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For the Pros!

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#1 Matt2003

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 06:50 PM


Ok, what is/was the hardest DSO you ever tracked down & observed? Which was most rewarding? :bow:

Clear Skies,
Matt
Prude Ranch, here I come!
:rainbow: :rainbow:

#2 David Knisely

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 07:30 PM

The hardest? Probably NGC 2253 in Camelopardalis (from the Herschel II list). It doesn't exist! I spent a lot of time and effort getting to the field and not seeing anything, only to find out later that the object is actually "missing". Its number has been reassigned to a 15th magnitude galaxy in the area, but the actual object (supposedly a star cluster) is not there. IC 1613 (the Cetus Dwarf) was a particular stinker due to its very low surface brightness, as was the large low-surface brightness spiral galaxy NGC 4236 in Draco. Other than that, there are many hundreds of faint objects which I have spent considerable time trying to locate but with eventual success.

The most rewarding? That would have to be M51, as many many years ago, it was the first galaxy that I was ever able to see clear spiral structure on. Clear skies to you.

#3 jack45

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 08:09 PM

Comet Holmes was about the best and still trying for the Stephan's Quintet.

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#4 Hrundi

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 09:20 PM

Hardest by what metric? Most of the 14 galaxies I caught in the coma cluster were pretty torturous.
By surface brightness, NGC 4395 was pretty surprising - far brighter than I expected it to be, so that was recently rewarding.
Overall though, my current favorite is the whale and hockey stick. One of the best galaxy pairings up there.

edit: I don't consider myself a 'pro' though :lol:, whoops.

#5 scopethis

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 09:48 PM

Using a 10" SCT, the galaxy NGC 7640 in And was difficult for me. I thought it would be brighter. Turned out to be faint and thin (framed by four stars) and not what I was expecting--a real let down. The duo M81/82 is atop my "best" list when viewed with a wide angle EP.

#6 GlennLeDrew

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 10:16 PM

For low surface brightness, ranking up there in toughness might be emission nebula Sh2-119 (illuminated by the runaway star 68 Cyg) in a friend's 22X100mm binos with Orion Ultrablock filters installed. The cave nebula (Sh2-157, in the Cep OB3 association) is another toughie--I may have glimpsed it in my 60mm right-angle bino using similar filters.

#7 tatarjj

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 10:29 PM

I don't really have favorites. Some objects that I can think of that were very satisfying AND difficult:

-Any one one of the 30-50 galaxy clusters I've observed in the 1 - 3.5 billion light year range (I haven't exactly been keeping count)
-Seeing 48 galaxies in ACO 2065
-Simeis 147 observations
-Sh2-91, Sh2-94, Sh2-97 SNR filaments
-Any one of the tougher Abell PNes (get about the same satisfaction from each of them)
-Some of the harder Sharpless emission nebulae I've seen
-Various obscure and very faint planetary nebulae
-M87's jet

Really though, I get just about equal satisfaction out of anything that is faint. For some reason, I just enjoy tracking down tough stuff many people would find uninteresting. It needs to be fuzzy though- I don't have much appreciation for quasars. For viewing distant objects I'd much rather see a galaxy cluster at 2 BLY than a quasar at 10BLY.

The first time I saw the California and Horsehead nebulae, back in 2002, kinda counts as a significant acheivement. It was one of my first dark sky trips with a telescope (after years of being confined to my backyard due to being too young to drive). That night, I found out that the California and Horsehead nebulae actually aren't hard objects at all if you simply get to dark skies, have decent aperture, and a filter :)

And of course, the Veil nebula, M17, Omega Centauri, NGC 2359, M51, etc.. all are very "rewarding" objects to look at, you're always rewarded with a breath-taking view :)

Hmm.. I can tell you my most recent rewarding and satisfying observation. After several years of failed attempts to see the planetary nebula Abell 29, I finally managed to see it on the night of 3/17/10 from West Texas. I had always strongly suspected seeing a large, nebulous glow at its position, but I could never separate the glow enough in adverted vision away from some stars to make me confident enough to call it a positive observation. For some reason though, on this night, when I turned the scope to Abell 29's position, the nebulous glow was well separated from stellar interference, somewhat circular, and decently high above my adverted vision's noise level. The location of the glow was perfectly positioned in exactly the right spot, was exactly the right size, and I could hold it nearly continuously in adverted! I was very happy! I followed this success by viewing M97, which temporarily blinded me :)

#8 tatarjj

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 10:42 PM

For low surface brightness, ranking up there in toughness might be emission nebula Sh2-119 (illuminated by the runaway star 68 Cyg) in a friend's 22X100mm binos with Orion Ultrablock filters installed. The cave nebula (Sh2-157, in the Cep OB3 association) is another toughie--I may have glimpsed it in my 60mm right-angle bino using similar filters.


Must have been a cool view with 100mm binocs! Did you specificly target it, or run acorss it while looking around NGC 7000? It's left out of Uranometria, which makes it more obscure than it should be.

The Cave nebula is Sh2-155. Sh2-157 is the nebulosity complex near the bubble nebula. I think it's possible that someone could see it with a 60mm scope- especially 60mm binoculars- so good job if you did. Aperture would have definately helped you though, the bright stars in the region have a tendency to create false nebulosity.

#9 RobertPL

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 11:50 PM

To me 'hardest' is not well-defined unless you specify the size of the scope. I guess 'for the pros' is meant to imply that this question is for those with big scopes.

#10 HellsKitchen

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 03:45 AM

Probably the galaxy 2MASX J14190223-2727348 in Abell S 761. Blue mag is listed at 15.9, although another galaxy, 2MASX J12554311-2651556 (in Hydra near the ESO 507-45 pair) is listed at 16.18 but to me was slightly easier, no doubt due to higher surface brightness.

This is using a 12" dob.

#11 JakeSaloranta

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 06:28 AM

One of the hardest the comes to mind is actually NGC 5128 / Centaurus A.

Object: NGC 5128 / Centaurus A
Obs. place: Pico de la Nieve, La Palma, Spain (1890m / 6200ft)
Date: 1./2.4.2008
Bortle class: Class 2
NE Lim.mag: 6.9m
Background sky: 2
Seeing: 2
Transparency: 2
Weather: +10°C, no wind... southern sky blurry.

Minimum aperture: 8x30 binoculars
Visual impressiveness: -

Description: Very obvious in 8x30 binoculars. Impossible without optical aid. I tried spotting this galaxy for more than 30 minutes without even getting the slightest hint of it. The galaxy was roughly 18° above the horizon. I moved my vision between the bright 5th magnitude stars HD 118338 - HD 115331 - HD 116835 forming a triangle. Nothing was seen even when the exact position of the galaxy was confirmed with binoculars then trying to see it with the naked eye. Sky conditions were not ideal. From Australia this - with the galaxy high in the sky - shouldn't be a problem.

#12 caheaton

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 09:58 AM

Quite a few targets have been tough at times, but the most recent one I remember was M91 from the backyard using the ETX80. It was barely there, but with averted vision and gently tapping the scope I could detect a wisp of light that moved with the scope!

(It takes determination to hunt galaxies in LP with an 80mm!)

#13 The Research Center

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 01:20 PM

Hmmm, well, for me the question is what was the hardest object for each scope I've owned and thereby the most rewarding.

50mmf12 refractor; Everything not starting with 'M'.
8"f6 Dob; Abell 426.
20"f4.2 Dob; Splitting Pluto and Charon.
6"f3.5 Dob; Both parenthesis of the Veil Nebula in 31mm Nagler.
36"f4.5 Dob; Hickson 50

Steven

#14 Carol L

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 01:51 PM

Mine is Holmberg II... it took three years to finally bag it with the 8" SCT. :)

#15 Tom Polakis

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 02:20 PM

Just last weekend, I had another look at GR 8 (GR = Gibson Reaves), a dwarf galaxy at the edge of the Local Group. It's only about 1' across, and has extremely low surface brightness. It was very high while Virgo was culminating in a dark sky 100 miles away from Phoenix at a moderately high elevation. I viewed it with my 18-inch.

I don't like looking at faint stuff for the sake of it being faint, but if there's something astronomically interesting about it, I'll go after it. I've learned to stay away from many of the Sharpless emission nebulae for that reason.

#16 Bill Weir

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 04:12 PM

For low surface brightness, ranking up there in toughness might be emission nebula Sh2-119 (illuminated by the runaway star 68 Cyg) in a friend's 22X100mm binos with Orion Ultrablock filters installed. The cave nebula (Sh2-157, in the Cep OB3 association) is another toughie--I may have glimpsed it in my 60mm right-angle bino using similar filters.


Must have been a cool view with 100mm binocs! Did you specificly target it, or run acorss it while looking around NGC 7000? It's left out of Uranometria, which makes it more obscure than it should be.

The Cave nebula is Sh2-155. Sh2-157 is the nebulosity complex near the bubble nebula. I think it's possible that someone could see it with a 60mm scope- especially 60mm binoculars- so good job if you did. Aperture would have definately helped you though, the bright stars in the region have a tendency to create false nebulosity.


Sh2-157 and Sh2-119 are both nebulae that I stumbled upon by accident and both at the same location of the Mt Kobau star party at 6000' in the desert of southern British Columbia. Sh2-119 was with my little ED 80 a 2" 40mm eyepiece and OIII filter. I pointed the scope at NGC 7000 and when I looked in the eyepiece it was one of those "WHOA what's that" moments. Sh2-157 was sort of the same only I was using my 12.5".

I think my hardest observations were both using the 25" and they are Hickson 50 and the Jet in M83.

Another observation I'm quite pleased with is a few years back managing Mercury naked eye before Sunset. That involved several days of setup to know exactly where and when to look. I was then also granted the luck of a perfect sky. Last month's new Moon at under 20hrs with binoculars was work also.

Bill

#17 StarStuff1

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 05:04 PM

M57...when I was a newbie 30+ years ago. I came across a great deal on an 8-in newtonian but knew very little about the sky other than recognizing Orion and the Big Dipper. Using a Norton's Star Atlas as a guide I searched for M57 many times with no success. Of course I was using low power and simply passed over it each time.

I was really getting frustrated as I had been able to find a few other Messier objects. Then one night I was looking at Jupiter with my high power ep and swung the scope over to Lyra. I centered the finder on the area where the Ring should have been and looked in the eyepiece and there it was!

So M57 was the hardest DSO I have tracked down and also the most rewarding as it did eventually show itself.

Oddly enough the OP's questions were the subject of as astro club meeting a few years ago.

#18 GlennLeDrew

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 06:42 PM

John T.,
Good catch on the misnomer! I did mean Sh2-155 when I specified the Cave nebula. Perhaps my slip-up by naming Sh2-157 instead is because it's another object I'd ferreted out with the same filtered 100mm bino, if not on the same night at least very close in time.

All the really faint objects I can recall seing were the result of deliberate search. In the case of Sh2-119, I first learned of its existence when compiling the deep sky databases for the now-defunct Desktop Universe software back in 2002 (many of the emission nebulae were gleaned from Vehrenberg & Neckel's Atlas of Galactic Nebulae.)

Based on the appearance of Sh2-119 in the DTU all-sky mosaic as compared to other emission objects I'd already glimpsed, I figured it should be observable visually. It was only after catching it myself that I learned others had succeeded with it as well.

#19 MikeRatcliff

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 07:45 PM

Favorites of mine so far: a few on the Caldwell list, though not as tough as some others have posted already:

IC 1613 galaxy in Cetus - took the best night of my life so far to see it.
IC 342 galaxy - many dark nights can detect it but one night could see the galaxy as a bright disk in bino's.
IC 405 Flaming Star (especially one night with an H-beta filter, could move around and see the overall shape including the extension towards 14Aur)


I have not had a successful sighting of the Cave Nebula yet but on the same night as the IC1613 sighting I thought I could see the overall Cave shape, but not sure. There is a small knot I've seen surrounding two stars that might be a small reflection nebula, that I can also see in the usual astrophotographs. But much smaller than the Cave nebula itself.

Also, not on the Caldwell list: Barnard's Loop using using H-beta filter and the 60mm finder telescope.

Have seen the Horsehead as a dark blob but not yet discerned the actual HH shape.

Great question from the OP.

Mike

#20 jeff heck

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 08:18 PM

I am no pro but I really enjoyed locating NGC891. It took me two years or at least twenty attempts before I finally got it. This was my first faint galaxy back then, now it's an easy find with the dust lane on good nights.
I also had trouble with Stephen's Quintent until I traveled to a black zone in Kansas and was amazed to see five baby parameciums swimming in a jet black sky. Very rewarding! :coolnod:

#21 MikeRatcliff

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 08:32 PM

Hmmm, well, for me the question is what was the hardest object for each scope I've owned and thereby the most rewarding.

50mmf12 refractor; Everything not starting with 'M'.
8"f6 Dob; Abell 426.
20"f4.2 Dob; Splitting Pluto and Charon.
6"f3.5 Dob; Both parenthesis of the Veil Nebula in 31mm Nagler.
36"f4.5 Dob; Hickson 50

Steven


Splitting Pluto and Charon!! :shocked: :bow:

#22 Sardinia

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 08:55 PM

I guess the most challenging was NGC 7337 in the Pegasus Deer Lick group, at first a challenge of averted vision vs. averted imagination but I learned many observing skills chasing these distant fellows.
The most rewarding was wandering and discovering within the Virgo Supercluster.

#23 Matt2003

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Posted 13 May 2010 - 07:17 PM


Pluto & Charon??! Holy whatever! Well, not actually a DSO unless Kuiper belt objects are included.
***
The question does not pertain to only those with big scopes, BTW

Clear skies,
A very tired Matthew LOL

#24 The Research Center

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 11:35 AM

Yep, split Pluto and Charon, though I'm not the first.... Jean LeChachoix, Bill Sheehan, and Stephen O'Meara have split Pluto and Charon in the early 90's using the 42" Pic du Midi scope and I did it with my 20" in 1993. At 13.8 and 16.7 mag with 1 arc-second between them it's more a matter of steady air, than super-huge scopes, and knowing when to look is critical too since they move relative to one another with a 6.3872304 ± 0.0000011 day period.

I just found out that an observing challenge book is in the works which will mention my observation of '93. I think that's very cool....

My dwarf planet observation total consists of four of the five currently recognized by the IAU; Ceres, Pluto, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake. Eris is in my sights now.

Steven

#25 Matt2003

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 06:58 PM


Interesting, because most of the Pluto-Charon pics I see of them split are made with the Hubble. Was this under exceptional or average conditions??

Clear Skies,
A deeply curious Matthew


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