How much magnification you can use depends on your optical quality, seeing and your eyesight and aperture. With my 8" scope I am often around 350x to 450x on Jupiter, and 525x on Saturn. Sometimes higher when conditions are perfect.
My rule of thumb is 43x the aperture in inches on a very good night with decent optics, higher for very good or excellent optics. Also much depends on which planet you are observing.
Richard, I am usually between 333x and 400x on Jupiter in my 8", as well, at 0.6mm and 0.5mm exit pupil. I find 333x (~40x per inch) power to be the most productive and my rule of thumb, as well. At 400x, Jupiter is still workable, but it's beginning to dim a little. I was looking at Oval BA the other night, it was easy at 333x. I could see it at 400x, but not as easily. And I am fairly sure at 500x it would have been even more difficult. I accidentally pulled out the wrong eyepiece and hit 1200x once (0.16mm exit pupil!). Not much to see up that high. I guess my optics are not that good.
I get that the quality of our optics produce nice sharp and high contrast images at high power, after all it's the same quality image we see at less magnification where (lack of) aberration is apparent in terms of resolution and contrast. But I am always interested in the mechanism of how high quality optics can afford higher magnifications at vanishingly small exit pupils, say a bit smaller than 0.5mm, without excessive image dimming. At some point we begin to lose visual sensitivity and, thus, lose the image itself as the eye is working at a very small relative aperture (less than about 0.5mm f/60).
Getting closer to 600x on Jupiter, IME, is unworkable (or at least not as productive as a bit less magnification) in any 8" aperture even in good seeing. I mean, we can still see some detail up that high, I saw some detail at 1200x, too. Just not much detail was perceived by the eye, even though we are viewing the same fine afocal image we observed at 400x and less. At some point, it becomes less about the optics and more about the exit pupil and, I suspect, throughput as well.
For example, Jove is fine on both 6" Mak and 8" Newt at 0.6mm exit pupil, (240x and 333x, respectively). But, at 0.5mm exit pupil, the Mak image is unworkable while the Newt image still had some legs. I suspect this has something to do with the throughput of each scope, not so much about their respective quality or difference in aperture. Of course the 8" image is brighter, thus affording higher magnification than the 6". They are pretty close to the same level of quality, not premium but pretty good and roughly the same obstruction. Both were thermally stable and well collimated. Seeing varied from above average to very good in both over time. (I agree with you in another thread when you talked about stray light control and mechanics, too.)
But, when I hear folks talk about quality optics affording higher magnification, I am always reminded of the small exit pupil involved and how quality might over come the inverse square law and our own personal level of acuity (as a variable). Unless you or they mean magnification higher than say 1mm exit pupil when poor optics start to become visually and visibly soft, while better optics retain their fine imaging properties until the image surface brightness is no longer supported at smaller exit pupils. Sometimes when folks talk about ludicrous magnification in any scope, and especially in premium scopes, I wish they'd elaborate on what they saw up that high. Tight double stars or a bright planetary nebula?
I just do not understand how quality affords higher magnification to smaller than 0.5mm exit pupils (very small relative apertures) and well above the magnification where poor image quality becomes apparent.
Edited by Asbytec, 10 July 2019 - 04:38 AM.