(IAAC) OBS: M61 (galaxy) INST: 16" f/4.59 Dobnewt

Observer:  Todd Gross
Your skill:  Intermediate 
Date and UT of observation: 02/02/98 07:45 GMT
Location & latitude: 22 miles west of Boston, Ma. 42.3N
Site classification: Suburban
Limiting magnitude (visual): 5.1 exact / 5 in vicinity of object
Seeing (1 to 10 - worst-best): est. 6
Moon up (phase?): No
Weather: Clear, snowcovered
Instrument: 16" Newtonian-dob w. 96/99% coatings f/4.59   f.l. 1865
Magnifications: 98x,207x,binoviewer: 170x
Filters used: none
Object: M61
Constellation: Virgo
Object data: Face-on spiral galaxy
Size(s): 6x6 arc min.
Position: RA 12:22  DEC  +04:28
Magnitudes: 9.7
Personal "rating" (at this aperture, and sky condition):  B
M61 is interesting. You can tell it's a face-on spiral in the scope.. 
darker skies however would have better brought out the spiral arms.
The spiral arms could just barely be made out with evidence of dark lanes
curling into the galaxy, mainly with averted vision. Not nearly as
pronounced as the spiral structure of M51 (in these conditions)
The galaxy was mid-sized, and pretty symetrically round (but irregular) 
A foreground star was noted on a NW arm. The nucleus was very small 
and surprisingly bright, just short of being stellar in apperance itself.
Again, the binoviewer did not detract from determining the structure,
despite light loss to either eye.
- Todd
Weather/Astronomy Home Page: http://www.weatherman.com
Administrator, NE Weather Watcher Mail List, wxobs-sne@shore.net
Originator of the NE.WEATHER newsgroup
Email: toddg@weatherman.com    Work Phone# (617)725-0777