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M51 with binocs?

Started by dwalton, 07/13/2004 08:29AM
Posted 07/13/2004 08:29AM Opening Post
Last night was unexpectedly clear and steady for a while at about 1 AM here on the souther shore of Lake Superior. And it was nice and dark.

I pulled out the 10x50 binocs and was scanning around the sky, and my eyes weren't really that dark-adapted yet. M13 was surprisingly obvious - it almost looked like I could make out some distinct stars in the fuzzball. I thought "Hmmm - I wonder if I could see M51.". So over I went, and I'm about 95% sure that I could see it. And it wasn't that difficult of a find either. It was an elongated faint fuzzblob that seemed to have the right size/shape, and it seemed to be in the right place based on my star charts.

Does it surprise anyone that M51 could be picked off by binocs, or is this relatively common and not a big deal?

Thanks, Doug
Posted 07/13/2004 08:53AM #1
It's not a big deal. All the Messier objects can be seen in binoculars, although for a few, like M76, M98, etc, you may need 15x70's or bigger. With my 20x100's, M51 is a very obvious double galaxy. With my 10x50's the companion galaxy is not obvious. Incidentally, the Astronomical League has an "observing club" called the Binocular Messier club, which you can check into at www.astroleague.org.
Posted 07/13/2004 10:26AM #2
I saw it years ago with 10x50 binos in a dark sky, during my first year of learning the sky. It was a very small object but a big thrill for me.

So, no it's not surprising that you saw it. But on the other hand it would be a challenge for a beginner who didn't know exactly where to look or what to expect.

So congrats on a nice catch!

Mike
Posted 07/13/2004 10:34AM #3
>>Does it surprise anyone that M51 could be picked off by binocs, or is this relatively common and not a big deal?

Thanks, Doug
-----

Its a big deal (!!) but if the skies are dark, it is doable. From dark skies DSOs M51, M71, m26, M56 showup in an 8x50 finder as something non-stellar, in 10x50s they can be obvious if the skies are dark enough. Thats my experience...

Binoculars are fun...

jon

jon
Posted 07/17/2004 01:18PM #4
I've seen M57 like a dim star with 10x50 binocular in a night with superb transparency. M57 was near zenith at that time.

Hug
Jorge Almeida
Viseu, PORTUGAL