wow Kevdog, that was totally inspiring. I read your post to my wife and she was totally blown away. I can find Venus and Saturn, I haven't been able to see Saturn yet. It's been setting so early and it's been really cloudy.
I'm hoping it's a clear night here in Orlando.
I have't even looked for where jupiter would be in the sky right now. I've been using Sky Guide as a basic tool to find stars & planets. I'm going to install stellerium today.
Is there anything else I should get?
Sagittarius (the teapot) is loaded with DSOs and is still up for quite a while. You can view Saturn (weather permitting) and Venus as well, then head on over to the teapot. If you need some charts you can print out basic ones here.
Here is the specific one for Sagittarius:
I bagged M22, M28, M24 and several others with just my 15x70 binoculars, so your scope should have no problem.
Also in the east is M31, the Andromeda galaxy. Use your lowest power for the widest field of view here as it's HUGE. When I first saw it in my C11, I wasn't that impressed. But that's because I was so zoomed in I was only seeing the core of the galaxy, so it looked like a globular cluster!
Here's an easy finder chart and this is how I found it last night in the binocs. I use the 2 stars from Cassiopeia to point the way.
And if you stay up late (3am+) or get up early (but I'm a night person), then you can see Jupiter rising in the east and the Orion Nebula is also up that time (m42). It is probably the most impressive nebula out there (or at least the easiest impressive one to see/find). It's in the sword of orion.
There's so much to see... it's hard to decide where to look.
I just picked up the Pocket Sky Atlas which is a great reference for finding objects. Some star charts have too many stars and it gets confusing. This one seems "just right" for beginners with a telescope.
Also found the TriAtlas in free PDF form.
It has 3 levels.
- The "A" charts are similar to the Pocket Star Atlas above, but with a few more stars. (21 pages)
- The "B" charts are more detailed with many many more stars listed. (103 pages)
- The "C" charts are very very detailed with so many stars it's hard to know where you are until you really get the hang of it. These are useful for picking things like comets or asteroids out of a star field as you find the one that doesn't belong! (566 pages)
Hopefully that helps. Starting out it can all be overwhelming, but soon you get the hang of it and feel more comfortable. I was worried about starhopping when I bought my dob, but after a few tries and getting better I gained confidence. The other night I went looking for a comet. Turns out it was too faint to see even with my 18" in suburban skies. But I was able to identify the star field on the star charts well enough that I was SURE I was looking in the right spot. Took me 40 mins to be sure of that, but it was a good feeling to be that confident!