To set the background a bit:
- I am a noob, 4 months with my XT10. I have used the telescope probably 15 times in this period (the weather in the Toronto area has been terrible)
- I live in a Bortle 8-9 area. I am lucky if I can see a dozen stars from home.
- To use my telescope more effectively, I go to either a Bortle 5 (40 minute drive) or Bortle 4 (90 minute drive) area.
- I have generally gone to Bortle 5 area because it is so much closer
- I have been spending my time going through the Messier objects. When Messier objects are not visible I generally hunt down a few interesting doubles, check for E and F in the trapezium, or see how close I can get to the Rayleigh limit, etc.
- My process is to arrive at the site at sundown. After setting up, collimating, and starting the scope to cool, I hunt down a couple of doubles I know during astronomical twilight just to make sure things were working well. After cool down I do a star test to confirm my collimation and tweak if needed.
The past few times I have gone to the Bortle 5 site, I have tried and tried to find Messier objects but it has been frustrating, once in a while I can find one but it is just not consistent. I was kind of stuck at 20 or so Messier objects identified for about a month when going to the Bortle 5 site once a week. I had tried to find M109, and the galaxies in Leo 5 different times at the Bortle 5 site with no luck.
This past Saturday, the weather finally cooperated again and I took a leap and headed out to the much further away Bortle 4 area. I got lucky; a nice dark night (at least until the moon came up) with good transparency and average to better seeing. I started knocking off Messier objects at an amazing rate. Within an hour and a half I found, M109, M106, M51, M63, M94, M64, M3, M53, M85, M98, M90, M89, M58, M60, M100, M99, M84, M86, M87, M95, M96, M105, Leo Triplet, M97, M108. If not for the moon coming up, I figure I would have had huge percentage of a Messier marathon by the end of the night!
So I guess my question is: What is everyone else's experience with DSOs in Bortle 5 vs. Bortle 4. Was my experience this past Sat. just a result of better conditions or is the difference between Bortle 4 and 5 just that large that DSOs are not going to be visible in Bortle 5?