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Wurls80

Beginner with new telescope

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Hi All,

 

We got an Astromaster EQ130 for christmas. As a family we've enjoyed looking at the night sky with the naked eye and decided it would be fun to try with something dedicated.

We live in Dorset in the UK, in a smallish village. So far viewing has been from the back garden - we have a particularly good view to the south.

I've set up the telescope as per instructions and aligned starfinder with telescope fov with a distance point in daylight. At the moment we just have what came in the box - starfinder, 20mm (with prism to get the image the right way up) and 10mm eyepieces. Along with starmaps to help orientate ourselves.

Without the moon as a nice big target I've been trying to view the Orion nebula - but I don't think we've found it at all, or it's proving very underwhelming.

Using astronomy.tools fov tool indicates the nebula should be nice, big and obvious in even the 20mm eyepiece. But it doesn't appear to be at all - I'm not sure we've seen it, even though the sky is dark enough that we think we can see it's faint smudge with the naked eye.

The issues I seem to be having:

- stars in the night sky are clearly visible to the naked eye. When I try and view them through the telescope, they appear as focused points: but almost don't seem as bright? Obviously I can see more through the telescope, but I was kind of expecting more "contrast" between those that are visible and those that the telescope reveals. Are my expectations wrong?

- are my expectations being set wrong by the astronomy.tool fov tool: i.e. it won't appear as "bright/visible" as it indicates? Even so I'm expecting from it's size in the fov that it would be easier to find that it's proving.

Before I convince myself I need new optics etc (:-)) I just want to make sure I'm not doing anything daft. I will check over my starfinder alignment and try wrapping up warmer to be more patience in the cold night air. But if there are any hints, tips, or anything else I should consider please let me know.

Many thanks in advance

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Congratulations on your new scope, I hope you have lots of fun with it.

I can't help much with describing how the Orion nebula should look; I use my scope exclusively for photography.

But with regard to finding stars through the finder - I have the same problem.  To the eye a bright star seems isolated in the sky but through the finder it is just one star of many.  Perhaps you could try first finding the three stars of Orion's belt - these should stand out in the finder due to their arrangement - and then you could try jumping from star to star until you get to Nair al Saif ( it is in a bright little cluster of its own ); the nebula should be near by.  Sorry, you have probably tried that but it is all I can think of. 

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Posted (edited)

The Orion Nebula, even through binoculars, should prove to be a nice site as you begin to resolve at least the main stars. Some faint Nebulosity is also apparent, even through my 10x50’s. 

It is easy to find - just aim at the middle ‘star’ of his sword. I say ‘star’ because this is nebula. 

Astronomy can be one of the most frustrating things - I am trying to get a new, very expensive mount to play ball and it just won’t. It’s something I’m doing wrong but it still fulls me with hate and rage and I start blaming the mount, the telescope, my wife, the cat etc. 

But, when you hit a target and understand what you’re looking at - that’s what blows my mind. The Andromeda galaxy may look a bit of a smudge but I’m looking at an entire galaxy - a trillion stars, maybe more - from my back garden. That’s just awesome :) 

Edited by dannybgoode
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Posted (edited)

You should certainly be able to see some good views of the Orion nebula through your telescope.  If it is focused correctly stars will appear as sharp points of light with your 10mm eyepiece even the brightest of stars.  

@Qualia on this forum wrote a brilliant piece ‘what can I expect to see’.  He used a variety of small to medium telescopes (4" - 8") for his write up with a mixture of sketches and photos including the Orion nebula.

I started off this hobby back in the mid 90's with a Russian 4" reflector with very basic instructions and no internet but got there in the end, as previously said it can be very frustrating at times but stick with it and you will be rewarded.

Edited by jock1958

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Hello and welcome to the forum !

Deep sky objects, even the famous ones, can seem underwhelming visually depending on the conditions you are observing under. Last night for example, I was observing with a 130mm refractor but the Orion Nebula was barely visible because what is called the sky transparency was poor. There were quite a few stars visible but nebulae, glaxies and other less distinct targets were pretty much non-starters even though I know just where to find them.

On another night, with good transparency the results a very different and such objects will show very well with that aperture.

The tools such as the field of view calculators, while useful for working out the field of view that might be visible with a certain scope / eyepiece combination, do tent to be over optimistic with regard to how deep sky objects will appear at any given time because they can't take into account the sky conditions.

The more experience you gain at the eyepiece will also help you to see more. Keeping the eye dark adapted by avoiding lights while observing is also important. nearby lateral lighting (eg: house lights etc) also have a negative affect on deep sky object visibility.

Your 130mm scope has the potential to show 100's of deep sky objects and the brighter ones rather well when the factors that I've mentioned come together so keep at it !

 

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You may be 'suffering' from the quality of your skies. From the sounds of your description you live in a place where there will be reasonably dark skies (or even very dark skies) and this has the 'problem' that often even experienced observers more used to urban skies can have issues seeing the constellations. I suspect John is right if it was a bit murky then you'd see less of the nebula but in decent clearish skies you should see something a bit like this. It's a good idea to realign your finder at night too, maybe on a really bright star like Vega or if you can find it Polaris, the north star (as this does not move in the sky like others). Enjoy your new toy!

Image result for orion nebula sketch

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Hopefully this could be just a simple error  but often catches folk out?

There's a dust cap on the end of the telescope, with two raised sections, they look like 2" lens caps!!!!!

One is removable, the other is fixed? The removable one is placed over the fixed one for storage,  allowing light to enter exposed 2" aperture? This could be one reason why the contrast is low!

I know this may be obvious, but if you haven't discovered already, the 'whole' dust cap cover should be removed, giving you the full aperture of 5". 

HTH.

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8 hours ago, Wurls80 said:

are my expectations being set wrong by the astronomy.tool fov tool: i.e. it won't appear as "bright/visible" as it indicates? Even so I'm expecting from it's size in the fov that it would be easier to find that it's proving.

I think this could be part of the issue. It won't appear so large at the eyepiece because the fainter parts fade away, especially under light pollution. It is also usually best observed with some sort of filter (UHC, OIII) to increase the contrast. Orion one of the easiest constellations to pick out so it should be fairly easy for you to confirm that you've got the telescope pointing at the correct spot. If you've only aligned your finder on a terrestrial object there could be a bit of parallax so start by pointing the telescope a bright star and tweak the finder so it is (close to) spot on. 

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In reading the responses I see nothing mentioned about collimation. If the scope was delivered to you, then you may have a problem in this area, as some delivery companies don't exactly have 'stellar' reputations for their handling techniques. I f you bought it at a dealer, they are responsible for seeing the equipment recieved is in working order. You could return to have them check collimation, but you should make yourself aware of the steps necessary to get the best from your scope and practice them until you are comfortable with the procedure, as you don't want the possibility of poor collimation always at the back of your mind. Good luck.

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I started with the same scope as jock1958, a Russian 4 inch reflector. 

My advice would be invest in a pair of binoculars and use these in conjunction with the telescope.  I began with a pair of 7 x 50's. They have a nice wide field of view and and easy to hold.  Use the binoculars to get a "feel" for the target area then use the finderscope to aim the scope.  I also sight down the tube of the telescope,  almost like aiming a gun to ensure that my scope is pointing in the correct direction.  Keep in mind, it will take practice until you have your "eye in"

Don't loose heart !

 

 

 

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Wow thanks everyone that has taken the time to respond, and encourage, it is much appreciated!

Having got the scope out in daylight I have discovered the starfinder scope is way out of alignment. How isn't clear, but something I will know to keep an eye on before I start viewing at night again. Sadly tonight is cloudy, frustrating 😁

Aligning the star finder at night seems difficult as there are lots of stars but you are of course right, Polaris and a bit of patience and I should be ok. Just stick with the star that doesn't move!

Part of the issue is not necessarily knowing what to expect, particularly when star hopping with regards to how many stars I should expect in the fov... for example, how many of orion's belt stars. But I've found the sums now and done some maths so have some idea. The link mentioned above about what you should expect to see will also prove useful, thank you. Wish I had found that in earlier searches.

As a beginner and knowing there are other phenomenon associated with the skies that can all play a part it isn't always easy to know if the problem is me, the kit or something else, so the encouragement is appreciated!

Thanks all once again for the kind and patient responses..... once I know I'm definitely pointing where I think I'm pointing then I'll worry about everything else.

Oh for clear skies! Ha ha

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18 minutes ago, Seanelly said:

In reading the responses I see nothing mentioned about collimation. If the scope was delivered to you, then you may have a problem in this area, as some delivery companies don't exactly have 'stellar' reputations for their handling techniques. I f you bought it at a dealer, they are responsible for seeing the equipment recieved is in working order. You could return to have them check collimation, but you should make yourself aware of the steps necessary to get the best from your scope and practice them until you are comfortable with the procedure, as you don't want the possibility of poor collimation always at the back of your mind. Good luck.

With respect, I don't think collimation is a major issue here. Scopes give a reasonable view of targets even when out of collimation. Getting collimation right is important for getting the best from high resolution targets such as the planets, the moon or double star splitting but is somewhat less critical to the views of deep sky objects.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, John said:

With respect, I don't think collimation is a major issue here. Scopes give a reasonable view of targets even when out of collimation. Getting collimation right is important for getting the best from high resolution targets such as the planets, the moon or double star splitting but is somewhat less critical to the views of deep sky objects.

 

 

With equal respect, my intention was not to have collimation percieved as the culprit.

I quote: "But if there are any hints, tips, or anything else I should consider please let me know."

I believe that checking collimation will fall into one of these categories.

Edited by Seanelly
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Hello and welcome to SGL!

I owned the same scope until I upgraded to an 8 inch Dob.  You'll be able to see plenty of objects with it, including galaxies, nebulae, star clusters, and lots of other interesting stuff.  M42, the Orion Nebula is a good starting point until the moon is visible in a few days time.

Reading your second post, I'm pretty sure you've already identified the root of the issue - the red dot finder on the Astromaster 130EQ is sadly lacking, often badly collimated against the main scope (i.e. it's misaligned to where the telescope points to) and is notoriously difficult to use.

I would wait a few days, in hope of a reasonable night with the moon up and use that as a good target.  In a little over a week the glare off the moon will make it much easier to "home in on" even if it's out the the field of view.  With the moon in the eyepiece, you can check the accuracy of the red dot finder.  You can of course do that in the daylight against an distant object, but I found there was nothing like doing it against a real object with the scope at an elevation - the angle you view the object in the red dot finder is all important.  If I recall, I needed almost to hug the scope to get accurate alignment and that was difficult when the target object was high in the sky.

If you find that you just can't get on with the red dot finder - and you certainly won't be alone in that respect - there are plenty of other options for modest cost.  Personally I replaced the red dot finder on my old 130EQ with a Telrad finder, though others may also suggest a Rigel Quick Finder.  Either can be fitted in place of the existing red dot finder (just undo the screws with the scope pointed down so you don't drop anything on the mirror).  You can use cable ties to secure the replacement and both the Telrad and Rigel are, imho, far superior than the manufactures red dot finder.

Stick with it, and do try against the moon over the coming couple of weeks - the Orion Nebula will still be visible in full moonlight.

Richard

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For Polaris it might help to know that it's a nice double star looking a  bit like this

Related image

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55 minutes ago, BiggarDigger said:

Reading your second post, I'm pretty sure you've already identified the root of the issue - the red dot finder on the Astromaster 130EQ is sadly lacking, often badly collimated against the main scope (i.e. it's misaligned to where the telescope points to) and is notoriously difficult to use.

More or less exactly what I was going to say but having not owned this particular scope I didn't realise the finder was difficult to use or align. Agree that a Telrad is a fantastic bit of kit for the money and is extremely easy to fit and align.

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Thanks all once again.  Particularly thanks BiggarDigger - your experience with the same scope is massively helpful. I was amazed how far misaligned it had got as I was sure I had been careful with it and set it. Your post has confirmed to me that I need to keep it in mind, and, also remain patient till I have a big old moon in the sky to check with. Can't miss that, right? 🤣. And hearing what you did to help improve the situation is also much appreciated.

Moonshane - Thanks, I can't wait till Polaris looks like that!

Thanks everyone, really appreciate the time you've all taken to help out. Look forward to being able to provide some results before the end of the month.

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If you are careful to avoid the sun try aligning the finder with the main scope using a distance object during the day - like a church spire, distant chimney or tree - then just leave the scope outside until it gets dark when it will cool down nicely too.  FWIW I bought the identical RDF on the scope to complement my optical right angled finder on my Skywatcher Dob and I actually find it's quite good.  It doesn't even seem to matter if it is just a fraction out as long as you know from your daytime setup just how far out it is and just accommodate that when you use it.   NB.  You can set it at night, but until you are familiar with the adjustment controls it's easier to do it during daylight - NNB.  I assume you have discovered that it has a little red-light in it and have turned the little wheel to snap it on?  You then align the red dot in the centre of the screen to the sky object and to do this you have to get your eye directly behind the finder. 

The thread referred to above is here:

It's worth looking at the pictures on the first page even if don't wade through all the text (though this is most informative too).  IMO 'Nebulosity' is never as 'bright' as you might imagine.  Imagine the faintest cigarette smoke wisp and you won't be far wrong (oh, and it will only be grey/black/white).  You will know when you are roughly in the right place in Orion's sword* (Go to the left of the belt - as your eye sees it - and then about a quarter of the way to the next star and about the same distance - maybe a bit more - down - as your eye sees it - and you should be close -  *as there is a bright central cluster of stars in it (the 'trapezium') which will appear to be the brightest object - this may even start to split apart for you at 10mm.   Also remember that what your eye/RDF finder sees may move in different directions when viewed through the telescope so you will need to accommodate this when adjusting the view looking through the telescope.

 

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Thanks Joe.

I had aligned during the day, but then moved the telescope before bringing it back out to cool down in the high air once we had a clear night. Clearly somewhere along the way something had moved. But I know to be mindful of it now and also to remember where to position my head relative to the finder and keep that consistent each time I use it.

The annoyance was the last night it was clear I could see the Orion nebula with the naked eye! But couldn't get near it with a scope..... still, better nights are coming I'm sure with all the advice above.

Think I'll stick to finding my way around with the 20mm first, then move to the 10mm and worry about everything moving in the wrong direction 😁

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11 hours ago, Wurls80 said:

Think I'll stick to finding my way around with the 20mm first, then move to the 10mm

This is def. the best way forward.  FWIW I find the 'nebulosity' of the Orion Nebula to be errr........rather nebulous! in terms of seeing it.  I think the photo above is a rather enhanced view of what your eye sees through the telescope.  I have never been aware of much more than a slightly lighter background on which the stars sit.  Some people say that they use filters and this is supposed to improve the contrast and allow the nebula to be seen, but I also own such filters and if I'm being honest I've never found that they make much difference.  I've found that seeing conditions also cause problems - high up moisture in the air or ice can all sort of 'fuzz out' the pale nebulosity that you are trying to see.

Have you managed to find the cluster of stars that make up the sword in your telescope and possibly been aware yet of the apparently larger cluster of stars which makes up the trapezium.  If your finder is aligned reasonably well with the scope you should find the sword in the scope if your finder is on it, if you can find the sword then you should be on the nebula - maybe you need a clearer night?

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Just to say thank you everyone. Grabbed 20 minutes before Dad taxi duty - we had clear view of the moon. Scope out, aligned with starfinder, boom, we have the moon. Even with just the 20mm eyepiece the families astounded.

We are up and running and excited!

If it wasn't now cloudy of course 😁

Thanks all once again. Now to read up the sticky on setting up an equatorial mount properly. Baby steps!

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Genuinely happy for you! Starting out in this hobby requires patience and, as you say, baby steps.

Something to look into is getting a decent set of star maps and guides.  If you haven't already, download and install Stellarium on a PC or Laptop and use it to plan some star hopping from a bright star to your target for the evening.

Also, look at picking up a copy of Turn Left at Orion, which is full of useful hints and tips, plus monthly guides, star maps and a wealth of other info.

There's tons of other useful resources, guides and maps online that will assist too.

Personally, I wouldn't be too concerned about the accuracy of polar alignment and finer details of the equatorial mount for now.  As long as it's roughly right it'll be fine until you get more experienced.  Learn and use your knowledge of the skies to navigate around without worrying if you're aligned to Polaris.

Once you've found and been blown away by the Orion Nebula M42, have a look for the Andromeda Galaxy, M31 and be amazed that it's an entire galaxy 2 Million Light years away and the light tickling your retina started it's journey before the evolution of mankind!

Clear skies,

Richard

Edited by BiggarDigger
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Brilliant!!!!!
It's always a pleasure to read of a newcomer getting excited with their first views using their very own scope.
@BiggarDigger above has given some great advice. To add to easy to find objects try M45, you will easily see this as a naked eye object. Finding easy to see objects when first using your scope makes those first few nights far more enjoyable. It's a steep learning curve but when it all comes together well worth the effort.
Good luck and let's all hope for some clear skies.

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Good news indeed. Keeping that finder aligned will make life far easier. I've need ever found the Orion nebula underwhelming under good conditions, the nebulosity is very clear and shows very nice structure and variation at higher power. 

I'm not encouraging immediate upgrading but bear in mind that the 20mm erecting eyepiece won't be that good, they are all compromised for astro use so when you are ready it may be worth replacing this one with a better alternative.  Doesn't have to cost a fortune.

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