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Thread: Star hopping to the M101 Pinwheel Galaxy: FAQ

  1. #1
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    Default Star hopping to the M101 Pinwheel Galaxy: FAQ



    Hello all,

    the M101 Pinwheel Galaxy in Ursa Maior is according to the ferquently asked questions sometimes difficult to find, even if for the northern observers under at least suburban skies it should be visible throughout most of the seasons, also through the binoculars.

    The attached sky chart shows my star hopping strategy towards the Pinwheel.

    I start with the Alcor/Mizar double, and hop towards east through the bright stars 81-83-84-86 UMa, leaving the bright Gas Pump asterism to the south.
    Stopping at 86 UMa, I look for the "Little Cepheus" asterism towards east-north-east.
    The M101 pops then up at north-east.
    Whenever the "Little Cepheus" asterism of the stars with the brightness around 8.5mag is visible through the binoculars, then I can also see the M101.

    The nearby NGC 5474 is a dwarf galaxy companion of the Pinwheel, NGC 5474 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - a fuzzy star with averted vision through the telescopes.

    Happy star hopping to the Pinwheel,

    JG
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    Default Re: Star hopping to the M101 Pinwheel Galaxy: FAQ

    Thanks for the detailed instructions JG. I often use the four stars mentioned as a "chain" - moving to the left, once you are on the last star in the field of view than hop again to the left and upward to locate M101. I hadn't thought to use the "little Cepheus" asterism too but I think this will be quite helpful for those having trouble finding this faint galaxy. As you know, it's easy to pass over given its large size and low surface brightness, and may in fact be an easier target through the large binoculars.
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    Default Re: Star hopping to the M101 Pinwheel Galaxy: FAQ

    Thanks Michael!

    I have sometimes passed over the M101 in the past, as you describe it.
    Then, I have discovered the 'Little Cepheus' asterism to concentrate on, and since then - no problem.

    When the skies are clear, I can nail down the M101 through the 10x50 binoculars and through 10.5x70 binoculars.
    The M101 was one of my 'century breaks' - I have observed it more than one hundred times since I am keeping the logbook.

    Best,

    JG
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    Default Re: Star hopping to the M101 Pinwheel Galaxy: FAQ

    Brings back my first observing session with my telescope... I figured, oh! It's a big galaxy, that must mean it's easy to find, right?!

    NOPE!

    Thirty minutes later, still no luck. Luckily I wasn't easily discouraged, and found it at a later date. Sure wish I had this handy guide then!

    Thanks JG, Patrick

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    Default Re: Star hopping to the M101 Pinwheel Galaxy: FAQ

    M101 has long been one of my favorites, and one of the easiest to find by star-hopping--if you have reasonably dark skies. It is visible in my 8X50 finder, and I have actually glimpsed it with 10x24 binoculars under pristine skies.
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    Gordon

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