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  Galaxy: Astronomy: Galaxy - OBSERVING GALAXIES
Posted on Thursday, December 02 @ 14:21:30 CST by astronomy
 
 
  Galaxy

OBSERVING GALAXIES

Whether a galaxy is challenging or easy to observe depends on several factors, not the least of which is the galaxy's apparent magnitude. But magnitude means little or nothing unless you also consider its apparent diameter. Face-on galaxies have low surface brightness, which can make them difficult to locate against a bright sky background.

Conversely, the light of edge-on spiral galaxies is concentrated in a narrow bar-shaped feature, so they have greater contrast.

With a 4 to 8 inch (100 to 200 mm) telescope, you can find many galaxies and see the prominent features of bright ones. But to see a faint spiral's dusty arms or nebulas, you will need a larger telescope, not to mention very dark skies. A 12 to 16 inch (300 to 400 mm) telescope provides spectacular views of galaxies down to about magnitude 14.

Without a doubt, galaxies can be challenging to observe. But what other endeavor extends your vision across such great gulfs of space or allows you to look back millions of years into the past? The quest to behold the diverse and enigmatic galaxies, each shining with the combined light of billions of stars, is deep-sky observing at its most profound.

 
 
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