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Expectations vs reality.


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Sky-Watcher 200P as recommended by staff at Kielder Observatory as a good starter telescope, two of whom own one. SVbony 8-24 zoom, 2x barlow & moon filter. Clear sky last night so was able to start viewing.  Got some good views of the moon, the rest where just blurs in the distance, that was about it. Are we expecting too much from this set-up.20220708_215354.thumb.jpg.6c66518252150e551c85bea3b7f01bff.jpg

TIA,

Malcolm.

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In SE Northumberland you are probably in an area with Bortle 7 levels of light pollution. At Kielder you would be in Bortle 3 (there is a good reference to Bortle on Wikipedia). In Bortle 7, visual observing will require quite a bit of preparation to make sure you can get your eyes accustomed to the dark, and keep them so during a session. Dark screening panels and an eyepatch may help. I live with Bortle 5 conditions and several yellow streetlights that play directly into the garden where I do my astronomy. I was out last night observing the moon, but didn’t try other objects except for aligning my mount on bright stars. You may be able to drive to a darker sky area, not too far away. I can reach Bortle 4 skies in half an hour.

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56 minutes ago, CraigT82 said:

When you say the rest what do you mean? 
 

If you mean deep sky objects (DSO: galaxies and nebula) then yes they are usually grey smudges in even large amateur telescopes. 

 

3 minutes ago, Avocette said:

In SE Northumberland you are probably in an area with Bortle 7 levels of light pollution. At Kielder you would be in Bortle 3 (there is a good reference to Bortle on Wikipedia). In Bortle 7, visual observing will require quite a bit of preparation to make sure you can get your eyes accustomed to the dark, and keep them so during a session. Dark screening panels and an eyepatch may help. I live with Bortle 5 conditions and several yellow streetlights that play directly into the garden where I do my astronomy. I was out last night observing the moon, but didn’t try other objects except for aligning my mount on bright stars. You may be able to drive to a darker sky area, not too far away. I can reach Bortle 4 skies in half an hour.

Yeah, on the UK light pollution map we are in Bortle 5 area. We did spend about 30 mins outside and our eyes did become accustomed to the dark. We are in the middle of an estate, back garden pointing south, with limited east and west viewing. 

I think it just down the wife being disappointed with searching stars, expecting better viewing. Probably because those who recommended did say they could see quite alot of objects that the huge telescope in the observatory could see. Dare say its all relative depending on the quality of equipment.

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At this time of year, it's not getting really dark. You're pretty close to me (relatively) and the skies are light all night long. Later in the year, things will improve dramatically.

An 8" dob of is excellent starter scope and will show you lots. But for now, you'll be limited to the moon and any planets that you might have sight of. Jupiter and Saturn will be visible early morning if you have a clear easterly horizon. Otherwise you will have to wait a few months for them to rise earlier.

A lot of us spend the summer months observing double-stars, but that's not always a good target for new astronomers. However, double-double (Epsilon Lyrae) is well positioned now. If the seeing conditions are good (stable), see if you can split both.

Edited by Pixies
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Thanks for all of the replies and suggestions. We did comment after buying the scope that we probably bought it at the wrong time of the year to expect good results.

We will spend the time getting used to it, viewing the moon, in anticipation of the darker skies to come.

Malcolm.

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I have the 200P and is an amazing telescope. Yes it's not dark yet to see DSO but it is getting there. You may want to look at the observing reports here with similar setup. A copy of Turn left at Orion I'd a great book, and things will look similar to the sketches there. Don't expect colour in most nebulas. Invest in a RACI and an atlas or some phone app to find your way around.

Have a look here as well:

 

 

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45 minutes ago, Kon said:

I have the 200P and is an amazing telescope. Yes it's not dark yet to see DSO but it is getting there. You may want to look at the observing reports here with similar setup. A copy of Turn left at Orion I'd a great book, and things will look similar to the sketches there. Don't expect colour in most nebulas. Invest in a RACI and an atlas or some phone app to find your way around.

Have a look here as well:

 

 

Thanks. Got the phone apps Sky Walk 2 and Stellarium, also got the book Turn left at Orion. I think we just need to be patient and learn. 

Thanks,

Malcolm.

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There is no true darkness to enjoy DSO properly. In early evening (I mean 10-11pm at this time of the year!) in addition to the Moon you could try some classic double stars, they could be seen even in twilight. Try Albireo, Rasalgethi and Mizar, you won't be disappointed! 

Edited by Nik271
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Hi,

I can try and give a little advice from another still beginner and owner of the same Skywatcher Skyliner 200p Dob. I’ve been into this since getting a small reflector for my daughter as a Christmas present in December 2020. The 200p given to me for free, although it needed quite a bit of work, just over a year ago. I also should say that if it was easy everyone would be doing it and it does take time and a fist full of patience! I’m in Southampton which is Bortle 7, I dream of Bortle 5! :) I could spend an age talking about my experience but I’ll try and keep it short. 

In this time we’ve managed, from my Bortle 7 back garden, to observe and get good views of such things as the galaxies M81 & M82, occasionally stunning too, the Orion Nebula, the Ring Nebula, Dumbbell Nebula, various globular clusters, a host of lovely open clusters (don’t dismiss these, some are spectacular), double stars, planets Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and recently Mars. I was chuffed to actually make out an ice cap on Mars even thought it was tiny. Last summer & autumn we spent every opportunity viewing Jupiter and Saturn with my daughter, she loves the gas giants. Some nights better than others but in the 200p we got some stunning views of the Great Red Spot, saw shadow transits, Cassini division on Saturn’s ring, banding on Saturn. And of course lots and lots of lunar. I also got a white light solar filter and discovered that me and my daughter really enjoyed viewing sunspots. 

But it did take time and patience. Using the globular clusters M13 as an example. I first tried to view this last year in early summer, however, it was disappointing and just a fuzzy ball of light. It was disappointing because astro darkness had all but gone and by this time M13 wasn’t in a good position for my back garden. I since learnt that high up is darkest and that a patch roughly E-SE is darker too. Also the darkest time of night for me is between 1-2am. So this year I tried M13 again but chose a time of year with Astro darkness, when M13 was high-ish and roughly SE at 1:30am. The views were literally night and day from what I saw the year before - it was not just a fuzzy ball but I could make out dozens of stars, like a glitter ball in the sky.

I also have a SVbony 7-21 zoom, however, we didn’t get on with it. My daughter really struggled and I had thought that a zoom would be good for her. The problem we found wasn’t just the narrow field of view but the contrast was poor, really poor for nebula and globular clusters. But your mileage may be different. I still found it useful as a guide to what fixed eyepiece to use when viewing certain targets. 

Hope that helps, but don’t give in and keep trying, it’s a great hobby!

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As others have said with not been really full dark at night its not the best time to view things, and darkest period is around 12:30 to 1am. By the end of July we should be starting to get darker skies coming back again slowly. Until then enjoy the phases of the moon along the terminator watching craters etc slowly emerging from the shadows, and maybe try for some of the easier double stars in the sky. Some like Alberio in Cygnus have nice colour contrasts. 
 

https://astronomynow.com/2017/06/24/seeing-double-in-the-summer-sky/

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54 minutes ago, Nik271 said:

There is no true darkness to enjoy DSO properly. In early evening (I mean 10-11pm at this time of the year!) in addition to the Moon you could try some classic double stars, they could be seen even in twilight. Try Albireo, Rasalgethi and Mizar, you won't be disappointed! 

Sorry Nik271. Didn’t read all posts fully, so see you suggested Alberio already. 👍🏻

Edited by Knighty2112
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If you fancy getting some early morning action on some planets at around 2:30am they are strung out nicely in the sky. Saturn, Jupiter and Mars should be easy to pick out and find.

The green line above the horizon is the approx roofline of buildings where I live, but I set the location for SW Northumberland to show the view near you. BTW: Neptune and Uranus should be seeable with your scope, however as they are small still and look like stars unless greatly magnified they will take some skill in narrowing them down in your scope.

7B01301B-C3BB-4783-89E9-615ADC5B0EF5.thumb.png.dd057d7acfa88f47f6d09b4323604ac0.png

Edited by Knighty2112
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One other point. You could argue that now is a good time to get a telescope. Eg the nights are warm which makes it easier to stay out and practice. I found, that at first, there’s a lot of faffing about getting use to what is obviously new equipment. After a while this becomes second nature and you developed a routine that works for you.

Getting a telescope in winter meant a lot of time working things out. And being winter many more nights were cloudy. So much so that I missed good targets and had to wait another year for them to come around again. 

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Another problem at the moment is the moon will be washing out DSOs.  As you probably know there's a roughly 4 week lunar cycle.  In a fortnight the moon won't be up in the evening and DSOs will then be very much more visible.

For the times of moonrise and moon set go to http://www.timeanddate.com/moon

Edited by Second Time Around
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40 minutes ago, Second Time Around said:

Another problem at the moment is the moon will be washing out DSOs.  As you probably know there's a roughly 4 week lunar cycle.  In a fortnight the moon won't be up in the evening and DSOs will then be very much more visible.

For the times of moonrise and moon set go to http://www.timeanddate.com/moon

And for some reason it’s always cloudy when there’s a new moon :(

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One HUGE observational problem... EUROPE- Skies do not get truly DARK during summer months, light pollution, along with various other forms of pollution, add to that the inclement weather, rain, clouds, fog more clouds and extra clouds!

I was spoilt as lived 100Km due West of Sydney in the mountains (until 4 years ago) where the skies were consistently Bortle 1. Czech Republic seems to be constantly covered by a layer of clouds 😞 Even when not cloudy, once a blue moon, the night sky seldom improves over Bortle 5-6... AND that's 100 Km South of Prague in a rural (farming) district!!

The moral to this post? Don't expect to see much of interest if the skies are NOT Bortle 1.... Sighs 😞 

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Lots of reasons posted already why this time of year is not great for DSOs, but ill chime in on the expectations part.

I too was sorely disappointed when trying to look for DSOs for the first time with both my 130mm and 200mm newtonians, but found that over time an attitude adjustment made the disappointing smudges into exciting smudges. I was trying to match the faint object in the eyepiece to something i had seen online, but this is a hopeless endeavor and it just will never look the same as a picture online - the 2 fields of observing and imaging are hardly comparable and this is something i suspect most beginners dont realize. Then i tried to not match the object into anything i had seen but just tried to observe the most detail i could from them and this makes it enjoyable. Not trying to "progress" or "tick boxes" of milestones makes the act of observing a visually not-that-exciting puff of smoke in the eyepiece much more enjoyable. Even though primarily i do astrophotography and try to create the most exciting picture i can, the rare treat of observing faint smudges occupies about an equal part of my fondest memories in the hobby.

Then start thinking about the brain shattering distances involved. Why would i be disappointed that this bunch of photons from another galaxy isn't brighter. It traveled millions of years to reach my eye. MILLIONS! Its a miracle there is anything at all!

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2 hours ago, SthBohemia said:

The moral to this post? Don't expect to see much of interest if the skies are NOT Bortle 1.... Sighs 😞 

Sorry, I don’t agree. Yes, whilst bortle 1 skies would be perfect, in the real world for the majority of people we have to cope with a lot less than this and there is still plenty to see up in the night sky. If there wasn’t then most of us would have packed it in and looked for another hobby. 

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9 minutes ago, Knighty2112 said:

Sorry, I don’t agree.

My point actually was, to be more specific... It is a LOT more fun to search for DSO fuzzy patches with a pair of binoculars within a night sky absolutely illuminated with stars. Sighs, I think I simply miss the spectacular views of clear night skies, 'dats' life I guess....

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8 hours ago, malgpz900 said:

 

Yeah, on the UK light pollution map we are in Bortle 5 area. We did spend about 30 mins outside and our eyes did become accustomed to the dark. We are in the middle of an estate, back garden pointing south, with limited east and west viewing. 

I think it just down the wife being disappointed with searching stars, expecting better viewing. Probably because those who recommended did say they could see quite alot of objects that the huge telescope in the observatory could see. Dare say its all relative depending on the quality of equipment.

Time and darker skies are what you need. Time to practice hunting down and tracking objects. Time to discover what magnifications work best depending on the object you wish to view and the seeing conditions. Time to become practiced at mirror collimation.

Finally time will carry you along to longer and darker nights when all the above is mastered and DSOs start to pop. Many will be smudges still but think about how far those photons hitting your eye have travelled...

In the meantime, enjoy the moon phases and if you are able to get out really early, marvel at the brighter planets. 

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34 minutes ago, SthBohemia said:

My point actually was, to be more specific... It is a LOT more fun to search for DSO fuzzy patches with a pair of binoculars within a night sky absolutely illuminated with stars. Sighs, I think I simply miss the spectacular views of clear night skies, 'dats' life I guess....

I agree. A good pair of binoculars is great for that. M13 in an 8 inch reflector even in bortle 5/6 areas is still a great sight to see on a dark night. Many a night I’ve just gazed at it for ages soaking it all in! ;) 

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15 hours ago, SthBohemia said:

One HUGE observational problem... EUROPE- Skies do not get truly DARK during summer months, light pollution, along with various other forms of pollution, add to that the inclement weather, rain, clouds, fog more clouds and extra clouds!

I was spoilt as lived 100Km due West of Sydney in the mountains (until 4 years ago) where the skies were consistently Bortle 1. Czech Republic seems to be constantly covered by a layer of clouds 😞 Even when not cloudy, once a blue moon, the night sky seldom improves over Bortle 5-6... AND that's 100 Km South of Prague in a rural (farming) district!!

The moral to this post? Don't expect to see much of interest if the skies are NOT Bortle 1.... Sighs 😞 

Not all of Europe!  Here in South East France, just outside a tiny village, I sometimes get zenith SQM readings of 22.  The Zodiacal light is easy and, when my eyes were younger, I could see the Gegenshein. Guests who also go to Namibia say there is no difference between the skies at the zenith, though the desert skies are darker towards the horizon.

Olly

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