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Targets 51 through 62 in my Messier Hunt with an Infinity 80

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#1 MistrBadgr


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Posted 05 December 2016 - 03:13 PM

Right now, I am completely clouded in.  I thought it would be a good time to try and copy over from my log, the Targets that I have found that are not in "Checking out an Infinity 80", which stopped at Target 50, and the next posts which started at Target 63.  Hopefully, it will take this long of a post.


October 20, 2016-Evening


I was not able to get out until around 10:15 due to a gathering my wife had in the house (10 ladies and I was stuck in the bedroom till their meeting was over).  While there, I worked some more on the Infinity 80 and am getting excited about how it is now performing.  When I did get outside, I decided to try the  68 degree eyepieces again.  This time, with the improvements to the scope, the 68 degree eyepieces now seemed to perform better than the Meade 5000 series Plossles, so I went with them for the evening.


I knew that whatever I went for this evening would be difficult, so I went for some easy things first….the double cluster, the Pleiades, etc.  The possible targets were M75, the globular cluster just west of Capricornus; M76, the Little Dumbell Nebula, North and a little west of 51 Andromeda; and M33, the Pinwheel or Triangulum Galaxy.
M75 had moved to the west by then and was in a bad light pollution zone form me and probably would have been unavailable without moving to a different location anyway.  I tried for M76 for a while, but decided I did not have a clue about what I was looking for and would need to do some studying.  That left M33, which has eluded me for years with the light pollution.


51-M33: I did not think I would find anything, but thought it was worth a try anyway.  My plan was to try the trick of watching for it on successive evenings to see if it would finally show up.


Using Aries as a starting point that I could identify, I could then find the three stars that make up the triangle.  M 33 is west and a touch North of Alpha Triangulum about four degrees.  I tried putting the red dot on what I thought that spot would be with no success.  After a while, I decided to look at M31 to see if it was even possible to see something faint.  I found M31, could see M32, and after a bit of study, I could make out a bit of grey in the spot where M110 is supposed to be, so things were not too bad.

Looking at my atlas again, I decided to try a little different tactic.  M33 is located about two thirds the way from Beta Andromeda and Alpha Triangulum and a little bit South.  Beta Andromeda is my normal guide star that I use when looking for M31, and I had been using Alpha Triangulum.  Looking at the chart, then looking at the sky, I put my red dot finder on the spot where I thought M33 might be.  By that time, I had been experiencing good views with the 68 degree 16 mm eyepiece.  It has never impressed me, compared to the 20 mm and the 24.  It has been more of a tag-along.  But, with this little scope, it seems to be coming into its own.  With that eyepiece in the Infinity 80, I could see a relatively large grey patch, compared to the globular clusters I have been finding, after a while that looked like a good candidate.


Occasionally, I could see a thickening in the middle of it, but I did not know what I should be expecting and felt that I needed to find something that I could look for in images to make sure this was M33.  There were five relatively bright stars that formed an almost square diamond that seemed to box in what I was seeing.  On one end of the long axis of the diamond, there were two stars that were almost in line with the axis of the diamond.  Maybe I could use that as a reference pattern.  I had been studying this object for a while.  I looked at my watch and it said something like 11:10 PM, so I am calling the detection time 11:00PM.


I came back inside, opened the AutoStar Suite program, found the Pinwheel Galaxy and clicked on it, then selected its picture.  Sure enough, there were the five stars around M33.  There was some of the galaxy poking out of the diamond in the picture and I will go back and look the next time and see if I can make out any of that, just for fun.


I only found one new object tonight, but I am very happy about it.  That one has eluded me with several different scope, over several years and several hours trying for it.  The other scopes I was using were reflectors.  This is one case where a refractor, even this little 80 mm wide field, plus what I have learned about observing very faint grey spots, was enough to allow me to find it.


Observation Session Summary:


51-M33   Spiral Galaxy about 2/3 the way from Beta Andromeda and Alpha Triangulum and a little South.  Grey area with thickening in the center at 25X. 10/20/2016 11:00 PM CDT


October 21, 2016 – Evening


I had just two new objects to try for this evening, but did not have any idea if there was any hope of actually seeing them.  M75 had eluded me previously and is on the other side of a very bright street South of me.  The other was M76 which I have not viewed before.  After doing a bit of research, I knew it would be very difficult.


52-M75:  I managed to get set up early, but definitely after sundown.  The sky was relatively still and looked clear.  There were the top two stars on the west tip of Capricorn.  I could see the cross of four stars located between M75 and M55.  Consulting my atlas, I could see I needed to go up along a line formed by the two cross-member stars, to another four stars that form a cup.  M75 is located just east of that cup.  I found the spot with the 24 mm eyepiece, but could not see anything, even though there were some vague changes in background density.  Switching to the 16 mm, I could definitely make out the core and got the impression that the cluster was fairly large in the field.  I studied it for a while, but could not make out anything more.


53-M76:  The Little Dumbell Nebula is located in Perseus, but is close to Andromeda and not really far from Cassiopeia.  To get to it, I first found 51 Andromeda, the end star in the northern line of what I think of as Andromeda’s dress.  The bright star Gamma is at the end of the southern line.  North and a little west of 51, about three degrees, is Phi Perseus.  M76 is about a degree North of that star.


I found Phi Perseus in the scope with the 24 mm eyepiece.  I could see that there were three stars forming an arc near Phi and then another slightly dimmer star North of Phi.  Looking at my atlas,  that single star almost touches the symbol of M76.  Back to the eyepiece, I could not see the nebula.  I switched to the 16 mm 68 deg eyepiece and studied the field for a while around that dim star.  In the spot I thought the nebula should be, there was something but I could not really make out much.  Eventually, I decided to go get my HD60 eyepieces.  I wanted to go to a higher magnification than I could get with the 16 mm 68.  Putting in the 5000 9 mm Plossl, the field was darker with everything being somewhat surrealistic. There was a definitely a grey patch that was oblong.  Its long axis was oriented lower right to upper left in my view.  As I studied, there was some other wisps in the general area, but they could have been more of my imagination.  For now, I am discounting those and saying I could only see the oblong grey spot.


I wanted to take another look at M33 and tried some, but with no luck.  I decided to look again at M31 and see if I could see M32 and M110.  M32 was definitely there, but M110 was not.  Looking at the sky, it seemed that there was now a bit of haze trying to form, so finding M33 again would be very unlikely.


Observation Session Summary:


52-M75:   Globular Cluster west of Copernicus and NE of M55 maybe 10 deg.  Saw dim core with possible grey around it at 25X. 10/21/2016 8:00 PM CDT


53-M76:  Planetary Nebula near Phi Perseus and 51 Andromeda.  Located position with ES 24 and 16 mm eyepieces.  Located oblong faint grey spot with HD 60 9mm, 44X 10/21/2016 8:25 PM CDT


October 22, 2016 – Morning


At about 4:30 in the morning, I came wide awake, or at least as far awake as I ever get at that time, and decided I would go out and see if I could find a few more Messier objects.  I was thinking I needed three more to make it to the half way point of 55, but I only needed two.  (note the comments on wide awake.)  It took a bit longer to get my clothes on and such, because I was not wide awake, but that was OK….it was a humorous task, at least to me.  I made it out side and found that the Moon was higher and brighter than I expected.


54-M79:  I had dismissed M79, the globular cluster below Lepus, thinking the light pollution would be too much and the object too low to the South.  Since the two I had thought of as my primary targets were higher up and closer to the Moon, I decided to try this one first.  I could see Lepus without getting out from under the back-porch roof, so I just set up on the concrete porch, out of the moonlight.  I found this to be quite an asset!


Looking at my atlas, I noted that M79 was on a line from Alpha through Beta Lepus (the two bright stars in the middle of the figure) and on maybe one and a quarter that length along that line below Beta.  I put my red dot finder on the spot where I thought this globular cluster would be and looked in my 24mm eyepiece.  Well….nothing really leaped out  at me!  I dropped down to the 16 mm and could see the glimmerings of grey, but there were several spots.  Some of them were, I think, in my dream mind and not in the sky.  Consulting the atlas, I saw there was a relatively bright star close to the cluster, which I found.  Consulting the atlas again, I could see a couple smaller stars in line with the brighter one and M79.  Back to the eyepiece and sure enough, there were the two dimmer stars on one side and a fuzzy spot that was brighter to me now than before!  I studied it for a while and even seemed to be getting close to having a star resolve itself.  It could have been simply a few stars clumped together a little more than others, but at least there was a spot within the now obvious GC that was headed in the right direction.  Looking at my watch, it was now 5:00 AM.  Wow!  That was one I had not counted on!


55-M78:  I noticed that I had missed this one when I visited Orion earlier in this project, which made it one of my targets this morning.  Since I had a good experience with M79 from under the porch roof, I checked to see if I could stay there for M78.  It was just about cut off, but moving the tripod out with one leg on the grass and the other two on concrete, it was in view.  Consulting my atlas, I could see that it was above and a little to the left of Alnitak, the eastern of the three bright stars in Orion’s belt or Zeta (squiggly letter) Orionis, about the same distance as the length of the belt.


I had a little trouble seeing anything like a somewhat dim reflection nebula with the 24mm eyepiece and I was not sure about my location anyway.  I went back to Alnitak and worked my way to the right location, looking for lesser stars that are shown in the atlas.  It did not take very long and I was at the right spot.  I could vaguely make out a couple spots, not one.  Well, which one is it?!!  Back to the atlas!  There were two objects shown.  M79 was the southern one and NGC 2071 was the northern.  I put in the 16mm eyepiece and studied both for a while.  It seemed I could make out, just barely, a couple stars that are probably illuminating the gas clouds at each location.  I am not sure what 2071 is supposed to be, but it looked to be the same kind of thing as M79.  My watch said it was 5:15.


56-M48:  This is a relatively large open cluster that I had tried to find once before in the morning, but had failed.  The sky was not as good then, I think I had had more fog behind my eyes, and it had been getting too light out edging toward dawn.


I checked its position and found I could still stay on the porch, but had to move the scope a little farther out with two tripod legs still on the concrete.  The rig is not straight up and down, but leaning quite a bit.  However, it is an Alt-AZ rig so who cares!  I am in a bit of a cocky, rebellious mood about then anyway!


Consulting my atlas, I could see that M48 is on a line with Beta through Alpha Canis Minoris and on for a little over three Beta-Alpha distances.  Alpha was quite visible to me, but I had to lean over and look under the edge of the roof to see Beta.  I finally figured out where to put the red dot finder and did so.  Apparently, I missed the mark and had to fumble around for a while, re-doing my red dot placement a couple more times.  There were a lot of different groupings in the area, but most were too large, but quite pretty.  Without a scope like this or a pair of binoculars, one would simply not be able to see these sights.


Finally, I hit the right spot and found the cluster.  The atlas shows this open cluster to be around two degrees in diameter, and it is definitely that.  With the 24mm eyepiece in place, I had maybe a couple dozen stars very apparent and plenty of artistic room around the whole thing.  It was quite pretty and I enjoyed the view for a while.  I put in the 16mm eyepiece to see if I could see any more stars, but did not seem to have any more.  However, I did not switch back and forth between the eyepieces and make any real comparisons.  My watch said 5:45, but I had been messing around for a little while, so I am calling it 5:40.


I started to look at my list and books to see if there was anything else I could go for, but decided there was no point getting greedy.  Save those for another day.  I met my goal for the session and I am quite happy.


Observation Session Summary:


54-M79:   Globular Cluster on a line from Alpha through Beta Lepus and another 1 1/4 of that length.  Small grey spot found with EX 16mm eyepiece. 10/22/2016 5:00 AM CDT


55-M78 : Reflection Nebula about 3 deg NNE or Zeta Orionis (east end of Orion's Belt). Found with ES68 24mm eyepiece but better view at 16mm. 10/22/2016 5:15 AM CDT


56-M48:  Open Cluster on a line from Beta through Alpha Canis Minor and another three of those lengths.  Large Cluster with a couple dozen stars resolved at 16X. 10/22/2016 5:40 AM CDT


October 22, 2016 – Evening


I made up a list of the next objects to find, some were new and at least one is something I had just missed and needed to go back and get, if I could.  However, for tonight, I had my mind focused on M74, M77, and another look at M33.  M74 is near Eta Pisces, on a line from Alpha Ares to Beta and then an additional to Alpha-Beta distances, or there about.  M77 is within a normal eyepiece view of Delta Cetii, the upper bright star in the neck or jet of the whale, but not Gamma, the next one up that is part of the ring forming either the head or the plume, depending on how one thinks of the whale.  M33’s position was described before, so I won’t go into that.  Somehow, it is difficult for me to find besides the fact that it is very dim with my light pollution.


I could easily see Alpha and Beta Ares.  Following their line, I could see Eta Pisces.  Putting the red dot finder on Eta, I looked through the process of reviewing my atlas and checking the view through the 68-24mm eyepiece to find the spot where the galaxy should be.  Nothing.  I dropped to the 16mm eyepiece and studied for a while.  Still nothing.  I had traded out my HD 60 eyepiece for a couple Meade UWA eyepieces, the 8.8 and 5.5 mm.  I put in the 8.8 and slowly went over the area.  There were quite a few little “bumps” in the background, but nothing that I could identify as a galaxy or even the core of one.

I decided that M74 might not have arisen enough for me to see yet and decided to head back inside and wait maybe an hour or so for people to start going to bed and shutting off their lights.  I have one neighbor about 50 yards away that has lots of windows and lots of bright lights inside.  My watch showed about 9 PM.  I went back inside, rested with my eyes closed, which were starting to show signs of strain.

At 10 PM, I went back outside.  The neighbor with the bright lights inside had turn them out, but had turned on their back-porch lights.  The lights do not shine directly at me, but hit the white paint on the porch.  Fortunately, I can duck behind a privacy fence and only deal with the light coming through the cracks.  Sometimes you loose, and sometimes you loose by a little less!


I put the scope back on where I thought M74 should be for a while, with no better luck.  I decided to try and find M33 again.  If I could not see it, then there probably was no point in looking for dim galaxies tonight.  I did find M33.  I could not see quite as much of it, but it was there.  The center was shifted a bit more toward one of the sides of the diamond of stars than I remembered, but the grey spot that faded away gently was still there.  Therefore, things were not impossible.  Maybe I should try for M77, which is a bit brighter than M74.


57-M77:  I located Alpha and Gamma Cetii, which stood out quite well by now.  Using them as a guide, I could locate Delta, at an angle southward from the Alpha Gamma line and maybe two- thirds that distance from Gamma.  I put the red dot on Delta and looked through the 24mm eyepiece for dim stars I could match up with my atlas.  Sure enough I was able to, but no galaxy in the spot it was supposed to be.  I changed to the 16mm eyepiece and gave another look.  I could see a faint fuzzy spot with a couple dim stars nearby, one of them was very close to the fuzzy spot.  From there, I put in the 8.8mm UWA and gave it a look.  I could see a bit more of the fuzzy spot, plus some very vague tapering to the background light level.  I move the scope around some and used averted vision to check how far the grey went, but what I could see seemed a bit inconsistent.  This galaxy is supposed to be round like a circle.  However, I was seeing very vague grey almost to the farther of the two dim stars, but not very far in other directions.  I backed off on eyepieces to the 24mm to make sure I was still where I thought I was, and then re-checked the red dot finder to make sure I was still pointed at Delta Cetii, which I was.


At that point, my eye was starting to hurt and I decided I had had enough.  I put everything on the back porch and headed in.  Sometimes you win, but it takes effort and a little pain, I guess!


Observation Session Summary:


57-M77:  SG in field with Delta Cetii, in the neck of the whale.  Core visible with ES68-16 eyepiece with better view using HD60-9mm.  Some grey outside core sensed. 10/22/2016 10:45 PM CDT


October 24, 2016-Evening


I made an attempt at finding M74 on the previous evening, but could not decide which minor grey spot was this galaxy.  I knew it was between Nu Pisces and a pair of stars nearby, but could see several lumps of grey in the area I thought M74 was located.  I could see several dim stars, probably mag 9 in the area, but they were not shown on my Pocket Sky Atlas.  I decided to seek a star chart with dimmer stars on it.  I checked my copy of Sky Atlas 2000, but the stars I needed were not shown.  I remembered I had purchased a used set of Uranometria 2000.0 second hand and had put them back for future use during retirement.  I found the right chart and made a copy of the desired section for referral when outside.


What I found, when using this new chart for reference was that pair if stars I was using for reference are actually labelled as Pisces 103 and 105.  Near these two, in the direction of Nu are two stars forming a line at headed straight east from 105.  M74 forms an almost equilateral triangle with those two, presumably mag 9 stars.  There is another mag 9 star past M74 that can be used as a reference also.


58-M74:  I located Nu, 103 and 105 with the 68 24mm eyepiece, then switched to the 16mm.   The mag 9 stars were visible.  There may or may not have been any nebulosity between the triangle of stars.  The stars themselves were at the edge of my abilities with the 68 16mm.  I then switched to several different roughly 9 mm eyepieces, including the Meade 5000 series 9mm Plossl, the 9mm MA that came with the scope, and a 4000 series 9.7mm Plossl.  The 4000 series Plossl was simply out of the competition.  The MA did surprisingly well, but the field was a bit limited and I had a bit of trouble with surreal effects.  The 9mm 5000 Plossl with its five elements and 60 degree field had enough light transmission and a wide enough field to keep me stable.  I also tried the 6.3mm MA, but it was definitely too dark as well as getting really weird because of the lack of light.  I need to go back and compare the HD 60 I have with the five element Plossl, but I am thinking the latter has better tones for something like this, even though the HD 60 has a touch better resolution.  I may also compare the 9 mm HD Ortho that I have.


The chart shows the third mag 9 star centered between the two other ones, though on the far side of M74, but I found it to be almost perpendicular to the line between the two closer together, making almost a right triangle.  M74 showed itself as about as dim of a grey patch as I can detect with no variation in the grey until it simply stopped.  It was roughly circular, but not quite, and located very slightly inside the star triangle edge along the line from the “right” angle and the most acute one.


When I found the grey spot and decided on the eyepiece, I moved the object around in the field to see if it would disappear or not move with the star movement.  It did not disappear and moved around as it was supposed to.  I took the scope off the spot, rested my eyes for a while, then started all over, found the spot, moved it around again and it behaved the same.  It was not a reflection in the eyepiece nor simply a figment of my imagination as far as I could tell.  It is, however, at the absolute limit of my abilities to detect with this equipment and conditions.  Anything any dimmer would be outside of my abilities and would require a change of some sort.   When I as done, the thought ran through my mind, “Wow!  This is insane!”  By the time I was done, the object was approaching zenith.


I think, in the future, I am going to have to treat dim Messier objects, using this scope and these conditions, the way other people treat Hershel objects with larger scopes and darker skies.  Something like the Uranometria will be necessary.


Observation Session Summary:


58-M74: SG between Nu Pisces and the pair, 103 and 105.  Found with 9mm 5000 Plossl.  Dim grey area barely detectible between three mag 9 stars.   10/24/2016 10:45 PM CDT


October 29, 2016 – Morning


Looking through the Messier Marathon book, I realized that I had over-looked an object east of Sirius, M46.  When looking at M47, I had seen something at the edge of the field and said, “Hey, there is another one or maybe two clusters here.  Too bad they are not on the Messier list!  That would be easy.”  Well, the lesser of what appeared to me to be other clusters is one of the Messier objects!


59-M46:  I put the scope on Sirius, using a new 25mm eyepiece, then moved eastward about ten degrees.  With a little searching, M47 came into view and was recognizable.  I then consulted my star atlas and found how close M46 was and in what direction.  With M47 pushed to the right in my view until I could just see the edge of it, there was M46.  At first, I could not see a much, but as I watched it, a significant amount of nebulosity began to appear.  I switched eyepieces and worked my way down to the new 12.5mm eyepiece and saw even more of the nebulosity.  There is a planetary nebula in this cluster, but I was not able to identify it under the atmospheric conditions, as well as not being familiar with this object.  I will do some studying and then go back and see if I can find the planetary.


There was a lot of high strings cirrus clouds moving across the sky, that were in the wrong place for observing some objects, so I re-visited the Orion Nebula.  The sight of the whole length of Orion’s Sword in the field with room to spare is one of my favorites!  After a while, I looked around and saw that the Big Dipper was in a favorable position for me to start on its Messier Objects and the clouds had moved away from that area.


60-M81 and 61-M82:  Referring to my atlas, I saw that these two galaxies made a triangle that I could repeat, I thought, with Alpha and 23 Ursa Major .  It is almost a right triangle with the two galaxies near the right angle.  Placing the scope as close as I could to the spot (my red dot finder battery had gone dead) I looked through the eyepiece and started to move the scope around a bit to survey the stars.  I did not expect to actually find the objects this first time, due to my experience trying to find them with a 60mm refractor a few years ago.  After just a little movement, there they were!  They were quite obvious and seemed to be saying, “Here we are!  Where have you been?”  M81 was a very distinct circular patch of grey, with a very tiny indication of changes in the surface.  M82 was a thin cigar, oriented almost straight up and down, to the right of M81 in my field.  The two objects took up roughly a third of my field, which I found surprising.  I plan on coming back and visiting them over the next few days and see if other features reveal themselves!


Well, I had three objects when I had only intended to look for one!  That was enough for the morning.  Neighbors’ lights were coming on and dogs were starting to bark.  Time to go in with a satisfied feeling.


Observation Session Summary:


59-M46 :   OC about 10 deg east and a touch North of Sirius.  Dim Cluster with a couple  dozen stars resolved and nebulosity.  Best view at 32X this session. 10/29/2016 5:45 AM CDT


60-M81:   SG located NW of Alpha Ursa Major about 10 degrees.  In field with M82.  Round nebulosity in appearance.  Best seen at 32X this session 10/29/2016 6:15 AM CDT


61-M82 : Cigar Shaped Galaxy located North of M81 about a degree.  Very elongated grey spot under the conditions.  Best seen at 32X this session.  10/29/2016 6:15 AM CDT


November 13, 2016 – Morning


Went out before dawn with three objects down as targets, M108, M97 the Owl Nebula nearby to M108, and M109.  I had my Pocket Sky Atlas and Uranometria 2000 with me for guidance. 


Though the Moon was still up in the west, nearing the closest super-moon in many years and very bright, I wanted to start the process of familiarizing myself with the area of these objects, even if I did not find any this time.


Due to the angle in its rotation around Polaris, I had a lot of trouble orienting myself around Beta Ursa Majoris.  After some effort, I decided to switch to M109 which is closer to its reference star Gamma Ursa Majoris.  Even then, I had a lot of trouble relating the stars shown on the charts with what I was seeing.  After considerable effort, I did manage to recognize a formation of five dim stars that I could relate to the chart.  These stars formed somewhat of a trapezoid with three stars in a row on the long side, nearest Gamma.  With time for my vision to saturate, I was able to detect a grey area near the middle star in the row of three in the trapezoid.  The spot was in a slightly different place in relation to the stars than the chart showed, but it was the only thing I could see that resembled what a galaxy might look like under these conditions and brightness.

At this point, it was about 5:45 AM with dawn coming soon.  I decided to go back inside and look up a picture, if I could, to related the galaxy to the dim stars I could see.  After several tries, I finally found an image that showed M109 in a broader setting.  Sure enough, the picture matched what I was seeing for the objects position.  Therefore, I am claiming an observation of M109.  I will be going out and re-observing this object more to corroborate the claim.


Even though I have new eyepieces that are helping me, I think, the Meade 5000 five element 9mm Plossl is still the one that makes that first identification.


Observation Session Summary:


62-M109:  Bar Spiral Galaxy located very close to Gamma Ursa Major.  Could see grey area in a formation of five dim stars.  Seen with 9mm eyepiece only 11/13/2016 5:45 AM CST


  • RickScofield likes this
Bill Steen, Sky Hunters' Haven Observatory, Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

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