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In Search of Spiral Arms in the Brightest Galaxies, 2nd pass completed... (Night Vision)

NV observing report
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#1 alanjgreen

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 07:49 AM

Equipment Used:

Scope: 20” f3.6 Lukehurst Dob with Paracorr (fl = 2089mm & f4.1).
Night Vision: PVS-14 with Photonis 4g INTENS.
Eyepiece: Plossl 55mm (f2 x38).

 

 

Background.
In spring 2019 I created a Sky Safari observing list of 214 highest brightness galaxies in the night sky above.
- I have observed 134 of the 214 (the others have not been well placed over my garden when I have been outside).

 

In my first pass through these 134 galaxies, they were graded 0-3 (where 3 means "clear spiral arms" and 0 means "nothing to see here!")

 

I have now completed a second pass through the grade 2 and grade 3 galaxies. This has resulted in some movement between bands based on my now greater experience and having a better idea of what I expect to see.

 

My latest graded lists contain 38 grade 3 galaxies and 30 grade 2 galaxies (when combined this gives a list of the best galaxies to view when using military night vision technology combined with a low power eyepiece (using the TeleVue PVS-14 adapter).

 

[Note that lower power eyepieces give the best spiral arm results as they “increase the effective focal ratio” of the telescope/night vision system which really helps increase the detail seen at the eyepiece.]

 

As we are still in galaxy season 2020, now seemed a good time to re-publish my findings so others have the opportunity to observe some of these fantastic galaxies before they become “unavailable” for another 10 months…

 

 

Grade 3 galaxies (the best of the best).

  1. M51
  2. M61
  3. M64
  4. M65
  5. M66
  6. M81
  7. M90
  8. M91
  9. M94
  10. M95
  11. M96
  12. M99
  13. M100
  14. M101
  15. M106
  16. M109
  17. NGC891
  18. NGC2403
  19. NGC2903
  20. NGC3184
  21. NGC3628
  22. NGC3631
  23. NGC3726
  24. NGC3893
  25. NGC3953
  26. NGC4051
  27. NGC4216
  28. NGC4274
  29. NGC4449
  30. NGC4559
  31. NGC4565
  32. NGC4618
  33. NGC4725
  34. NGC5248
  35. NGC5371
  36. NGC5746
  37. NGC5907
  38. NGC6946

 

Grade 2 galaxies (good but the arms are not quite there…)

  1. M82
  2. M88
  3. M98
  4. M104
  5. NGC2537
  6. NGC2768
  7. NGC3294
  8. NGC3344
  9. NGC3373
  10. NGC3596
  11. NGC3646
  12. NGC3675
  13. NGC3718
  14. NGC3729
  15. NGC3813
  16. NGC3938
  17. NGC4013
  18. NGC4214
  19. NGC4293
  20. NGC4389
  21. NGC4490
  22. NGC4517
  23. NGC4535
  24. NGC4625
  25. NGC4762
  26. NGC5005
  27. NGC5364
  28. NGC5383
  29. NGC5775
  30. NGC6015

 

Hopefully someone will find this useful information, next time they plan a galaxy observing session?

Note that my dobsonian uses an Astrodevices Nexus unit which I control using Sky Safari.

 

Here are my exported observing lists (which you can import into your Sky Safari app should you wish to do so?)

 

Attached File  Grade 3 Galaxies.skylist.txt   10.34KB   39 downloads

Attached File  Grade 2 Galaxies.skylist.txt   7.54KB   17 downloads

[Note that I had to append “.txt” to the filename to be able to upload them to cloudynights]

 

1. Remove the “.txt” from the end of the filename,
2. email them to your phone/ipad,
3. read the email on your mobile device and after clicking on the attachment, you should be offered the chance to “send to Sky Safari” by your email app…
4.Sky Safari will open and give a message “Observing List Created”.

 

 

Clear Skies,
Alan


Edited by alanjgreen, 27 March 2020 - 10:56 AM.

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#2 Neptune

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:42 AM

Funny this post came up here today.  I was out with my C11 EDGE last night with mag 5 visibility east of Atlanta, GA.   I was looking at something I rarely look at, Galaxies.  Thinking to my self, what size scope do I need to really see something that looks even remotely like the pictures.  I know 11" is not getting it done. 

 

Years ago I had a 12" SCT under some very dark skies in AZ and I could not really make out any arms on M51.  So what size scope does one need to get in the game so to speek?

 

David



#3 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 01:11 PM

Years ago I had a 12" SCT under some very dark skies in AZ and I could not really make out any arms on M51.  So what size scope does one need to get in the game so to speek?

 

 

 

Depends upon your expectations. They need to be managed tightly. Like you, I looked at a lot of galaxy pictures. 

 

Eight years ago I upgraded from a 12.5" to 16". I thought it would be a "breakthrough" aperture. And on intragalactic targets, it was.

 

Galaxies? A whole different animal. Magnitude 10 and brighter were indeed greatly improved in the 16". But those 12 and 13th magnitude galaxies did not burst into rich detail. My expectations were unrealistic.

 

It should be pointed out there are observers who are quite happy observing with a 12.5" aperture. It's all about goals and expectations. 

 

In 2016 I bought the NV eyepiece which was very helpful (especially under SQM 20.5 skies).

 

However for my desired improvements in detail on fainter galaxies, something in the 20" class would be required. Or imaging with a smaller scope using extensive post-processing (which is probably a safer bet than the monster Dob). Neither appeal to me at this point in time. Maybe in a few years.

 

Based on that I would say think carefully about the galaxies you want to observe. Can you be happy with the 80-100 brightest galaxies? Or do you really want to go deep and obscure?

And how frequently you can get to dark skies? Everything works better there!


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#4 Astro-Master

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Posted 28 March 2020 - 06:43 PM

I've seen some mind blowing detail on galaxies in my 18" Dob. from a Bortle 2 Zone SQM 21:84 at 8,600 ft with good transparency and seeing.  M51 looked like a photo at 280x with a 17 Ethos and AP barlow.  NGC 891 at 320x on the zenith at 4:00am was unforgettable.

 

It was an extra special night, and galaxies were showing spiral arms and detail that was not visible the night before or the night after.  Every three to five years I get lucky with one of those magical nights when everything comes together.  Its nights like that an 18" works more like a 24" scope.

 

  That said a 24" scope under dark skies with good sky conditions would show some nice detail on galaxies, and on those magical nights when the seeing and transparency are excellent, the high power views with Ethos eyepieces would be mind blowing.

 

The sky conditions is the wild card, Big Dobs work best at high altitude where the seeing and transparency can be amazing.


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#5 genelew

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 12:51 PM

Hi Alan,

Thanks for the great lists. I'm having a problem getting the skylists into SkySafari. I dragged the links to an email and sent to myself, then deleted the .txt at the end but I don't get any option to add to SS. I'm using an iPad .

 

Any suggestions? Can you walk me through the clicks?

 

Gene



#6 alanjgreen

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Posted 29 March 2020 - 04:16 PM

Hi Alan,

Thanks for the great lists. I'm having a problem getting the skylists into SkySafari. I dragged the links to an email and sent to myself, then deleted the .txt at the end but I don't get any option to add to SS. I'm using an iPad .

 

Any suggestions? Can you walk me through the clicks?

 

Gene

Hi Gene,

 

It sounds like you need to remove the .txt from the file name BEFORE you email them to yourself. I used my PC to edit the files before emailing them.

 

The attached files (within the sent email) must end in .skylist when you click on them for the iPad to offer up Sky Safari as the target app.

 

HTH,

Alan


Edited by alanjgreen, 29 March 2020 - 04:17 PM.


#7 genelew

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 10:00 AM

Thanks, Alan. I'll give that a try.

Gene



#8 Migwan

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Posted 30 March 2020 - 06:11 PM

Maybe because I don't have 20" of wonderful or night vision, I would add M33.  I can see 70-80% of its spirals with my ST120 on a good night.  I can see the one spiral almost all the way out to NGC604.   My C11 shows only about 25% of those spirals outright on the same night, but I've been able to see them out to around 60% in averted vision by bumping the scope. 

 

Otherwise, very useful list. 

 

jd



#9 alanjgreen

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 02:34 AM

Maybe because I don't have 20" of wonderful or night vision, I would add M33.  I can see 70-80% of its spirals with my ST120 on a good night.  I can see the one spiral almost all the way out to NGC604.   My C11 shows only about 25% of those spirals outright on the same night, but I've been able to see them out to around 60% in averted vision by bumping the scope. 

 

Otherwise, very useful list. 

 

jd

Indeed, M33 is wonderful with my setup. It should be in the grade 3 list as should M31. Both galaxies show arm structure clearly.

 

M33 was also great when viewed with an additional 5nm Ha filter revealing plenty of red star birth patches - I have an outstanding task to do the same test on M101 next new moon!

- I posted an observing report at the time...

 

https://www.cloudyni...y-night-vision/

 

https://www.cloudyni...s-night-vision/
 

The same report reveals that M74 is also missing from the grade 3 list - seems I have some rework/updates to catch up on...

 

... just found another missed entry NGC772 = grade 2

 

Alan


Edited by alanjgreen, 31 March 2020 - 03:22 AM.

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#10 Migwan

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Posted 31 March 2020 - 07:04 AM

Indeed, M33 is wonderful with my setup. It should be in the grade 3 list as should M31. Both galaxies show arm structure clearly.

 

M33 was also great when viewed with an additional 5nm Ha filter revealing plenty of red star birth patches - I have an outstanding task to do the same test on M101 next new moon!

- I posted an observing report at the time...

 

https://www.cloudyni...y-night-vision/

 

https://www.cloudyni...s-night-vision/
 

The same report reveals that M74 is also missing from the grade 3 list - seems I have some rework/updates to catch up on...

 

... just found another missed entry NGC772 = grade 2

 

Alan

Cool.  I have been able to see and chart eleven star forming regions in M33 and wondered if you were considering being able to see such targets as points of interest.   I see you rated NGC2403 a three where I managed to chart four such regions. waytogo.gif  M101 is on my current list, too.  

 

I've been looking at M82 thinking I seeing such regions in the North end near the two crossing debris lanes (averted only).  Haven't been able to find an annotated picture to verify.     

 

Like the sketches.  Thanks for the links.  I had to get a black sketch pad and white pencils.  Either white or yellow paper kills my night vision, even under red light.    

 

Stay well.

 

jd


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