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Old 30-03-2011, 11:07 PM
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madbadgalaxyman (Robert)
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madbadgalaxyman is offline
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Brisbane
Posts: 935
Really good descriptions, Suzy. Were you in a dark sky or an urban area?
Most amateurs have very little descriptive power when describing objects...."Just the facts...."

It is nice, for once, to read object descriptions that give the reader a sense of what it is like to observe the object.

Your efforts to find NGC 5128 remind me of some of my first visual observations of galaxies in the early-to-mid 1970s; from a very light polluted site not far from the geographical centre of Sydney. I found Cen A. and also the rather unusual edge-on spiral NGC 4945 in Centaurus...... but I do remember how difficult it was to find them.

I undertook a good 27 years of regular visual Deep Sky observations, in the ensuing years, but now I mainly spend 6 hours every day analyzing galaxy data that I dredge up from the length & breadth of the internet.

What one really needs is a really good star chart, in order to find galaxies effectively. A star atlas with a magnitude limit of 6 just does not display enough stars to be able to localize the sky position of most galaxies. Really, a Chart magnitude limit of at least 8 to 8.5 is necessary in order that there should be enough stars to orient the astronomer.

I, personally, do not use computerized finding/pointing devices, but I print out customized finding charts for objects that I want to see in my telescope, using some Star Chart software.

A lot of finders have narrow fields, and this makes it hard to know where your telescope is pointing in the sky. I used to use one half of a pair of binos as a finder, which gave me a 7 degree finder field. Also, I used various pointing devices such as Telrads etc, to firstly get my telescope at least close to the object. My first telescope had a couple of rusty nails sticking up from the tube, and these allowed me to line it up fairly close to the target object!

Also, remember that for finding objects, make sure that you use the lowest possible magnification in the telescope itself. Using a BIG ultra-low-power eyepiece that has a very wide field means that you are much more likely to be able to put the object in the field of the telescope. Trying to find things with the telescope at medium power is difficult and traumatic!

A very good way to orient the relative positions of stars and the target object is to firstly get to know the desired region of sky by using binoculars.

While I do spend a whole lot of time these days reading very heavy stuff in the professional literature of astronomy, your post reminds me that astronomy is really about beauty, discovery, an a sense of inspiration.

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