Crab nebula

I decided to try and observe the crab nebula with my 8inch dobsonian. I can’t tell if I saw it or not. There was a faint object near tianguan which got a bit more detail the longer I looked, averted vision helped too. I went ahead and put it in my log.

  1. Is it even possible to see it from midwest city area?
  2. Did I just see a faint star instead of the nebula?

Very likely its the crab nebula based off your description

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M1 is certainly prominent in the night skies right now, And it’s magnitude is +8.39, so while not visible to the naked eye, it’s very visible with an 8” Dob!

However, it’s not very close to M33, the Triangulum Galaxy (I assume that’s what you meant by tianguan…). M1 is fairly close to Betelgeuse in Orion.

I’m sorry! I was meaning the star zeta tauri. The left horn tip of taurus.

With my equipment from a well lit city, should I expect it to appear more as a star/smudge or would it be more distinguished?

Here’s my two-cents worth of input.

An 8.4 magnitude star should be easily visible in an 8-inch telescope. But, a star is a point object. Most of its light appears to emanate from a tiny point-like spot that is spread across just a few arcseconds. The Crab Nebula, however, is an extended object. That is, its light appears to emanate from an area that is spread across a piece of sky that is approximately 7x5 arcminutes in size.

Consequently, while an 8.4 magnitude star is easy to see in an 8-inch telescope, an 8.4 magnitude nebula will be more difficult because its total light output is diffused across a larger area. Add heavy light pollution, and extended low contrast objects like nebulae and galaxies become even more difficult to see.

I’ve never tried to observe the Crab Nebula from my light-polluted backyard in Edmond with either of my two 8-inch scopes, but I have observed the 8.8 magnitude Ring Nebula (M57) in Lyra. It is a much more compact object, only 1 arcminute in diameter. Even so, the Ring Nebula appeared as a faint pale-gray doughnut.

All this being said, I would answer your questions as follows:

From your location in Midwest City, I would expect the Crab Nebula to appear as a very faint grayish smudge, very likely requiring averted vision to see. Covering an area of several arcminutes, it should not appear star-like at all.

But, from your description, I think you probably saw the nebula.

That’s about where M1 is, it was probably M1. Did it look like a faint smudge of spaghetti? I know a lot of DSOs look like smudges, but M1 looks a bit different than a normal small galaxy smudge. I looks like a faint brain or spaghetti to me.

The phrase I used most often when I was at our public outreach events with my optical scopes was, “See that little fuzzy thing near the middle? That’s it!”

Sounds to me like you saw M1. I’d keep it in your log.

Hey Russ, have you tried viewing from behind the Y at Mitch park? There is a large open field behind the Y that I’ve used with good results.

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Hi Randy,

I know the area. I haven’t tried it. But, it’s a possibility when I finally get my old Meade mount refurbished and back in operation.

I’ve put on a few years since I started in this hobby and just don’t have the oomph to move my heavy Celestron CGEM mount around for observing. My old Meade mount is much lighter weight. I hope to have it back in service in a couple of months as part of a grab-and-go setup.

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Hmmm, it was quite faint, I couldn’t make out much detail other than a small faint smudge. I plan to take a look at it again the next time I’m out at cro.

And that is exactly true!