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Cosmic Challenge: Quasar 3C 273

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#1 PhilH

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Posted 01 May 2022 - 05:23 AM

Whenever my neighbor (I'll call him "Joe") sees me at one of my telescopes, he'll come over and ask "so, how far can you see with that thing?" Every time! You've also probably met someone like Joe. Well, unless you have a double-digit telescope, your answer should probably be "2.4 billion light years."

Click here to view the article
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#2 Benno

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Posted 09 May 2022 - 11:17 PM

I've seen 273 years ago thru my 8" Cassegrain. I think it's the farthest object you can see in a backyard scope!! Thanks for posting!!


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#3 Eclipsed

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 07:08 AM

I’ve seen it only on an image I took with my 8” SCT and ASI178MC camera. It was definitely a bluish shade. Since I know Phil’s emphasis is on visual and not Astro, I will see if we get a clear enough sky to try it with my aged and not-so-good eyes. It should be a fun challenge!

Edited by Eclipsed, 13 May 2022 - 07:09 AM.

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#4 Sky King

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Posted 13 May 2022 - 07:11 PM

3C 273 is my favorite quasar and I even started a thread on it a while ago. I plan to revisit it with my C11 and maybe boost it with a 2.5x Tele Vue Powermate, hoping to see some jets. Probably wishful thinking about the jets, but doesn't hurt to try. 


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#5 David Knisely

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Posted 18 May 2022 - 04:25 PM

I may have some doubt that most people with modest aperture telescopes will visually see much in the way of color in 3C-273, so using its "color" in the eyepiece to help track it down might not be a great idea.  At around magnitude 12.8 to 13.0, many people would probably need something in the 10 to 14 inch aperture range to notice any easily distinguishable hue at that low level of brightness.  Even then, the color index of 3C-273 is +0.21 which is comparable to a late A-class star like 3rd magnitude Talitha (Iota UMa), or magnitude 2.5 Alpha Cephei, and those stars visually are more white than bluish.  I may have to try to image it sometime to see what my old DSLR shows, but visually (at least to me), 3C-273 appears pretty much colorless. 


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#6 Special Ed

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Posted 18 May 2022 - 08:41 PM

Phil,

 

This is a good challenge and also a very informative article about quasars in general and this one in particular.  I observed 3C 273 in April of 2018 using my C14, but I needed a very detailed chart to identify the star field.  As in your article, I starhopped from eta Vir to the NE.  I did not note any color to the quasar.  I made this eyepiece sketch.

 

3C273_2018.04.21.composite.v1.JPG


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#7 Herchel

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Posted 28 May 2022 - 11:42 AM

Thank you Phil for all the awesome stuff you do for astronomy.. 👍👍🍺
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#8 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 28 May 2022 - 12:54 PM

I was able to log 3C 273 with my 101mm f/5.4 Tele Vue refractor in May of 2005 from Cherry Springs State Park in Potter County, Pennsylvania. I caught glimpses of the brightest quasar at 44x (12.4mm Meade Super Plössl) with averted vision. A distinctive stellar pattern lies slightly to the northeast of the quasar.
 

Information on and additional finder charts for 3C 273 can be found at the following URLs:
 

http://www.phys.ttu....zprof/3c273.htm
 

http://spider.seds.o...Misc/3c273.html
 

https://astronomynow...the-spring-sky/
 

https://www.lsw.uni-...s/1226 023.html
 

http://www.astrosurf...jwisn/3c273.htm
 

I've observed a number of far fainter and more distant quasars using much larger apertures. 

There are lists of other quasars visible using amateur telescopes at these URLs:
 

https://www.universe...ard-telescopes/
 

http://websites.umic...arnecki.23.html
 

https://skyandtelesc...pring-evenings/
 

http://spider.seds.o...r/Misc/qso.html
 


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#9 Sasa

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Posted 30 May 2022 - 06:59 AM

I have seen 3C273 in 2012 in 100mm refractor (ED100/900) and 80mm refractor (AS80/1200). In ED100 I could clearly see at 176x quasar and the nearby 12.6 and 12.7 mag stars. I think I was detecting in short moments another nearby star of 13.5 mag.

 

In 80mm, the quasar was more difficult. It was already visible at 96x. More clear view was at 150x, I could see again not only quasar but as well the two nearby stars. The quasar was a little bit more easy to see than the stars so it was probably slightly brighter. It required strong concentrated effort to see the quasar.

 

BTW, the most distant target I saw so far was CTA-102. During the 2016/2017 burst, I was able to glimpse it through 50mm aperture.



#10 PhilH

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Posted 30 May 2022 - 07:09 AM

Thank you Phil for all the awesome stuff you do for astronomy..

Thanks, Herschel. That's kind of you to say! smile.gif



#11 Avgvstvs

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 05:21 AM

A great observing challenge. I have even shared it with a friend.

It's probably the most distant thing any of us will see in a lifetime.

Thank You 



#12 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 01:43 PM

Here's a screencap from Stellarium showing 3C 273's location.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 3C 273 Stellarium Wide.JPG


#13 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 24 July 2022 - 01:45 PM

The star to the lower left of 3C 273 in this close-up view has a magnitude of 10.25.

Attached Thumbnails

  • 3C 273 Stellarium.JPG


#14 SpitzA3P

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Posted 16 April 2023 - 02:17 AM

I stumbled into it with my 11 inch SCT in Bortle 3ish skies last year.  I was astounded to find it as it is also known by other names, an NGC , I think, and noticed in my Sky Safari control program that it was also designated 3C273 which I recalled was a very special Quasar.  I was astounded to read that it was 2.4 ish Billion LY away ! 

 

PS The astronomer who found the first Quasar died last year, I forget his name.



#15 rutherfordt

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Posted 16 April 2023 - 08:56 AM

His name was Maarten Schmidt-- he was the first to realize that their spectra were enormously red-shifted, implying that they were at very large distances from us.



#16 PhilH

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Posted 17 April 2023 - 11:10 AM

The NY Times ran a good obituary about him at the time. https://www.nytimes....ce=articleShare



#17 hyiger

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Posted 16 May 2023 - 04:46 PM

Had the pleasure on Saturday of seeing it in a 20" Obsession in Bortle 5 skies. Looked like a dim star at mag 13 but was still profound that this is probably the farthest object that can be seen with a amateur scope. 


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#18 lwbehney

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Posted 16 October 2023 - 01:04 PM

Wonderful new article in the November issue of Astronomy which will help star gazers locate and find this Quasar.  

 

I photographed the detailed image included with this article and then use an editing tool on my iPhone to rotate the image 180º around the vertical axis so that my Cassegrain scope with a diagonal will match the view now recorded on my phone screen. This maneuver should work for anyone with an SCT and  Classical or DK Cassegrain. Can't wait! 

 

Some people have very excellent brains at picturing in their minds where something would be located if the image of it were rotated about an axis. My brain can do that for one or two objects, but I can't do that for a star pattern. 

 

A big Thank You to Editor Richard Taicott for this article.




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