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Looking for tips when observing galaxies

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#26 LordZalmoxes

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Posted 16 April 2024 - 11:22 PM

This is how I find dim fuzzies https://astro.catshi...ing-dim-objects and yes the most important factors are dark skies, having the right atmospheric conditions and having patience!


Some great tips here! The telrad is unavailable at this moment where I am - using a horrid stock ES red dot through which u need averted vision to find Sirius 😒
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#27 daveb2022

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 05:02 AM

Yeah sometimes I use averted vision but I often swing the scope tube back and forth, which seems to help me detect the really dim objects. I even do this with my night vision on galaxies.

Sometimes the enjoyment can come from finding a galaxy on the edge of detection.

I was looking at M-51 the other night with a 4" refractor in B-7+ skies. At 154x both spirals were barely visible. 77x was a little better, but 108x was the most effective magnification.

For me, a lot has some to do with balancing the magnification, light pollution and exit pupil.


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#28 LordZalmoxes

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 06:00 AM

This is how I find dim fuzzies https://astro.catshi...ing-dim-objects and yes the most important factors are dark skies, having the right atmospheric conditions and having patience!



Hey this is some great info much appreciated!

#29 LordZalmoxes

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 06:01 AM

Yeah sometimes I use averted vision but I often swing the scope tube back and forth, which seems to help me detect the really dim objects. I even do this with my night vision on galaxies.
Sometimes the enjoyment can come from finding a galaxy on the edge of detection.
I was looking at M-51 the other night with a 4" refractor in B-7+ skies. At 154x both spirals were barely visible. 77x was a little better, but 108x was the most effective magnification.
For me, a lot has some to do with balancing the magnification, light pollution and exit pupil.



This technique becomes a bit worry some in a truss - I worry that shaking it may disturb the collimation. Is this true?

#30 Nut2But

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 06:34 AM

Tip #1: Drop all expectations.

I've been absolutely 100% satisfied and pleased with my views of galaxies with each of my refractors, from a 6-inch aperture all the way down to a 1/2-inch aperture -- and yes, I've observed galaxies (and yes, I'm using the plural -- galaxies) using a 1/2-inch aperture.

Visual astronomy is so much better when all one is concerned with is the ability to see as much as one can see when using whatever instrument one has chosen to use.

But if you're hopelessly hung up on expectations, and you want to stick with traditional visual astronomy, then your options are:

a) Gain more experience in the art of visual astronomy.

b) Do your observing from a pristine location -- zero light-pollution, zero light-trespass, zero moonlight, etc.

c) In addition to (a) and (b) above, scrap that puny little 12-inch telescope (Hey, if well respected CN posters can get away with calling my 6-inch and smaller telescopes "puny", then I can also use that term smile.gif ) and go buy at least a 50-incher. If that doesn't do the trick, trade the 50-incher in for a more respectable 100-inch telescope.

But frankly, even after doing all of the above, you might still be disappointed in your views of galaxies. It comes down (once again) to those nasty expectations.

Seeing what I expect to see is just ho--hum. Seeing the unexpected -- well, that's where all the glories reside smile.gif . Expect nothing and you'll never be disappointed again. This, regardless of your sky quality and regardless of your telescope.



Nailed it.

#31 Serack

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 07:01 AM

Here are a few more galaxies that might be good targets, depending upon your latitude: M63, M101, M104, M106, NGC 55, NGC 247, NGC 253, NGC 2683, NGC 2841, NGC 3115, NGC 4244, NGC 4631, NGC 5128, and NGC 6949. 

 

The Draco Group (NGC 5985, NGC 5982, and NGC 5981) and Hickson 44 (NGC 3185, NGC 3187, NGC 3190, and NGC 3193) are two of my favorite "lesser known" galaxy groups.

M104 Sombrero galaxy was the first galaxy I trained my XT6 on (in a bortle 4 site I traveled 30 minutes to get to) and discerned structure using averted vision.  It was pretty elating.  *digs through log notes*

 

 

Faint but structured.  Illuminated line with more fuz below and almost sharp drop off to black above.  Actually got slightly better structure with 9mm EP [cheap goldline]

I'll note that the above and below from those notes are subject to inversion.  



#32 Napp

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 09:37 AM

This technique becomes a bit worry some in a truss - I worry that shaking it may disturb the collimation. Is this true?

All it takes is slight motion.  The eye/brain are very good at detecting motion.  It was probably an adaptation to detect predators lurking in the brush.  A gentle tap to the eyepiece is enough.  It’s such a neat experience to find the field that a faint object should be in, tap the eyepiece and have the object appear for that short time until the motion stops.


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#33 Starman1

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 11:33 AM

Here are some suggestions to help.

Note, especially, #9.

1) Don't even bother looking for these faint objects when the Moon is above the horizon.  Wait till after moonset or observe before moon rise.  When the Moon is up, observe the Moon.
2) Be dark adapted--that means 30-45 minutes outside away from lights before you start going for faint objects.
3) Don't bother if there are clouds in the sky because the uncloudy part of the sky is still hazy.  The only exception is if the clouds are only on the horizon.
4) Start at low power until you identify the field, then increase the power until the object is visible.  You will probably find magnifications of 60x+ most useful for DSOs.  Remember, the image gets larger with magnification, but also gets dimmer.
5) Don't look for objects until it is completely dark.  The sun must be 18° below the horizon (90 minutes after sunset at 40° North).
6) Due to the atmosphere dimming objects when it gets thick, try to confine your observing of faint objects to near the N-S meridian, the imaginary line from due north to due south that passes through the zenith, where objects are highest in the sky.
Avoid looking at faint objects below about 30° off the horizon unless the object is in the deep south and never rises above 30°.  The difference in how the Orion Nebula appears when it just clears the trees and when it is high in the sky is quite profound.
7) Use averted vision.  Instead of looking directly at the object, look 15° toward the side (to the right side for right eye, left for left) and let the area of the retina most sensitive to light see it first.
If it's bright enough you can then look at it with direct vision.  Some objects will only be seen well with averted vision.
8) sit down to observe.  We are not stable when standing (your head is always moving) and you will get tired faster.
9) Make plans to move to darker skies once in a while during the New Moon so you can see what the scope is capable of in a darker sky.  Contact your nearest astronomy club to find out where they go to see darker skies.

 

And, as a golfer needs a set of clubs and a course to pursue his hobby, an amateur astronomer needs a telescope and dark skies to pursue his hobby.  

Travel is usually involved in that.  I made a post just about that:

https://www.cloudyni...omy/?p=13395141

Perhaps you can find a place where others go so it can be a social event as well as an observing experience.


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#34 daveb2022

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 11:46 AM

Yeah, I don't own a truss type, but my dob doesn't usually lose collimation even when I drop is slightly hard on the base.

 

Moving the target around works better for me than averted vision on most galaxies. But AV works, especially with dim binaries. Sometimes I'll look and search for a dim target and if I look away and back, and there it is. Funny how I can't see an object, but after seeing it, it is obvious and I often wonder why I didn't see it in the first place.

 

In light pollution, using high enough magnification to supply enough contrast so the galaxy isn't washed out against the background is my goal. I'm not sure how well a specific LP filters will work on smudges ( I generally don't use them), but going to a dark site is probably the best solution. I combat city LP by using NV.



#35 LordNewton

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 12:19 PM

Yes, this!  The moon (and light pollution) will wash out galaxies .  Re dark adaption, it takes me a good 40 minutes.  Being overeager, I'll try at 20 mins, can't see squat, but then after another 20 objects start to pop.   

also keep in mind, the moon and the clouds have some sort of a deal going on; past 3 months the only clear nights were the ones with a full moon.

 

I was observing M99 and it took me a good 15 - 20 minutes until it popped up in my averted vision



#36 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 01:36 PM

Now that I know where you live, you can forget about seeing galaxies with poor surface brightness figures such as M33 and M101.

 

https://www.astronom...ace-brightness/

 

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

 

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

 

https://rasc-vancouv...s-vs-magnitude/



#37 Domdron

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Posted 17 April 2024 - 03:22 PM

Yeah sometimes I use averted vision but I often swing the scope tube back and forth, which seems to help me detect the really dim objects. I even do this with my night vision on galaxies.
Sometimes the enjoyment can come from finding a galaxy on the edge of detection.
I was looking at M-51 the other night with a 4" refractor in B-7+ skies. At 154x both spirals were barely visible. 77x was a little better, but 108x was the most effective magnification.
For me, a lot has some to do with balancing the magnification, light pollution and exit pupil.


Yes. There was a lengthy discussion about this in another thread, with some good links like in this post about magnification vs perceived contrast: https://www.cloudyni...ned/?p=13393525

#38 LordZalmoxes

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 10:15 PM

Now that I know where you live, you can forget about seeing galaxies with poor surface brightness figures such as M33 and M101.

https://www.astronom...ace-brightness/

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

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

https://rasc-vancouv...s-vs-magnitude/



Why would location matter here? As long as I go to a site should be OK, right? Infact a b1 site I've been to I've seen m33 naked eye averted. Or is there something I'm missing here?
Will go through the links

#39 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 11:25 PM

Why would location matter here? As long as I go to a site should be OK, right? Infact a b1 site I've been to I've seen m33 naked eye averted. Or is there something I'm missing here?
Will go through the links

Location is everything.  Dark skies are key to observing almost all galaxies, especially ones like M33, M74, and M101.  It's fortunate that you're able to get to a dark site.



#40 Asbytec

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Posted 18 April 2024 - 11:56 PM


Sketching in the darkness I find to be a bit difficult. And I don't want any lights cause I think even red lights should cause some effect right? I also use a cloth! I find it really increases the contrast in what I see!
30 minutes it is! Alright thank you.


Yes, sketching in the dark is difficult. That's why I don't do it.:)

So, I find the best thing is to sketch my "notes." Sketching deep sky is more visual note taking so I can finish the final sketch later. Seriously, almost every time I sit down to observe, I wonder how I will see anything at all. But after 30 minutes and longer, I normally have a page full of "notes." Both text and hen scratched sketches.

Experience and trust delving into the realm at the edge of our perception are learned. As always, verify your work. As you feel you're getting it right, trust grows. And you can learn from mistakes and spurious observations, too.
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#41 Napp

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 12:18 AM

Why would location matter here? As long as I go to a site should be OK, right? Infact a b1 site I've been to I've seen m33 naked eye averted. Or is there something I'm missing here?
Will go through the links

Must not have been a good night at a B1 site if it took averted vision to spot M33.  I go to a site that is B3 on good nghts.  On the best nights M33 can be spotted with direct vision near the meridian.  So location matters, transparency matters and altitude of the object matter - a lot!


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#42 LordZalmoxes

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 02:48 AM

Must not have been a good night at a B1 site if it took averted vision to spot M33. I go to a site that is B3 on good nghts. On the best nights M33 can be spotted with direct vision near the meridian. So location matters, transparency matters and altitude of the object matter - a lot!


Bad transparency you may be right cause I was at 15k ft. M33 with direct vision wow! Let me try the next trip.
Thank you!

#43 Domdron

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 03:11 AM

Bad transparency you may be right cause I was at 15k ft. M33 with direct vision wow! Let me try the next trip.
Thank you!

15k ft. elevation is pretty high -- shouldn't it usually be better there? You're looking through less atmosphere...



#44 CrazyPanda

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 06:26 AM

At 15k feet, oxygen deprivation starts impacting your ability to see faint targets. That’s true of Mauna Kea’s 13k foot summit. The visitors center at 9k feet is better than the summit for stargazing. 


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#45 LordZalmoxes

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 06:42 AM

15k ft. elevation is pretty high -- shouldn't it usually be better there? You're looking through less atmosphere...


The location is hanle, ladakh. Northern India.
acclimatization at around 10-11 k ft at leh.
6h gradual climb up there.
Unfortunately - the scopes we had were just the 5 inchers. But we saw quite a lot. Infact m1 is invisible in this bortle kill me where I stay but was able to see it properly there.
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#46 Domdron

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 07:28 AM

At 15k feet, oxygen deprivation starts impacting your ability to see faint targets. That’s true of Mauna Kea’s 13k foot summit. The visitors center at 9k feet is better than the summit for stargazing. 

Interesting. How about using an oxygen mask? Though that could reduce comfort...

 

Thinking further -- does this also work the other way around? I.e. could I improve my eye sight even at lower altitudes using an oxygen mask?



#47 Starman1

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 10:39 AM

Oxygen at lower altitudes can increase the oxygen levels in the blood but only if your blood is not already carrying the maximum it can carry.

Extra oxygen won't help.

 

The altitude where oxygen supplementation is necessary varies from person to person.

My usual observing site is at 8350' altitude, and I only run out of air when working hard.  Just sitting at the scope is never an issue.

 

But, I have also observed at over 10,000', and there I found myself out of breath when just standing up to get an eyepiece out of the case and walking a few feet.

And have, on occasion, become nauseous or developed a headache.

 

One of my neighbors had his 14 year old daughter die from pulmonary edema on a hike to the top of Mount Whitney (14,505') as they camped overnight.

If you are at an altitude above 8000' and you develop a headache, don't stay there.  Get down to a lower altitude as soon as you can.

Your headache will go away, and you just might save your own life. 

 

Even if you live at a 10k' altitude, observing at 15k' is not a good idea.  You will see more at a lower altitude because the retinas will get sufficient oxygen. 


Edited by Starman1, 19 April 2024 - 10:40 AM.

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#48 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 11:25 AM

The 12,500-foot (3,810-meter) altitude of the Bolivian Altiplano was not much fun to deal with the times that I observed from the shores of Lake Titicaca but other than shortness of breath when climbing stairs and headaches and some mental confusion at times I wasn't affected to the degree that Don reported.  Supplemental oxygen was available, but I didn't notice any great improvement when using it.  My friend and I had prescriptions for Diamox but the side effects seemed worse to us than the high-altitude sickness and we both stopped using it.



#49 LordZalmoxes

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 09:53 PM

Interesting. How about using an oxygen mask? Though that could reduce comfort...

Thinking further -- does this also work the other way around? I.e. could I improve my eye sight even at lower altitudes using an oxygen mask?



We had these o2 canisters for emergencies and a cylinder with a mask on standby. Infact the only hospital near by is one in the army base dotted on the Chinese border. So it was a helicopter or one painful 2 h by a bumpy pick up truck across harsh terrain.
One in an accompanying group went through this ordeal when we were there it wasn't pretty

#50 LordZalmoxes

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Posted 19 April 2024 - 10:15 PM

The 12,500-foot (3,810-meter) altitude of the Bolivian Altiplano was not much fun to deal with the times that I observed from the shores of Lake Titicaca but other than shortness of breath when climbing stairs and headaches and some mental confusion at times I wasn't affected to the degree that Don reported. Supplemental oxygen was available, but I didn't notice any great improvement when using it. My friend and I had prescriptions for Diamox but the side effects seemed worse to us than the high-altitude sickness and we both stopped using it.


We actually took half a diamox everyday. Never felt anything! Kept the headaches at bay and I would do my usual boxing routine in the mornings that kept my spO2 above 92, which kept the sickness away but It was still difficult to function at higher efficiencies


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