View Full Version here: : Galaxies
16-03-2012, 03:47 PM
Galaxies have always been something of a problem for me. I have trouble finding them altogether. What I want to ask is am I expecting too much? I have viewed some clusters (Butterfly is awesome), but I have never had any luck in the last few years of finding a good view of a galaxy. Is it possible to define say the Sombrero galaxy with my 10" Donbsonian? Or would it still appear as a source point? I would appreciate any advice on lenses, locations etc. I mention the Sombrero galaxy as it is one in particular I have been trying to see for some time now. The Fornax Galaxy would be quite something to see as well I figure.
16-03-2012, 05:17 PM
Galaxies are always a bit problematic as all of them are faint and most of them are small. We are spoiled by images of theses galaxies that show arms, colours and lots of structure.
The Sombrero (M104) is a good galaxy to try for as it is relatively bright and one of the larger ones. If you can get to dark skies it will clearly show the dark lane in your scope even at low power.
In the suburbs, it will be harder to pick up but should give you something.
Which Fornax Galaxy are you referring to BTW? There are lots!
16-03-2012, 09:54 PM
i'm going out tonight to look at sombrero thru my 10" dob.bog standard, with factory issue lenses. the hardest part is finding it thru the finderscope. i have seen it thru my 5", but its no problem thru 10". dark skies and dark adapted eyes will be a boon. good luck! andrew.
19-03-2012, 08:30 PM
There is one "silent" killer to viewing galaxies - moisture in the atmosphere.
This last year along the whole length of the east coast of Australia the atmosphere has been loaded big time with H2O. The result is that it kills the ability to clearly see galaxies at all. All DSO's actually.
Many experienced observers have been describing the view of galaxies as being "mushy", "soupy" and mirky.
I too have been most disappointed with the view of even big and detailed galaxies through all my scopes this last 12 months. The huge spiral galaxy M33 in my 17.5" normally shows a beautiful spiral system. This year it's been an oblong blob with bugger all spiral structure. Centaurus A (NGC 5128, or the Hamburger Galaxy) has been really difficult to see clearly at all. And the typically bright and detailed Fornax cluster has been very hard to see easily or with much detail at all.
You have been doing nothing wrong at all. When the atmosphere has been drier, like 2 years ago, all of the above are beautifully detailed in my 10" dobbie. Easier to see, sharper, brighter. Centaurus A, M 83 and the Sombrero are easy to spot in a 30mm finder at a dark site. No chance presently.
The only thing that will help is to wait for the current climate pattern to change to a drier one.
The galaxies are still there, but they will really, really test your observing skill. Be patient. We are all in the same boat, :sadeyes: .
Malcom mentions also mentions the Sombrero. It is still a good target at present. Its distinct dark lane still makes for a striking image.
20-03-2012, 01:47 AM
I've been on the hunt for galaxies as well, but since most are mag 9 or fainter, you need reasonably dark skies to view them. How dark are skies at your observing location?
M83 is my favourite as its bright and easy to spot. I've been able to view faint spiral arms from 20km's from the city. Sombrero was a lot fainter.
should be easy to spot with your 10".
Do you have setting scales on your Dob mount? that will help locating objects.
there are a few threads here on how to make them.
Which scope are you using and what is its focal length/ratio, which eyepieces do you use?
20-03-2012, 11:17 AM
I haven't been learning astronomy for very long only half a year odd and I haven't really gone in search of any galaxies yet but I have been trying to Nebula's. I have been keen on seeing the M42 Nebula but never been able to find it. I have pointed my scope at Orion uncountable amount of times with no luck. I think I'm in the same boat as you man, expecting too much.
Good luck on your hunt, I would love to know if you get lucky and spot it! :)
20-03-2012, 11:31 AM
I'm afraid that you are probably expecting too much from your locations. I spent two months trying the find ngc5128 and then for the umpteenth time I finally became aware of a faint wisp slowly passing through my eyepiece. I went back and with averted seeing finally saw the galaxy. It was nothing like I expected.
I eventually realized it was not my scope but light pollution which was killing the image. Eventually all galaxies and nebula became easier with experience and a good dark site but still you had to learn how to see using averted vision. It takes time and perseverance and a mentor to show you how.
Matt where are you in Brisbane? Pm me and if close come round to my observatory and I can show you where a few nebula and galaxies are and record them with a camera.
20-03-2012, 12:05 PM
Allan, gave you a PM mate. Very interested.
20-03-2012, 12:16 PM
I finally after a year of have my dob (12") and much trying saw the Sombrero galaxy the other night. It was a tiny fuzzy streak with a barely discernible blob in the middle! Never the less I was happy as a pig in the proverbial. It was a bit low in the horizon at the time (east) so I guess atmosphere etc did not help. This was from Perth (5km from the city centre) so a fair bit of light pollution as well. Not sure what your 10" will show but don't give up!
Intergage - I don't know what scope you have but M42 is a fairly easy target if you get the scope centred on the right star in Orion and should be visible even without a neb filter.
20-03-2012, 12:35 PM
I have 2 really poor quality reflector scopes but I see Jupiter and 4 of it's moon very clearly (I Can see the eye of Jupiter on a good night in full detail). I have seen the nebula live (Well as live as we can see it on earth) a couple of times but not with me operating the scope. I can point to it in the night sky EASY but when searching for it I can't find it.. I have spent hours going back and forth with my highest zoom lens using the slow motion controls finding this bloody thing!
20-03-2012, 02:24 PM
Intergage, I suspect from reading what you've written, that you may be using too much magnification to start with. Even with a "cheap" telescope, look to use your lowest magnification first. This will give you the widest field of view to actually locate objects first. Otherwise it would be like trying to aim at a fly with a gun instead of a spray. Once you've located the object you can then decide to use higher magnification if you like.
Not all objects need the power cranked up either - the Orion nebula is one of them that benefits from low power best.
Do you have a pair of binoculars? Reason I ask is that the Orion nebula is not only easily visible even in the smallest of pairs, but it will make locating it quick and easy in the sky. You can aim your scope at the right bit of the sky once you've got your bearings right.
The picture below is of how the constellation Orion appears to us here in Oz, upside down. You'll see that there are three bright stars in a row across the middle - that's Orion's belt. Just above the belt in the centre of a quadrilateral fromed by the belt and two other bright stars is a ruby coloured star with two white companions - this is Orion's sword. The ruby coloured star is the Orion nebula.
For your reference, the red star on the bottom right forms Orion's right shoulder, the rest of his chest reaches across to the star at the bottom left. Those three little stars below the line of the shoulder's is Orion's head (he is looking to the East at Taurus the bull armed with a club in his right hand and holding a lion skin shield in his left).
Have a go again. Once you know where to look it all makes sense. I've also attached a sketch of mine that I did using my 30 year old 2" Tasco reflector, and done from my backyard in Sydney. The Orion nebula at the time was sitting dead smack over the glare of Sydney's CBD from my place, and it was still a very detailed object from my home in this tiny scope.
Cranking up the aperture, here's a sketch of the same nebula using my 17.5" scope, and also from my home.
Note that both these sketches were also done using the lowest power achievable with both these scopes, not the highest.
The Sombrero is also visible as a tiny thin streak in my 10X50 binos. Trick is knowing where to look. Allan can show you where the bugger sits, :thumbsup:
20-03-2012, 02:43 PM
Thanks heaps man! Awesome post! Yeah, I have a pair of bino's cheapie ones but they work quite well. My scopes can see single stars in the belt and I can find Orion within seconds of being outside and what I normally do is, use low power lens and find where I want, quickly put in a 3x zoom adapter with my low power (Pretty sure it's 25mm) and then once I find where I think it is from there, I put in my high zoom (Not sure what mm) with the 3x zoom adapter and then use the slow motion controls to go, left, right, left right, left right up down up down up down left right until I find something cool to look at! :P
20-03-2012, 03:53 PM
Thanks for the reply! Wet skies have dampened ny spirits for yet another weekend, time to start crossing fingers for the next one :D I have to admit some uninformed terminology, indeed there are many fornax Galaxies, I intended to refer to them all, as a cluster in themselves.
20-03-2012, 04:06 PM
That is an awesome post, thank you very much. I bought the Dob around 3 years ago, probably just as the decline started it seems. But that is awesome to know I am not doing anything wrong, and just need some more patience. I have not tried to chase down M33, that sounds very impressive, and definitely one to go on my list. That is particularly what I am chasing, something with a defined shape. I have noticed that the brighter stars in M6 have been less impressive than the first time I spotted them, I blamed the recent loss of my collimation tool on that. Thanks again, great post, and has definitely inspired me to keep looking even harder for Galaxies. I shall concentrate on the Sombrero for now, as I mentioned, that one looks to have quite a defined shape, something I really wish to track down and witness for myself. After all this time looking, I was really starting to wonder about myself!
Very impressive pictures!
20-03-2012, 04:21 PM
Thanks for the reply! I am on the Gold Coast in Queensland, in the Hinterland. I am just behind the peak of Mt Nathan, and that seems to help with light, but the skies to the east are just washed out. Anything NW or SW I find is quite reasonable I think. I have some friends with a large farm outside of Toowoomba, very dark skies out that way, I need to organise a camping trip there with the scope. I paid them a visit a short while back, and had to stop on the side of the road to reduce my fluid levels and looked up, and was astounded by the night skies out Boonah way.
No, I do not believe I have setting scales on the mount, it is just a standard mount. I use Stellarium quite a lot to help me find my way around the skies. I will look up the threads, thanks for the tip.
My setup is a 10" Dobsonian on a standard mount, and I have a range of eyepieces from 5mm through to 32 mm, some filters and a barlow. I tend to go with the method Alexander mentioned, I use something like a 20 or 25,mm even a 32mm and then drop down through the eyepieces until I get the view I am satisfied with. Then I yell out to the kids, you have gotta see this!
20-03-2012, 04:23 PM
Thanks for the reply! That sounds awesome, I look forward to being able to report back that I have found one of these wonders!
20-03-2012, 04:25 PM
I have had quite some success with Jupiter, it seems quite easy to find where I am, Mars not as good as Jupiter and Saturn, but I have missed the best opportunities to cloudy skies unfortunately. Good luck with those Nebulae, make sure you let us now if you have some success.
20-03-2012, 04:26 PM
That seems to be my biggest bugbear, finding the darn thing! Do you have any work arounds to deal with these difficulties?
20-03-2012, 05:19 PM
Go to a dark place, find the object on a star atlas with a faint red LED torch, study the area with 7x50 or 10x50 binoculars, then with your 50mm finder scope, then with low power, then with medium power.
Attached is a SkyMapPro map for M104, looking east at 9pm.
22-03-2012, 04:35 PM
Thank you kindly Glen, hopefully I will get a break in the rain this weekend and have a chance to try this out.
27-03-2012, 09:12 PM
well, perserverance and patience seem to be required. sore neck and numb feet an unfortunate necessity. my reference is 'skywatching' by david h levy. ive found it to be a great starter, but charts only go to mag 6. so i point the scope to where the object is meant to be, and start looking. it takes time, but, that is part of the allure. relatively easy with big furry things like galaxies, but as i want to see 3c273 virginis, i might need more detailed charts. i dont have any dramas finding the likes of sombrero, centaurus edgewise (4945), virgo and fornax galaxies. have you found sombrero, yet, or any others?
28-03-2012, 06:54 AM
Hi Psyche. I'm in Auckland NZ and have a 10" Newt. I spotted M104 (Sombrero) Monday night over in low eastern amongst our CBD light dome. Air was reasonably clear for a change, southerly blowing rubbish away but it is very faint in those conditions. I only just saw it knowing where to look having found it under better ( high north) conditions last year. You will probably find it easier much later at night when it is higher in the sky or wait a few months and it will be further advainced earlier in the evening. My best time at present would be about 4 am so in Australia it will be even later.
I have also found Sculptor in Fornax, again in winter months and at home. Also very dim but quite distinguishable when you recognise it finally. The best way to confirm sightings I find is to recognise the star pattern from a chart and identify where it should be. Then look very carefully using averted vision and well dark adapted eyes. If you've got the location right then all of a sudden something willl flicker through your vision as you search and there it is. A very satisfying moment the first time, or that matter any time !! :D
As has been previously mentioned they look nothing like you see in the pretty pictures...
Hang in there, patience and perserverance will reward. Then you will want to take pictures ..:eyepop: $$$$$ and more frustrations.... :P
28-03-2012, 07:47 AM
Try 1st the Centaurus A "Hamburger Galaxy" highly visible dark dust band that crisscrosses this giant elliptical galaxy.....
Very bright in your 10"..... :thumbsup:
Much brighter than M104.....
Ideally placed high in the south at the moment close to the SCP so won't drift off view as quick....
28-03-2012, 09:56 PM
GrampianStar's suggestion to target Centaurus A is a good one. It was one of my early successes when I started looking for galaxies.
I found I could find it with a little patience, star hopping from surrounding brighter stars. It was a small fuzzy patch in my 7X50 binoculars that I almost missed. My 85mm scope revealed the faint glow of the galaxy and the dust lanes were visible with averted vision. Very satisfying to find it.
I can only imagine how brighter it will look like through your dob!
29-03-2012, 02:25 AM
M104 has a higher surface brightness than Cen A (11.6 vs 13.5) but Cen A is brighter with mag 6.8 vs mag 8.0 for M104.
Cen A is 4.5 degrees north of omega Cen. Use binoculars to find it then use a low power eyepiece on your scope.
Hi everyone :hi:
For those seeking out an easy way to find the Sombrero Galaxy (M104), please take a look here at post no#36 (by pgc hunter) and no#37 (by eric).
An easy star hop explained and star hop map provided. :thumbsup:
In fact, the whole thread in it's entirety is very helpful.:D
Learning to measure that 4 deg. using your hand really does help (unless you have a Telrad). Also- four deg. (re Sombrero) may not seem much but once you measure it in the sky with your hand, you will actually see that's it's quite some ways away.
Unfortunately, I'm not using my lap top at the moment to give you my bookmarked link, so just google "measuring the sky with your hand" for some results.
And just purely my opinion, not sure how others agree here....
For the first two years of observing, I stayed well clear of observing galaxies from my light polluted backyard. M104 was an exception.:P
I concentrated on polishing up my observing skills on nebulae in preparation for galaxy observing. Stephen O'Meara's book, "The Messier Objects" is a teaching book for observing- it focuses on pulling out detail from faint fuzzies- has been one of my most helpful guides during this period.
And trust me....
the more you observe, the more trained your eyes will be at picking out detail. Eventually, just about EVERYTHING is bright... yes, those really faint fuzzies you once thought were barely there in the eyepiece, are now glaring bright in your eyepiece- I kid you not! You will bump into them everywhere! :eyepop:
So after two years, I've now spent the last 6 months observing galaxies, and boy oh boy, I'm glad I waited. :D:D
Perhaps you don't need to wait as long as I did, but I think you get the message here- the more you observe, the better your skill at visual observing will be. ;) So I'm still relatively new to this- I can't wait to see what the next few years of observing will bring me, so far it's been the most fantastic journey of my life and I can only get better- yaaay! :D
18-05-2012, 10:55 PM
I Tracked down m104 in my 25x100 tonight the 2.5 degree field makes it easy to see the two 3 star asterisms in Sab's post Suzy links to.
It was a nice elongated fuzzy, not large or bright but easy to pick out. I started at Saturn jumped to spica then moved to the bottom 2 stars in corvi-was a quick jump down from there..prob took me 3 mins to bag it
It was good to make out a diff shape then the usual circular smudge
A very nice bino report there Daniel- thank you. :)
I'll have to throw my 10x60's onto it and see what I get. :D
I don't expect elongated at those powers though.:lol:
Some further tips for finding M104- The Sombrero Galaxy...
In a 9x50 finder it's easy to make it out as the core is so bright- it'll just look like a star (tho slightly more diffuse- comparatively if you look at the surrounding stars and look at it, you can tell the difference. :thumbsup:).
The star hop that leads to it (the 3 star asterisms mentioned in the link I supplied and what Daniel's talking about) combines to look like the constellation Scorpius next to it through the finder- it's a very bright pattern & hard to miss. In the finder, get that Scorpius asterism on the right edge of the finder, then look left of the finder about a 1/4 of the way in and on the same line pretty much, and then look for a slightly diffuse star. :thumbsup:
Lots of study through the finder will prove invaluable as you'll get better and better at picking out objects to differentiate from what you probably thought at first were faint stars. I spend as much time looking in my finderscope as I do through the telescope in trying to pick out faint fuzzies (the widefield views alone are worth it). Having a right angle finder makes this task much more comfortable and enjoyable.
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