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M101 tries to hide

Started by dsimons, 02/19/2004 12:38AM
Posted 02/19/2004 12:38AM Opening Post
First clear night here in Santa Rosa, CA in the last two weeks. I noticed it's starting to look like Galaxy Season will be starting soon. After visiting some clusters around Gemini, I started looking for Galaxies in Leo, but got clouded out, then jumped over to Ursa Major, as that part of the sky was still clear. M81,82 looking gorgeous as usual. Could make out some detail in both galaxies.

Went looking for M101, near the handle and had to search a while. I forgot how big dim and fuzzy this thing is. It looks to be at the apex of a nice equilateral triangle between the handle stars Alkaid and Mizar. I must have looked "through" it a few times, as it didn't really jump out clearly until I wiggled the scope a bit. The thin clouds moving in were not helping either. I could not get any detail since the sky was starting to brighten with the thin clouds.

Here is a shot from Desktop Universe. It is very similar to what I saw, without so many stars. The circled area was roughly my FOV.

David Simons

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dsimons's attachment for post 13304
Posted 02/19/2004 03:22AM #1
I find the visibility of M101 to be incredibly sensitive to the observing conditions. Thin clouds can extinguish it almost completely, and ambient light must be avoided in order to get a clear view of it.

Under perfect conditions it is possible to see some detail in this galaxy through mid-sized telescopes. With som attention I can make out the spiral pattern with a 12-inch scope at low power. I have also reports from observers who claim to see emission nebulae in M101 and other large, face-on spirals. (M33, M74, M100 ...)
Posted 02/19/2004 01:08PM #2
My easist views of M101 are with my 15 x 70 binoculars. My Mak requires the very best of nights. M33 not quite so bad but a lot the same. Easy in the binoculars, tough in the scope.