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Help a newbie find a galaxy!

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Hi all

been having a bit of success with the planets last night: saw the ice cap on Mars for the first time, and had some cracking views of Saturn and the rings. Stunning. I set myself a few targets last night and one was to view a galaxy. I chose NGC 2903 as it's meant to be quite bright. Could I find anything vaguely bright? Nope. Spent about 90 mins at the EP with no luck. It just looked like an empty patch of space. I'm now a bit worried that my location and the LP here are going to knock galaxy viewing on the head. Can smeone tell me if I'm out of luck?

A few details: I have a Skywatcher 130P 650mm focal length plus various EPs from 4mm up to 25mm and a x2 Barlow. I view from my back garden in SE London and while it's not rural darkness, there are no direct lights shining in. Generally I was using goto function of the scope with a 15mm EP plus Barlow and then hoping to spot something then increase the mag.

Any ideas?

One final thing, after viewing for about 2.5 hours I went. In to warm up aiming to come back out at 2am for more of Saturn. I'd gently place the scope's lens cap on the end of the scope and placed a cap over the EP but I found everything to be covered with a thin layer of ice. Is there any way I can stop this happening?

Sorry for all the questions!


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I can almost be certain that from London with 130mm of aperture you will never see Ngc 2903. I cannot even see it from Nottingham with 16" of aperture.

With your scope you should see the following galaxies from London they are M31, M81, M82, M51 and maybe Ngc7331.

It's best to stick to open clusters, globular clusters and the larger nebulas.

Edited by Doc

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Light pollution is indead the greatest enemy for galaxys. You should stick with the ones in the Messier catalog.

Another very important thing is to always use the lowest power. Even the brightest galaxies are faint. They show as a cloud of light, brighter in the center and they get fainter towards the edges till they disappear into the dark sky. Using high mags on them haves several problems:

1) When you zoom in you loose the dark sky around and without that contrast they are very hard to spot.

2) When you use high mags you dim the image, as they are already faint this will only make it harder.

3) There is no benefit in enlarging this objects as it's nearly impossible to see structure in them, thus the extra mag won't show more detail, it will only make them larger.

So stick with the 25mm, then if they show bright enough you may use the 10mm as it's only 65x on your scope. The barlow is better left alone as it adds even more glass and will dim them further.

Take a look to this great sketch album so you can have a realistic idea of what galaxies look like through a telescope:

Stargazers Lounge - Talitha's Album: Deep Sky Sketches

As you'll see it's very different from what a camera can show.

Edited by pvaz

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Yea, M31 is your best bet for viewing from urban locations - but thats about it :evil6:

Good LP map link above too... im in a magenta/white zone @ the moment - but will be moving to a yellow zone in 3 weeks (with a dark blue zone only 20min drive away!!) :eek: cant wait!!!

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Hey stu i am also from Bromley near you with the exact same scope, I will let you know what I am able to find and then recommend you any decent objects with our 130p, i'm a newbie too like you only been doing this a few weeks, not even got to grips with it all myself yet but im enjoying learning and patients is the key and it will be rewarding. This is a hobby for a lifetime if you want it to be, every night is different if you cant see something 1 night when its clear doesnt mean you wont be able to on another night.

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