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Your best magnification on planets

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#1 Faraway

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:00 AM

Hey there,

I am curious to know the highest magnifications you all have managed on planets, and the best details you have been able to glean. It would be nice to know what light pollution and seeing were like at the time.

I'm kind of limited here by light pollution & eyepieces personally, and I'm using my imagination to fill in for Mars' polar caps, Venus's clouds, the division in Saturn's rings, etc. Just wondering what you all are seeing.

#2 Rick Woods

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 12:23 AM

With my SCT, I've used >700x to good advantage on Mars and Mercury, and ~500x on Saturn. Of course the seeing was exceptional at those times (or it wouldn't have worked). Saturn was seen razor sharp through high clouds; Mars was in a clear sky. Mercury was tough (as always!) but took the magnification well and grudgingly showed me some albedo features.

#3 Asbytec

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:49 AM

Far, I have gone way up there on Mars, too. But generally it depends on the planet. Jupiter is best about 200x in a 6", so maybe about 35x per inch is good. Much beyond that, and you begin to loose some contrast. Saturn can take closer to 50x per inch. And as Rick says, Mars can handle powers beyond even that.

It's said that about 30x per inch (or 1.2x per millimeter) shows everything a scope can show on a planet. But, I find higher powers make observing Mars a bit easier. Approaching 50x per inch, though, you are really testing your scope as well as seeing conditions.

#4 starrancher

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:54 AM

Hey there,

I am curious to know the highest magnifications you all have managed on planets, and the best details you have been able to glean. It would be nice to know what light pollution and seeing were like at the time.

I'm kind of limited here by light pollution & eyepieces personally, and I'm using my imagination to fill in for Mars' polar caps, Venus's clouds, the division in Saturn's rings, etc. Just wondering what you all are seeing.


The best Planetary views I have ever had we're not from any dark sky site but from a suburban back yard so light pollution seems to have very little if any effect on the situation and it's really all about the atmospheric conditions being superb .
On the "outstanding observations" list I have logged the following ;
With my 8 inch Scmidt Newtonian :
Saturm at 381x using a Meade 4000 series 6.4mm Super Plossl with a Meade 3x Shorty Barlow .
Simply unreal on two nights back to back on February 8th and 9th of 2008 .
Jupiter at best with this scope so far at 195x .
Mars at 252x .
The Meade SN8 is really a much better deep space scope than it is a Planetary scope but can really be surprising when the conditions are just right .
With my 5 inch Meade AR 5 achromatic refractor :
Mercury at 122x .
Venus at 184x .
Mars at 244x .
Jupiter at 122x .
Saturn at 244x .
With my Tasco 11TE-5 4.5 inch Newt :
Mars at 240x .
Saturn at 150 x .
Jupiter. at 120x .
With my Tasco 7T 60mm refractor (1958 vintage) :
Venus at 73x . (bad night)
Mars at 280x . (great night) Who wooda thunk with 60mm ?
Jupiter at 91x . It can be pushed but I like hard line detail .
Saturn at 146x .
With my Tasco 66TE 50mm refractor with vintage .965 eyepieces .
Mars at 120x .
Jupiter at 120x .
Saturn does indeed take magnification better than Jupiter and on good nights Mars will support even more . And .............
Keeping a good log book is a good thing .

#5 E_Look

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 03:25 AM

I once got Mars up to 719x and still was able to resolve the polar cap and the greenish regions.

Saturn for me topped out at 575x.

Jupiter has been tougher, only permitting me to get it to 313x or 400x at most.

Neptune and Uranus allowed me to enlarge them up to 719x and still see a defined circumference (limb), and Neptune permitted a blow up to 920x, although it was definitely soft-looking.

#6 planet earth

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 06:39 AM

If I had a 8 f6 with a 1200mm f.l. I would have 3 eyepieces for the planets.
A 5mm, 6mm and a 8mm giving 150X, 200X and X240X.
A perfect set would be 8.5mm,7mm 6mm and 5mm.
With good seeing I use a 6mm, 7.5mm, 9mm and a 10.5mm with my 8 inch f7.6 1530mm f.L.giving X146,X170 X204 and X255.
Clear Skies
Sam

#7 Rich (RLTYS)

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 07:51 AM

The highest magnification I've used with my 10" refl was 503x. This magnification has worked well with Mars and Saturn but only under excellent seeing conditions.

Rich (RLTYS)

#8 Illinois

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:39 PM

My 180mm Mak-Cass f15 ....
I can see all details and sharp on Mars at 193X (14mm eyepiece) but I like 307X (8.8mm eyepiece) is the best for Mars. 193 and 307 power is great on Juipter. I use 6.7mm eyepiece for 403 power on Mars and Juipter when the night is real good and crystal clear. I dont see Saturn yet that I just got my new 180mm Mak-Cass last December and I cant wait to see Saturn! I believe that 193 and 307 power is good for details in Saturn's rings.

#9 David Knisely

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 01:59 PM

I generally get the maximum planetary detail while maintaining adequate contrast at between about 27x per inch of aperture and 35x per inch of aperture if the seeing will allow it. I can go a little higher on a high-contrast object like the moon or Saturn, but for objects that have a variety of lower contrast features, much beyond 40x per inch, there is little further increase in detail and the contrast may even start to decline a little (on Jupiter especially, where floaters in my eyes start to get a little more noticeable). The highest power I have used on the moon in my 14 inch Newtonian is 836x (about 60x per inch), but again, there wasn't much visible that wasn't also visible at about half that power. On Jupiter, I have my favorite powers at between 384x (27x per inch of aperture) and 471x (34x per inch of aperture) with the 14 inch. Clear skies to you.

#10 MikeBOKC

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 02:31 PM

I don't find light pollution much of a factor for planets. It's pretty much all about seeing for me. I am close to David's estimate -- rarely get much above 200x on Jupiter, perhaps a litrle more on other planets and up to 300x on the moon, unless I want to just ignore the thermal distortion and get right down on the surface.

Light pollution is a big deterrent in my SCT for DSOs, but not much on planets or doubles. Then it's atmospheric stability that comes into play.

#11 Faraway

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Posted 19 February 2012 - 09:56 PM

500-700x...you've been stacking Barlows on end, eh? That's very impressive.

I haven't had much success at 266x; Jupiter's cloud bands start to run in on each other & mars remains featureless. I've read that 200-240 is the most practical magnification for a typical night.

I'm interested to know whether anyone has any advice for achieving those views (other than waiting for a clear night...). And thanks, Sam -- a 6mm is in my near future.

#12 azure1961p

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 12:03 AM


Typically through my 8" a decent working magnification on any planet is 200x to 250x. Exceptions are frequent however. Poor seeing often drops it down to 140x-173x. Very good seeing on Mars and Saturn make 312x to 364x useful with as high as 412x on Mars. Neptune under good seeing is simply beautiful at 433x to 505x.

The moon in the best seeing even takes 364x to 433x well. In poor seeing, again, about 140x to 173x. By and large 200x to 240x is a happy medium when the seeinf permits it.

Typically my smaller scope the 70mm enjoys high mags like a small toyota enjoys high RPMs. One Hundred power is common on all planets in mediocre to poor seeing . In good to very good Ill get great views anywhere from 133x to 200x. Its astonishing how crisp the image looks at 200x. Though not entirely profitable, for fun it is wild to see the same small scope handle 300x on the moon.



Pete

#13 HellsKitchen

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:08 AM

I've had Saturn at 342x and Mars at 480x with my 8" dob one morning of fantastic seeing a few weeks ago. Saturn was very crisp I could trace Cassini Division all the way around and Mars was showing spots of cloud and fog with limb haze aswell, along with subtle surface markings.

Last year on another similarly excellent night, I've used 600x with the same scope on Uranus and Neptune to tease out their moons and the disks themselves were still quite sharp rather than the fuzzy diffuse blob you see in poorer seeing.

Jupiter as many others have said doesn't magnify very well, it seems about 200-250x is the sweet spot, unless seeing is exceptional which I haven't had yet when observing it.

Typically though, I tend to max out at about 200x, maybe 240x regardless before things start going south.

#14 stevenp_86

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:16 AM

it boggles my mind how anyone can get over x200 on jupiter looks blurry at x200 for me, (x150 is best for me)

saturn looks awesome at x45 x85 x135 x200... who ami kidding, saturn is immune to magnification it seems, it always looks good

mars, i dono what i am doing wrong but x150 is the mosti can go on it, then it just gets blurry after that

my vision is ultra perfect, so i guess thats why everything looks blurry to me? its kind of ironic...

#15 starrancher

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:19 AM

500-700x...you've been stacking Barlows on end, eh? That's very impressive.

I haven't had much success at 266x; Jupiter's cloud bands start to run in on each other & mars remains featureless. I've read that 200-240 is the most practical magnification for a typical night.

I'm interested to know whether anyone has any advice for achieving those views (other than waiting for a clear night...). And thanks, Sam -- a 6mm is in my near future.


Bottom line really is that Mother Nature is in charge when it comes to these views . It's not a matter of it being a clear night but more a matter of it being a stable night . Atmospheric stability is going to dictate the quality of the image no matter what . Not only that but Mars can be a tough nut to crack . It seems that this disc is a little more finicky than the others . Patience and perseverance is needed and with that eventually those nights of great seeing will show up .
This holds true with the DSOs too . I've seen detail in many that I haven't been able to achieve since . On an exceptional night NGC7293 looked photographic as did M33 and M31 . I sometimes wonder if I'll ever see them again the way I've had the chance to see them before . It's just one of those things .

#16 starrancher

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 01:33 AM

it boggles my mind how anyone can get over x200 on jupiter looks blurry at x200 for me, (x150 is best for me)

saturn looks awesome at x45 x85 x135 x200... who ami kidding, saturn is immune to magnification it seems, it always looks good

mars, i dono what i am doing wrong but x150 is the mosti can go on it, then it just gets blurry after that

my vision is ultra perfect, so i guess thats why everything looks blurry to me? its kind of ironic...


To tell ya the truth , the most reliable magnification I have found for Jupiter to be is at 122x . On an exceptional night I was able to double that to 244x in my 5 inch refractor and then on a lousy night it starts to fall apart before I can get to 100x .
On Mars , I don't think your doing anything wrong other than being at the wrong place at the wrong time . It is what it is and Mars can be a real bugger .

#17 Asbytec

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:33 AM

If you cannot get a good image at 27x to 35x per inch, as Dave mentions, first place to look is the seeing conditions.

#18 Ed D

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 10:07 AM

Seeing is everything when it comes to planets. Light pollution by itself doesn't really have any effect. What does have an effect is the air pollutants and rising heat waves that normally accompany heavy LP.

As for magnification, I would rather have a somewhat smaller image that is sharp and detailed than a larger one that is soft. Here is what I prefer in my XT6:

JUPITER - When it was close to opposition I used around 175x for a sharp and detailed image. Now that it's getting further away I like around 135x-150x. I also use a broadband filter and a yellow filter.

MARS - This one is very close to opposition right now and takes higher mags well. I'm using around 320x most of the time, some nights backing down to 240x. I recently got an Orion Mars filter and use it most of the time - it does what Orion claims. People seem to either love or hate this filter, but I really like mine and no longer use my orange or blue filters.

SATURN - This is another one that I like to observe at around 175x, a bit higher on exceptional nights. Like Jupiter, I use my broadband and yellow filters sometimes.

VENUS - With Venus I use mags around 135x to observe the phase, but I also use up to 320x to try to see detail. The two things I do for better results are to observe as soon as it becomes visible (before it gets dark) and I use my UHC filter to tone down the glare and help bring out white cloud features.

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#19 Illinois

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 02:03 PM

Good see at high power is deoends on what kind of telescope you have and good clear night. 3 inch refractor at 300 power is not as good as 180mm Mak-Cass at 300 power. I have no problem at 300 and 400 power on my 7.1" Mak-Cass on good night. Last Night I can see green features and polar cap easily at only 193 power. (14mm eyepiece) My 7.1 inch get more light that I can see details on Mars as low as 193X. It made me wonder what Mars looks like if I have 14 inch f15 Mak-Cass!

#20 E_Look

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 04:27 PM

Yes, I got sharp views of Mars, its polar cap and greenish mare last night with a 7 mm EP in my 8" Newt at 143x. But it was *not impressive*; I got a somewhat more noticeably softer view at 400x with the 2.5 mm EP, but that was IMPRESSIVE. I.e., it looked cool! The small-medium dot at 143x was well-focused and tidy; the BIG dot at 400x was only comparatively sloppy. If I didn't see the medium mag view first, I might have considered it a somewhat tight view.

#21 E_Look

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 04:29 PM

Oh, that was me. I only have one Barlow. But I've got those great short f/l TMB Planetaries. When you Barlow one of those on a night of decent to good seeing... it's sublime! Last night was only sublemon; I couldn't get past 400x and had to observe through a cloud layer.

500-700x...you've been stacking Barlows on end, eh? That's very impressive.

I haven't had much success at 266x; Jupiter's cloud bands start to run in on each other & mars remains featureless. I've read that 200-240 is the most practical magnification for a typical night.

I'm interested to know whether anyone has any advice for achieving those views (other than waiting for a clear night...). And thanks, Sam -- a 6mm is in my near future.



#22 Scanning4Comets

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 05:53 PM

If you cannot get a good image at 27x to 35x per inch, as Dave mentions, first place to look is the seeing conditions.


It's not always seeing conditions. It can also be a bad mirror / lens, bad collimation etc....but generally speaking if your scope is up to the task it will be the seeing conditions.

For me:

Mars = 250x-350x
Jupiter = 180x-250x
Saturn = 200x-350x
Venus = 80x-200x (Depending on the Phase)
Uranus = 300x-450x
Neptune = 350x-500x

Cheers,

#23 HellsKitchen

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 03:54 PM

Saturn this morning was razor sharp at 342x in the 8". Cassini division was easily seen all the way round.

#24 cpsTN

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 01:39 PM

When I had my 8" f/6 (1200mm FL), I loved the views Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon at the lowish power of 180x. With this scope (8" f/6), I had - and still do - 12mm, 15mm, 20mm, 40mm along with 2x and 3x barlows. The 40mm I used by itself for a low-power view of 30x. These gave me magnifications of 30x, 60x, 80x, 100x, 120x, 160x, 180x, 200x, 240x and 300x. Nice evenly-spaced mags, more or less. I still use these with the 12" f/5, but not with these nice round, easy-to-remember magnificaions. I haven't found my favorate magnfication with the 12" yet. Based on what the 8" gave me, this mag would should be 270x (22.5x per inch).Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. These EPs are inexpensive ($30 range) Plossls from Agenaastro.com.

#25 Eddgie

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Posted 25 February 2012 - 09:33 PM

I tend to use about 200x to 300x for most planetary observing. Seeing rarely allows more than 250x though.

But at 250x, I can see a pretty huge amount of detail.. More than I can easily describe.

For example about 2 months ago, I resolved Galilee Reggio and Osirus ray system on Ganymede at about 260x.

On Jupiter and Mars, at 260x there is almost always a lot of detial present, including barges, festoons multiple thick bands, ovals, garlands, and intensity variation inside the GRS.

Much of this detail is even visible at 200x.

The key to seeing this kind of detail on planets is not magnification. It is starting with conditions (seeing, thermal equilibrium) and using a telescope with good optics and lots of clear aperture.

There is seldom a need to go beyond 300x for planets in my C14. Most of the best observations I personally have made have been at powers between 200X and 300x. I rarely go higher than this.






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