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Ceph and Cass

Newbie needs some help


Jim
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I'm pretty new to Astronomy, I've finally got the gear I need. I've been unable to do anything for a year and a half due to ill health. But now I'm better and want to get going again.

Last night I set up my Skywatcher MAK150PRO and Nexstar SLT mount, and get it aligned using the 3 star method and set about doing the "tour" feature of the night sky last night for the first time.

Now I haven't been into Astronomy for long, and probably should have done this over the winter/spring, (but couldn't) as now the Sky doesn't get that dark, especially where I live, near Watford in Herts.

I was pretty disappointed as I really couldn't see much, the only thing that looked good was the coat-hanger cluster and Vega...I am wondering if I will ever get good views from where I live? There is so much light pollution, houses and trees blocking the horizons....and most of the Messier Objects were too low on the horizon to view.

Sadly there aren't any Astronomy clubs in the area so I cant get any advice on where is good to view from as my garden is far from Ideal! I really want to see some Messier objects...Maybe I should get one of these light pollution filters?

Whilst I was ill I bought an Altair Astro F4 8" Newtonian and a HEQ5 with the intention to get into imaging when I was better, but now feel a bit disheartened and wonder if that purchase was a mistake.

I guess I'm writing this as I really need some encouragement and tips for summer viewing!

Cheers,

Jim.

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Difficult to answer. This game either grows on you or goes from you. There are plenty of summer targets that are achievable from town.

Start off with something easy

http://www.skymaps.com/

This book details targets season by season

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=turn+left+at+orion&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari

The evenings are drawing in and you'll have more time to explore. Just take it easy and try and get to know one constellation at a time as they become prominent in your sky.

You have wonderful gear which only a few years ago would be out of the reach of most observers.

Read what you can get hold o and get the S@N magazine delivered.

I'm sure they'll be folk you help you out in the area, just ask !

Nick.

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The trick, when observing from a city, is to choose carefully what you observe. I live in South West London and last night I was out in the park under a sky that was, well, blue. The night before, from my parent's garden in the New Forest I'd been able to begin to pick out the Milky Way in Cygnus by 11.15, but in the city that's never possible. There is a lot you can see though, so definitely don't give up on it.

  • Planets - these are easy. I can see Saturn's rings, Jupiter's cloud belts etc with no trouble from here.
  • The Moon - it doesn't matter how dark it gets, the moon is always easy to see.
  • Double stars - Last night I resolved Rasalgethi through my scope, a 4'' double, and I've managed the Double-Double (Epsilon Lyrae) from my front step with a street lamp right next to me. I was never really in to doubles, but I'm beginning to warm to them because of their ease under urban skies.
  • Compact DSOs - From darkest Pembrokeshire I managed to get the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101), Bode's Galaxy (M81) and the Whirpool (M51) with my little telescope. Here in London I wouldn't even bother except on the clearest night in the depths of winter when the planes coming in to Heathrow are flying over Windsor. Brighter, less spread out objects are much easier though and you'll be surprised by just how much you can see. M13 in Hercules, M10 and M12 in Ophiucus are all globular clusters I've seen from the park this week. I succeeded in seeing the Ring Nebula last week - easier because although faint, the light is less spread out. I was also looking at M29 in Cygnus, the so-called "Cooling Tower."

So if I were you and going out again tonight (Or any other night this week with the weather we're having) then I'd probaby have a peek at Saturn, then try some doubles (Alberio's a good one to start, Rasalgethi would be less of a challenge for you than it was for me), then move on to some brighter Deep Sky Objects. M13 would be an excellent choice because it's very high, it's easy to find and it's bright. Then move on to something slightly more challenging like M11 (Wild Duck Cluster), M10 and M12 in Ophiucus or even the Ring Nebula if you don't mind staying up until after midnight.

Good luck!

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great posts above. I live with a lot of light pollution near Manchester but the skies generally are suffering with light pollution of a kind we can do nothing about - the sun. in another month, the skies will be substantially better and you'll see lots and wonder why you were worrying.

there's lots to see in a light polluted area but it's a different kettle of fish somewhere dark - you have to relearn the sky there are so many stars! there your scopes will really come alive (although don't expect photographic images other than moon and maybe the major planets).

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I guess I'm writing this as I really need some encouragement and tips for summer viewing!

Cheers,

Jim.

Mid Summer may well be better used in planning and research. Build up a knowledge of targets for searching out from late Summer onwards. Stellarium, Turn Left at Orion and monthly magazines may well be good for this, as well as the forum of course.

Also use to time to investigate potential locations within a reasonable drive, which will provide a darker sky. Finally enquire on the social group section and look at Astro Events for anything near to your location. Solitary observing can be great, yet having some companions around is reassuring and a great way to share in the enthusiasm.

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First, don't panic! I've learnt (the hard way) that some nights are better than others; you may just have had a bad one. And it's the wrong time of year. Remember that! I'd suggest holding off making a decision until winter.

Light pollution is a pain, but it isn't entirely crippling; I'm surviving it. Check out this map to see if there is somewhere convenient with better conditions: http://www.avex-asso.org/dossiers/wordpress/?page_id=127 - and if there isn't, well, I live in a purple zone, under the flight path to Heathrow, and with a little persistence see most of the brighter Messier that come into my field of view. I might have to wait for better conditions than I would elsewhere, but you do get good nights! The one thing that is good is I've found somewhere that isn't directly illuminated by too many streetlights, even if I'm under the light umbrella of the town.

If you're unsure of locations, and there's no local club, ask around here. I did my first trip to a darker location (when it was dark - I'd been before under a full moon - doh!) last weekend, and it had been suggested by someone on here. It was fantastic - I recommend taking a drive to somewhere dark if you can, and you know you'll get a good sky!

Planets! That's a great bit of advice. Easily seen under light pollution. I'd avoid going after galaxies or nebulae unless it's really clear - they seem to usually be a bit dim - but clusters show fairly well through the light pollution.

I tried Light Pollution filters, but it didn't seem to help - but it seems that results may vary, depending on where you are.

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I went through this 'what on earth is happening' phase when I first used my setup, it does get easier, for instance I don't need to setup my finderscope in daylight anymore & I've more or less cracked the setting up of the EQ mount.

Helped by buying my scope on SGL & the previous owner giving me tips.

You are looking at objects that are a long way off in the dark & optically that is not an easy task.

I'm saving up for a Newt & HEq5/6 & you have already got them, just enjoy.

I find binoculars help with locating objects.

Clear skies to you, just get out there.

Edited by fondofchips
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I look at the bright side, no pun intended, even though I have yet to experience the darker skies, things will improve quite a bit later in the year I feel. I have seen the changes between May sky and what we have now that is already quite a useful experience. Before I got the scope I know what it is like being out in the garden and how the skies are that much darker during other parts of the year. My misses commented as much last night, after a bit of a garden barbeque and seeing it get dark sitting outside in the garden.

I can only imagine what it is going to be like for it to be properly dark looking through a scope at a dark site, but I expect it is going to blow me away, well not literally I hope :D I hope that I'll not get lost in the too many stars problem, but I feel I'll be okay, though I expect it may take getting used to a little.

I do know what dark skies are like from other experiences before I got into astro, and I know what proper darkness can be like, that is at my parents house in the far South West of Ireland, you literally can't see where you are walking at times when there is no moon, so the views should be amazing there and skies are just so clear ( when the clouds are not in the way, which is not that often )

Improving Observational skills also helps. I would say after 2 months or so whatever time it is since I started, I feel I already improved quite a bit seeing more detail in a lot of things.

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Wow wow wow.... Thanks so much guys. I really appreciate all the comments and was blown away by the encouragement!

Im so greatfull.

I'm still at work so this is just a cheeky reply before I get caught using the internet... to show my appreciation to everyone.

Tonight I will choose carefully what I view when I finally get home around 11pm and at least tonight I don't have to set up my red dot finder as did it last time... That was really hard... Found Vega by total fluke in eyepiece then adjusted in the dark those pesky screws and managed to sort it!

thanks gain for the encouragement, just what I needed. By the way all my gear was used, a great price, and I tried to choose carefully but maybe the mak is a mistake as its such a slow scope?would a refracter be more appropriate?

THanks again and cheers!

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Found Vega by total fluke in eyepiece then adjusted in the dark those pesky screws and managed to sort it

Actually, that's pretty much what I always do - use something like Vega, Sirius, Arcturus...

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