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Help with finding, confirming, and observing galaxies.

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#1 ClearNightsPleaseAndTy

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 01:51 PM

Hey all, I live in a b4/5 area and I own a apertura AD12” dob with the stock eyepieces plus a 15mm and a 6mm. I’ve seen m31 but that’s it for galaxies. So I was wondering if y’all have any tips for recognizing galaxies, finding them, and if y’all had a couple that should be relatively easy to confirm if I’m looking at them. I’m in Massachusetts if that means anything in terms of what’s in the night sky.(I also have a telrad if that helps) Thanks in advance!

Edited by ClearNightsPleaseAndTy, 14 October 2021 - 01:52 PM.

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#2 D_talley

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 02:09 PM

I found using the Telrad finder charts was the best way to move from object to object when I had a 12 inch dob.  The charts are available on Amazon.


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#3 brentknight

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 02:21 PM

B4-B5 + 12" = Lots of Galaxies to See.

 

You need to block any ambient lights around you that will rob you of contrast.  Also you need to protect your dark adaptation as much as possible.  But most important is to know exactly where they are in your field of view.  Only the brightest ones will be apparent just scanning the general area for them.  Most of the time, you will need to identify small star patterns and know the directions in the eyepiece to see the faint ones.

 

I use an app called SkySafari that really helps with this identification.  Using the app, you should be able to get close to the general area with the Telrad, but you will need to use a "finder" low power eyepiece to do a little star hopping to your final destination.

 

The Pegasus/Andromeda region of the sky will have lots of galaxies that you can view, and it's well placed high in the sky away from most LP.

 

Maybe a couple "challenge" objects for you would be NGC 7331 (Caldwell 30/The Deer Lick) or NGC 7814 (Caldwell 43).  I count about 20 galaxies in this region that SkySafari plots that are brighter than 12m.  There are many other brighter galaxies scattered around, but most of them will require the same tried and true techniques to find them.

 

Happy hunting...


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#4 Mike G.

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 02:22 PM

I'm in a bortle 7/8 and besides M31, M32 and M110 are always visible.  M33, seldom and when it is, very faint.  going North, M81 and M82 are easy peasy and look nice in a wide field EP.  Sombrero later on is also easy to find.  otherwise, from my backyard, Globs are good, bright nebula, open clusters and of course doubles.  any phone app should get you close, or the charts, or something like Pocket Sky Atlas.



#5 spereira

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 02:27 PM

Moving to Deep Sky Observing.

 

smp



#6 Speedy1985

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 02:29 PM

I also have the AD 12, but I'm in a Bortle 7-8 zone. There are quite a few galaxies you should be able to spot from your area. In the same zone skies, close to where I live, I've seen M81, 82, 56, 104, 84, 105, 95, 96, 51(and it's companion NGC 5195), 68, 52 to name a few. Several of those I had seen from ny home site as well. I'd recommend a Telrad also and start learning to star hop by using a good phone app like SkySafari. The plus version is very good and goes on sale a couple of times a year. Another method I'd also recommend is by adding a degree circle to your base and getting a magnetic angle finder to stick to the tube. Then all you have to do is align the scope and use the Alt/AZ coordinates in SkySafari to get you very close. This method has worked very well for me. This thread has a printable degree circle that is perfect for the base. https://www.cloudyni...cles/?p=6822421 I had mine done at staples and they laminated it as well. Then I just spray adhesive it to the base.  NTnUjiB.jpg


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#7 Bean614

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 02:48 PM

One pointer I haven't seen mentioned is a Moonless night!  Even in Bortle 3 or r areas, you're just not going to see many Galaxies, even with a 12 inch mirror, if the Moon is out!  A few days on either side of the New Moon, or New Moon night, will get you plenty!

  I also wholeheartedly recommend SkySafari over paper charts!



#8 havasman

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 02:49 PM

I suggest you go back to M31 and find the other two galaxies near it on the field. M32 is relatively bright with relatively high surface brightness. Take an image of the field with you for reference. With it you should be able to find M32. I was recently able to show M32 to children unfamiliar with observing and also to their parents who have only looked through scopes 2 or 3 times. The trick is knowing where it is and trusting what you see. M101 is also quite bright but has lower surface brightness, making it more difficult to observe. But again, knowing where it is in the field is helpful.

 

NGC404, Mirach's Ghost, is another galaxy your should be able to locate and see as it is within 7 arc' of Mirach, a major bright star in Andromeda.

 

This reference has been valuable for me - https://www.astronom...e/steve.ngc.htm

It's an extremely experienced observer's notes of his observations of the entire NGC catalog and much of the IC catalog.  The consistent vision and vocabulary has been helpful to me as I look up all sorts of objects including galaxies which are my favorites.

 

Telrad charts - https://www.sky-spot.com/charts.htm

The Telrad is the best star hopping aid. These are the best charts for learning to use it. Then you should get a Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas to proceed further into the sky as your aperture takes you far beyond the Messier catalog. 

 

Knowing what you're going to see is extremely helpful. Here are images of the NGC catalog - https://in-the-sky.o...&view=0&page=12

Then when you see the field in your eyepiece you can relate it to the reference pic. There are other libraries of similar images of this and other catalogs.

 

I have never observed anywhere that didn't benefit from the use of an observing hood. They are essential for use in less than pristine skies. They are less beneficial than DARK skies but for some those are hard to access. R-Sky makes a good one - https://r-sky.org/en.../observing-hood

 

You can also use an app like Sky Safari Pro for some of these purposes. Be aware that screens can decimate your dark adapted vision.

 

So, getting and maintaining dark adaption, knowing where your quarry is to appear in a field, knowing what others have seen and knowing what it looks like are beneficial to early and continuing success. These are tools that may help you achieve that.


Edited by havasman, 14 October 2021 - 02:58 PM.

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#9 rblackadar

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Posted 14 October 2021 - 03:47 PM

Be zealous with your dark adaptation. Cheap laser safety goggles (in red) are my trick for maintaining it as well as I can, if I have to go inside for anything. They're useful outside, too, but when wearing them it may be tricky or dangerous to find your way around in the dark.

 

If you're up in the wee hours tonight, M81/82 will be high enough to get a good view. (Moon will have set, too.) Unfortunately it's not the easiest star hop -- the trick to doing that with a Telrad is to *triangulate* from stars that you can see. Also use the widest-field EP you have, even the 15mm is too much magnification (until you have it in your sights). These guys are really not all that small. Starting out, somehow I had this idea that *every* galaxy besides M31 or M33 is very small, and so, I didn't know what to expect looking through the EP. Things start to jump out at you if you know what to look for.

 

By the time galaxy season rolls around, hopefully you'll be an expert! Galaxies are the best.



#10 ButterFly

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 04:56 PM

500 Best DSO list is a good place to start.  There is a particular column there marked "SB", which stands for surface brightness.  Lower numbers are easier to see against the sky background.  Sort by the SB column first, then look over at the "Type" column for GAL.  This is a whole sky list, so many will not be visible right now, even if the Moon were not out and bright.  This week, the Moon is getter more full, so that means after midnight observing.  Sort by constellation after having sorted by surface brightness to get the stuff you can see now.

 

The brighter stuff is easier to see and confirm.  Pay attention to your star hopping skills.  Planetary Nebulae, type "PN", are usually stellar looking at low powers, but very bright.  They are a great way to hone starhopping skills.

 

Detecting galaxies and seeing detail in them are worlds apart.  Detecting many will be easy.  Seeing details requires some training.  There is no substitute for that.  Time and looking are the only way, so keep at it.  Of course, you have to look in the right spot, so hone those starhopping skills.  Once the Virgo Cluster is out, you will get lost "star" hopping with the different galaxies in the cluster.  That's okay - everyone does eventually.  Find a "home base" reference point near the field of interest - a bright star or brighter DSO - and start again from there when you get lost.  Keep at it.



#11 Migwan

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 09:15 PM

I have observed plenty of galaxies from my Bortle 5 home with a C11.   Shielding yourself from any outdoor lighting, observing targets when they are near the meridian or wherever your sky is the darkest and getting out on the most transparent nights when the moon is not out, are all key.   Dark adaptation can be difficult.  I use a hood and remain at the eyepiece for relative long periods of time.  I avoid turning my phone or red light on as much as possible.  It takes awhile, but your eyes will eventually be able to see more.  So patience is good.

 

Not only can you observe M33 in Bortle 5 skies, you should be able to see NGC604, which is visible with a 5" f5 from here.  Last time I observed M33 I also managed 4 or 5 other H II regions.  Will you see any of these other H II regions the next time out?  Probably not.  That is not likely to happen till your observing skills have gelled.  That takes awhile.  

 

Tonight's Sky is useful for planning your nights.   Enter your coordinates and other info, select what sort of targets you want to observe, difficulty and go.   When it populates targets, note the ones that are in the constellations where you want to observe.  Better to pick one dark area and work it over.  Otherwise, you might find yourself dancing with your dob more than observing with it.  

 

After picking your targets you can use an app like Stellarium or SkySafari to insure they will be accessible from where you are observing, rather than tucked behind some tree.   These apps are also good for star hopping, but please realize, the more you look at them the less you're likely see due to a loss of dark adaptation.   Turning your red night screen on can help, but isn't perfect.

 

There are galaxies out there that you can observe from where you are.  Catch a few galaxies now and get some practice so your ready for next year's galaxy season.   


Edited by Migwan, 15 October 2021 - 09:18 PM.

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#12 KidOrion

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Posted 15 October 2021 - 10:25 PM

B4-B5 + 12" = Lots of Galaxies to See.

 

You need to block any ambient lights around you that will rob you of contrast.  Also you need to protect your dark adaptation as much as possible.  But most important is to know exactly where they are in your field of view.  Only the brightest ones will be apparent just scanning the general area for them.  Most of the time, you will need to identify small star patterns and know the directions in the eyepiece to see the faint ones.

 

I use an app called SkySafari that really helps with this identification.  Using the app, you should be able to get close to the general area with the Telrad, but you will need to use a "finder" low power eyepiece to do a little star hopping to your final destination.

 

The Pegasus/Andromeda region of the sky will have lots of galaxies that you can view, and it's well placed high in the sky away from most LP.

 

Maybe a couple "challenge" objects for you would be NGC 7331 (Caldwell 30/The Deer Lick) or NGC 7814 (Caldwell 43).  I count about 20 galaxies in this region that SkySafari plots that are brighter than 12m.  There are many other brighter galaxies scattered around, but most of them will require the same tried and true techniques to find them.

 

Happy hunting...

I used NGC 7331 and NGC 2903 as outreach objects with a 12.5" in a Bortle 7. 

 

One of the keys is to temper your expectations. Observing details in galaxies in a Bortle 4/5 will take a while, but it will happen the more you observe. Start with the Messier galaxies (M74 is well-placed but very difficult Messier-wise)) and then start browsing the Herschel 400 galaxies. Above all, be patient.

 

I did the entire Messier catalogue in a Bortle 8 with an 8" SCT. It can be done. You won't see spiral arms (unless the conditions are perfect), but there are details to be gleaned. And the more you observe, the better you'll get at it.


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#13 sevenofnine

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Posted 16 October 2021 - 07:39 PM

Welcome to C/N! welcome.gif  One of the better DSO guide books is Harvey Pennington's "The Year-Round Messier Marathon Field Guide." This book shows you how to use your Telrad and finder scope to locate all sorts of DSO's including galaxies. Once you become familiar with the main constellations, the finding gets easier. The illustrations are much more accurate of what you will actually see. Sometimes that's half the battle. One old trick is to tap the telescope when you think you are near a galaxy. Stars wiggle, galaxies don't. Best of luck to you & happy hunting! faint.gif



#14 Tony Flanders

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Posted 17 October 2021 - 05:45 AM

I was wondering if y’all have any tips for recognizing galaxies, finding them, and if y’all had a couple that should be relatively easy to confirm if I’m looking at them. I’m in Massachusetts if that means anything in terms of what’s in the night sky.


Being in Massachusetts means little in terms of what's above the horizon at any time, but it does mean that there's probably an experienced deep-sky observer within 5 or 10 miles who would be happy to show you around. Where in MA do you live? And have you checked out nearby astronomy clubs?

#15 Starman1

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Posted 19 October 2021 - 03:59 PM

You might find this advice helpful:

https://www.cloudyni...ded/?p=11440595




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