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SW130P First Light, First Night & what a night


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Hello fellow stargazers,

Well last night was my first night out with my new sky Watcher 130P on an EQ2.

Bought it off FLO who I might add have been extremely good at answering all my questions on emails.I have never owned a scope before so am a complete newbie yet last night was a fantastic night for me. I set up the scope outside on my patio at around 6pm I knew from the previous night that the moon was very low in the west along with Jupiter. Stellarium told me the star was Jupiter.

I found setting the mount to north very easy. Not completely accurate but enough for me to make observations easy enough. My first target even before it was dark was the moon, I used the 25mm EP and thought wow that’s good, then the 10mm, blimey even better! I then messed around with the x2 barlow and spent a good 30 minutes looking at the edge of the moon as that is all that is showing totally amazed by what I was seeing.

Once it got dark I turned my attention to Jupiter, I would not have much time on this target as it was already low in the sky and soon it would dip behind the houses that back on to my garden. Up came Jupiter! Even with the 25mm I could just about make out some of the moons. By the time I was using the 10mm and a barlow 4 moons where visible, I also am sure I could see two of the bands on Jupiter.

Happy that I had seen Jupiter for the first time, I turned my attention to the Orion Nebula. I must have calibrated my red dot finder bang on as on the first point at it, looked though the finder with the 25mm and bingo there was Orion Nebula looking right back at me! At this point the wife came to have a look and

was totally unimpressed by the whole thing, "is that it?" can't anything be closer?" I tried to tell her that this object was 1000+ light years away but it went totally over her head. She soon returned indoors back into the warmth.

Spurred on by my 3 first sights I went indoors to look at Stellarium and see what else I can find. Soon I was back outside hunting for the Andromeda galaxy. This proved to be a much harder target as there was very little visual pointers, using my binos and a few trips back to the pc I eventually found it,

well I think I found it. I gray smudge with no star like centre. I am convinced it was what I was looking at though. Impressive, my first other galaxy and on my first night! So what next?

Back indoors to Stellarium, I noticed that there are two double clusters (NGC884 & 869) between Cassiopeia and Perseus. Back out to the scope. This proved to be the hardest target to find of the night. Hardly any visual references but once again I struck lucky and found it. It was confusing for some time as I keep forgetting that the image is a mirror image and not what you see on Stellarium. Once I had remembered this I realised that I was on target again. I was very chuffed by my first night out.

Later on in the night after being inside for a while I returned to Stellaruim to find that Saturn was out and about in a South SE direction in Virgo. Off I went, I had to move the scope to the bottom of the garden and look back above my house. I aimed for a star and that is what I got, until I realised that the bright star I was viewing was not Saturn but (Arcturus - I think?) Soon though I was viewing Saturn for the first time in my life. WOW as I went though the lenses and combinations it got closer and closer. Saturn as quite small at the largest magnification but still so very pleasing to see. I stared at it for ages. I could not really make out any moons.

Tonight I am going to look at it again!

So that was it. My first night. So I do have a few questions now.

1, First of all, what other objects are worth a good look at that are not too difficult to find?

2, Why is it that if I point my camera lens at the scope lens it does not even show the moon? Sometimes you see a bit but then it goes. I just wanted a few point and shoot snaps to show the wife!

3, what effect does better lenses have? Do I see things more clearly or do they magnify better than the no frills ones that come with the Skywatcher scopes.

All in all a really good first night out. I am quite impressed with my scope and my ability to have picked out all the objects I did. I live in a very light polluted area and have not yet had my light pollution filter arrive. I am also waiting on a copy of Turn left at Orion, though I have found more turning right!

Thanks for reading.

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Try to look for M45 cluster. I have the Skywatcher Explorer 130m so it is not that different and you should be able to see around 40 stars. The cluster is so big that it won't even fit in the 25mm eyepiece :p There is also another cluster by that but can't remember what it is called but it will be on Stellarium. :)

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glad you enjoyed your first outing seems you did exactly the same things as me at pretty much in the same time, even my mate came round for an hour or so for a nosey.

Saturn eluded me again (cos of stupid work) was out til 9.30 and had a briilliant time.

highlights of my evening were,

the ISS & Discovery sightings (didnt need a scope), and Pleides its pretty :-)

my only gripe about the scope is the laser finder like yours mine is spot on but i struggle to find some of the fainter objects with this which would help finding things like Andromeda, galaxies and clusters.

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Hi Gaza.

Mate, you need to see Saturn its a shame you have to work. When you do get the chance go through all the lenses and watch as it gets bigger! It hypnotised me.

I know what you mean about the red dot finder, these things are more suitable on weapons than scopes ( or call of duty) I find that if I look at the dot too much when its on full power it ruins my night site and I cant see the star I am aiming for. Andromeda is not easy to find and I am not totally sure I saw it, It was just like a smudge without a bright centre. I will hopefully try again tonight.

My trick was just to go back and forth to Stellarium and gauge where it is using binos and a bit of trial and error.

Only ever seen the ISS once years ago. Does it pass over tonight? I presume Discovery is no longer up there?

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Sounds like you had a great first light, much better than mine, I think the moon was the limit of my success my first night.

M37 in Auriga is a nice cluster and easy to find, just a little to the right is M38 and between the two M36.

Another easy to find open cluster is M41 just below and slightly to the left of Sirius, although it may be a little low in the sky (around 18 degrees at 8pm).

Edited by Rob L
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Regarding point 3 - The biggest difference is probably the field of view and whether the stars are pin sharp to the edge of the eyepiece or distortions like a pin cushion effect. There are also considerations like eye relief and how a particular eyepiece works with the type of scope you have too.

By way of example of what's out there, Meade do affordable eyepieces in their 5000 range with the standard Super Plossl giving 60 degrees and the Ultra Wide giving 82 degrees. The latter being particularly useful if you own a dobsonian scope as the object stays within the eyepiece for a lot longer. Viewing a lot of sky also can afford the opportunity to 'frame' a view as when viewing the Double Cluster or M81 with M82 as the wide field of view will allow you to set these objects in the context of other stars around them. Baader Hyperion (68 degrees) Pentax XW (70 degrees) and ultimately Explore Scientific and Televue Ethos (100 degrees) represent the higher price range from which you can get a very wide field of view but importantly, with very little distortion.

There are many reviews written about the virtues and the flaws on each eyepiece range and the individuals pieces within them. The ultimate decision is whether you want to pay increasingly higher amounts of money for less than proportionate improvements. Some will argue that any price is worth paying to get that last bit of detail out, for others its more the case that having bought a 'fast' (low F number scope) that produces a wider light cone, that this will necessitate an eyepiece having to work harder to bring everything to focus and so will necessitate them having to buy a higher quality eyepiece to get the best out of their scope. One thing is for sure, and that is the eyepieces that come with scopes today are pretty good and have come along way from the medieval stain glass units that they used to give you. My suggestion would be to observe with others in an observing group or star party to see if you can try out other people's eyepieces and measure for yourself whether to invest in more expensive units.

Hope that helps a bit.

James

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That's a great first report, made me want to read more.

Glad you enjoyed yourself, bet you can't wait for next time.

To get an idea of what else to observe check out :- Tonight's Sky

I would suggest that you try to avoid going inside to view Stellarium as it will ruin your night vision. Try printing out the information you need and take it with you.

To print the information from Stelarium press F11 to get into full screen mode and then print-screen to put a copy on the clipboard. Open your graphics program and paste this into a new document. You might want to invert the image to black on white to save ink before printing it off.

HTH

Enjoy.

Edited by Astro Imp
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Sounds like you had a great first night!

Next time out, start with Orion in the South. Search the belt, (nice double on the left-most star) then down into the sword for the Orion nebula. Then turn right (westward) and check out Taurus and the Hyades cluster anchored by red giant Aldebaran, further right is the Pleiades - tough to get it all in one view because it is such a big cluster!. Back to the left of Orion (East) you can see a really nice cluster just south of Sirius (brilliant blue star in Canis Major).

That should keep you busy!

If you want some more activities - go to the Join My Astronomy Class thread and download some real astronomy class lab activities you can do with your scope and stellarium!

Dan

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Astro Imp, thanks for the link looks quite an interesting and useful tool. Popped out back just and after all the clear blue sky we had here today its all a bit hazy now.

Hint on Stellarium will prove useful too. Just waiting for my planisphere and turn left from Orion book.

GazA,

to be honest I reckon your pics are not bad at all. I tried for ages with my blackberry and digi camera and could not get it to even show an image on the viewfinder. Sometimes it would appear, but quickly it vanishes? why I have no idea. must have something to do with lenses to close

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Ad Astra , Dr Prof Dan

Many thanks for the tips I will look for the objects you recommend. I have found pleiades last night. It is an object I have looked at with the naked eye for years and wondered what it was.

Orion vanishes behind a neighbours tree around 10pm Uk time and is quite low by then too, hopefully I can find some more DSO,s etc

Downloaded your workshops and will have a look at them when I have some time.

Thanks for posting.

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Astro Imp, thanks for the link looks quite an interesting and useful tool. Popped out back just and after all the clear blue sky we had here today its all a bit hazy now.

Hint on Stellarium will prove useful too. Just waiting for my planisphere and turn left from Orion book.

No problem, glad you find them useful. Am getting my copy of TLAO to-morrow, have already borrowed a copy from my local library, really good.

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Ad Astra , Dr Prof Dan

Many thanks for the tips I will look for the objects you recommend. I have found pleiades last night. It is an object I have looked at with the naked eye for years and wondered what it was.

Orion vanishes behind a neighbours tree around 10pm Uk time and is quite low by then too, hopefully I can find some more DSO,s etc

Downloaded your workshops and will have a look at them when I have some time.

Thanks for posting.

Have a blast, mate!

Let me know if you need help with the labs!

Dan

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Sounds like you had a really good night of stargazing. I've just bought a secondhand SW 130M, but not yet had good enough weather to take it out. I'm just reading other people's stories to get an idea of what sort of things I'll be seeing through a scope this size.

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Hi 'CanUguess',

Well I see your scope arrived and you have plumped for the SW 130. Looks like you had a brilliant first light - and I can see that you've been 'bitten by the bug'.

regards

Ralph

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Hi Ralph

Bitten definitely. I still think I made the right choice on scope the 150 would have been very nice indeed and the mount better, but funds just got in the way. With the 130 I could at least buy a book, filter and maybe an new eyepiece and still be on budget.

Just need a nice clear sky again.

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Sounds like you had a wonderful evening. On suggestion, try and plan what you want to observe in advance, or get a laptop / netbook that you can have with you. Every time you ho back inside into bright light you loose your dark adaptation. It generally takes 20-30 min for your eyes to fully adapt to darkness, even in towns. If you come straight out after being inside and start looking straight away for faint objects you won't have a chance.

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Great write up! I recognise the elation you felt with Jupiter and the Orion nebula; I felt exactly the same thing on my first light! Not had much chance to get the scope out since, mind...

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if you have an iphone, get the stelarium app!!!! i have it and it is great! you can even use the onboard compass on the phone and just point it at a patch of sky and it will tell you what you are looking at! it has a night mode where everything goes red for dark adapted viewing. best bit? It too is free!

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