Re: (IAAC) galaxies (LONG)
Hi, Harold, and thanks a lot for the note! I know others will have many good
suggestions for you, but here's my $0.02.
Well, as for what galaxies you can see with a 10" scope this time of year,
there are TONS!! Or there are almost none, depending... :)
On a moonless, truly clear night from a very dark site (say at least 10 miles
from any town, with no streetlights in the near vicinity), you will be able
(with time) to see literally THOUSANDS of galaxies in a 10" scope. And of
course, your first view of the Andromeda Galaxy from a REALLY dark site will
probably stay in your memory forever!
But as you can tell from reading the posts on our list, what details you see in
any one galaxy will depend as much on YOU as on your scope and site. "Training
your eye to see" is really the toughest (and best!) part of deep-sky astronomy.
Learning to cultivate and preserve night vision, mastering techniques like
averted vision, concentrated vision, deep breathing, "scope jiggling", etc., or
even just learning what to look for in each object make a BIG difference as to
how rich your observation logs are. Of course, some objects will still be too
faint for you to say anything but "saw it". But then bagging these "faint
fuzzies" can be a lot of fun too... :)
Probably the best suggestion is to find others who have done deep-sky observing
for a while, and observe with them! Local astronomy clubs can always hook you
up with your fellow amateurs, and some of them are bound to have good advice on
the best sites, tools and techniques for deep-sky.
Now sometimes, of course, finding and getting to know these wizened experts can
be tough: that's where 'netastrocatalog' comes in! ;>
Finally, my personal advice on published galaxy magnitudes is: ignore them!
Some galaxies will be listed as mag. 14, and still look like intriguing little
blobs in your 10", while others will be listed at mag. 11, and be barely
visible. The only way to know whether you can see a certain object (aside from
asking a fellow amateur or reading this list), is to TRY it! At first, this
will be frustrating, as you spend minutes looking for objects that you really
just can't see. But you'll find more and more as you learn. And of course you
can always sprinkle some "chestnuts" in with the faint-object challenges!
OK, to finally answer your question, here are some objects this month which I
personally think will look great in a 10" at a dark site:
M81/82/NGC3077, M106, NGC2903, M65/66/NGC3628, M95/96/105/NGC3384, M60, M60,
M59, M58, M104, the entire "Markarian Chain" of NGCs and Messiers at the center
of the Virgo Cluster, M94, M63, ... And of course, that's just the GALAXIES!
M31/32/110 is quickly disappearing, as is the (usually challenging!) M33 in
Triangulum. But M33 from a dark, dark site is indescribable! So are M101 in
Ursa Major and M51 in Canes Venatici, which are RISING in the evenings now...
But again, the shear inky DARKNESS of the site (plus your self training) will
determine whether these face-on galaxies turn out to be "ain't-nos", or
breathtaking beauties in the eyepiece.
To find all these wonders, ask your fellow amateurs, and/or get some good sky
charts. (You can always post a query here as to which ones we all like).
Good luck, have fun, and be sure to share what you see with us!
Lew, heading off to see the Shuttle launch tonight!