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First Full Night With Decent Scope!!


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I've just had my first full night with the AstroMaster I bought saturday, and I've been blown away!

Last night was a brief 30mins snatched post-gig at about 1.30 whilst eatin my kebab, but the sheer number of stars I could see kinda confused me and I got too lost (I hadn't zeroed the finder scope yet).

Tonight, I went out with a fishing chair, the scope, a thermos and a list of targets I might wanna have a look at.

I started the night by zeroing my finder using the crescent moon as a target, as it was still light enough to tinker in safety. I was able to get some very good contrast between the different surfaces and slopes on the moon, and was stunned by the detail I could see when I used my 10mm lense! I've never been able to see so many of the finer impacts and craters! Already I could see that this scope is WELL worth the money I paid, so the nights off to a good start ;)

I got into practice moving the scope by seeing each star as they came out, starting with Sirius and then hitting Procyon, Betelgeuse and Orions Belt as they became visible.

First target of the night was M43, as it's the easiest DSO for me to locate. I was stunned by the amount of detail I could pick out, and the number of stars I could resolve! The images were so sharp, I was stunned! I could make out a tiny cluster of 4 stars in the centre of the nebula, with two others to the right, an incredible grayscale rendering of the cloud, and a vast number of other stars. It was a superb shot, and I've decided to get a good DSLR and all the mounting gear to have a crack at astrophotography!

Next in the firing line was M45, another easy target, but the moon obscured the view a bit. I could only make out the brighter stars, so all I could see was a mini-Ursa Major (the only way to describe it!) and not much else.

I then spent longer than I care to admit gawking at the number of stars in the head of Cancer! I had never noticed that cluster, but it grabbed my attention and I'm glad I've now got a scope that can satisfy my astronomical curiosity!

I decided to come in for a cuppa, happened to see Stellarium was still running, and it was pointed at Leo. I had noticed that evening that Leo looked a bit wierd, but as I've only just learnt that constellation I couldn't put my finger on why...then i saw it! Saturn! The planet that was my sole purpose for starting this hobby! I've always said that as long as I've seen saturns rings I'll die a happy man, and tonight was the first time I've ever had the opportunity, equipment and time to fulfil one of my life-long goals!

I had a hard time locating Saturn, as every time I realigned my finder to the planet, all i could see in the eyepiece was a wierd dot that I couldn't seem to focus, and there were other stars around it...then it became obvious I was looking at the ring edge on, with the moons in various phases of orbit. I couldn't believe I had finally seen Saturns rings! I was gobsmacked!

I can safely say that I'm ridiculously happy with my scope, and can't wait to get my first Galaxy, to go with my Neb, OC, and solar planet!

Thanks for all the help with 'stuff to look for', no doubt I'll start rattling through the lists before I know it!

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Sounds a great evening, now you are hooked. Make your first galaxies M81 / M 82 ..Hard to find but worth it when you do. You have to start at the non handle end and star hop but when you see the two fuzzies in the same field of view you will sya WOW..


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Phil your posts bring back so many happy memories for me. I was like you, so eager and keen and still am.

I'm glad you have seen Saturn it is without doubt one of the best objects to see.

Now on to a few galaxies and globular clusters.

As mark has said...

M81/82 and soon M31

Or Globular clusters M3 and soon M13.

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Thanks for your wonderfully enthusiastic report Phil, and congratulations on seeing Saturn's rings... but don't die a happy man just yet. ;)

After attaining their maximum closure (in Sept, if I remember correctly), Saturn's rings will begin to open again. You think you're gobsmacked now? Just wait a few years till you see them fully blossomed... they're absolutely stunning.

Thanks again. :rolleyes:

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  • 2 weeks later...

A great report phil. Love it. If you had moved the scope a little North from Saturn you mights have seen 2 or maybe 3 galaxies in the same field of view for your moneY! They might be faint but the Leo Triplet of galaxies was only a stones throw away from your finderscope. I agree with the comment that M81/M82 are a good starting point for galaxies as they are quite bright (Though still hard to locate sometimes).


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Great report Phil - your enthusiasm is infectious and I can just imagine you tweeking away at the focuser trying to get that "star" into focus. Yes, as Talitha mentioned, when the rings are wide open, it's almost like another planet. My only mental image from a direct view was a good few years back in a 4.5" reflector (and low quality eyepieces) so I guess with your setup, it will look a lot nicer.

On to some tougher targets tonight ?

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:) I'll be having a look for the galaxies in Leo next time I've got some clear skies!

I've had a few nights recently where I'm really struggling to find anything different/interesting...I'm still yet to see a galaxy, or a nebula other than Orion!

Hopefully my copy of T.L.@.Orion will arrive tomorrow and then I'll be crossing Messier objects off at a rate of knots! :)

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