Testing the Waters of Galaxy Hunting

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The Constellation Leo

Upon completion of cataloging four constellations Saturday night, I realized that five galaxies needed for my Messier observing book lay in Constellation Leo. Galaxies have been quite frustrating from the confines of suburban skies. Yet, with a steady atmosphere and the Moon yet to rise, I thought an attempt at these wouldn’t hurt.

Star jumping from Chertan over to M65 and M66 left me pleasantly surprised as these two galaxies appeared prominently through my 8 in. dobsonian at 48x magnification. Being able to view these at +8.91 and +9.16 magnitudes excited me at the potential to observe other galaxies, from my location, in the Messier catalog. 

This led me to test the limits of observing magnitudes even further. I star jumped, with much more difficulty, to M95, M96 and M105. Of these three objects, M96 appeared fairly  easily as +9.13. I used it as the central point to verify the locations of M95 and M105. Of these three M95 at +9.72 was the most difficult to spot, pushing the upper limits of what I could view.

A few things helped with observations this evening:
#1: My eyes were dark adapted fairly well for a suburban neighborhood. 
#2: It was an exceptionally clear and steady night with seeing conditions being very good and transparency at a level 6. 

Up next for the Messier catalog will hopefully be 5 galaxies and the Owl Nebula located in Ursa Major.

 

 

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