Author Topic: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!  (Read 93 times)

asagnata

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2018, 04:27:18 PM »
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Deb,

Welcome to Cloudy Nights! ...
The short answer to your question is: More aperture ...
The other answer is: More experience ...
But above all, dark skies. It's simply not possible to see the spiral arms of "external" galaxies unless your skies are dark enough to get a decent naked-eye view of our own galaxy, the Milky Way.

You say that you're from western PA. Western PA has some of the darkest skies in the Northeast, but obviously some parts of western PA have very bright skies -- for instance, Pittsburgh. If you live in or near a substantial city, a fairly short trip to the surrounding countryside might yield big returns.

And to qualify that statement about experience a little more, don't be afraid to use decent magnification (around 120X), and make sure you use averted vision -- that's absolutely essential.

Dan Perez

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #16 on: January 18, 2018, 12:43:19 AM »
Dim 'fuzzies' force our visual system to operate at a *very* poor level of resolution, at worst, up to around 100 times poorer than at 'daytime' brightness levels. You experience this very viscerally when wandering about your house at night when only feeble light is present. Even pretty big things like the kids' toys might be missed and having you inadvertently step on them. But at full room lighting you can not only see the toy, but see very fine details on it.

The same goes for those galaxies and nebulae. If the Universe's master light dimmer could be dialed up, what even a small scope would show would take your breath away. A little 80mm aperture can record an image of some galaxy or nebula that presents details not visible at the eyepiece of a 20" Dob.

And so visual observing of the deep sky is very much about training the visual system to eak out the maximum information from the feeble signals presented. One way to get a leg up, so to speak, is to not be shy about increasing magnification--within limits, of course. For objects of not excessively low surface brightness (and hence quite poor contrast against the sky), do try an eyepiece delivering an exit pupil in the 1 to 2mm range. While this does dim the image compared to a larger exit pupil, the increased image scale can more than make up for the dimming. A bigger image, though dimmer, should in most instances reveal more detail.

If you find the overall darkening to be excessive, back off a bit on the magnification to obtain higher surface brightness.

Remember that image surface brightness, for both the sky and the object, scales as the area of the exit pupil. If you halve the exit pupil, the scene becomes 4X dimmer. Reduce the exit pupil by a factor of 3 (e.g., from 6mm to 2mm), the image becomes 9X dimmer. But again, this dimming is often more than countered by the increased object size, from which the visual system has a better chance to extract some extra detail.

cludertypos

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #17 on: January 18, 2018, 07:46:11 AM »
Hey, just wanted to thank everyone for their welcome, encouragement, and advice!

Dan Square

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2018, 03:05:57 PM »
Deborah,

Welcome to CN.  As you can see everyone is friendly and willing to help.

I started my journey about a year ago. I have XT8 Intelliscope, so same optics you have.

Perhaps I missed it.  Where are you located?  I am trying to understand your sky conditions. The map at this link will help.
http://darksitefinde...maps/world.html

See if my story helps you understand your conditions.

I am located in a "dark white" area, second from the worst on the map.  I do most of my observing from the front of my house.  Two street lights and house lights visible so my eyes never fully dark adapt.

Over the past year I have had to accept that some things may be too dim for me to see at my house and others will lack the details that others talk about. For me the Milky Way is something I see in photographs in magazines, not something I see in the sky. There are very few stars in my sky. Cassiopeia and the big dipper float in a dark gray sky and Vega is almost by itself.  I can't see the little dipper with the naked eye. No matter how many times I try.  I estimate that the dimmest star I can see in my best direction is about mag 3.5 so I say my limit is mag 4.

Like you, I was quite disappointed at my first view of galaxies. The Andromeda Galaxy, M31, something that they tell me is visible to the naked eye at dark sites, was very hard for me to find even with the XT8i and when I did find it it was just a whitish fuzzy smudge.  I had been on it several times and did not even recognize it, and I have computer assist to help me find it.

One evening I attended a club's open observation night. First thing I noticed was that there were so many stars in the sky that I had trouble identifying familiar asterisms. I actually needed help to find Vega, the great square and Cassiopeia.  And this is not really a dark site. Wow! So many stars.

At the club's "darker site" Andromeda looked much different. This is a Dark Red site on the chart, two to the left of mine.  All of a sudden Andromeda had form and arms and wispy streaks. What a difference! I spent 45 minutes just marveling at what I saw in my 26 mm plossl eyepiece. I could not get it all in the eyepiece.

I am eager for M31 to rise high in the sky again.  I have since joined this club and look forward to observing Andromeda at this site.  I purchased a 2" 38 mm and 25 mm 70 degree eyepieces specifically in anticipation of seeing Andromeda at this site.

I have also learned that, due to the sky glow where I live, that it is going to be very hard for me to see many of the Nebula that people discuss. I tried to see the North America Nebula which is large and easily located. I can't see it.  I have purchased a DGM Nebula filter and a Thousand Oaks OIII filter. No help.

I have learned over the last year and 70+ hours of observing that there are things that I simply can't see from my house, or what I see is very disappointing. So I focus my attentions on those things that I can see and that are worth my observing time.

Perhaps my experience will help you, perhaps not.  There is so much up there that I can see that I don't dwell on what I can't see, I focus on what I can and will save up the others for when I go to darker sites.Clear Skies!

Bilal Luck

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2018, 10:11:39 PM »
One of the neat things about seeing new members of the astronomy club at the club dark site for the first time is to hear the "wow!" exclamations when they focus on a previously faint fuzzy under those skies and see it is not so faint any more. Aperture is great, experience a must, but there is really no substitute for the way things pop out in any scope under truly dark skies.

Michael Greene

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #20 on: January 23, 2018, 12:15:26 AM »
Ed - thanks for the link to the map! My house (and observing site) is in a yellow zone, so pretty good with a caveat. Caveat: while the sky is often reasonably dark (when it's not overcast, which is rather often), I live on a busy two-lane highway, which creates dark adaptation issues, especially in the winter when there is no vegetation. The simple solution would be to go out late when traffic is minimal, but by then I am generally going to bed. I've also considered erecting some sort of barrier, but don't want some random placement in my yard if it's permanent, or want something easy to put up/take down; I've considered maybe a wooden folding screen, if it's not either too prone to being blown over or too heavy to lug around.

I'm actually not that frustrated, just impatient!

pelotwollgar

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #21 on: January 23, 2018, 01:45:36 PM »
Well, you are in better shape than I. I would have to travel over 2 hours or about 100 miles to get to a yellow zone.

Best of luck dealing with the lights.

radnatipni

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2018, 04:37:39 PM »
I have found that when viewing dso you really need to temper your expectations. A lot goes into viewing these objects and much has to do with sky conditions as anything else. Keep trying and make some notes when viewing that way when you revisit an object you can note what it looked like on that particular session. Other than sky conditions training yourself to be a better observer is IMO the next most important thing.

rentireacen

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2018, 11:50:41 PM »
We moved out to the "country" last year. One of the first things that I noticed was how clear the sky was. Our previous home was in a white zone and you were lucky to see the big dipper. It's interesting how much you can forget about the night sky when living in a white zone. Last month on one particularly clear night I was able to faintly make out the milky way streaking above our back yard with my naked eye. This is within a light orange zone.

Theodore Inlaw

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #24 on: January 31, 2018, 04:31:54 AM »
When it comes to observing most DSOs, truer words have never been spoken. Even through very large apertures, 30 inches and up, nebulae and galaxies simply do not begin to approach the visual quality of good astrophotographs.

Dave Mitsky

Myron Apostolics

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2018, 06:55:21 PM »
The best single thing for DSO observing is a dark sky, dark being where you are not sure the planet Earth is still underfoot. However that state is very rare these days and getting to one is getting harder.

After that it comes to getting everything as best you can.

Is the scope well collimated, has the scope cooled down. They are often the easiest options. Improvement may be anywhere between significant to negliable.

When observing DSO's it is useful, for some people, to spend time at the eyepiece. Basically look at the object for a good few minutes. The eye starts to drag out more detail. May not be so easy with a dobsonian as you have to change what you are doing to recenter the object.

How good is the eyepiece?
Seems to be a "review" of it on CN about a year back but that seems to say little about the performance and goes more into the how honest the eyepiece parameters are = is it the focal length as claimed and the field as claimed. May also be worth searching out how well it performs in your scope (F number). Seems odd but a TV plossl is often one of the better options, they tend to be sharp and clear.

Robert Donaldson

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Re: But all I see is a fuzzy blob!
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2018, 08:38:43 AM »
Quote
<p class="citation">QuoteThey'll never look, at the eyepiece, the way they do in the photographs.

When it comes to observing most DSOs, truer words have never been spoken. Even through very large apertures, 30 inches and up, nebulae and galaxies simply do not begin to approach the visual quality of good astrophotographs.

Dave Mitsky[/quote]

I'm going to quote Dave quoting that line. As he says, no truer words. You will learn to see detail in those blobs along the way but they will never look like you see in images - especially images taken with professional scopes. What I find important - the reason I keep going out and looking at things with my own eyes after having done so for 35 years is - is the knowledge of what you're looking at. In between observing sessions, do some reading on the objects you're looking at. You may not see the spiral arms in M74 but a great consolation prize is realizing that you're making physical contact with photons emitted by stars 30 million years ago.

At least, for me, the wonder of being able to watch, in person, the universe unfold is most of the thrill.And, by the way, it sounds like you're doing fine. It's a learning curve and you look to be well situated on it.