Jump to content


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Trouble Finding Things in the Night SKy

  • Please log in to reply
15 replies to this topic

#1 CharlesDinger18


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2
  • Joined: 01 Mar 2021

Posted 03 March 2021 - 02:33 AM

Hi guys, new member here. I am an amateur astronomer and I am having a big struggle using my telescope and I do not know what the issue is. Here is what I have:



Dobsonion xt8



25mm plossl (came with scope)

Celestron 8-24mm zoom eyepiece

6mm 66° “gold line” planetary eyepiece

2x Barlow


I went out tonight for about 3 hours. Mars was out, but I couldnt get a decent view of it no matter what I tried, it just looked like an orange star but a bit brighter. I was kind of confused because I feel like I had the eyepieces and telescope to support seeing Mars but nothing I tried worked. I also tried to find Orion's Nebula, and I found something... but not what I was really expecting. I attached some low quality photos, one photo turned our slightly red and one blue for some reason? It seemed completely gray from what I saw but any advice would be amazing, I really need help with this. And also I dont really speak telescope or astronomy yet so easy language would be appreciated! Thank you!


Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_0512.jpg
  • IMG_0511.jpg

#2 Waynosworld


    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 749
  • Joined: 22 Oct 2020
  • Loc: Vancouver Washington

Posted 03 March 2021 - 02:50 AM

That is M42(Orion's Nebula), it appears to be a lot brighter where you are as i could barely see it as my seeing is terrible where I live and has been for a long time.

I tested my scope using my 10" Apertura AD10 against my 16" scope I built tonight, I was not impressed with what I could see.


As for Mars, it is a long ways away now, soon it will be on the other side of the sun, all i can see of it anymore is a small round ball of yellow and that is a good view as normally it is just a ball of fire.

  • Hexley likes this

#3 sg6


    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,179
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2010
  • Loc: Norfolk, UK.

Posted 03 March 2021 - 02:56 AM

XT8 so I guess around 1200mm focal length.

Now the "unpleasant" stuff. You will at this time need a LOT of magnification to see anything of mars. It is small and it is a long way away, And a 200/1200mm newtonian is not going to deliver the magnification you want.


At this time you will need at least 300x and a good night/atmosphere.


To find anything get an eyepiece delivering as wide as possible. the ES68 at 24mm is about the widest but a simple 30/32mm plossl comes very close. They all top out at the same area.


A dobsonian is a fully manual system. You point it and you find everything. Nothing just swings into view and stays there. Bet no one said if you cannot learn to find objects then you see nothing, and the learning process is probably a month.


For planets forget them until around July/August when Saturn and Jupiter reappear. Mars is out until around Dec 2022.


Would say you need to forget planets, get a 30mm or 32mm plossl, or 25mm Paradigm or the ES68 in 24mm.

Next learn a few constellations. Reason for that is people say "Have a look at M13 in Hercules". First you have to find Hercules, then you have to find M13. So learn a few basic constellations.

Practise with the scope, lots.

A manual dobsonian is the reason people buy goto's.


How well aligned is the finder and the main scope?

Can you use the finder - many find the supplied one to be a pain.


Expect to buy eyepieces, I have already allocated $40 on your money on a plossl/Paradigm/ES. I have the Paradigms and as a set they are good. I use just about all the time the 25mm to find, and the 8mm and 12mm to view. Half suggest you consider the same 3 items. The "missing" item in the Paradigm's is a 6mm. I bought a clone of the WO planetary but there is a 6.5mm ES52 that could be useful.

Edited by sg6, 03 March 2021 - 02:57 AM.

  • warren_piece and Starnewb like this

#4 Avgvstvs


    Ranger 4

  • -----
  • Posts: 382
  • Joined: 10 Jun 2020
  • Loc: Australia

Posted 03 March 2021 - 03:08 AM

Sounds like you bought into the hype and Hubble style images

I always suggest that ppl join an astronomy club and speak to real users.

The truth is that astronomy is often an expensive hobby,

Astronomy is an unpredictable hobby, you are at the mercy of the elements, the Moon, clouds, temperatures and others leaving their flood lights on, your partner feeling lonely that night......etc

Most objects out there look like fuzzy misty patches that seem more like smears

on your optics. Colours are largely non observable except for bright stars and super giant telescopes. Its just the physiology of your eyes. Mars is only really worth observing for a couple of months every 2 years. But I don't want to be completely negative


1) Learn the skies, the constellations, where to find the planets.

A good star atlas and some basic references will help here

2) Just go for basic visual observing to start with, forget astro-photography for at least 6 months

3) Learn to do more with what you have, there are always better and bigger telescopes, eyepieces, imagers, software....etc.

Sometimes planets look rubbish purely due to atmospheric conditions even with a 10K telescope and that $1000- eyepiece

4) Learn the science, the physics, the chemistry, the basics of astrophysics. So you know and can appreciate what you are looking at. That faint smudge means more if you know it's 2,000,000 light years away. Or that round blue shell is the atmosphere of a dying sun.


Don't give up, there are rewards. Not always in the perfect image or best views of Jupiter

Astronomy is not just about what is out there, but also what is in you and what motivates you.

Just being alone with the Milkyway at 4am makes you realise that the Universe is much greater than you and your tiny problems

Clear skies


Edited by Avgvstvs, 03 March 2021 - 03:15 AM.

  • blaster, davelpg, geovermont and 6 others like this

#5 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky


  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 95,957
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 03 March 2021 - 03:23 AM

Mars is currently only 6.3 arc seconds in apparent size, which is 28% of the size that it was when it was closest to the Earth last October.  Mars can be a tough target even under ideal circumstances.





You may find some of the information on astronomy, amateur astronomy, and observing presented in my post (#22) at https://www.cloudyni...mers/?p=5184287 useful.

  • paul hart, Jon Isaacs and Hexley like this

#6 radiofm74


    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 265
  • Joined: 17 Jan 2021
  • Loc: Milano (Italy)

Posted 03 March 2021 - 03:45 AM

I won't add to what others stated but I will suggest a great book: Turn Left at Orion.

Reading through that will

- give you a better understanding of what to expect to see and when – key to selecting the right time to see the various objects

- give exciting background and context to your view

- give you the practical pointers you need to find objects and enjoy them at the eyepiece.


Others said "lower your expectations" and if you expected Hubble, they're certainly right. But what you can see through your telescope IS awe-inspiring ;D

  • davelpg, JohnnyBGood, greenstars3 and 2 others like this

#7 Binofrac


    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 182
  • Joined: 11 Jul 2019
  • Loc: Kent, UK

Posted 03 March 2021 - 04:16 AM

I would heavily recommend Turn Left at Orion too. Suppliers should automatically include it with every scope. Their sketches are far more realistic than the usual colourful images seen all over the net. They have a lot of good information invaluable for those just starting out. I still refer to mine occasionally some six years after I bought it.

  • paul hart, JohnnyBGood and Hexley like this

#8 DAG792


    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 165
  • Joined: 21 Mar 2020

Posted 03 March 2021 - 04:21 AM

So, right now, seeing anything on Mars is really, really hard- even for experienced observers.

To see it nicely, you'll need to meet several conditions:

1) a good scope, which you have(8 inch F/6 is a great scope IMO)

2) good collimation. This is basically an 'alignment' of your telescope. Have you done this?

3) excellent seeing. Mars is tiny right now. To see anything on it, you'll need at least 300X, and probably more. The 'seeing' is basically how stable the views are at high magnification. If you just see Mars boiling, its not a good night. If mars look absolutely stable, then you can push the magnification up real high and expect to see a few marks. However, you still won't see Hubble quality views. This sketch is an example of the maximum detail visible right now:


That's it, a few dark and light spots on an orange disk.

Another subpoint of Point 3 is that your scope needs to be cooled. Just leave it outside for a hour or 90 minutes before you start observing, and you'll be fine.

4) Experience. This is by far the most important point. The more time you spend with your telescope, the more you'll be able to see through it.

Experience is so important that I'll go as far to say that an experienced observer will see more in a 6 inch scope than a noob will in a 10 inch scope. So keep this in mind.


Now, I'll address the Orion nebula part of things. By the looks of it, you observe from a city. The image you took is basically spot on. That is about what I see from the city. To really view the Orion nebula, you'll need to visit the countryside. Also, dark-adaptation is of paramount importance. To properly see the faint nebula, you'll need to sit in pitch darkness for at least 30 minutes. Stay away from all lights. If you do observing in the city, use a cloth draped over your head and an eyepatch. If you do all this, you'll be able to see quite a bit more, though it will still be very faint.


  • mikeDnight, geovermont, radiofm74 and 1 other like this

#9 geovermont


    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 316
  • Joined: 06 May 2016
  • Loc: Vermont

Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:15 PM

Welcome! You have what sounds like a good set of equipment. Learning the night sky can be frustrating at times, but you truly can see so much once you get the basics of the constellations and brighter stars figured out.. There's lots of good advice above. Note that the Moon is very satisfying (but not really when it's a full Moon--too bright and washed out). Jupiter and Saturn, when visible, can be striking. You could spend endless amounts of money buying more equipment, but you can go for a long time with what you have. You'll get it. Just keep trying. And ask lots of questions.

  • Hexley likes this

#10 CharlesDinger18


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2
  • Joined: 01 Mar 2021

Posted 03 March 2021 - 01:49 PM

Thanks everyone, this was all great advice. I think I just had really high expectations, but I am just happy that I am on the right path here, thats what matters to me. I already own Turn Left at Orion, its very useful haha, good advice. I appreciate everyone's help!

#11 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky


  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 95,957
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 03 March 2021 - 03:35 PM

Having unrealistic expectations about telescope performance is common nowadays.  How could it not be with the excellent images that are commonplace on the Internet and in astronomy magazines?  Just keep in mind that most of the universe will appear as monochrome through an eyepiece and that the planets are small to very small in angular size and consequently won't be very big even at high magnification.

  • Hexley and Pavo like this

#12 sevenofnine


    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 622
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Santa Rosa, California

Posted 03 March 2021 - 04:02 PM

I have just a couple of recommendations to help you find stuff. First, get a pair of binoculars with large objectives for scanning the night sky. They don't have to expensive ones. Oberwerk.com has a low cost lightweight series that work fine. Something like the 8x56 LW or the 9x60 LW. Second, save up for a good 2 inch wide angle "finder" eyepiece. My Explore Scientific 28/68 works great for me but there are many others too. Third, get a planisphere. I like one called the "Messier Observer's" but it's big and a little pricey at $33 on Amazon. It's very well made though and has ton's of helpful information front and back. Good luck, it all get's easier with time! waytogo.gif

#13 rhetfield



  • *****
  • Posts: 1,480
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Suburban Chicago, IL, USA

Posted 04 March 2021 - 04:48 PM

For finding stuff, try adding some degree circles to your scope.  They work wonderfully on dobs.



Photos aren't bad for a first attempt.  congratulations on finding the nebula. 


As others have pointed out, Mars is not much more than a dot right now.  It has moved quite far away.  When it comes back around again, you will get to see the polar cap and the dark areas - provided there is not a dust storm or it happens to be martian summer - when the polar cap melts and disappears.


When the planets do come back in range, I find that it is better to use a variable polarizer to cut glare and best to look at them at sunrise/sunset when it is lighter and there is less glare.  You see more detail that way.


In the meantime, become proficient at collimation.  Bad collimation is not as noticeable with most DSO's, but makes a big difference with planetary detail.  Even now, if your collimation is perfect, you can cut glare a bit, and get a night when atmosphere lets you get over 200x, you might with some straining see a little bit of shadow on Mars.



#14 dmgriff



  • -----
  • Posts: 1,389
  • Joined: 20 Sep 2006
  • Loc: 30 degrees latitude, USA

Posted 04 March 2021 - 05:14 PM

Hi guys, new member here. I am an amateur astronomer and I am having a big struggle using my telescope and I do not know what the issue is. 




For finding stuff, try adding some degree circles to your scope.  They work wonderfully on dobs.


Just the Digital Inclinometer (Angle Finder) double taped to the ota can help you find objects of interest on the dobsonian alt/az mount.


random inexpensive example: https://www.amazon.c...14895889&sr=8-7


Use planetarium software to obtain your alt/az degrees and set your dobs altitude with the inclinometer. Lock the altitude axis (if desired and possible). Sweep along the azimuth in the general area indicated (92 degrees would be about due East) with your finder and a low power eyepiece. It can get you in the ball park, especially in light polluted skies. Compare your finder to a atlas/map to help you learn the sky.


Similar to setting the declination on a manual eq mount and sweeping along the ra axis.


Good viewing,



Edited by dmgriff, 04 March 2021 - 05:21 PM.

#15 Starnewb


    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 21
  • Joined: 02 Feb 2021
  • Loc: Surrey, BC Canada

Posted 09 March 2021 - 01:42 PM

What type of finder scope do you have?  I just bought my first scope a month ago, 10" Skywatcher flextube collapsible dobsonian.  It came with a straight finder scope.  I hate it.  It almost makes me want to not bring the scope out.  Try to find a RACI (right angle corrected image) finder, that will go miles to help you find things.  Forget about mars detail right now.  Turn Left at Orion can be bought on Amazon and is a must have, I highly recommend it as a newbie.  Learn collimation, not worth having a dobsonian if you can't collimate.  It's not hard and once you get it, it only takes a minute or two to dial in.  

#16 CarolinaBanker


    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 182
  • Joined: 31 Dec 2020
  • Loc: Eastern North Carolina

Posted 09 March 2021 - 02:23 PM

Look into a planisphere, there are a number available and they are incredibly cheap. Learn the major stars you can see with the naked eye and learn to star hop.

Also focus on the things that are more “fun” initially, I’m on mobile so I can’t see your location, but take a look at the Pleiades. They look great with low magnification. Planets are tough right now with Mars so far away, I’d suggest later in the month looking at the moon. It’s a delightful target that’s incredibly detail rich.
  • Jim Haley likes this

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Recent Topics

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Dob

Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics