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How do you find things?

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#26 Mountaineer370


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Posted 15 June 2019 - 07:11 AM

Last question - do public universities open their scopes up to the public on scheduled nights?  Thought that might be fun with her... Thanks again everyone for your help!! 



I'm glad things are going better for you, Adam.  I'm someone who really loves a red dot (or reticle) finder.  I use it in addition to the standard finderscope.  With the red dot (which also must be aligned with the telescope, just like the finder), it's easy and intuitive to just point it at the place you want to look.  And in order to find the objects you want to look at, it's super-important to learn the constellations and their locations in your night sky.  You don't have to learn all of them at once, but start with the more prominent ones.  Then, you can look at a star chart, see what objects you might like to see that are near that constellation, and use its stars to point the way for you.


As to your question above, it would be helpful if you would include your location in your user profile.  People who live nearby can then recommend some places you could go or clubs close to you.  Most clubs have some kind of regular public viewing nights where many members would be set up with many different kinds of scopes you could look through.


Finally, yes, an 8" Dob would open up a lot more as far as what you can see.  If it's within your budget, the Orion Intelliscope has a push-to feature that makes it easy to find objects.  It's not a motorized go-to telescope, but it does have a computerized handset that tells you which way to push, up, down, left, right, to find an object.

#27 Bowlerhat


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Posted 15 June 2019 - 07:38 PM

I don't think they do, moreover with universities location in city you'd better off observing from somewhere else. If you want to have access to public telescope perhaps observatories are the answer, or astronomy club.

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#28 justfred


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Posted 17 June 2019 - 12:41 AM

Hey there, Adam. This is going to be fun. You have found out how to point the telescope where you want. The next part will be to learn how to see the things your pointing at. The bright stuff will be easier. The faint stuff can be right in front of you and you may not recognize it right away. Stay with it. You'll get better and better. Like has been suggested - find a club if one is nearby. Most clubs invite the public out now and again. Give you a chance to see what kind of equipment is out there and also to see what some of these objects look like in the eyepiece. 


This time of year I suggest Albireo - an easy to find and beautiful gold and blue double star, Mizar in the Big Dipper - another bright double star, Jupiter you've found, Saturn is not far behind it and slowly getting higher in the sky, M3 in Bootes, and M13 in Hercules - these are globular clusters and will be small faint blobs in the 25mm ep, an open star cluster called Brocchi's Cluster but also called The Coathanger -you'll see why, and the Moon - you could spend the rest of your life just observing the Moon and not see all there is to see. See if you can find the area where Apollo 11 landed. 50th anniversary of the first Man on the Moon coming up next month. 


All of this and much more you can see with the scope  you have now. 


This is a frustrating and exciting time for you and your daughter in the hobby! Once you see the moons of Jupiter moving around from hour to hour and the rings of Saturn, you'll be hooked.


Let us know how it goes.



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#29 SirLoyne


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Posted 17 June 2019 - 03:16 AM

I have an app on my 8" tablet that I use. I start by pointing my red dot finder at the closest star to what I want to see. I can then use the app to zoom in and look around for the next star and make my way there by a series of jumps. It used to take a while, but I've gotten pretty good at "over a little and up a bit", or "between those two stars and down 1/3 of the distance from there to the one on the right".

#30 Sketcher



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Posted 17 June 2019 - 02:03 PM

Wow!  First off - Thanks everyone for your help - so appreciated and I'm super amazed so many people responded!   I followed the initial suggestions to get the view finder calibrated and that helped me a ton!  I almost feel like a moron not being able to figure that out on my own!!  Once I had that calibrated it was pretty easy to focus on a point and view it through the actual telescope.  That being said,  I'm realizing now that my little scope is far under-powered to see what we want to see.  We had good skies tonight to see Jupiter and it looked like a little blurry fireball lol.   Mission accomplished though!  I'm able to find things much easier with the view finder and our little app.   I'm going to open another thread, but I think I might invest in one of those 8" dobsonian  telescopes recommended by some of the members here...  It's a big jump, but I think that might put us in line of seeing what we want to see...  Thanks so much everyone!  Heck of community here so glad I joined!!   Last question - do public universities open their scopes up to the public on scheduled nights?  Thought that might be fun with her... Thanks again everyone for your help!! 



Hi Adam,


Jumping to an 8-inch (or even larger) telescope as soon as possible does seem to be the standard advice and approach these days.  That's what many do, and few seem to regret such decisions.


Yet, there are advantages to using what you have -- learning how to see things through a telescope, learning about the night sky (how things appear to move, star patterns, etc.), learning about the various factors than can effect what you see, etc.


I think you're "short-changing" the capabilities of the telescope you have.  I suspect that with a bit of practice, experience, patience, and perseverance you'll be able to see quite a bit and learn quite a bit using your 60mm telescope.  Many of us "old dinosaurs" started out using very similar telescopes; but that was back in the day when an 8-inch telescope was way out of reach and people were happy to see anything while using whatever telescope they could get their hands on.


You mentioned the "little blurry fireball" (Jupiter).  Did you observe Jupiter when it was at its maximum altitude (height above your horizon)?  That's just one of the many lessons lying dormant, waiting to be discovered.  The more "lessons" one can learn while using a small telescope, the more one will be able to see later using a larger telescope.


Here's a sketch of Jupiter -- as seen using a telescope smaller (less than half the size) than yours.  A 60mm telescope has a 2.4-inch objective.  That's 2.4 times larger than a 1-inch telescope.


Jupiter 1 inch 67x March 30 2019 2
Notice Jupiter's four Galilean satellites (moons).  Notice the two dark belts in Jupiter's atmosphere.  Your telescope is capable of showing these details; but it may (very likely) take a bit of practice (experience) to see such details.
A wealth of detail awaits you on the moon:
Reinhold And Copernicus 1 inch aperture 19 Oct 2018 67x Sketcher
These craters didn't look anywhere near as large as they appear in the sketch; but I assure you, all the sketched details were seen -- with the 1-inch (25.4mm) telescope.  Certainly a telescope 2.4 times larger would be capable of revealing similar details!  I know that my 60mm refractor (someone's "throw-away" that I fixed up and painted yellow) has such capabilities:
Buttercup (CNa)


Many people discard such telescopes, not realizing their immense capabilities.


On the other hand, I have little doubt that I'm wasting my time typing these words.  Times have changed.  People nowadays (not necessary you -- just people in general) need more -- much more in order to be satisfied.


Edited by Sketcher, 17 June 2019 - 02:05 PM.

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#31 treadmarks


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Posted 17 June 2019 - 03:28 PM

This is a fun topic... and a can of worms. I've tried just about every major method to find things - go-to, star-hopping, setting circles. For a complete newbie such as yourself, I agree with the others that you should stick to naked eye visible objects for now and make sure your finder-scope is aligned.


I actually just received a fun little thing that is greatly useful to a newbie trying to learn the sky: a planisphere. I got it to help with my star-hopping escapades because it won't wreck my night vision like a smartphone usually does. This planisphere is nice because it has deep-sky objects on it.


Basically, a planisphere is a stack of rotatable paper discs that accounts for both the Earth's rotation on its pole, and the Earth's revolution around the Sun. By doing this it can tell you what is visible in the sky at your time and date. It also lets you dodge the thornier issues of things like right ascension and sidereal time, for now at least wink.gif

#32 gnowellsct



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Posted 17 June 2019 - 10:34 PM

Here's a way to find things.  


1.  Set up telescope, point at sky, focus it on whatever is there.  Use a low power wide field eyepiece.

2.  Sit down with six pack or a nice Kentucky bourbon.  Every fifteen minutes or so, get up to see what has drifted into your field of view.  Watch it go out the other side.

3.  Wait for next thing.


This is the lazy man's way to find stuff.  


Now, you're ambitious, there are optical finders (little telescopes you put on your scope), unit finders (things that help you point but don't magnify), digital setting circles, go-to systems.  All kinds of stuff to help you zoom through the universe.  


I've used at one point or another almost every kind of system.  They all work and they all have pluses and minuses, though the biggest minus is the ones that don't work (usually the cheap go to systems, or expensive go-to systems after a software upgrade).  


Greg N

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#33 whizbang


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Posted 17 June 2019 - 10:44 PM

Good choice to go with the 8 inch DOB. 


You can take your "old" scope and bolt it to the DOB to use as a finder (most good finders are 9x50 these days).


Have fun.  Good Luck.

#34 ButterFly


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Posted 18 June 2019 - 01:25 AM

Aligning the finderscope to the telescope is crucial and you have that covered now.  But putting the starting object into the finderscope is the same challenge - even though you see more sky in the finderscope.


With time, you will get to know your scope and what the "general direction" it's pointing is.  Until you do, though, a simple iron sight helps a lot.  Take some wire and wrap it around the end of your finderscope, so it stays put, leaving two tails sticking out.  Turn those tails into a circle that covers about half the sky that your finderscope does (the moon in the finderscope helps with this).  That circle is a nice little iron sight that lets you see around it as well.  The smaller the better becuase if you look through it at some big angle, it can throw you off the mark.  This gets things in your finderscope fast by letting you know which way to push the scope.  With time, you won't need it much - you can just use the body of the scope.


An 8" is a great great tool and they are much cheaper and better quality than when I started.  But, you end up looking across a field to see something upward. even with a finderscope.  It makes pointing to that starting object hard.  A basic sight around the finder helps a lot and you only have to crouch down a little bit to get the first target in your finderscope.


You two still need to learn the constellations and where they are in the sky.  Enter the Double-Sided Planisphere.  They are quite good and easy to make as long as you make them big.

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#35 Mike W.

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 08:18 AM

I like to start my evening with locating Polaris, once it's in the scope's fov I'll align my finder to that.

A 9X50 or 8X50 right angle optic finder is nice in that you'll see fainter objects than with the naked eye.


I'll use the app in my phone to locate too, just hold it up there, see what part of the sky your target is in, then sit at the eyepiece and start a very slow sweep of the area, it will show up, and there's lot's of star's up there to look at while your hunting.

Moving slowly across the sky is the way to see it, it takes time for your eye to gather the few light photon's of the object so if you're slewing quickly you'll never see it and you'll pass right by it.


One step at a time, don't try to hurry, 

Edited by Mike W., 18 June 2019 - 08:21 AM.

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#36 watchplanets


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Posted 20 June 2019 - 12:26 PM

if you have those cheap 5x24 or even the 6x30 finderscope they are almost garbage well the first one for sure 2nd one tad better.

to look for stuff a good finder is key, like a telrad or better since u got a small scope the rigel finder. The better RDF are good but the cheapest ones 20 and under sometimes have the glass coated red or other colour that limits you looking through it.


only problem I see is the rigel is not cheap 65 where I live in my country before taxes so that may be half of what you paid for the scope. I rather just upgrade the scope to something bigger that maybe includes a better eps and finder cause most times upgrading costs a lot more.

#37 brentknight


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Posted 20 June 2019 - 02:46 PM

I've used Telrads, 6x30's, 9x50's and a 60 mm way back in the day.  My favorite finder is a good green laser pointer (GLP) and a pair of 7x35 Nikon's.  I'll find the field with the binoculars and SS6, and then move the telescope with the laser until I see the end of the beam in the binoculars.

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#38 Charles Funk

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Posted 20 June 2019 - 04:26 PM

Finding things.


At first the planets and the moon are easy enough. Bright stars easily doable. But after that there is so much other stuff to see but the sky is vast and most things aren't easily found. It will take some time, some patience, and some persistence to get to where the fuzzies become easier to locate.


Stellarium is a great and free download. It is a sky map of good quality. There are other apps, there are maps, and star charts of several manufacturers, you will need some reference source to learn by. 


You have to start with the basics. Constellations. Using your reference source, look for a constellation that is visible right now and has a Messier* object within its boundary. A Messier object is identified by its designation, such as M42, or whatever. Once you find your constellation in the sky, study closely how huge the constellation actually is up there compared to how it looks on your map. Look at your constellation, become familiar with the pattern in the sky.  


Now look at the position of your Messier object on the map within your constellation boundary. The stars that outline a constellation are most often brighter than surrounding stars.Now, (and understand this is just how I do things, there are lots of ways to skin a cat) use these bright stars as waypoints. I triangulate, that is I find any 2 of these bright stars that will help me form a simple triangle, then use the Messier object on the map as the third waypoint. Study your new triangle on the map, then look up to the sky. Mentally transpose your triangle to your waypoint stars, and the desired object in the sky. Look closely where your object should be, then using your lowest power eyepiece, point your telescope as close to that area as you can get it. If you are lucky you will be right on it. If not, slowly sweep up/down/left/right until you find it. If the object is nowhere to be found, start over, do it again. Form your triangulation, transpose it to the sky, and point the scope where the object should be. 


I have used this system for years now, it always works. Maybe not the first time, maybe not the second, but I find what I'm looking for. :) A lot of people are using setting circles and angle finders to assist with locating objects, but I like what I'm doing, and if it ain't broke I see no need to fix it. Though I do keep thinking maybe I should try that sometime...


Depending on your scope, and I understand you are looking at an 8" dob, which is fantastic, many objects will be faint little fuzzy things with no wow factor. Many others will be quite amazing. It all depends on the object, the scope, and the conditions. But sooner or later when you realize those little fuzzy things that have little visual interest are galaxies far far away, you at some point will understand it is a treat to see them at all.


* There are other object catalogues out there. NGC, and IC to name a couple, but everyone should start with the Messier :)

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#39 Ears20


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Posted 01 July 2019 - 01:49 PM

I’ll second (third? fourth?) the suggestions about the local astronomy club! They’ll often have a scope that the club maintains and opens to the public periodically; our club also encourages members to bring their personal scopes to public nights. Amateur astronomers are eager to share their knowledge and offer looks through their equipment.

#40 aeajr


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Posted 01 July 2019 - 04:14 PM

I use four methods to find things.


Visual - I can see it so I can target it. - The Moon and planets, bright star clusters, bright double stars and a few bright nebula.   Depending on how dark your location is, you may be able to see a lot.  Or, if your sky is like mine, there is a lot you can't see. 



Computer assisted - GoTo or PushTo - Once the mount is aligned it can find almost anything. 



AltAz coordinates using an angle gauge - Works well under all conditions




Star Hopping

Star hopping 101 – Video play list



I find them all useful.   However I live in a VERY light polluted area, just outside NYC.   I find star hopping quite challenging from my home location as I often can't see the guide stars.    Much easier to do from darker locations. 

#41 kappa-draconis


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Posted 02 July 2019 - 12:42 AM

Last question - do public universities open their scopes up to the public on scheduled nights?  Thought that might be fun with her... Thanks again everyone for your help!!


There are many that do. If you can find a place that does, I'd probably go first yourself to make sure it's the right kind of environment for her. I'm sure you don't want to have a bad experience with this. Also, make sure that what they're presenting is valuable. I went to one and they didn't know how to the work their massive thing. With my 10x50 binocs I could have found stuff in 10 seconds... You won't find these kinds of problems at amateur astronomy meetups, though. People basically always know their equipment really, really well. 

Edited by kappa-draconis, 02 July 2019 - 12:43 AM.

#42 csrlice12



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Posted 02 July 2019 - 01:26 AM

I usually find that I lost it first.

#43 Dave_L



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Posted 02 July 2019 - 01:28 AM

Kinda late to the thread, but I wanted to chime in. Cloudy Nights did a review of Adam's scope. A nice little entry level refractor. Adam, if you want to take the next step to a better scope, the Cloudy Nights group can help. A great scope can be had for under $300. Clear skies!

#44 aeajr


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Posted 02 July 2019 - 03:44 PM

Over time you will have:


  • Binoculars
  • Grab and go scope usually 80-150 mm (your current scope)
  • Light bucket- typically 8"/200 mm or larger

Then you can match the tool to the task and the target.

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