After the author with his Equipment came back from the
Greek island of Antiparos which lies in the middle of the Aegean. After 1-2 hours of night adaptation:
M8 (Lagoon): Fantastic. Certainly wider than
M42, or so the author thought. He was able to count at least 8-10 individual stars
inside the Lagoon area by direct vision, around 14-15 using averted vision. Object
was huge in field of vision. Larger in size than what the book describes.
M27 (Dumbbell): Quite bright but not that
impressive. The author was able to discern the bowtie shape using averted vision or
at least some opposite parts seemed to be blinking on and off. Approximate size as in
the book's sketch.
M51 (Whirlpool): The 11x80 Messier Certificate
lists this one as a tough one, but the author had no problem finding it. M51's
nucleus was clearly visible, even under direct vision. Using averted vision, he
easily glimpsed the core of the companion as well. No surface details whatsoever (of
course). Size approximately the same as in the book.
M4 (next to Antares): Quite bright. Larger than what the book sketch shows.
M81, M82: Holy cow! These were probably one
of the best sights! The author could almost see dark lanes in M81. The elliptical
shape was clearly visible and with some effort the upper and lower arms could be
seen. M82 was relatively easy. No features, but cigar shape was evident. The author
couldn't see the star that the sketch has almost in contact with it. Both galaxies in
the same field of vision of course. Not to be missed!
M13: Fascinating! The core almost resolves with the 11x80!!! The author could
almost count a couple of sparks inside the core! One of the best! Size approximately
equal to that in the book's sketch.
M3: Fascinating! Almost equal in size to M13. This one's core almost resolved as
well at rare times. The author haven't had a chance to see this more than once, cause
it was exactly above him.
M57: This one really gave the author trouble.
He swept the area between Sheliak and Sulafat at least 6 times. In fact both fit
nicely in his field of vision, but for the life of him, he couldn't see a ring. After
2 hours of night vision (after 1 hour of looking between beta and gamma Lyrae),
something approximately around the middle of the line connecting the two stars
(vertically) and slightly off to the right eventually did show up, but it was very
much starlike. The author tried all possible tricks of vision he knew, but the only
thing he could see was something that "looked" like a faint star, which at random
times acquired a slightly nebulous nature. It wasn't quite a star, but then again the
author was not sure. Conclusion: The author probably saw it, but it was very much
starlike. The author suspects that 11x is not enough to resolve it into a ring.
M20 (Trifid), M21. M21, no problem. Quite beautiful and bright aggregate of
stars. M20 is listed as a challenge in the 11x80 Messier Certificate lists. Indeed it
was. The author observed it at least 4 times. 3 times standing up and once sitting on
a large director's chair around 2:30 am, after 2 hours of night vision. Yes! It's
there and visible all right, but he'd say it lingers on the verge of visibility of
the 11x80. HN40 was visible and the companion star was also visible with averted
vision. The author saw the pink part of the nebula as a little gray patch and at
moments the rest of it appeared, but the blue part kept blinking on and off. It's
certainly doable with 11x80, however. The book's sketch is slightly better than what
the author saw.
M22, M28: M22 is scary. It's huge! The author
would say it resembles the core of the Andromeda galaxy in brightness. He kept coming
back for it time after time. One of the best. Dark areas almost visible by averted
vision. M28 was nice, but nowhere as bright as M22 although quite grainy. The author
could see the star the book sketch has.
M36, M37, M38: Three of the most beautiful. M36 looked like a sea star with
spikes projecting outwards. All three were easily resolvable with at least a dozen
stars inside each. The author saw them once, before the Aurigae constellation set
below the horizon.
M46, M47: Much better views than what the book shows. The book states: "M46 is
unimpressive by itself in a small telescope, but it's a nice challenge. In a larger
telescope, 6" or more, it's actually more impressive than M47". Well, with the 11x80
it's certainly much more impressive than M47. Huge patch of nebulosity was clearly
visible and it resolved at least a dozen individual stars inside. Don't miss it if
you own 80's, but the book probably is right for smaller objectives.
M93: One of the best and very bright. Smaller than M46, but brighter and more
stars seen inside it. Don't miss it.
M44: The beehive wasn't very impressive because Jupiter had so much glare that it
completely overshadowed it. The stars were visible, all inside the field of vision,
but Jupiter was blinding.
M53: The author only glimpsed this one once, because it was very high and could
not aim there. The core almost resolves with the 11x80.
M71: Much more impressive and brighter than what the book shows. Doesn't quite
resolve, but could be easily be picked up just by sweeping inside the Sagitta
constellation. The author picked this up trying to find the Dumbbell nebula. It's
slightly less bright than the dumbbell itself.
M80: Not as bright as M4, but the author swears he could resolve it in its core.
Maybe the author's eyes were playing tricks on him.
M19, M62: The author didn't see these more than once, but swept through the area
and later identified them. M62 is on the line to mu Scorpii, and it was almost
resolvable at the core.
M6, M7: The author swept through those as he was going towards the Sagittarius
constellation. Beautiful little star nests.
M65, M66: Ok. These were a little tough, but no problem locating M66. It was
almost visible under direct vision. No visible features (of course). Elliptical shape
was very evident, however. The time delay between locating M66 (the brighter one) and
M65, was less than 3 seconds. M65 required some averted vision. Picture identical to
that of the book, with the brighter stars visible as in the sketch.
M56: The author had a little trouble with that, because the area around there was
so rich, but he located it on the second try. Not as bright as in the book. Probably
one of the most overlooked objects in the area.
M87: The author really wanted to see this one (black hole jet anyone?) as
it's one of the author's favorites. The book doesn't have it, but the author had its
coordinates (12,29,7 and 12,30), so using a very rough chart sketch he estimated it
to be approximately a little left of the middle between beta Leo and epsilon Virgo.
The author scanned the area at least 5 times. He did see a very faint nebulosity
around there, but he just wasn't sure if that was it, because he is not very familiar
with the Virgo constellation and there may be other things lurking in there. He
thinks he saw it.
M24, M18, M17: These are wonderful. Just north of the Kaus Borealis constellation
arranged in an almost vertical line. One more beautiful than the other.
M67: Not to be missed. Quite bright, some stars are resolvable. Exactly as shown
in the book sketch, but slightly brighter.
As far as resolution goes, the author also checked a couple of stars: iota-1
Cancri was resolvable, as was 61 Cygni. Albireo was beautiful. The 11x80 pair's limit
of resolution is probably around 26-27 arc seconds. Saturn does show rings, but they
are really tiny.
This was a really elaborate Messier object test drive of the author's 11x80 Chinon
binoculars. The author's father bought these back
in 1984 for the author. The author never had a chance to drive them long enough and he
was only stealing sweeping moments using short trips when he was younger.
The author only had trouble with M57 and this was probably because of the low
magnification. The rest of the objects were all easy targets.
To those wishing to buy binoculars for astronomy, the author's advice is to not
settle for anything with an objective less than 70-80 mm's. These things are
incredible, but don't even try them without a heavy tripod. They continuously keep the
author postponing buying a larger telescope. Even when the author does buy something
larger, he will probably mount them along with the scope and use them as a finder.
The author's advice to those wishing to buy large binoculars: Carrying large
binoculars around in long trips to isolated islands and observing for longer periods at
night, may cause several unwanted side effects, from weather disturbances to losing
your girlfriend, the latter being especially upsetting when the house you
managed all these observations from was the property of said girlfriend.
For comparisons, the author used the book Turn Left at Orion, by Guy Consolmagno, ISBN 0-521-34090-X.