Am I right in thinking I could see M51 by eye this past weekend?
Posted 21 July 2021 - 10:42 PM
So, on Saturday I found myself walking up Cader Idris in Wales at 1am. The moon had gone by then and in between bouts of thinking I was going to keel over from the effort I was taking to summit, my friend and I stared incredulously at the stars.
Knowing exactly where M51 is I stared at that spot and would have put money that o could see a very faint dot there.
Was I imagining it? The sky was dry and very clear that night.
I also almost broke my back falling straight backwards onto big rocks, but that's another story...
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Posted 21 July 2021 - 11:07 PM
Unlikely, as it is roughly 8.4 magnitude. There is a 7.1 mag star about 20 arc minutes away, another 7.1 about 40 arc minutes away, and a 6.7 at about 60+ arc minutes.
If you can identify the pattern with all of these visually detected, along with the 5.9 mag that is readily seen somewhat beyond, and still detect something in the position of M51 relative to them, then you would have it. It is a tall order.
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Posted Yesterday, 12:47 AM
That's 8.4 magnitude.diffuse, tougher than an 8.4 star. But who knows, if everything was just right...
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Posted Yesterday, 02:29 AM
I think it was your imagination. Magnitude 8 is well below the naked eye cutoff for most people even for a point source, and M51 is a diffuse object with rather low surface brightness. Even in my 10" scope it's not super bright.
Posted Yesterday, 06:28 AM
Just a thought: The companion galaxy NGC 5195 is 9m6. Naked-eye this will be added to the 8m4 of M 51. So, too, will its size, making the overall object about 15x5 minutes of arc.
I wouldn't have thought it is accessible naked-eye. But I can report that, as a sessile, ancient lifeform observing under a miserable 5m2 sky, I find it possible to see both M 51 and NGC 5195 clearly enough in handheld 10x56 binoculars. Perhaps an active, youthful body invigorated by a mountain climb under a mag7 sky can do great things?
Posted Yesterday, 08:40 AM
Thanks for the replies everyone, The conditions were amazing, but certainly not perfect. And we were only sitting in the dark for 10 mins after turning our head torches off.
I did think it must have been my imaginiation. Thanks all
Posted Yesterday, 12:59 PM
If you were completely dark adapted, and had pupils like owl's eyes, you might just nail it !!!!
- EricSi likes this