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Thread: Been Out Hunting M81

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    Default Been Out Hunting M81



    Greetings all,

    Without go-to tech, I kind of point and shoot and then slew methodically back, forth, up, down, recalibrating by eye periodically, and often come down off the roof without capturing the prize I went hunting for. Andromeda and the Orion Nebula are easy to find and rewarding to look at again and again. Jupiter was so clear last night I saw a 3rd narrow cloud band for the first time. Ceres and Vesta, I may have sighted, but I have no way to confirm. What I see is a dim point of light, too dim to detect any twinkle or lack thereof, no way to know what I'm seeing. In my skies, anything below magnitude 3 is often very hard to detect with unaided vision.

    So when looking for M81, I locate Dubhe and Polaris, I aim to the left of Dubhe, about 1/3 the distance on a line toward Polaris and about the same 1/3 distance up from that point on the line, perpendicular from the line between Dubhe and Polaris. I see nothing between Dubhe and Polaris with unaided vision. I see 30 or more stars with my 10x50 binoculars, countless points of light with my 90mm Mak, I get easily lost in space.

    My question is this: Will I know it when I see it? I think M81 ought to be easily identifiable once spotted and that I simply have not found the right coordinates. I think it ought to stand out with my binoculars but I don't think I've sen it.

    I've tried to hop to 38 UMa, using binoculars, which is 1/2 the distance to M81 from Dubhe in a straight line, but I get lost not knowing when or if I have arrived at 38 UMa.

    I think I simply need to persist. Maybe skies will be clear during the next new moon. That will make things easier.

    If I see Mag 3.5 objects with unaided vision (6 stars in Cassiopeia), what Mag can I expect to see with 10x50 bino's and what then with my 90mm Mak using a 25mm ep? Is there any way to calculate a relative approximation? I would like to be able to set my planetary program to display only objects visible with my bino's (Mag 7?) and again, only objects visible with my Mak (Mag 9?), without guessing, as I have with my unaided vision at Mag 3.45.

    Thanks all.

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    Default Re: Been Out Hunting M81

    Wish I could answer, but I cannot (yet). I get lost as well, but I have been reading star charts and using Stellarium to see what I should be seeing. It seems to help me anyway....
    billy

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    Default Re: Been Out Hunting M81

    Hello MGW.

    Naked eye seeing does you no good when looking for these objects. You'll need to look through your finder for a couple asterisms to follow. Starting at Dubhe work about a field and a half W by NW until you see a small right triangle of 6th mag stars, From the top star in that triangle head NW until you find two horizontal stars in a string about the same brightness as the triangle. These finder stars will be the brightest ones in the finder but not the only ones. Once you located the two stars M81 and M82 are about half a field SE. Scan that area in the ep at your lowest power to find them.

    If you see these objects you won't mistake them for somthing else. They provide quite a stiking show if you can get them in the same fov. M81 is a top-on sprial galaxy and looks like a fuzzy disk, M82 is an irregular that looks like a pencil slightly wider in the center. They are pretty bright. Some say they can pick them out with binocs in a dark sky. You should be able to see them in your Mak. I am in Bortle red zone and they are pretty bright in my ep.

    Good luck. Hope it helps,

    Uri
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    Default Re: Been Out Hunting M81

    Trying to hustle these things with the Moon around is not helping either. Low contrast objects need as dark a sky as possible
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    Default Re : Been Out Hunting M81

    Imagine a invisible line running from phad thru the bowl at the diagonal to dubne and continue it about the same distance of their seperation and you will find M81 and M82.Use low power so you can see both in the field of view.

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    Default Re: Re : Been Out Hunting M81

    Quote Originally Posted by light bucket View Post
    Imagine a invisible line running from phad thru the bowl at the diagonal to dubne and continue it about the same distance of their seperation and you will find M81 and M82.Use low power so you can see both in the field of view.
    This is exaclty what I did and it worked for me.
    I was using a 100m reflector and magnification of just 20x in quite some LP.

    But once you get both of them in the same fov: as Uri mentioned: there is no mistaking

    Good luck with your future attempts!
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    Default Re: Been Out Hunting M81

    To me M81/M82 is the best double galaxy in the same FOV that I have observed yet.

    I cannot really help by adding any specifics that others havent mentioned above, but just to say that persistence is the key. You are definitely in the vicinity and closing in on that galaxy/galaxies. I know when I have struggled a few nights before finding a DSO it made it even that much more rewarding for me when I finally did get it.

    Keep up the hunt and let us know when you succeed!
    Will

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    Default Re: Been Out Hunting M81

    I do the same as light bucket and skyscanner. There is a small triangle of stars, all roughly mag 4.5 just past where M81/82 sit so I use that as another reference. Here's a diagram of it from stellarium set to around midnight local time. The triangle is outlined in red and M81 is where the small orange circle is.

    finding_m81.jpg
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    Default Re: Been Out Hunting M81

    M81 and M82 happens to be my constant DSO recently. I always use a binocular to spot the following star patten and then use another hand to move the green laser pointer on my XT8 to the nearby spot. These pattens were most easy to recognize (to me) even under almost full moon. Though I have never see M81 & 82 in my Nikon 10x50 at my driveway. So an estimation to the nearby spot (2 red arrows) was necessary. They are always well inside my ES 82* 24mm EP.

    Spotting them in recent bright moonlight definitely needs my Ultrablock filter. NPB filter also works very well for them.
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    Default Re: Been Out Hunting M81

    I actually both M81/82 in a 5/6 Bortle with my 10x50s. Look for a faint elongation with another faint core about 1/4 of the field away from each other.
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