Last updated: 17 April 2006
Subject:	Seen 'M all with the ETX-70 
Sent:	Monday, April 17, 2006 10:54:49
From: (
User observation report:

It may interest the readers of the mighty ETX site that it is indeed
possible to view all the objects of the Messier catalog in the smallest
member of the family, the tiny 60/70/80 refractor. I just finished the
catalogue with the ETX70  all 110 Messier objects. As for the disputed
M102 I looked at M101 twice as Messier probably did, and at NGC 5866,
which may be Messier's #102.

Well, this is perhaps no big feat considering that most of the M-objects
can be found with binoculars, and many people make a sport of doing just
that. However, they do look more interesting in a telescope, even in a
small one. And I guess that most ETX-owners are "collecting" M-numbers
(Amateur astronomers have much in common with bird watchers, who also
tick off lists after viewing hard-to-see objects).

My M-hunt began when I got an ETX70 as a birthday present a couple of
years ago. I started the scope up and went to M81/82. It was first time
I viewed another galaxy in a telescope. I ticked them off on a list and
decided to find out how many I could see of these M-objects. The goal
was to see them all within a year. Alas, it soon turned out that a lot
of the really interesting ones were too far south to be seen from my
latitude (55 dg N). But thanks to the portability of the ETX I could
bring it along during an August vacation in the Algarve, Portugal (37 dg
N). Wow, the things in Sagittarius and Aquarius were really cool! Got 28
more ticked off in a few nights! But M68 and M83 in Hydra had to wait
for a spring trip  I got them on April 01 this year at 1.30 UTC.

You do not need any extra gadgets for Messier-hunting  The ETX70 is
ready right out of the box. A Rigel Quikfinder or other red dot finder
is very handy for the alignment, and a "Flexicord" or similar extender
for the focusing knob is a great convenience.  You can gain some extra
contrast and a larger field of view with a more expensive 9 or 10 mm
eyepiece, but it is not a necessity. Some objects can take more
magnification, obtainable with a Barlow or a shorter eyepiece or both. A
broad-band filter like Astronomik CLS may improve contrast under certain
circumstances  See "Accessory Reviews" for more information on optional

Some of the M's are very easy and look great in the wide field of the
ETX70. This is particularly true for some of the open clusters like M45
and M44, but also for the galaxies M31 and M33 on really dark and
transparent nights. Most of the M-globulars are quite easily spotted and
may show some structure, although individual stars will not be resolved.
M68 may be the most difficult of them. The four planetary nebulas are
not too difficult either. The bright nebulas are fairly easy too. M42
(Orion nebula) looks really impressive in the 9 mm eyepiece, M1 (the
Crab) is easily found on a dark night, but rather dull. The really
troublesome objects are the galaxies; most of them are just very faint
and small wisps of gray, often only visible with averted vision.

Darkness is the most important factor. I guess that the M-catalog is
fairly easy from a dark mountain in the middle of a desert.  I have seen
most of the M-objects from a suburban garden 15 m from the center of
Copenhagen, a city with 1.2 million inhabitants. The Milky Way can be
faintly seen 2-3 nights each year, and the visual limit of star
magnitude is usually between 3 or 4 in Ursa minor. Many objects are of
course difficult under these conditions, and some are definitely
impossible. I do not expect ever to see M101 within 50 km from any city,
but it looks great (and is BIG) from a truly dark site. M98 and M91 are
strictly countryside objects too. M74 is very difficult even from a dark
site  I have seen it once from a completely dark site on the Monchique
Mountain in the Algarve.

Observing experience and patience are the next important factors. M97,
the Owl planetary, was among my first 10 M's. After having verified this
one I believed they could not get any more difficult  but now I consider
this an object of medium difficulty (you will see a faint gray circular
blot, do not expect to see the "eyes" in the ETX70).

A few hints: plan what you will be looking for in each session and look
the object up in a planetarium program like Cartes du Ciel, aka Skyatlas
(download from Be sure to install the
optional Messier catalog and theTycho-2 star catalog showing stars down
to mag. 12. The ETX70 will easily show stars down to mag 10.5. Take a
good look at environment and star patterns surrounding your target  you
may make a print showing what is inside the field of view of the 9 mm
eyepiece. Let the ETX70 cool down an hour before you start observing,
and let your eyes adapt to darkness at least 20 minutes before trying
difficult objects. GoTo a nice recognizable star nearby your target and
do a "synch" on it. Then do a GoTo your target. It may not be visible at
once in the 9 mm eyepiece. Check the star pattern with your notes or the
map and verify that you are at exactly the right spot. Used averted
version and be patient. Try slewing a little to and fro or tap the OTA,
slight movements may bring forth the target. Breathe forcefully for 3
minutes and relax. If you still do not see the target, try to look at
something you know already. Is M81 difficult tonight? If it is, you have
no chance of seeing, e.g., M108. Try another night with better

You can get more information about the Messier objects from (many links here, including the 12 month
Messier tour or from
Dr. Clay's excellent constellation guides available on the mighty ETX

I have spent very many hours observing with the ETX70 and enjoyed it
much, but I am now the owner of two 8" scopes and will probably use the
ETX less in the future. I may sometime compile a commented list of M-
and other objects from my ETX-observation notes and publish it somewhere
on the net.

Clear skies to all ETX Messier hunters, and very many thanks to Mike
Weasner, Clay Sherrod and Dick Seymour for their inspiration and
encouragement to beginner amateur astronomers in general and ETX-owners
in particular.
Finn Rasmussen, Copenhagen. 

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