Do you want to search for deep celestial objects like nebulae or star clusters but don’t know where to start? Observing deep celestial objects is not as complicated as you think. You can observe them comfortably from your garden or where you live, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money on modern equipment.
Deep celestial body (deep sky object, abbreviated DSO) is an astronomical object located outside the solar system, including galaxies, nebulae and star clusters. Once you learn about the constellation Orion or Andromeda, you’ll see that these deep cosmic lenses aren’t as hard to find as you thought.
TIPS FOR DEEP CELESTIAL OBSERVATIONS
- First, you’ll need to purchase a stargazing book or star map, or download a stargazing app to guide you through the sky.
Stellarium is the world’s first sky simulation software. There is a free version for computers and a paid version for phones.
- You can locate an object using the “star-hopping” technique based on recognizable features located next to that celestial body. Understanding the constellations will help you.
- Join a social media group for advice or join a local astronomy club. These communities often organize shadowing sessions that you can participate in, even if you don’t have any equipment.
The Hanoi Amateur Astronomical Society (HAS) is organizing an observation session for the community.
- Probably the biggest limiting factor in deep celestial observations is light pollution, an obstacle for any astronomer.
A full moon can easily obscure even the brightest celestial bodies. So pay attention to the lunar cycle when planning your observations. Remember: the darker the sky, the easier it is to detect faint celestial objects. So try to go somewhere with dark skies if you can.
- You also need to consider the time of year. The rotation of the Earth and the annual trip around the Sun mean that the targets you observe in winter will not be visible in summer. For example, the Orion Nebula is only visible in the Northern Hemisphere from November to February (next year).
Orion Nebula (M42). Source: Sun.org
- During a night of observation, allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness. Make sure you have a flashlight with a red light to look at the star map or find the device you are carrying. The red light will help preserve your night vision.
- To get the best results when observing deep objects, use the “averted vision” technique. That is, you do not look directly at the object, but look to the side to use the peripheral vision of the retina, which is more sensitive to low light.
- Remember that the images you see, even with a telescope, will not look like the great photos in books and magazines. They were captured using long exposure techniques and intensive photo post-production processes. To the naked eye, these celestial bodies will appear pale, fuzzy, or hazy, contrasting with the night sky.
- You can preserve these memories by recording your observations in a notebook or drawing sketches.
You should record your observations in a notebook. Source: Nightskyhunter.com
CAN THE DEEP celestial body be seen with the naked eye?
This may seem impossible, but it is not. Observation opportunities will be limited and you will need to find a sufficiently dark place, but it is still possible. The brighter the object and the darker the sky, the more visible the object is.
Pleiades star cluster in the sky. Source: cdn.steamboatpilot.com
The Andromeda galaxy (M31) and the Pleiades open cluster (M45) are the easiest objects to observe with the naked eye. It is best to observe the first celestial body away from light pollution, while the Pleiades can be seen even in cities. You will likely see a faint patch of light with 6 to 8 bright stars.
Other targets include the Honeycomb cluster (M44) and the Hyades star cluster.
Binoculars – EASY TO USE AND EFFECTIVE TOOLS
Binoculars are reasonably priced, so they’re a great starting point before diving into a telescope. This device is enough to expand the list of what you can see. Locating deep objects with binoculars is easier than starting with a telescope because binoculars have a wider field of view.
Targets like the Pleiades, Melotte 111, Melotte 186 and Hydra’s Head are much better suited to binoculars than a telescope.
The open star cluster Melotte 111, commonly known as the Coma star cluster, is located in the small constellation Coma Berenices. This star cluster is clearly visible to the naked eye and extremely beautiful with binoculars. Source: Pixel
Looking through binoculars will give a different view of the Pleiades. Even small 10×30 binoculars will make many faint stars visible and the number of stars you count will increase significantly.
The Bode Galaxy (M81) is a popular target for binocular users. You can also identify the Cigarette Galaxy (M82), located just north of M81. These galaxies are best observed with large binoculars, 15×70 or larger. But the larger the lens, the heavier the binoculars, so you’ll need to use a tripod.
Photo: Gary Seronik
AND FINALLY: TELESCOPE OBSERVATION
For many deep objects, you will need a telescope at least 150mm in diameter to see their faint shapes. But don’t give up for this reason.
Although in-depth celestial observations without modern equipment will be limited, you will not be disappointed when choosing and observing one of the hundreds of objects available.
The Ring Nebula (M57) – a familiar target for astronomers and photographers. Photo: Dietmar Hager
Epilogue: Finding deep celestial objects is not easy and with a telescope or binoculars, they will not be as beautiful as we usually imagine. But don’t give up. Finding a star cluster or a distant galaxy – thousands of light years away – with your own eyes is a truly exciting experience. This feeling will leave an impression that will last a long time.
Summary of word translation Sky at night