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What should I expect from 150/1200 Newtonian Reflector?


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Hi there,

I'm new to astronomy and new to this forum. I've recently caught the astronomy bug (after many years of being interested, but too lazy to get out there and give it a go).... to think how much observation time I've wasted there!? :)

Anyway, I have a Skywatcher Explorer Newtonian Reflector 150/1200 telescope with an EQ-3-2 mount. I live in the Southend on Sea area (so not a particularly dark spot) and I've been trying to get to grips with my kit over the last few months. I have also recently fitted RA and DEC motors to the mount, which has made a world of difference.

As anyone would be, I was very excited by my first views of Jupiter and particularly of Saturn, and while I don't think I'll ever get bored with these sights, I have to say that I am beginning to become a little disappointed at the lack of detail I'm able to see using my equipment. Naturally Saturn is the object of my attentions at the moment and after several attempts on different evenings I've only been able to view it as a crisp white disc with its rings clear and crisp, but no detail / cassini division.

I'm using a x2 Barlow lens as well as a 10mm eyepiece. Using this 10mm eyepiece often becomes too difficult and I end up returning to the 25mm eyepiece which, while easier on the eye, does not offer the level of magnification I think I need to pick up the detail I'm looking for.

My question really is: with the equipment that I have should I expect to be able to see such detail as the cassini division, planetary atmosphere detail etc..? Or would the reason for not being able to simply be down to 'bad seeing' / light pollution etc..?

My first thought was the latter, but after five or six attempts with my telescope on different nights, I'm beginning to wonder if my equipment is up to the task.

Any advice from you experts out there - particularly from anyone who has similar equipment - would be very much appreciated. I'm hoping to move onto imaging (albeit at a very basic level - I realise I'm limited with my current kit). I've already tried with Philips PCVC 740K webcam, adapter, Registax etc, but naturally the results are rather disappointing (due I would imagine to the lack of detail I've discussed above), so I'd like to fully get to grips with simply using my telescope for observations first...

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Hi champy, i have exactly the same scope as you and with a lot of advice from this forum i have more success than yourself by the sound of it. There are a few things that will help you get better views, as follows. Let your eyes get dark adapted, the darker the site the more you will see, correct collimation makes a big difference. Also this is not the best time of year for viewing, typically the autumn and winter nights are, especially for deep sky objects. I just managed to see the andromeda galaxy before it sank too low although i will see it better now that i have learnt to use and view properly. M13, the great cluster in hercules is good at the moment. From a dark site you should be able to make out seperate stars and the globular shape. I can just make out m13 with my 8x21 bino's,it's always handy to have a quick scout around so you know where to aim. Better quality ep's will give you better views also but i haven't bought any extres yet. Have you thought about getting some baader astro solar film so you can check out the sun? Hope this helps.

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Hello Champy!

You have a superb instrument for starting out! I teach astronomy to hundreds every year, and we start everyone out with a 150mm f/8 scope just like you have. We do go on to other instruments, but this scope is the workhorse of our program, and we have over a dozen in service on three campuses.

You can join my astronomy class by clicking <HERE>. Loads of activities with simple instructions that will help you to learn some basic observing skills, and have fun with your scope. They are all written for 15-18 year olds in school, so everything should be clear and easy for you. I've also bumped the thread up in the beginners section to make it easier to find! :)

Cheers,

Dan

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If the ep's and the barlow are the ones that came with the scope then they could be letting your scope down, the bundled stuff is usually a bit poor. I particularly disliked the barlow that came with my 200p. Collimation is another thing that might be stopping you get the best of of it.

The scope and mount themselves are decent kit, highly regarded. Stick at it and you will be rewarded.

Regards

Barry

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The scope is a reasonable size and being 1200 is f/8 which is fairly nice for all round use.

No idea how the scope arrived but at some time it will require collimating. Sometimes they arrive well collimated, sometimes the travel and assembly cause it to need doing asap. Visit astro-baby.com for a guide.

The 10mm eyepiece supplied is generally not great and the barlow supplied is also generally not great. Combined they really can be poor.

The advantage of f/8 is that you do not need to consider premium eyepieces. If you do go for any additional eyepieces try 8, 10, 12 and the 25mm you have. Possibly planetary eyepieces, they are usually decent and you can get them at about £35-40 each (Sky's the Limit also TS in Germany). Equally the GSO plossl's are reckoned to be decent.

The scope should be good on clusters and will pick out a fair number of galaxies. Be aware that all galaxies will be faint and fuzzy grey. Even in a 14 inch you don't see much structure, so be realistic.

Go hunt out a club and pay them a visit and see wah tyou think of them. A club is a good source of information. There are a few in Essex - does depend on having transport.

Get a book that you understand and gives you information that you can follow. I would suggest one with a constellation guide that shows the DSO's and objects in each constellation. Then work through a constellation.

HAve you set up the finder ?

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Hi Dan,

Thanks ever so much for your reply. Thank you too for your invitation to join your class - I thought this forum was already a great resource - looks like your classes make it even more invaluable for the beginner :p. It's great to hear an expert recommending this telescope.... Gives me faith that it's me and not the equipment. Persistence and patience is what's required then by the sounds of it... Mind you, I'm sure your Californian skies don't require quite as much patience as the skies in my part of the UK :)....

Hi Adamski,

Thank you very much too for your comments - it's good to hear someone else giving this scope the thumbs up. The deep sky objects you mention are on my long list of planned observations - for one reason or another though (mostly weather conditions) I've been obsessing over Saturn and I feel like I can't move on without seeing that cassini division. Out of interest, are you able to see such detail on Saturn on an average nights viewing?... Thanks also for the collimation advice - the scope has been sitting around for about two years before I really got going with it so I guess there is the possibility that it needs it?..

Thanks again for both your posts - I'll keep you updated on my progress..

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Thanks Barry,

Great advice. I feared that I would be inundated with replies about the scope being a little substandard, so I'm relieved that the fault lies with me and my impatience. You're right, the eyepieces were bundled and buying new eyepieces is something I had started to consider, so it's good to hear it from someone with experience :)... Collimation is beginning to sound like a good idea too...

Thanks again.

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Hi champy i have the same scope as yourself and i too hav the standard eyepieces that came with it...now in my opinion the 10mm is a bit pants lets be fair but the 25mm isnt too bad,iv seen saturn in exactly the same light that you have (bright white with no detail)....but i understand that a better quality eyepiece will bring out the best in the scope because the 150pl isnt at all a shabby tool.

Maybe you could join a local astro group and try out a few eyepieces there to get an idea (i still need to do this)

Chin up its not all bad........apart from the blooming weather lol!

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Thanks Capricorn,

Collimation seems to be the key here. I've not collimated it since it was bought for me about two years ago - and I've only really started to use it in earnest for the past two months. I think that will be my first course of action.

I'll also probably follow your advice (and Bazzaar's) regarding eyepieces (that's if I've not damaged the scope beyond repair during collimation :))....

Good advice too regarding astronomy clubs - something else I'd been considering... and yes I agree with you about being realistic about what can be seen through a telescope (I'm not expecting Hubble quality :p)

As for books - I have two very good ones actually. The problem is I need to stop being so impatient and read them carefully (I tend just to dip into the bits I want to find out about and try to ignore the rest...).

Is that the 'finder scope'?...(Sorry I really am a novice)... If so then yes.. Although I'm sure it's moved slightly since I did....

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Hi Andy,

Thanks a lot for your reply. Good suggestion regarding trying out eyepieces at an astronomy club. I'll keep you posted if I do manage to try out other eyepieces - let me know if you do likewise. It does sound like you're right about the 150pl not being a shabby tool.. by all accounts it's a very good scope to start out with.

I will indeed keep my chin up :)....despite, as you say, the weather... and jet aircraft contrails!?! - crickey there are a lot of those...

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I am able to see faint but definite colour banding on saturn and hints of the cassini divide but i think thats where we both need to upgrade on higher mag ep's. You should be able to see at least 3 moons around saturn as well, when they're in the right position. Have you checked out the moon yet? I find something new to look at every time i see it. Good luck.

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Hurray!... What a fantastic night viewing Saturn!... Any concerns I had left regarding this scope have completely evaporated. Managed to see far more detail than I have on previous attempts.... Even the cassini division (just), shadow on the rings, some banding and 4 moons.

Even managed to take my first image using an old Philips PCVC 740K web cam I had knocking about... Not great compared to some that others on this forum have managed, but I'm really chuffed.

Thanks again everyone who gave me advice regarding this scope... Officially addicted to astronomy now :)

saturn.bmp

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Hi Dan,

Yes I can understand how one might get a little obsessed with imaging over regular observing... I'll limit myself I promise.:D

Thanks for your help so far. I'll be checking out your classes soon.

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