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New Beginner Advice and Equipment - DSOs?

beginner equipment observing
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#1 psyberjake

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 12:22 PM

Dear Cloudy Nights Veterans,

 

I recently inherited the following mid-80's equipment from my Late father:

  • Celestron/Vixen SP-C6 Reflector (150mm f/5) on Super Polaris EQ Mount
  • Celestron Skysensor controller
  • TeleVue Eyepieces (32.0mm Plossl, 26.0mm Plossl, 17.0mm Plossl, 10.5mm Plossl, 7.4mm Plossl, and 4.8mm Nagler)
  • TeleVue Barlow (1.8x)
  • Accessories (Cheshire Collimation Eyepiece, Moon Filter, T-Mount for DSLR)

I've taken the scope out over the years in my back patio but NEOWISE restored my interest in the hobby, so I got the equipment in working order and took the family out to some dark sky camping (1-2 hour drives from my light-polluted, often cloudy sky)...making memories!

 

I cleaned the primary and secondary mirrors recently (scary...but carefully followed instructions found on Cloudy Nights), collimated, and got the Skysensor controller working...fun process!

 

Once in the field, we've been able to polar align okay (need to learn more about precise placement based on location/time).  I say "okay" based on only needing to adjust RA to keep objects centered.  With everything in good working order, we viewed the following highlights: NEOWISE, Jupiter w/ 4 moons, Saturn, M57, plenty of double stars, and Moon craters don't get old.

 

I need to figure out Setting Circles as it is taking me a long time to find Deep Sky Objects, which is what I'm really interested in.  The Skysensor got me to M57 but I want to be able to do this manually...hunting is part of the fun for me.  Any suggestions there would be greatly appreciated!

 

Once I found M57, it wasn't nearly as bright/big as I had hoped it would be, which is the same experience I'm having with the planets.  Granted we viewed them (01Aug) during near full moon so I'm hoping it will pop more with new moon coming up.

 

I'm considering purchasing a 10-in Dobsonian to gather more light and provide the opportunity to increase magnification but perhaps I'm not being patient enough with what we have.  Does anyone have advice on either jumping up in scope or upgrading eyepieces, adding filters, etc. to improve DSOs with current setup?  Eventually I'm interested in taking captures (I enjoy the photography hobby as well).

 

Thanks!


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#2 Stelios

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 04:08 PM

A 10" has almost 3 times the light-gathering power of a 6", so yes, it will make a significant difference. The extra resolution will also "bust" some tight globulars. 

 

However if you are eventually interested in photography, you will need a German Equatorial Mount. A DOB can't be used for DSO photography (and needs some type of tracking even for planetary). 

 

Without the Moon, you will get better viewing of DSO's, but not of planets. 

 

Visual and AP experiences are very different. You get no color for visual, and most objects are just "faint fuzzies." OTOH, you are actually seeing things with your own eyes, and for some people, that counts a lot.


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#3 psyberjake

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 05:46 PM

A 10" has almost 3 times the light-gathering power of a 6", so yes, it will make a significant difference. The extra resolution will also "bust" some tight globulars. 

 

However if you are eventually interested in photography, you will need a German Equatorial Mount. A DOB can't be used for DSO photography (and needs some type of tracking even for planetary). 

 

Without the Moon, you will get better viewing of DSO's, but not of planets. 

 

Visual and AP experiences are very different. You get no color for visual, and most objects are just "faint fuzzies." OTOH, you are actually seeing things with your own eyes, and for some people, that counts a lot.

Thank you, Stelios!  Yea, the first time I saw Saturn, even though it was small, my jaw hit the floor.  Bummer to hear that planets won't improve much without the moon, unless I go up in aperture, but that makes sense.  Major reason for considering the larger scope.

 

I think AP is something I'll take up later and focus on visual for now, especially with the kids in tow.  With that in mind, I assume the eyepieces I have would be fine for any current 10" Dob, right?  It's old technology but in mint condition.

 

BTW, your Astrobin work is incredible!


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#4 SonnyE

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 06:47 PM

Welcome into the insanity, Jake!

Ahh, Family interest can really make observing a lot of fun. And it makes it easier to procure more equipment if the better half is onboard.

It's also great for the kids.

 

Even if you want to stay in Observing (Visual), a Go-To telescope can really add a lot of interest (if you can muddle through the computer stuff OK).

I use Stellarium as my Planetarium Program. And it also controls my Go-To mount to put me on the objects I want to suck the light out of.

Or for just wondering around the possibilities available, Stellarium can be a lot of fun to "window shop".

 

The first time we saw Saturn I was demonstrating my then new telescope to the Step-son. I would bring it into focus, and let him look.

Then I added a 2X Barlow lens, and centered and focused it.

Then my 3X Barlow. Then I went against every bodies advice and stacked my Barlow's.

Sure, it dimmed down Saturn. But the excitement was electric as we took turns seeing Saturn fill the telescope. 

My wife, the skeptic, got so excited she ran into the house to send out the Daughter in Law to look.

At that point I think she accepted and approved my new venture.

 

Have fun learning and teaching the night skies! waytogo.gif


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#5 Sketcher

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Posted 05 August 2020 - 06:55 PM

I need to figure out Setting Circles as it is taking me a long time to find Deep Sky Objects, which is what I'm really interested in.  The Skysensor got me to M57 but I want to be able to do this manually...hunting is part of the fun for me.  Any suggestions there would be greatly appreciated!

 

Once I found M57, it wasn't nearly as bright/big as I had hoped it would be, which is the same experience I'm having with the planets.  Granted we viewed them (01Aug) during near full moon so I'm hoping it will pop more with new moon coming up.

 

I'm considering purchasing a 10-in Dobsonian to gather more light and provide the opportunity to increase magnification but perhaps I'm not being patient enough with what we have.  Does anyone have advice on either jumping up in scope or upgrading eyepieces, adding filters, etc. to improve DSOs with current setup?  Eventually I'm interested in taking captures (I enjoy the photography hobby as well).

Few people (very few people) use setting circles for anything.  Most people find easier (for them) ways for finding deep-sky objects -- such as starhopping, or using the pattern of visible stars (utilizing a suitable star chart/atlas) around the object to enable one to point the telescope directly at the unseen object's location relative to those visible stars.  Nevertheless, setting circles might be adequate depending on their accuracy . . .

 

Observing deep-sky objects (such as M57) with a near full moon in the sky is, well, it's like shooting yourself in the foot before going on a hike.  Check up on M57 again when the moon is below the horizon, the sun is at least 18 degrees below your horizon, etc. and the difference will be greater than upgrading to a 10-inch telescope and observing on a similar, moonlit night as before.

 

Most definitely, you're not being patient enough!  I suggest making extensive use of your 6-inch telescope -- for at least one full year of active observing -- before moving on to a larger telescope.  It takes time, serious time and practice, for the human eye-brain system to learn how to observe, to learn how to see celestial objects.  This is true for deep-sky objects as well as it is for planets.  The skills for each type of observing are very different from one another.

 

Of course, there's nothing to stop you from ordering a 10-inch or larger telescope today.  All other things being equal, a larger telescope will be able to show you more and show it better than will a smaller telescope; but experience with a 6-inch telescope will allow you to see more down the road than you'll be able to see tomorrow with a 10-inch telescope.

 

Here's a view of M57 made with a 1-inch telescope:

 

M57 1 inch aperture 8 Dec 2018 67x Sketcher   text

 

Your 6-inch telescope has 6 times the resolution and 36 times the light-grasp of a 1-inch telescope.

 

Moving up from a 6-inch to a 10-inch telescope provides about 1.6 times the resolution and 2.8 time the light-grasp of a 6-inch telescope.

 

Now consider how much "better"your view of M57 was compared to the above sketch.

 

My point:  A darker sky and increased experience can often more than make up for using a smaller telescope.  Work on your observing experience.  Concentrate on deep-sky observation when you can observe from darker skies.

 

In all honesty, I do all of my observing with 6-inch and smaller telescopes -- and I can see more than enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life -- this, even though I have a 10-inch and a 12-inch telescope capped, and sitting under plastic in a storage room.

 

But yeah, some people need bigger in order to be happy.  Yes, they really do.  We're different people in different locations with different sky conditions, different views, different expectations, etc.  So go with whatever will work better for you.  That which works best for me will not work best for everyone else.  Life isn't like that.  So in the end, you have to do what is right for you.


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#6 psyberjake

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Posted 15 August 2020 - 02:02 PM

Took everyone's advice here and tried again last weekend.  With dark sky making such a difference, I found Ring Nebula, Dumbbell Nebula, and Andromeda Galaxy.  Amazing!
 
Got a little beginner digital photo session in too.
 

 

Jupiter Saturn MilkyWay Web

Edited by psyberjake, 15 August 2020 - 02:04 PM.

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