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Due to the recent weather I have not been out as much as I would have liked.  Managed to get out last night, but it wasn't really successful, the moon decided not to show up 😆

What is the best way to identify objects, I have a phone app that will point me in the direction of planets, but at the moment nothing is really viewable?

I can find Mars easy enough, but struggle to focus, maybe I need to be a little more soft on the focus.  The sky was bright with stars last night, but in the end I was better of just looking with the naked eye.  Any pointers gratefully appreciated.

Thanks

Andy

 

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Hi Andy,

  I enjoy using an old-fashioned star atlas such as Norton's Star Atlas, or S&T Pocket Sky Atlas. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with the constellations.  Once you've got a few of the major constellations under your belt you'll be able to find your way around the night sky. Even though the Moon wasn't on view, there is still plenty to see, even in a small scope. Orion is a large constellation that is easy to find. Beneath the three belt stars are three fainter vertical stars ( known as the sword) or thats how it appears. In fact the middle star in the sword is the Great Orion Nebula or M42 (M stands for Messier, after a French astronomer called Charles Messier). See if you can find Orion and the sword on the next clear night. Aim your scope or binoculars at the centre star in the sword and you'll see a beautiful nebula.

It might help if we knew what equipment you are using too!

Edited by mikeDnight
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The free program stellarium is very useful. It'll tell you where the planets are (and everything else). The book 'Turn Left at Orion' also helped me a lot. When I started I looked at the moon, Jupiter and Saturn then I didn't know what to look for.

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12 minutes ago, domstar said:

The free program stellarium is very useful. It'll tell you where the planets are (and everything else). The book 'Turn Left at Orion' also helped me a lot. When I started I looked at the moon, Jupiter and Saturn then I didn't know what to look for.

I second that - Turn Left at Orion is good.  With the focussing, I find it best to tweak the focus a little and then take my hands off, to let vibrations damp down again.  If the atmosphere is very turbulent, objects change shape a lot - this might give the impression that you're not in focus when you actually are. 

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34 minutes ago, mikeDnight said:

Hi Andy,

  I enjoy using an old-fashioned star atlas such as Norton's Star Atlas, or S&T Pocket Sky Atlas. It's a great way to familiarize yourself with the constellations.  Once you've got a few of the major constellations under your belt you'll be able to find your way around the night sky. Even though the Moon wasn't on view, there is still plenty to see, even in a small scope. Orion is a large constellation that is easy to find. Beneath the three belt stars are three fainter vertical stars ( known as the sword) or thats how it appears. In fact the middle star in the sword is the Great Orion Nebula or M42 (M stands for Messier, after a French astronomer called Charles Messier). See if you can find Orion and the sword on the next clear night. Aim your scope or binoculars at the centre star in the sword and you'll see a beautiful nebula.

It might help if we knew what equipment you are using too!

Thanks Red Dwarf, that is very helpful.  I will look at the Atlas's that you have mentioned.  I have a DOB 150P classic.  I also have a 2x Barlow lens.  I suppose not using one before I have no idea of what I should be able to see?

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30 minutes ago, domstar said:

The free program stellarium is very useful. It'll tell you where the planets are (and everything else). The book 'Turn Left at Orion' also helped me a lot. When I started I looked at the moon, Jupiter and Saturn then I didn't know what to look for.

I do have StarTracker, which is the paid version, but I get the feeling that it's not always pointing in the correct place.  I will order that book, many thanks.

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7 minutes ago, domstar said:

Yes, I always focus on a star before I look at a planet. I'm never sure if I'm properly focused on Mars.

 

I know this is a daft question but, what should a focused start look like in the scope?  I have two eyepieces and a 2x Barlow lens, and I probably spend too much time interchanging.

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@Andy350 To focus on a star, make it as small as possible. When it starts getting bigger again, you've gone too far. A small dot is what you are looking for. I choose a bright star but maybe not Sirius or Rigel, which are too bright and low for me to focus easily. 

 

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Depends on your telescope, I think.  My experience is only with reflectors (I have a 6" dobsonian).  You'll see the star itself as a single bright point, with diffraction spikes off to the sides.  I think (correct me if I'm wrong experienced people) that the number of spikes depends on the number of arms you have holding the secondary mirror in place (I have 3 arms on mine, and see 6 spikes).  If you're using a refractor, no spikes.

Pete

Edited by Orange Smartie
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1 hour ago, Andy350 said:

Thanks Red Dwarf, that is very helpful.  I will look at the Atlas's that you have mentioned.  I have a DOB 150P classic.  I also have a 2x Barlow lens.  I suppose not using one before I have no idea of what I should be able to see?

That's a very good telescope and capable of showing you spectacular views.  If you have a 25mm eyepiece,  you'll have a great view of the Orion Nebula. The barlow might come in handy when viewing the Moon, planets and double stars. Many deep sky targets are quite large, so hunting them down using an eyepiece of 25mm or 30mm focal length can be great fun. 

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2 minutes ago, mikeDnight said:

That's a very good telescope and capable of showing you spectacular views.  If you have a 25mm eyepiece,  you'll have a great view of the Orion Nebula. The barlow might come in handy when viewing the Moon, planets and double stars. Many deep sky targets are quite large, so hunting them down using an eyepiece of 25mm or 30mm focal length can be great fun. 

Am I better off just using the 25mm eyepiece with the barlow when viewing the Orion Nebula?  I am hoping to go out tonight if the skies are clear.

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24 minutes ago, Andy350 said:

Am I better off just using the 25mm eyepiece with the barlow when viewing the Orion Nebula?  I am hoping to go out tonight if the skies are clear.

You'll probably get a better view using the 25mm and no barlow, that gives you 30x and just over 1-degree field of view (FOV). If you use the barlow, you'll not fit all of the nebula in the FOV (it'll be halved with a 2x barlow). Try it and see though, you might want to get a closer look at some parts.

Edited by wulfrun
clarity
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