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AstroJosh

Trying to locate M81 and M82

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Hello all!

I have spent the past several weeks with my 8" Dob trying to locate these galaxies. Supposedly they are right next to each other and make quite a sight, especially since they will be my first galaxies. I have tried using several sources to locate them, and I know the general area of where they should be, but I still cant find them!! :D

If anybody has any surefire way to find them, it's much appreciated!

P.S. I'm using a 25mm eyepiece if that helps

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Hi

Draw a line from Phecda or Phad (Gamma UMa) to Dubhe (Alpha UMa) and extend it the same distance again. M81 is pretty bright about Magnitude 7, you could probably pick it out in Binos first. The brightest star in the area is 24 UMa which is magnitude 5 ish so if you reach that you've gone too far swing back along the line to Dubhe with a wide field EP and you should spot them.

'Turn left at Orion' mentions a line of 4 faint stars on the Dubhe side so if you can find them M81 and M82 lie between them and 24 UMa.

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Hi,

here is my sketch made with a 25 mm eyepiece to give you an idea of size compared to the fov. Mind they actually look a bit fainter than this.

Rob's directions are spot on. Take the diagonal across the bowl stars of the plough and go the same distance again, about the width of a fist held at arms length.

Hope you find them,

Rik

post-18573-133877440279_thumb.jpg

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If you're not used to seeing galaxies they are pretty faint, especialy if your skies are not very dark (and you need to look when there is no moon). When i started, i would say it took me the best part of 2 hours to find them in my 6" dob (my skies are not dark at all) and I probably scooted right over them a few times. they are hard to find cos they are not near anything. what might help is looking at the sky with your bins first and trying to work out where they are in relation to stars that you can see in bins (although you won't see the galaxies) - use stellarium or something like that - somehow the bigger field of view makes it a bit easier to work out what you are looking at.

good luck :D

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Used the Wixey on Friday to find them with the Dob, a bit fiddly because they were in the Bad-Zone of the Dob (nearly overhead).

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Hiya mate, I had the same problem as you and I'm using a skywatcher 200p, it's all about knowing where to look...I know it sounds daft and you'll think me a bit of a you know what but it took me quite a long time to realise what is left,right up and down in the sky I was looking at compared to the software I was using (stellarium). Also I use a rigel quickfinder to put my scope in the genral area and then 20mm eyepiece and I make short slow sweeping patterns around the area till I find it.Takes a while but get's easier everytime.Also light pollution does play a major part as at sgl5 m81/82 jumped straight out where as back home it's a lot harder to see them in the eyepiece.

More importantly "DONT GIVE UP". I nearly did and would ahve missed out on so many things!

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I have spent the past several weeks with my 8" Dob trying to locate these galaxies.

I had trouble finding them for the first time last year, as far as I remember, I managed it after changed to a higher mag eyepiece, I don't know if that will help you or not.

Supposedly they are right next to each other and make quite a sight,

For me it was worth the hassle finding them, two of my favourite targets ;)

Good luck!

Luke

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Here is the trick. Get a good pair of Binoculars. M81 is an easy target in 7x50s from a decent dark site.

From Dubhe look towards the bear's nose til you find the next bright star (not the nose star itself) pan straight towards the pole star and up for a triangle of stars.

Using the base of the triangle, pan to the west until you find a 24 UMa, about 1 binocular field. With the glass centered on 24 UMa you should be able to see M81 with no trouble. M82 would be in the same field in low power for your scope. I don't remember ever seeing M82 in the binos.

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Galaxies are VERY easily missed unless you have seen one before. Once you have seen one then they tend to jump out at you like a sore thumb. The BEST galaxy to observe firstly is Andromeda.......

This will give you a good idea of what other galaxies will look like while scanning the skies.

Once you locate a galaxy.................you are best observing it with "averted vision". this method will show more detail then if observed directly. It takes time and experience to effectively be able to observe with averted vision.

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I found them for the first time last weekend. I used the plough to signpost the general area of sky(turn left at Orion is brilliant) and then a telrad plus a 32mm eyepiece (37x mag). They just popped into the eyepiece after a few moments. I then tried to find them again to prove it wasn't a fluke and drew a complete blank for the next ten minutes! I've had similar experiences with other DSOs and it makes locating them that much more of a thrill when it happens. A pair of low power bins is also very handy I find.

Alex

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i agree, averted vision is handy especially with smaller mirrors

rich

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Take the 2nd and the 4th stars in the bowl of the plough and make a line between them (a diagonal line in the bowl from the bottom left to the upper right). Then continue this line by approx. 1 1/2 times the distance again and you should end up on the galaxies.

You may find that you will see another galaxy in that area, that galaxy being NCG3077. This region of the sky is very interesting for galaxy fans as it shows all three major galaxy types. M81 being a spiral galaxy like our own Milky Way, M82 is an irregular galaxy and NGC3077 is an elliptical type galaxy.

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this is an interesting thread for me, I was trying to find these over the last 2 nights, but no luck.

I'll try with bino's first then switch to the dob once I know where I am.

RikMcRae's sketch and pvaz's pdf are both really helpful.

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goodo.

just starhop til you get there. it was one one of the frst areas of the sky I trained my dobsonian on and once you get it they look very cool.

you won't see much detail (i.e. the spiral arms from M81 or the jets from M82) but you will be able to clearly determine the size difference and the shape. You will also be likely to see NGC3077, providing the sky is dark enough, you might be able to fit all three in the field of view.....

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Well thanks to the info here, I managed to find the pair of them on Friday night. It was definitely a "knock your socks off" moment when you realise that the faint smudges you see are actually galaxies. :mad:

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I'm really glad I stumbled upon this thread as I've been trying to locate these two galaxies for quite a while. A while back I did think I managed to see them, there was definitely a small grey coloured 'blur' in the centre of the eyepiece but I wouldn't call it a "knock your socks off" moment so now I'm not sure I did see them!

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I wouldnt lose heart, spike87, when I say it was a "knock your socks off" moment, I mean the realisation that it really was M81 & M82 that I was seeing. RikMcRae's sketch was a real big help in letting me know what I would really "see" using my scope as I really wasnt sure I'd notice it if I saw it. I hope to go back and find it again once my new EP's and barlow arrive so I can see them both a little bigger.

I was using my 8" dob with a 25mm EP (so 48x mag) and was just moving around slowly as I was sure I was in about the right spot. Then using averted vision I noticed a small grey patch, I was a little unsure if it was M81 at first but after viewing for 5-10 minutes I moved the scope a bit more and M82 was just outside the original field of view, once I had them both in the same field I was 100% confident it was what I thought it was, thats when I had the "knock your socks off" moment.

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Ahh right, maybe I did see them then! I have read a few times not to expect much more than a fuzzy grey patch.

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If its any consolation, M81/ 82 took me over 2 months to locate! To the extent I was completely overwhelmed when I finally tracked them down & had them in the eyepiece, more so because I'd actually found them for myself, no goto, just starhopping with an EQ mount, not easy.

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I use known stars to get to it.

M81 and M82 usually take me a minute or so to find, along with M101, but M106, M109 and M51 are in the FOV in a few seconds.

All stunning in an 8" dob, bar M109 which is very faint.

Try using these stars and lines:

galaxies.png

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Sorry to join in the tread so late. I managed to find M81 and M82 following the instructions in Star Watch by Harrington. Going from Phecda to Dubhe, you pass an arc of stars, continue for the same distance again till you reach a triangle of stars (with apex towards Dubhe), and the galaxies are to the south east of the triangle of stars. There is another obvious triangle of stars nearby with the apex pointing away from Dubhe, but that's not the one you want.

Alan

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I've just found these 2 using all the information in this thread. How helpful is that? :D

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