View Full Version here: : Centaurus A - FOUND!

30-05-2011, 10:09 PM
FINALLY found my first galaxy today.

The ol 10 inch dob came through.

Story goes that I've been foaming at the mouth to get out under the skies tonight, as it's the first properly clear evening for me where I can actually get a bit of astro done in about 6 weeks. Ah, the withdrawl!

So anyway I rush home after work, as I can see nothing but blue from horizon to horizon on my Kwaka on the way home. Lucky I was wearing a full face helmet, otherwise my manic grin might have gotten me in trouble with the rozzers.

I get home and find my scope. I blow off the dust, evict a few spiders (a bit of dramatic licence here) and exorcise the spirits that have taken up residence in the long absence. I take special care to collimate it while there's still light out, and then once the sun is below the horizon I take it outside to equalize the temperature and wait for twilight to end.

Come about 8.30pm local time I'm out there at the eyepiece, but all is not well. I'm lucky in that the street light on my cul-de-sac, which happens to be right in my front yard, is dead. However, the neighbours across the road have got their porch lights on... for no reason. I do the best I can, but there's no way I can preserve my night vision this way. A quick nip across the road, and the ol' fella was kind enough to switch the lights out. No air rifle required (although that might have been more fun :P).

Back to my yard I go. It's been a while since I've been at the eyepiece, and I have a bit of trouble finding Omega Centauri. I'm using a 90 degree finder and a newt, so the finder is showing a reversed image, and the newt is showing an inverted image, which is making it difficult to figure out how I should be hopping. Add to the fact that the spot I'm trying to look in is almost at zenith, and the 'dob hole' effect is evident.

Omega Centauri is found. Excellent! Now... Centaurus A. I vainly try and hop to where I need to be, but I'm not sure how far I need to hop in my finder (as I'm not sure of the true field of view in the finder). I consult my atlas. More fruitless searching. Back to the atlas. and so on, and so on. The frustration builds. I begin to wonder if it's possible to see Centaurus A from my yard. Doubt creeps in...

Then I reconise the V formation (with one arm of the V forming an extended chain of stars) near Omega Centauri. According to my atlas, Centaurus A is just near (but not actually in the path of) where the V points, near a reasonably bright star. I put the eyepiece as close as I can figure to where it needs to be....

Nothing... Wait. what's that smudge of what looks like nebulosity? It has no business being there according to my atlas. I can only see it with averted vision, but it's definitely there. There seems to be a slightly brighter spot on it too. It looks like a smudge with the middle erased... :eyepop:


yahoo! found it! I can't get it with direct vision, but it's definitely there. A nebulosity with a bright point, separated by a dark lane. yippie! All that hard work, and neck craning paid off. I had a good long look, and then realised that the dew was decending, and I had to pack up for an early start tomorrow. So that's what I did.

I was tired, sore, cold, and had a massive grin on my face.

Man what a weird hobby we have. Getting all hyped up over a smudge in the sky. :lol:

30-05-2011, 10:33 PM
Well done Adam!! Careful, you think you can stop anytime you want, but before you know it your an addict and just can't stop at one. :rofl:

I first viewed Cent A in my 10" over 30 years ago and still regularly visit it.

Keep it up, before long the mental/visual gymnastics will become second nature. Some scientific theories suggest you may even evolve a neck more suitable for those awkward viewing positions.
Greg B.

30-05-2011, 10:55 PM
Fantastic Adam, well done. Love your report, the emotion is just coming though. ;)
I found it once in the skies over Melb but with bad viewing conditions, was not impressed. You've raised my interest again so I will give it another try tommorrow night (if the skies stay clear). :astron:
Hope my enthusiasm can match yours. :stargaze:

Don't you just love this hobby.


30-05-2011, 11:05 PM
Love it? LOVE IT!? ARE YOU MAD!?

I spend far more time swearing at thin air and grinding my teeth (and vertebrae as I crane my neck) than viewing celestial wonders...

and yet... I go out again, and again, and again. Must be love. Or a psychological illness. Fine line eh? :D

30-05-2011, 11:48 PM
Absolutely insane, you know! That's what my wife says. :P

31-05-2011, 11:58 AM
Congrats! A great read your report, a journey well shared :)


31-05-2011, 12:15 PM
Well done Adam :thumbsup:

It's a great smudge to see isn't it.

My wife didn't get the hang of averted vision for a while so she used to think I was making it up. :D

allan gould
31-05-2011, 01:07 PM
Well done Adam. It took me a month to find it as I used my minds image of what it should look like - not what it was!

31-05-2011, 01:29 PM
heh. I'd seen a picture of Centaurus A before, but not for a while. I deliberately didn't go and doublecheck it until AFTER I'd found it, to make sure I wasn't imagining things. So I'm confident I found it. :D

As for my style of reporting? I find it's the journey, and not necessarily the destination that makes the whole affair interesting. :thumbsup:

31-05-2011, 04:59 PM
Well done Adam!! Its a great galaxy to discover cos you can actually see something, others a tiny weeny smudges, that may or maynot be there.:question:

31-05-2011, 05:25 PM
Love the " Story " lead-up to the " moment of truth " ... found it ... YAY ..!! .... such excitement involved ....good on you mate.

Flash :thumbsup:

31-05-2011, 05:53 PM
Good work Adam i myself recently found sombrero galaxy which was my first and i loved it, however iam jealous that you got the hamburger ive been looking for it for the last two weeks but no avail maybe the V formation will work when i try next. I just hope my sky isnt so light polluted that i cant see it (5 mins from sydney CBD) anyways wish me luck and good hunting :)

31-05-2011, 06:24 PM
Good luck and good hunting! I recommend the pocket sky atlas as a guide. It got me over the line. That flying v asterism points towards a group of 3 or 4 stars in the open mouth of a 'u' shape. The galaxy is near one of the stars in the u shape.

31-05-2011, 07:50 PM
Congratulations Adam. Sounds like you've got the mind of a star hopper - finding where the V points to a bright star etc.. You'll be seeing everything as patterns of triangles before too long. Lovely report and timely with today's APOD (http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap110531.html)

31-05-2011, 10:03 PM
yeah that's a good picture. Wish it looked like that at the eyepiece! didn't even know there was that kind of ejecta from the centre going on. personally I prefer my supermassive black holes extra crispy, rather than regular, but I don't presume to speak for everyone. :rolleyes:

01-06-2011, 06:22 PM
Great report...it is a buzz to find something by star hopping for the first time isnt it

01-06-2011, 11:16 PM
definitely. I reckon I might start trying to go through the Bambury 600, or at least 500 or so of the ones that will be in reach of my 10 inch dob.

Hopefully the weather stays good till Sunday. I've got a viewing organised at a proper dark sky site this Saturday with my astro society. The last 3 times i've gone, it's been completely clouded out. i reckon I'm owed at least ONE clear night under a proper dark sky.

Having said that, I've probably already jinxed it. The megrez 90 I ordered came in today, and I'll be picking it up tomorrow. therefore, the iron law of new scopes says that I won't get a clear night for ages. I expect we'll see a catagory 5 tornado in rural SA on Saturday night. :P

08-06-2011, 12:00 PM
Hi Adam & All,

Well done and congratulations on the find. Seeing iconic objects like Centaurus A* for the first time is a great thrill and I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Just a coupe of notes on your report:

From what you have written, it seems you may not be entirely comfortable with your finderscope -- which is a right-angled finder. You might want to try a straight-through or a telrad-type. Finderscopes (and I include all the telrad-type devices here) are a very personal choice. Everyone likes what they like.

I find right-angled finders a pain in the you-know-what. I don't like them at all! Personally I like a straight-through and use it with both eyes open. I guess that is probably because when I "grew-up" in astronomy, that's really all there was and learning to use a straight-through finder with it's inverted image was a right-of-passage. I'm not a fan of the telrad type because they dew so easily and because they only show naked-eye stars -- and the batteries always seem to run out at the most inconvenient time.

To help to know your finder's field of view, use it centred on something like the Southern Cross and draw every star you can see through it easily. Do the sketch quickly or the siderial motion of the sky will ruin its usefulness. Then take the drawing to whatever atlas you are using and determine how big the circle of the FOV is on the atlas.

Use the your drawing to draw a circle lightly in pencil on your atlas that outlies exactly how big the FOV of the finder is, then get some clear film (like photocopier film used to make slides for overhead projectors -- 15c a sheet at the paper-shop. Place the film over the circle and trace the circle on your film in permanent marker (only don't use red!).

You can now transfer the film anywhere on the atlas (assuming it is all at the same scale) and you can see how big your finder FOV is anywhere in the sky.

Easy as !


Les D

08-06-2011, 01:29 PM
Congrats Adam, nice story and well rewarded at the end for your efforts.

This is an excellent tip from Les :thumbsup::thumbsup:. I had an overhead sheet for each star atlas I owned and on each sheet was a circle representing the FOV for each of my eyepieces. I still used them until recently.


08-06-2011, 04:54 PM
Yeah I've been thinking about doing something along those lines to determine the FOV of my finder. It'll certainly help with star hopping.

As for the idea of getting a straight thru finder; I've toyed with it, but the fact is, I have to wear glasses to see anything (astigmatism) through the scope. I'm also short sighted so I can't use a straight thru finder with both eyes open to do 'reflex' sighting, because I can't position my head effectively so that I can see thru a straight thru finder and the sky at the same time with my glasses on. My neck doesn't bend that much! :D