Old 11-05-2018, 02:13 PM
SusieQ (Susie)
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Unexpected newbie...

Hi everyone,

As the subject says, I'm an unexpected newbie. My dad died a few months ago and yesterday my mum asked if I wanted his telescope, or she would give it away. Sadly, I never took up my dad's numerous offers to go stargazing with him so I'm at a loss. I want to learn how to see what he saw though, maybe it might bring him a little bit back into my life. (That and I want to show my brother - Mr Telescopes-aren't-for-girls - that he's go no idea what he's talking about.)

Anyway, Dad being dad, didn't keep any of the manuals so I've been googling and am more confused than ever. I've discovered that the telescope is a Saxon 8 inch Dobsonian which, by all accounts, is good for beginners like me. (Gee, it's heavy though!) There's the little scope at the top which is the finder scope but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to use that to calibrate something or what I'm really supposed to do with it. And I have a box of pieces that screw into the bit you look into I can't quite figure out what they all do.

In addition to all this I have a storage dilemma - Dad kept the telescope in his shed and just rolled it out at night (I think he put the wheels on himself, I don't see any other ones with wheels). I don't have a shed, just a back verandah but I'm guessing that wouldn't be weather proof enough...??

To top it all off its raining and cloudy again tonight so I can't just go outside and start experimenting for myself. Ill take any advice I can get at this point.

Thanks in advance

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Old 11-05-2018, 02:40 PM
Sconesbie (Scott)
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Hi Susie. Sorry to hear the passing of your dad. Don't get rid of it. If he wanted you to have it, that's saying keep it and use it.

Wow. Where do I start.

I have been stargazing for about 4-5 years and still have much to learn. I have a 10" version of what you have and you should be able to get a lot of use out of it.

The wheels a re a ripper idea and will make it so much easier to get in and out.

I am in Tasmania and joined an astro club and have certainly had no end of help and they are a great bunch of people who are only too keen to provide answers to your questions and even give you some hints and tips and help with the gear. The first thing I recommend is finding a club or group close to you. Hands on help is the best.

There is so much to say on here about your scope and to help you get set up and looking at stars (and planets, and nebula).

I bough a book called Turn Left at Orion. It has helped me and speaks (sorry, writes) in plain english and easy to understand. A great mobile app to download is called sky safari or stellarium. You can hold it up to the sky and it shows you what is what in real time.

As far as the telescope itself is concerned, see this link for instructions on how to set it up and use it.


Please feel free to message me directly. As I said, I am no expert but can give you some hints and tips on how I set mine up, what I do when I head outside and have a look.

You will also get excellent help and support on these forums. You just gotta ask.

You have taken the first step, and that is showing your interest in getting outside.

Sing out if you have any queries.

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Old 11-05-2018, 03:22 PM
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Hi Susie, a couple of basic pointers. Telescopes generally have a narrow
field of view, making it hard to find things in the sky, so they have a smaller
scope [known as a finderscope] attached to them which has a wide field of view rather like looking through one side of a pair of binoculars. When you
have located your target with the finder you then put a low power eyepiece
into the main scope's focuser and locate the object in the main scope and rotate the focuser knob to obtain a sharp image. All this assume that the
finder is well aligned with the main scope. To check this aim the main scope at something a few hundred metres away during the day, and use the three adjusting screws on the finder mounting bracket to align the finder onto the same object.
The eyepieces have a number in millimetres on the side, such as 24mm.
The higher the number the lower the magnification and vice versa.
Hope this helps you get started
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Old 11-05-2018, 05:38 PM
noswonky (Peter)
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In the first picture, the scope is sitting on the mount backwards. Ie: when you tilt the scope down towards the horizontal position, the eyepiece and finderscope should be on the top side of the tube. The way it is now they will be on the bottom - very awkward to look through.

But in general, I think the best thing to do is find a local astronomy club and get some in-person help.
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Old 11-05-2018, 05:49 PM
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iborg (Philip)
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Temporarily at least, on the verandah, covered with a big garbage bag should be OK. Put it in the most sheltered spot.

Long term, if it does proof too difficult to get in and out of the house, a small shed?

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Old 11-05-2018, 06:21 PM
Hoges (John)
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A couple of things that will help greatly - first, go here: https://asv.org.au/ The Astronomical Society of Victoria have all sorts of get togethers and observing nights and plenty of knowledgeable folk to kick start your journey.

Second is to download a planetarium app like Sky Safari to your phone/ipad. That will help you find out what's what in the night sky and what to point your scope at.

Actually, probably the first thing is to ask questions on a forum like this
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Old 12-05-2018, 06:05 PM
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iborg (Philip)
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A suggestion - try using it in daylight - just make absolutely certain it is NEVER EVER pointed near the sun.

Aim at a distant tree, put an eyepiece in (the one with the biggest number on it) and adjust the focus the from one end to the other.

When you can see something other than sky, then look through the finder scope (the little one on top). That should give you an idea of how closely aligned the two scopes are. Knowing that will make finder things in the night sky easier. With a bit of fiddling, you can then align the two so that they look at the same thing.

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Old 12-05-2018, 10:08 PM
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Shiraz (Ray)
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this video is pretty good as a starting point. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxO3bfE4nBY

and just just to reinforce Philip's warning, never ever point it anywhere near the sun - it can blind you

Last edited by Shiraz; 12-05-2018 at 10:31 PM.
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Old 13-05-2018, 01:15 AM
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Rkonrad (Richard)
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Sorry for your loss a 8 ich dobs is a great scope your dad had good wisdom
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Old 17-05-2018, 01:48 PM
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sil (Steve)
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Step one punch brother in arm, Telescopes are Everyone. Theres no such thing as "not for girls".

For now makre sure the scope i set up correctly as Peter noticed. Don't be intimidated at the learning curve, you do NOT have to learn anything really, but are free to learn so much and that telescope is a great tool to begin with and serve you well for years to come. Hang on to it.

As others said, the smaller finder scope is a low magnification scope to help get the telescope pointed cloes to something you want to look at. The higher the magnification the hard it is to get a target object in the eyepiece. Eyepieces have a number and the larger the number the lower the magnification and therefore the wider the field of view. The quality of the eyepiece itself determines how clear and comfortable the view is and with your telescope they will be a limiting factor for your viewing enjoyment and you can always buy better later on if you feel you need to.
As others suggest, get the scope outside during the day, it should be easy to swing up and down and get comfortable with getting your eye to the eyepiece without knocking the scope from what its pointed at.

First try to locate something on the ground in the distance you can see with your eye, a mountain peak, a tree fork, a light on a pole, something distintive and obvious and away from the sun! Very very very important to never point it towards the sun, not even for a joke or brief instant or even if you see someone else doing it with their telescope. You can modify a telescope or buy special telescope for looking at the sun and you can learn about that later on if you like. But for now test the alignment of the big telescope tube (the OTA or Optical Tube Assembly) with the finderscope. point the telescope at something that wont move in the distance and get it centered in the eyepiece, step away and coe back to make sure its still center in the eyepiece and the OTA didn't get bumped. Now look through the finderscope is the item in dead center or just in the field somewhere or not visible (check and remove any dust caps). The finderscope should have some screws on the top/sides to push/pull it in different directions slightly and you need to keep going back to the telescope eyepiece making sure your target remains centered and slightly adjust the finderscope until the same object is centered as accurately as you can make it. With luck your dad should have done this and its already aligned but if its been bumped or removed it'll need checking. The goal is to have the same thing in the very center of the eyepiece and the finderscope. There are things called Red Dot Finders that do the same job and also something you could investigate later to add to your telescope and you do this same process to align those too.

Now at night try it out by pointing the telescope at a bright point in the sky that you can see, any one, just pick! Get it lined up in the middle of the finder scope first then look through the eyepiece and see if its there, if not move the scope around a tiny bit until you can see it, a bright star or planet in a fairly "empty" patch of sky is best to choose as its really obvious in the eyepiece if its there or not, it'll be very very bright! You should probably start with the lowest magnification eyepiece first for this (the eyepiece with the largest mm number), get the object dead center then change to a higher mag eyepiece (smaller number) and so on until the smallest is what you are looking through. hopefully as you step up in magnification the object was always in the eyepiece (meaning everything is fitting nicely). Now repeat the process of keeping the bright point dead center in the eyepiece and adjusting the finderscope until the same bright object is dead center in that too. This has fine tuned your finderscope alignment and a process you should do if you notice alignment changes or say once a year in case seasonable changes warp the scope or whatever, its a simple maintenance process. now look around the sky and find something else to look at, maybe switch back to the lowest mag eyepiece (largest number) now move the telescope to look at it and center it in the finderscope and it should be in the eyepiece too now. Anything in the night sky you can center in the finderscope should be in the eyepiece too now. give it a try trying to find a bright point with just the eyepiece alone, its tricky to do. The finderscope just help you out especially when star hopping (so many exciting things for you to find out about and explore about the night sky, planets are awesome and comet hunting very rewarding, even seeing a star as a double star!).

A big point to keep in mind, the higher the magnification (the smaller the number) of the eyepiece the harder they are to make plus the more they magnify atmospheric distortions. So you may notice and be disappointed by the viewing quality reducing the more you magnify but this is normal for everyone, unless the mirror in your telescope is badly damaged/dirty typically the viewing is limitied by upper atmospheric weather and the eyepiece. A good quality eyepiece can improve things but typically when you use an eyepiece below 10mm you start to notice the degradation in viewing quality. Its usually always best to start with the lowest magnification eyepiece first until you get something in the view you want a better look at then switch to a higher magnification.

Of course you can ignore all that and just point the scope anywhere in the night sky, pop in any eyepiece and focus and you'll see stars. Its fun just to wander around the sky and explore at your own pace.

Caution: the underside of the OTA just behind the large mirror on the bottom there should be three large finger screws. Avoid touching these at all until you've used and learnt more about telescopes. These screws are for collimation and its easy for beginners to mistake an uncooled telescope distortion as a collimation problem and put their telescope out of alignment completely by trying to adjust them. If you can try to find out about a local astronomical club you can join and take your scope along to a viewing night and you should be able to get help with giving the telescope a going over for basic adjustments and point out problem areas to help you get the best viewing pleasure from it.

Have a red light torch, notepad and pen so you can take notes. Many of us take diary notes of what we saw that viewing session, sometimes sketching things.

Your eyes adjust slowly to the dark so avoid going back indoor or using a regular torch when outside so your eyes can adjust. Ideally you want to keep your telescope indoors away from direct sunlight at all times when not in use and if you intend to use it that night, take it outside again out of sunlight about an hour before you want to use it (during astronomical dark is best, something else to look up . This allows the telescope to "cool down" to the ambient outside air temperature, take the dust cap off and losely pop a plastic bag over the open end to allow the air inside the OTA to disperse and outside air to fill the tube. The temperature and humidity of the air inside the OTA can cause distortion to the view especially at higher magnification. So let the telescope cool down outside slowly over an hour, not on a hot cement ground where it will absorb heat. Likewise if you are viewing along a roof plane the heat from the home will be radiating into the night sky and you'll get distorted viewing looking through the air layer a metre or two above a roof.

Good luck , I hope you find it easy to get into and find interestng things to see. Especially Jupiter which right now is very very bright and spectacular to see for Australia, you'll be able to see some of its moons too easily, its politely up in our evening sky at the moment, saturn and mars are later in the night.
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Old 17-05-2018, 03:05 PM
m11 (Mel)
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Hi Susie,

Sorry to hear about your dad passing.

I am still new as I only really got into stargazing 3 years ago. I am still learning.

Its great you are taking on his hobby and carrying it on.

I know how it feels at the start as it can be overwhelming.

You have come to the right place as everyone is really friendly and always willing to help and provide advice. Everyone has provided great advice in regards to using the scope.

The first thing I would do is check the collimation and the alignment of the finderscope. The supplied eyepieces are fine as you are starting off.
Point to the moon preferably as its nice and bright - easy to find. It should be in the finder scope and then put the lower mm focal length eyepiece -25mm in the eyepiece holder. Look around with the scope until you see the moon and check the finderscope to ensure the crosshairs have the moon centered.

I have found Stellarium really helpful and Constellation cards from the South African Astronomical society as well.

If you want help, happy to help you in person as I found this helps having a person to show you how to use the scope? Happy to travel to a neutral place as well

Give me a yell anytime if you have any questions.


Last edited by m11; 18-05-2018 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 21-05-2018, 10:19 AM
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The_bluester (Paul)
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Hi Suzie, firstly, I am sorry for how the telescope came to be yours, condolences.

Secondly, to echo a post above, there are a couple of groups that can help you a lot. There is the Astronomical society of Victoria and depending on where you are in Melbourne, another is the Mount Burnett Observatory in the Dandenongs. If you can get out to there they have members nights each Friday and are an extremely friendly group (Many of whom are also ASVmembers)

I was just thinking that MBO if you can get there might be a less intimidating atmosphere to begin with, ASV is also very friendly but MBO (I am a member of both) is a really warm and welcoming group.
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