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Red Dwarfer

SkyWatcher 200P Dobsonian maximum magnification on planets

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I just ordered the SkyWatcher 200P Dobsonian from FLO this afternoon and after reading a lot of reviews on this model definitely believe I made the right choice ... Does anyone have any suggestions on the maximum ( or maybe " reasonable " would be a better word ) magnification for the planets , specifically Jupiter and Saturn ?

So far with my Meade Infinity 600/90/f6.7 refractor and the 6.3mm kit lens I see both planets at around X95 magnification which shows the bands on Jupiter and that fainter , thinner band 2/3 up on Saturn ( anyone know what that one is called ? ) and also the moons too ... 

What has proved to be elusive so far is the famous red spot on Jupiter and also the Cassini division on Saturn's ring system ... 

Has anyone ever even tried the maximum magnification of X406 on the planets or would that be only really usable on the Moon . Any advice would be very appreciated . 

Edited by Red Dwarfer

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The planets are low this year, and will remain so for quite a while unfortunately so you are battling against the atmosphere more than normal.

I would say between x150 and x180 would be good levels to aim for on reasonably stable nights. Saturn is a higher contrast target so can normally take more Mag than Jupiter, but it depends on the seeing being very steady really. 

You need to be in the 6 to 8mm range focal length I would say.

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The "maximum magnification" applies only for the separation of double stars. For planets you will be better off maxing out with a 5 or 6mm eyepiece and conditions will often require a longer focal length. Neither the great red spot or Cassini division are difficult with a 200p if the atmospheric conditions allow them to be seen. 

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As has been said, the atmospheric conditions govern the maximum magnification you will achieve. I usually am limited to about 120x on Jupiter, but ever so occasionally can push it to 180x before the image becomes too soft. With my 200p I have seen all the major bands and zones on Jupiter and other fine details such as festoons, barges and white ovals. You do have to spend a bit of time getting your eye in to see these fine details and often they are only fleeting glimpses. Saturn is particularly poor placed for me and I only get short views between neighbouring houses and trees but it does stand a bit more magnification than Jupiter

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200x this season on Jupiter, when it was due South had been applied successfully throughout the period that I was observing this planet with my 8" F6 dob, a little more (5mm) was applicable on occasion. As Stu has indicated 150x and 180x would be a good level to aim for - an 8mm or 7mm eyepiece will be beneficial. This will be favourable on many further targets serving the 200 dobsonian, planetary observing specifically has and will continue to be an issue due to low elevations. 

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40 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

The "maximum magnification" applies only for the separation of double stars. For planets you will be better off maxing out with a 5 or 6mm eyepiece and conditions will often require a longer focal length. Neither the great red spot or Cassini division are difficult with a 200p if the atmospheric conditions allow them to be seen. 

Thanks for the response ... and the second person to recommend 6mm as well . 1200 divided by 6 is 200 , so that would be just over double the magnification I have been using so far with the refractor ... I`m glad to learn the 200P will be able to give more detail , especially the Cassini division and it just seems that you haven`t seen Saturn properly until you see that division in the rings .

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28 minutes ago, laudropb said:

With my 200p I have seen all the major bands and zones on Jupiter and other fine details such as festoons, barges and white ovals. You do have to spend a bit of time getting your eye in to see these fine details and often they are only fleeting glimpses.

Thanks for the response . I have only seen the two most prominent bands on Jupiter so far at X95 magnification so it would be great to see more . In relation to festoons , barges and white ovals , I have never heard of them before so will google them to find out more . 

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36 minutes ago, scarp15 said:

200x this season on Jupiter, when it was due South had been applied successfully throughout the period that I was observing this planet with my 8" F6 dob, a little more (5mm) was applicable on occasion. As Stu has indicated 150x and 180x would be a good level to aim for - an 8mm or 7mm eyepiece will be beneficial. This will be favourable on many further targets serving the 200 dobsonian, planetary observing specifically has and will continue to be an issue due to low elevations. 

Thanks for the response . 6 , 7 and 8mm keep coming up as recommendations so they will be committed to memory .

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1 hour ago, Stu said:

The planets are low this year, and will remain so for quite a while unfortunately so you are battling against the atmosphere more than normal.

I would say between x150 and x180 would be good levels to aim for on reasonably stable nights. Saturn is a higher contrast target so can normally take more Mag than Jupiter, but it depends on the seeing being very steady really. 

You need to be in the 6 to 8mm range focal length I would say.

Great post Stu, and I also find 150x starts to open up some detail on Saturn. To the OP- congrats for the excellent 200P dob! Along with an eyepiece that gives the 150x-180x mag, ensuring that your scope is properly cooled and collimated will go a long way to getting optimum views.

Personally, I love orthos.

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34 minutes ago, jetstream said:

I also find 150x starts to open up some detail on Saturn

Thanks for the response ... and 150 magnification to " start " opening detail is an interesting point ( was hitherto unaware of that by the way ) as the original question focused on maximum magnification when the question might have been better framed as what is the best minimum , middle and maximum magnification for opening detail on Jupiter and Saturn .

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My limited skyline, poor, extremely poor weather over than last 2 years?  and permanent twilight, especially  during the present Months, I have only seen Jupiter in all its glory, crystal clear, sharp as a pin, during a Moon transit (Io) on only one occasion in all the Years I have observed using the Skyliner.

This achievement was solely down to having the right viewing conditions at the time, rather than having a certain magnification in mind, and there's nothing wrong with the scope or my eyepieces, just my location!

Not only that,  I need Jupiter in a certain position in order to be clearly visible, and so as not to be looking over any street lights, spoiling my view.
I'm generally between an 8mm and 12mm, the 12mm providing the sharper but slightly smaller image, thats just the physics involved using a longer focal length eyepiece.

If the conditions allow, and you can track smoothly, just push as far as you can go, you will soon find your limits.

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Also be aware, that the higher you push the magnification, the smaller your field of view, so you are constantly nudging the scope to keep it in the eyepiece.

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18 hours ago, Charic said:

Not only that,  I need Jupiter in a certain position in order to be clearly visible, and so as not to be looking over any street lights, spoiling my view.
I'm generally between an 8mm and 12mm, the 12mm providing the sharper but slightly smaller image, thats just the physics involved using a longer focal length eyepiece.

Many thanks for the response ... I live in a semi rural location so possibly have slightly darker skies than towns and cities , but even with that found Saturn very difficult to observe late last night due to its low elevation ( probably about 10 degrees ) Jupiter seems to be much easier to focus on because I always use the Moons , i.e. make sure they are tack sharp first , to get the best clarity ... 

By the way , I managed to find the M31 Andromeda Galaxy ( first time seen in a telescope ) last night with a Celestron Travel Scope and an equally tiny Celestron First Scope so was pleased with that ... 

Edited by Red Dwarfer

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6 hours ago, rockystar said:

Also be aware, that the higher you push the magnification, the smaller your field of view, so you are constantly nudging the scope to keep it in the eyepiece.

Good point ... hopefully not too much of an issue ... I`ve read reports from people on SGL that after a while it becomes second nature to nudge the scope and they`re barely aware they`ve even done it . 

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6 hours ago, Red Dwarfer said:

I managed to find the M31 Andromeda Galaxy ( first time seen in a telescope ) last night with a Celestron Travel Scope and an equally tiny Celestron First Scope so was pleased with that ...

Try all three when the 200P arrives, compare, then go find yourself a much darker site and re-test, for me the difference is truly amazing.
From the back garden on a Winters nights, I can make out the Milky Way and only the main core of M31, a small messy grey smudge, you could even miss it..........from a darker site, the Milky Way casts my own shadow, and M31 fills my field of view, roll on the long Winter nights ( and hopefully this season, better weather ).

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I also have this scope and personally I enjoy using 8mm eyepiece more than 5 mm for views of Saturn and Jupiter, I'm a new to this but seemed to me the views were more pleasant and you don't have to constantly move the scope. didn't manage to pick out much detail on Saturn I've put this down to how low it is just now. 

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I hit a sweet spot at about 7-8mm on my 200P F6

1200/7=171X  

1200/8=150X

I can just about push 6mm, but 4mm and I'm losing the focus.

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