help...new to astonomy

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jadibartolomeo

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hey, so for a couple years i've been really enjoying reading about space/physics and looking at all the cool pics you guys take...so after endless babbling about it, my fiance got me a celestron 8se scope for christmas. here are my problems i'm hoping you guys can either help me with or direct me to resources (i.e., websites, books) with answes.<br /><br />1) i don't know how to navigate the sky<br />2) i want to understand when to use different eye pieces<br />3) i really want to understand how to use this thing to it's fullest because it can see deep space objects, and i really want to be able to navigate my way there and use the proper equipment for best viewing<br /><br />for instance, let's say i tell the telescope to point at neptune, what focal length eyepiece do you start with to get it focused, and how do you keep moving up for better viewing while keeping it in focus. <br /><br />not only that, i'm not sure i'm getting it aligned right. because when i tell it to look at mars, it points way away from what i think is mars (the only bright, orange "star" that moves west over the south florida sky). <br /><br />i realize even though it's computerized, i need to have navigation skills. i was lucky enough to get saturn on there the other night with a 25mm (which was freakin cool), but i came by it by chance because i thought i was looking at a star until i focused and saw rings. and the most annoying part, the scope said it aligned to the sky when i pointed it at three objects, but saturn wasn't one of the viewing choices in the computer. so it must have thought i was looking elsewhere.<br /><br />fyi, i go on google earth to get my cooridnates and use the naval observatory clock to set the location. and i have eye pieces ranging from 32mm - 4mm with a bunch of filters, so i'm sure i have enough equipment to see a bunch of stuff...I JUST DON'T KNOW HOW TO USE IT :p<br /><br />any ideas on where to go or what to read for a beginner?
 
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MeteorWayne

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Welcome to Space.com<br /><br />This question is better suited to Ask the Astronomer.<br /><br />I will ask that it be moved there. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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so_crates

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Hi folks. First time poster here, long time reader. <br /><br />I actually enjoy looking at star maps and finding objects manually. If you haven't downloaded the latest version of Google earth ( with the "sky" function. v4.2 I think ), I'd recommend it seriously. It gives a 3d model of space, has the planets in motion, tutorials, and best of all....when you zoom in on deep space objects, it has actual photos from the Hubble. Coolest thing I've seen in a while.
 
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doc3170

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Learning the night sky will take time & work. Luckily we have cool programs like Starry Night that can help. It can help you learn to starhop from stars you know to the one’s you need to know. <br /><br />Start with lower magnification eye pieces to locate your target then work your way up. <br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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yevaud

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Correct me if I am wrong - but I previously move this to ATA. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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weeman

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What's Astonomy?.......Just kidding <img src="/images/icons/laugh.gif" /><br /><br />Getting to know the sky will take some time, I still don't know when and where to find all of the constellations. <img src="/images/icons/rolleyes.gif" /> <br /><br />For in depth knowledge, I would use any computer-based programs that you can find, like the many that have been mentioned already in this thread. For assistance when you're actually outside with your telescope, it might be helpful to have some physical starcharts on hand. <br /><br />To find an object, start with just the eyepiece (without the Barlow lens or any other magnification), this will widen your field of view, making the objects easier to find. I'm not sure what advice to give you with a computerized telescope, I've never used one; to be honest, I feel like they take away some of the fun from the old fashioned telescopes!<br /><br />Do you have any colored lenses that fit on the inside of the eye piece? These may come in orange or blue, and they typically help with bringing out more detail in certain objects. They reduce glare and increase contrast. For example, if you are viewing the moon, try one of these filters to see if it brings out more detail on the Moon's surface. <br /><br />In addition, for more enjoyment, I might look into buying a couple of solar filters for your telescope for viewing the Sun. A White Light filter and a Hydrogen Alpha filter would make a nice setup! The White Light is great for viewing Sunspots, and the Hydrogen Alpha is great for viewing Solar Prominences (Solar Flares). <br /><br /><br />Oh and as for something to read, if you're getting into the study of Space and Physics, I recommend buying Brian Greene's, "The Elegant Universe". It's a thumping good read <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p> </p><p><strong><font color="#ff0000">Techies: We do it in the dark. </font></strong></p><p><font color="#0000ff"><strong>"Put your hand on a stove for a minute and it seems like an hour. Sit with that special girl for an hour and it seems like a minute. That's relativity.</strong><strong>" -Albert Einstein </strong></font></p> </div>
 
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garfieldthecat

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Helo and welcome !<br /><br />A celestron is a nice piece to begin with, believe me ! <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />The first thing you have to do, if you want to have access to deep sky objects, is to learn your sky, like other people already pointed here. Of course, the sky changes from one period of the year to the other, so here is a good tactic.<br /><br />All you need is a good a clear constellations paper map, which will show the constellations to be seen at a particular period. Now it’s the winter, so I’ll explain you for the winter sky (the same method is to be renewed for spring, summer and autumn constellations). Take at least the first half of the night to search for the constellations naked eye (then you can have fun with your celestron for the rest of it <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> ). The easier star to recognize right now is Sirius, simply because it is the brightest in the sky. You will find it above the southern horizon in the middle of the night (if you live at a northern middle latitude). Once you found it, use your map to recognise the star formations around it. It’s very easy to find Orion from Sirius, and then all the other big winter constellations. Find your own ways to recognize them (like memorizing brilliant star configurations), it will then be much easier for you to find them back.<br />Do this exercise every night you go observe, until you know the main constellations well. Once it is done, you can visually memorize - also with naked eye - the position of the main deep sky objects (M42, M1…).<br />You will see then that if you know the constellations well, it will be much easier and fun to know were your telescope is pointing at. You will even be able to point objects by yourself, using the constellation stars you know to direct your telescope, which will be so much more rewarding than letting the scope do it.<br />The main winter constellations to know are: Canis Major (with Sirius), Orion, Taurus, Gemini (right
 
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garfieldthecat

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The two important things to know for the choice of a particular eyepiece during an observation are its enhancement and its field (the size of the portion of sky you will be observing):<br />_the enhancement can be calculated by dividing the focal of your telescope by the focal of the eyepiece (the number given in mm, like for example 25 mm). Therefore, the biggest your eyepiece focal is, the smaller your enhancement, whish is not such a bad thing: a bigger enhancement doesn’t necessary means a more interesting sighting, but this strongly depends on the object you’re observing;<br />_the field can be calculated by dividing the given field of your eyepiece (given in degrees, and usually going from 50 to 80 depending on the quality of the eyepiece) and the enhancement (previously calculated). Therefore, a smaller enhancement means a bigger field, which is much better when observing extended and faint objects.<br /><br />First rule when using eyepieces: always use the biggest focal, meaning the smaller enhancement and the biggest field, when searching for any object. Don’t change your eyepiece until you have found what you were looking for and see it quite clearly and with no doubt.<br />Then, two major rules are applying:<br /><br />_for planets and lunar, you can enhance the maximum you can, which means using small focal eyepieces, while knowing that atmospheric quality is the decisive factor to choose which one of your small focal eyepieces you will use. If the atmosphere is perturbed, you will see it doesn’t lead to anything using the biggest enhancement simply because your image will be blurry and unstable. Usual enhancements to observe planets and moon go from 150 to 200. Above, you really need calm nights to have nice pictures. Just try different eyepieces and choose the one which gives you the combination of enhancement/quality of the image. <br />In this particular case, the field of the eyepiece is pretty unimportant given the small size and strong brightness
 
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yevaud

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"Averted Vision" (Or contrariwise, "Averted Glance"). Particularly useful also for locating faint objects just at Dusk. We used to use this trick to locate the major objects visible prior to opening the Observatory doors to the public. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><em>Differential Diagnosis:  </em>"<strong><em>I am both amused and annoyed that you think I should be less stubborn than you are</em></strong>."<br /> </p> </div>
 
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garfieldthecat

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<font color="yellow"> "Averted Vision" (Or contrariwise, "Averted Glance"). Particularly useful also for locating faint objects just at Dusk. We used to use this trick to locate the major objects visible prior to opening the Observatory doors to the public. " </font><br /><br />Yeah...<br /><br />This is the kind of trick that sounds completly crazy when explained the way I did and quite obvious when actually seen <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" />
 
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jadibartolomeo

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awsome, thanks for all the help guys (especially garfield)!!! i've actually learned the averted vision thing on my own and figured it was some oddity with the way our eyes work...now i know it has a name and is widely practiced <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />i have a bunch of filters (9 i think) including a moon one. the moon hasn't been out lately, so i've played with the other ones whenever i get mars focused in. i've wanted to get a sun one, but haven't had the time.<br /><br />also, when do you use the barlow lense? i have a 2x. do you generally get a planet or other object focused with like a 25mm or 32mm, then throw that on? or do you try to use the smallest eye piece reasonable for whatever you're viewing, then put that on? i guess my question is...is it better to use a larger eyepiece with a barlow, or a smaller eyepiece w/o one? i mean, if i take the 2,000mm focal length of my scope/a 6mm eyepiece, that's 333x magification. but if i take my 15mm eyepiece, that's 133x...so by putting the barlow on, does that give me 266x? or is it a different calculation than that?<br /><br />and while reading some online tutorials at various sites, i've learned a lot about the cooridnates and measurements of the sky, so i was gonna head out and try to find a star chart this weekend. believe me, the whole computerized thing is cool, but it only entertains for so long. and even so, i learned on my 2nd night of frustration that i seriously need to learn the sky and how to navigate on my own <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />so even with an 8 inch scope and good eye pieces/filters, we're really not going to see any detail on deep sky objects? bummer... but i see the points made about why you need less enhancement for these objects, i just figured with enough magnifcation and the right filtering, i'd be able to see the broad structure of galaxies and things, not so much blobs of light. but i should be able to see detail on planets, right? i
 
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garfieldthecat

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<font color="yellow"> also, when do you use the barlow lense? i have a 2x. do you generally get a planet or other object focused with like a 25mm or 32mm, then throw that on? or do you try to use the smallest eye piece reasonable for whatever you're viewing, then put that on? i guess my question is...is it better to use a larger eyepiece with a barlow, or a smaller eyepiece w/o one? </font><br /><br />The barlow is either used :<br />-when you got a limited collection of oculars, to double it at (relatively) low price;<br />-for astrophotography, but it’s not the case here;<br /><br />If you got two eyepieces that give you the (approximately) same enhancement, but one without a Barlow and one with a Barlow, always use the one without the Barlow. When you add the Barlow, you add one supplementary optic piece therefore more optical defaults and a (small) loss of luminosity.<br /><br /><font color="yellow"> i mean, if i take the 2,000mm focal length of my scope/a 6mm eyepiece, that's 333x magification. but if i take my 15mm eyepiece, that's 133x...so by putting the barlow on, does that give me 266x? or is it a different calculation than that? </font><br /><br />You got it right!<br /><br /><font color="yellow"> so even with an 8 inch scope and good eye pieces/filters, we're really not going to see any detail on deep sky objects? bummer... but i see the points made about why you need less enhancement for these objects, i just figured with enough magnifcation and the right filtering, i'd be able to see the broad structure of galaxies and things, not so much blobs of light. but i should be able to see detail on planets, right? i mean, with what i saw with saturn on the 25mm eyepiece, i figured if i got a 9mm piece on there, i should be able to see much better distinction of the rings from the planet and what not??? </font><br /><br />A lot of details are accessible on planets with an 8 inch. You have to try to enhance the maximum, but always keeping i
 
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