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Filters for Galaxies

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#1 Orion 3

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 10:34 PM

Hi all, I'm relatively new to astronomy and I have been using my new Orion Goto Star Seeker IV 150mm (f/5) reflector since this past Christmas to view the stars,  the Orion Nebula, Mars, the Moon and M31, M81, and M82 galaxies. I would like to see the galaxies better and wondering if there are any filters that could help. I was looking at the Lumicon UHC and the Orion Ultrablock filters, trying to keep the cost under $100. I'm using a 25mm plossl and the Orion 7.2-21 zoom. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.



#2 Gschnettler

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 10:55 PM

I’m not aware of any filters that would help with galaxies other than maybe a light pollution filter in a light polluted area.

Since the stars in galaxies emit broadband light, any filter you choose would also reduce the light from the galaxy, thus making it even dimmer.

I believe the best options to see galaxies better are (a) to travel to dark sites and make sure your eyes are night adapted and you’re using averted vision, (b) night vision equipment or © EAA.

I struggle with it too. Looking forward to opinions from others on this topic,
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#3 TOMDEY

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 10:58 PM

Filters don't help on galaxies; only darker skies and bigger scopes will achieve that. This recent thread addresses it from the imaging perspective, but the conclusion is the same... even more grim for visual. Light pollution absolutely kills galaxies.     Tom

 

https://www.cloudyni...es-in-the-city/


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#4 juggle5

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 11:00 PM

I agree completely with Gschnettler.  Going to darker locations is the best approach; otherwise filters are pretty useless.

 

To see galaxies better, you will need to train your brain to see faint smudges, and practice your dark adaptation and averted vision.  I also found Tony Flander's Urban/Suburban Messier Guide very helpful.  Here are two of the most relevant pages:

 

https://tonyflanders...e-early-spring/

https://tonyflanders...ing-techniques/

 

Like you, I started with a 150mm f/5 reflector in an urban area.  Galaxies are really washed out compared to darker skies, but don't give up -- you can still see them with practice!


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#5 sevenofnine

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 11:05 PM

In my experience, filter manufacturers make claims but the reality for visual is dim (pun intended). Save your money for a full tank of gas and journey to a really dark site. waytogo.gif


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#6 Napp

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Posted 10 April 2021 - 11:17 PM

I suggest you read this thread: 

https://www.cloudyni...r-the-backyard/

 

The bottom line is that some folks do get subtle improvement in the view for some galaxies with filters.  Subtle improvement.  At this stage you would be best advised to use the gas filter - gas for your vehicle to drive to darker skies.  The results achieved by using the gas filter can be dramatic.


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#7 Tony Flanders

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 05:49 AM

There is no substitute for traveling to a darker site. However, the other thing that can improve your views of galaxies a lot is practice and experience. M82 is an especially good galaxy for practicing on, since its ultrahigh surface brightness allows it to show well even through heavy light pollution. Look at it carefully; use averted vision at your highest possible magnification. Can you describe what it looks like? Can you draw what it looks like? Is it completely featureless, or are parts of it brighter than others?


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#8 Orion 3

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Posted 11 April 2021 - 06:49 AM

Thanks for the advice. I will practice the averted vision, using higher magnification and make sure my eyes are night adapted. We have a couple of dark sites on Long Island not to far from my house I will try. I'm glad I asked the question before spending money on a filter just yet. It is helpful to know that others also had difficulty in seeing the galaxies clearly. I will post results after the sky clears and and try some of those tips.


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#9 MellonLake

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 11:44 AM

There are dark skies and then there and then there are Dark Skies.  

 

Based on my experience with my XT10

I live in Bortle 7+.  I cannot find a single Virgo galaxies in this light pollution

In Bortle 4   I can find less than 10 Virgo galaxies.

In Bortle 2  I can find 30 Virgo Galaxies 

In Borlte 1  I found 67 Virgo Galaxies in 2 hours last June (particularly transparent night).

 

On Long Island, the best you are going to do is about Bortle 4 (which is not really great for galaxies).  There's dark and then really dark.  As others have said, nothing helps more that dark skies but this is really profound for galaxies.  I will also say that good transparency is also key.  Any moisture in the atmosphere and the ability to detect galaxies goes way way down. 

 

Be sure to fully dark adapt (no phones, no artificial lights, nothing at all for 1 hour).   This will really help as well.  Most beginners underestimate the need for dark adaptation.   To find those 67 galaxies in Virgo, I just sat at the telescope for a couple hours panning around Virgo (no checking my phone or using lights)!  

 

Rob


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#10 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 12:12 PM

Here's what David Knisely had to say about the DGM Optics Galaxy Contrast Enhancement (GCE) filter:

 

The DGM Optics GCE filter is at least somewhat effective on a number of galaxies when viewed under dark sky conditions, and in many cases, is a bit more effective than the Lumicon Deep-sky filter. The improvement is often subtle, requiring low power and some study to see. However, under even mild skyglow conditions, a standard LPR filter like the Lumicon Deep-sky may be somewhat more effective than the GCE, although again, any improvement in the view will be slight at best.

https://www.cloudyni...ce-filter-r1595


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#11 brentknight

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 01:17 PM

There are dark skies and then there and then there are Dark Skies.  

 

Based on my experience with my XT10

I live in Bortle 7+.  I cannot find a single Virgo galaxies in this light pollution

In Bortle 4   I can find less than 10 Virgo galaxies.

In Bortle 2  I can find 30 Virgo Galaxies 

In Borlte 1  I found 67 Virgo Galaxies in 2 hours last June (particularly transparent night).

 

On Long Island, the best you are going to do is about Bortle 4 (which is not really great for galaxies).  There's dark and then really dark.  As others have said, nothing helps more that dark skies but this is really profound for galaxies.  I will also say that good transparency is also key.  Any moisture in the atmosphere and the ability to detect galaxies goes way way down. 

 

Be sure to fully dark adapt (no phones, no artificial lights, nothing at all for 1 hour).   This will really help as well.  Most beginners underestimate the need for dark adaptation.   To find those 67 galaxies in Virgo, I just sat at the telescope for a couple hours panning around Virgo (no checking my phone or using lights)!  

 

Rob

I don't know that I quite agree with this - and everyone is different of course.  With my 14" in B5 skies (SQM-L 19.59), I'm well on my way to 60 H400's in Coma/Virgo - most between 11m to 12m.

 

Another thing required is to know exactly where they are - no scanning around the field.

 

LP is definitely a problem here, but I can clearly see these galaxies - although they don't look like much...


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#12 brentknight

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 01:22 PM

Here's what David Knisely had to say about the DGM Optics Galaxy Contrast Enhancement (GCE) filter:

 

The DGM Optics GCE filter is at least somewhat effective on a number of galaxies when viewed under dark sky conditions, and in many cases, is a bit more effective than the Lumicon Deep-sky filter. The improvement is often subtle, requiring low power and some study to see. However, under even mild skyglow conditions, a standard LPR filter like the Lumicon Deep-sky may be somewhat more effective than the GCE, although again, any improvement in the view will be slight at best.

https://www.cloudyni...ce-filter-r1595

I don't have the GCE, but I have used the Baader UHC-S (a very mild filter that is similar to Deep Sky filters).  I rarely notice improvement on the details within a galaxy, but from moderate LP with non-LED pollution, I've seen an improvement in sky darkness which helps with detecting faint galaxies.  Yes it's subtle, but might make the difference between seeing and not seeing the object.


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#13 MellonLake

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 01:28 PM

Brent:  A 14" is considerably larger than 10".   You have 2X the light gathering power.  I am not surprised you found more.  Also, I am sure I could find more in Bortle 4 (or Bortle1/2) if I look for specific galaxies, those numbers were just based on scanning.  Also, my scanning was only for galaxies that had a visible galactic shape at ~90X, I am sure I skipped over many that were more star like.    I have not done a systematic study of the Virgo galaxies (yet).  

 

Rob  


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#14 Tony Flanders

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 01:30 PM

Based on my experience with my XT10
I live in Bortle 7+.  I cannot find a single Virgo galaxies in this light pollution
In Bortle 4   I can find less than 10 Virgo galaxies.
In Bortle 2  I can find 30 Virgo Galaxies 
In Bortle 1  I found 67 Virgo Galaxies in 2 hours last June (particularly transparent night).


This all seems very conservative to me. I'm not sure precisely where these Bortle ratings come from; maps are notoriously unreliable. But the backyard of my country home is definitely Bortle 4 by most criteria. I typically get SQM readings between about 20.8 and 21.3.

Anyway, from that backyard I can make out more galaxies in the Virgo Cluster than I would care to count through my 7-inch Dob. All the Messier galaxies stick out like sore thumbs. And I can also see all the Messier galaxies (with more effort) through my 7-inch scope under skies that I would consider Bortle 7, with SQM readings around 19.0. Mind you, it took a bit of practice before I could do that!

It's true that there's nowhere truly dark on the 'Gisland. However, it's a fair bet that Montauk is darker than my country home's backyard.
 

Be sure to fully dark adapt (no phones, no artificial lights, nothing at all for 1 hour).   This will really help as well.  Most beginners underestimate the need for dark adaptation.   To find those 67 galaxies in Virgo, I just sat at the telescope for a couple hours panning around Virgo (no checking my phone or using lights)!


Again, this seems overly conservative to me. I do use Sky Safari on my smart phone (in red mode, with the brightness turned way down), and although I'm sure it harms my dark adaptation a bit for a few minutes, it does not prevent me from seeing some pretty faint galaxies. Likewise for paper charts read with a red flashlight.

Without a chart, it's mighty hard to identify which galaxy you're looking at. Few people are capable of memorizing charts to that level of detail.


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#15 brentknight

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Posted 12 April 2021 - 01:42 PM

Brent:  A 14" is considerably larger than 10".   You have 2X the light gathering power.  I am not surprised you found more.  Also, I am sure I could find more in Bortle 4 (or Bortle1/2) if I look for specific galaxies, those numbers were just based on scanning.  Also, my scanning was only for galaxies that had a visible galactic shape at ~90X, I am sure I skipped over many that were more star like.    I have not done a systematic study of the Virgo galaxies (yet).  

 

Rob  

That extra glass is precisely the reason I only have a 14" Dobsonian now.  But even with a 10", there are many more galaxies visible from B4 skies (skies much nicer than mine).

 

The point I'm trying to make though is that galaxies can be viewed from LP infested areas, but they require everything you suggested, plus they require actually identifying where they are in the field.  And these galaxies are not star-like - they have shape - often elongated and with slight brightening to the core.  Many are smudges too, just at the limit of visibility.

 

They require an extra level of effort to tease them out, but they are visible.


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#16 laurelg9

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 07:57 AM

I was out last night in really exceptional skies with my 10" dob, taking extra care to get and keep my darkness-adapted eyes, suburban backyard, likely Bortle 6, and I could not with confidence identify one galaxy in the entire Virgo region. I'm not sure if I'm just not knowing what I'm looking for?  I found numerous double stars, a couple of areas of sky that could be considered sort-of clusters, but not one thing that looked "fuzzy."  I was using both an ES68*/24 and 18 and 12 Paradigms.  Nada. it's very frustrating. 



#17 brentknight

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 09:32 AM

I was out last night in really exceptional skies with my 10" dob, taking extra care to get and keep my darkness-adapted eyes, suburban backyard, likely Bortle 6, and I could not with confidence identify one galaxy in the entire Virgo region. I'm not sure if I'm just not knowing what I'm looking for?  I found numerous double stars, a couple of areas of sky that could be considered sort-of clusters, but not one thing that looked "fuzzy."  I was using both an ES68*/24 and 18 and 12 Paradigms.  Nada. it's very frustrating. 

Were you using the inclinometer and degree circle?

 

I don't believe that method is accurate enough to locate objects that are near the limit of visibility (for objects that don't immediately pop out at you).  For the Virgo/Coma cluster, star hopping with your widest field eyepiece may work better.

 

Most of the Messier targets are between Denebola and Vindemiatrix.  You might start at Denebola and locate 6 Com (mag 5) about 7° to the east.  M98 is in the same 1° field as this star.  From there it's another short hop to M99, then Markarian's Chain is just a few hops farther east again.

 

Screenshot_20210413-093618_SkySafari 6 Pro.jpg

With 6 Com in the field and near the edge, look for the flat triangle of stars in the eyepiece.  This should give you great situational awareness about where the galaxy actually is.

 

Using an app like SkySafari and star hopping with the eyepiece will allow you to identify exactly where the object is.  Then try AV, covering your head with a dark cloth, increasing magnification, preserving dark adaptation and other techniques (maybe even filters if you have them).


Edited by brentknight, 13 April 2021 - 01:25 PM.


#18 Sketcher

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 12:36 PM

I was out last night in really exceptional skies with my 10" dob, taking extra care to get and keep my darkness-adapted eyes, suburban backyard, likely Bortle 6, and I could not with confidence identify one galaxy in the entire Virgo region. I'm not sure if I'm just not knowing what I'm looking for?  I found numerous double stars, a couple of areas of sky that could be considered sort-of clusters, but not one thing that looked "fuzzy."  I was using both an ES68*/24 and 18 and 12 Paradigms.  Nada. it's very frustrating. 

I would start by refining how I point my telescope at objects that cannot be easily seen.  It would help immensely to be able to point the telescope at any desired spot in the night sky with a very high degree of accuracy and with a very high degree of confidence.  Furthermore, you should be able to tell where, precisely, within your telescopic field of view the object (whether it's visible or not) should be.

 

The details of how this is done will vary among different individuals and it will vary with the equipment / resources that they use.

 

For myself, I start out knowing what the true fields of view are of my finders and of each of my eyepieces when used with each of my telescopes. I also know how to determine where celestial North and celestial West are within any of those fields of view.  Then I can match the star patterns seen in the finders, and in the primary telescope's eyepieces, with the same patterns that can be found on charts of sufficient scale that have sufficient limiting magnitudes.

 

I've observed all the Messier galaxies in the Virgo-Coma region with my ST-80 stopped down to a 1-inch aperture (from a seriously dark sky).   I always knew which galaxy I was looking at.  I started off by pointing the telescope at Vindemiatrix (making use of the telescope's finder).  I then systematically navigated from one galaxy to the next by relying on the known true field of view of my telescope + eyepiece combination and the known celestial directions.  I had made my own "mini charts" that showed my telescopic fields of view and the star patterns around each of the Messier galaxies (Sometimes more than one galaxy shared the same field of view).  I always knew precisely where the telescope was pointed.  I never had any need to use the finder again after that initial spotting of Vindemiatrix.  This method is by no means the only way of going about finding celestial objects in this part of the sky.  Individual people tend to develop methods that work "good enough" for them.

 

Once you know precisely where the telescope is pointed and you know where in your field of view the galaxy lies, you can work on trying to see the galaxy.  Averted vision is often going to be a necessity.  It's a skill that takes a bit of practice; but eventually it's something that one ends up taking for granted and automatically making use of whenever it's appropriate.

 

1.  You've gotta know where your telescope is pointed -- beyond the shadow of any doubt whatsoever.

 

2.  Develop your observing skills -- practice, practice, practice.

 

3.  If and when possible, get to a darker sky.  It'll make a world of difference -- with any telescope.

 

My most recent journey though the Virgo-Coma region was made and completed (under a seriously dark sky) with this:

 

Little Red Riding Scope    Sketcher Sept 4 2019
 
Little Red 1 inch Sketcher 2019

 

Yes, everyone's always saying: "aperture, aperture, aperture" -- but there's more to it than just throwing more aperture at the situation.  More aperture certainly helps.   But it's far from being "everything".


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#19 laurelg9

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 01:41 PM

Y'all are motivating me to try again tonight, if the clouds cooperate. 

 

Would a general purpose light pollution filter help? 

 

I found last night the part of my lawn I put my dob down on was not at all level and as I moved the scope around, I think it may have shifted, which made my degree circles useless. Also, the non-level ground makes the inclinometer incorrect too.  

 

Tonight, if it's clear, i'll be using the ST80 on the CG4 in the front yard, so it's easier to get it level and pointed exactly north (and stay that way as the tripod digs into the dirt a bit), and I'll use a towel over my head to keep the streetlight at bay.  

 

Thanks. 


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#20 RalphMeisterTigerMan

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 02:18 PM

I have been doing Amateur Astronomy for a long time and trust me when I say the only way to fight Light pollution is by joining I.D.S.A. and fighting using legal means. Other than resorting to the highly illegal practice of shooting out every single offensive light which are preventing you from seeing what you want, which I do not recommend and is extremely illegal and will most likely result in your incarceration and serving a lengthy jail term, your only recourse is to either moving to or making many back and forth trips to a dark site.

 

Since the late 1970's, I have been witness to the decline of urban dark skies and the ever brightening City lights.

 

Even U.H.C. and O-III filters will have an extremely hard time being of any help at all in urban areas. No filter will do anything to visually enhance stars and since Galaxies are made up mainly of stars, unless you want to bring Dark Matter into the equation which cannot be seen, no filter exists which will visually enhance Galaxy. Back in the 1980's, a Deep Sky filter was available but was of little help.

 

I wish I had a better answer for you but only speciallized filters for Astro-imaging will make any type of difference.

 

I know I will be accused of being a typical crazy old man but I really do pine for the "good old days" when light pollution was far less than it is now!

 

Clear skies and keep looking up!

RalphMeisterTigerMan


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#21 brentknight

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 02:27 PM

Y'all are motivating me to try again tonight, if the clouds cooperate. 

 

Would a general purpose light pollution filter help? 

 

I found last night the part of my lawn I put my dob down on was not at all level and as I moved the scope around, I think it may have shifted, which made my degree circles useless. Also, the non-level ground makes the inclinometer incorrect too.  

 

Tonight, if it's clear, i'll be using the ST80 on the CG4 in the front yard, so it's easier to get it level and pointed exactly north (and stay that way as the tripod digs into the dirt a bit), and I'll use a towel over my head to keep the streetlight at bay.  

 

Thanks. 

A filter might help, but from Dayton, OH maybe not.  If you have one, try it - but don't go out and buy one assuming it will work.  If your local light pollution is full spectrum, the filter won't help as the galaxy will dim just as much as the sky background and there will be no contrast improvement.  Increasing the magnification using the 12mm will probably help the most.

 

Most galaxies will look like faint smudges on the eyepiece glass - likely just brighter than the background sky (for galaxies around magnitude 9.5 to 11.5).  Your circle and angle gauge might get you to the correct field (with your 24mm), but you will not see the galaxy.  I don't know what the true FOV of your telescope/eyepiece combination is, but just say it's 1°.  That is twice the diameter of the full Moon - a pretty huge amount of space.  I don't know of anyone who would attempt to use circles and gauges to find an individual crater on the full Moon - but that's about what it is - and the crater would be relatively easy to see.

 

To find most galaxies that are this faint, you need to know exactly where they are.  Once you know that, then pour on the techniques to see it.  Magnification, AV, dark cloths, blocking stray light, tapping the tube, filters - many options.  But if you don't know exactly where it's at, you very likely will not detect it just by scanning a field 1° wide.

 

You definitely can see them, but it takes practice.  Best of luck!


Edited by brentknight, 13 April 2021 - 02:35 PM.

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#22 Sketcher

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Posted 13 April 2021 - 03:12 PM

Would a general purpose light pollution filter help? 

 

Tonight, if it's clear, i'll be using the ST80 on the CG4 in the front yard, so it's easier to get it level and pointed exactly north (and stay that way as the tripod digs into the dirt a bit), and I'll use a towel over my head to keep the streetlight at bay.  

A general purpose light pollution filter will not help with galaxies; but blocking the streetlights from view is certainly a good thing to do.  Any lights that can be seen will reduce one's ability to dark adapt.

 

All other things being equal, your 10-inch telescope will do much better with galaxies than will your ST-80.  I would look for ways to make better use of that telescope.  I fear that your light situation might be a bit much for the smaller telescope to effectively deal with.

 

On the other hand, any observing is going to be better than no observing!  Keep a lookout for ways of fine-tuning your approach in finding and identifying your targets.  For many, finders and suitable atlases are key elements; but there are plenty of other things that can influence our struggles.  If a level base is important for you, three bricks might be positioned beneath the Dobsonian in order to make and keep it level for the duration of an observing session.

 

We all have different obstacles to overcome, so the same box of "tricks"  isn't going to work out equally well for everyone.  We all have to discover our weak links and then find ways of ironing them out.

 

If everything were easy, where would the challenge (and the fun) be? smile.gif


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#23 Orion 3

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 02:17 PM

Original post:

Posted 10 April 2021 - 11:34 PM
Hi all, I'm relatively new to astronomy and I have been using my new Orion Goto Star Seeker IV 150mm (f/5) reflector since this past Christmas to view the stars,  the Orion Nebula, Mars, the Moon and M31, M81, and M82 galaxies. I would like to see the galaxies better and wondering if there are any filters that could help. I was looking at the Lumicon UHC and the Orion Ultrablock filters, trying to keep the cost under $100. I'm using a 25mm plossl and the Orion 7.2-21 zoom. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

 

 

Update: (April 14, 2021)

I went out last night in our light polluted skies in my backyard. With fairly accurate goto tracking I honed in on M-81 (Bode's Galaxy) and used some of the tips I received from the forum. I let my eyes adjust to the dark, I used little to no red light to set up, also tried to block all peripheral light, and used averted vision. I was surprised how well those simple techniques worked. I was able to see so much more of the galaxy and definitely saw the brighter center with the averted vision thing. I have a New York State Park Star Gazing Permit that allows me access to certain state parks on Long Island after they close at dusk. One spot I will soon get to is Hither Hills in Montauk. I have heard from many that it offers some of the darkest skies on the island for viewing. I have been to Montauk so many times and know how dark the skies are out there but I only brought my surfboard not my telescope (this time I'll bring both).


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#24 spaceoddity

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Posted 14 April 2021 - 06:43 PM

I was out last night in really exceptional skies with my 10" dob, taking extra care to get and keep my darkness-adapted eyes, suburban backyard, likely Bortle 6, and I could not with confidence identify one galaxy in the entire Virgo region. I'm not sure if I'm just not knowing what I'm looking for?  I found numerous double stars, a couple of areas of sky that could be considered sort-of clusters, but not one thing that looked "fuzzy."  I was using both an ES68*/24 and 18 and 12 Paradigms.  Nada. it's very frustrating. 

Not sure if any virgo galaxies are visible from bortle 6 but you might try for M87 as that is the brightest and most concentrated being an elliptical. The next brightest would be M49.


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#25 LDW47

LDW47

    Cosmos

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Posted 15 April 2021 - 12:58 PM

This is the one, the CX-4, go to their site and read the specs ! It does help for $59 !

 

461C765A-3436-4C5C-9FBD-D8A3A2CC639E.jpeg


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