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How to know which nebulae are visual vs. photographic targets

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#1 quercuslobata

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 05:42 PM

I'm still very new at this, but I was wondering if there is a resource for which nebulae are relatively easy _visual_ targets (versus those that look pretty in pictures, but that I will never see well through my eyepiece). I have a basic 8" Dob, live under Bortle 5 skies with generally so-so seeing, and have 2 impatient kids who I'm trying to keep interested.

 

It's been cloudy here for what seems like forever, so I've been poking around for online resources. I found this site https://telescopius.com which seems really useful in that I can filter objects to find those that will be high, bright, and big enough that even I can find them. What I'm not sure about is how to know which nebulae are worth trying to find as visual targets (did I mention the two impatient kids?).

 

I'm sure there are other threads for general resources fo finding targets, but if you have some favorites I'd love to know them too.

 

Thanks,

 

Chris


Edited by quercuslobata, 21 November 2019 - 06:46 PM.


#2 Diana N

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 05:57 PM

The obvious first target to aim for in the winter months is M42, the Orion Nebula.  It's hands-down the most impressive nebula that can be seen from the Northern Hemisphere, and it's super easy to locate.

 

Edited to add:  You might find the book Turn Left at Orion helpful, as it's intended for use with smaller scopes.


Edited by Diana N, 21 November 2019 - 06:04 PM.

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#3 bobzeq25

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 06:08 PM

I'm still very new at this, but I was wondering if there is a resource for which nebulae are relatively easy targets (versus those that look pretty in pictures, but that I will never see well through my eyepiece). I have a basic 8" Dob, live under Bortle 5 skies with generally so-so seeing, and have 2 impatient kids who I'm trying to keep interested.

 

It's been cloudy here for what seems like forever, so I've been poking around for online resources. I found this site https://telescopius.com which seems really useful in that I can filter objects to find those that will be high, bright, and big enough that even I can find them. What I'm not sure about is how to know which nebulae are worth trying to find as visual targets (did I mention the two impatient kids?).

 

I'm sure there are other threads for general resources fo finding targets, but if you have some favorites I'd love to know them too.

 

Thanks,

 

Chris

Note that _any_ posts about imaging are not supposed to go here.  You need to go to the BII forum.

 

That said, I think I can get away with this.  An excellent resource for identifying good _visual_ subjects is this book.  It even gives you rough ideas about how they'll look in two different scopes.  It's completely written for visual only observers.

 

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/0521781906


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#4 Tony Flanders

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 06:25 PM

The obvious first target to aim for in the winter months is M42, the Orion Nebula.  It's hands-down the most impressive nebula that can be seen from the Northern Hemisphere, and it's super easy to locate.


It's probably the last target to aim for in the winter months, too, if you live under Bortle-5 skies and have impatient kids. Plenty of other winter nebulae are visible if you're willing to make an effort, but M42 is the only winter nebula that's likely to impress people under Bortle-5 skies.

Light pollution is not kind to nebulae; the best winter targets are open star clusters.
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#5 B 26354

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 06:38 PM

I'll second Diana's recommendation for Turn Left at Orion. I like the spiral-bound one:

 

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/1108457568/

 

I would also highly recommend  either (or both) of Sue French's books:

 

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/1931559287/

 

and

 

https://www.amazon.c.../dp/1554077931/


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#6 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 07:08 PM

Without resorting to EAA, dark skies and nebula filters, not to mention large apertures, are required for good views of many of the late fall/winter nebulae. 

 

However, in addition to M42, you might want to try M1 (the Crab Nebula) in Taurus, M76 (the Little Dumbbell Nebula) in Perseus, M78 in Orion, NGC 2392 (the Eskimo Nebula) in Gemini, and NGC 7009 (the Saturn Nebula) in Aquarius.  Another possibility is NGC 2261 (Hubble's Variable Nebula) in Monoceros but that one may be rather difficult.

http://www.astronomy...ghtest-nebulae/

 

https://www.skyandte...ason-by-season/

 

https://www.cambridg...ctober-december

 

https://www.cambridg...s_january-march

 

http://observing.sky.../nov/index.html

 

http://observing.sky.../jan/index.html

 

http://observing.sky.../feb/index.html


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#7 JOEinCO

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 07:56 PM

........You might find the book Turn Left at Orion helpful, as it's intended for use with smaller scopes.

 

I'll second Diana's recommendation for Turn Left at Orion. I like the spiral-bound one.....

 

I like the $5.21 used one: 

https://www.ebay.com...gAAOSwkgZbEjtS 



#8 S.Boerner

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 09:45 PM

From a dark sky location you should be able to see all the Messier objects.    Here you asked for a classification for easy targets for not so good skies.  I'm going to suggest that you take a look at Appendix B of the Astronomical Leagues Binocular Messier Program (https://www.astrolea...s/binomesb.html)  Appendix B lists 102/110 Messier objects as Easy, Tougher, and Challenging for 11x80 binoculars.  Figure that if it is easy for 11x80s it should be easy for your scope. 

 

The Astronomical League also has an Urban Observing Program (https://www.astrolea...rban/urban.html) where the objects selected are to be viewed under sky conditions that prohibit being able to see the Milky Way.


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#9 bobzeq25

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Posted 21 November 2019 - 10:31 PM

 Figure that if it is easy for 11x80s it should be easy for your scope.

There's a wrinkle to that.  Low surface brightness targets are easier with binoculars than scopes.



#10 quercuslobata

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 03:37 AM

From a dark sky location you should be able to see all the Messier objects.    Here you asked for a classification for easy targets for not so good skies.  I'm going to suggest that you take a look at Appendix B of the Astronomical Leagues Binocular Messier Program (https://www.astrolea...s/binomesb.html)  Appendix B lists 102/110 Messier objects as Easy, Tougher, and Challenging for 11x80 binoculars.  Figure that if it is easy for 11x80s it should be easy for your scope. 

 

The Astronomical League also has an Urban Observing Program (https://www.astrolea...rban/urban.html) where the objects selected are to be viewed under sky conditions that prohibit being able to see the Milky Way.

Thanks! I had actually come across the urban observing program list and was trying to find some of those objects. We did find the Ring nebula (M57), but weren’t able to see much detail. How helpful are different filters for something like this? After putting the kids to bed I spent quite some time trying to find the Blinking Nebula (NGC 6826) but could not find it. I was starting to get the feeling that this was a challenge list, rather than an easy list, for urban skies, but maybe if I stick to larger objects on this list I will have more luck.

The lists for easy, medium, and hard Messier objects looks really useful. We have binoculars too.

 

Thanks also to everyone else for the suggestions. I have a few books on my wish list.



#11 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 04:06 AM

The Blinking Nebula is small and looks like a star at low magnification.  As you observe more and more, you will develop a sense that a small, bright planetary is non-stellar, not a star.

 

If you think you've found it, you should increase the magnification to see if it really is a nebula.  

 

What eyepieces do you have?  What kind of finder(s) are you using?

 

Jon


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#12 quercuslobata

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 07:50 AM

The Blinking Nebula is small and looks like a star at low magnification.  As you observe more and more, you will develop a sense that a small, bright planetary is non-stellar, not a star.

 

If you think you've found it, you should increase the magnification to see if it really is a nebula.  

 

What eyepieces do you have?  What kind of finder(s) are you using?

 

Jon

Right now I have a 28mm (56degree), a 14mm ES82, a 10mm Plossl, and a 2x Barlow. My finder is the red dot variety, I could see how this might be a disadvantage for a small target. Seeing that particular night was not good enough for the 7mm equivalent, but I had no idea if I found it or not. I probably had it in my field at one point, but just didn't realize that it wasn't a star. I suppose I should just stick to bigger targets until I get more practice. 



#13 bleep

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 12:22 PM

I added this list to my SkySafari a long time ago. I haven’t seen them all yet. I’m still working my way down the list.

https://www.cloudyni...ae-spreadsheet/
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#14 NYJohn S

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 01:56 PM

Thanks! I had actually come across the urban observing program list and was trying to find some of those objects. We did find the Ring nebula (M57), but weren’t able to see much detail. How helpful are different filters for something like this? 

Here's a good guide to using filters for different Nebulae - https://www.prairiea...common-nebulae/

 

You can download it as a PDF so you have a searchable document. Filters help a lot especially in Bortle 5 skies. M57 shows pretty good without a filter though. Not far from it M27 - Dumbbell Nebula is another that shows well under bortle 5 skies even with no filter. A UHC or OIII filter will darken the sky and improve the contrast so they stand out better.

 

A good UHC or OII Filter will help you to see many more but they may not be the most exciting objects for kids. Just detecting some can be a challenge but that's part of the thrill for some of us.

 

Good luck!

John


Edited by NYJohn S, 22 November 2019 - 05:33 PM.

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#15 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 05:27 PM

Right now I have a 28mm (56degree), a 14mm ES82, a 10mm Plossl, and a 2x Barlow. My finder is the red dot variety, I could see how this might be a disadvantage for a small target. Seeing that particular night was not good enough for the 7mm equivalent, but I had no idea if I found it or not. I probably had it in my field at one point, but just didn't realize that it wasn't a star. I suppose I should just stick to bigger targets until I get more practice. 

 

Star hopping is much easier with an 50 mm RACI finder. The red dot points you to the region, the RACI is the next step, showing more stars and allowing you to point more closely.

 

The final step is the telescope.

 

Jon


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#16 havasman

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Posted 22 November 2019 - 06:03 PM

https://www.astronom...e/steve.ngc.htm

 

That links to Steve Gottlieb's visual observing notes for the entire NGC catalog. All Messier objects of concern here also have NGC numbers. The observations are via a range of apertures from 8 - 48". An advantage of having one extremely experienced observer's notes is that pretty soon you will learn how his observations inform your own with your gear from your site.

 

https://www.cloudyni...r/#entry9742088

 

That links to Dave Mitsky's monthly forum post of objects well situated in the sky for observing in a month. Toward the bottom is a list of the top ten binocular objects. They are often brighter and potentially more easily observed from poor conditions.

 

Narrowband nebula filters can really help with nebula observing from town.

 

I encourage you to broaden your scope to include star clusters and double/multiple stars as they can be quite rewarding from city skies. For instance, try the quad star Sigma Orionis. It is found at the eastern end of the belt of Orion, south west of Alnitak. It's just lovely. I enjoy reminding observers at outreach events that the close grouping of stars they see in the eyepiece are actually hundreds (at the very least) of light years apart.


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#17 Blackbelt76

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Posted 23 November 2019 - 11:06 AM

A great part of the fun & educational aspect is simply "go for it"

As others have said, objects from super dark skies are easy for some while a challenge for others.

 

By (hunting) for the target that may or may not be within visual of the telescope, one soon learns 

the dimmer stars in the vicinity of the target object.

 

When I began in astronomy with a scope, I would hunt every Messier object with a 8" reflector.

Did I see them all? No. I did gain valuable stellar navigation skills however.

 

"Am I in the right region?" "What is my FOV?" "What direction is the object relative to this bright star; at dusk or in morning?


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