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M81 and M82


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I finally found M81 and M82 last night after around two years of looking! I think I might have seen M82 once, but it was so faint I was not sure.

I got up at around 4 a.m., I used a free star atlas which I downloaded from a website deep sky watch (Michael Vlasov), a great website!

I used Chart no 7. I drew an imaginary line through the two stars in Ursa Major, Phad and Dubhe, and continued around 3 finder scope circles, as shown in the book an Illustrated Guide To Astronomical Wonders (a great book!) I then tried to find the exact position of the galaxies using the star chart, there are two little triangular group of stars, pointing in opposite directions, you need to find the correct one and position it in the right position in your finder scope.

The only problem is that in my light polluted skies on the outskirts of London the two galaxies are totally invisible in my Stellarvue 9x50 finder scope (which is excellent).

I spent around half an hour searching the general area, using a 40mm Aero Ed eyepiece which in my 150mm Mak with a 1800mm focal length gives 45x magnification. I eventually found both the galaxies, both visible in the eyepiece! Both faint, but I could see that M81 was a fuzzy elongated shape like a needle and M82 a fuzzy circle. I also looked at them with my UWAN 16mm eyepiece (over x100 magnification-I am no good at maths!).

This showed some more detail with averted vision.

Galaxies are hard with light pollution but it is worth persevering. I have never managed to see M81 and M82 in my 15x70 binoculars, but now I know exactly where they are I will try again.

Sorry I went on a bit, but I hope I can help someone to find these galaxies a bit quicker than I did!

It is a good idea to try early in the morning when Ursa Major is quite high up. To round off the night I looked at M13 the Great Cluster in Hercules, which was great.

I went to bed half frozen but very happy!

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Brilliant dark star, its something when you see both M81/82 in the same fov, I have found an RDF to be really helpfull for use rather than the starfinder I have with the 925 although my skies are ok, around mag 4.6 on a good night.

M13 is a real stunner when you bump up the power, your uwan 16mm was giving you 112.5x power, you could easily try for a 9mm giving you 200x or a 7mm giving you a 257x if conditions are good. It really opens up the views of globular clusters for one! :)

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I can easily see M81 and M82 in hand held 20x60 binoculars in almost every clear moonless night under reasonably clear nights.

Depends on where you live though! Not sure you'd see much if viewing from the pemalight of London!:)

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Have only just seen these for the first time myself in the 10" Dob. they're mostly hidden behind the house and there's a bit too much lighting the other side to try there. Given the poor views I've had of M31 I was half expecting a 'no show', but was surprised. At the ensd of a long session I gave them a go with a 32mm TV Plossl in to just find the area first, but they just popped into view. The both fitted into the same field of view and were not difficult to see at all, I was expecting to struggle abot with that EP and the background sky always seems to appear brighter than in other EPs. One clearly oval in shape the other an elongated spindle, tried the 10mm Radian but that didn't do much for the view, will try with the 18mm (now just arrived) and see if thats better. But great just to see them.

A

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I am really glad I managed to find them, and now I remember the pattern of stars to aim for I think I should be able to find them again fairly easily, although I could be wrong, I will find out when the clouds finally clear again from London! Next time I will have a look for M1 as well, which I have never tried to find.

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I just managed to spot M81 for the first time two nights ago, barely visible. M82 is lost in my light pollution though.

I had a go at finding M1 as well. I was definitely looking in the right area but could not locate it. I think a nebula filter would help.

Edited by Ags
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  • 3 weeks later...

Congratulations on nabbing the pair. Under less than dark conditions they can be difficult to find. Go back in a week or two and try to repeat so you get the area down better. I've only faintly seen them once from my light polluted neighborhood myself.

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Finally nailed them myself :), good conditions 2 nights ago and a new scope (SW 100ED pro), got to see some structure (bright centre) in M81 but limited by LP and the distinctive shape of M82 showed well. Swung round and managed to resolve M3 'the northern globular', dim but intermittently saw individual stars using averted vision.

I think these objects would make good candidates for a some 'barn door' type photography given that the motion should be slower than things further from the pole.

Tony.

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I have been trying to find M81 and 82 with Pentax 20x60 binoculars, I am sure this is possible from a really dark site.

This was inspired by a post on Cloudy Nights (American forum) where someone saw a large number of Messsier objects using these binoculars. However I have forgotten where the observer was, it was probably in the middle of the desert or something!

So far I have had no luck from the light polluted outskirts of London. I tried heading for a relatively dark site (at least as regards within the M25) but the clouds came in after too short a time.

I am planning to head out to the Dengie Peninsula in Essex when there is a forecast for a clear sky and I don't have any work or family commitments, as there is supposed to be a very dark sky there.

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I just managed to spot M81 for the first time two nights ago, barely visible. M82 is lost in my light pollution though.

I had a go at finding M1 as well. I was definitely looking in the right area but could not locate it. I think a nebula filter would help.

Same here.... I think I've found M81 but it was so faint I'm not even sure if it was there at all and M82 wasn't visible where it should have been. I'm not ticking the seen it box for either just yet.

Just waiting for a massive power cut on a clear night to be able to view them without the LP.

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Let me add my congratuations as well, but now you have found them they become alot easier, everytime you are out, just have a quick look and you will find that before long you can spot them straight away.

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Well done- that's a good find. I spent years trying to find them too using various approaches with various scopes. I saw them for the first time this week, but I cheated using a goto mount...

I saw them both last night for the first time as well, and I also cheated with the GOTO. I spent a good while last week scanning for them with my 15x70 bins, to no avail. Even with the GOTO getting them bang on target they were still only obvious with averted vision from my polluted skies of SW London. I wouldn't have found them in a month of Sundays otherwise.

Well done to the OP for bagging them the honourable way :o

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I saw them both last night for the first time as well, and I also cheated with the GOTO. I spent a good while last week scanning for them with my 15x70 bins, to no avail. Even with the GOTO getting them bang on target they were still only obvious with averted vision from my polluted skies of SW London. I wouldn't have found them in a month of Sundays otherwise.

Well done to the OP for bagging them the honourable way :o

If you get out of London, and use the 15x70s, they will jump out at you. Forget about "cheating" with GOTO, technology is here to help us. Otherwise, why use anything but the naked eye:cool:

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