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  1. #1
    cavelltodd's Avatar
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    Default First time observing M51



    Just spotted M51 and it's companion for the first time tonight. Definitely a cool find! It was kind of hard to spot at first due to my very light polluted back yard (neighbor across the alley with bright lights on working on his cars) and general city light pollution. I'm assuming this is the reason it was as dim as it was. I am actually quite surprised I was able to see it with the conditions as they were.

    Before spotting M51 I was trying to spot M101 with no success. At first I was assuming that it was due to the light pollution but after finding M51 I wasn't sure why I couldn't find it...M51 is a dimmer object than M101 right?

    Any tips on finding this galaxy? I tried to make the triangle from Alkaid to M101 to Mizar but still no luck. I'll definitely give it a shot next time.
    I was also hoping to check out all the galaxies in Leo as well, but definitely had no luck spotting those, probably too dim with all the light pollution.

    I also spent some time checking out Venus and Mars. Both were definitely great to see! I was, for the first time, able to resolve a nice bit of detail from mars and Venus definitely looked a little bit clearer tonight than it has in the previous weeks. I was hoping to get a view of Jupiter but it sunk below my visible area of sky...oh well.

    Thanks for reading my disjointed observation report, haha. Any advice would be much appreciated!
    "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

    ~Sarah Williams The Old Astronomer to His Pupil Tycho Brahe

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  3. #2
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    Default

    Good report.
    It's always rewarding when finding a galaxy for the first time, especially M51. What gear are you using?
    -Nick

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  4. #3
    cavelltodd's Avatar
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    I was using a 12" Lightbridge with the 26mm QX wide angle eyepiece that came with it. Not the greatest of eyepieces but it definitely gets the job done. Next time I'm out I'll probably use the series 4000 12.4mm eyepiece to see what that does for M51 but I was happy with what I saw with the larger aperture eyepiece. At least I was able to actually see the galaxy!
    "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

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    Yeah, the 26mm EP should give you a better view than the 12.4mm. The 12.4mm will essentially double the magnification of the 26mm, which I think is probably too much.
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  7. #5
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    Hello Cavelltodd,

    the Pinwheel Galaxy M101 is large with a low surface brightness, and it may be tricky to spot it the first time. I navigate from Alcor/Mizar through 83, 84 to 86 UMa, and then stop to find a parallelogram of four 8mag stars, nearly 1 deg to the east. This is my "Little Cassiopeia Asterism". Now, the M101 is slightly more than 1/2 deg to the north-east. The navigation is easy with an EP showing 2deg or more field of view.

    Best

    JG
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  9. #6
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    Thanks for the tip!
    "I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night."

    ~Sarah Williams The Old Astronomer to His Pupil Tycho Brahe

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