Should I be learning techniques like averted vision? My understanding is that this is very important for faint objects (increased sensitivity), but will decrease detail seen for brighter objects.
Averted vision, in a way but not the same way as for DSO's.
As I mentioned in my first reply above, while the planets are bright the details are of low contrast. The thing with low contrast is many details will not jump out. With Jupiter some of these include white ovals, the lines and markings around the poles, the hue differences inside the Great Red Spot. With Saturn it is the shade/value differences within the rings and the cloud bands of the planet. With Mars it is the surface details and the edge of the ice caps.
Remember all my bashing of the PATIENCE bit? Well this is why: The more you observe and take your time your eyes not only adapt but also your own experience & "micro sensitivity" increases within the central focus of your eyes. You will not be actually using averted vision - averted vision is for DSO's. But as your central focus is wider than the size of the planets ever will be in the eyepiece, areas within your central focus will be more and less stunned by the brilliance, more or less saturated by the colours visible, and the nature of how our eyes shift around very quickly will help your eyes pick up very subtle differences in light, colour, tone, etc.
Don't be afraid to look up from the eyepiece to give your eye a moment's rest either and then go back to the eyepiece.
When it comes to lighting, for the planets I keep my surroundings dark as if I was viewing DSO's. But I try to limit my use of red light a lot more as red is a colour seen in the planets and I don't want to keep saturating the red colour receptors in the cones of my eyes. With the Moon there is no dark adaptation to be had, so I keep my surroundings well lit with white light because of this and as a safety thing because the Moon is so bright through the eyepiece - it is not safe to view the Moon with everything dark around your and a feeble red light as you cannot see trip hazards. But with the planets, dark and limited red light. NOTE: This is my own preference with viewing the planets. You may prefer a different way to illuminate your surroundings and there is nothing wrong with that.
From a dark site, Uranus is a naked eye object! Certainly very dim, but visible. The quality of transparency is also important. From the dark site I use transparency is typically excellent and not only is Uranus visible naked eye but dimmer stars are also visible around it. And with a telescope, Uranus will have a subtle greenish colour to it.
Neptune, the trick to identifying it from surrounding stars is it intense blue colour - much too blue to be a star.
Venus, well you may see some differences in cloud shading and of course the change in its phase, but that's just about it. Mercury, now this is a tough customer! ALL your ducks need to line up of scope and spectacular seeing conditions and good transparency (this includes air pollution). Mercury is very small to begin with, and it is difficult to see much surface detail on it. A very difficult challenge to see much at all on Mercury besides differences of phase like Venus.
Below is a sketch I did of Jupiter using an 8" SCT and a close up of the sketch. The letters are for the four Galilean Moons. A fantastic amount of detail can be seen, but it takes a bit of time, learning and luck with seeing conditions.
Edited by maroubra_boy, 19 June 2021 - 06:13 PM.