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What is out tonight?

  1. May 21, 2007 #1
    I never post in this forum because I know nothing of Astronomy, but I find it tremendously interesting. Maybe someone could fill me in: What is that really bright thing over by the moon?

    I realize that I asked that question incorrectly on so many levels, but I don'y know how else to put it. I assume it is a planet? I have a telescope that I recently bought (because I am addicted to buying cool looking stuff); I dpn't know if it is any good. I know it is pretty low-end. It is a Meade; there is no electronic stuff. . . a 116mm something or other. CAn I see anything with it? I seem to have a lot of trouble with it.. . . maybe its because I live 20 miles north of Boston? Would that light affect me.

    Sorry if this thread sucks.... I have many questions.:rolleyes:
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2007 #2

    honestrosewater

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  4. May 21, 2007 #3
    Thanks! Looks cool, but I can't get it to work! I'll try again later.
     
  5. May 21, 2007 #4

    honestrosewater

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    Hm, maybe try this link instead.

    I had a similar experience with a very intriguing light that I later figured out was almost certainly Venus. That's why I laughed.
     
  6. May 21, 2007 #5
    Hey! Sweet, I got it to work from my Mac...good ol' Mac :)
     
  7. May 21, 2007 #6

    russ_watters

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    If 116mm is the aperature (the diameter of the mirror or lens), you'll get great views of the moon and Venus.

    What model # is the telescope? Maybe we can help you get started...
     
  8. May 21, 2007 #7
    It is actually a 114mm. This is the one.. http://shopping.discovery.com/product-56911.html?endecaSID=112B1C66EFF0
    I have managed to see the moon, but the last time an apparent star was in 'the neighborhood', I could not get a good view of it. It only apeared as a light about the size of a pinhead. Could it be too bright in my neck of the woods? Would that take away from the sharpness the lense might otherwise produce.

    Thanks by the way!
     
  9. May 21, 2007 #8
    By the way, awesome website! Awesome pics! Where do you reside? East coast or West?
     
  10. May 21, 2007 #9

    russ_watters

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    Thanks - I'm on the east coast (Phhiladelphia).
    That's a great starter telescope - my first was a 60mm refractor, also on an equatorial mount. It cost the same (before inflation, so really it cost a lot more) as yours. Yours makes objects 3.5 times brighter than mine did.

    Some experienced amateurs don't recommend equatorial mounted scopes for beginners because of the added learning curve, but I think it helped a lot for tracking planets. I've used beginner alt-az scopes and you can't track well enough to share a view with another person.

    Setting up the telescope equatorially is realtively easy: you just set the telescope up as pictured in that advertisement and point it at Polaris, the north star (meaning you physically pick up and turn the whole assembled telescope to point it north). And you find Polaris by using the two "pointer" stars in the cup of the Big Dipper - they point almost right at it. See here: http://www.synapses.co.uk/astro/bearings.html
    Stars are always look like pinpoints in a telescope - they are too far away to see their physical shape. So that means that stars by themselves don't give very interesting views. Start with the easy objects: the moon, Venus, and Saturn. Saturn, especially, will look spectacular in your telescope. At sunset, it is high in the west, a medium-bright object with the naked eye. To help find it, use a planetarium program. Sky and Telescope has a good free one for use over the net: http://skytonight.com/observing/skychart/

    Jupiter rises late in the evening. It doesn't get very high, but will still look spectacular in your scope - you'll see four moons and banding and the Great Red Spot.

    After you've had your fill of the planets (if that is possible), the next object you should probably try is, M13, the brightest of the globular clusters. I have several pictures of it on my site. Finding this depends a lot on how dark your skies are. Tubo-1 is a big fan of binoculars, and in most places, M13 isn't hard to find with most binoculars. Still, it'll look a whole lot better through your scope if you can find it, so you may try using binoculars to spot it and guide the telescope to it...
     
  11. May 22, 2007 #10
    Hey. Thanks a lot for all that! This is awesome stuff. After my last post, I just threw my scope into my car and drove an hour north to Plum Island. It was crazy-dark up there. I realized I made a typo I meant to say that the last time an apparent PLANET was in the neighborhood it looked like a small pinhead.....not a star! Anyway, I got all the way up there and I set the scope down and pointed it at the brightest thing in the sky and sure enough it was a planet! Awesome....

    It still appears quite small...I mean I know it should, but I would like to find a way to see it better. It is reallt tremendously small..and if I even breath to hard, the scope shakes and I cant see it. It might just be the time of night...may be I caught whatever planet it was when it was more distant than opportune.

    Can someone tell me. . . What is a good accessory to add to my scope to help me see things "better"....I have a Barlow lense, but I do not seem to benefit from it. I also have the lenses my scope came with: 25mm (I use that to spot things) 9mm(gets me sharper, I think) and a 17mm (I have not found a use yet).....

    I understand that magnification is not as important as resolution, but is there a way I can magnify things to a certain extent without compromising clarity?
     
  12. May 24, 2007 #11

    cepheid

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    How many eyepieces came with the telescope and what kinds? That's going to determine the magnification too. I don't know what planet you were looking at, but you should be able to resolve Venus, Jupiter, and Saturn into disks, and Jupiter and Saturn would have the familiar details and features (ie you can see cloud belts on Jupiter, and Saturn's rings). If the planet didn't have any of these distinctive features, and you weren't sure what it was, then maybe it was Venus (appears as a featureless white disk, but has phases like the moon). That astronomy software will help you figure out what's visible when.

    Edit: you already answered the question about the eyepieces. The smaller the number (which is the diameter of the objective lens, I think, the larger the magnification, but the narrower the field of view. The best way to test this out is to look at the moon.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2007
  13. May 24, 2007 #12

    cepheid

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    It would also be a good idea to take out a couple of books on astronomy and stargazing from the public library, and get to know your way around the sky (become familar with the constellations etc). Telescopes are great for looking at particular objects, but they have very narrow fields of view. So, if you don't know how to find something, you won't be able to take a closer look at it with your telescope! Naked-eye and binocular observing can be very rewarding. Binoculars give you the broad field of view and great sense of depth, while still showing you many more stars than you could see with your eyes alone.
     
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