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Keiran

M51 My First Galaxy

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Hello everybody,

I am working lates, finishing at 1 this morning, I rushed home and got the scope out.

I spent about 2 hours, and finally found my first ever galaxy on my own, using stellarium.

Now, I have a feeling of happiness and disappointment all at the same time.

Did I actually see M51, its just that when I look at the picture on the internet of M51 it looks so bright and you can really see what it looks like.

I know that I do live in a high light polution area, but it just looked like a long blur with two dots, one at either end.

Is this M51, will it ever look like it does through a camera?

Please help me I'm confussed.

Thankyou Keiran.

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M51 is very well positioned at the moment, I spent about 30 minutes observing it last night and very nice it is too. Not sure what magnification you were using but with your 8" newtonian you should get good views. If you saw two blobs, for want of a better word, next to each other one large with spiral structure and the other small with no structure just a bright core, then you saw M51.

I have little light pollution and at x150 can clearly see the spiral structure and the bright cores of the galaxy system.

Views with your eyes will never look like what the camera can see. What you are looking at is some thing like 31 million light years away, we are lucky we can see it at all. When observing galaxys I use as high a power as conditions allow and spend atleast 10 minutes just staring at it to tease out more detail. Get yourself to a dark site and see what a difference it makes.

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I find that pictures are misleading, galaxies are dim 'fuzzies' in most amature scopes

just use your averted vision and see if it brings out any more detail

as for the colour this will only be brought out in long exposure photographs

rich

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Thanks to the both of you, as I say I live in a city, so even when conditions are good, like last night, they are never GOOD.

The only problem with finding a dark spot is I finish work so late, it would take to long, so I guess I will have to put up with it until I have a Sunday with good conditions.

I am almost sure it was M51, when i was shown a galaxy, not sure which one, at SGL5, it still just looked like somebody smudged the sky abit.

I did try my neximage on it buy could not see a thing, there was nothing close enough that was bright enough to focus on. and as for my DSLR, AHHHH.

I am not happy with, you look through the EP and at the bottom there is a read out, in Bright Green.

I suppose time and Experience will help in this area though. I cant wait till I get GOTO then I know exactly what I am looking at.

What is the best polution filter for high light polution? Will it affect my my views of galaxies, with bad results?

Thanks all once again.

Keiran

Edited by Keiran

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I understand your disappointment. You will not see colours and you will not see fine detail in galaxies, just the overall shape and some measure of how concentrated the light is in the core. Only very dark skies can help with the galaxies. The nebulae are slightly different as they emit strongly in certain wavelengths so filters can help something like the Lumicon UHC, Deep Sky or OIII filters.

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I can almost say for certain you saw M51, your description is spot on. Even in a 16" scope under light polluted skies you see mainly fuzzy blobs, in the large galaxies you can see some dust lanes and maybe a mottled core but mainly smudges.

You mention a go-to scope, well if you do go this route and decrease your aperture for the sake of go-to, you will be pointing in the correct area but you will be unable to see anything.

8" of aperture is large enough to see most objects, any smaller and you will start struggling under light polluted skies.

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Sorry DOC, I think that you miss understood my goto part, im getting an upgrade on my EQ5, so I will be keeping My 8" Newt.

Thanks all for the help.

Edited by Keiran

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Sorry DOC, I think that you miss understood my goto part, im getting an upgrade on my EQ5, so I will be keeping My 8" Newt.

Thanks all for the help.

Sorry about that.

In that case, yes it will help you loads.

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M51 is only two blobs in my 10 inch..Still its amazing to think about what you are looking at. Two galaxies interacting 23 million light years away. M51 is 38000 light years accross and has a black hole at its heart.

Try looking at a few virgo galaxies for comparison. See if you can find M59 and M60 which are two blobs in the same field of view at low power.

Mark

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Hi Keiran, welcome to the 'faint fuzzies club'. :) Unfortunately, our eyes can't store photons like a camera can, so we're stuck with a 'live-view'... very poor indeed, compared to images. I live way out in the Wisconsin (USA) countryside, and this sketch of M51 (done under better than average conditions) is the best view i've ever had of the galaxy pair. Still in all, i was thrilled to finally see portions of the spiral structure. It's fun being a geek. ;)

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...I suppose time and Experience will help in this area though. I cant wait till I get GOTO then I know exactly what I am looking at....

It's interesting that you say this and yet it seemed to me that a large part of your satisfaction with this session was that you found M51 - yourself.

Your slight disapointment was that the object did not look quite as good as pictures had led you to expect.

You might want to think carefully before pouring money into the GOTO facility - that investment might give you more satisfaction being spent on more aperture. Just a thought :)

Well done for finding M51 - if you have not already done so why not try for M81 and M82 next which are also in Ursa Major and a little more impressive, especially in a low power eypiece where both galaxies fit into the same field of view ;)

Edited by John

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i find that half the funs in finding them! and im sure many will agree

rich

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I will agree it was great finding it mysefl, but it took 2 hours, and it would be nice to have the option of finding it at a press of a button. The goto wont only be used for this though, I am trying to build up my equipment so that I can take better photos of that I am seeing.

Once again thanks for the advice, I will have a try at M81 and M82. Hi Talitha thanks for the sketch, it was still more than I saw, but I suppose, as I get better conditions, seeing will also get better.

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Hey guys,

I have been into astronomy for couple of years now, and just recently (yesterday) visited the McDonald observatory in Texas and went to a star party. I saw the M51 galaxy in very dark skies through a 25" dob. and it was just like the pictures!! I have an 8" Orion classic and when I get back to Pa I will try to see it. The Ring nebula M57 through a 10" dob was awesome. Get to very dark skies and then look you wont be disappointed. I will get a better scope something like 14" Meade or something.

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Hi and welcome to SGL, Edwin. Wow, a 25" Dob.. i bet you could almost walk across M51's bridge. :)

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City Lights ruin faint fuzzies, my 10" Newt performs so much better when i take it to a dark site.

It also helps to know what you're looking at, sort of enhances the experience, such as the distance of the galaxy, size, what the stage the earth was at when the light you are left the galaxy.

I look at some objects and think to myself that when the light that is entering my eye left that object, dinosaurs walked the earth! It just amazes me :rolleyes:

Edited by nitram100

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I'm still looking for M51 - spent a good half an hour the other night with TLAO and still didn't manage to find it. Also failed to find M81 / M82 after another half an hour.

Think a better finder is now the priority - starting to get a little fustrating..

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When observing extended objects like galaxies the most crucial thing is the darkness of the sky. There has to be sufficient contrast of the object against the sky, otherwise you won't see anything, no matter how much aperture you use. No telescope will show M51 in daytime, and any telescope will struggle to show it in a heavily light polluted sky. When the sky is truly dark you can easily see M51 with binoculars.

At this time of year, in nearly all of the UK, the sky doesn't reach full darkness (maybe it does in Portsmouth, I haven't checked), so that's another factor.

The key parameter for galaxies is "surface brightness", measured in magnitudes per square arcsecond (MAS). To have any chance of seeing a galaxy you want the surface brightness to be no more than about 2MAS fainter than the sky. Most galaxies have a central surface brightness of around 21.6MAS so to see most galaxies you want a sky no brighter than about 19.6MAS (equivalent to a Naked Eye Limiting Magnitude, or NELM, of about 5.2). My light polluted suburban back garden has a sky brightness of about 18.8MAS (measured with a sky quality meter), or NELM 4.6. I can see the bright cores of galaxies but have a very poor view of the outer regions - to see those I travel to a dark site with a sky brightness of about 21.4MAS (NELM 6.3). With an 8" at that site I've seen the spiral arms of M51 - I would have no hope of doing that from my back garden with a 30" scope.

The curious thing about surface brightness is that it remains constant with respect to distance from the object. If you look at the Andromeda Galaxy M31 at a power of x50 then you make it look 50 times closer and 50 times larger, but its surface brightness is unchanged. If you can see M31 with the naked eye then you'll have a great view of it with binoculars. If you can't see it with the naked eye then you may not be able to see it at all with a telescope, or else you'll see the bright core that was too small for you to discern with the naked eye (the galaxy itself is as wide as 6 full Moons).

Same thing goes for our own galaxy. And the Milky Way is pretty typical in terms of brightness. So the conclusion is that if you can see the Milky Way with the naked eye then you've got the right sort of conditions to look at galaxies. If you can't, then you might be able to see the bright cores of galaxies using a telescope, but you're probably not going to see the faint outer regions.

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Agreed - I don't think the less than completely dark sky was helping.

Looking forward to cold crisp winter nights :D

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Talitha, very nice sketch by the way. Steve

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Why not buy a good star atlas instead of spending on the GOTO upgrade?

Dalglish

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Ignore everyone else - get the goto upgrade - you'll be able to see m51, m81 and m82, and loads of other stuff all in the same 2hrs. However - you might spend 2hrs aligning, collimating, pec'ing, and getting the goto working properly lol

What am I like :D

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m51 can be seen with a mak 150

i've try several times but nothing more than a point(like a star)

i use a baader hyperion zoom 8-24

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