Fun with Markarian's Chain
Posted 14 May 2013 - 05:55 PM
M84 and M86 are visible under reasonable dark skies even in a decent finderscope. The rest of the chain is accessible to scopes in the 8 inch aperture range and up, even in some six inch instruments under decent conditions. Unlike the more elusive targets like the Horsehead or Pease 1, Markarian's chain is fairly easy to find and observe. With a go to scope just select M86 and then pan around the area. Using star charts the whole assembly is fairly easy to locate from Denebola. It can be a most enjoyable excursion for veteran observers and novices alike, and it's a terrific way for newbies to get accustomed to techniques like the use of averted vision and to experiment with different powers on DSOs, without the sometimes disappointing experience of trying to visualize some of the really faint fuzzies. Markarian's ranks for me right there with the M81-82 pairing, M104 and M51 as among the most accessible galaxy views available to eyeball astronomers, and it ought to be on everyone's list as a spring and summer target.
Posted 14 May 2013 - 09:13 PM
Posted 15 May 2013 - 05:06 AM
Your statements about visibility do require reasonably dark skies, however. This is not a showpiece object from a bright suburb.
Posted 15 May 2013 - 12:21 PM
Here's an image of M100 that I recently received from the Bradford Robotic Telescope.
14" f/11 Celestron C14 SCT working at f/5.3
FLI MicroLine CCD camera
Bradford Robotic Telescope
Tenerife, the Canary Islands
Posted 15 May 2013 - 02:26 PM
Bill in Flag
Posted 22 May 2013 - 09:50 AM
It's also a good barometer of sky conditions. Sue French, in a an article on Markarian's chain made reference to a "face" (M84 and M86 are the eyes in the face). If I can see the "nose" (NGC4387) and the "mouth" (4388) it's a pretty good night. If the "eyebrow" (4402) is present, even better.
There is also a "T" shaped asterism Northwest of Markarian's chain in which M98,99 and 100 figure prominently and M58,59,60 and 89 a bit South and almost directly East of Markarian's Chain. There's an arrow-shaped asterism that points directly at M58.