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wok

First time using a telescope

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Posted (edited)

I just came back in from my first time using my new telescope, a SkyWatcher Dobsonian 8''.

I live in a small town where the postal mail doesn't even deliver stuff to your door, so today I got a call saying I had a packet to pickup at their office. It was about 7:30PM and they close at 8:00PM, I am at about 10km from the post office, so I hop in the car and rush there, cursing at the traffic and the police doing routine stops lol. Anyway, I made it and came back with my first telescope. Assembled everything and went outside.

I've a raised pool so I put it in the deck, a nice spot without any lights from neighboors (had to move to a different spot later because the bats flying around were freaking me out). The night was pretty good, I don't know how to judge them yet, but there was no moon, no clouds and stars were not twinkling too much.

The telescope came with green filter that says "Moon", a 6.5mm, 10mm and 20mm eyepieces (all 1.25''), they came in a white box that only says "made in china" and their markings say "Super Plossl XXmm Multi Coated 52°" (the 6.5mm came in a plastic tube and the only mark says 6.5mm). A 2X Barlow, only mark says "2X Barlow Lens", I guess they are in the low end of the market. They performed quite well, but again I have nothing to compare them to.

First, I tried using the finderscope, but was obviously not aligned properly and since it was already dark I had to try to align it using the lights of a restaurant that is on top of the mountains pretty far away. Alignment wasn't perfect but anything on the center of the finder was always on the fov of the eyepiece, even with the max magnification. Will try to align it better with daylight tomorrow.

I don't have a star chart and didn't install stellarium on any of my laptops yet, so I just started pointing at what I could easily identify, Sirious, Betelgeuse, Orion's belt, all beautiful sights. Then I looked at the mountains and knew that bright dot had to be jupiter, I pointed the scope and was amazed, this was the first time I was looking at a planet with my own eyes (thru the telescope), I could see two bands, and three of the Galilean moons, found myself coming back to see it again the entire night. Continued by pointing at random points and got to see some nice star clusters and other stuff I don't even know what it is yet.

Came inside to check stellarium (and ruin my night vision) and saw mars should be in view. Found it pretty quickly, wasn't too impressive but still nice. So I came back to Jupiter, and now (I guess because it was higher in the sky), it was much sharper, the color was great and the bands much more visible. And then I saw it, the GRS, I couldn't believe my eyes so I came back inside and checked the grs transits. The time matches and I was in fact looking at it.

Stellarium was showing Saturn coming up by now, so I tried taking a look, but all I saw was an orange dot, a little dissapointed by this. I came back to Jupiter and Mars, but spent most of my time in Jupiter, it was just too good. Well, when I looked at Saturn it was probably too early (and I was probably looking at a star instead lol), because I looked again, and now I could clearly see its rings, even at lower magnifications.

It was already quite late, so I took a last look at Jupiter, took the scope inside and started writing this. Sorry for the wall of text but I am pretty excited about my first time using a telescope. Overall, I am super happy with my purchase and what I got to see. I was expecting to see some DSO but I guess I will have to learn to find them first. I thought it wouldn't be too hard to see some with the 6.5mm ep + 2x barlow, but everytime I would see some star cluster in the finderscope, the 6.5mm ep would show mostly black, maybe a few faint points. It looks like the bigger the magnification, the less contrast I am able to see, don't know if this is normal or the eps are just bad quality, or maybe I need some filters. The 6.5mm ep + 2x barlow did work great for planets. 

Future plans:

  • Get more/better eyepieces. A zoom eyepiece (agena/maede/celestron, not the super expensive ones) looks good to have until I learn more and start creating a quality collection.
  • Get an illuminated finderscope, I couldn't see the cross most of the time. I was also scared of the inverted image at first, and thought I should get a RACI but now that I used it, it wasn't too hard, so I haven't decided yet. A telrad/red dot/1x finder seems useful too find things quickly too.
  • Get a red flashlight, a star map, and setup stellarium in laptop so I don't ruin my night vision going inside.
  • Get filters, probably the UHC, OIII, UV/IR, 80A seem good to start. Have to learn which others would be useful.
  • Get collimation tools. Luckily the scope seems to be well aligned but I know I will have to collimate some day.
  • Get a digital inclinometer and mod the mount to be able to find objects by az/alt.
  • Try to use the CCD webcam I just bought for $9 and take some pics of the moon and planets.
  • Learn to find and look at DSO, and which ones will be the better to start with.
  • Go to sleep.
Edited by wok
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That’s a great first light report. I wish my first time with telescope went that well. But I remember seeing Jupiter for the first time and yes I had to keep going back to it every 5 minutes. It is a captivating sight. And that was in a 50mm Tasco refractor. Nothing prepared me for Saturn though. The rings for the first time. But your session sounds much better. You sound like a seasoned pro who had been using scopes for years. Very impressive. 

Hope you have many more enjoyable nights with the dob. You have a quite a to do list as well. On that list I highly recommend an OIII filter, it’s just awesome for the Veil and Witches Broom, really makes a difference.

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Posted (edited)

Hi Wok, great report and you saw much more than I did with my SW 8" Dob on my first venture out.  You are lucky to put it all together with a clear sky out there - in the UK the purchase of new astronomical equipment generally means at least 3 months of solid cloud.  The best thing I bought for mine was a dual adaptive holder (you can get them 3D printed quite cheaply from ebay) that allowed me to keep an 'optical' finderscope in place (though I did also buy a RACI finderscope which is easier to use than the 'straight through' finderscope was), but the adapter allowed me to add a cheap and cheerful red dot finder (I got the Celestron type with the same SW shoe on) next to it.  Thus, I went from 20 minutes of cursing to being able to land on any target I could see with my eye in the sky in about 30 seconds flat.  Roughly finding things with the RDF put them in the RACI (which I get spot on with the telescope OTA), then centralising things in the RACI puts them dead eye into the OTA.  Literally the best things I ever bought - the adapter and the cheap RDF.

Given your, probable F6 telescope, is essentially the same as mine.  The x2 Barlow on the 6.5mm may overpower your set-up (halving 6.5mm), I've got a 5mm EP (a really good one) and 'seeing' has to be exceptional before I get anything decent at that magnification.  Try the Barlow on the 10mm and you might find much better success - I've discovered from bitter experience that magnification isn't everything - except maybe on the moon! if conditions are great.   Try your moon filter - you might find you don't need it - depends on what your eyes are like - also try viewing brighter objects through the telescope with the little hole cover removed in the plastic cover and put then put the big cover with hole back on the OTA - that also cuts down on brightness and creates other changes.  Your current EP's will certainly get you started, mine were quite OK (some people get lucky others have more problems) - in fact despite some really good alternatives I do still go back to mine from time to time.

Most importantly - continue having fun

Edited by JOC
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34 minutes ago, wok said:

DSO but I guess I will have to learn to find them first. I thought it wouldn't be too hard to see some with the 6.5mm ep + 2x barlow, but everytime I would see some star cluster in the finderscope, the 6.5mm ep would show mostly black

The higher the mag the dimmer the image. I tend to use low power widefield eyepieces for dso. If your not careful you can look straight through them. A telrad is a great finder for getting somewhere close. I then use a raci for following starcharts. Can be quite hard to follow with a normal finder. A digital angle finder (I use a wixey) and setting circle mod will help you find things. The eyepieces aren't great and you will notice a good deal of improvement with even a modest upgrade. Glad you enjoyed your first light.

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Congratulations on your first scope. You had a lovely first light and that is a lovely first light report. I really enjoyed reading it. Do not be in too great a hurry to replace the eyepieces. Take some time learning how to get the best out of your new scope and you will be in a better position to decide what eyepieces you need.

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1 hour ago, tuckstar said:

The higher the mag the dimmer the image

This is def. what I am finding even with a Pentax 5mm XW

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A fine start, and welcome.

Finding and viewing deep space objects like star clusters requires low magnification, not high. Some of these objects are big and more than fill the eyepiece.

I tried using a Wixey etc to find things with a 8" manual telescope. I found that it just was not accurate enough to get objects in the field of view of the main telescope. Waste of time. I bought a GoTo mounted telescope instead.

You will, I suspect, find that using a straight-through finder near the zenith is uncomfortable or difficult and that a RACI finder is much more usable.

A zoom eyepiece can be a bit of a let down - typically the field of view at lowest magnification is very small (so you don't use that part of its x range), you have to refocus after zooming, and the zoom action can be annoyingly stiff (so that you have to take it off the telescope and adjust it with both hands under a red light).

A $9 webcam will be good for practice. Let us know if it is good for anything else. :icon_biggrin:  

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

I tried using a Wixey etc to find things with a 8" manual telescope. I found that it just was not accurate enough to get objects in the field of view of the main telescope. Waste of time. I bought a GoTo mounted telescope instead.

That's a shame. I have no issue with mine, I just make sure it's zeroed to start with and usually get the object in the field of view. OK, with my 20mm es 100° that's a big field of view. But it's never too far out. 

Edited by tuckstar
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Excellent first report !

You can click on the eye icon in Stellarium to start night mode in red and that saves night vision :glasses9:

Good luck 

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Posted (edited)

That’s a heck of a good start, telrad, I hate finderscopes! They do make good door stops though! a telrad is all I’ve ever needed, never let me down regardless of how faint the object. 

Edited by Sunshine
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Hey buddy

I have only just purchased a Skyliner 8" Dob recently also, It was great reading your first experience and gives me great confidence in what I can expect from my future star gazing sessions

All the best

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Posted (edited)

Great report - sounds like you've done a lot of background research!  And GRS first outing - wow! - it took me well over two years to see it. 

You should have no trouble star-hopping to open clusters with the help of Stellarium, and what a treat they are. 

A Telrad or Rigel (lighter, smaller footprint) is good, and a finderscope gives a more detailed view, wider than the 'scope's.  A straight through type shows the same view as your 'scope as well, which can help.

Remember to use CTRL ^ V on Stellarium to get the same view as in the 'scope.  One other tip - as well as using night vision with Stellarium, a red acetate sheet clipped to the screen also helps hugely.

Continue having fun!

Doug.

NB - at low mag, contrast is poorer because of brightness of the background sky, so increasing it helps for fainter objects.  Brighter/extended ones will eventually also get dimmer however.

Edited by cloudsweeper
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I coulnd't go out last night because I am not feeling quite well (I polished my car without using protective gear and I think those compounds are pretty toxic lol). I did take the scope during the day to do a better alignment of the finderscope, and after that I pointed it to the mountains, got to see two vultures flying around, it was amazing because with the naked eye I couldn't even see them as a tiny dot, but with the scope they looked so huge compared to the landscape.

I am now in the process of creating my shopping list (omg filters are expensive, I feel I could buy an entire new scope with all the accesories I want to buy). I am leaning more to the rigel than the telrad, even when I like the telrad reticle a little more, I saw it irl and it just seems too big.

About the webcam, the commonly used models, phillips, quickcam pro, etc, doesn't seem to exists in the local market, I couldn't find even one. So after hours of searching in the local "ebay", I started clicking the ads images and looking at the package, I saw a logitech for notebooks that said "powerfull ccd sensor", compared it to others of the same model and it was about 25% the price of the cheapest one, so I just bought it, shipping cost was the same as the cam lol. I am not going try to mod it for long exposure, but I'm ready to break the case to fit an adapter if i need to.

The illuminated finderscope seems like a must for me (RACI or not, but probably RACI), I just can't see the cross on the sky at night, and even when one could guess the center, I found during daylight that it's much easier when you can see the cross.

After your comments and reading some other articles, I get now that more magnification doesn't always mean I will see more. I need to experiment more with eps, filters, averted vision, etc, and compile some easy to find dsos to start with.

Regarding using an inclinometer and setting circle, I did read about some people had good results and other didn't, I'm still willing to try it. If it doesn't work it still looks like a fun project to try, my only concern is that I really don't want to cut the mount base, so I am still thinking about the options (but in a few months I probably wont care).

Anyway, thanks again for your replies and tips, I'm already loving this community.

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Great to hear of your success! Another target that you would probably enjoy is Saturn. It is easy to find with a quick look at a basic chart.

 

 

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Welcome from another land down under

When aiming  your scope, get yourself a laser pointer

Just lay the laser pointer along the wedge of the spotting scope, towards object you like to explore

Make sure no aircraft around when using laser pointer

Been in the Southern Hemisphere, you should see a lot of objects around the CRUX (Southern Cross), including the Jewel Box

Omega Centauri is another object you can find, close to the CRUX as well

Omega Centauri is a globular cluster, and figure vary from 1.2 Million stars to 10 Million stars

You can also go looking for the Beehive as well

If you have an astronomy club close to you, rock up to one of their club meets, and members only too happy to guide you around the night sky

You should also be able to see Scorpio, with Antares in the centre, and Aldebaran close to Orion

Speaking of Orion, should be able to find the Orion Nebula as well, as Orion is right over head currently, and north west of Orion, you should find Pleiades  

Cheers

John

 

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5 hours ago, cletrac1922 said:

Welcome from another land down under

When aiming  your scope, get yourself a laser pointer

Just lay the laser pointer along the wedge of the spotting scope, towards object you like to explore

Make sure no aircraft around when using laser pointer

Been in the Southern Hemisphere, you should see a lot of objects around the CRUX (Southern Cross), including the Jewel Box

Omega Centauri is another object you can find, close to the CRUX as well

Omega Centauri is a globular cluster, and figure vary from 1.2 Million stars to 10 Million stars

You can also go looking for the Beehive as well

If you have an astronomy club close to you, rock up to one of their club meets, and members only too happy to guide you around the night sky

You should also be able to see Scorpio, with Antares in the centre, and Aldebaran close to Orion

Speaking of Orion, should be able to find the Orion Nebula as well, as Orion is right over head currently, and north west of Orion, you should find Pleiades  

Cheers

John

 

Thanks for the tips, I wasn't planning on observing tonight, but my brother came for dinner and I had to show him. This time I used the 25mm ep most of the time and the 10mm a few times, no barlow. I got to see M42 and the running man, it was quite bright, could even see some blueish hue on it. I followed your advice and scanned around the southern cross, the jewel box was easy to spot and a really nice view, also saw the running chicken nebula, the southern pleiades, and quite a few other clusters I still can't identify.

I also saw a meteor pass by my eyepiece, I'm glad I was using the 25mm ep, I'd have probably missed it. And while looking at M42, I saw what I think was a satellite, a small yellowish dot moving at constant speed from north to south, was able to track it a bit but when I put my head up to call my parents I lost it, wasn't visible with the naked eye, and I couldn't find it again.

Still need to improve my setup and plan my sessions, but everytime I take the scope out I enjoy it so much, even when just looking at random places in the sky.

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It still disappoints me when I see laser pointers being recommended for personal observing.  These things are being very much condemned for use in the UK due to valid concerns about their safety to aircraft that may not be evident in the sky from the ground when they are switched on.

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