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Help needed for beginner with 127 goto Mak

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#1 avhjr

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 09:34 PM

I've never owned a telescope but have read this forum for a few years.  After reading the forum over time I felt I would get a Mak as my first scope.   I got the Celestron Nexstar 127SLT as the 'deal of the day' during Amazon Prime Day smile.gif.  It appears to be Synta heritage type.

 

My first experiences which I would appreciate any insight.  Looking at Mars, Jupiter, Saturn from suburbs of Wash DC in MD:

1.) It really shakes when you touch it to focus, which makes focusing kind of guess work?  In order to see a stable image using the 9mm I have to look without touching it at all, even with my eye.  Is this normal?  I realize this is an inexpensive mount.

2.) Planets were really white- I could see faint bands on Jupiter, Saturn with it's rings, Mars basically all white.  I assume I need some filters?

 

3.) I tried to look at Andromeda galaxy with the other included eyepiece, a 25mm (both eyepieces are Plossl).  I'm in my cul-de-sac with lights on houses.  So not sure it was possible under these conditions with a small Mak or if magnification to high with the 25?

 

4.) Eyepieces?  I see Celestron and Orion have comparable 5-piece kits with filters, though historically the Celestron kit has been less expensive at times.  Not sure what direction to go next.

 

Thank you!

 

Art



#2 WarmWeatherGuy

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 09:57 PM

The problem with focusing is normal. I made a video about it. How to focus a wobbly telescope.

 

Color won't be as apparent visually as you see in photographs. Mars should look a whitish orange though.

 

I am not impressed with eyepiece kits. I had a C8 for 18 years before I bought a more expensive eyepiece and it totally changed my experience. Around $100 per eyepiece is really good for a long focal ratio scope like you have. The multi-hundred dollar eyepieces are beneficial for fast scopes like f/5 but don't really help for f/10 so much. I am very happy with the Celestron X-Cel LX eyepieces.

 

Your field of view is around 1° and Andromeda is more like 3° (6 Earth Moons across). Pretty much all you will see is the tiny bright core and it will just be a round fuzzy patch of light. This animation shows what you can see versus what a camera can see via a long exposure.

 

Tiny_3.gif

 


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#3 Barlowbill

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 09:59 PM

My 8" Dob shakes when I focus.  You just live with it.

Filters won't, IMO, solve your problems.  They help a little.  Aperture probably will help.  

Andromeda if blocked by city lights from my location.  I hate lights!

Most folks advise against "sets/kits".  I use a 32mm plossl as a finder eyepiece.  I have a 25mm plossl but rarely use it.  No reason not to.  Mostly I use 8mm, 5mm, very rarely 3.2mm.  Very rarely!  Most folks like midrange.  Most folks are smarter than I am.



#4 ICit2

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 10:27 PM

The tripod that comes with the Celestron Nexstar 127SLT is best used with the second pair of legs fully collapsed.  This will go a long way in stabilizing your setup.  Get a low stool and sit yourself down.  That will help a lot in maintaining a steady hand and head when viewing.  The longer you look at what your looking at the more you will see.

 

The advice here about avoiding the eyepiece kits and filter packages are words of wisdom.  You might want to consider getting a zoom eyepiece.  They're great for dialing in what the seeing will allow. I use one on my Mak 90. 

 

Maks of this size really shine on solar system objects. Not so much on DSO's

 

You've got a great grab-n-go setup.  Get away from the ambient lighting if you can or find the darkest place you have.


Edited by ICit2, 17 October 2020 - 10:32 PM.

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#5 fcathell

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 10:42 PM

Focus bar.jpg Art - this may solve your focus issue.  I've used this fine focus concept for over 30 years and it eliminates the vibration issue when focusing. It is a rubber bumper/foot for a chair leg which can be found at any Ace Hardware. A short piece of coat hanger wire is pushed through it which acts as the focus moment arm. Measure the scope's focus knob diameter and get the proper rubber foot that will just fit snugly over the focus knob. Do a course focus by hand on the knob then slip the fine focus adapter and you can get a precise focus with gripping any thing. The attached photo is made for the C8 and C5 focus knobs, but I have made ones for Maks. Some people have even used clothes pins to do this.

 

Frank

 

 


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#6 fcathell

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 10:45 PM

Correction - that is "precise focus WITHOUT gripping anything".  Also some people have made these using Cap Plugs also.

 

Frank



#7 ShaulaB

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Posted 17 October 2020 - 10:45 PM

Do you have a Moon filter? They are also called neutral density filters. Using one will cut the brightness enough for some detail to pop out.

 

A plus one vote for a zoom eyepiece. The Celestron 8-24mm is a better performer than the Orion 7-21mm. I own both. The Orion zoom seems like it has a smaller field of view, and it is harder to position the eye properly with it.

 

Driving to darker skies will increase your enjoyment. Get in contact with a local astro club to find out where safe dark skies might be.

 

Look up bright open clusters and brighter globular clusters on your app. Lots of us here on CN use Sky Safari on phones and tablets. You can enjoy some of the clusters in a Maksutov.

 

Best of luck!



#8 avhjr

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 12:10 PM

Thanks for all this advice!  I will probably ask more questions in the beginner's forum!

 

One more Mak question- would I benefit from an insulating jacket for a 127?  Where would I get it?

 

Art



#9 Ozren

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 02:23 PM

Baader Hyperion zoom 8-24 is a great match for the 127 Mak ... the contrast is great, and you can push magnification very easy and quick (it will depend on seeing at that moment)

 

Insulating will help , you will start observing faster ,tho without it also ok, just leave it 30 minutes to cooldown.


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#10 elwaine

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 03:00 PM

Make your own insulating jacket. Buy some Reflectix at your local hardware store. Cut the length about 6" longer than the body of the scope. Make a single wrap of the Reflectix around the scope and secure the reflectix with a few strips of tape. You'll have an insulating jacket and dew shield all-in-one. It's best to blacken the inside of the exposed length that acts as a dew shield. Black "construction paper" works great. That way the dew shield will also act as a stray light blocker and could darken the background, enhancing the views. (At your latitude, you probably won't have to cover the back of the scope to benefit from the insulation jacket.)

 

When you can afford a better tripod, you will see a marked improvement in the ease of focusing, and ease of use, in general. You will also see more if you are sitting than if you try viewing while standing. Take your time when looking through the eyepiece. Your eye will adapt somewhat and the views will improve. The more you look, the more you will see. In addition, its the rule, rather than the exception, that really great views are fleeting... sometimes lasting just for a few seconds out of every 5 or 10, or more minutes... because the atmosphere is often turbulent enough to interfere with seeing fine details. 

 

One other thing. I'm guessing that light pollution is a factor outside of D.C.. I've found that light polluted skies can "hide" the presence of very thin, high clouds from naked eyesight. Looking through those clouds diminishes the views. So you may find that on successive nights that appear to your eyes as being equally as clear, you'll get better views on one of those nights than on the other.

 

Have fun!


Edited by elwaine, 18 October 2020 - 03:06 PM.

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#11 JimFR

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 03:13 PM

Baader Hyperion zoom 8-24 is a great match for the 127 Mak ... the contrast is great, and you can push magnification very easy and quick (it will depend on seeing at that moment)

 

Insulating will help , you will start observing faster ,tho without it also ok, just leave it 30 minutes to cooldown.

This is what I have, and it is indeed a great match.  I also added a helical focuser for fine focus.

I haven’t insulated mine, just set it up once the sun is out of the way and let it acclimate on it’s own.



#12 avhjr

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Posted 18 October 2020 - 06:49 PM

As far as an 8 to 24 zoom can you use zooms with a Barlow?  My current highest mag is a 9mm and I was wondering if I could go higher with a 127 Mak for planets.



#13 Ozren

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 06:23 AM

Yes, no problem using Barlow with zoom, but to go under 8mm with Mak you need exceptional sky, that will occur very rarely.



#14 elwaine

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 02:26 PM

As far as an 8 to 24 zoom can you use zooms with a Barlow?  My current highest mag is a 9mm and I was wondering if I could go higher with a 127 Mak for planets.

You can use a zoom e.p. and a Barlow with your Mak, but the combination of a Barlow and a zoom e.p. works better with telescopes that have a shorter focal length than your 1500mm focal length Mak.

 

The name of the game is how much detail you can see comfortably: not how much magnification you can use with your telescope. The magnification limit is determined by the atmospheric conditions and by the exit pupil an eyepiece will yield with your particular scope. The higher the magnification, the smaller the exit pupil, the dimmer the view is. As a general rule, an exit pupil smaller than .5mm provides magnified views that are often too dim to bring out details that are seen sharply using less magnification and larger exit pupils. Also, very small exit pupils can exacerbate the effects of "floaters" within the eye. 

 

With your f/12 127mm Mak, a 6mm eyepiece will result in a magnification of 250x (the practical magnification limit of your telescope) and an exit pupil of .5mm... still quite comfortable for many visual astronomers. Can you use even higher magnification. Sure. But will you see more, or less, as a result of greater magnification? You will often see less in a more magnified view.

 

The one exception where you might enjoy using a zoom and Barlow combo, for really high power views, is with double stars. If that's your thing, you may like the zoom-Barlow combination. 

 

The real benefit of a good Zoom eyepiece is that it allows you to adjust the magnification to best suit the object that you are looking at under that night's atmospheric conditions. You are not limited to using the settings indicated by eyepiece mm markings on the barrel of the eyepiece. You can use any magnification from the lowest (24mm) to the highest setting (8mm). The downside of zoom eyepieces is that the field of view they provide, at any given magnification, is rather narrow. 


Edited by elwaine, 19 October 2020 - 02:29 PM.


#15 avhjr

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 05:55 PM

This is all very helpful and I really appreciate people responding to beginner questions in this forum.  My son asked me last night if we were going to take the telescope outside again smile.gif

 

Art


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#16 maroubra_boy

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Posted 19 October 2020 - 06:27 PM

Art,

 

Congratulations on the new scope! waytogo.gif

 

I'll expand a little with viewing and using the scope.

 

Patience!

 

Looking through a scope at night is a totally different experience for our eyes.  Effectively you will need to re-learn how to see.

 

Planets:  These are always small in the eyepiece.  They are also very bright on their own so can appear glaring against the black background.  And the surface features are low in contrast by comparison.  Be patient with your eyes as they slowly adjust.  Rush, expecting them to appear as crystal clear as a photo in a book or monitor, and you are only in for disappointment.  The detail is there, just let your eyes adjust.

 

Colour filters can help, but for now just use what you have.  Filters will only help bring out specific features according to their colour, but not make the whole of the image clearer.  And with your size aperture, avoid very deep colour filters as these will kill too much light coming through the eyepiece.  When you start looking at colour filters, you will come across the myriad of colours and their intensity.

 

What will most affect your ability to see detail at high magnification is what is called "seeing".  This is the amount of thermal energy in the atmosphere.  If the atmosphere has a lot of heat, the image will look like it is shimmering and waving about, and focusing is very difficult if not impossible as the image comes in and out of focus.  There is nothing we can do about it.  And it does not matter how big or small your scope is, seeing affects everyone exactly the same way.  The best you can do is focus as best as you can and wait for those moments of clarity in the image.  These may last only a few seconds, but when they do the image is astoundingly clear!

 

Moon:  Low magnification will make the image painful and very bright.  Increasing the magnification helps a lot, and where the surface features are easiest to see along the terminator, you won't need any form of filter to tone down the glare.

 

Deep Sky Objects:  These are best seen from under a dark sky.  Urban skies have a lot of light pollution in them, which washes out faint deep sky objects.  But no matter if under urban or dark skies, you need to give your eyes time to adjust to the dark before attempting to view them.  This may take 10 to 15 minutes to fully dark adapt your eyes.

 

And because they are dim, try NOT to look at them directly, but just to one side of your central vision.  This is because of how our eyes work.  Our central vision is fantastic under bright light, detail and colour.  Under very low illumination conditions our central vision performs poorly.  Instead it is the area around our central vision that is rich with rods and cones in our eyes that allows for both good low light performance and detail  to be seen.  This viewing technique is call Averted Vision.  Try to use your central vision with dim objects, and they will appear to "disappear".

 

Averted Vision is a skill that needs to be learned.  But it is NOT a new skill you must learn!  You already use it every night!  When in your bedroom in the dark, you would have noticed how when you look around the dimly lit room that when you look at something directly it somehow "disappears", but then reappears again when you look at it just to the side.  THIS is averted vision.  THIS is the very same thing you need to do at the eyepiece for dim deep sky objects.

 

And keep magnification low with deep sky objects, that is use your longest focal length eyepiece.  The Andromeda Galaxy is a blooming HUGE sucker, and it is way too big to be seen whole in anything but binoculars.  No matter what eyepiece you may like to use in your scope, you will not fit all of it in, just a fraction.  Because deep sky objects are extended, that is spread out, keeping the magnification down concentrates their light into a smaller area.  Once you locate the object, you may like to increase the magnification a little at a time to see how THAT object responds to it.  Increasing magnification is not the best for most deep sky objects, and this is not the place for a more in depth how-to.

 

Alex.


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#17 elwaine

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Posted 20 October 2020 - 11:09 AM

Excellent advice, Alex. I'll pass along something else - something I just learned from a fellow CN'er - and that is: be acutely aware of all of your sky conditions... not just the usual ones.  This is a great place to start.

 

Over the past month, even with very good seeing (no turbulence) I was unable to get the super sharp views that I was accustomed to seeing with my Mak. Collimation was spot on, yet surface details on Mars appeared very slightly "muddy," and the views of Jupiter were disappointing. I couldn't see color in the GRS and the cloud bands were slightly washed out. Even on the Moon, subtile details once easily revealed were barely discernable. It turns out that the culprit was the smoke from the fires in California that have drifted well to the East, and acted like a very thin veil draped over my telescope.

 

I couldn't detect anything wrong using just naked eye vision, and a few older Astro-weather forecast apps indicated highly transparent skies, so it took me a few nights of observations before I even thought to question the smoke from California. The link I posted above has the best astronomy weather forecasts of any other apps that I've used.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#18 Peter Besenbruch

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Posted 20 October 2020 - 04:44 PM

Over the past month, even with very good seeing (no turbulence) I was unable to get the super sharp views that I was accustomed to seeing with my Mak. Collimation was spot on, yet surface details on Mars appeared very slightly "muddy," and the views of Jupiter were disappointing. I couldn't see color in the GRS and the cloud bands were slightly washed out. Even on the Moon, subtile details once easily revealed were barely discernable.

I had the exact same problem, but then I cleaned my corrector. ;)



#19 luxo II

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Posted 20 October 2020 - 08:33 PM

... yet surface details on Mars appeared very slightly "muddy," ...

Hah - don't forget to check the weather on mars - last year was disappointing for all as there was a dust storm for most of the year !

 

Edited by luxo II, 20 October 2020 - 08:34 PM.


#20 elwaine

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 08:25 AM

 

Hah - don't forget to check the weather on mars - last year was disappointing for all as there was a dust storm for most of the year !

No surface details were visible on Mars last year due to the storm. This year is quite different. 

 

I had the exact same problem, but then I cleaned my corrector. wink.gif

Your corrector must have been filthy. grin.gif  You raise a good point, Peter. As I know you know, correctors can be covered with quite a bit of dust, pollen, etc. before the views are degraded. Which leads to another good tip for those new in this hobby: don’t obsess over optical surfaces that aren’t spotless. Eyepieces, especially the surface close to the eye, need cleaning much more frequently than correctors. In closed tube reflectors, like Maks, the mirrors rarely, if ever, need cleaning. 



#21 Maritime

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 07:43 PM

Find a used 4se tripod and modify it to fit your mount. The shake and wobble disappear!



#22 Peter Besenbruch

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Posted 21 October 2020 - 11:00 PM

Your corrector must have been filthy. grin.gif 

Let's just say I haven't been accused of over-cleaning my optics.
 




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