Jump to content

Stargazers Lounge Uses Cookies

Like most websites, SGL uses cookies in order to deliver a secure, personalised service, to provide social media functions and to analyse our traffic. Continued use of SGL indicates your acceptance of our cookie policy.

stargazine_ep28_banner.thumb.jpg.b94278254f44dd38f3f7ee896fe45525.jpg

Sharpe

First time out with first scope - Observations and help with what I could and could not see

Recommended Posts

Hey guys, sorry about the pun in the title!

I just wanted to post about my first observations and to see if what I could see (or more importantly, what I could not see) stacked up and to see what (if any) imporvments can be made.

Equipment: Nexstar SLT 102 (4") short (660mm) frac with standard Celestron 9mm & 25mm EP's with a standard x2 barlow.

Viewing Conditions: LP not brill, I live in the countryside between Reading, Newbry and Didcot about 30 miles from London - so not a dark site by any means but still, better than many a back garden I would think. I have been told that the viewing round here (LP wise) is about is about half as good again as a similar location on the outer edge of the greater London area. While I woold say the weather conditions were rather good, but my asto panel app seems to disagree, indicating that it was very humid, with middle to poor viewing and tansparency, even though the sky was clear.

What I did see: I have to say I was pleasently suprised by how good Jupiter was in the 9mm with barlow - especially once it was higher in the sky. Viewing with the 9mm and barlow showed two distinct brown (to me as i am a little colour blind) bands with three bright bands above, below and in the middle of the brown bands. I could also clearly make out at least 3 moons and at least 4 moons with the 25mm EP in. All things told I think that was rather good for such a small and reasonably priced scope!

What I did not see: DSO's. Dont get me wrong, I did try. I tried for M31 when it was as high in the sky as my telescope allowed (using only the 25mm EP) I got nothing. I tried for M81/82 with the 25mm at about medium altitude, nothing. M1 with a 25mm EP, nothing. I think (I stress this) that I may have got M45 but I saw none of the blue haze you see in the pics. Odly, M45 seemed better with the 9mm than the 25mm which leads me to believe that my alignment was not exactly perfect.

So how does this stack up to what other people can see (either with a similar telescope or with better one)? Can anyone suggest if the condictions were or were not good in the UK and if that influenced what I could see? Are the DSO's only to be 'seen' via astro imaging? I have seen very good photos of certain DSO's taken with my exacat telesope and mount so I know its at least possible. But is it to much to expect to be able to see them with this scope?

Thanks in advance for your comments :_

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 102mm refractor and I've seen lots of deep sky objects with it including some rather faint ones. Visually they don't look anything like the photos you can get with the same size scope though - much, much fainter and subtle.

If there is any moonlight or light pollution in the sky many deep sky objects can be very hard to spot with a small scope. Even the bright ones like the Orion Nebula (M42) and the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) are pale shadows of their appearance under dark skies.

The nebulosity around some of the stars in M45 (The Pleiades) is very subtle and I can only detect it with a 10" scope from my back garden.

M1 (the famous Crab Nebula) can also be very elusive in a 4 inch scope. It's no more than a oval-ish smudge of faint light, at best.

The galaxies M81 and M82 should look better. They are the best galaxies with a small scope in my opinion and should both show in the same field of view with a 25mm or longer focal length eyepiece. Again, do not expect anything like the photos you see - it's just not like that when you view them with your eye.

Some nebulae (not galaxies or clusters though) are made a little easier to see by using a filter such as a UHC filter.

Really dark skies are the real answer to seeing deep sky objects though, that and a realistic expectation of what a small scope will actually show !

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Nexstar 130SLT and whilst my scope is a little big than yours (I use the same eyepieces as you btw), I do sometimes struggle with DSOs. I think that this does have a lot to do with light pollution. I live out in the sticks in west yorks and in fact, there is an observatory not far from my house, but because I live in the valley, on a main road, there are street lights everywhere!

Not so long ago, the bulbs went in a few of them and the difference between what I could see then and what I can see on a normal night was (forgive the pun) astronomical! I really do need to get out onto the hills (more like moors round here) but my car is off the road at the moment so it's not easy to transport my telescope a couple of miles up a hill!

Have you tried looking at the Orion Nebula? I only ask because whilst it looks nothing like the photographs I've seen, it is very distinct, even with the amount of light pollution around tonight.

I think (I stress this) that I may have got M45 but I saw none of the blue haze you see in the pics.

I think I saw M33 the other night, but I can't be sure. I know I was looking in the right direction, and even had my scope slew to it afterwards just to be sure, but all I saw was a very faint blue star!

Rae

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

M45 wont show the haze in your scope.

M42 should be your next target. Their is nothing quite like it in the sky. It is incredibly close to us and you will see a LOT of detail with your scope. It is perfect this time of year too, just find orion, look for his belt, below the belt is a fuzzy patch of three stars, aim at the middle one =M42 Orion Nebula :)

You want to stop yourself looking for the light, so to speak. The detail, the best bits, are the dark bits. Look at dark parts to really see the nebula. the light is from stars behind it.

This is good advise for all DSO's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another piece of advice is to keep looking at the DSO. More and more detail comes out the more you look. Also try and look at it from the side of your eye, so not directly at it, but slightly to the left or right - there is a greater density of the rod cells away from the centre (which has more cones, good for seeing colour). The rod cells are responsible for night vision, so you see more in the night by the rods. Not looking directly at the DSO means you actually get more detail!

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good tip Mr Ploppy!! I will be trying this... I have used this technique for viewing objects with the naked eye (namely the Pleiades), but it never occurred to me to try it when using my scope!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Sharpe, I'm in Southend Essex. My back garden is very light polluted. But as long as I'm shielded from direct nearby lights, a lot can be seen, even using my 70mm refractor. This little scope gets used the most because it's so fast and easy to set up.

From your description of Jupiter, you are doing well. You should also be able to see the shadows of Jupiter's moons as they transit, a fascinating sight.

M1 is tough in a modest scope with light pollution. M31 should be easy, if you are looking in the right place of course.

Have you tried double stars ? They show well even through strong light pollution.

Good luck at your next session, Ed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a relative newbie to astronomy, I can confirm that the good long look technique does work. Get yourself comfortable and stare at either the Orion Nebula or Andromeda for as long as you can and the detail starts to creep in. Looking for as long as ten minutes can make a massive difference, especially if the most recent object you have been looking at is a bright planet.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sharpe,

It sounds like you're probably in quite a good area for light pollution, relative to the towns around you.

It should certainly be possible to see some DSO's, with your equipment and location.

I don't find full colour images of DSO's very useful as most of what I'm seeing appears black and white, and much smaller and fuzzier than the images. You may find it helps having a look for some sketches of the DSO's you are looking for instead.

Half of the problem I find when looking for new objects is working out if what I've seen is what I was looking for ;) a good reference book helps me here.

Best of luck with your next session

Tyr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think you will struggle to see any nebulosity in the Pleiades (M45) with your scope unless you are at a very dark site. Also M1 by all accounts is a challenge even for experienced hands.

But M31 (Andromeda galaxy) should be do-able. However do be aware that it is VERY wide - over 3 degrees which is over 6 full moon-widths - and therefore relatively faint apart from the core. It is visible naked eye from fairly dark skies though so with your scope you should be in with a good shout. As people have said, take your time and if you can't see it have a slow mooch around the area through your widest eyepiece and you may find you see it out of the corner of your eye as you scan past.

Once you've found it you'll find it easier next time. Then, have a look at a chart or app and go looking for the neighbour/satellite galaxies M32 and M110 :) Sound far-fetched? Once you get started there'll be no stopping you :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the main problem i have with seeing DSOs with my scope is LP creeping in between my eyeball and the eye piece!

I tend to cup my hands around the ep and my eye to shield everything around me out - eg street lights from 50m away, neighbours lights in the kitchen etc The difference in view is huge by doing that. I;m now on the look out for some big rubber eye cups (like on sniper scopes) to fix to my EPs so i dont have to use my hands. Either that or i'm going to throw a sheet over me and the scope when viewing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

the main problem i have with seeing DSOs with my scope is LP creeping in between my eyeball and the eye piece!

I tend to cup my hands around the ep and my eye to shield everything around me out - eg street lights from 50m away, neighbours lights in the kitchen etc The difference in view is huge by doing that. I;m now on the look out for some big rubber eye cups (like on sniper scopes) to fix to my EPs so i dont have to use my hands. Either that or i'm going to throw a sheet over me and the scope when viewing.

I have this exact problem and overcome it by draping a dark towel over my head and eyepiece. This makes a huge difference, don't know what the neighbours think if they see me, who cares?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most obvious points have already been covered here but I would reiterate that start with a look at M42 / M43 in Orion. For a fuzzy, it is fairly bright and should be obvious.

M31 in Andromeda is reasonably easy to see but you are likely to nothing more than the core. The spirals are very diffuse and will need very dark skies and a slightly bigger scope.

Unfortunately many DSOs (particularly galaxies and nebulae) are diffuse and take a bit of practice seeing. A good tip is to nudge the scope position or dart your eyes around the field of view. Averted vision will bring out more, as will additional time at the eyepiece.

Try M15 the globular cluster in Pegasus, M57 the Ring nebula and the M81 / M82 pair of galaxies in Ursa Major to get an idea of what DSOs with higher surface brightness are like.

There are many open clusters which can be viewed at this time of year too. M52 in Casseopeia is nice and M36 / M37 / M38 (all in Auriga) are good to compare to eachother.

Clear skies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have this exact problem and overcome it by draping a dark towel over my head and eyepiece. This makes a huge difference, don't know what the neighbours think if they see me, who cares?

I do this, but my problem is that I tend to fog the lens / glasses up very easily. I think I need to have a thick blanket, and a small electric fan that I can fit to my eyebrows or something to keep cool air over the lens!

I'm now going to google "eyebrow fans", and see what comes up... :p

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do this, but my problem is that I tend to fog the lens / glasses up very easily. I think I need to have a thick blanket, and a small electric fan that I can fit to my eyebrows or something to keep cool air over the lens!

I'm now going to google "eyebrow fans", and see what comes up... :p

When you find one let me know :grin: :grin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you tried double stars ? They show well even through strong light pollution.

Yes. have you tried Castor in Gemini? It's easy to find and should split nicely, at about 60x mag, into 2 nice bright white stars. If you find Gemini, Castor is the smaller of the 2 brighter stars. :grin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have to agree with the comments regarding splitting double stars. I find this very rewarding and a good indicator everything is working well. Albireo in Cygnus is just really beautiful! There are guides purely devised for these doubles...It's a whole new observing pleasure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with all the comments Re: Orion Nebula - you won't see any colour, but with careful looking over several minutes you should be able to see the faint, ghostlike swirls of gas that are the 'bright' core of the nebula in astronomical photographs. Finding the 'trapezium' - the 4 new stars close together at the core of the nebula - is rewarding and your telescope should split the 4 stars out very easily.

As well as the pleiades, it's worth seeking out the Sword Handle double cluster in Perseus, I found that a great object to explore in a 4" telescope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for all the good advice fellas. Now if only i had some clear skies................

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.