Deep Sky Objects

Larger Deep Sky Objects that I Observed or Tried to Fine | Deep Sky Suggestions by Marcus Shaw | References

On this page I would like to collect easy-to-find deep sky objects (DSOs) and present their most important properties. These will be mainly objects that I have already observed, or plan to observe (whenever ...). Many such collections have, of course, already been published as well as recommendations for deep sky objects in forums, books, and articles on the Internet. My main goal is therefore only to document my own observations and plans, but also to give other beginners a simple and fast access to deep sky objects that are easy to observe (at least with a GoTo telescope...).

In addition, I share suggestions that a hobby astronomer made to a newcomer and that I find quite useful. Perhaps, this helps to spread these suggestions a little further. I edited the suggestions a bit, also the text (a German gave them to a Greek woman in English - the Internet is international ...).

See also: Short List (by Seasons) - Longer List (Collected from Books)


Larger Deep Sky Objects that I Observed or Tried to Find

Note: The following table will be permanently "under construction," because I will include my observations whenever there are new ones...

Object Name Constellation Type Angle of View Looked for? Bino 100P SM102 P130 150PDS GSD
Rem. Season
M 3   Canes Venatici/Hunting Dogs GC 7' yes         with GoTo     Spring
M 5   Serpens/
GC 6' yes         with GoTo   too low in summer Spring
M 51 Whirlpool Galaxy Canes Venatici/Hunting Dogs G 8' x 4'               f.Tr. Spring
M 13 Hercules Cluster Hercules GC 15' yes yes w/wo GoTo with GoTo w/wo GoTo with GoTo yes f.Tr. Summer
M 92   Hercules GC 7' yes yes w/wo GoTo with GoTo w/wo Goto with GoTo yes   Summer
M 57 Ring Nebula Lyra PN 1,2' yes   n.f.   with GoTo???     f.Tr. Summer
M 56   Lyra GC 3' yes   n.f.           Summer
M 16 (NGC 6611)/
IC 4703
Eagle Nebula Serpens/
OC+GN 10'/45' x 20' yes     with GoTo         Summer
M 27 (NGC 6853) Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula/
Little Fox
PN 8' x 4' ???             f.Tr. Summer
NGC 6960/6992/5 Cirrus Nebula Cygnus/Swan GNE 45' x 5' yes, n.f.               Summer
M 8 Lagoon Nebula Sagittarius GN+OC 20' x 10'/7' yes?   w/wo GoTo   with GoTo     barely... Summer
M 20 Trifid Nebula Sagittarius GN 15' x 10' yes?   w/wo GoTo   with GoTo     barely... Summer
M 10   Ophiuchus GC 8' yes?     with GoTo       barely... Summer
M 12   Ophiuchus GC 5' yes?     with GoTo       barely... Summer
M 17 Omega Nebula, Swan Nebula Sagittarius GN 20' x 15' ???               Summer
M 11 Wild Duck Cluster Scutum/Shield OC 7'                 Summer
M 31 Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda G 1,5° yes yes w/wo GoTo   with GoTo     f.Tr. Autumn
M 15   Pegasus GC 6' yes yes yes           Autumn
M 42/43 Orion Nebula Orion GNE 25' x 30' yes yes w/wo GoTo   with GoTo   yes   Winter
M 45 Pleiades, Seven Sisters Taurus OC 1,8° x 1,2° yes yes yes   yes   yes   Winter
Mel 25 Hyades Taurus OC x 4° yes yes yes   yes   yes   Winter
M 103   Cassiopeia OC 6' yes yes             North
NGC 663/654   Cassiopeia OC 15'/5' x 3'                 North
M 81/82 Bode Galaxies Big Bear/Dipper G 12' x 5'/6' x 2' yes   yes         f.Tr. North

Double Stars

Star Partner Constellation Magnitudes Separation Remarks  Season
Albireo (beta Cygni) --- Cygnus/Swan 3.1 - 5.1 34.5" Color contrast Summer
Mizar Alcor Big Bear/Dipper 2.3 - 3.9 14.4" Mizar is itself a double star North


Type: G = galaxy, GC = globular star cluster, OC = open star cluster, PN = planetary nebula, GN = galactic nebula (GNE = emission, GNR = reflection), SP = star pattern or asterism

Season: North = circumpolar

n.f. = not found; f.Tr = recommendation for Trillian! (see below)

GoTo refers to my Skywatcher Star Discovery AZ GoTo mount (can be used with Heritage 100P, Heritage P130, and Skymax 102).


Deep Sky Suggestions by Marcus Shaw

The following suggestions for the observation of deep sky objects were made by Marcus Shaw (Schorhr) 2014 to a Greek woman (Trillian!) in the Stargazers Lounge forum (see also link below). After consulting the forum, she had bought a Skywatcher Heritage P130 Dobsonian telescope (5 "), and the suggestions naturally take the performance of the telescope into account. I find these suggestions very useful for myself and for other beginners. I therefore publish them here in an adapted form. The contributions range from the end of May 2014 to the beginning of July 2014, so that the suggestions mainly relate to objects which can be observed at this time (that is, in summer).

Object Name Constellation Type Marcus' Comment
M 57 Ring Nebula Lyra PN Ring nebula - between the two stars at the outside/bottom of Lyra. Looks like a blurry star in low magnification. At around 100 x you should see that it's a ring, if the sky is truly dark it should be very obvious.

M 44

Praesepe, Beehive Cancer/Crab OC Nice open star cluster for low magnification. The darker the sky, the more beautiful it gets. In the center of Cancer.
M 27 (NGC 6853) Dumbbell Nebula Vulpecula/Little Fox PN If you draw a line from M57 to Albireo, and extend it further, you will find another nebula. A dark sky helps, but it is definitely one of the easier one's.
M 81/82 Bode Galaxies Big Bear/Dipper G Imagine a diagonal through the Big Dipper (actually Ursa Major!) and extend it outside of the Big Dipper once, then the two galaxies should be visible in the low magnification eyepiece - those two will show under mediocre conditions at the edge of a city. Even if you cannot make out much detail, one should be round, one long-ish. Under very good conditions you may be able to see the irregular center of the cigar galaxy.
M 101 Pinwheel Galaxy Big Bear/Dipper G Spiral galaxy, preeetttyyy... If the sky is dark. But in 5" near civilization, you can usually not expect this kind of detail. Under city sky it may not be visible at all. If you have decent city limit conditions, it may look like ... If light pollution is strong, it may just be a faint glow, or not visible.
M 51 Whirlpool Galaxy Canes Venatici G One of my favorites. Under the handle of the Big Dipper (part of Ursa Major). Under good "city limit conditions" the two cores should easily be visible. If you observe it for long, if the sky is very clear, you might see some details even in 5". I once saw a faint band between the cores. It will never look like ... but it still is amazing to see a galaxy almost 3.0000.000 light years away that shows what will happen with our galaxy and Andromeda in "a couple of years"...
M 13 Hercules Cluster Hercules GC The cluster in Hercules. Aim for under his armpit, it's easy to find. My first observation was a bit of a disappointment. A faint glow, not more...
Important: Observe when it's dark, no moon. Use indirect vision!
The center of our eye's retina is the sharpest but not as light sensitive as the outer regions. So if you try NOT to look at M13, you may see more stars in the corner of your eye.

M 3

  Canes Venatici GC Also check out M3 (stated after covering M13).
NGC 6826 Blinking Nebula Cygnus/Swan PN The Blinking Nebula. Same game: If you look at it directly, you will see the small star. If you look away, you will see the larger, dim nebula. If you quickly look at it again, it vanishes. Thus the Blinking Nebula...
NGC 884/869 h & chi Persei Double Cluster Perseus OC Beautiful, look like diamond fireworks. This is the sort of object the low magnification, wide field heritage shows well...
M 31 Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda G Under dark skies visible with the naked eye, larger than the moon... Under mediocre night sky it will just be a oval smudge.
NGC 7000 North America Nebula Cygnus/Swan GNE Big nebula, while the orion nebula is not visible in the summer, the North America Nebula is.
CR 399 Coat Hanger Vulpecula/Little Fox SP The Coat Hanger. The sky is full of commodities :-)
--- Albireo Cygnus/Swan Double star Close to M57, one of the stars of Cygnus/Swan, is Albireo. While stars always appear as small dots, this one reveals something beautiful: If you magnify it, you will see that there are actually TWO stars. One is red, one is blue. Pretty double star.


Type: G = galaxy, GC = globular star cluster, OC = open star cluster, PN = planetary nebula, GN = galactic nebula (GNE = emission, GNR = reflection), SP = star pattern

Remarks as to Albireo and the Ring Nebula

Albireo (double star) should split at as low as 8 x. ... It's much more pretty with your own eyes, the colors are much more noticeable than with a deep sky camera.

The ring nebula (M 57) or M 13 (as another example...) are a faint smudge in low magnification, larger than a star. When increasing magnification under light pollution, they may not show more details. That gets kind of frustrating.

I have observed the ring nebula under a full moon before. It works, but yesterday the moon was so close it did not work well. Under dark skies it is really obvious, if you find it. So save yourself frustration and wait for darker conditions when attempting DSO. It will still be a faint smoke ring, not the colorful explosion you see on images from the Hubble telescope.

For some it looks like a faint smudge. But it's kind of fascinating to see the remains of a super nova with your own eyes, far, far away. With larger telescope you could even see the small center star remain.

My "first ring nebula" took me 30 minutes as I just did not know what I had to look for, much like you now. We all have been there. After one or two successful observation of objects you kind of get a sense for scale, what to look for and frustration is blown away. And always have a "plan b": If you can't find something, observe something you already know for practice and to avoid wanting to throw the telescope down the balcony.

In the 25 mm eyepiece, it almost looks like when a star is just slightly off focus, but no matter how carefully you try to focus, all the stars next to it are sharp, small dots, the ring nebula looks like a faint blurry star. With 8-12 mm it already looks like a tiny ring. If light pollution is an issue, the darker center might be less obvious.




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