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I'm expecting too much..?

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Hi, first of all please excuse my idiocy/ignorance

I'm completely new to this

So the other day I bought a Celestron Astromaster 130EQ

Celestron Astromaster 130EQ: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics & Photo

I have done my research and saw that this was a well recommended scope.

It arrived yesterday, I followed all the instructions and built it without any problems. Luckily for me last night was perfectly clear so I was able to use it straight away.

The first thing I see when I step outside is a really bright "star". Its easily the brightest thing in the sky. It was about 10PM and (roughly) due west. I don't know much about the sky but using the software that came with the scope I was guessing this was maybe Saturn.

So after a lengthy process of actually finding it in the scope (the mount takes some getting used to), I see a bright light through the eyepiece. It was completely out of focus at first so it looked massive. I slowly started to focus. And it got smaller... and smaller... and smaller. It ended up as just a tiny pinprick of light... At the time I was using the 20mm eyepiece so I switched the the 10mm. And there was no difference. I was expecting to see the Rings of Saturn? But all I can see is a tiny jewel in the sky. It looks exactly the same through a cheap pair of binoculars that I have...

So basically my question is; Am I expecting too much? Is this all I'm ever going to be able to see? Or am I doing something wrong?

Thanks for taking the time to read this

Any advice would be very welcome



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I suspect, since it was bright, and in the West, it was Venus. This is actually quite a difficult target for most scopes. Variable in size, and so bright, that it challenges even quite good optics (and observers). The fact though that your scope gave (ultimately) a fairly small point of light is actually encouraging! :D

I think one does develop realistic expectations after a while - As someone once suggested, the planets are "quite small and very far away". Don't be too despondent: In the interim, for developing observing skills, there are OTHER fine and imposing sights. A basic star chart will help you find the REAL Saturn. Coming soon: The Moon - Also (and more generally on view) star clusters, double stars etc. etc. :)

P.S. Oooops, failed to note you said 10 p.m. - Venus would have almost set. Perhaps (orange!) Mars? But again, at the moment, receding from Earth and a rather small, "disappointing" object in most scopes... Or indeed simply a bright star. See below! :D

Edited by Macavity
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Don't panic, sounds like you hooked onto a bright star. A star, regardless of brightness, will always just be a star in a telescope. It doesn't matter how much magnification you apply, they are just pin points of light.

But the Planets will not disappoint. For instance, even at low power you know instantly it's Saturn in the eyepiece. While Jupiter will have a nice large disk with some clouds belts. And the moon is spectacular.

At the moment Venus is the mega bright star in the west just after sunset. While Saturn is due south around 10pm and Mars is in the South West around the same time. Mars will be disappointing now as it has shrunk. The moon will be back in the evening sky in the next few days. And Jupiter rises in the pre-dawn sky for the next few months.

Well worth downloading some free software called Stellarium. You can then use it to spot the star patterns and get a better handle on where to locate the planets.

So don't get too down, once you have seen Saturn you will hopefully be happy.

Edited by russ
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I have exactly the same scope as you do and I did the same thing back in January

Looking for Saturn and was a bit disappointed to see a bright and pretty point of light...but just that...a point of light

And then I realised I was looking at Arcturus....!!!

I then found Saturn and it will not disappoint....it wont look like the opening graphics to Star Trek TNG but you will see the rings....like a -0-

and about that big

It blew me away to be honest .....

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Sounds like you were looking at venus in the west and very bright. I wiewed it last year in a 40mm ep and could see the phase (it was crescent at the time) and that was at 50x magnification. A 10mm ep will give 13x magnification in your scope so it may well have only looked like a star. Just before sunset is best with venus.

Saturn on the other hand will look like a planet with a horizontal line through it due to the current orientation of the rings. Hope that helps.

Cheers :D

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When your star was just out of focus did it still look round? If so your optics are more or less collimated and you will indeed see the Saturnian rings when aimed in the right spot.


Edited by ollypenrice
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Definitely sounds like you were viewing Venus. I've found it so bright that it requires a strong filter to block out some of the light to allow you to see it's phases. I use a variable polarising filter to do this. Even so I still enjoy viewing it through my 10x50s.

Saturn though when you first see it is awe inspiring, even through your 20mm EP. The image will be small but unmistakable. Increase the magnification and you will see it's bigger moons. There's usually between 2-4 that are visible as tiny points of light close by and they will change positions noticeably each night. This is true also of Jupiter when it's viewable.

The moon will take your breath away I'm sure as it does for me every time I view it.

I would also recommend downloading and using Stallarium. It certainly helps me.

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Thanks very much for all the replies guys!!!

Nice to know that I can expect to see more than just pinpricks of light :)

I will continue my hunt for Saturn tonight

I'll let you know the results :D

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Maybe try to download Stellarium software (it's free!)

It will give you a good idea of where to look. Saturn doesn't look much different to a star with the naked eye and is not as prominent as other planets. Once you see it in the scope though, even at low power you will be impressed!

I don't have a link for the software but just google, it's pretty popular!

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Also as a noob you will soon learn what and where things are. I have about a month or so behind me now and very few clear skys. Admittedy with the help of a goto (but more so BECAUSE of this alignment needed) you will learn to ID stars and planets using very simple guides and sky knowledge.

I can now ID sirius, capella, arcturus, pollux and castor and locate saturn and mars by eye. Its already been said but stellarium will help immensely with this.

As Orion has now gone its also helpful learn some constellations. I am now very comfortable finding Cancer, Bootes, Gemini and The Great Bear (or plough).

Then all you need to know is the mars is in cancer and you cnaa easily spot the !out of place" star.


Stellarium, stellarium, stellarium. You can even change the time to show you what the sky WILL look like and what it HAS looked like. Essential tool in my newbie arsenal.

The optics in your scope are broadly similr to mine. Saturn WILL leap out at you when you do see it and it really is worth the search.

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I checked out Venus a few nights back, just before it got to messed up in the braches of a rather large tree :D

I was able to see it was in a phase. Awesome sight.

Saturn is also great and in a easy to view part of the sky at present.

Its edge on, so not as good as it gets imo, but still awesome.

You also stand a good chance of seeing a moon or two if viewing conditions are in your favour.

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Being new to this myself I had no idea what to expect from my first sight of saturn. I have only used my scope once, but managed to find it. It was vey small in the view I had, but the rings and yellow colouring were very distinct. I was using a 10mm eye piece as well as a 130 Reflector, so very similar kit.

I have to say, it was still very impressive dispite it's size, however I have ordered a 6mm eyepiece and also a 2x Barlow lens to "hopefully" give a slightly larger view.

I also managed to see Venus in the same session which as the guys on here have said was a bit too bright to see as a clear disc.

I downloaded Stellarium which has greatly helped with my knowledge of where to expect objects in the sky. I have also found that there are 2 great mobile phone aps for Android and also iPhone (if you have one?). First is Google Sky Map. It uses GPS to locate your position and then uses the phones camera to show you what stars, constellations and planets you are looking at. It also has a very handy search function and a night mode which stops the screen glare blinding you. The second one is Celeste, which I think is only available on Android handsets, but it is brilliant for locating planets as it gives you their position accross the sky for any time of day (also using GPS). I personally can't get a laptop out with my scope to run Stellarium so these 2 phone apps have helped me greatly until I can learn the skies off by heart.

Will be interested to see how you get on with your search. My next target is Mars, but I need to work out how to see through the giant tree which is currently blocking it from my view :D

Good luck!

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Your scope has a 650mm focal length, so with the eyepieces supplied you will be getting 32.5x and 65x magnification. Either of these would display Venus as a small disc. A set of 8x42 binoculars show it as a small disc at the moment, small but still a disc not a point, well they did last Wednesday.

So I am guessing that it may not have been Venus. Although Venus is in the West and is bright so fits the description. Stars in the area of the sky include Procyon.

If the scope has a finder then fit it and align it well. Then get some software or a book that will give you more information. Could try tonightssky.com and see what it turns up but make sure you get your location in correct as I seem to recall it is easy to foul up.

There is the possibility that you were looking at Venus and the scope had Proycon in its field of view. Believe me it is not easy to point a scope at an object and get it in view. I have a scope with a wider field of view then yours and a 32 and 40 mm eyepiece and still not easy. The proviso being the well set up finder.

Saturn at the time you were looking is more or less due South at the moment. So if clear then try that direction. It is a bit low however.

By the way in case you are tempted by more magnification (everyone is) don't try an eyepiece of less then 5mm as smaller then this and you will be getting in to the area where the magnification goes up but the image quality goes down.

Edited by Capricorn
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If the scope has a finder then fit it and align it well.

Set your finderscope alignment in the daytime and make sure its blob-on :D

Don't point it at the sun though ! :)

Also, as mentioned above, stellarium software is a must have - it'll help you find things and teach you the night sky :D

Have fun and trust me....... when you do find saturn you'll love it !

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Thanks again for all the replies!!!

So I downloaded Stellarium like most of you suggested. It really is as good as you all said. It told me exactly where to look for Saturn.

I went outside and looked up to where it was meant to be and, sure enough, there was a "star" there (computers really are clever :)). I was expecting it to be much brighter than everything else in the sky but if anything it was slightly dimmer.

I lined up my scope and after a few minutes of searching, I found it! And WOW!!! With the 20mm eyepiece I could see a small dot with a tiny line around it. Switched to the 10mm and there it was, clear as anything, with all the moons scattered around it!!! The scope was worth every penny if thats the only thing I see. Really something everyone should see once. No amount of pictures compare to seeing it with your own eye!

Thanks again for all your help. I would probably still be searching for rings on Venus otherwise :D


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just wait 'til the rings open up :D

thats gonna happen pretty soon right? according to Stellarium, the rings will be very much open (same as most pictures of Saturn you see around) with in 5 months

but it will be closer to the sun too.

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