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Problems viewing planets with my new reflector telescope


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Hi my name is Dan and I'm new to astronomy. I have recently purchased a Skywatcher skyhawk 1145p synscan telescope and am having problems viewing planets. Please could someone help!

I have seen the moon clearly through the scope at x100 magnification, but as soon as I try and locate a planet all I see is a small bright dot. When I change the focus the dot gets larger but goes black in the centre and has (I think) three lines coming out of the centre. It looks to me like the inside of the telescope.

What am I doing wrong? How can I fix this?

Ps I have tried looking at the planet through x20 x 40 x50 and x 100 and still get the same effect. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks

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Well, the moon has many features that are good for aligning with greater precision: the poles, craters, bright features...

Completely agree with this. Find the moon in the scope and roughly centre it. Then move to the finder and put the centre of the moon on the cross hairs... With a low power eyepiece the Field of view

I'm new to this too, but have found aligning the finder scope with a distant tree at twilight, or tv mast lights as really easy

hi there , you adjust the focus on the planets till the object ( ie jupiter) appers really sharp . you will be able to see three or four moons , if you see the dark spot when focusing you have went far to far the wrong way .

which planet (s) were you trying to observe

the focuser is not a zoom ... i take it you know that

mars will look just like a smaal white dot in a small scope just now

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Hi, thanks for you reply.

I have observed Jupiter, Saturn and Venus before through a scope. So I'm not a complete bigger in terms of knowing what sort of size things should appear. The dot I'm getting is just a pinpoint of light (same as a star through normal vision) no matter how slow I focus it, it slowly gets bigger and the centre fills out as black with spokes coming out of it. Tonight I tried Venus.

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Then you have gone way out of focus if you're seeing the shadow of the secondary mirror and the spider. There's nothing that could be "wrong" with your telescope that would lead Jupiter to look like a point (like a star). It may look blurry for a variety of reasons but it can never look star-like. Even at low power, Jupiter should look recognisable. The moons and disk of Jupiter are visible in binoculars, after all. So if you're seeing stuff that looks like stars, I'm betting they are stars. You should check the alignment of your finder and main scope by looking at the moon (since that's an unambiguous object).

Edited by umadog
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Sounds to me like you are viewing a star rather than a planet..even at low magnifications you should be seeing some sort of disk with all the major planets...

You didn't say which planet it was you were trying to view ??

Edited by SteveA
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Hi Dan, have you made sure that your finder scope, if you have one, is aligned to the same focus point as your main scope, or your RDF has been adjusted in the same manner. with a scope of that aperture you should see the Planet Jupiter as a small bright disk with the moons in attendance, it does sound by your description that you are off target :D

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Sounds like you are viewing a star to me too. As stated check the finder scope. If you can see the moon in focus there's nothing wrong with the scope and a planet like Jupiter would be pretty obvious so its pointing to a star IMO.

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Thanks for all of your replies.

I was trying to view Venus.

That's the first thing I thought (I was viewing a star). When Looking at the moon I aligned the finder scope with viewing one. I'm 99.9% certain I was looking at Venus! Is there any other reason why this would happen?

With the telescope that I have got would I be able to see stars that aren't visible with the naked eye? That may have lead my to think I was looking at Venus. It was pretty solitary in the sky last night.

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I find that unless the scope is perfectly level and you've done your star-alignlment prefectly the synscan goto can be out by a fair amount. If you're relying on this it might be why you're "off-target". As others have said, get the planet in your finder scope, or Red Dot Finder, then use your 25m lens working up to a higher magnification.

Hope this helps.

Andrew

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Hello Robbo , sounds like a star to me as well , venus to me is a small bright circle - might even show phases like the moon , it should not have been solitary - Jupiter should have been close by, maybe try Jupiter tonight conditions permitting , you will be able to see lots of stars that aren't visible to the naked eye but most of them won't be that bright. Download Stellarium and it shows you in which direction to look at and what else is about.

Edited by scuffer
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This website is fantastic, didn't expect so many replies so soon!

I wasn't using the computer system on the scope as I want to align it usin the planets! So that I know what I'm viewing is correct.

I already have starwalk on my iPhone which has been very useful so far.

Yes, apart from Jupiter I could see no other 'stars' near Venus so I was convinced I was looking at the correct object. Looks like I may have been wrong! Lol. I will try again tonight by using the moon to align my finder scope and this time I will try Jupiter. I will try all the advice given to me, ie low magnification etc.. I report back later on.

In the meantime anymore advice would still be welcome.

Thanks

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Ok do not use the moon to align your finder scope , its too big to get accurate . You will be way off. Try to align during the day using a church or pylon over a mile away .

Also do not use the planets for alignment , they move too much for accurate use

If you focus on the moon ,it should be just about perfect focus for the planets ,you will only need a tiny tiny adjustment . Also spending time looking at the object ..letting your eyes adjust .. :D

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Well with jupiter and saturn you can recognize them by their moons rings or bands. venus is recognizable by just her phases. Theres not much too see in venus, perhaps you might have got a star. And I would like to know how you achieve 100x magnification. I have the same non motorised version, and I was thinking of various options to increase magnfication.

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One more thing. After you THINK you've got your scope aligned, point it at the North Star and check the alignment, starting from your lowest powered eyepiece and moving up to your highest.

Since Polaris doesn't move much with the turning of the Earth, and it's a pinpoint, it's the best way to make sure your system is truly aligned.

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@amit. I used the x50 10mm eyepiece augmented with a x2 Barlow lens. I think that gives x100. Would someone please clarify for me that is the case, as I got that from a website.

@hemihaggis. That's a great idea, will defo try at the weekend as I fear it will be too dark to try by the time I'm back from work. Hopefully I might succeed without doing it tonight. :D

@saleratus. How would I know that I have definately got Polaris in my eyepiece? It could just be the same problem I am having with the planets.

Thanks again ppl

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You don't even have to go for a cuppa. In your highest power EP you would see most other stars visibly moving, except for the ones that are right near Polaris. But the stars near Polaris are not nearly as bright as Polaris. Since you start out with a low power EP, you can look at the whole nearby field and make sure you've centered the brightest star.

Unless you're telescope has a really long focal ratio--and therefore an unusually narrow field of view--you should usually be able to get Polaris in the FOV of your scope by putting in your lowest powered EP and sighting carefully along the scope tube in several varied places. If you're unsure you got it, move the scope around in little circles to see what's nearby.

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Well that makes sense, it's obvious now you've said it! Thanks for the info on the companion star also. If clear I will try it tonight. Plan of action is:

Align my my finder scope with using the moon or a distant object on earth if possible.

Find Polaris and refine the alignment further. Using the advice above.

Then find Jupiter and cross fingers!

Cheers

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Good stuff. You'll be fine aligning the finder with the moon: I do it all the time. When you're confident with it, you'll find you can align a finder with any celestial object (planets, stars, etc). This time, however, you'll want to be certain it's right so the moon is useful for that. Just make sure the moon is central in both the finder and the main scope and you'll be ok.

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sorry to disagree umadog , !! aligning dead center on the moon with main scope and polar scope can be tricky for a newbie , you have a whole moon to aim at !!! better if you only have a tiny point to aim at ,top of church pylon ect , there is little room for error , :D

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