I kind of feel like no one really focused on how exactly to go about finding stuff in the sky. If you cannot point the scope on the moon - yeah, most likely your viewfinder is off. But how do you locate stuff when you do see it on the map, when finder is spot on etc.?
It all comes with experience, but there are some things you can try to expedite that.
First, when you pointed somewhere, and you're expecting something to be there and it's not - try to move the telescope, say, up. Use your star field as a guide to only get about one diameter of the field of view away. Then go back to where you started. Then repeat this going down. Then try going one field of view left. At this position again try going up and down.This way you will be scanning the sky in the area where the object is supposed to be. You'll notice that some star patterns will start looking familiar after some time and you'll be able to tell where you are, relative to the original starting point. Scan a patch of the sky the size maybe 4x4 fields of view. If you are not seeing the object, there are two main possibilities - 1) you are not pointing close enough 2) you don't know what to expect and not recognizing the object.
In case of 1) repeat the pointing operation (will talk about this below). If it's 2) it could be either that your telescope is not able to resolve the object under your sky's conditions or that you are not ready for this object yet . Try to practice more on things that are easier recognizable, and get back to this one and with better pointing, you'll be able to spend more time on actually trying to recognize the object itself.
Sometimes people also use the "spiral" method, where you are not scanning a square patch, but going in expanding circles. But that's a more advanced technique.
In terms of how to point. Sky maps try to be accurate geometric representation of the sky. Flat "hemisphere" charts do have a lot of distortion towards the edges, but software versions show it very realistically, projecting it on a sphere. The way I use them (without using the coordinates) is by finding something in the sky that you can find on the map as well. Usually you learn constellation, so you can quickly narrow down the search area. Within constellation you find a closest bright star. Then find something else around that star that corresponds to the map. Usually another bright star, or the pattern in the constellation. Then try to come up with an idea of how your target is positioned relative to those things. Example: to find the polar star, find the big dipper, find the two bright stars on it's nose, then draw imaginary line across those to stars from the bottom of the dipper, up, towards and past its rim. Note the distance between those two bright stars and measure 8 such distances "up" along the line. The polar star will be there.
So you make relations to bright, easier to find objects in the sky, to find the relative position of your target. For more difficult objects, you may have to identify "intermediate" objects (usually fainter stars), and use them as a proxy towards your object. This is called "star hopping".
I usually like to start with doing this by just pointing my finger at the sky, until I'm 100% I'm pointing to the right place and it matches the map. I then find very helpful to repeat that with binoculars. And then, when the area becomes more or less familiar, I go to the telescope. Use the longest possible eyepiece at first (I have a zoom, and it's really helpful for this). And then zoom in, after the object is in the view.
Additional tip - learn how the sky rotates. With your scope, you'll need to manually track the objects you find, so it's useful to know in which direction your target is going to be moving.
Edited by futuneral, 11 June 2019 - 09:48 PM.