Observations of relativistic jet in M87

Forums Deep Sky Observations of relativistic jet in M87

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    Peter Carson

    I read with interest the article in Sky & Telescope by Howard Banich about visually observing the relativistic jet in Messier 87. The article states “sightings are possible with scopes in the 12 to 16 inch range.” But then the article goes on to describe visual observations using telescopes from 28 to 90 inches in aperture. (Yes, I suppose these sized scopes do exist in amateur hands!)
    Does any BAA member claim to have seen the M87 jet visually in a 12 to 16 inch telescope? Members of my local club have 16 and 20 inch dobs and I’m wondering if I might stand a chance of seeing it.

    Andrew Robertson

    Hi Peter,

    I’ve looked for it several times in my 24″ and failed so far. But as Owen says, we rarely get the pristine skies here in the UK to have a serious chance. I will still give it a go the next time I get a superlative night and it’s well placed.


    Alan Snook

    Hi Peter, the jet in M87 is number 152 in the Arp Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies. I’ve tried for it several times with not a sniff of success. I’m using a 50cm f4.1 dob. There is no drive so in practice my highest usable magnification is x415. In Howard’s article he’s talking about x600 to x700. In the Kanipe/Webb book about the Arp objects, on p303 it cites an observation by the late Barbara Wilson (of AINTNO 100 fame) also using a 20-inch f4, at x340 and x410. She noted “Jet visible running out of core. Difficult. Requires excellent seeing and transparent skies.” This comes back to Owen’s point – the American’s have a much easier time of it. In the Arizona desert and Bryce Canyon in Utah with the unaided eye I’ve seen mag 6 stars as they clear the horizon. At home here, I’m lucky to see anything below Epsilon CMa even when it’s near culmination! Try for the jet on one of those rare nights when anything seems possible.


    owen brazell

    Hi Peter the 90″ talked about was a professional telescope no longer used for that purpose and bookable by amateurs. The other telescopes are amateur ones. I have not heard of anybody in the UK seeing this  Having said this of course M87 is a lot higher in the sky for them than it is for us and they have high altitude sites to observe from rather than sea level as we have here. There is a lot of difference with an extra mile of polluted crud on top of you. I suggest that at the next Kelling you try and persuade Andrew with his driven 24″ to have a go.

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