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Observing Jupiter tonight

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    Star Forming

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  • Location: NorthWest Leeds
Hello everyone, I've been away for a while because weather bad, back now. :) Finally a clear Sky for West Yorkshire!

I had chance to observe Jupiter last night & tonight through Mum/Dad's open bedroom Window without the annoyance of the SynScan for now & annoying pole star setups, I just wanted to get down quick & dirty around 8:00p.m. pefect hits Due South West. There is lamp at the bottom of our garden which is in the passage way which passes round the back of our houses (light pollution)! I wish I could ask the council to switch it off but not sure whether family or resulting nearby neighbours would be happy about that when driving their cars round the back at night! If you could read my experience & then give me some tips as what to do to get better views, brighter views, more contrast, more detail & more colour with this scope & can you tell me whether I need a better 90' diagnal, better ep, better barlow lenses, better tripod & mount for manual observing & slewing which bring out all these things more than my standard ones.

How I faired? Performance issues/Instability!

I was able to move the telescope up & down freely okay manually no problems to get object in field of view. But not side to side left & right! a Nightmare! When you hold the diagnal mirror or EP to look through it the slightest movement from holding them or the telescope results in moving the telescope resulting in object dissapearing from the field of view. The scope moves too easily a few degrees left & right, then when I just get it into field of view & try to focus with the focuser wheels, that also moves object out of field of view, because the telescope has moved left or right also maybe because I have nudged it up & down in alt a bit aswell, you have to be rock stead I have come to realize it's actually impossible to be this steady without causing movement. I have a feeling it should be tougher to move telescope or the dovetail mount itself which is moving left to right easily with more tension so you can't knock it & move object out of field of view. The telescope shouldn't move like it does especailly when it's not supposed to moved left or right manually, should be stiffer if it runs on a stepper motor & is made for electronic control. I probably need a good manual slewing tripod to fix this scope to for manual viewings. It's just too tricky & feels unstable moving so easily!

This is bad especially when manual viewing, to keep tracking the object - Jupiter I have to moved the tripod I know this is the only way unless I purchase a decent manual tripod which keeps my scope steady & allows me to slew it without telescope moving left or right up or down easily! I took ages half the time trying to find the ojbect everytime I lost it! The losing the object wasn't due to the object moving constantly either as I kept correcting it & moving the telescope tripod legs so it pointed to the object again every few mins or so. Jupiter looked like a greyed pencil lead drawing, just not bright & grey gas swirling gases round ball their was no colour. I used the 20mm EP, then the 10mm EP. Then I used the x2 barlow with 20mm then 10mm. The picture looked the same except that eah was either farther away or closer & bigger. Jupiter looked big but there was no detail to be seen as it was just a grey looking ball & I could see swirling motions. Is there anyway I can see Jupiter bright, closeup & in detail with all the colour like when you see hubble. I know hubble is massive & in space & produces jupiter as you know it & see it. It's just not what I though. Maybe I don't have a telescope expensive enough to see jupiter likeI want to.

So is there anything I could do to improve the contrast, colour, brightness & detail so I can see the different colours on jupiter & make out the different gasses & red spot. I with mine I can't make out anything, it's all grey as I'ved said loads of times. Do I need a more powerful telescope refractor or more expensive better EP's? On Mon night I saw the moon very well through my front bedroom window when moon was in the east. It looked ver good with my EP's & certainly was bright as I expected it & their was detail considering I was viewing through a Window. Jupiter wasn't so exciting! Overall I have enjoyed getting to know how to work my telescope & put it together for manual use at best, incl familiarizing myself with how to tighten & untighten diagnal mirror, insert barlow & EP. I a dab hand now with that. Also I might of messed up the red dot a bit it now doesn't meet the ojbect in the viewfinder. It probably needs fine tuning again & setting up. This happened because the telescope wasn't steady & was moving side to side when I start focussing, the movement of focussing moves the telescope & moves the object out of the field of view so I started messing with red dot & now that's messed up a bit.


Edited by JamieH, 25 December 2010 - 05:00 AM.

Sky-Watcher Mercury 707
Aperture 70mm (2.75")
Focal Length 700mm
Mount Motorised & Computerised Alt-Azimuth
SD EP1 SUPER 20mm Wide Angle, Long Eye Relief
2x Barlow Lens 1.25"
Vivitar Sports Series Bino's 9x-27x50




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  • Location: Sechelt, B.C. Canada
Hey Jamie, even with my 8" SCT I don't see colour on Jupiter. But when the air is steady, I do easily see the North and South (when its there) Equatorial Belts, shadow transits and Jupiter's 4 Galilean Moons. There's two things you can do:
1. go to a darker observing site (take someone with you). It can be like doubling the size of your telescope, the improvement you get from just being at a darker site with no lights shining on you.
2. Get a larger scope - an 8" or 10" Dobsonian second hand is cheap and will give you great views of Jupiter. You still will not see colour.
I image Jupiter all the time and see the colour on my images so its easy to forget that visually it really is colourless. I've heard that large apertures under dark skies (who has that) will start to show colour. But keep looking, the view of Jupiter changes every night.
"I wondered why the frisbee kept getting bigger - then it hit me!"
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Hi Jamie, I'm in West Yorks too and have been doing my first observation tonight on Jupiter. It has been fantastic! Where abouts are you, I'm in Morley and a pal of mine has just told me about a place in Batley that has observation nights one Friday a month...dont know if you are aware of this.





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With my 8" SCT I do see colour, but the shades are muted (certainly the brown and red of NEB and GRS was (comparatively) striking this time round). Do not expect the colours to be as vibrant as in photographs. Viewing from a window is horrible for planets, due to thermal currents that sets up in the window opening. You cannot really come to good focus. Do not forget your dark-adapted eye is insensitive to colour, and only after watching Jupiter for a little longer (and without too much wobble). Also: do not magnify too much, as the cones in your retina need quite bright light to start working. 70x should be about optimal.

Try setting the scope up outside. You probably do not have wait for the scope to cool down (much).

Regarding wanting a bigger scope: that's called aperture fever, we all get that :).

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Observation summary: Messier: 110/110, Caldwell: 97/109, RASC Finest NGCs: 93/110, Herschel: 317/400, Brightest Planetaries: 60/100, Planets: Mercury to Neptune (inclusive), Minor planets: 2, Lunar: 55/100, Comets: 14, Supernovas: 9, Novas: 1, Quasars: 3



    White Dwarf

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With my 4 inch mak I see color (brown, ochre and salmon for the GRS). Ive also seen blue shades, but that was probably atmospheric refraction.

I find that you do not need a dark observing site for planets. As has been pointed out, dark adaptation reduces color sensitivity, and also reduces tolerance for the brightness of the planet. My first experiences of Jupiter (observed with scrupulous dark adaptation) was of an unpleasantly bright featureless white disk with a dark line through it. I've seen a lot more without dark adaptation.

Some of the detail you can see is marked by color (not brightness) difference - so if you are not seeing colors you will not see the detail.
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