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I recently got myself a dobsonian 10". I was wondering how I could use it to the most potential... Ive been hearing a lot about barlow 2x, I was wondering if this was something I should get to get much more magnification.

In general, where should I start? Im going to join a local astronomy club, and Ive been out exploring the skies.

Are there any attachments/accessories that anyone feels are a great investment?

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The first thing you need without a doubt is an idea of what to observe and how to find it. You can print paper finder charts from the free Stellarium software. Don't use a computer in the field, even with a red acetate over it, because they are too bright and you need your night adaptation. For a great paper atlas SkyMap2000 is unbeatable. I find Nortons and the Cambridge too small but some manage.

Then a guide book like Turn Left at Orion will get you started.

Don't get hung up on magnification and barlows. Astronomical telescopes are there to make faint things brighter, not just make small things larger. What would be the best optical accessory for a big Dob would be a decent 2 inch, low power eyepiece giving a very wide field of view. This obviously shows you more sky but it also makes finding things easier and gives you longer between nudges to track it.

A Telrad reflex sight is a great aid to finding things and beats a red dot finder because it has red circles which give you a reference for scale, which a dot doesn't.

Dot finders are a good second best, though.

An astrosoc is a great idea.

Olly

Olly's Favourites. - ollypenrice's Photos

Edited by ollypenrice
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I have a 10 inch dob and the best investment I have made is in improved eyepieces from the standard ones. They show a wider view and make the observing experience more satisfying..

They still however show the same objects so I agree with the above concentrate on getting to know the sky and view the objects in turn left at Orion or just work through the messier objects to get used to your scopes potential..

I would not go for a barlow personally. If you want a bit more power say up to about 250x then go for a 6mm lens perhaps a 58 deg FOV TMB style one for about £40...from astro buy and sell...

Mark

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The first thing you need without a doubt is an idea of what to observe and how to find it. You can print paper finder charts from the free Stellarium software. Don't use a computer in the field, even with a red acetate over it, because they are too bright and you need your night adaptation. For a great paper atlas SkyMap2000 is unbeatable. I find Nortons and the Cambridge too small but some manage.

Then a guide book like Turn Left at Orion will get you started.

Don't get hung up on magnification and barlows. Astronomical telescopes are there to make faint things brighter, not just make small things larger. What would be the best optical accessory for a big Dob would be a decent 2 inch, low power eyepiece giving a very wide field of view. This obviously shows you more sky but it also makes finding things easier and gives you longer between nudges to track it.

A Telrad reflex sight is a great aid to finding things and beats a red dot finder because it has red circles which give you a reference for scale, which a dot doesn't.

Dot finders are a good second best, though.

An astrosoc is a great idea.

Olly

Olly's Favourites. - ollypenrice's Photos

+1 for Olly's comments and the cheaper book option would be Sky&Telescope's pocket atlas for about £10.

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Sky&Telescope's pocket atlas gets a +1 from me. It is small, but for me the amount of detail in it is just right.

In addition to TLAO, i also recommend "The illustrated guide to Astronomical Wonders" - great book with loads of sound advice.

Illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders: From Novice to Master Observer DIY Science: Amazon.co.uk: Robert Bruce Thompson, Barbara Fritchman Thompson: Books

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I think Olly,s pretty much covered it, sky atlas 2000, decent wide field eyepiece and a Telrad you cannot go wrong with that combo.

Only thing I'd add is a seat. You cannot beat a bit of comfort. With my 10" Dob I find I can sit in comfort all night using an adjustable drum throne. The eyepiece height never becomes even slightly awkward with one of these.

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1 Get as far from city lights as possible

2 Rig up a fan to cool the mirror to atmospheric temperature quickly

3 Practise starhopping to find the exact position of the desired object. Learn how to relate the map view to the actual view by learning to judge what magnitude a star is in the eyepice view, the size of the field of view of each of your eyepieces (especially the low & medium powers) and noticing simple patterns of stars such as triangles.

4 Use a laptop computer for easy access to astro-software in-the-field. I don't find atlases very useful, software shows far more faint stars that help you find the exact position of Deep Sky Objects - useful when the DSO is very faint.

5 Have at least 3 good high-contrast eyepieces ie low, medium and high magnification. Very high mags ie above about 250 are really only useful for very close double stars (and mars in my experience).

6 Learn to recognize all the constellations - essential for a manual scope.

Edited by perrin6
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Top advice from Olly. Definitely focus on things related to learning the sky and learning the scope. Don't start off by throwing more money at the optics until you've spent more time with it. The absolute sure-fire way to get more out any scope is to go on a trip to dark skies. You will see so much more. The golden rule is that dark skies are worth more than aperture.

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You'll need a red light torch to look at the atlas too.

If you've got an old torch or head torch you can sacrifice to astronomy, paint red nail varnish on and that will work :hello2:

A few months ago Tesco were selling a clip on book light for under £2 - that worked for me :) In fact the nail varnish cost more than the torch!

Edited by pajr777
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Thanks guys, all your advice means a lot.

I definitely plan on investing more time into actually learning the skies. I decided to invest in this telescope because I've always been so passionate about astronomy, and so learning is my first priority.

Great advice on getting a seat, last time I took it out my back was gone after a couple hours. Any advice on where i can get a relatively cheap chair? I was looking for one earlier and I saw one for like 100+ on telescopes.com, which is 1/5 the price of my telescope itself!

As for accessories, let me list what I already have:

Cooling fan, laser collimator, a zhumell super view 30mm fully multi coated, and a zhumell plossl 9mm fully multi coated. I also have a right angle viewfinder that has a crosshair. All of these came with my telescope.

As for atlas's and maps, I will be purchasing those shortly.

One last question regarding transportation - what precautions should I take? Im obviously extremely careful. I make sure to collimate when I get to my viewing location just in case something got tweaked during transportation. Do you know if there is something like a large bag or case that I would be able to keep my telescope in while transporting?

Thank you for all the advice btw

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Telescopes are fairly tough (although once I did chip a mirror on the underside when I hit a speed bump too fast). I wouldn't worry too much about a bag. Just make sure that it's secured so that it doesn't roll around and so that stuff can't fall into the tube and hit a mirror.

Buy a Cheshire/sight-tube combo tool. I know you already have a laser, but the sight-tube will help you to round the secondary, which is something you can't do with a laser.

For a chair, I have found that these work well: http://img.alibaba.com/photo/11207912/Plastic_Chair_With_Arm.jpg You have three potential seating positions: On the chair back, on the arm, on the seat. I found it worked well for different elevations with a 12" scope. The only problem is that they're bulky when you try to transport in a car. I have had some success with this sort of camping chair: http://www.ndparks.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/folding-camping-chair2.jpg but generally speaking, the seat height is too low for a 10" (I'm 5'9''). I've since invested in one of these http://www.astro-observer.com/basic/img/chairs/stardust_chair.jpg (note it's the one with the rails) and they're really excellent.

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Alternatively you could invest in one of these http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leifheit-Ironing-Stool-in-Silver/dp/B003LQP7J4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1336026672&sr=8-2 - fairly cheap @ £26 and Ideal for observing at the side of a dob though they do lean slightly forwrad which is fine for observing and will save your back but you wouldn't want to be sat reading a book on one for hours on end

Edited by stevetynant
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Alternatively you could invest in one of these http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leifheit-Ironing-Stool-in-Silver/dp/B003LQP7J4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1336026672&sr=8-2 - fairly cheap @ £26 and Ideal for observing at the side of a dob though they do lean slightly forwrad which is fine for observing and will save your back but you wouldn't want to be sat reading a book on one for hours on end

The white version is usually cheaper.

Perry

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Alternatively you could invest in one of these http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leifheit-Ironing-Stool-in-Silver/dp/B003LQP7J4/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1336026672&sr=8-2 - fairly cheap @ £26 and Ideal for observing at the side of a dob though they do lean slightly forwrad which is fine for observing and will save your back but you wouldn't want to be sat reading a book on one for hours on end

I have that chair and it works well for me in combination with my 12" dob.

Dave

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