Author Topic: Virgo cluster - first viewing  (Read 38928 times)

fucheatisu

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Virgo cluster - first viewing
« on: December 24, 2017, 05:23:17 PM »
I may *finally* get out to a dark(er) site tonight to a moonless night for the first time this year.  First light for my first telescope was May 25 of last year, so I lost galaxy season, and have opted to spend tonight at the Virgo cluster (weather willing).  For history, my galaxy observations have been limited to M31/M34/M110 (the latter largely averted vision in the site I will tonight) and M81/M82 (solid direct eyesight in this site) and also the whirlpool galaxy (direct eyesight, saw both nuclei but no connector in this site).  Also did catch two of those three Leo bunch galaxies a couple weeks back in my yard, mostly avoided vision again (but that is a red or reddish/yellow zone).  Point being I've very little galaxy encounter, along with also the dark(er) site is just that -- greater than my garden but still a yellow zone.  My intentions tonight are small: If I can see some of the brighter (e.g. Messier) galaxies in Virgo with steady direct eyesight I will be thrilled, even if by averted vision not so thrilled but satisfied.  Anything beyond that would be gravy.  My targets list is: M49, M87, M60, M84, M86 in the Virgo cluster, and might also attempt for your Leo triplett, M104 (Sombrero galaxy), also M64 (blackeye galaxy).

Here are my questions:

(1) I can take the 8" Skywatcher dob or the 6SE.  I understand the 8" dob is best for galaxies, but I will be on a tight interval with work so I am tempted to choose the 6SE on a manual bracket.  To avoid swerving off into a discussion on aperture let me just ask this: Has anyone used a 6SE for the Virgo cluster in a yellow sky, and if so is it sufficient (not best) for direct screening of my intentions beneath yellow skies?  (in case you've contrasted with an 8" dob of course I would love to hear that too).
(2) I am thinking of going with the Celestron 8-24 millimeter zoom because the eyepiece, beginning at low electricity then zooming when I find a galaxy since I have read higher magnification aids with galaxies.  Fantastic approach or no?
(3) Any other hints?  (I do plan to create a big effort to maintain dark adaptation, over in earlier times have a head cover now and plan to use it, and can go with the Virgo cluster page of this PSA using a dimmable red light for guidance.)

Thanks in advance for any info or advice,



David Knoll

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2017, 07:15:28 PM »
For your deep sky adventure, I'd recommend forgetting about the 6 and take the 8. Make sure you have a Telrad finder or at least a decent red dot finder. Ditch the zoom. The apparent field of view on a zoom eyepiece is too narrow to easily find deep sky objects, even at the lowest magnification. A decent atlas that you can read with a red light will preserve your night vision better than a planetarium program on a smart phone or tablet (even if used in 'red' mode).

Finding galaxies in Virgo isn't all too difficult. What is more difficult is identifying what it is that you've found.

ecapwaiwa

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2017, 03:26:14 PM »
Hello.,ALL TRUE ABOVE.,The 8" will also give a bit wider FOV overall correct??.,I have seen lots there with my 5" but it's dark here.Also you have to hope for good seeing.,Galaxies do not necessarily need higher power.,They want good contrast because they are faint fuzzies.,I favor a medium power with 68-82*FOV.,good luck.,I'll be looking from Me. at the same part of the sky.,

Troy Furlong

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 04:00:30 PM »
I agree, skip the SCT and the zoom and use the 8" Dob. You will need all light gathering power you can get. M84, 87, 60,84,86 are all around 8.6-9.2 magnitude, so should not be a problem in that scope. The way I look for those Virgo galaxies id to start at the star, Denebola in Leo and head east toward the mouth of Virgo. There are about 20 galaxies near and around M87,84 an a lot of NGC galaxies. M49 and 61 are just below that area. Stat out with a low to medium power eyepiece and hopefully one of them are wide angle.

I use a 24mm or 20mm 68* to start with (50-60x) and then go to my 13mm 82* 92x for most of them in my Dob. I live in a red zone, so if I use a lower power, bigger exit pupil, the background sky starts to grey out. I haven't been out hunting them yet and was waiting for the moon to go away, but it's been cloudy and raining the past couple of days and today. Hopefully one night this week.

Bring your bino's to sweep the sky too. Good luck and let us know how you did.

xenjavabve

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2018, 06:21:18 AM »
All, thanks for the input. The dob is loaded in the car now, so item (1) is moot :-)

I agree the main Messiers at least reallyoughtto be doable from our club dark(er) site with an 8" dob. Of course, I keep thinking M33ought to be doable from there as well -- yet never seen it. But the Virgo galaxies are smaller, so I guess that increases surface brightness. I have read about the difficulty in identifying which galaxy is in the FOV, and easy to see from the sky map that this is an issue. Frankly, I will be happy to see any galaxies -- can then at least say I observed the Virgo cluster! Figuring out which one(s) I'm seeing is step 2.

Niteguy, REC, I was wondering about the AFOV issue with the Celestron zoom. However, I really do not have any wide AFOV eyepieces except the Meade SWA 5.5 mm (which is narrower due to the high mag) and a 32 mm Q70 - but that may be too low in magnification(?) and in any event I don't want to be switching between 2" and 1.5" eyepieces. Maybe I'll go with a 25 mm Plossl or something like that for the searching; I think one of mine is labeled "wide angle" or something like that, but since it was a stock EP with a scope I doubt that means much. I am going to go with the PSA rather than Skysafari for the dark adaptations reasons you mentioned.

Dave, nice to hear someone else will be looking at the Virgo cluster. One of the neat things about amateur astronomy -- people in completely different parts of the world can observe the same object at the same time (or if on different continents, at least over the same night).

Deandre Fulce

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2018, 09:34:50 PM »
Good luck Rob. That should be a nice night. I've had my 6SE to a green zone and I could see a lot of detail in the larger ones. M51, M81 & M82. If I had a 8" dob I would bring it if I was good at star hopping. If not the goto with the 6se would help find and identify some of the galaxies in the Virgo cluster. Most of those are smaller and dimmer. I would add NGC 4631 the Whale Galaxy to the list if you can. It's right next to Coma Berenices and quite large. It also has a small compainon NGC 4627 just above it. Take sweep through the Coma cluster if you have time. Lots of little puffs in that area from all of the small galaxies.

Happy hunting!

Joel Russell

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 05:58:08 AM »
Quote
All, thanks for the input. The dob is loaded in the car now, so item (1) is moot :-)

I agree the main Messiers at least reallyoughtto be doable from our club dark(er) site with an 8" dob. Of course, I keep thinking M33ought to be doable from there as well -- yet never seen it. But the Virgo galaxies are smaller, so I guess that increases surface brightness. I have read about the difficulty in identifying which galaxy is in the FOV, and easy to see from the sky map that this is an issue. Frankly, I will be happy to see any galaxies -- can then at least say I observed the Virgo cluster! Figuring out which one(s) I'm seeing is step 2.

Niteguy, REC, I was wondering about the AFOV issue with the Celestron zoom. However, I really do not have any wide AFOV eyepieces except the Meade SWA 5.5 mm (which is narrower due to the high mag) and a 32 mm Q70 - but that may be too low in magnification(?) and in any event I don't want to be switching between 2" and 1.5" eyepieces. Maybe I'll go with a 25 mm Plossl or something like that for the searching; I think one of mine is labeled "wide angle" or something like that, but since it was a stock EP with a scope I doubt that means much. I am going to go with the PSA rather than Skysafari for the dark adaptations reasons you mentioned.

Dave, nice to hear someone else will be looking at the Virgo cluster. One of the neat things about amateur astronomy -- people in completely different parts of the world can observe the same object at the same time (or if on different continents, at least over the same night).


I too will be hitting the Virgo cluster soon, as I have only 44 Herschels left and they are all in the cluster or elsewhere in Virgo. I must ask, why do you not want to be switching between 2" and 1.5" eyepieces? If you are only using two eyepieces, you can always just leave the 1.25" eyepiece in the adapter and treat the combo as a 2" eyepiece. I do that all the time. That being said though, you should be fine using a 25 plossl as a finder eyepiece in an 8" dob.

horamitlind

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 07:38:38 PM »
John, thanks for the suggestion, added the whale galaxy to my observing list, though with only a couple hours tops I doubt I will get to it tonight. LoveCowboy, I do keep the 2" adaptor with the Q70, but the Skywatcher dob also requires a 1.5" extender to use 1.5" eyepieces so then that has to be switched between different 1.5" eyepieces. I may try the Q70 though if I am finding I can see a number of galaxies - the wide FOV of that EP could give a nice panorama.

colzefuli

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 04:52:21 AM »
I would go with the Q-70.. If the skies are reasonably dark, dark enough to see the Milky Way, you will see galaxies and with the Q-70, there will be fields with multiple galaxies. I love to point a scope with a low power Widefield eyepiece half way betweenVindemiatrix and Denebola and just go looking.

I think I understand about swapping between, 2 inch and 1.25 inch Eyepieces with the XT-8, each one has its own adapter.

Jon

Mark Patterson

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2018, 09:34:53 PM »
Definitely go with the Dob, the faster set up time and larger aperture are exactly what you want to look at this vast cluster of galaxies, at least 100 of which are good objects for an 8-inch at a reasonably dark site. With an even larger telescope even more galaxies will come forth, but an 8-inch will show the best and brightest throughout the Virgo Cluster. Low power eyepieces are good for sweeping them up, or looking at multiple galaxies at the same time. Use medium or high power for closer inspection of individual galaxies. I know this is the first time you're touring the Virgo Cluster, but expect to see a large number of NGC galaxies that equal or even surpass some of the Messier galaxies. M-85, M-87 and M-59 and M-60 have NGC companions that are obvious through an 8 or 10-inchscope.I recommend adding NGC-4565 and NGC-5746 to your list, both are fine edge-on galaxies like M-104. When skies are clear and dark, their dust lanes will be evident, as will M-104's dust lane.

Taras

cytiwitqua

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2018, 03:03:31 AM »
I definitely recommend checking out the Leo Trio, if for no other reason than it's so easy to find. Just point your Telrad or red dot or whatever at the midpoint between Chertan and iota Leo and there they are. M66 is the brightest, M65 just a little less bright, and the slash of NGC 3628 even less bright, but generally still easy enough to see. If you bag some easy stuff early on, then it will be easier to be relaxed and take your time later if the navigation gets tougher.

I really like the Virgo cluster chart at the back of the PSA. It strikes a nice balance between showing enough to navigate by, but not so much as to be hopelessly cluttered. I usually start at the stars Com 6 or Com 11 and work from there. When I get lost, I usually return to the star I started at and head out again. Each excursion adds a layer of familiarity to that area of the sky. It may not be the most efficient way to navigate, but for me it's a great deal of fun!

Good Luck! ---Bill

ertafsurpnant

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 08:18:48 PM »
Too bad I missed this thread, but I hope you had a great session.
I had my 6SE out at a green zone on Saturday night (see my thread in the deep sky forum on Torrance Barrens) and had an amazing trip. Don't fool yourself: the C6 can be a ton of fun under dark skies. I don't know why you would consider the GoTo setup to be a lot of up-front hassle. Even dealing with a power box and cables before doing the actual alugn, it's ten minutes or less, and your scope is acclimating to ambient during that time anyhow.
Decently dark skies + a printed observing plan with NGC numbers for the spring galaxies + a 6SE + a book like the Concise Catalog of Deep Sky Objects (with pictures of each NGC) = one very, very productive evening out under the stars.
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meenchinobun

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 07:25:11 AM »
All, just a final report, contrary to consistent forecasts of clear skies with good transparency and seeing, we had about 50% cloud cover last night with more sky glow than usual at this site, and poor seeing, no Milky Way visible in spite of being moonless. However, we did get out from dusk to 11:30 pm. My first dive into the Virgo cluster was not too bad considering the sky conditions. I was able to see what I think were several galaxies mostly with averted vision (or popping in/out while scanning the FOV), and saw what I think was two or three galaxies with steady direct vision. The steady vision ones seemed to be spherical, though there were occasional hints of elongation with averted vision. Unfortunately I could not orient myself at all within the cluster so I don't know which galaxies I was looking at. Fuller report is posted at the Newbie's Early Observing Log.

Thomas, thanks for input on the 6SE. Unfortunately last night was definitely not a green level sky, and even my best "dark" site available to me right now is a dark yellow. As far as the goto, I have used the 6SE on the goto mount only a couple times, only one being a longer session and there the battery ran out after only a couple hours. Obviously a battery problem not a scope problem, but still.... My plan right now with the 6SE is to use it as my main backyard scope due to the goto being useful as star hopping is tough there, and I have picked up the AC adapter for it so will not have any battery issues. Once I am more familiar with the controller and using the scope from those sessions it will likely go on the road again.

Stanley Edwards

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 10:12:39 AM »
Quote
All, just a final report, contrary to consistent forecasts of clear skies with good transparency and seeing, we had about 50% cloud cover last night with more sky glow than usual at this site, and poor seeing, no Milky Way visible in spite of being moonless. However, we did get out from dusk to 11:30 pm. My first dive into the Virgo cluster was not too bad considering the sky conditions. I was able to see what I think were several galaxies mostly with averted vision (or popping in/out while scanning the FOV), and saw what I think was two or three galaxies with steady direct vision. The steady vision ones seemed to be spherical, though there were occasional hints of elongation with averted vision. Unfortunately I could not orient myself at all within the cluster so I don't know which galaxies I was looking at. Fuller report is posted at the Newbie's Early Observing Log.

Thomas, thanks for input on the 6SE. Unfortunately last night was definitely not a green level sky, and even my best "dark" site available to me right now is a dark yellow. As far as the goto, I have used the 6SE on the goto mount only a couple times, only one being a longer session and there the battery ran out after only a couple hours. Obviously a battery problem not a scope problem, but still.... My plan right now with the 6SE is to use it as my main backyard scope due to the goto being useful as star hopping is tough there, and I have picked up the AC adapter for it so will not have any battery issues. Once I am more familiar with the controller and using the scope from those sessions it will likely go on the road again.

I saw one guy put a laser pointer on his C6 for Go To and then just swing his Dob the laser spot and then turn it off. Sounds pretty cool way to find things fast.

Richard Gayer

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Re: Virgo cluster - first viewing
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 06:10:10 AM »
Quote
I would go with the Q-70.. If the skies are reasonably dark, dark enough to see the Milky Way, you will see galaxies and with the Q-70, there will be fields with multiple galaxies. I love to point a scope with a low power Widefield eyepiece half way betweenVindemiatrix and Denebola and just go looking.

I think I understand about swapping between, 2 inch and 1.25 inch Eyepieces with the XT-8, each one has its own adapter.

Jon

Ah, so that's the name of that star in Virgo! That's what I do, start with Denebola and slew to the left of it with low power.