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Spring and Galaxy Season are Coming

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#1 jayrome

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Posted 10 February 2020 - 11:43 AM

Hello fellow DSO enthusiasts!

I dunno if there is already a similar thread on this or not, but, here goes.

So, last year, when I got my scope, the timing was just right to take in the galaxies in Leo, Virgo and Coma Berenices, Ursa Major, etc. Such wonders I discovered in these constellations in my first year back into the hobby. Here is the thing though. 

Every time I tried to observe all those galaxies that make up the Virgo Cluster, I felt overwhelmed. Just scanning around the sky in that region was faint-fuzzies a go-go. I didn't know where to start. I think at best I identified Markarian's Chain, but everything else was just faint little galaxies and I didn't know what to look at.

 

Now ... here we are 12 months later almost. I feel that my skill with the dob is up to speed, and I have 'learned to see' far better than a year ago. can anyone help me with what to expect? Strategies for hopping from galaxy to galaxy? Experienced observers of Virgo, how do you go about it?

 

clear skies!

 

J


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#2 Stardust Dave

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Posted 10 February 2020 - 12:40 PM

Star hopping many regions can overwhelm you with lots of faint galaxies at the EP.

I start with an easy target that I recognize by sight, and pan around "hopping"to ID the other galaxies nearby.

 

 Having a tablet there at the EP running SS ect to reverse image orientation and being able to limit the background objects displayed ( fainter galaxies) helps.

 

Often in those galaxy rich areas of the sky more time may be spent logging galaxies that are not my intended targets.


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#3 stoest

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Posted 10 February 2020 - 02:56 PM

I'm still struggling with this myself but in areas where there are so many galaxies it's more like galaxy hopping than star hopping.  Once I identify one galaxy I'll use it as a base to identify surrounding galaxies and then use those and so on and so on.  I find that every time I go back to an area it gets easier.  I also use SkySafari to make sure I have a correct orientation and similar limiting magnitude view on it to match as closely as I can the scope view. 


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#4 Migwan

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Posted 10 February 2020 - 08:34 PM

I found identifying galaxies tedious after a dozen or so.   Since then, I have concentrated on trying to see as many galaxies in a single FOV as possible.  Oddly enough, I end up identifying more that way.   Guess I was never meant to be a scientist.   

 

jd  


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#5 The Ardent

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Posted 10 February 2020 - 08:57 PM

Both Sky Atlas 2000 and Uranometria have close up maps of this area that can help.
SkySafari pro on tablet is good for when the charts aren’t specific enough.
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#6 Knasal

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Posted 10 February 2020 - 10:02 PM

Check this link out:

 

 http://www.messier.s...more/virgo.html

 

-Kevin


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#7 Araguaia

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Posted 11 February 2020 - 08:41 AM

Markarian's chain is a good place to practice.  You can detecting as many galaxies as possible in it.  You can practice scanning up and down the chain, at low power and then at higher powers.  Then you can try for scanning from Markarian's chain to nearby M87, and try to make out the two or three faint galaxies near it.

 

With a little practice, you can learn to surf at low power from M98 to M60 in almost a straight line, with M87 and Markarian's chain near the middle and features such as the Siamese twins along the way.

 

Another nice place to enjoy and develop skills is Leo, with several groups of galaxies that fit into the same field: the Leo Triplet, where the challenge is seeing detail in the bright galaxies; the Leo Quintet (M95, M96, M105 and two NGCs), a bit more spread out and with fainter members; and the Leo Quartet, a group of four faint galaxies on the Lion's Neck, for an extra challenge.

 

Look also at some more unique galaxies nearby: the Needle Galaxy, a very fine edge-on in Coma, and the Whale, Calf, and Hockey Stick, a trio of peculiar galaxies in Canes Venatici.  And don't forget the Sombrero Galaxy in Corvus!


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#8 jayrome

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Posted 11 February 2020 - 10:05 AM

Thank you everyone for these excellent tips! Yes I've visited galaxies in Leo and Coma Berenices, but it's when I get deep into the Virgo cluster that it becomes a bit overwhelming. I'm really hoping for some good seeing and dark nights in the next couple months; now that I have that 5mm hyperion I want to put it to the  test on the Black Eye galaxy, among others where I hope to be able to see more detail, dust lanes, mottling, and not just faint little smudges!

 

Thanks!

 

J


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#9 vdog

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Posted 11 February 2020 - 04:42 PM

Sounds like a good problem to have.  On most nights where I live, I hit a hard wall around magnitude 10.  On the best nights, I can sometimes faintly detect up to about 11.

 

Not that that doesn't still leave me a lot of galaxies I can observe, but I would love to be overwhelmed. grin.gif


Edited by vdog, 11 February 2020 - 04:43 PM.


#10 Tony Flanders

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Posted 11 February 2020 - 05:43 PM

My biggest problem with the Virgo Cluster is figuring out where to start. In many ways, it's easiest to start with Rho Vir, which is the center star of a striking four-star formation. With four stars to choose among, you can find a pair that points just about anywhere you want in the cluster. Usually I start by going due north to the ultrabright M60-M59 pair. Remember to look for M60's bright, nearly touching companion NGC 4647. M60 and M59 point to the similar, but somewhat fainter elliptical M58, and from there you can either branch north toward M91 or northwest to M87 and the M84/M86 pair.

 

An alternate way to get there is to point halfway between Epsilon Vir (Vindemiatrix, famed in star lore) and Denebola. Either M87 of the M84/M86 pair will probably be in the field of view -- if not, just wiggle around until you find them. Those three giant ellipticals are all quite distinctive, once you've seen them a couple of times. And of course M84 and M86 are at one end of Markarian's Chain, leading north to M88 and then east to M91.

 

Or sometimes I work my way in from Denebola, but that entails traversing a somewhat fainter and less distinctive galaxy field.

 

But really the answer is practice. It's actually quite an easy field to navigate, though it takes a while to get used to hopping from galaxy to galaxy rather than the much more common practice of hopping from star to star.


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#11 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 12 February 2020 - 07:09 PM

Here are links to a number of star-hops through the Virgo Cluster.

 

https://www.cloudyni...SWDeepVirgo.pdf

 

http://www.astro-tom...rgo_cluster.htm

 

http://www.astronomi...stbook/adv3.htm

https://www.skyhound...s/apr/M_86.html

https://britastro.org/node/12846  
 

https://tonyflanders...de-late-spring/

 

http://www.messier.s.../virgo_obs.html

 

Finder charts can be found at http://www.astrosurf...rgo-cluster.htm and http://freestarchart...inder_Chart.pdf and http://freestarchart...inder_Chart.pdf

 

You can work through the Virgo Cluster from west to east or east to west or from the center. If you have a Telrad, place the reticle exactly halfway between Denebola (Beta Leonis) and Vindemiatrix (Epsilon Virginis).  You should then be at M84 at one end of Markarian's Chain.  

http://www.star-shin...charts/m084.htm

 

https://www.messier-...rkarians-chain/
 

I use the "slanted T" asterism in northwestern Virgo to pick up M98, M99, and M100 and Rho Virginis to log M58, M59, and M60.
 

https://www.novac.co...ssier/virgo.pdf

 

https://www.astrolea...s_of_202541.pdf


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#12 tchandler

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 08:18 AM

A trip to this region of the sky is like traveling to a major city for the first time. At first it’s a confusion of bright lights and dazzle. Maybe at first you decide to visit just the major attractions, always making sure you’re able to get back to the apartment where you’re staying. The major attractions are usually worth more than one visit because there’s really quite a lot to check out. And while you’re out for your space walk, you see a pathway that looks promising or maybe chance upon something you hadn’t expected. After several visits you realize that you could be leading others on tours.

 

With time, a strange neighbourhood becomes the place where you live.


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#13 clearwaterdave

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 08:49 AM

I got out on the morning of the 4th with my Onesky and the ES14/82,ep for a pre season peek.,The transparency was just fair but I was able to catch a number of fuzzies.,No chart so no ID's but a nice time just the same.

  I'm looking forward to touring the cluster when better conditions prevail with my new to me 10"dob.,cheers.,


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#14 Feidb

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 09:30 AM

I'm doing the Herschel 2500 and have been nipping away at that area for several years. However, weather always gets in the way and I keep missing out. I'm hoping to nip a little more of it away this year. I use detailed maps at different fields of view, using Megastar to plot out the fine details and then a process of elimination. So far, that's worked. Oh, and Sky Commander digital setting circles, a push-to system.



#15 havasman

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 12:40 PM

It's always galaxy season at some point in a night if you're a galaxy observer. And there are lots of places to practice galaxy hopping as we wait for the great river of galaxies running from Ursa Major down through the sky to become well placed for observing. For instance, try observing all the galaxies within the bowl of the big dipper. It will take more than one night. Galaxy hopping is the only way I know to get it done. And there are many, many to see there too including both brighter and threshold objects for most any of our scopes. Galaxy clusters and groups offer the same sort of opportunity in a more compact area.


Edited by havasman, 13 February 2020 - 12:42 PM.

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#16 stargzr66207

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Posted 14 February 2020 - 06:17 PM

Identification of the galaxies is always the challenge in the Virgo Cluster.  Good charts are a MUST.  I use Stellarium Star Atlas,

Millenium Star Atlas, Harald-Barbroff, and MegaStar.  You can't have enough charts!

 

Ron Abbott


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#17 Philler

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Posted 14 February 2020 - 08:27 PM

Hello fellow DSO enthusiasts!

I dunno if there is already a similar thread on this or not, but, here goes.

So, last year, when I got my scope, the timing was just right to take in the galaxies in Leo, Virgo and Coma Berenices, Ursa Major, etc. Such wonders I discovered in these constellations in my first year back into the hobby. Here is the thing though. 

Every time I tried to observe all those galaxies that make up the Virgo Cluster, I felt overwhelmed. Just scanning around the sky in that region was faint-fuzzies a go-go. I didn't know where to start. I think at best I identified Markarian's Chain, but everything else was just faint little galaxies and I didn't know what to look at.

 

Now ... here we are 12 months later almost. I feel that my skill with the dob is up to speed, and I have 'learned to see' far better than a year ago. can anyone help me with what to expect? Strategies for hopping from galaxy to galaxy? Experienced observers of Virgo, how do you go about it?

 

clear skies!

 

J

We have all been there and initially been overwhelmed and confused.  A few tricks I use on any groups and clusters of galaxies.  Have a sketch pad or notebook handy.  I sketch or simply draw the shape of the most prominent member or members of the group of galaxies. I will draw a circle, oval, edge on or whatever shape it is and then draw circles or shapes for other galaxies in the field of view showing a pattern in relation the most prominent member.  Example: Markarian Chain, I would make larger circles for M 84 and M 86, then smaller circles, oval,. or lines for edge on's, for like 4388, 4387, 4435,4438, 4458, 4461, and any more seen. Or, like the galaxies in the fields of view around M59 and M60, or around the field around M58 and the Siamese Twins 4567/68.  I draw the shapes and write their numbers next to them. If I can't identify them at the time, I can try to identify them later.  In other words, the patterns they appear in relation to each other can help solve the confusion.  

Rho Vir. can be a good place to start your star hop in this area, but you can also start at 6 Com in the pattern of stars that kind of look like the Scorpius' head.   6 Com is about 7 degrees east of Beta Leonis and is only about 3 degrees from the Markarian Chain. 


Edited by Philler, 14 February 2020 - 10:20 PM.

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#18 Bigzmey

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Posted 14 February 2020 - 09:15 PM

The key to not get lost is to have a very detailed charts which go deep.

 

I hunt galaxies with a manual AltAz mount and find the targets by triangulating with Red Dot. This typically places the target within  RACI FOV.

 

From that point I switch to SkySafari App on my phone to find the right spot in 5 degree field of RACI.

 

Then I go to a low power EP to find the right spot in 1-2deg field.  

 

And finally start playing with EPs to pull that faint fuzzy. smile.gif

 

I did my first ~300 galaxies using interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas (IDSA), running between the table and the scope. But when you go deeper and need to use faint stars to find your way around, SkySafari is a real lifesaver. 

 

Now I operate the scope with one hand and keep phone in the other, with one eye on EP and another on SkySafari. lol.gif


Edited by Bigzmey, 14 February 2020 - 09:17 PM.

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#19 jayrome

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Posted 15 February 2020 - 10:27 PM

I have a notebook that I that I've done a few drawings in. I've also used it to make quick sketches ahead of time of constellations and asterisms to use to find dso's. I could always print charts out too, I've preferred to avoid breaking out Stellarium on my phone when I'm out there.

I also revisited Sue French's chapter on Markarian's Chain in the book Deep-Sky Wonders and got yet another perspective on this region. Maybe a better way to go about it is not to try to visit them all in one night. Odds are I'll get a few nights from March to May to do a grand tour. I'll be testing my limits in getting focus and resolution. Hoping to catch a dust lane or two, and maybe a spiral arm :) I imagine a lot of us will be!

 

clear skies


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