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Is it possible to see a galaxy or nebula through a telescope in northeastern Ohio?

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#1 Aman Dude

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 09:59 PM

We have a 127mm in diameter masktov-cassegrain telescope and a 80mm in diameter refractor. We want to and have tried to see M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and M51 (Whirlpool galaxy) with no luck. Is it possible to see the Whirlpool galaxy or Andromeda galaxy through a telescope considering class 7 light pollution and living in northeastern Ohio with our telescopes and get decent results?

 

Thanks!


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#2 brlasy1

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 10:08 PM

We have a 127mm in diameter masktov-cassegrain telescope and a 80mm in diameter refractor. We want to and have tried to see M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and M51 (Whirlpool galaxy) with no luck. Is it possible to see the Whirlpool galaxy or Andromeda galaxy through a telescope considering class 7 light pollution and living in northeastern Ohio with our telescopes and get decent results?

 

Thanks!

Certainly, but visually they will not look anything like the photos.  Visually, they'll be gray smudges at best.  Globular clusters are a bit brighter, but will also disappoint visually.  The images you see in the books and online are the result of astrophotography and lots of processing.  The moon, Jupiter, and Saturn make really nice visual targets.


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#3 Sam M

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 10:10 PM

With a 5 inch scope in bortle 7 skies, you should be able to see M31.  M51?  Maaaybe, when it's very high, and the transparency is very good.  Best if you are away from lights, and your eyes are dark adapted.  If you can go somewhere that you can see the milky way, you should be able to see M51 clearly.  A note, M31 is very big, use your widest eyepiece.  M51 is pretty small, by comparison.


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#4 weis14

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 10:23 PM

You can, but from a Bortle 7 sky, galaxies and nebula are not good targets, regardless of aperture.  These objects really need a dark sky to pop and they still will just be gray smudges (but thrilling ones!!). 

 

The moon and planets (Jupiter and Saturn are prominent right now) are just as good in Bortle 7 as they would be in Bortle 1.  I observe them from my light polluted back yard quite often in 92mm and 160mm scopes.  The moon a few minutes ago was wonderful at roughly 135x in my 92mm.  


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#5 GOLGO13

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 10:26 PM

We have a 127mm in diameter masktov-cassegrain telescope and a 80mm in diameter refractor. We want to and have tried to see M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and M51 (Whirlpool galaxy) with no luck. Is it possible to see the Whirlpool galaxy or Andromeda galaxy through a telescope considering class 7 light pollution and living in northeastern Ohio with our telescopes and get decent results?

 

Thanks!

The 80mm refractor should do well on Andromeda. Use very low power. With deep space objects a dark sky is best.

 

Whirlpool is a more challenging target in light pollution.

 

Both of those scopes are nice, especially for the Moon and planets. The 80mm would be great for wide field observing like the Pleadies and the Double Cluster.

 

Consider getting an application like Stellarium or one for the phone like Sky Safari for finding objects.


Edited by GOLGO13, 15 September 2021 - 10:26 PM.


#6 Migwan

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 10:47 PM

Off hand, M42 Orion Nebula should be visible in the winter and M17 Omega/Swan Nebula in the Summer.  M81 & 82 are a bit low now, but would be viable targets as they get higher.   Overall, most deep sky objects will be disappointing in that sort of LP.  You might want to consider splitting some double stars.   



#7 sevenofnine

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 11:16 PM

DSO's are best seen from a darker sky. Check a dark sky map on your computer and plan a trip there would be my suggestion. Both scopes are capable of showing some of the brighter ones. I use a 30mm eyepiece in my 5" Mak to view M31. It is impressive but looks nothing like the pictures. More like a soft cotton ball. M51 looks like two tiny eyes using high power. These views are from Bortle 4 skies. Ideally find a State Park with Bortle 3-4 skies. Best of luck to you! waytogo.gif


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#8 rhetfield

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 11:25 PM

From bottle 7 with a 5", you should be able to see the core of m31, but not much else. M81/m82 should be visible on a good night. M51 and other galaxies will generally not be visible in a Midwestern bottle 7 sky.

Orion nebula will be easy in the fall/winter. The ring nebula is easy, but small. At low magnification, it looks like a star. Omega/swan can be hard without a uhc filter or darker skies. Dumbbell nebula should be visible, but dim without a uhc filter.

Darker skies help a lot. Globulars are easier and open clusters even easier.

#9 ShaulaB

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 11:29 PM

Do you have binoculars? Try for M31 with binocs. Enough stars have to be visible for star hopping to M31.

Your scopes are small enough to fit in a car. Driving to darker skies will help. If there is an astronomy club near you, reach out to them for advice about safe dark sky observing locations.
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#10 Napp

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Posted 15 September 2021 - 11:29 PM

In Bortle 7 skies it's best to observe star clusters, double stars, the moon and planets.  Galaxies and nebulae are best left for dark skies. 


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#11 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 01:28 AM

There are a number of galaxies that can be seen from light-polluted locations but they won't be very impressive.  I've observed some of them with a 6" SCT from my red-zone front yard with the insecurity lights of most of my neighbors burning all night long.  

Here's part of the section on urban astronomy from my post at https://www.cloudyni...mers/?p=5184287

 

Lists of binary stars and deep-sky objects that are visible from urban areas can be found at the following URLs:

https://www.astrolea...an/urbanls.html

 

http://www.astroleag...an/urbanld.html

 

http://www.covington...iles/index.html

 

http://las-skycamp.o...n_List_v2_0.pdf (spelling errors)

 

https://skyandtelesc...polluted-skies/

 

http://www.astronomy...y delights.aspx

 

https://themcdonalds...ronomy-targets/

 

You may find some of the information that I present on some of the bright Messier galaxies at https://www.cloudyni...mers/?p=4592919 useful.


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#12 carlrbrugger

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 06:59 AM

Not sure where you are in NE Ohio, but right across the border in the extreme NW corner of Pennsylvania is 2500 acres of public land, much of it clear cut for woodcock hunting. It is all dirt roads and Bortle 4. The only downside I can find is it’s off limits for any purpose, other than hunting, Mon-Sat from Nov 15 - Dec 15.

#13 SeaBee1

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 08:18 AM

Yeah, light pollution posts always get wrapped up with "Well... you might be able to see galaxy XXX... or nebula XXX... but it will be dim and fuzzy... if you want to see them better, go to a dark site..." This is how visual astronomy at the apertures we most commonly view through is done. Of course there are a few targets that will present themselves acceptably, but none will ever compare visually with what a camera can give you. It's the nature of the beast... cameras capture, and eyes see... and that is two different things.

 

What I have learned to do and has already been touched on by other commenters, is to choose your targets carefully for success considering your circumstances. If you live under light polluted skies, as most of us do, then choose light pollution resistant targets. Moon and planets, of course... many globular clusters can be viewed as well... open clusters are good targets... and then, my favorite, double/multiple star systems.

 

We all want to see photo quality views in the eyepiece of all those beautiful galaxies and nebulas, but the simple fact is, we can't. We can "see" them in many cases, but they will always be a ghost of their true self. Once your expectations are aligned with reality, then those dim fuzzies can provide an exciting aspect that a photo cannot. It is a genuine thrill to say "I saw M51 in my telescope last night!" and is hard to beat, regardless of how it looked.

 

 

Keep looking up!

 

CB


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#14 Cdamico0758

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 09:00 AM

I'm not sure where in NE Ohio you're located but there is a Dark Sky park in Geauga County you should check out.  Observatory Park is in Montsville  Ohio. you can go to https://www.geaugapa...bservatory-park for more information.  There is even an Observatory just down the road from the park.  The Chagrin Valley Astronomical Society will be at the Observatory this Saturday 9/18  operating the Telescope.   I'm sure there will be members there (weather permiting!) who could answer any questions you might have.



#15 CassGuy47

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 10:36 AM

We have a 127mm in diameter masktov-cassegrain telescope and a 80mm in diameter refractor. We want to and have tried to see M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and M51 (Whirlpool galaxy) with no luck. Is it possible to see the Whirlpool galaxy or Andromeda galaxy through a telescope considering class 7 light pollution and living in northeastern Ohio with our telescopes and get decent results?

Charles Messier discovered the deep sky objects listed in his catalog during the 2nd half of the 18th century.  His discoveries were made using a 7.5" Gregorian Reflector and 3.5" f/12 refractors.  His reflector used speculum mirrors, (a blend of copper and tin), that had about 2/3rds of the light transmission of modern telescope mirrors, and some of his refractors weren't even achromatic.

 

The bottom line is that Messier's telescopes from 2.5 centuries ago were terrible optical instruments by today's standards, so the astronomical telescopes in use today should be quite capable of viewing the DSO's in his catalog.  What Messier had, which we don't have today, were dark skies for his observations.  As others have already stated, getting away from your Bortle 7 skies is the answer to your question.  Your two scopes run rings around the scopes that Messier used to make his discoveries.   


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#16 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 12:21 PM

Part of the problem with observing galaxies that are potentially visible under light-polluted skies is actually locating them.  That isn't much of a problem with a go-to telescope that's functioning properly but using the technique of star-hopping can be very difficult and perhaps impossible.  



#17 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 12:25 PM

Even though a galaxy is fairly bright in integrated magnitude, it may not be easily visible due to having a low (i.e., a high number) surface brightness.

 

The following articles discuss the concept of surface brightness:

 

https://astronomy.co...face-brightness

 

https://tonyflanders...ace-brightness/

 

https://astrobuysell.com/paul/sb.htm

 

https://martins-arti...brightness.html

For the most part, the easiest galaxies to observe from most of the northern hemisphere are the ones in the Messier Catalog.

 

Here's a list of the Messier galaxies, their integrated visual magnitudes, and their surface brightness figures in magnitudes per square arc minute:  

M31 3.4 13.6
M32 8.1 12.7
M33 5.7 14.2
M51 8.4 12.6
M58 9.7 13.0
M59 9.6 12.5
M60 8.8 12.8
M61 9.7 13.4
M63 8.6 13.6
M64 8.5 12.4
M65 9.3 12.4
M66 8.9 12.5
M74 9.4 14.4
M77 8.9 13.2
M81 6.9 13.0
M82 8.4 12.8
M83 7.6 13.2
M84 9.1 12.3
M85 9.1 13.0
M86 8.9 13.9
M87 8.6 12.7
M88 9.6 12.6
M89 9.8 12.3
M90 9.5 13.6
M91 10.2 13.3
M94 8.2 13.5
M95 9.7 13.5
M96 9.2 12.9
M98 10.1 13.2
M99 9.9 13.0
M100 9.3 13.0
M101 7.9 14.8
M104 8.0 11.6
M105 9.3 12.1
M106 8.4 13.8
M108 10.0 13.0
M109 9.8 13.5
M110 8.1 13.9

To convert to magnitudes per square arc-second, add 8.9.

 

M101 has the lowest surface brightness of all 42 of the Messier galaxies.  Another face-on Messier galaxy with low surface brightness is M74, which many observers, including me, consider to be the most difficult Messier object to observe.  M33 has the third lowest surface brightness.  All three of these galaxies require fairly dark skies to be worthwhile targets.


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#18 jktrains809

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 01:40 PM

I'm in NE Ohio and yes it is possible to see M31.  The more you can do to get away from light pollution the better.  You also need to let your eyes adjust to the darkness.  Wht you will see will be very faint and will look like a fuzzy patch in the eyepiece.  Don't expect a lot of definition.  Check out some of the clubs in the area.  There is Observatory Park in Montville.  I haven't been there.  I would recommend some places in CVNP.  It might be closer depending on where you're at in NEO.



#19 kurtenstein

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 04:44 PM

I can see M31 with 10x50 binos under a Bortle 8/9 sky... It’s far from impressive, but they’re a real challenge in finding it! When M81 and M82 will be higher in the sky (Later this winter? Correct me if I’m wrong), it’ll try to track ´em with my 8 inch Dob...



#20 Scoper47

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 05:42 PM

We have a 127mm in diameter masktov-cassegrain telescope and a 80mm in diameter refractor. We want to and have tried to see M31 (Andromeda Galaxy) and M51 (Whirlpool galaxy) with no luck. Is it possible to see the Whirlpool galaxy or Andromeda galaxy through a telescope considering class 7 light pollution and living in northeastern Ohio with our telescopes and get decent results?

 

Thanks!

In my experience, it is best to find out for yourself what you can and cannot see, and don't just listen or read others opinions. 

I was in NE Ohio to pick up a scope I bought from a guy who lived near Youngstown OH last year.  From what I observed in the NE Ohio area there seems to be a lot of urban areas, but also a lot of rural areas and forested area. If you can go to some state parks areas away from lights as much as possible you may be surprised a what all you can see with your scopes.


Edited by Scoper47, 16 September 2021 - 05:46 PM.

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#21 Mike Spooner

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 05:46 PM

At this time of year, M57 and M27 present good prospects to start with. M13 is not bad at higher magnification if you can locate it. But as others have confirmed, that much light pollution is definitely challenging for deep sky objects with low surface brightness. 
And don’t feel bad about finding M51 difficult - I’ve been observing for over 50 years and the Whirlpool has been a frustrating struggle for me to find while casually observing - I know right where it’s supposed to be but scanning the area seems to lead me astray much more often than seems reasonable. I have gotten a bit better the past few years but I don’t have a valid reason for my former trials.

 

Mike Spooner 



#22 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 06:23 PM

Here's the section on M51 from my post at https://www.cloudyni...mers/?p=4592919

M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy)

 

M51 (NGC 5194, integrated magnitude=8.4, surface brightness=12.6 magnitudes per square arcminute), a type SA(s)bc pec face-on spiral galaxy, and its irregular companion M51b or NGC 5195 (magnitude 9.6, surface brightness=13.1 magnitudes per square arcminute) are perhaps the most prominent example of an interacting pair of galaxies. They are best seen in the spring.

 

Due to the work of Lord Rosse In 1845, M51 was the first galaxy to be recognized as having a spiral shape. Of course, M51 was merely a "nebula" at that time, which was long before galaxies were determined to be objects external to the Milky Way.

 

M51 and NGC 5195 may be part of the M101 group of galaxies. Three supernovae have occurred in M51: SN 1994I, SN 2005cs, and SN 2011dh.
 

To star-hop to the Whirlpool Galaxy, proceed southwest from Alkaid (Eta Ursae Majoris), the final star in the Big Dipper's handle, to the fifth-magnitude star 24 Canum Venaticorum. Continue southwest to an isosceles triangle of seventh-magnitude stars. M51 and NGC 5195 lie just to the south of the triangle, approximately 3.5 degrees from Alkaid and 1/4 of the way to Cor Caroli (Alpha Canum Venaticorum).
 

Star-hops to M51 can be found at the following sites:

 

http://www.skyledge....ssier51-hop.htm

 

https://www.britastro.org/node/12846

 

http://adsabs.harvar...JRASC..93..253M

 

Information on the Whirlpool Galaxy and a finder chart can be found at https://freestarcharts.com/messier-51

 

Telrad finder charts for M51 are available at the following sites: 

 

https://sherwood-obs.../messier_51.pdf

 

http://www.star-shin...charts/m051.htm

 

For further information on the Whirlpool Galaxy, consult these sites:

 

http://messier.seds.org/m/m051.html

 

http://www.universet...997/messier-51/

 

http://www.cloudynig...hp?item_id=1073

 

http://www.daviddarl...ol_Galaxy.html 

 

http://www.nightskyi...irlpool_galaxy/

 

https://www.messier-...irlpool-galaxy/

 

https://tonyflanders...rly-spring/#M51

 

http://www.hawastsoc...ps/cvn/cvn1.gif



#23 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 06:25 PM

Part of the problem with observing galaxies that are potentially visible under light-polluted skies is actually locating them.  That isn't much of a problem with a go-to telescope that's functioning properly but using the technique of star-hopping can be very difficult and perhaps impossible.  

 

Locating them can be difficult, no doubt. But even they can be located, they may be difficult to see.  Part of this is expectations.  

 

I find M31 relatively easy to see from a light polluted backyard but I does not look at like the photos.  All I am able to see is the very bright central core.  It's just a bright fuzzy spot, I can see it in a 6x30 finder or in one of my Dobs but it's still just a bright fuzzy spot.  

 

Dave's list gives the average surface brightness of M31 as 22.5 magnitudes per square arc-second, (13.6 magnitudes per square arc minute.)  The sky in my backyard is 18.4 mpsas, M31 is about 4 magnitudes fainter than the sky glow.  The eye is very good at detecting faint contrasts but 4 magnitudes, that's a factor of 40, that is too much.

 

However, 22.5 mpsas is the average surface brightness, the central core is much brighter, that is what I am seeing, it's not much, it's not mind boggling the way it is from dark skies but it is something.  But the fact that I can see some light from a galaxy more than 2 million light years away in my urban backyard, that is mind boggling.

 

The thrills in this hobby are subtle.  M51 in a 20+ inch scope from dark skies, that can look like a photo.  But most objects are subtle even in a large scope... 

 

Jon


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#24 Myk Rian

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Posted 16 September 2021 - 06:27 PM

Right now, near zenith, is the ring nebula, M57. You can use a 10mm to look for a grey smudge. Focus on the stars and look for faint fuzzies.

Edited by Myk Rian, 16 September 2021 - 06:28 PM.

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#25 Tony Flanders

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Posted 17 September 2021 - 07:49 AM

You might be interested in my Urban/Suburban Messier Guide.

The answer to your question is that once you know what to look for, M31 is visible with even the slightest optical aid in all but the very worst skies. As everyone else here has said, look for a very subtle hazy patch, ever so slightly brighter than the light-polluted background.

Or you could drive out of town, where it's readily visible to the unaided eye and a big, fairly obvious fuzzy patch much brighter than the dark background. But wait until the Moon is out of the sky; at full Moon no location is darker than Bortle 7.

Even at its highest, M51 is two orders of magnitude harder to spot than M31; there are a fair number of galaxies that way fainter than M31 but still quite a lot brighter than M51.

The other important thing to understand is that in light-polluted surroundings it's essential to view objects when they're near their highest in the sky. That doesn't happen until around 2 am for M31. As for M51, it's long past its prime -- already quite low when the sky gets fully dark, and just gets lower after that. It will be well placed in the evening sky again this coming April.

Viewing objects low in the sky hurts you two ways. First, there's more air in the way, which degrades the view even under pristine dark skies. Second, skyglow gets much, much stronger toward the horizon. The darkest part of the sky is almost right overhead.
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