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galaxy observing witha 6 inch refractor

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#1 droid

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 01:21 AM

its been a very long time since I went galaxy hunting, and plan to get back to it this year, but my observing skills are rusty, very rusty

 

Would like a realistic list of galaxies to re-cut my teeth, in part to build my confidence in my finding skills,

 

bright enough to be obvious, large enough to be something more than faint smudges.

 

Probably be all messier objects


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#2 Astrojensen

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 03:56 AM

Well, why not just start with the Messiers, then? Comb through the NGC and add those brighter than, say, mag 10 for additional targets. Should keep you busy for a while, if you spend some time studying each object. A 6" under dark skies will show details in all of them, sometimes quite a lot of it. M33, M101 and M82 comes to mind.

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


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#3 jayrome

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Posted 02 February 2020 - 08:15 PM

Check out M81 and M82 now that they are rising in the evenings in the north-east. There's something about M82 that makes it bright and easy to see somehow. But it's a very cool galaxy. But from dark clear skies you should have no problem bagging lots of galaxies in the coming months.


Edited by jayrome, 03 February 2020 - 08:18 AM.


#4 j.gardavsky

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 06:28 AM

M81 and M82 is a very good choice to start the season.

 

M82: Look for its irregular form with the bright condensations, more magnification helps.

M81 is decorated with a nice foreground double star.

 

Looking at east towards Leo, you will find the "Leo's Head Galaxy" NGC 2903.

At the magnifications of 75x and higher, the bright oval glow will reveal the spiral arm.

 

Clear skies,

JG


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#5 sg6

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 08:07 AM

One sort of quick option is search "list of messier objects" and visit the Wiki page.

Then click on Type in the header row.

The list gets ordered into Type and all Galaxies are in a small block.

 

Don't think there are a lot but at least a block to work through.

 

Suppose simple are M81, M82 (bit unsure of), M33, M101 and the Leo Triplet - think 2 of the 3 are Messier's.

Of course there is M31 but that should be easy/obvious.

 

Haven't looked but also search The Caldwell Objects.

Suspect there are a few in that also.

 

Sometimes the offered option when searching can be useful, try:

https://en.wikipedia...spiral_galaxies

 

Doesn't give a size and magnitude on an extended object is always slightly questionable.

If they have Spirals, I guess they have Elipticals also somewhere.


Edited by sg6, 03 February 2020 - 08:26 AM.


#6 tchandler

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 08:30 AM

This sounds like a fun project. 
 

There are a number of books and references out there (e.g. Burnham’s Celestial Handbook) that list basic facts about a great number of “select” deep sky objects. Here’s another CN thread discussing this topic. For example, for the constellation of Andromeda there is a single page of DSOs with 9 of these being galaxies. And of these 9 galaxies, 5 are categorized as B (bright) or brighter. The faintest of the 5 is NGC 891, the so-called Milky Way twin. You will need a dark site for sure to nab this doppelgänger. 

 

After some time, I expect that you’ll be able to calibrate your eye and gauge the descriptions to get a better sense of what you might expect to see. Factors such as the angular size of the galaxy, whether it has a condensed nucleus, the sky transparency, and perhaps most importantly the darkness of your observing site, but also your steadily growing experience will all contribute to your experience. 

Have fun!
 



#7 Araguaia

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 08:57 AM

My suggestion is to observe "easy" galaxies that have a lot of faint detail.  I find that this helps me train the eye better than looking at the faintest galaxies our scope can reach.

 

For example, observe M51 and M101 and try to see how much of the arms and knots you can make out.  The Sombrero galaxy to see how much of the dark lane and brightness on both sides you can see.  Galaxy groups like Markarian's chain to see how many of the fainter galaxies you can spot.  M31 to see how far you can trace out the dark lanes and outer arms.

 

And don't forget the Milky Way!  Especially around the core, there is much detail to see: ink-black dark nebulas, globular clusters, star clouds... especially at low power.  Your scope should give you the ideal field for that, and at low power even fainter details will look bright.  Also for surfing the Virgo Cluster and the galaxies in Leo without taking your eye off the eyepiece.


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#8 sg6

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 09:01 AM

Looked down the Wiki list I gave 2 posts up.

Slightly longer then I had expected, really should read before I do anything.

Still enough to keep you busy for a week (maybe a bit more lol.giflol.gif )

 

At the top it says the list is "Incomplete" and that people can help by "expanding it".

So after the week lol.gif , when you have done them all lol.gif , you could add a few.

 

Or start on Elipticals thinking1.gif

 

Looking through the list I would argue that M94 is eliptical and NGC 7217.



#9 j.gardavsky

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 10:14 AM

...hmmmm

 

at the moment,

the Moon will be interfereing with the spiral arms in M31, M51, M101,

and the Sombrero Galaxy with its declination of -11°, will still be below the horizon.

 

Clear skies,

JG



#10 Sketcher

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 01:57 PM

its been a very long time since I went galaxy hunting, and plan to get back to it this year, but my observing skills are rusty, very rusty

 

Would like a realistic list of galaxies to re-cut my teeth, in part to build my confidence in my finding skills,

 

bright enough to be obvious, large enough to be something more than faint smudges.

 

Probably be all messier objects

Speaking only for myself, I wouldn't have thought of asking the question.  I would have simply gone out and started looking at (or even better, observing) various galaxies.

 

Which galaxies would I start with?  Well, I wouldn't systematically start looking for all the galaxies plotted in the latest edition of Uranometria.  On the other hand, a monthly magazine's sky charts would have already weeded out all but a handful of the brightest, easiest, largest, and otherwise "best" galaxies.  From there, move up to progressively more detailed atlases.  Any serious hobbiest ought to own a variety of suitable atlases to draw from.

 

Naturally, the Messier's would be obvious candidates -- but which ones (if one doesn't want to try all of them)?  The Messier Album by Mallas and Kreimer and The Messier Objects by O'Meara contain observing notes and sketches of most (if not all) of the Messier galaxies -- based on observations made with 4-inch refractors.  A 6-inch refractor has more than double the light-grasp of a 4-inch.  Check out those sketches and notes to decide, based on what you see and read, which ones to go after.

 

Just beware:  One person's "structured, bright, and obvious" galaxy will be someone else's "very faint, and barely visible smudge".  So none of us can decide for you which galaxies you will see as "bright enough to be obvious", and "large enough to be something more than faint smudges".

 

Note:  I started out with a distinction between "looking at" a galaxy and "observing" a galaxy.  There's a huge difference between those two terms.  One might look at a galaxy and see a faint, featureless, smudge.  Or one might observe the very same galaxy -- taking more time to actively look for details that were missed upon that first look.  The two Messier books mentioned above consist of observations that were conducted by "observers" -- as opposed to "lookers".  People who observe see more than those who merely look.


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#11 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 02:15 PM

In addition to the brighter Messier galaxies, NGC 2683, NGC 2841, NGC 2903, NGC 3115, NGC 4214, NGC 4449, NGC 4565, and NGC 4631 should all be reasonable targets for a 6" aperture from a dark site.


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#12 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 03 February 2020 - 02:20 PM

These lists may prove useful.

http://www.messier.s...r/sac110bn.html

 

http://www.messier.s...r/rasc-ngc.html



#13 Redbetter

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 02:23 AM

Much depends on how dark the skies are that you will be observing from.  A 6" refractor should be able to show quite a few galaxies, somewhat fewer than an 8" SCT, but still quite a lot.  Brighter skies will steal galaxies more rapidly than loss of aperture, because the surface brightness of most galaxies is not that high.  To give an idea of how little aperture is needed:  with only 42mm of aperture in very dark sky I was able to view that ~12 mag supernova in NGC 4636 the other night, and see the 9.5 mag galaxy as well.  They were downright easy with the 60mm scope when I estimated the SN at 12.4 mag.

 

Assuming rural dark sky, anything on the Messier list will be well within reach as well as the Herschel 400. The dimmest on the Hershel 400 list are about 13 mag photographic (and 0.5 to 1 mag brighter visually.) 

 

Perhaps one of the best ways to improve your skills is to pick a showpiece galaxy and try to sketch what you see.  The more you study it, the more you will see.  Another way, is to use a more detailed image of the galaxy and see what you can identify visually, checking off knots, arms, bars, stars, etc.  In some ways this can be more helpful than sketching because it provides a rapid feedback loop for suspected things, and can indicate where to look for others that you might otherwise not notice (because it is easy to tunnel in on more prominent things even when sketching.)  Combining the two captures the benefits of both. 

 

Along with showpiece galaxies, pick a few you expect to be challenging and see what you can detect.  Clusters or strings of galaxies can be quite rewarding as you will have a range of brightness/shape objects to try to detect.  It helps to bring a more detailed chart to the field so that you can identify and check off what you see vs. what you don't.  The smaller the apparent size, the more magnification that is often required to see a galaxy. 

 

If you don't sketch, just try composing some notes in your head for what you do see, even if you don't record them in any fashion.  For example describe the general size, overall brightness/dimness, surface brightness (e.g. high, average, low, very low), general shape/orientation, any lumps/knots other irregularity, whether the galaxy brightens to the center noticeably, or has a stellar core.  If you see an orientation describe the general alignment, e.g. NW/SE elongated 2:1.  Sometimes you might see a brighter bar that is prominent, but realize a very low surface brightness wider expanse/elongation of the galaxy is turned nearly perpendicular to it.  Describe any nearby stars/asterisms. 

 

The above paragraph might sound like busy-work, but having some key things to record prompts me to spend time studying each galaxy before moving on to the next. 


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#14 havasman

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 04:32 AM

There should be many non-Messier galaxies available for an observer with 6" aperture from a dark site. Right now NGC2403 is the 1st that occurs to me. It also is filled with detail including an H-II region that also has its own NGC catalog designation - NGC2404.

 

Others, but not all others

NGC253

NGC891 will be a challenge

NGC1023 small but bright

NGC2683

NGC3115

NGC3432 a faint edge-on streak in small aperture

NGC2903

NGC3521

NGC3628 the 3rd member of the Leo Triplet (with M65/66)

NGC4414 small-ish but bright

NGC4565 large AND bright

NGC5128 very low

NGC4244 spindle

NGC4490

NGC4631

NGC4656

NGC5005 small-ish but bright

NGC4216 thin edge-on but bright

the VIRGO galaxy fields

 

IC10 worth a shot

IC342 faint, obscured face-on spiral with bright nucleus and straight line of superposed stars just could be do-able

 

Stretch yourself instead of limiting yourself. You cannot know what you can see if you don't try threshold objects.


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#15 Astrojensen

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 03:47 PM

There should be many non-Messier galaxies available for an observer with 6" aperture from a dark site. 

 

Stretch yourself instead of limiting yourself. You cannot know what you can see if you don't try threshold objects.

All true, but Andy did say he felt very rusty, so I think he should warm up with the easier ones first, before going in deep. The Messier objects are easy to find and hold plenty of challenging or extremely challenging details themselves, if one feels brave and daring on a superb night. 

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


Edited by Astrojensen, 04 February 2020 - 03:49 PM.

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#16 Keith Rivich

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 07:22 PM

Maybe Don can re-post his Best of 500 list. It seems to be MIA.  Lots of galaxies in this listing within reach of a 6" scope.



#17 The Ardent

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Posted 04 February 2020 - 07:30 PM

1. The galaxies plotted in the monthly magazine star charts.
2. The galaxies given more than a one-line listing in Burnham’s Celestial Handbook
3. The galaxies listed as showpieces in NSOG
4. The galaxies plotted in Pocket Sky Atlas. This atlas contains mostly the easier ones.
5. The galaxies labeled with large, bold print in Interstellarum
6. The galaxies brighter than 10th mag in SkySafari or Skytools advanced search

#18 j.gardavsky

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 05:47 AM

7. And the galaxies on the Rükl's Wall Map Of The Northern Skies

 

or alternatively,

my 110 best northern galaxies for the binoculars,

 

JG


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#19 Asbytec

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 06:26 AM

The Messier Album by Mallas and Kreimer and The Messier Objects by O'Meara contain observing notes and sketches of most (if not all) of the Messier galaxies -- based on observations made with 4-inch refractors.  A 6-inch refractor has more than double the light-grasp of a 4-inch.  Check out those sketches and notes to decide, based on what you see and read, which ones to go after.

 

Just beware:  One person's "structured, bright, and obvious" galaxy will be someone else's "very faint, and barely visible smudge".  So none of us can decide for you which galaxies you will see as "bright enough to be obvious", and "large enough to be something more than faint smudges".

 

Note:  I started out with a distinction between "looking at" a galaxy and "observing" a galaxy.  There's a huge difference between those two terms.  One might look at a galaxy and see a faint, featureless, smudge.  Or one might observe the very same galaxy -- taking more time to actively look for details that were missed upon that first look.  The two Messier books mentioned above consist of observations that were conducted by "observers" -- as opposed to "lookers".  People who observe see more than those who merely look.

waytogo.gif

 

O'Meara has a couple of good books. Those are the class of objects I'd shoot for. 

https://books.google...epage&q&f=false


Edited by Asbytec, 05 February 2020 - 06:29 AM.


#20 Astrojensen

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 01:57 PM

or alternatively,

my 110 best northern galaxies for the binoculars,

 

JG

The underlined part of the sentence seems to suggest a link, but it's not working.

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#21 j.gardavsky

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 03:33 PM

The underlined part of the sentence seems to suggest a link, but it's not working.

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

Hello Thomas,

 

it's not a link, just underlined.

In fact, there have been more than 110 through the binoculars,

but on the historical reasons of Messier's legacy, we like the number 110.

 

Thank you for asking,

JG



#22 payner

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Posted 05 February 2020 - 06:31 PM

waytogo.gif

 

O'Meara has a couple of good books. Those are the class of objects I'd shoot for. 

https://books.google...epage&q&f=false

That is a good one.


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#23 stargzr66207

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Posted 14 February 2020 - 06:31 PM

Andy,

 

One good starting place would be the "Markarian's Chain" area of the Virgo Cluster and then, with the aid of good charts, start "galaxy hopping" your way around the Virgo Cluster. You might be surprised how many faint fuzzies you can pick out with a

six inch glass!!

Ron Abbott


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#24 Bigzmey

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Posted 19 February 2020 - 05:53 PM

Herschel 400-1 was designed to be observable with 6" scope. If you run out of Messiers this season there are plenty of neat targets on H400.

 

https://www.astrolea...00/h400lstc.pdf


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#25 JoshUrban

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Posted 20 February 2020 - 09:27 AM

I third that mention of O'Mera's books!  His "Hidden Treasures" and "Caldwell Objects" are also excellent, and have been a valued part of my library for years.  He conducted his research with a 4" refractor from very dark skies, and seems to have "eagle powers", but is a nice take on DSO's from a non-monster dob perspective.  




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