so as to preserve night vision, use averted vision, scan the area, don't hold your breath, I have even resorted to 'black towel over the head' to help cut out street light pollution on occasions

If you can get to a dark sky site, the situation gets better.  Unfortunately, we are just about to loose astro darkness (which does make a difference) but before we do, and if you haven't already, try M81 and M82.  They are almost overhead now as Astronomical darkness falls and are reasonably small and bright.

What galaxies were you trying for?

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Hi and welcome to SGL.

You now have about 4h of astronomical night (based on your location in Luton), so start observing around midnight (at least after 11pm).

In fact - don't try to observe galaxies from Luton. Check out this map:

https://www.lightpollutionmap.info/#zoom=8.56&lat=51.8323&lon=-0.4015&layers=B0FFFFFFTFFFFFFFFFF

If you can - go to at least yellow or possibly green area in order to observe galaxies.

Other than that, to give you best shot at observing galaxies, here are few rules to follow:

- shield yourself from any light sources (street lights, house lights, etc ...)

- wait at least 20minutes to half an hour in complete darkness - don't look at your phone or any source of the light - get dark adapted

- try to observe when the sky is transparent enough (no haze or thin high altitude clouds)

- observe targets that are highest in the sky. Get free planetarium software like Stellarium and examine what galaxies will be high in the sky - towards zenith in your observing time. Try to observe those.

- limit your first attempts to bright galaxies only (brighter Ms)

- mentally prepare yourself that you won't see anything like galaxy image you can find online. These are done with long exposure astrophotography and visually galaxies don't look anything like that.

See this video (and pay attention to light pollution zone displayed in bottom left corner. you are in white zone in Luton - that is worse than red zone):

 

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Trying to view galaxies from a large town like Luton will be largely futile. At best you will see the bright cores of a few of the brightest galaxies.

From an urban site, I have had better results with electronically assisted astronomy.   With a 102mm f5 refractor, a ASI224MC camera and  a GoTo mount, and live stacking, I have been able to see parts of the shape and structure of galaxies down to magnitude 11.  I have been going through my astro club's oberving list and been able to detect every one of the galaxies on it, as though I was using a larger visual telescope at a dark skies site.   

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Welcome to SGL. Some excellent advice already given....

One thing that I don’t see mentioned above, and this may or may not help.  Are you sure your scope is accurately focused?  If you don’t have precise focus then the dim grey smudge will be invisible.  Focusing on a fuzzy patch is futile, best to focus on stars.   If when you think your scope is pointing to the correct place on the sky and no stars can be seen, offset to one side or another until some stars can be seen, focus on those, then slew back to where you hope to see a galaxy.

In decent conditions a 150mm scope will show many galaxies.

Good luck, Ed.

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7 hours ago, almcl said:

scan the area

I've found this to be a real help - set the slew speed to 1 or 2 and pan back and forth.  I've seen galaxies this way that I just couldn't see in a static view.

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59 minutes ago, Zermelo said:

I've found this to be a real help - set the slew speed to 1 or 2 and pan back and forth.  I've seen galaxies this way that I just couldn't see in a static view.

Bit like a longer powered version of tapping the scope to bring vibration, so the faint object becomes apparent. I maybe entirely wrong of course, feel free to say so if I have it wrong (quite probable).

Marv

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33 minutes ago, Marvin Jenkins said:

Bit like a longer powered version of tapping the scope to bring vibration, so the faint object becomes apparent. I maybe entirely wrong of course, feel free to say so if I have it wrong (quite probable).

Marv

No, I think that's right - the principle for both is that the eye is slightly more sensitive to moving images than static ones - I believe it's not actually the eye's "hardware" that's responsible, it's more that the brain's "firmware" has evolved to react to "edges" crossing the visual field.
I have tried tapping the tube too, but I don't find it to be as successful as others clearly do.

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29 minutes ago, Zermelo said:

No, I think that's right - the principle for both is that the eye is slightly more sensitive to moving images than static ones - I believe it's not actually the eye's "hardware" that's responsible, it's more that the brain's "firmware" has evolved to react to "edges" crossing the visual field.
I have tried tapping the tube too, but I don't find it to be as successful as others clearly do.

Strikes me as a perfectly reasonable evolutionary adaptation ... not percieving a rock in low light may lead to a stubbed toe, but not seeing some slavering predator silently stalking you would have meant not getting any further chances t pass your genes on !

Heather

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, Tiny Clanger said:

Strikes me as a perfectly reasonable evolutionary adaptation ... not percieving a rock in low light may lead to a stubbed toe, but not seeing some slavering predator silently stalking you would have meant not getting any further chances t pass your genes on !

Heather

Ah Heather, you're obviously not old enough to remember these rather more aggressive rocks ...

https://televisionheaven.co.uk/reviews/escape-into-night

The stones came to life

 

 

 

Edited by Zermelo
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Tapping the scope is definitely a confirmed procedure when dim objects are marginally seen.  

A well documented alternative to tapping the scope comes from renowned visual observer Stephen James O’Meara.  When observing from a remote volcanic Pacific island, earth tremors had the same effect as tapping the scope...!

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15 minutes ago, Zermelo said:

Ah Heather, you're obviously not old enough to remember these rather more aggressive rocks ...

https://televisionheaven.co.uk/reviews/escape-into-night

proxy-image?piurl=https%3A%2F%2Fmoseleians.co.uk%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2019%2F05%2Fimages-1.jpg&sp=1619984047T8930f9e3cb366c328a4d569c95c7e4337b6897ff41cc3e7f8bce4c5767792952

 

 

Scary rocks at Barr Beacon ? :evil4: That was probably on way past my bedtime.

The only rocks I find worrying are either ones dislodged from slopes above me by idiots, or above my head in caves ...

Heather

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Could you shed some light on which galaxies you were trying to view? Some are more difficult to see than others. My suggestion is to try M51, M81 & M82 and maybe the Leo Trio.

FWIW, I live in the countryside with very little to no light pollution. Most of the times I point my 200p in the region of a galaxy they pop into view. However, if the moon is out I can almost completely forget about looking at galaxies. You're best galaxy viewing should be when the moon is below the horizon.

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I have very similar gear to you - skywatcher 150p with 10mm and 28mm eyepieces. I don't have a computerised goto, so rely on star hopping to find my targets. I live in a semirural village (bortle 4) but even here I struggle with being certain of identification.

I do a mix of visual and astrophotography so I have set my 28mm eyepiece up with something called a parfocal ring so I can use the eyepiece to find things and then if needed/desired I can swap to the camera.

I use the Stellarium app on my phone sometimes to confirm star hops. To help keep my dark adaption I set my phone up to use an app called twilight that can dim the screen really well no matter what I'm looking at. I also use Turn Left At Orion (a great book) reading by a red light headtorch. But getting really well dark adapted is key.

Given all that I thought it might help you if share a few of my experiences with galaxies. 

The other night I was looking for the Leo triplet - I was fairly certain I was in the right place and I could see 2 barely visible smudges that I felt were M65 and M66. I just wasn't convinced I was really seeing them though. So I checked against Stellarium app and it did look like the right stars in the right places. But the real clincher was a satellite that happened to pass through the field of view and that Stellarium confirmed!

Again, I went hunting the whirlpool galaxy in the big dipper.  I tried 3 times over different nights and finally on 3rd night felt I must be in the right place but could barely see more than a hint of something. I had to swap my eyepiece for my dslr to take a photo of M101 before I was sure I'd seen it - that one looked like nothing more than dark grey smoke on a black background! Not until I had 20s of exposure with the camera did I see an image showing a faint but wide spiral.

I've still failed to see triangulum galaxy even though I've tried 4 or 5 times - even successfully taken a few images without seeing anything in the eyepiece. 

In summary I'd say (1) galaxies seem to be the most challenging visual objects to find (2) more compact ones are much easier than wider ones and (3) I've yet to see any detail in any of the ones I've seen.

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, KevinPSJ said:

I've still failed to see triangulum galaxy even though I've tried 4 or 5 times

... not alone, I think there's a badge and T-shirt for that one now.

 

11 minutes ago, KevinPSJ said:

In summary I'd say (1) galaxies seem to be the most challenging visual objects to find (2) more compact ones are much easier than wider ones and (3) I've yet to see any detail in any of the ones I've seen.

Could be an excuse to wheel out this one again:

 

image.png.bb88c02c572adb91ea258043b75969b8.png

 

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1 hour ago, KevinPSJ said:

I have very similar gear to you - skywatcher 150p with 10mm and 28mm eyepieces. I don't have a computerised goto, so rely on star hopping to find my targets. I live in a semirural village (bortle 4) but even here I struggle with being certain of identification.

I do a mix of visual and astrophotography so I have set my 28mm eyepiece up with something called a parfocal ring so I can use the eyepiece to find things and then if needed/desired I can swap to the camera.

I use the Stellarium app on my phone sometimes to confirm star hops. To help keep my dark adaption I set my phone up to use an app called twilight that can dim the screen really well no matter what I'm looking at. I also use Turn Left At Orion (a great book) reading by a red light headtorch. But getting really well dark adapted is key.

Given all that I thought it might help you if share a few of my experiences with galaxies. 

The other night I was looking for the Leo triplet - I was fairly certain I was in the right place and I could see 2 barely visible smudges that I felt were M65 and M66. I just wasn't convinced I was really seeing them though. So I checked against Stellarium app and it did look like the right stars in the right places. But the real clincher was a satellite that happened to pass through the field of view and that Stellarium confirmed!

Again, I went hunting the whirlpool galaxy in the big dipper.  I tried 3 times over different nights and finally on 3rd night felt I must be in the right place but could barely see more than a hint of something. I had to swap my eyepiece for my dslr to take a photo of M101 before I was sure I'd seen it - that one looked like nothing more than dark grey smoke on a black background! Not until I had 20s of exposure with the camera did I see an image showing a faint but wide spiral.

I've still failed to see triangulum galaxy even though I've tried 4 or 5 times - even successfully taken a few images without seeing anything in the eyepiece. 

In summary I'd say (1) galaxies seem to be the most challenging visual objects to find (2) more compact ones are much easier than wider ones and (3) I've yet to see any detail in any of the ones I've seen.

 

 

 

yep - see @Zermelo's post above. M101 is hard to see unless you have very dark skies. M33 (Triangulum) is very very hard IMHO. Harder than M101, despite what the chart says.

M81 and M82 are relatively easy to find by star-hopping, and bright, too. M94 has a very bright core, and is easy to find due to its brightness. 

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Love that chart from @Zermelo. I think combining that with the star hopping instructions from Turn Left at Orion will be a great combination to get me started.

Can't believe I managed M101 then. But it really was nothing more than a thin mist! And I think that gives me more appreciation for the Bortle 4 sky I have - but makes me itch to get to even darker skies when possible :)

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I too love the messier table from @Zermelo.  I've used a similar one, but this has the summer/winter so even more useful.

 

I've just converted it to a more print friendly version...

152395324_3messierperiodictable.jpg.6c5e72dfccbdacdf7c7acd9d3c1080b9.jpg

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Those charts are useful but we also need something similar for NGC objects. Many NGC's don't have Messier classifications but are brighter and better objects for small scopes / novice observers than some of the Messiers :icon_biggrin:

The Caldwell Catalogue is helpful in this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caldwell_catalogue

 

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I'm not much of an observer, but M33 is fairly easy in my 10x50 bins, would be edging naked eye if my eyes were 40-50 years younger. M13 is borderline naked eye for me, depending on sky clarity and altitude. I have seen M65 / 66 looking like a pair of headlights in my 180 Mak-Cass before now.

According to CO my location is dark end of Bortle 4, SQI 21.66.

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1 hour ago, John said:

Those charts are useful but we also need something similar for NGC objects. Many NGC's don't have Messier classifications but are brighter and better objects for small scopes / novice observers than some of the Messiers :icon_biggrin:

The Caldwell Catalogue is helpful in this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caldwell_catalogue

 

That would be useful, I've not seen one.

 

2 hours ago, KevinPSJ said:

Love that chart from @Zermelo.

The rationale for the table is from Tony Flanders, I'm not sure if he also did the graphic himself; there are others about. I just copied it from a previous post.

Of course, in a single snapshot like that you have to average out the effects of aperture, sky darkness, etc.  On his website, Tony gives four ratings for each object, based on different viewing conditions. And of course, there's always going to be a good chunk of subjectivity involved in any such list. He discusses different difficulty assessments in this thread.  On M33 in particular, he says that it's "tough to see even through a big scope from the center of a city, but it's instantly obvious in 7x35 binoculars at a dark site."

 

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Posted (edited)

This is a really good thread packed with great advice. 
I got my 5in Mak six months ago - not the ideal galaxy hunter’s scope - and have been on the same journey with regard to galactic frustration, in my case from a Bortle 5 suburban sky, but am finally making some progress...


Everything said above about the moon, light pollution, dark adaptation and sky conditions is spot on.  

I’d definitely go for M81/82 first - they are a bit brighter, and up high so avoid a bit of atmospheric murk + a genuinely awesome (and the word is overused but wholly applicable here) view with a great orientation to one another & bit of contrasting shape between them. 

I’ve found the GoTo (AZ GTi) less useful for finding galaxies than for other targets, better to use the GoTo to land on a nearby notable star or asterism and navigate from there - I have a Telrad, 9x50 finder and use my widest, most crisp eyepiece to hop by overlapping fields of view from a known object to where the galaxy should be. I’d say my success rate on first time of looking for an object is now up to about one in three - I expect to not find more than I find on any given evening. It’s a game of persistence! 

I had, for example, tried four or five times for the Leo Trio as they have been well positioned in the sky and navigation is theoretically easy from bright Chertan & down, but no joy. 
It was in the end some drifting high cloud that confirmed that one of the misty patches I’d been half-seeing stayed in place & didn’t move away with the mist was not my imagination but in fact M66, M65 was then right where I expected it to be. The “hamburger” galaxy then sort of materialised in the top of the view and disappeared if I looked straight at it. 

With M81/2 and (finally!) M51 I didn’t get anywhere at all until sorting out a comfy position and tripod height to view overhead - for a good long tim. I’ve found that it takes some time to locate and then see the galaxies in the field of view where at first glance there appears to be nothing so get comfy & take (dark) breaks. 

 The real breakthrough for me was realising just how dim these things look in the eyepiece - you are looking for some very subtle objects and averted vision and slight field movement help a lot. The few galaxies I’ve found so far have taken careful planning, patience, time at the eyepiece and great dark conditions to find first time round  but once you know where they are and the star field they sit in (I take rough sketches to help with memory and confirm later in Stellarium/ Cambridge Atlas - a couple attached below) they are easier next time (although the Hamburger only pops into view for me on the very clearest of nights). 

As much as anything it’s training your eye and brain to pick up weak signals. Once you’ve looked at a few you’ll get quicker at spotting them in the eyepiece or getting a sense of that smudge in the finder being worth a proper look. 

Your scope is a bit bigger aperture than mine so with the right conditions should reveal a good number of galaxies & maybe a bit more structure. 
 

The thrill of finding them is worth the effort, it’s not what you’re  seeingbut what you are seeing that makes the hunt worthwhile.  Picking up light that has spent millions of years travelling vast  distances through space to end up getting perceived by me, and seeing sometimes multiple “island universes” in a single view is a mind-blowing thing, stick at it (I am hooked!). 
 

Clear (dark) skies! 

 

 

C3BAA984-4690-4534-885D-D79C856CB959.jpeg

10D2B829-5189-4F17-82BB-2B53045F612D.jpeg

Edited by SuburbanMak
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