By O'Meara S.J.
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Additional info for Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects
Do so until it becomes second nature, because you cannot expect to hit your celestial target if your telescope and finder scope are not carefully aligned. Nothing is more frustrating than hunting for a faint Messier object when you’re starting with the wrong guide star. It is amazing how similar the star 26 fields appear when you are looking through a telescope. Take the time now to practice aiming. You can also do this during the day using a distant object on the horizon. Pointing with accuracy is impossible unless you know how to scale what you see through the eyepiece with what you see on the finder chart.
Next, find those stars in the sky (I always use binoculars to confirm the star field) and place the crosshairs of the finder scope where the Messier object fits into the geometrical pattern, even if you cannot see the object. When using a finder scope, I keep both eyes open; one eye is focused on the crosshairs, and the other eye is looking at the sky. If your telescope is properly aligned, and if you have practiced your aiming, you should be very near, if not right on, the object. Use the lowest magnification (the one with the widest field of view) and look for a faint, diffuse patch of light.
The disk material is probably arranged in spiral arms that emanate from the tips of a bar of dust and gas extending on either side of the nucleus. This entire system is contained in a spherical galactic halo of older Deep-Sky Companions: The Messier Objects 2 are created through the magic of color photography and do not represent the way they look through a telescope, which is fuzzy and dim. But if you stop to consider how far their light has traveled before it reaches your eye, you will better appreciate their subtle, ghostly glows.