Notes on finding DSOs

This page is my own notes for finding a small number of deep-space objects. This is by no means a substitute for good star maps or a book like the excellent Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope – and How to Find Them. Instead, it’s a small collection of specific writeups that I have developed for various reasons, usually in response to a request from a beginner or as a supporting document to some other article. I publish it here hoping it may be a useful guide to finding easy objects for beginners.

For beginners, I recommend viewing this list in the format on this page, which sorts them by season and indicates what scopes they can be seen in.

In each of the descriptions that follow, I include images — usually simulations — of what you can expect the objects to look like in a small amateur telescope, omitting the beautiful colour photographs that may set unrealistic expectations and lead to disappointment.

Object Name Type When Visible in Evening
Albireo MS Summer
Epsilon Lyrae Double-Double MS Summer
Mizar MS All Year
M1 Crab Nebula SNR Winter
M3 GC Spring, Summer
M8 Lagoon Nebula EN Summer
M11 Wild Duck Cluster OC Summer
M13 Hercules Cluster GC Summer
M27 Dumbell Debula PN Summer
M31 Andromeda Galaxy Gal Summer – Winter
M35 OC Nov – April
M37 OC Winter
M38 OC Winter
M42 Orion Nebula EN Winter
M45 Pleiades OC Later fall, Winter
M57 Ring Nebula PN Summer
M92 GC Summer
NGC 457 Owl, ET OC Summer & Autumn
NGC 869/884 Double Cluster OC August – March
Summer Triangle Ast June – September


Ast Asterism
EN Emission Nebula
Gal Galaxy
GC Globular Cluster
MS Multiple Star System
OC Open Cluster
PN Planetary Nebula
SNR Supernova Remnant

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