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Everything posted by jimhaleysscomet

  1. M36 is much easier than M38 due to its more compact / concentrated light. But M38's stars seem to resolve easier "out of the cloud". 10x50's will give you a bigger image with probably a smaller field of view. I find my 8x32's (8 degree FOV) much easier for star hopping and locating objects. 10x50s will make the dim ones a bit brighter and larger. Since you did most of your observing on a full moon night, try again when the moon is further away.
  2. I don't have your exact scope (I do have an 80mm scope among several others). I have however looked at the specs. Your scope should provide a decent introduction and is better than many of us had with which to begin. While I would not spend a ton of money upgrading, it would be worth getting a quality 2x barlow so you then have two magnifications (about 45x and 90x). You can always take the barlow with you when/if you decide to upgrade. Then stick with the larger and brighter open clusters (Perseus, Pleiades, Taurus Hyades, double cluster etc). With your lowest power eyepiece the andromeda galaxy (2.5million light years away) will be a relatively large fuzzy spot. You might also consider a wider field lower power eyepiece (about 32mm). A plossl (£30?)would be a great place to start unless you want to spend more for a wider field.... again you would take it with you when you upgrade and combined with a 2x barlow would give you an effective 16mm eyepiece. Planets (especially mars) will bring out all the weaknesses in your scope (and all scopes have weaknesses). Mars isn't much better even in much larger scopes. Right now, the moon is full so that is why you didn't see much more in the Orion nebula. Go back in a few days. For a great introduction to the night sky consider the book Nightwatch by Dickinson. Also visit skymaps.com for a free map and observing list download each month. Any of the "binocular" objects either lists will be great in your scope. One other upgrade is to make sure you can use/align your finder and build or buy a unit power finder for your scope. The following link has a link on it for the manual for your scope. PowerSeeker 80EQ Telescope (item #21048) / PowerSeeker Series Telescopes / Telescopes / Products / Celestron.com By the way, when I asked the same question 15 years ago as you have now (and I only had a 60mm scope) it was suggested I pick up a 32mm eyepiece and a 2x barlow and that is exactly what I did. Good eyepieces really help a scope perform at its best.
  3. Beware of comparing different apereture / make scopes (big dob vs small mak). Apereture wins big on performance (followed by focal length). The only drawback is cost and portability (weight can become an issue). A 10" scope of any type will almost always trounce a 4" scope of any type even on planets.
  4. Forgive me for a slight thread highjack.... How do you all put a map in the post and what program do you use to create the map?
  5. Typical apertures are 114mm (4.5"), 130mm (5.1"), 150mm (6"), and 200mm (8"). In your budget, don't underestimate the difference aperture makes! There is a big jump between a 4.5" and a 6" and similarly between a 6" and an 8". For visual use, you should get the largest aperture you can afford and are willing to move around. It is best to settle on an aperture first, and only then look at the different telescope types for cost and portability. Comparing an 8" reflector to a 4" refractor or 90mm CAT is not useful (the 8" almost always "wins" in performance, no matter what the scope design). Even better, hook up with a local astronomy club as was mentioned before. If you can't do that, then start with a real inexpensive scope (like the Skywatcher Heritage 130p, about £150) and plan on upgrading later after you learn the ropes. The 130P is relatively cheap but still relatively powerful and can teach you a lot before you lay out hundreds of ££££'s.
  6. A 200 mm aperture scope on an EQ mount is fairly heavy. You might want to at least consider some lighter options such as a dobsonian (an alt az non motorized scope). Either way, try to get to an astronomy club to see different telescope types in person, how they operate, and how much effort is required to set up and view through them. In your price range aperture is almost everything, focal length is important, and portability can be a major issue. A pair of binoculars gives the same multiple increase of aperture over the naked eye as scopes do over binoculars. So for 1/5th the price you get about half way to scope performance in an easier to use package (NOTE THIS IS A VERY ROUGH ESTIMATE, MANY FACTORS IN PLAY). You can see at least one of every type of deep sky object in binoculars (except for the rings around Saturn). Plus once you obtain a scope you will still want binoculars for low power wide field views. I even use my opera glasses for even lower power very wide fields of view. My current favorite binoculars are 8x32 but most folks suggest 10x50's.
  7. Steve, It is great fun to look at the planets in a small scope, but realize that planets amplify all the flaws in your scope (all scopes have flaws). Your scope is super wide field so go for the bigger targets like Orion's nebula, the double cluster, and the andromeda galaxy. The andromeda galaxy is just a dim smudge, but the knowledge that you are viewing an object 2.5 million light years away, billions of stars is what makes it interesting.
  8. I rather enjoy my 8x35's more. They are super easy to hold without shaking and have an 8 degree field. Great for starting out. I also have small portable telescopes and, while they can be great, are one step beyond the 8x35's. Personally I have never been able to hold 10x binoculars stable enough, even when leaning against a wall or using a monopod with them. The larger binoculars have been totally useless for me. They just don't work ergonomically when mounted on a tripod (my 15x80 binocular leg collapsed and they fell over breaking the focus). They are just too hard to get "under" when pointed vertically (especially when viewing over trees). I would much rather a small telescope than big binoculars but other folks see it differently. I must say, that my best view of the Andromeda galaxy was through handheld 15x70s at a dark sky site, but that is a very special condition. Go for a decent pair (under a $100) pair of 8x40's and then debate the small scope/ giant binocular purchase MUCH later.
  9. Step 1 is with an all sky map (for the current month). It can be downloaded free from skymaps.com or found in this (or the previous) months astronomy magazines. A bit more expensive is the book Nightwatch by Dickinson... but it is better as step 2. Then go out and jump from constellation making the tiny figures on the page "grow" to the sizes you see in the sky. Most folks start with Orion, the plough, Cassiopeia, or some easily seen constellation. Binoculars might be helpful on the smaller figures (and are a great assistance anyway). Step 3 is to look for some of the objects on the skymaps.com observing list or in Nightwatch. At some point you will need to learn how to align your EQ mount with the North pole.... Good luck!
  10. Step 1 is with an all sky map (for the current month). It can be downloaded free from skymaps.com or found in this (or the previous) months astronomy magazines. A bit more expensive is the book Nightwatch by Dickinson... but it is better as step 2. Then go out and jump from constellation making the tiny figures on the page "grow" to the sizes you see in the sky. Most folks start with Orion, the plough, Cassiopeia, or some easily seen constellation. Step 3 is to look for some of the objects on the skymaps.com observing list or in Nightwatch. At some point you will need to learn how to align your EQ mount with the North pole.... Good luck!
  11. Visit skymaps.com for a free monthly night sky map and observing lists. With your scope, focus on the "binocular" items and use your lowest power (highest focal length) eyepiece. The skymaps.com complements stellarium because it shows you a full sky view. The hardest part is getting the "tiny constellations" on the map to "grow" to match the huge constellations in the sky. There should be some good stuff in the list.
  12. You could always get the Skyliner 200P on a dob mount (easier to move inside and out) and then later add an EQ5 mount for photography. It would save you money at the start. Or start with the 200P on the EQ5 and build a dob base for it (again, to make it much lighter to get inside and out). The EQ5 is not an easy lift object. And another "OR" .... start with the Skyliner 200P dob, take short exposures with it to debug your photo equipment, and then add a very solidly mounted 80mm scope for long exposure photography. Again, this would cost no more in the long run than a EQ5 mounted 200P and would be MUCH easier to move around. For visual use.... aperture is everything and a 250P dob might be transportable enough for you (especially a flex tube model) . For long exposures the tracking mount becomes much more important.
  13. To get a complete answer to your dilemma, read the book.... The Urban Astronomer's Guide: A Walking Tour of the Cosmos for City Sky Watchers (Patrick Moore's Practical Astronomy Series) (Paperback) by Rod Mollise. Best to read it BEFORE you get a scope. But even if you don't, read the "sample pages" at amazon.co.uk.... they give you a good idea of what's what.
  14. Double cluster is a good one. Beyond that, visit skymaps.com and download a free monthly map and object list.
  15. Some folks love big binoculars but I have never been happy with them. It is just too hard to rigidly mount them and still get under them when looking vertical. I much prefer my 8x35's especially on a monopod. Even on a monopod, 10x50s are too wobbly for me. I hope you don't mind a suggestion in leu of the big binoculars.... In conjunction with cheap 8x35 or x 8x40s you might consider the Heritage 130P flex tube dob. It might be motorcycle transportable and will far outperform binoculars and will be much easier to use. An even smaller option is the Heritage 76 minidob, but its planet performance is lousy (like binoculars). The H76 requires a table, but the H130 can be viewed from a chair while set on the ground. Another option might be an 80mm refractor on a tripod or table top tripod. With a 45 degree image erect diagonal, they will be much easier to use than big binoculars.
  16. In the ideal world you would get to a local astronomy club to see some scopes in action. It really helps in the decision making. In the less than ideal world you need to figure out how much aperture you want to transport. Also figure out how much you want to spend. Also figure out if you want help locating objects (GOTO or PUSHTO). Knowing the limits to the above three will guide your choices. As for the two scopes you mentioned.... both are computerized so the larger aperture scope "wins". Aperture always wins. What you need to do is decide on an aperture and then compare the different scope types. The XT8i is also simpler (no motors, no big battery required) and therefore more reliable. However!!!! Some folks would prefer the 6" Nexstar for its tracking, and ALL the folks are "correct". So it all depends on what YOU want and the best way to figure that out is to see a few scopes in action.
  17. The 10 mm will give more magnification but the field of view will be smaller. As you magnify, the image will get slightly dimmer (not a problem on the moon), vibrations become worse, the eyepieces have less eye relief, and focus becomes more touchy. Stars in the outer 1/3 of the image are usually blurry in your eyepieces. The moon is about 1/2 degree across. Standard binoculars (about 7x50 or 10x50) give about a 5 degree field of view (3 fingers held up at arms length) The 25mm with the H76 gives about 12X magnification with about 3 degree field of view (similar to big binoculars). The 10mm gives about 30X magnfication with about 1.3 degree field of view. Especially if you want to view planets, you might consider adding a 3x barlow which triples the magnification of your two eyepiecs for 36X and 90x.
  18. And one more thing. With the Heritage 76mm, I find the finder "almost" useless unless the scope is mounted way up high (like on a tripod). However, it has such a wide field of view that you really don't need the finder. To find objects, I first find them in my 8x40 binoculars. Then I point the scope in the general direction of the object and then just sweep up from the horizon with my lowest power eyepiece (25mm for you I believe). You should then be able to locate the object because the H76 has such a much wider field of view than the typical scope (again, more like big binoculars than your typical telescope).
  19. One other thing.... If you want to see "image erect" images during the day, try the following. Point the scope at the object (image will appear upside down). Turn around 180 degrees (just you, not the scope) so you are facing toward the back of the scope's tube. Stay offset from the scope (scope now on your left) and now look through the eyepiece. Everything will appear rightside up (but will now be behind you).
  20. The moon will be fantastic in your scope (as with any scope). Next most folks go for the planets (Jupiter and Mars now), but they will bring out all the shortcomings in your scope. You may choose to focus instead on the brightest open clusters, galaxies, and nebula. There your scope will be SUPER! Visit skymaps.com for a free monthly map and observing list download. Your scope really performs more like a "big binocular" that is super easy to use stably mounted, so the "naked eye" and "binocular" objects should show well in your scope. Consider the book Nightwatch by Dickinson. It is a great introduction to the night sky and will help you get the most out of your scope.
  21. I have the same scope as you. I hope you don't mind if I back up and just make sure you have covered the basics. You only "need" the image erecting eyepiece if you really care to see "upright" terrestrial images. It won't help much in the sky as the field of view is fairly narrow. SnS 10mm erecting eyepiece for reflecting telescopes Do you know exactly where to point the scope (otherwise you won't see anything)? If not, a book like Nightwatch by Dickinson and/or Skymaps.com (free monthly map download and object list) are called for. Have you adjusted your finder to match the main optics? If not, do it during the day or evening on a distant terrestrial object (just don't point anywhere near the sun). It doesn't have to be 1/4 mile away, just use the farthest thing you can see. Using the scope during the day (avoid the sun) is a good way to get a jump on night sky viewing. The best option is to get some help from a person who has done this before. Try to find a local astronomy club, most will be happy to help. Once you have the above two taken care of, first focus in on the moon with your lowest power (highest focal length number) eyepiece. To find the moon, point the scope toward it. As you get closer and closer the view through the scope will get brighter and brighter. When it is at its brightest, then focus (make the bright spot smaller and smaller) till it is clear. If the object gets bigger, you are going the wrong way. Next use the finder to point toward other objects (from the maps). It is often easier if you first locate the brightest deep space objects (currently double cluster, andromeda galaxy, Pleiades, large open clusters, Orion Nebula) in binoculars first. Is this the kind of information for which you are looking or do you already know all of this?
  22. I keep my SW Heritage 130P flex tube assembled in its box in the back of my Ford SMax all the time. Maybe I should check the collimation, but I doubt it has moved. The 5" mirror just isn't that heavy to be a problem. One huge advantage of the Heritage 130 is that it is so well protected "inside the base" while you transport in one piece.
  23. I would get a quality 2x barlow (the 3x included with the scope is no loss) and perhaps a wide field piece (something between 28mm 68 degree - 32mm 50 degree) depending on how much your eyepiece format can take. That would help your scope a TON. I have many scopes and a 4.5" is no slouch. Apreture is great but a 4.5" can pull in a ton of great stuff. Consider the book Nightwatch by Dickinson and/or skymaps.com for a free monthly download. You will be amazed at what that scope is capable of. For most folks, visual use, £500 budget.... a big dob is the best choice. But your mileage will probably vary. Any chance you can visit with a local astronomy club and see the choices. Personally, I would be looking at the Skywatcher flex tube dobs. Flex tube really removes a lot of the bulk during transport and are still allows super easy set up (as in about 10 seconds).
  24. Visit skymaps.com for a free monthly night sky map download. All the constellations will be on it.
  25. As others have said, a little help from a knowledgeable friend can really accelerate your progress. You can do it alone, but just don't let it frustrate you too much. If you are getting close to giving up (like many folks do) then definitely get some assistance first. As for the finder. You can replace it with an empty PVC tube about the same diameter and it will be easier to use (no magnification). Do save the finder for later use. Keep working at it during the day and you will get smarter fast. Then go for the moon. When trying to get the moon into your lowest power eyepiece.... move the scope so the background gets brighter and brighter. When it is brightest, you should be on the moon. If you have focused on a distant object during the day or evening ( but stay away from the SUN!!!!) and left the eyepiece in, then the moon should be a tad easier to get into final focus. When you focus you will notice stars and the moon get smaller and smaller if you are going in the right direction (and larger if not). I find new folks find operating binoculars a bit easier. I usually locate brighter objects in binoculars first, before trying to locate them in my telescope. Any binoculars will work, but most folks recommend 10x50's. I prefer a cheap pair in case I drop them. I actually use 8x35's because they are lighter and show more of the sky. Visit skymaps.com for a free download of sky map and objects list for each month. Then you will know where to point that scope. You might consider a book called Nightwatch by Dickinson. It is a fabulous resource.
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