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How to move the clouds....

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Hi there - my two children bought me a telescope for Christmas. It's a Jessops Astronomical Telescope 1100-102 Reflector Telescope - Focal Length = 1100mm Objective = 102mm

I'd like to max what I can do with it so any tips welcome. How to move the clouds would be a good start :D


Peterborough, UK

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Some quick tips to squeeze the best out of your scope -

1) let the scope cool down, the general rule of thumb is to allow 5 minutes for each inch of aperture. Stick your scope outside for 30mins or so before you intend to view. It's perfectly fine to leave dust caps on etc during cooldown.

2) don't view over tarmac or over houses or cars, or anything that gives off heat. these things spend all day absorbing the suns heat (even on cold winter days), and give it off at night, creating thermal currents akin to the heat waves you see on tarmac in the blazing hot summer sun, they are just less obvious in the winter (until you magnify them through the scope.

3) view from the darkest place you can. Get away from the town/cities and head out into a rural area for the best experience. This makes a HUGE difference.

4) get dark adapted. It takes roughly 20 minutes of darkness for your eyes to adapt, and only a fraction of a second to destroy it. Your night vision is brought to you by a chemical called Rhodopsin, which builds up in your retina over time. It is incredibly sensitive to light, meaning it reacts well in low light, allowing you to see, but gets destroyed by brighter light. Even looking at your phone, or kitchen/lounge lights left on (if you're in the garden), or looking at bright objects like the moon/jupiter will prevent the buildup. So do yourself a favour, and at least just once, experience night vision at its best.

5) Spend time focusing. Sounds silly, but at higher mags, the "sweet spot" for focus gets smaller and smaller. Spend some time to make sure you got it just right.

6) Spend time at the eyepiece. I can't stress this enough. It takes time for your mind to build a detailed image of what you're looking at because it is either big and faint, or tiny and bright. My first few sessions on jupiter were basically a small disk, with 2 grey stripes on in. One night, i took a chair with me, and sat at the eyepiece for over an hour. After 20 minutes or so, a whole new world opened up to me. It wasn't a sudden thing, but i began to see small hints of swirls either side of the stripes. After 30minutes or so the swirls were definite, and i was seeing 4 stripes, and a heck of a lot of surface detail. Same with the orion nebula, though it wasn't quite so obvious - after a while i started to get hints of nebulosity through averted vision, unfortunately just as it was almost visible with direct vision i had to leave, but i have certainly learned the value of "learning to see".

That should get you started, after all is said and done though, you're at the mercy of the atmosphere. Some nights can look clear as a whistle and be absolutely terrible for astronomy. Just keep at it, and as long as you do the above, you can be sure "it must be the atmosphere". When you do have a night of good seeing, you'l certainly know about it. :D

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Hi, Andy, and welcome to the forum.

What is the tripod like? A lot of these scopes come with the complaint that the tripod is less than stable. If this is the case, a weight hung below it is said to stabilize the setup (thus making the image you are looking at 'shake' less). An old dumbbell weight is ideal.

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