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Thread: Hunting for the spiral arms...

  1. #1
    bartoszp's Avatar
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    Default Hunting for the spiral arms...



    I've seen few galaxies so far (M51, M81/82 and finally yesterday M31+M110) but I'd really like to glimpse even a hint of spiral structure - so far no success. I live in red zone , but I managed one trip to green zone with similar result (things were brighter, but still similar - fuzzy bright core with some "fog" round it).

    I'd be curious to find out which galaxy (if any) offers the best chance of seeing the spiral in 8inch Newtonian. How far (as in - to which zone) would I need to travel?

    Thank you!

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    Default Re: Hunting for the spiral arms...

    I'm a beginner and the only luck I've ever had was M51. I have seen it several times but only once did it display it's arms and that was a great dark night. I think that is the most important requirement.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Hunting for the spiral arms...

    Under a dark, very transparent sky, M51 is a possibility because it is bright even though it is face-on. Even if you don't see the arms themselves, you can see the satellite galaxy.

    M31 might be a possibility, because it is bright, close and big. But the best I've been able to do from a blue zone, with an 8" Newt, is to see some dust lanes. If you go someplace dry and high altitude, you would have a better chance. My blue zone was near the ocean, at sea level, so not an optimum site even with the low light pollution level.

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  5. #4
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    Default Re: Hunting for the spiral arms...

    As well as dark skies, seeing things like spiral arms on galaxies and details on planets requires a fair bit of patience.

    If viewing a galaxy, take at least ten or fifteen minutes to look at it. Relax, and don't stare. Try to sit down if you can.

    Do not use too much magnification in the beginning, and use averted vision. Let your eye wander around. The longer you look, the more you will see.

    If you start to see some details, move the central part of the galaxy towards the edge of your field of view, or even out of the field altogether with M31

    M31 will be much higher in the sky, and therefore much easier to view, in Autumn.

    Good luck
    Last edited by hal2000; 06-03-2014 at 12:08 AM.
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    Default Re: Hunting for the spiral arms...

    Howdy Bartoszp--I have been using my 82A Light blue filter with its 73% Light Transmission with minor results..I recently bought a Urban Sky Filter--This Filter is advertised as not only being able to Block Sodium and Mercury vapor light and the sky glow they produce,But also enhance dim Nebula like the Owl M97 and induce contrast in Galaxy's like the Whirlpool M51--I would like to report YAY or NAY,But the sky has not cleared up enough sense the Filter arrived...

    Face On Galaxy's worth looking for structure are M51(Whirlpool)23 million Light years away and Magnitude 8.4-----M101(Pinwheel)20.9 Million L/Y and 7.86 Magnitude--And then this Fall{Or really early in the morning} M33(Triangulum) only 2.7 Million L/Y and 5.7 Magnitude...

    What your Hunting is a Ghostly-Elusive Prey that only comes out on the better nights around the New Moon--But Hey if it was easy Everyone would be doing it---Like Golf-----------------------ZX
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    Default Re: Hunting for the spiral arms...

    I've found that relaxed patience is the best way to make out the arms of galaxies. With a low magnification, M31 is entirely possible if you are in a dark, clear area and allow yourself the time to really explore it. M31 is another target that I've been able to make out spiral detail on, but only on dark moonless nights. Most other galaxies just appeared as blurs to me, which is why I've taken up astrophotography :P
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    Default Re: Hunting for the spiral arms...

    M31 will display some dust lanes under dark skies and good seeing, while M51 will look like two cores surrounded by two patches of fog. If it is a clear dark night, or at least relatively dark (Bortle 5 or so) you can see the spiral arms with averted vision, plus the "bridge" of nebulous material that connects M51 to NGC 5195, the companion galaxy. It will likely take a few minutes of observing and steady moments of good seeing to see the spiral arms, but I have done so from my Bortle 5 backyard.
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    Default Re: Hunting for the spiral arms...

    At home(white zone), I can forget anything but solar system viewing. At a green zone (25m from home) with a semi decent ep I see a fuzzy blob (elongated blob in m51s case). In a dark zone(blue/edge of black zone) I still only see fuzzy blobs with a tiny bit of structure. Ive come to the conclusion I am too lacking in the patience dept. & just not flexible enough for enjoying true visual these days lol. 95+% of my visual now is @ my laptop through the dslr
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