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What does Andromeda look like?

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#1 Antenox

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 01:49 PM

I bought a 4.5" manual EQ reflector (SkyWatcher) a few days ago and took it out into the remote farmlands along the I-5 (blue/green zone light pollution) to try it out for the first time. It was a nice, cloudless, windless night, and I did see a lot of stars and a good amount of detail on Jupiter. Then I tried searching for the Andromeda Galaxy, and I *think* I found it, but it was only a faint (very faint) smudge.

And last night, I tried it again, and despite much better star charts (albeit in a yellow zone closer to the city), I couldn't find it at all.

I thought Andromeda was supposed to be visible even with a naked eye? Maybe I saw it but just didn't recognize it?

#2 AndrewJ

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 03:08 PM

I've never seen it with naked eye. The elliptical core should be obvious in 10x50 binocs - you can look straight at it, no averted viewing necessary. There's a bright star in the same field to the bottom right (top left in a scope)and next to that a quadrilateral of ligts. The slightly fuzzy "star" is M32, another galaxy.

#3 Ray4852

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 03:48 PM

Andromeda is very easy to see with the naked eye. you need dark skies to see it. it looks like a faint smudge of light.

#4 Antenox

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 06:05 PM

Would it still be visible even under a full moon?

#5 azure1961p

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 06:21 PM

Oh forget it. No... well maybe in the barest shred of a form, but for all intent and purpose - no. The Andromeda Galaxy does not contrast well with any moon visible.

Good news is - wait till the moons gone. It is faint, but it IS visible nicely as an elliptical haze with a fairly obvious core in that aperture.

Pete

#6 Hrundi

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 06:23 PM

Without the moon, it should be quite bright, actually.
The moon is, unfortunately, the destroyer of DSO's.

#7 Antenox

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 06:44 PM

Oh good, I thought I was just completely inept at celestial navigation. :p

#8 walt r

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 07:27 PM

The Moon is like fairly bad light pollution, yellow-white zone when it comes the view the 'dim fuzzies'.
I have seen M31 naked eye from red zone a few times. This was on transparent night, no Moon, getting up a 3am and going outside without turning any light on. My eyes were well dark adapted from sleeping and makes a difference.
Another time, red zone again, was after observing for a few hours. Again dark adaptation helped.

With a scope from a very dark site and dark adapted eyes M31 is huge with the dust lanes readily seen. Otherwise only the core can be seen.

#9 Ray4852

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 08:45 PM

you can see this galaxy with a 2 inch scope. use this map to help you find it. its very easy to spot and see.

http://www.physics.u...uffman/m31.html

#10 azure1961p

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 08:58 PM

my 8x42 binos show it handidly. Ofcourse, crudely cmpared to a decent tele view.

Pete

#11 Hrundi

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 09:10 PM

I'm fairly sure any telescope that isn't actually reducing the quantity of light to your retina could see it.
However it won't be impressive under most equipment with the full moon, which is the problem here.
One of the draws of M31 as a showpiece, for me, are the satellites, and those are gone if you have the full moon.

#12 Ptarmigan

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 10:06 PM

Andromeda is a virus that makes you gravely ill and kills you horribly and quickly. :shocked: Andromeda looks like a faint smudge of white light. You can see it with your own eyes in a dark sky location away from the light pollution. It will be visible through the telescope and binocular in a light polluted sky. I have seen Andromeda many times. Keeps me pleased. :cool:

#13 blb

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Posted 06 September 2009 - 11:53 PM

There is currently a post in the Sketching section, that has a sketch he made which looks very much like what I see with my 10" dob.
Hope this helps, Buddy

#14 Antenox

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 01:25 AM

I actually found it tonight! In San Francisco, through red/orange light pollution. It was surprisingly much brighter than when I first found it when I was out in a blue zone, but that's probably because I have a decent wide-angle eyepiece now on top of the stock EPs my scope came with. Didn't see much more than the core with a faint haze around it, and I didn't see the companions, but I still spent half an hour focused on it. :ooo:

#15 Tony Flanders

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 06:48 AM

I actually found it tonight! In San Francisco, through red/orange light pollution. It was surprisingly much brighter than when I first found it when I was out in a blue zone, but that's probably because I have a decent wide-angle eyepiece now on top of the stock EPs my scope came with.


Possibly. But it might also be because the Moon is in a thinner phase. Blue zone at full Moon is much brighter than orange zone two nights after full Moon.

#16 azure1961p

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 08:26 AM


In a 4" aperture, at least my experiences were that of an oval haze and the brighter companion galaxy joining in. With regard to seeing dust lanes and the like, I dont think you are going to make that observation with that scope - BUT - I have heard of it being done wiht a 4" refractor. I'd say you'd be better off with a 6" apeture for the task and frankly, anything larger is prefered.

Galaxies are just a really hard way to go even thru my 8". That doesnt mean its fruitless, but it is uphill when you compare it to say, anything over 12" aperture.

I highly recommend the following however. Just bare in mind it does take a seriously dark sky. I'm not familiar with the color rated dark skys and such but suffice it to say farmland is the way to go.

Heres my shortlist of brighter galaxies...

M64 Thr Blackeye Galaxy. Ive seen it readily in my 8" but never thru a 4" simply because I also never looked thru a 4" at the target. I think it rates as THE highest surface brightness galaxy.

M104 - The Sombrero Galaxy. A very very excellent example of a near edge on. Larger scopes will show the dustlane, but clearly, itll be bright enough for you to pick up.

M51 - As a kid with my 4 1/4" reflector I happily nailed this one repeatedly and returning to it often. You wont see the spiral pattern but you WILL see its companion galaxy "attached" via the glowing haze of the primary.

M94 is a nice strong core galaxy. Ive not seen it thru a 4.5" but I suspect that nice core would transmit well. The very tight spiral arms are the domain of larger reflectors. Ive not seen them thru my 8".

NGC2683. You know what - give this one a try. It looked great thru my 8". Its not a Messier object [quite a few nice targets are not] but it looked surprisingly good.
You may see its extended eliptical haze. I couldnt see rifts or any some such but the light was so clean and shaped i was still a pleasure. Its in lynx - a constellation I rarely visit, hence my overlooking this beauty.

M82- A muddled cigar shape galaxy undergoing some unusual activity. In my 8" its a muddle of lights and darks even from less than ideal skys. Surface brightness is robust [again, for a galaxy] and it was fantastic to use 35 power per inch and see the hug image filling the field of view.
Can you see any motteling in it? I dont know.

By the way, nearby youll see the large galaxy M81 as a roundish elliptical haze. Definitely a nice galaxy but
M82 for my money and aperture just shows up more defined.
If you spot one you'll certainly see the other.

M33 - when the world was comin g out of the haze from Mount Pinatubo that decimated deepsky to a great degree, it stunned me that M33 showed its spiral arms before M51!!
Will you see spiral arms in m33? Again, Ive never really heard it being done below 6" aperture. Keep in mind though
thats just my experience and knowledge. Maybe someone saw an arm with a 4" refractor. Could very well be with the right magnification and dark sky. Give it a shot. Just be forwarned; The "brilliance" of the Andromeda for sometime always made me look for nearby M33 as if subconsiuosly I was expecting it to be nearly as bright or in the same class. They are comparable in size. So often I missed it. Finally I got serious about it and did a dedicated look-see. When you finally nail it - its sweet. On its own terms, it has no Andromeda "core" to beacon you over there. But it has stellar associations and HII regions of starbirth activity that are worth their weight in gold in terms of galactic details had visually. I "heart" M33. In a 4.5" again, I think the arms will elude you - I could be wrong. What I would try is for the brighter HII region . IT'd be akin to nailing down a small planetary in terms of difficulty. I think you can do it though with the right magnification and sky. You might be able to hit more than one. They have nice surface brightness. Picture if you will miniaturized scale versions of the Orion Nebula in the arms of a distant galaxy. I say miniaturized form our perspective - huge for M33. Seeing a nebula in another galaxy - now wouldnt that be a cool? Im 65/35 in your favor you can pull it off.

The constellation LEO has some nice to choose from and in good proximity, NGC2903 is actually quite nice. Then theres M95,96. Beyond that, but nearby is the Virgo cluster of galaxies so dense with galaxies it becomes a point of stumbling on them rather then having to hunt them down - IF - you hit the right spot.

Lastly, bare in mind all those galaxies I have recommended for your aperture are vastly smaller than M31. Only M33 compares in size. They will need a higher magnification to fill the field fo view of thats your bent, but just remember, very often faint objects like galaxies will often show more distinction, or detail with a higher power than your lowest magnification scanning ocular. The eye in dim light differentiates between light and dark zones when the image is enlarged somewhat. Clearly this holds true for fainter stars as well. The field of view will appear darker at first. Dont let this put you off - often the faint object will reveal itself clearer too. It takes some experimentation. Something as high as 30x per inch of aperture can be of benefit at times. By comaprison, 7x per aperture is only rarely beneficial unless the object is so huge you need as wide a field as possible to see it all against the dark sky.

Good Luck!!

Pete

#17 Hrundi

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 09:55 AM

I'm fairly sure an 8" can snag hundreds of galaxies. Anything herschel 400 with my 12" is effortless as long as it above the foggy horizon. I imagine with good skies and a more effort involved, observing these shouldn't be too big of an issue.

#18 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 02:02 PM

M64 Thr Blackeye Galaxy. Ive seen it readily in my 8" but never thru a 4" simply because I also never looked thru a 4" at the target. I think it rates as THE highest surface brightness galaxy.


According to the information that I have at hand, M64 has the fifth highest surface brightness of the Messier galaxies. M104 has the highest, followed by M105, M84, M89, and M64. Among the many NGC galaxies, NGC 3115 and NGC 5746 have higher figures than does M64.

M64 is a fairly easy target from a dark site for my 4" refractor, as are most of the other Messier galaxies.

Dave Mitsky

#19 azure1961p

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 03:49 PM


You know Dave, I think you may be right about M104 anyway, though I recall strongly too that M64 was king of the pile. Please understand when I arrived at that value it was through Alan MacRoberts visibilty index method. Only through combining the numbers and factoring in the difference did I EVER get an accurate idea of what i could expect in my 8". Figuring in the magnitude overall, then the surface brightness then the actual size was often wrought with too much ambiguety. MacRobert took care of that for me, but I digress - I think you are right with M104, however, I dont think 64 is that far down the line.

Pete

#20 Ray4852

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 06:11 PM

I pick the best galaxies from this list. most of them are pretty good to look at.

http://www.atlasofth...m/galax200.html

#21 astrokido

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 10:27 PM

Andromeda is best found with binoculars, it's big at about 3 degrees wide under dark skies. A low power eyepiece on the scope is best to see all of it. But seeing it's dust lanes takes a big scope and some imagination. Look for its two elliptical neighbors M32 and M110.

#22 Alpha Orionis

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Posted 07 September 2009 - 10:30 PM

theres also a really nice galaxy near the cat's eye nebula. i accidently stumbled upon when searching for ngc6543. it was a nice and bright (from a blue zone) galaxy

#23 glava2005

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 07:17 PM


M51 - As a kid with my 4 1/4" reflector I happily nailed this one repeatedly and returning to it often. You wont see the spiral pattern but you WILL see its companion galaxy "attached" via the glowing haze of the primary.


hmmm i could clearly see the two main spirals even with a 3.2" refractor.

#24 David Knisely

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Posted 10 September 2009 - 11:29 PM



M51 - As a kid with my 4 1/4" reflector I happily nailed this one repeatedly and returning to it often. You wont see the spiral pattern but you WILL see its companion galaxy "attached" via the glowing haze of the primary.


hmmm i could clearly see the two main spirals even with a 3.2" refractor.


As a "kid" (well, a young teen ager), I could see both galaxies, but could never really see the spiral form of M51 itself. Oh, it (NGC 5194) shows kind of a mottled ring effect in 3 and 4 inch apertures, showing that it could indeed be classed as a spiral galaxy based on that feature. However, to see the true spiral form with arms well, I had to get to around eight inches of aperture, and even then, detail in the arms had to wait until I got my 10 inch. Clear skies to you.

#25 Hrundi

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Posted 11 September 2009 - 08:15 AM

I've often wondered if it's really a spiral we're seeing with our instruments.
It took Lord Rosse 72 inches to see a spiral in m51.
Even accounting for all the changes in technology, from both mirrors to eyepieces, I'm not at all convinced that it's enough to make a 12 inch telescope see a spiral, much less a 4 inch.
I believe that we see enough from it, that knowing what it is we're looking at, we can mentally reconstruct a spiral. But past that, it gets iffy.


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