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Galaxies

Started by dsimons, 03/08/2004 06:28PM
Posted 03/08/2004 06:28PM Opening Post
Van writes:

>>> I'm pretty new to this star gazing hobby, but so far I've been having a blast. To date, I've only seen: the moon, mars, saturn, jupiter, the orion nebula (if that's the one in his scabard), and the pleiades. Plus a few random stars, but I don't know what they were.

So, here's my question. I'd like to find some galaxies. Can anyone recommend some good starter galaxies to look at? North and west horizons are tough for me to see due to hills and trees, but I have great views above, south and east. Oh yes, I'm in the northeast, too.

Thanks!
-Van <<<<<

Hi Van,

Great question !! As the early Spring has a reputation for being Galaxy season. But a lot depends on your observing location and to a lesser extent your telescope. There are some big galaxies out there that do not require much magnification, but are very dim. There are some very small but bright ones that will need high magnification, and everything in-between. The best luck with Galaxies will be at a dark sky site since these faint fuzzies usually have a kind of filmy appearance. Thin clouds in the sky or a moon (or both.. ugh ) will make it very hard to track these down. If you can see the Orion Nebula very brightly from your location, it may be good enough.

A good starter Galaxy is always the Andromeda, but as mentioned earlier is starting to set when the sky gets dark. If your North view is not too bad, M51 off the handle of the big dipper is an easy one to find, and on a very dark night, may give you a glimpse of a spiral shape. There are also some nice galaxies around Leo now. Here is M65,66 near Jupiter below Leo. The circle is about 1 degree.

What Star Chart are you using ?

I would say around 5-6" of aperture would make these straight forward to find.

8-10" would really make these interesting

David Simons

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Posted 03/09/2004 08:44AM #1
Thanks for the input. I'm using a Meade 8" SCT (focal length of 2000mm). I've found that I'm mostly using 3 eyepieces: 40mm, 25mm and 13.8mm. I do have a 6.something and a 4.7, but, due to either my collimation, or my seeing conditions, they are not really useable or rewarding. It's an older scope that has a motor drive on the RA (?) axis, but that's it. No "goto" so I'll have to figure out how to actually identify and locate what I'm looking at. That's why the planets have been so good!

I also have Starry Night Backyard, which has helped me identify quite a lot, but I haven't really used it to locate anything.

I know how to calculate power (focal length divided by EP), but how do I know what my degree of view is?
Posted 03/11/2004 01:12PM #2
I agree, Lisa. They've done a great job. In fact, I just ordered Star-hopping for backyard astronomers from amazon!

Now, if it will only stay clear for the weekend...
Posted 03/14/2004 07:29AM #3
I am a Gemini...

I had a good night out last night. Nice and dark and clear. I didn't find any galaxies, but I did find some open clusters, and quite by accident.

I spent most of the night looking at the sky with my naked eyes. I've been tring to learn some of the constellations. I was looking at Gemini, 'cause I knew Saturn was at one twin's feet, and Leo, where Jupiter is. I was looking between the two at some fainter stars, and I saw this kinda blurry, fuzzy spot. I aim the scope at it with the 40mm eyepiece, and I see this nice cluster of stars. I rush inside to look it up (and warm up) and it turns out I found the Beehive cluster, which is in the middle of Cancer. I also found M37 and M38 (in Auriga -- is that pronounced "U-riga" or "A-riga" or "Or-iga"?)

So, no galaxies yet, but I have renewed hope and new skills! Plus, I looked at something very far away (M38 is 4200 light years away... Makes Saturn look close!)

Good luck with your viewing, Lisa!

-Van
Posted 03/27/2004 05:33PM #4
We must be! I received the book, Star Hopping for Back Yard Astronomers. It looks very good. I've already spent 1 evening with binocular learning how to find more stuff.

Haven't had a chance to get my scop out, though. The weather's been pretty crappy...

Hopefully it will be clear AND warm for a change!

-Van
Posted 03/29/2004 05:40PM #5
I went out for a little while last night, and had a great time. The moon was bright, so I just looked at that, and the planets. But the seeing was really good. I was able to use a lot of magnification on saturn (400x) and the view was pretty sharp and stable. I also got to really explore the lunar surface. Here's a picture I took with a little canon digital camera through the eyepiece. I was intrigued by the mountain range at the shadow line, about 1/3 of the way in from the right side. Does anyone know what this mountain range is?

Happy gazing.
-Van

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