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idratherbealive

Am I doing something wrong?

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Hi, 

I got my first telescope (heritage skywatcher 130p) for christmas in 2012. From 2012 - 2013 I used the scope pretty regularly, although not as often as I should have. However, I still feel that I'm really bad at using it or something as I still cant see that many things. I look at the moon through it all the time (using the 10mm and 25mm lenses that came with the scope) and really enjoy how powerful the telescope seems to be for that. Previously Ive managed to see a double star and even jupiter, making out (vaguely) the stripe. However, through just looking through the forum etc its clear that with this telescope and same lenses, that nebulae and certain galaxies can be recognised. Am I doing something wrong? Any tips?

Thanks, 

Fran

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Hi,

I don't think you are doing anything wrong, there will not be a huge amount of galaxies or nebula that will be very prominent through that scope, but certainly M42 in orion and our closest neighbouring galaxy, Andromeda, it may be you just need to fine tune the focus, as that is very important, or maybe just not quite getting the targets in the field of view.

Patience is the hardest bit of this hobby, next to having the clear skies and time to do it.

But I am sure the experts will be along soon

Regards

SS

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Hello Fran,

You have a capable scope but it needs managing.....

1. You have to observe outdoors - don't laugh some people observe through the lounge window.

2. The scope needs to cool down - set it out at least 30mins before you want to observe.

3. Make sure collimation is good - thare are loads of articles online or do sn SGL search.

4. Replace the eyepieces that came with the scope with BST's or Hyperions.

5. Expectations - even the Andromeda galaxy looks dim in my 8" scope

Apologies if you know all this already

Edited by dweller25
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Hi,

This website is full of great photos showing vivid colours of exotic objects, but to the eye they don't look very much like that. Most photos are processed to bring out the colours and the detail that I for one just can't see with the eye. The best suggestion I have is go for the easy bright objects. Clearly you have got the moon, try Jupiter and look for the moons, they should be easily visible in your scope.

Then try Saturn. For me Saturn is the most visibly stunning object, it just floats there in all it's glory.

Already mentioned is the Orion nebula and Andromeda, but I would also suggest M51, it is two galaxys together, one feeding of the other and you will see both in your scope. Finding these objects can be a real challenge but for something easy try the Pleiades, you should see 7 stars with the naked eye and lots more through your scope.

Remember that most DSO objects require you to be outside in the dark for at least 30 minutes for your eyes to become used to the dark, we imagers have it so easy, the camera is instantly there.

For inspiration try the Moore's Marathon this winter, it is 50 objects graded to tax you. If nothing else, it will give you something to aim for and will help you look for something different each night.

You might want to look for a local astro society, depending where in Northumberland you are there are several to choose from. Going to a society meeting will give you the opportunity to look through someone else's scope but also get up to speed on how to find and observe some of the unusual objects.

Hope this helps.

Robin

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Thanks everyone! Thats some awesome advice! Im not sure if my laser finder that came with the scope its completely accurate either! How could i fix this? Also, maybe a silly question, but i find it hard to use the sky guide and maps to find things, but now i know what to look for, is there a particular method which helps for beginners?

Fran

Thanks again everyone :)

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As above.

Collimation - to get the mirrors aligned correctly.

Decent eyepieces - the 25mm will be OK, but replace the 10mm SW as soon as possible (BST Starguider 8mm = 81x mag / 5mm = 130x mag) 

http://stores.ebay.co.uk/Skys-the-Limit-Astro-and-Optical/BST-Starguider-ED-/_i.html?_fsub=2568750014&_sid=53377064&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

Plus - the weather in Northumberland has been terrible for observing in the last 3-months.

Even with the slightest of cloud haze tonight, I could only use 110x magnification on the moon with the 8-inch dob.

It doesn't take much to spoil the viewing conditions.

I bought a laser collimator at full price from a UK Ebay seller - then saw the same product for £10 less

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Newest-Seben-Laser-Collimator-LK1-Perfect-Telescope-Alignment-1-25/281479322975?_trksid=p2047675.c100011.m1850&_trkparms=aid%3D222007%26algo%3DSIC.MBE%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D25400%26meid%3D3326da95fa0840599ee92878c5db40f3%26pid%3D100011%26prg%3D10670%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D10%26sd%3D161377222077#ht_3783wt_1400

There are some useful articles linked below:

Collimation - how to

http://www.astro-baby.com/collimation/astro%20babys%20collimation%20guide.htm

http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/how-to-align-your-newtonian-reflector-telescope/

Optical errors

http://www.umich.edu/~lowbrows/reflections/2007/dscobel.27.html

What can I expect to see

http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/196278-what-can-i-expect-to-see/

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Thanks everyone! Thats some awesome advice! Im not sure if my laser finder that came with the scope its completely accurate either! How could i fix this? Also, maybe a silly question, but i find it hard to use the sky guide and maps to find things, but now i know what to look for, is there a particular method which helps for beginners?

Fran

Thanks again everyone :)

Target the telescope at a feature on the moon (or a very bright star)

Then adjust the finder scope to hit the target.

Use stellarium to find stuff on the computer before going out at night.

It's a free download

Concentrate looking at one part of the sky at first.

And try to find one new object each night.

You will soon find your way around.

Edited by Reeny
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Learning the constellations is very helpful, there are lot of objects in them or around them. The star maps and programs can us help learn the constellations and then point out those great clusters, nebula and galaxies. Orion is a good one to learn, as it contains one of the jewels of the sky, easily seen in your scope.

Edited by jetstream
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I've got this great scope too Globs (m3, M13, M15) very bright and easy to spot. The Pleiades ( M45) beautiful at low power. Try Orion Nebula, it's easy to find and looks outstanding. Saturn if she's still around where you are.

Once you get to know what to look for the become easier. I'm sure Ive seen some that I havnt logged as I had no idea what they were at the time

Use Stellarium on your laptop or Sky Portal (sky Safari) on your iPad, they're boyh free.

To help in locating things, if you're not that good at star hopping (like me, although I blame it on light pollution), I've stuck an azimuth scale (just a ring marked off in degrees 0-360) around the base, and use an inclinometer on my phone for altitude and use one of the above to get the co-ordinates in alt/az. Just align the scope North. Use the above to slew to a known fixed target (like a star) and to correct the alignment of the scope to make it more accurate, then away you go. It really does work well.

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Personally I'd relegate a laser-finder to other uses. A simple red-dot type optical-finder is far more forgiving for the minor errors. And a RACI (right-angle correct-image) finder would be better still for setting-up with and general purposes in finding things and zeroing in on them with your main scope. Align such with a daytime object - such as a tower or church-steeple far away. You can then understand why a laser-finder isn't the best idea for initial use as a finder.

Clear Skies,

Dave

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Get the book Turn Left at Orion. Not only is it a great guide for star hopping, but it will also give you an idea of what you can see in a smaller scope. I've always found it very useful.

Without knowing anything about the sky where you live, dark skies are better for DSO hunting. A large amount of light pollution will wash out fainter DSOs. Also, the scope you have is a flex tube, which means that erroneous light (from street lights etc) can enter the tube. You may want to consider a shroud to help you block his out.

Also, because it is a flex tube, chances are that it will need collimating regularly as mentioned by others!

Good luck and clear skies!

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This is a good monthly free download of what's up and where it is,

http://www.skymaps.com

Stick to finding your way around the sky and stars. Then use these to find targets,

Nick.

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My most used eye peice in this telescope is my 16mm maxvision. You need a mid power one as high power great for moon planets but less for dso. My 16mm was miles better than the 10mm supplied on the moon.

Stellarium is free to install.

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I bought Turn Left at Orion that Rae above has recommended and it transformed my viewing sessions. Before I would try and find a few objects almost at random and simply scan through the skies not knowing what I was doing. Having a guide like this made it more structured, so for a particular area of sky, one night I would look for the DSOs mentioned in the book and then another night I would try and find all the double stars it lists in a constellation. This kept things really interesting and the amount I learnt doing this has been helpful in getting the best of my equipment and has made me appreciate and enjoy the hobby even more, as well as seeing some pretty amazing things, even if they are just fuzzy blobs!

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I'd try a homemade shroud with a black cloth, and a dew shield with a camp mat, that is also useful to block stray light to the secondary.

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Not much to add to this really. Lots of really good advice.

For me I'd say - stick to the lowest power you have (The eyepiece with the highest number - 25mm in your case). Deep Sky objects are big, you don't need magnification to see them (well obviously you need some, just not your highest power).

Try looking at Open Clusters and Globular Clusters. Remember that you eyes need time to dark adapted. So print out a few star maps and get yourself a red torch. Every time you look at a Ipad/Tablet/phone/laptop to see where your going next you ruin your night vision (this is actually VERY important).

If it were me with your scope, I'd be looking for the following.

     M31 - Andromeda (grey smudge)

     M13 - Globular Cluster in Hercules - a tight ball of about half a million stars, the edges should start to resolve in your scope.

     M57 - small but a nice "smoke" ring in Lyra, you can bump the power up on this one as it is small.

     Double Cluster in Perseus - this will blow you away - I love this cluster

     M36/M37 and M38 in Auriga - not as spectacular as the Double Cluster but they are all nice.

     M42 is visible around Midnight now. You seen this already.

The only other tip is to observe rather than look. Take your time, there is often a desire to move onto see as many targets as you can. But the more you observe the more you will see. Remembering the averted vision trick.

You're on a great road, with a good scope. You're going to have a ball.

Ant

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Hi idratherbealive

To align your finder properly use the moon, either during the day or night.

Stellarium really helped me, star maps can seem a bit confusing to begin with, but you do need to play with it and turn things like atmosphere, DSO and terrain off, so all you have is the stars and constellations viewable.

Learn the constellations you see in your back garden every night with the naked eye or binoculars first, trying to learn with a telescope with limited field of view is much harder.

Always use the 25mm eyepiece until you find something, then swap with the 10mm for more detail.

The easiest nebula to find IMO is Orion, under the belt the three apparent stars pointing down.

For Andromeda look for the star Mirach, this is an obvious red/orange colour, then go up to find M31 Galaxy. In reality this will be a small white smudge and probably best viewed with 25mm.

When you have found something like M31 practice finding it again every time you can, this will give you confidence to navigate.

Also spend an evening browsing a particular constellation like Auriga where there are clusters everywhere or at the top of Persius to find the double cluster and others.

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If you really want to see things clearly you could always get into Astrophotography lol ;) much better than the eye will ever see!

go on turn to the dark side :)

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Hi and welcome to SGL,

I am very much a novice at this stargazing and lark above is some sound advice. I found this website

Linky

a great help. You can download and/or print onto A4 the constellations you would like to look at for any given night. I downloaded and laminated the lot and put them in a folder so I could take them outside and not worry about dew damage. It gives you a rough idea where to look and I managed Andromeda Galaxy for the first time a few weeks ago and I saw Orion Nebula a couple of nights back. Gives you a real buzz :laugh: when you see these things for the first time.

I also bought Collins  "Stars and Planets" which I found very useful (but that's a personal preference).

If you live in a light polluted area then you are going to find your choice of objects somewhat reduced. I would then suggest finding a dark site, but I see that you are a young lady, and therefore may not wish to venture out into the dark, remote alone so perhaps joining with some fellow gazers or astro club  (there are a few up your way) would probably be a better solution.

Dark skies

Regards

Martin
 

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Well, lots of good advice! The only thing i want to add is that the pictures you see on SGL taken with a scope of your size have taken many hours of light... some maybe 16 hours or more of light, with the human eye its, well , difficult! In fact, for optical / human observation, aperture is king. I think you should work your way down the surface brightness of objects: as said from our fellow members moon - planets - m42 / orion etc.

I would also like to point out that there are some great apps for your smartphone that can help tremendously: you point the phone at the sky, and you get the appropriate map! [emoji41]

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hi fran, another pretty face (had to get that in) doesnt sound like your doing anything wrong at all. all the points mentioned are good, also you said you could just make out the bands on jupiter you could try on a different night and see no bands or lots of bands and the great red spot if it was visible that night. its all down to the seeing(moisture in the air and the jet stream) if you look at the stars after your eyes have got dark adapted and you see them twinkle then the conditions might not be good for viewing, or if there stable things will be good. also if you view when the moon is bright near full phase most dso,s will be washed out due to the lack of contrast. hope this helps

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I would like to suggest that if you are able to, then perhaps consider contacting one of the regional Astronomical Societies. They will have workshop dates and meets in which you will gain first hand advice and experience.  Just look up the websites for Northumberland, Newcastle or Sunderland. I am a member of Sunderland, they attract a lot of beginners and are excellent in their support in this capacity. Dark Sky meets take place at Derwent Reservoir near to Blanchland. 

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Hey Fran, I went to this blokes site

settingcircles.robertwillett.com:8000

You put in the radius of the base board and it will print it. I did mine on 4 sheets of A4. Stick these (just with blutac for the time being) around the base with 0/360 at the top parallel with board which hold the scope. You will need a pointer on the bottom board, just blutac a bent paper clip.

Use a compass on your phone and point 0/360 aligned with the pointer to North.

Pick a fixed star, get its alt/az co-ordinates from an app and slew the scope to the azimuth reading of the star. Use an inclinometer on your phone to tilt the scope to the correct altitude.

You will probably notice the star is not in the finder scope. The altitude should be near to exact but adjust if needed. The azimuth will probably be off, to remedy this move the WHOLE scope including baseboard to align with the star.

Your scope is now aligned! Pick another object you can't see with the naked eye, put in your low power eyepiece and the object will be in your field of view (or very close) when you slew to it using the alt/az co-ordinates, not the RA/dec ones.

Each time you move to another object realigning the scope makes it more accurate.

Once you get use to using them you can make a more permanent mod.

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