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FlareStar

Questions after 2nd viewing... please help!

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I have a Celeston 130eq, and the first night I took it out, I couldn't see anything.  This should tell you how new I am to all this LOL.  I've reached the conclusion that it had more to do with focus than anything else. Last night, though, I was able to see some stars... it was amazing!  But I had no idea what specific stars I was really looking at.  I had it pointed in the general direction of Cassiopeia, then tried Orion and Neptune, and no such luck with those two.  I'm trying to understand and be able to accuratly calculate the declination and r.a. axis because I'm assuming that's how I point to an exact location.  Can someone please explain how that works?  I was looking at the star charts in a few astronomy magazines, specifically the r.a. axis and declination, but it seemed all wrong when I tried to set it up.  Also, how do I lock my telescope into place once I have my target set?  Last night was alot of fun, but I was just manually moving the telescope around in a general direction and really had no idea what I was looking at.  As I said before, I tried to find Neptune in my scope, but couldn't seem to even get close.  Thanks for any help you can give me. 

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any star's location in terms of RA and dec is fixed on the celestial sphere, rather like a particular position on Earth is fixed at a given long / lat. What will change is where that actually is in the sky overhead, because that will depend on the time (because of the celestial sphere's apparent movement).

For most simple mounts, the RA needs calibrating from a known star (which is like setting the time of your mount). So find a bright star, manually align to it and then set the RA setting circle to what it should be for that star. Now you have a reference to find other stars. Declination is normally factory set. The only other variable is to be polar aligned, otherwise the movement of the telescope won't follow the RA and dec celestial grid and you'll end up in the wrong location relative to where you calibrated from as soon as you move the scope.

Normally however, most things are found by learning the sky, most things can be found by - finding their nearest constellations, the nearest stars within the constellation then moving relative to that to the target.

Setting circles are fine, but on the lower end eq mounts they are not that reliable/accurate. I tried using them on my first EQ2 mount and basically abandoned it in favour of locating things in the sky manually. A pair of binoculars helps here, if you can locate the patch of sky in the binoculars then use the red dot or finder-scope on the telescope to locate the same patch of sky - then you just need to search around a little. Takes some practice but it's not too difficult when you get used to it.

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Hi from the UK.   One option is to visit or join a club.  I realise Texas is a large place, but maybe one of these http://www.astronomyclubs.com/state/Texas is not too far ?

If the US is anything like the UK, then almost all clubs will be willing to help, and many will have lady members to make you feel at home.

Regards, Ed.

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To use setting circles effectively you need two things: Firstly a very accurate polar alignment and secondly a mount with decent circles, which entry level mounts tend not to have.

Most of us (at least those of us who find things manually) use a technique called star hopping which can be very rewarding.

Sent from my GT-I9305 using Tapatalk

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As Neptune is so distant I would think it is quite possible that through a 130mm scope it could easily be mistaken for a star. I'm happy to be corrected if I am wrong but, having only seen Neptune through a 12" scope, I imagine it could very easily be overlooked with less aperture. 

Jupiter and Saturn (when visible) are much easier to locate and will be a much more satisfying sight.

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Thanks for all the suggestions, guys! Louis, you're right, the binoculars were very helpful to me tonight. And NGC, great idea to find an astronomy club near me.  I gotta tell you guys, I'm pretty much on cloud nine right now b/c I just saw Jupiter and it's moons!  I was so freaking excited when I found it!  I'm still excited LOL. :grin:  Thanks again for the help!

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any star's location in terms of RA and dec is fixed on the celestial sphere, rather like a particular position on Earth is fixed at a given long / lat. What will change is where that actually is in the sky overhead, because that will depend on the time (because of the celestial sphere's apparent movement).

For most simple mounts, the RA needs calibrating from a known star (which is like setting the time of your mount). So find a bright star, manually align to it and then set the RA setting circle to what it should be for that star. Now you have a reference to find other stars. Declination is normally factory set. The only other variable is to be polar aligned, otherwise the movement of the telescope won't follow the RA and dec celestial grid and you'll end up in the wrong location relative to where you calibrated from as soon as you move the scope.

Normally however, most things are found by learning the sky, most things can be found by - finding their nearest constellations, the nearest stars within the constellation then moving relative to that to the target.

Setting circles are fine, but on the lower end eq mounts they are not that reliable/accurate. I tried using them on my first EQ2 mount and basically abandoned it in favour of locating things in the sky manually. A pair of binoculars helps here, if you can locate the patch of sky in the binoculars then use the red dot or finder-scope on the telescope to locate the same patch of sky - then you just need to search around a little. Takes some practice but it's not too difficult when you get used to it.

Great response, Louis!

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FlareStar.........Hi, Its great you found Jupiter on your second night, its such a wonderfull site at present. Try to observe (without too much neck straining) targets that are more or less directly over head, this often gives better resolution to your targets as you are effectively looking through less atmosphere, I would say anything dipping below 45° then more atmosphere and climatic conditions  reduces the quality of the image on less than perfect seeing conditions. Have you  downloaded the freeware program Stellarium! Its a great program for learning where everything is. Google for help and setup, you'll soon be on your way to finding more targets. Don't expect to find 'Hubble' quality images from the 130eq, and as always, the bigger the aperture, and darker your viewing site/sky, the better the images. 

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Thanks for all the suggestions, guys! Louis, you're right, the binoculars were very helpful to me tonight. And NGC, great idea to find an astronomy club near me.  I gotta tell you guys, I'm pretty much on cloud nine right now b/c I just saw Jupiter and it's moons!  I was so freaking excited when I found it!  I'm still excited LOL. :grin:  Thanks again for the help!

Glad you got to view Jupiter, Flare. It's a beauty, isn't it!

Wait til you see Saturn. It'll blow you away. Still the most impressive thing I've ever seen through a telescope... And I've seen so many absolutely beautiful objects! Saturn got me started on this venture in the first place... I'm absolutely certain you'll be breathless when you see it!

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FlareStar.........Hi, Its great you found Jupiter on your second night, its such a wonderfull site at present. Try to observe (without too much neck straining) targets that are more or less directly over head, this often gives better resolution to your targets as you are effectively looking through less atmosphere, I would say anything dipping below 45° then more atmosphere and climatic conditions  reduces the quality of the image on less than perfect seeing conditions. Have you  downloaded the freeware program Stellarium! Its a great program for learning where everything is. Google for help and setup, you'll soon be on your way to finding more targets. Don't expect to find 'Hubble' quality images from the 130eq, and as always, the bigger the aperture, and darker your viewing site/sky, the better the images.

Love your avatar, Charic. Have for quite awhile!

Flare, don't underestimate what your 130 can show. I started with the same size reflector and was able to see SOOOO many awesome things. You're right though, Charic... Aperture does take things to the next level!

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Glad you found Jupiter, it's quite a sight isn't it! Did you see its bands? I only saw it myself for the first time recently. Saw the bands but no giant red spot, it's only visible at certain times - if you look online you'll find calendars for it. As for Saturn, can't wait to see that one myself, it should be visible in the 1st half of next year I believe.

Another great target that is easy to find at this time of year, have a look at M42, Orion's nebula in Orion, you'll be in for a treat!

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As Louis said, glad you found Jupiter as it's stunning right now if you have a clear sky. I'm hoping to trsome imaging again tonight.

Jupiter rotates fully on its axis in just under 10 hours, so you should be able to see the GRS (great red spot) roughly five hours in every ten (somebody correct me if I'm off here please!).

If you have an iPhone, there's a great little free app called Jupiter Guide which shows which moons are which at any given time and also shows the face of Jupiter as it appears at the time. It has a couple of typos in the names of the moons, but it works really well.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/jupiter-guide/id432767581

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Glad you found Jupiter, it's quite a sight isn't it! Did you see its bands? I only saw it myself for the first time recently. Saw the bands but no giant red spot, it's only visible at certain times - if you look online you'll find calendars for it. As for Saturn, can't wait to see that one myself, it should be visible in the 1st half of next year I believe.

Another great target that is easy to find at this time of year, have a look at M42, Orion's nebula in Orion, you'll be in for a treat!

Louis, I've been trying to find M42 for the last three days... Haven't spotted it yet in the scope.  I keep looking for Orion's belt, but I'm using the 10mm eyepiece, not the 20mm eyepiece (both come with the telescope) b/c I have such a hard time focusing on anything with the 20mm... I get such better results with the 10mm (just to be clear, I'm under the assumption the 20mm will allow me to see more in the scope, it's less magnification right?)  So I see a bright star, then start looking up or down to see if there's one (or two) below or above it, and no luck so far.  But, yes, M42, Jupiter and Venus (although I might be too late for that one), are the top three I was looking to see this week.  Unfortunately, Dallas is scheduled to get some rain/sleet over the next few days and weekend; so will probably have to wait a few days to observe again. 

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Another thing I was going to ask is if anyone uses Google sky maps or the Droid sky map... sometimes I find them unreliable, and I just wanted to get the general opinion on them.  Definitely downloading Stellarium though.

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You should be able to see M42 with the naked eye, so it shouldn't be a difficult target to locate.

Bear in mind that it won't have all the pretty colours of a long exposure astrophotograph, it will be a grey-green object to the naked eye.

This website has some great sketches which give you an idea of what you can expect to see (although if you've got light pollution, it may be a bit harder to find some of them!).

http://www.deepskywatch.com/astronomy-sketches.html

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Louis, I've been trying to find M42 for the last three days... Haven't spotted it yet in the scope.  I keep looking for Orion's belt, but I'm using the 10mm eyepiece, not the 20mm eyepiece (both come with the telescope) b/c I have such a hard time focusing on anything with the 20mm... I get such better results with the 10mm (just to be clear, I'm under the assumption the 20mm will allow me to see more in the scope, it's less magnification right?)  So I see a bright star, then start looking up or down to see if there's one (or two) below or above it, and no luck so far.  But, yes, M42, Jupiter and Venus (although I might be too late for that one), are the top three I was looking to see this week.  Unfortunately, Dallas is scheduled to get some rain/sleet over the next few days and weekend; so will probably have to wait a few days to observe again. 

.......That should be the case, The lower the Eyepiece focal length, the higher the magnification, also the narrower and darker the view, As you get higher in focal length ie 20mm the view should be wider (than the 10 your using) but you should see a larger area through the eyepiece,,but the objects themselves will be slightly smaller with less critical detail. Normally best to start searching with a long focal length, then change to a higher focal length once on target. Also using Apps on mobiles, can seriously affect your ability to see things because of the light they give out. Your eyes really need to be dark adjusted to see things at their best. More often than not, you`ll see things better by not looking directly at the object? You actually look slightly to one side, called averted view. Its all to do with rods and cones in the eyes?

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As Neptune is so distant I would think it is quite possible that through a 130mm scope it could easily be mistaken for a star.

Absolutely. Through my 130mm scope, it looked like a 'fat star', and not a nice disc like Jupiter or Saturn.

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M42 is an easy target - soon as you see this constellation it should be obvious where it is. Check it with binocs first so you are happy with where to point the scope - use a low power eyepiece to find it first before trying to magnify it. Most large objects are better viewed at lower magnifications:

http://www.mattastro.com/m42.html

If you think Jupiter was exciting then you're gonna freak out when you see Saturn - it really is the most beautiful sight in the night sky. :)

Edited by brantuk
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I love your enthusiasm! It does get you like that.

Why not download the freeware Stellarium. It'll help you see where everything is. You can also go forward and backward in time. I believe it also has a red mode to preserve your night vision when using it outside. I would also print off screen shots to take outside with me. I don't know if there's a print facility on the software. (You can also set it to view from other solar system bodies! Fun but rather pointless for your needs!)

http://www.stellarium.org/

Supplied eyepieces tend not to be very good. Ask on here for good, affordable EPs. You'll get a lot of replies! Have a look here too: http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/43171-eyepieces-the-very-least-you-need/

Good luck! Keep us informed of your progress.

Alexxx

Edited by Astrosurf
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Hi,

M42 is below the 3 stars of Orion's belt. Find those in the binoculars then slowly scan below until you see a fuzzy patch, maybe looking like a small cloud - that's it! If you get to the bottom two stars of Orion you've gone too far. Once you've located it, use your guiderscope or red-dot and point the telescope at that area as best you can. Now start with your lowest power eyepiece (highest mm) and you might just need to move it around a little bit until you spot it.

These things area always easier to see if a) you let your eyes get dark-adapted, so allowing 20mins or so would be ideal B) the telescope has had time to cool down a bit if you've just taken it outdoors and c) the skies are dark and clear.

Also, do have a look on Stellarium, you can familiarise yourself with the overall constellation and location of what you want to see so that when you head outside you pretty much know what to look for.

One other thing, in Stellarium you can configure it with your telescope and eyepieces, then you can get stellarium to show you what you will see in the eyepiece with your scope, that way you'll know what to expect and how big or small it will be.

Good luck with M42, it's actually quite big as DSO's go, but like anything it takes some practice to know what to look for and where to find it. Once you've seen it once, you'll be able to find it all day, or should I say night long.

Another good target will be M31. It will be overhead early evening at this time of year and then moving to the West as the evening progresses. Again use something like a 25mm eyepiece on the scope. Find it in the binoculars first though, it's like a bigger fuzzy cloud with a bright centre. It's really big but easy to miss, practice makes perfect :) I find locating M31 in the scope can be a challenge because it's so big and doesn't have a sharp distinguishing shape. This is where a magnifying guider like a 9x50mm can be really handy, it's really easy to find with one of those attached to the scope.

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Neptune is a very tricky target for a beginner. I've only managed to catch it once in 3 years of astronomy, and that was when it had a close conjunction with Venus. It was literally a blue star. Not saying it's impossible, but you'll need to be able to read start charts, and recognise patterns.

David

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I appreciate all the wonderful suggestions and advice!  I can't wait to get out there again... as soon as this irritating winter storm clears up...  :angry2:  I'd been going out every night since I got my telescope, and now I can't, and I miss it.  I'll keep you guys updated on what I find when I can view again. :smiley:

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Hey Flare, I've also tried using a Celestron 130EQ Astromaster belongs my friend in Local Astronomy Club, and the first object that I can easily observe is the Moon, and then try again to see Saturn.

You can used the slow motion cable (vertical and horizontal) to aiming your scope to the object smoothly.

I've Celestron Astromaster 90Eq

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Just to throw in my two cents! Decent eyepieces help as well. It did not take me long to upgrade the stock ones that came with my Orion. One thing to be aware of is Field of View. I learned this the first summer I had with my new telescope. you will see that your eyepiecs will have labeling on them like 66degrees, or 45, etc...  The wider your field of view, the more you can fit in your sights - so to speak. Jupiter may not appear as upclose BUT a wider field of view is a big help when spotting nebulas, star clusters, etc.... This can also assist  you when trying to find harder to spot items, when you get on what you want,  you can always narrow your field of view with another appropriate eyepiece.

Also some favorites of mine, just because, and the season is right - look for the pleaides and also try to split Mizar and Alcor. 

Clear skies!

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