I am pretty new to visual observing. I have been doing DSO imaging for almost a year now, but almost exclusively with camera lenses. I got myself a 5" Maksutov to shoot the moon and planets and decided to peek through an eyepiece out of curiosity... and I liked what I saw. I know visual observing is a different beast than photography - I know that you see much less but like that you actually *see* it with your own eyes.
Now since I am very green behind my ears on this subject, I'd like to get my expectations right. I appreciate any feedback from you experienced guys. Especially on how much my dark site will improve my experience. I know that without a scope, the difference is mind-blowing - instead of 30-40 stars there's a few hundred to thousand visible. At my dark site Vega almost hurts to look at, it's so bright.
Sky Brightness & Equipment
My home is about 19.5 mag sqm (my southern horizon is actually red Bortle 7 due to an adjacent 2 million people city), but I have a camp site with is 21 mag sqm. So far I only observed from home; work, family and COVID-19 being the culprits.
I have a 32mm Plössl with 50° FOV, a 12mm eyepiece with 60° FOV (NED12 from TS-Optics) and a decent 2x Barlow which I know is good from my planetary imaging.
I have located many major globular clusters like M13, M3 and M5. I can see them pretty well as bright patches in the sky. M13 even in direct vision - the smaller ones more or less only averted. I never saw an improvement when I increased the magnification beyond 50x by swapping the 32mm eyepiece for the 12mm one or added a Barlow. I suppose my dark site would let me see more clusters in direct vision and with more details regarding the extent/size but I don't think I can resolve any feature or individual stars inside them, regardless of light pollution; am I correct?
My Mak has a narrow FOV (about 1° max, absolute), so large nebula are not its domain. But I figure the small and rather bright planetary nebula should pop up nicely. Last night I hunted down M57. I could see in direct vision and in averted vision I could make out its ring shape nicely. I don't expect to see colors with my aperture. But I'd love to see more details on the structure - is this reasonable with my aperture at a darker site? There's many more PN so it would be awesome if a darker would let me check out how different they are.
Now *that* is a joy, even at my home. I managed to split Castor into its three components with the A/B seperation at 5". Last night Albireo was moving into sight for the first and coloring was awesome - despite the awful seeing (at 125x stars looked like furballs). I guess that is the domain where my Mak excels.
I don't expect anything. I will have a look at M31 and M33 , of course.
Thanks for bearing with me.