I acquired a Celestron Firstscope 114 (f/8, 114 mm aperture and 910 mm fl) and am trying my skills at astronomy. I completely took apart and cleaned/rebuilt the scope and its mount and they are now clean and functional - a decent beginners scope. I acquired some no name eyepieces off of ebay to see what it could do. I took a look at Jupiter and Saturn last night and here is what I found. The 25mm eyepiece worked good for area search and acquisition and was relatively clear. The 10mm eyepiece showed the moons bracketing Jupiter nicely, and the planet was white with a little bit of reddish color. Saturn was small and whitish, and at a good angle showing its rings distinctly. The 6mm eyepiece showed them more closely, with less color and less defined. with still a little reddish on jupiter and the rings of Saturn were more clearly defined but they seemed to have more of a whiter wash. I was doing this in an area of light pollution with a class 5/6 Bortle in Norther Virginia. I was looking at the planets over a Bortle 7 town 3 miles to my south. My question is, can I do noticeably better if I do my stargazing in a different location with less light pollution and would higher quality eyepieces make a difference, particularly if I was elsewhere. Can I get more out of this scope?
Posted 09 August 2020 - 08:02 PM
Hello and welcome to the forum.
Planets are not affected by light pollution. In fact some folks recommend viewing in the twilight.
Planets are all about seeing, cooling and collimation.
Seeing refers to how steady the atmosphere is. The air is a turbulent sea of air moving to an fro, usually because of temperature and pressure
differentials. Sometimes you are in a "bubble" of steady air and this is the best time to view planets.
cooling means your scope and mirror have cooled to the same temperature as the outside air. Your scope is small so it should cool quickly.
However if you are moving the scope from an air conditioned or heated house to outside, don't expect razor sharp views in the first
half an hour.
collimation means that the optical axis of the scope is pointing at the center of the eyepiece. There are many ways to check and adjust this.
All this being said, if you are viewing over a street, on your driveway or over a neighbor's hot roof, find a big grassy field.
the air is much more stable over these.
If your eyepieces are labeled p or plossl they will give you 90 - 95% the view of a top shelf eyepiece. A top shelf traditional eyepiece like
a plossl/ortho will cost 3 - 4 x more than a generic plossl and give you that extra %. Only you can decide if that is worth your
You will see more detail by increasing the aperture of your scope than buying top shelf eyepieces.
View the planets when they reach their maximum height over the horizion, then you are looking through less air.
Keep observing, you train your eyes and brain to see more fine detail over time.
- Jethro7 likes this
Posted 09 August 2020 - 08:07 PM
Observing under darker skies always improves a view. If I recall correctly, the 4 Galilean Moons of Jupiter should show up in the 25mm eyepiece, at least they would if the sky were darker. Be careful that what you think are moons are just background stars. Do you have an app like SkySafari on your phone or tablet.
Your telescope can show deep sky objects if you are at a darker site. These are star clusters, nebulas, and galaxies. M31 the Andromeda Galaxy will be up this Fall for you to enjoy. Again, an app or a sky map will help tremendously with finding these objects.
AstroTech brand Paradigm eyepieces will help, as they are good and inexpensive, as eyepieces o. Plossl eyepieces from Orion might improve your observing,.
Posted 10 August 2020 - 12:18 AM
My question is, can I do noticeably better if I do my stargazing in a different location with less light pollution and would higher quality eyepieces make a difference, particularly if I was elsewhere. Can I get more out of this scope?
Like VT mentioned, for observing the planets, less light pollution won't make a difference.
It's primarily when you start going after deep-sky objects that light pollution will become a problem -- often a very significant problem. But fortunately, light-pollution isn't a problem for everything.
Most eyepieces these days are going to be pretty good, regardless of quality. Paying more for eyepieces will mostly result in "cosmetic" improvements such as more comfortable eye-relief, greater apparent fields of view, and sharper images near the edge of the field. As far as what you see in and near the field center, better eyepieces aren't likely to make anything noticeably better.
Can you get more out of that telescope? That's a more difficult question to answer, since I have no first-hand experience with that telescope. But I would expect more from some telescopes of that size. So it certainly may be possible to get more out of it.
With experience, we get better at seeing more of what any telescope is capable of showing. So it stands to reason that your telescope is likely showing more than you're currently seeing. It takes time for the human eye-brain system to learn how to "see" astronomical objects and their details.
So, with more practice studying the planets, taking your time, while comfortably seated, you may find that there's more detail to be seen. Something else that helps is to try sketching what you see. People tend to see more when they make sketches. The sketching process forces one to concentrate more intently on what one is seeing -- to look more closely for details that may only be visible briefly during moments of better seeing conditions.
It's a good idea to not get too concerned with expectations. Just do like Galileo did. Look and take note of all that you can see -- without any preconceived expectations.
Posted 10 August 2020 - 07:28 AM
Observing under darker skies always improves a view. If I recall correctly, the 4 Galilean Moons of Jupiter should show up in the 25mm eyepiece, at least they would if the sky were darker.
I do not agree that darker skies always improve views -- not in the case of planets, for sure. In fact Venus is best observed in broad daylight, when the skyglow exceeds anything that the worst human efforts can achieve by a factor of one hundred.
I don't think that Jupiter and Saturn really benefit from light pollution, but it certainly doesn't hurt them.
Jupiter's moons are extremely bright. At low magnification they're sometimes obscured by the glare of Jupiter's disk when they're very near to it. But never by light pollution. They are also generally distinguishable from stars by being the four brightest objects near Jupiter, as well as by being in a nearly straight line. Occasionally Jupiter wanders close enough to a 4th- or 5th-magnitude star to confuse the star with a moon, but that's pretty rare.
Saturn's moons are much fainter, and can indeed be obscured by heavy light pollution, except for Titan, by the brightest of the lot.
- Jethro7 likes this
Posted 10 August 2020 - 03:37 PM
I was not aware that local light does not play that much of a role in my viewing of Jupiter, Saturn, etc. I look up at the sky at night and know that I am not seeing a lot of stars compared to when I am 45min away in a more rural area. Every time I use the telescope (3 times now) I learn something new about how to use the scope and what to look at in the sky and am definitely enjoying myself. I'll keep doing this with what I have as I know I have a lot to see and learn yet. I think my use of white light while setting up/moving the scope could be impacting me as well - I'll try using red lighting. I've been using an app called star walk 2 which has been very helpful as well.
When it cools off at night and the mosquitos go away, I'll go spend some time away from the I-95 corridor.
Thanks for the input.
Posted 10 August 2020 - 03:40 PM
Well, try it and see. You have had all options as answers so far. Better, worse and indifferent.
Jupiter with a 10mm should have been better, more detail then white and a bit of red.
A 6mm is likely atbthe upper limit for the scope it is f/8 and I tend to find that below the f number you gain magnification and lose detail. Basically pick one or the other, maybe not both.
What mirror is in the scope?
Have an idea it may be a longish spherical, which would explain the lack of definition.
If the mirror is spherical then I doubt you will get more out of it. But there is a lot to learn and I suggest you back down and get eyepieces for the 60x to 80x area, even 40 and less, and go looking at the other few billion items at those magnifications.
M45 needs 25-30x with a 60 degree eyepiece, M45 around 40x, double cluster again 40x. There is a lot a lower magnifications.
However find out the nature of the mirror as I half think it could be a long spherical.
Edited by sg6, 10 August 2020 - 03:41 PM.
Posted 10 August 2020 - 05:44 PM
Observing under darker skies always improves a view.
I will concur with Toney here. Planets are not that effected very much by light Pollution.
The thing that affects my viewing the most with planets is the direction the upper level prevailing winds. If the winds are out of the South I will have bad transparency (even if the skies appear clear) with all that moisture from the Gulf of Mexico. When viewing planets they look like they are reflected in a pool of water. If the Winds are from the West or North my skies will be of good steady seeing. Dark skies are a good thing for viewing DSO's.
HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro