Triangulum Galaxy

From Scope F70076


Nov 5, 2008 The visibility seemed to be better than at previous nights, but still I saw only 4 stars in Cassiopeia, thus the visual magnitude limit likely wasn't more than 3, later there also were some small slight clouds. The constellation Aries is near the constellation Andromeda. I moved from Hamal (Alpha Arietis) towards Mothallah (Alpha Trianguli). Some 1 degree in the direction from Mothallah to inside of the Triangulum, there is a brighter star with a double star near it, further in the same direction. I found these stars and thus verified that the star which I looked at was indeed Mothallah.

Then I moved from Mothallah in the direction of the Triangulum Galaxy (the Messier object M33), and almost 1 degree in that direction from Mothallah is a small isosceles triangle of the stars of almost equal brightness, the base of which is much wider than its legs. If you want to find the Triangulum Galaxy in an easy way, then this small triangle points almost towards it. But I would not recommend finding objects by any random search, except when you are sure that you would notice the object whenever it would appear in the eyepiece.

This isosceles triangle points to two brighter stars almost 1 degree from that triangle -- a bright star, near of which is a less bright star. From there to the direction further away from the constellation Triangulum there is a third star less than 1 degree from these two stars. I found these three stars. Further from that third star in the direction of Triangulum Galaxy is a fourth brighter star. This fourth star together with that first brightest star and one more brighter star further towards the Triangulum Galaxy, form an almost equilateral triangle with the length of a side almost half degree. I found that equilateral triangle. This equilateral triangle points to a small isosceles triangle some 1 degree from it, when moving further towards the Triangulum Galaxy.

I found this small isosceles triangle. Some 0.6 degrees from that small isosceles triangle in the direction away from the constellation Triangulum, is another brighter star. From that star in the direction in which we moved towards the Triangulum Galaxy before, is a second brighter star, and in the same direction from the small isosceles triangle is the third brighter star. These three brighter stars together with that small isosceles triangle form an almost regular diamond shape, which you can wholly see in one field of view. Almost in the center of that diamond is the Triangulum Galaxy.

I found that diamond shape, but at first I saw nothing whatsoever inside it. There was nothing inside that diamond, no star-like objects, no glow and all that area also seemed to be completely black. After looking at that area for a few minutes, it seemed to me that I saw some hint of a large very dark blob almost where the Triangulum Galaxy supposed to be. Unfortunately I couldn't observe longer because clouds covered that area.

Finding the Triangulum Galaxy was the most complicated star hopping which I have ever done. This is a kind of star hopping which not only gives some guidance of how some particular object can be found, but also incudes verifying the waypoints with a complete certainty, including the location of the object itself. This is very important, as with such star hopping it would not be possible not to find the object, thus also when the object was not visible, this also can be found beyond doubt.

You likely noticed that two times I found a small pattern, and only then a larger pattern which this small pattern was a part of. This is a very important method which I found useful for such complex star hopping. This small pattern may be called a key pattern. The problem is that the larger pattern may often be too complex to be easily recognizable, and also such larger pattern may fill most of the field of view. For these reasons any such larger pattern would not be easily noticeable when moving around with the eyepiece, while a small pattern would be more easily noticeable, especially when we approximately know where this small pattern should be located. This is why a key pattern is necessary. As you see, some more advanced methods can be found even for something like star hopping, where there seemingly is not much to think about.

All that is a bit simpler than it may seem when one reads my description. To have any idea about how to find that object, one certainly has to look at the Stellarium map, then the patterns described here would appear to be quite distinguishable and obvious. But still it took me more than one day to figure out how to find that object. So complicated star hopping would not be necessary for most of the objects, the Triangulum Galaxy is exceptional in that it is located in the area with almost no bright stars nowhere near it.

The Triangulum Galaxy is the biggest galaxy which we can see after the Andromeda Galaxy. It is argued that it was discovered by Hodierna in 1654, but considering how dark this object is, it is somewhat questionable whether such object can be found with a 1 inch Galileo telescope with quite poor optics quality, even in the conditions of good visibility. If this object was not discovered by Hodierna, then it was discovered by Charles Messier in 1764.

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