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I need tips and advice on hunting DSOs


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Hi.

I been trying to find DSOs, some with success. Problem is I always seem to miss the initial pointing to the specific star where I plan to start star hopping.

I mean, I try to align my eye with my finder scope (a 9x50) in order to make the inicial pointing to the star, but I never get the star I'm pointing at in the finderscope FOV. Worst is somtimes it misses up, sometimes it misses down so I can't even compensate for the error in advance.

Any advice on how to do it better?

After I do get the object in the finderscope, it's also in the EP FOV since I did allign them well.

Another thing: Do you guys use detailed finder charts of the area for DSOs? If so, where can I find them?

Is there a good software specificly designed to help plan DSOs observing sessions and get the finder charts for each one?

PS-> I know I could turn on the push-to system, but I only bought it in case frustration sinks in. I prefer to actually "know" the sky and find things for myself.

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Hello pvaz,

First off, I'm really pleased that you've decided to learn the sky yourself first. Go-To is great but you'll get so much more satisfaction from learning your way around your self. Keep with it, it'll only benefit you in the long run.

On the finderscope - are you sure you have aligned it correctly? You say sometimes it misses up and it misses down, it sounds like they aren't quite aligned correctly. There might be some instructions in your telescope manual on how to do this - if not, be sure to align in the daytime. Get a distant object in your FOV using a low power eyepiece (like your 25mm). Then align the finderscope so that the object appears in the eyepiece and centred on the finderscope crosshairs or laser dot at the same time. I then stepped up the magnification (using the 10mm EP, for example) in order to see how accurate my alignment was. I had such frustration trying to find M57, a planetary nebula in Lyra, but once I took the advice of lining up the finder correctly and precisely, I found it straight away and with ease :D When you are DSO hunting, make sure you use that 25mm EP - it'll give you a nice wide view of space, making it more probable that'll you'll stumble on your targeted DSO sooner, rather than later. Once you have it centred, then step up the magnification using a 10mm EP and barlow lenses.

Personally, I don't use detailed charts to find DSOs - or at least I haven't until now! I use a basic star map, make sure the EP I am using is the lowest mag I have (25mm) and then use my finder to get myself in the right area. Then I just pan around slowly and methodically in RA and DEC and look out for that elusive little grey fuzzy patch that is a DSO :D

I haven't used Cartes du Ciel but have often heard it recommended for planning observing sessions - you can print out your own specific star maps. Stellarium is of course another excellent piece of software - you might have it already. It can be really helpful to have it running when you're out with the telescope, just so you can check your position in relation to obvious star shapes near by. It has a night mode so it won't ruin your dark adapted vision, too.

The most important and helpful piece of advice I had when I started was not to rush things. It's not a race... just take your time and be contented with finding one or two DSOs in a night. Of course, if you do happen to bag loads and loads in one night, that's brilliant! Just remember, astronomy is a hobby for life, you've got a whole lifetime to hunt down all the DSOs you want to see! :)

I hope this helps, more people will be along shortly to offer their advice :)

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Hi.

PS-> I know I could turn on the push-to system, but I only bought it in case frustration sinks in. I prefer to actually "know" the sky and find things for myself.

:D:hello2::)

with practice, pointing your finder at a star becomes pretty much second nature - I found that I tended to aim too high (I think it has something to do with light refracting in the atmosphere :D) but i can hit them pretty well every time now.

btw, a 6x30 finder will have quite a bit bigger FOV than your 9x50 (but will lose out in other ways).

A good star atlas is Tirion and Sinnot (or something like that...) but CdC is probably even better as you can print off maps showing only the mags you want.

(and if all else fails you could buy "Turn left at Orion" :))

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hi Pvaz,

I'm a newbie so my advice is going to be somewhat limited,....

The one thing I couldn't do without is my red dot finder. It's perfect for doing an initial line up on the general area to go hunting in.

before I had a red dot finder on my 10" scope I too was having the same problem of trying to line my eye up with the scope and almost always, I was way out....I did get a lot better at using my finderscope !.... but also got neck ache :D....

The red dot is really quick and it gets me in the right area pretty much straight away....after that I fine tune in the finderscope.

I'm not very good at star hopping myself yet and so find this sometimes quite hard to do...and I almost never plan my targets with star charts...I just have a quick look at stellarium before I go out and then go hunting.......I think like you I'm gonna have to plan, and make use of charts, a lot better in the future so I'll be looking on this thread with interest.

hope this helps a little until a more experienced dso hunter comes along..

regards craig.:D

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Craig has a valid point there pvaz, you are using a finderscope, that will magnify the area you are pointing it at slightly. How about trying a bog standard (but nonetheless brilliant) red dot finder? It works in a similar way but just doesn't magnify at all. You are looking at the sky as you normally see it (and how it would appear on a starmap) so it makes finding things even easier.

Something like this could be ideal.

Nice one Craig :D :D

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I learnt to star hop by using a Telrad and CduC. I must admit since my manual setting circles and wixey has been fitted I don't star hop much.

CduC has Telrad overlays so this makes star hopping a little easier.

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When you are using the finderscope keep both eyes open, that way you can still see the sky with the eye not looking through the finder with the cross hairs from the finder superimposed onto you're naked eye view of the sky.

Next just move the scope so the crosshairs meet with your naked eye view of the star, when you get close to the star you will see it magnified in the view of the finder and can centre it in the crosshairs.

With this method you get the best of both worlds, the ease of a red dot finder (with both eyes open) and the acracy of the magnified finder (when you get close and close the naked view eye)

Hope that makes sense and helps.

Mike.

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This is where "red dot" type finders such as the Telrad and the Rigel Quikfinder really score I think. Rather than a red dot they project concentric circles against the sky (3 in the case of the Telrad, 2 for the Quickfinder). Becuase you know the angular diameter of these circles they are helpful for working out how far from a nearby star to point the scope so that the DSO you are hunting will be in the FoV of a low powered eyepiece.

John

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This is where "red dot" type finders such as the Telrad and the Rigel Quikfinder really score I think. Rather than a red dot they project concentric circles against the sky (3 in the case of the Telrad, 2 for the Quickfinder). Becuase you know the angular diameter of these circles they are helpful for working out how far from a nearby star to point the scope so that the DSO you are hunting will be in the FoV of a low powered eyepiece.

John

1st of all, tanks to everyone for the quick responses.

I googled Telrad and found this hands-on review. It seams to be exactly what I need for the initial alignment.

As to the software, I do have CdC installed. though I didn't explore it enough. I'll give it a better look.

I also bought Turn Left and it seams great as a starting point. I'll start with the objects there for summer/autumn and maybe even winter if I feel like hanging in the cold until 4/5 am.

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Hi Pvaz

I admire your approach and it's a great way to find your way around the heavens? Me? ... I'm a lazy devil and use GoTo!

My one piece of advice would be to buy a copy of 'Turn Left at Orion'. It's a great book and identifies many of DSO's visible at different times of the year. It's organised around the seasons and provides reasonably detailed instructions on how to starhop to the DSO and has the added advantage of showing what the image should look like in the finderscope and also in the main scope.

The other book I use and would recommend is 'illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders' published by O'Reilly. This one is organised around the constellations and includes more detailed star charts for each constellation.

Steve

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Hi Pvaz

The other book I use and would recommend is 'illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders' published by O'Reilly. This one is organised around the constellations and includes more detailed star charts for each constellation.

e

Thanks Steve.

I'll start with turn left for now, since I just got a copy. When I'm done with it I'll get 'illustrated Guide to Astronomical Wonders' to keep going.

I think the finder will make the bigger difference though, since the main problem I have now is getting to the "starting point" of my starhop plan. Takes me quite some time to get it in my current finder and often I get lost looking through it, because I'm not sure whether I have the right bright star in the FOV.

Last night (at 5 am) I was giving a go at Mars, started in Pollux and panned right. I end up getting lost and pointing off to the right. There was an object with somewhat of a red tint to it so I increased mag. Only after a while noticed that was a star. When I lift my head I noticed I was actually pointing at Betelgeuse... :D:D

In my defense the house was blocking most of Orion so it wasn't that obvious of a mistake. :)

When I finally got back on track a big cloud came in...

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Pvaz

A Telrad would be a good idea and should help you get to the starting point ... and then it's up to you!

And don't worry, you have now joined a long list of others who have also got lost finding their way around. If it was too easy, there wouldn't be the challenge

Steve

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The most important and helpful piece of advice I had when I started was not to rush things. It's not a race... just take your time and be contented with finding one or two DSOs in a night.

Thanks for the advice. I think thats something I'll learn with this hobby. I'm a full time custom software/hardware developer and patience is not a word I'm used to, since it's a stressful profession with lots of requirements and time demands. :D

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I can only begin to imagine pvaz! I'm sure you'll get the hang of star hopping and finding objects soon enough and I hope you get alot of clear nights to practice :D we're going into the long dark nights now, a perfect time of year to harness your astronomy skills :D

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Like many have posted, I thoroughly recommend a zero magnification finder - I use a simple but well made Red Dot Finder and have no trouble at all finding my DSO's - except when they are exceptionally faint and / or I need ultra dark skies. At a recent trip to Kelling, I found every object I wanted in just a few moments except NGC1 and 2 (but they weren't even on the star map.)

And following Gliderpilots advice at SSP, I picked up a copy of SKy and Telescopes Pocket Star Atlas - bought 2nd hand (but actually new) from Amazon. It's amazingly portable, needs no power and has laminated pages - perfect.

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Just found M57 for the 1st time. After another troublesome initial alignment with Vega starhoping was pretty easy for this one.

Had a great view with the 10mm, sow a perfect small smoke ring. I tried it with barlow but I lost definition and went back to the 10mm alone.

After a nice 15 min or so, it start raining a LOT so I had to run in with an 8" scope. My neighbor seamed amused when he sow that... at least the rain made someone have a laugh. :D:D

Edit: Erm... I'm getting off topic on my own topic! :)

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Well it's not too much off topic - M57 was one of the first DSO's I saw when I only had my 9x50 finder because the stars you need to 'hop' from are close together. After I got my Rigel Quickfinder which is similar to the Telard as in it has red circles - I'm able to find DSO's quicker and easier so would definitely recommend some sort of RDF like the other people on the thread have already said!! :D

As for the rain I live in Scotland so I know all about.....(better not swear) rain!! :D

Cheers

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Another cheap and effective way to get around is a Wixey Misc’ - Wixey digital angle gauge a digital compass Omnisat Digital Satellite Compass : Satellite Finders & Meters : Maplin and a program like Stellarium. Get the coordinates of the object you want to see from Stellarium move your scope to the correct direction in degrees using the compass aligned to the scope then move to the correct angle using your wixey also attached to your scope.

I use a 30mm wide angle eyepiece to begin with and always find the object in my field of view.

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