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I echo the advice others have given in terms of nothing buying any optical "upgrades" until you exhausted the potential of the 200P 'as is'. I have the same telescope and I've been delighted with it.

Hello Craig F and welcome to the forum. You will have plenty of questions, ask away there are some very knowledgeable people on here. Can I suggest that you do not buy anything for the telescope

I am an old-school type (started in the mid 70s) and find printed atlases invaluable. In my view Norton's Star Atlas is still the most usable going for beginning astronomers ---- and old fogey astrono

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So, just looking longingly at my FLO account to see if there has been any movement on my order (Skywatcher 200p Dob), not as yet, but noticed that the same scope to order today would be over £100 more expensive 😵.

Glad I orderd when I did.

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I echo the advice others have given in terms of nothing buying any optical "upgrades" until you exhausted the potential of the 200P 'as is'. I have the same telescope and I've been delighted with it. Spending time working through Turn Left at Orion with your binoculars will be a fantastic way to identify targets and their location.

I had my previous telescope from 1968 to 1971 and I only bought the 200P two months ago. I don't consider 50 years with binoculars wasted at all. It meant I knew exactly what to expect when I started using the Dobsonian. Maybe I did wait a bit too long though 🙂

There is wealth of fantastic resources on the internet I could only have dreamt of when I had my first telescope.

These are some of my favourites (Star Gazer Lounge is first of course)

 http://skymaps.com/downloads.html - Getting used to the sky 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNXzteckwM7bKNNLwWu5OLw  - The monthly “What to see in the night sky” videos of the Sky at Night YouTube channel

http://www.deepskywatch.com/deepsky-atlas.html - I printed out The Sky Version on A4 

http://www.deepskywatch.com/Articles/what-can-i-see-through-telescope.html - What you will actually see!  

https://stellarium-web.org - As well as this web one, install the local version on your laptop/desktop  http://stellarium.org and the app is good as well 

https://lavadip.com/skeye  - I use this app on my telescope!

https://www.lightpollutionmap.info  - Don't get too depressed! 

http://clearoutside.com/forecast - So you don't worry about not having a telescope  

https://www.cloudynights.com - I think of this as the US equivalent of SGL 

https://garyseronik.com/no-tools-telescope-collimation and https://garyseronik.com/a-beginners-guide-to-collimation  mindlefulness training when you see others spending ££££ on lasers

https://www.12dstring.me.uk/fovcalc.php and https://astronomy.tools/ - useful tools 
 

 

 

 

Edited by Spile
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Good choice! 
With the 200mm aperture you will need a decent star chart. As ideally you want it to map every star you can see in your eyepiece to properly find and identify most distant deep space objects your 200mm is capable of revealing between stars. Paper charts doesn't cut it starting from approximately 100mm aperture, as the sole weight of the paper and paint needed to print millions of stars would be insane. Thus, meanwhile you can try to play with some digital star charts on your smartphone (if you have one of course). There are plenty of offerings for both Android and iPhone platforms. Having an all in one digital astronomy assistant in the palm of your hand when you are at the eyepiece is on par only with a seasoned visual observer sitting patiently behind your shoulder :D

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Hello @Craig F and welcome to SGL.

You have made a good scope choice.

To get the best out of your scope.....

1. Cool it down well before use - leave it outside for at least 45 minutes in the shade before use.

2. Don’t view over heat sources like central heating outlets or rooftops - the rising heat will spoil the views.

3. Learn how to accurately align the two mirrors - collimation - easy once practiced.

Enjoy.....

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13 hours ago, AlexK said:

Good choice! 
With the 200mm aperture you will need a decent star chart. As ideally you want it to map every star you can see in your eyepiece to properly find and identify most distant deep space objects your 200mm is capable of revealing between stars. Paper charts doesn't cut it starting from approximately 100mm aperture, as the sole weight of the paper and paint needed to print millions of stars would be insane. Thus, meanwhile you can try to play with some digital star charts on your smartphone (if you have one of course). There are plenty of offerings for both Android and iPhone platforms. Having an all in one digital astronomy assistant in the palm of your hand when you are at the eyepiece is on par only with a seasoned visual observer sitting patiently behind your shoulder :D

Yes and no, IMO.

Many paper star charts indicate non-stellar DSOs to a much fainter limiting magnitude than the stars depicted. An extreme case might be the interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas. Although its stellar limiting magnitude of 9.5 is about that of a decent pair of binoculars, it shows the positions of objects as faint as the Palomar and Terzan globular clusters and even Balbinot 1. The latter is difficult to image in a 40cm reflector, as its brightest stars are only 18th magnitude. 

Personally I use often use paper charts: Norton's for wide field preliminary finding and Uranometria 2000 for precision pointing. If more detail is required then https://aladin.u-strasbg.fr/AladinLite/  is hard to beat.

Paul

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On 16/02/2021 at 16:42, Spile said:

I echo the advice others have given in terms of nothing buying any optical "upgrades" until you exhausted the potential of the 200P 'as is'. I have the same telescope and I've been delighted with it. Spending time working through Turn Left at Orion with your binoculars will be a fantastic way to identify targets and their location.

I had my previous telescope from 1968 to 1971 and I only bought the 200P two months ago. I don't consider 50 years with binoculars wasted at all. It meant I knew exactly what to expect when I started using the Dobsonian. Maybe I did wait a bit too long though 🙂

There is wealth of fantastic resources on the internet I could only have dreamt of when I had my first telescope.

These are some of my favourites (Star Gazer Lounge is first of course)

 http://skymaps.com/downloads.html - Getting used to the sky 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNXzteckwM7bKNNLwWu5OLw  - The monthly “What to see in the night sky” videos of the Sky at Night YouTube channel

http://www.deepskywatch.com/deepsky-atlas.html - I printed out The Sky Version on A4 

http://www.deepskywatch.com/Articles/what-can-i-see-through-telescope.html - What you will actually see!  

https://stellarium-web.org - As well as this web one, install the local version on your laptop/desktop  http://stellarium.org and the app is good as well 

https://lavadip.com/skeye  - I use this app on my telescope!

https://www.lightpollutionmap.info  - Don't get too depressed! 

http://clearoutside.com/forecast - So you don't worry about not having a telescope  

https://www.cloudynights.com - I think of this as the US equivalent of SGL 

https://garyseronik.com/no-tools-telescope-collimation and https://garyseronik.com/a-beginners-guide-to-collimation  mindlefulness training when you see others spending ££££ on lasers

https://www.12dstring.me.uk/fovcalc.php and https://astronomy.tools/ - useful tools 
 

 

 

 

Thank you Spile, some good advice and links there.

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5 hours ago, dweller25 said:

Hello @Craig F and welcome to SGL.

You have made a good scope choice.

To get the best out of your scope.....

1. Cool it down well before use - leave it outside for at least 45 minutes in the shade before use.

2. Don’t view over heat sources like central heating outlets or rooftops - the rising heat will spoil the views.

3. Learn how to accurately align the two mirrors - collimation - easy once practiced.

Enjoy.....

Just need to wait for it to arrive now..............🙄

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11 hours ago, Xilman said:

Yes and no, IMO.

Many paper star charts indicate non-stellar DSOs to a much fainter limiting magnitude than the stars depicted. An extreme case might be the interstellarum Deep Sky Atlas. Although its stellar limiting magnitude of 9.5 is about that of a decent pair of binoculars, it shows the positions of objects as faint as the Palomar and Terzan globular clusters and even Balbinot 1. The latter is difficult to image in a 40cm reflector, as its brightest stars are only 18th magnitude. 

Personally I use often use paper charts: Norton's for wide field preliminary finding and Uranometria 2000 for precision pointing. If more detail is required then https://aladin.u-strasbg.fr/AladinLite/  is hard to beat.

Paul

All paper charts require you to work at some table and with a bright flashlight. Which means trips back and forth, memorizing chart patterns, guessing them between 3-10 times more stars you see in the EP, and the saddest: never fully dark adapted eyes (which is the only single key to spectacular views in most any other unfavorable conditions but the overcast). Yes, with experience patterns recognition becomes a second nature even regardless the EP FOV variations, but for a beginner with ancient paper guides it's often a nightmare for a long time. Sane digital charts developed by actual DSO observers have all these problems mitigated.

I feel silly when recalling these ancient times: huge wet or frosty atlases pages, copying and printing pieces of various charts into one hand made, planning most efficient hops with a ruler, contouring photographs and reproductions, writing down observations with the pencil in the freezing cold, building rough measuring eyepieces and ugly ultra-dim flashlights, waiting 15 min at the EP until dark adapted for every tough object, etc... And all that to see just a handful of targets.

When I've started using star charts on handhelds (around 1999 on the Palm III PDA) it all became SO much easier, faster, and efficient compared to 20 years before that! So I didn't even hesitate a single moment to re-do all of my old targets again. It took barely 2 years to cover those past 20 of misery :) (surely, also thanks to the California astroclimate, which is an astronomy paradise compared to Siberia)...

Instead of fiddling with all that rustic stuff and historical observing flow most of the night, I'm now actually just observing goodies in the eyepiece nearly nonstop, as pointing my z12 and identifying even toughest DSO on my list takes only 5-10 seconds with the App and Telrad (lately the QuInsight, which is even faster, as I don't have to leave my observing chair very often). I'm crunching hard DSOs by hundreds a night and have time to revisit favorite sky-candies as well 😍

Instead of meticulously planning observing nights weeks ahead of the New Moon trip to a B1-B3 sky location, and hauling tons of equipment on the roof of the car, I'm just rolling the Dob to the garage, loading, driving, unloading, turning on my app and continue observing goodies from the same page I left it last New Moon as if I never been leaving. So all I need for the night's "screaming success" is the Telescope, Telrad, and my app on the dedicated handheld (smartphone). In addition, all my observing records are always with me, in the app. On the trip or at work. So any spare minute I could take it out and hop on the hobby. Like reviewing and editing observing records, reconsidering or adding new targets (e.g. directly from a discussion on this forum), studying future targets with DSS overlays, etc... As the app contains and capable to address, visualize, and annotate every single object ever catalogued as well as to add new ones on the fly in any way I pleased.

Try that with paper charts. I believe they have only a decorative value nowadays of large handheld AMOLED screens and quadcore brains behind them.

The Aladin online service is great indeed. But it requires Internet access and not dark-adapted-eyes-friendly. Not even close. So it's (and alike services, and PC apps like Stellarium) for pre- post- observing time only.

Edited by AlexK
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13 hours ago, AlexK said:

All paper charts require you to work at some table and with a bright flashlight. Which means trips back and forth, memorizing chart patterns, guessing them between 3-10 times more stars you see in the EP, and the saddest: never fully dark adapted eyes (which is the only single key to spectacular views in most any other unfavorable conditions but the overcast). Yes, with experience patterns recognition becomes a second nature even regardless the EP FOV variations, but for a beginner with ancient paper guides it's often a nightmare for a long time. Sane digital charts developed by actual DSO observers have all these problems mitigated.

I feel silly when recalling these ancient times: huge wet or frosty atlases pages, copying and printing pieces of various charts into one hand made, planning most efficient hops with a ruler, contouring photographs and reproductions, writing down observations with the pencil in the freezing cold, building rough measuring eyepieces and ugly ultra-dim flashlights, waiting 15 min at the EP until dark adapted for every tough object, etc... And all that to see just a handful of targets.

When I've started using star charts on handhelds (around 1999 on the Palm III PDA) it all became SO much easier, faster, and efficient compared to 20 years before that! So I didn't even hesitate a single moment to re-do all of my old targets again. It took barely 2 years to cover those past 20 of misery :) (surely, also thanks to the California astroclimate, which is an astronomy paradise compared to Siberia)...

Instead of fiddling with all that rustic stuff and historical observing flow most of the night, I'm now actually just observing goodies in the eyepiece nearly nonstop, as pointing my z12 and identifying even toughest DSO on my list takes only 5-10 seconds with the App and Telrad (lately the QuInsight, which is even faster, as I don't have to leave my observing chair very often). I'm crunching hard DSOs by hundreds a night and have time to revisit favorite sky-candies as well 😍

Instead of meticulously planning observing nights weeks ahead of the New Moon trip to a B1-B3 sky location, and hauling tons of equipment on the roof of the car, I'm just rolling the Dob to the garage, loading, driving, unloading, turning on my app and continue observing goodies from the same page I left it last New Moon as if I never been leaving. So all I need for the night's "screaming success" is the Telescope, Telrad, and my app on the dedicated handheld (smartphone). In addition, all my observing records are always with me, in the app. On the trip or at work. So any spare minute I could take it out and hop on the hobby. Like reviewing and editing observing records, reconsidering or adding new targets (e.g. directly from a discussion on this forum), studying future targets with DSS overlays, etc... As the app contains and capable to address, visualize, and annotate every single object ever catalogued as well as to add new ones on the fly in any way I pleased.

Try that with paper charts. I believe they have only a decorative value nowadays of large handheld AMOLED screens and quadcore brains behind them.

The Aladin online service is great indeed. But it requires Internet access and not dark-adapted-eyes-friendly. Not even close. So it's (and alike services, and PC apps like Stellarium) for pre- post- observing time only.

You're very lucky living in California, a few years back (pre-astronomy) I spent a lot of time working in the high desert region of Ridgecrest. The night sky there was mindblowing when you got into the hills and away from the town.

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14 hours ago, AlexK said:

All paper charts require you to work at some table and with a bright flashlight.

...

  I'm crunching hard DSOs by hundreds a night and have time to revisit favorite sky-candies as well 😍

 

I use a dim red flashlight. Table: accepted. If you're in an observatory we can assume you have one.  If not, a small fold-up table is lightweight and cart around a

Your second statement is the real difference between your technique and mine. When observing visually I like to look rather glance at something. "Hundreds a night" --- let's be very conservative and  assume only 200 in an 8-hour night which is 2.4 minutes per object, including overheads. In practice I very rarely observe anywhere near 8 hours in a single session.

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Just now, Xilman said:

I use a dim red flashlight. Table: accepted. If you're in an observatory we can assume you have one.  If not, a small fold-up table is lightweight and cart around a

AARGH! The above got posted somehow before it was complete and I can't find an edit button.

What I meant to post was:

 

... cart around and set-up.

IMO, we are both right. Do what works for you and I'll do what works for me.

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11 minutes ago, Xilman said:

AARGH! The above got posted somehow before it was complete and I can't find an edit button.

What I meant to post was:

 

... cart around and set-up.

IMO, we are both right. Do what works for you and I'll do what works for me.

Click on the 3 dots on the right hand side to bring edit up :thumbsup:

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On 05/01/2021 at 12:14, Craig F said:

Thanks @wibblefish and @nephilim, some great advice there. It's a bit overwhelming all of this, but as I said in my OP, its something I've wanted to get into for many years. I think I'll look into getting some bino's to use whilst I'm waiting for the scope, to get me used to the night sky and learn where "things" are.  I'll also look into the apps and book  suggestions.

I too am a beginner (making up for lost time after re-kindling in lockdown a childhood astronomy obsession that fizzled out after the purchase of a wobbly toy telescope) & would say don't be overwhelmed - there's a wealth of amazing knowledge and experience on here and I've noticed lots of patience too!   

To echo what others have said, while waiting for my "big" birthday & hence telescope to come I bought a pair of 10x50s and spent a few evenings out on a sun lounger in the garden with them, re-learning some main constellations and finding a few favourite things to look at in more detail later. Really helpful for getting my bearings and very enjoyable, in fact I have found myself finishing up most longer observing sessions with a relaxed quick tour of my favourite binocular objects.    As above I am now using the binoculars to confirm what I am looking at in the finder - I have a Telrad sticky-padded to the telescope barrel to get me in the general area and a 9x50 finderscope to centre - the bins are great way of confirming what's in your finder scope and its relation to the rest of the sky.    

Edited by SuburbanMak
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14 hours ago, Xilman said:

I use a dim red flashlight. Table: accepted. If you're in an observatory we can assume you have one.  If not, a small fold-up table is lightweight and cart around a

Your second statement is the real difference between your technique and mine. When observing visually I like to look rather glance at something. "Hundreds a night" --- let's be very conservative and  assume only 200 in an 8-hour night which is 2.4 minutes per object, including overheads. In practice I very rarely observe anywhere near 8 hours in a single session.

Print on paper has a low contrast so your flashlight have to be much brighter that and OLED screen. In addition, paper is usually huge white background with some black disks, so all that light is wasted to just ruin your darkness adaptation. The screen is in reverse, so that's overwhelmingly less light.

Good math. Surely not for a beginner, just to showcase what is possible. But yes, on average, I spend 1 minute per target lately, as I'm on NGC/IC "marathon" for the past ~5 years. Thus 90% of objects I'm observing aren't showing any significant details to spend more than that. And thanks to the app, I can always tell at once if I should spend some more time trying distinguish any peculiarities because my app has Steve's Gotlieb NGC/IC database. As I've said, the overhead per object is nearly nonexistent in my flow. And I do squeeze out every darkness minute available from my multi-hundred mile trips. Even when resting in the chair. Why bother driving so far otherwise? I can rest all month before the next New Moon!

I agree, everyone has their own comfortable flow and goals.
But we have an unbiased beginner here. Am I wrong that he would be much happier spending just a minute finding a nice target on the provided list of good for his instrument and experience level targets available at the moment without any prior preparation even and then enjoy the view in the telescope as long as he would like, instead of struggling for hours fiddling with some papers, flashlights, and tables, and then frustrated with the view as his eyes are still not dark adapted?

Edited by AlexK
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The more you study a target, the more you will see. Returning to it over several sessions often starts to reveal more detail as well. There is no rush - the Universe is not going anywhere :icon_biggrin:

 

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I am finding that less is more. Spending quality time with my friends, looking at them for longer and sketching them is increasingly more stimulating than being a space tart.

Edited by Spile
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10 hours ago, AlexK said:

 And I do squeeze out every darkness minute available from my multi-hundred mile trips. Even when resting in the chair. Why bother driving so far otherwise? I can rest all month before the next New Moon!

 

There is another difference between our approaches. I don't drive anywhere. Neither, I suspect, would a beginner drive for hundreds of miles.

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20 hours ago, John said:

The more you study a target, the more you will see. Returning to it over several sessions often starts to reveal more detail as well. There is no rush - the Universe is not going anywhere :icon_biggrin:

Exactly. That's why you should strive for spending less time finding the target so you have more of the hobby time left for actual object studying. That's why there are so many different finders and objects finding techniques in existence. The handheld live digital star chart tech is the ultimate modern solution for that task in particular.

About the Universe:
"Oh Creator, what is it for you a million years? Just one second! What is it for you a million of dollars? Just one cent! Please, give me that cent! - No problem, just a sec!"

Edited by AlexK
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