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chris285

help trying to view planets

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i am quite new to all this still so you will have to bear with me, i got a skywatcher explorer for christmas and i have had chance to use it a few times since getting it. the moon and wide views of deeper sky objects like orions nebula are impressive, however i seem to be having a lot of trouble trying to observe the planets

what i find is that no matter the planet i get a orb of fuzzy light for the planet, so orange/red for mars and blue for venus so you get the idea. now the moon comes out clearly, and the clusters of stars also come out very clearly as well but its the planets i have problems with

a friend of mine says its likely to be the atmosphere causing problems when viewing, is he right or are there things i should check which i may be doing wrong?

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What do you get when you look at Saturn and Jupiter ? - they are much easier to view than Mars or Venus to be honest. Also what size (aperture) scope are you using and which eyepiece ?.

Saturn is well placed for viewing at the moment - use Stellarium (free software) to find out where it is night to night.

Edited by John

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appapture is 130mm/5 inches, i have tried saturn this evening with both a 10mm and 25mm eyepiece but all i seem to get is just a fuzzy image.

i have stellarium on my pc but went out of town for less light pollution to view

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It could be the angle that Saturn and venus are at when you are observing them.

Venus is low to the west after sunset, so the light is coming througha lot of atmoshpere and associated dirt. If Saturn is also low, then you'll have similar problems. Try Saturn when it's at culmination (highest point). It should sharpen up and the 10mm should pull it into focus.

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It could be the angle that Saturn and venus are at when you are observing them.

Yes, get them as high as possible. Venus is best observed in full sunlight - provided you can find it! (Be careful NOT to find the Sun!!! Use a wall which shades the scope but allows the sky in the direction of Venus to be seen.)

If you take your scope out of a warm house, allow it to cool for an hour or so before trying to get a good view of planets (or anything else needing high magnification). As it is cooling, turbulent air currents in the tube will have the scope make its own bad seeing.

Even so, bad seeing (unsteady air) is a major problem for most of us most of the time.

If you take your scope out of a warm house, allow it to cool for an hour or so before trying to get a good view of planets (or anything else needing high magnification). As it is cooling, turbulent air currents in the tube will have the scope make its own bad seeing.

Also check the collimation - your scope is f/5 and collimation is very critical with short focus Newtonians. A badly collimated scope will give a fuzzy image, lacking in detail, however good the seeing is and however close to ambient temperature the scope is.

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thanks for the replies guys, will take the comments on board and try again when the skies are good and i can try and get the planets high in the sky to look at. cheers for the comments :)

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Hi there,

For what it's worth I've got the same scope as you and last night I got some very nice views of Saturn and two of its moons (Titan and Rhea I think). I'm not saying this to gloat! Just pointing out that you should be fine to get decent views of the planets.

I'd start with Saturn as it's obviously distinctive and relatively easy to view. Last night I started with a 15mm eye piece giving an mag of 43-ish and could focus it to a crisp "London Underground" sign that seemed about 3-4 mm across. I put in the Barlow for more mag and could focus, less crisply, and got a bigger view but with no more detail.

I put my scope out at about 9.15 and left it for about 45 mins (while I played Uncharted 2. So it might have been out there longer!). When I went out it was very damp though the skys were clear. The only time I've had problems with dew (or ice) were when my eye pieces became misted up and I was then unable to see anything of the planets. They were fuzzy and unable to focus on. This happened at the end of the session after I'd viewed other stuff successfully. I wonder did you view the moon, Orion and the stars first and then found you couldn't view the planets? Perhaps dew was the problem.

I'm in SE London and the light pollution is quite bad but I seem to be able to view the planets pretty well. Well, Mars is a pain, but that's the case for everyone.

Good luck!

Stu

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i went out near my parents a mile or so from any light source, i didn't leave it 45 mins to get down to temperature after driving so guesssing that will not help

i did view the moon and orions belt to start with, guess i will try it when the weather is good next leaving it out first

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I saw the moon through a pair of binoculars last night for the first time. Wow! Twas incredible. I know this is very basic but hey! Now I want to see some of the planets, apart from 'in the sky' where do I look and how do I locate them? If the Egyptians etc knew where to look, and they didn't have binoculars, it can't be that hard. Can it?

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try stellarium, its a free download and you tell it where you are and it shows you whats in the sky and where :)

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bit of an update, got the scope out having got in from work niced and early and hoping to get some decent viewing in

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i also have the same scope chris, i can view saturn quite well, i see a bright disc with the rings around it, might sound silly but make sure you play about with the focus at a slow and steady rate untill you focus in with each eyepiece to get a better image.

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well i think this evening the conditions were not right for viewing saturn or mars, moon was too bright and i think other factors did not help

on the plus side made some progress using the barlow lense i have as well so pleased with that, got some good views of the moon as close as i have so far :)

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Planets are so obvious in the sky, once you have seen one, you'll be able to spot them really easily.

This is true. Once you have seen one planet (even naked eye) you will see just how different it is from stars and you can scan the night sky and pick the rest of them off (well the 4 big bright ones...........Venus,Mars,Saturn and Jupiter) when they are observable.

Uranus and Neptune are not so obvious.

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