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Old 24-07-2018, 02:12 PM
Elecmuso
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Hi everyone - where to start?

G'day all

I am completely new to Astronomy and not sure where to start, though I did do enough research to find myself a nice dobsonian. Here's what I managed to pick up after quite some time eyeing off gumtree:

Meade 10” LightBridge Truss Tube Dobsonian
QX 26mm wide angle eyepiece
Meade Series 5000 HD-60 6.5mm WP
Orion LaserMate Deluxe Collimator

So hopefully that is a decent setup. It is a little daunting since I aven't played with a smaller reflector telescope previously (except for some 35 years ago in my teens).

I'm in Mitcham Adelaide and hoping I will be able to get aquiainted with the gear without having to venture into the countryside.

I'll have lot's of dumb questions - be pre-warned!

Where should I start?

Greg
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Old 24-07-2018, 02:21 PM
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Stonius (Markus)
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Hello and Welcome!

I'd say it's best to start with bright, easy to find things. The Moon is an obvious one. The planets also - though they can be tricky to keep in the field of view at high power - and any of the Messier objects are good places to start. I take it you know about the messier catalogue? Take your time getting to know the night sky and the constellations. Avoid galaxies to start with. They're pretty underwhelming for the beginner in light pollution, IMO.

Cheers and have fun!

Markus
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Old 24-07-2018, 02:36 PM
Elecmuso
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Nope, Messier catalog unkown to me - that is one of the dumb quesitons I need to ask. Though I will google it now.
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Old 24-07-2018, 02:38 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Hi Greg and welcome

I’m a late starter at nearly 60yo but I’m glad I did , what an incredible hobby

I researched for 6 months before I purchased my first telescope ( 10” dob )

Don’t be afraid to ask questions , Ive asked my share

My only advice is to read, read and read some more , there is plenty of Astro material on the internet, plenty of books , Astro suppliers , astronomy clubs, and of course Astro forums like IIS

Good luck and enjoy your astronomical journey !!

Martin
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Old 24-07-2018, 03:00 PM
Elecmuso
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Thanks guys

Would you mind letting me know of the suitability the eye peices I have obtained would be? Perhaps what Messier objects these might suit?

Cheers

Greg
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Old 24-07-2018, 03:51 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Greg,

Asking what eye piece is used for what specific celestial object is not always cut and dry

I strongly recommend the following book to gain a beginners understanding of eye pieces, telescopes and associated equipment

The book is a tremendous wealth of knowledge and may save you bouncing back and forth on the forum for various Q&A

“ Choosing and Using Astronomical Eyepieces”

Author : William Paolini

First published 2013

Cost me about $60 from an online seller ( can’t remember which one )

An excellent resource for getting into the hobby

Cheers

Martin
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Old 24-07-2018, 03:59 PM
Elecmuso
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Thanks Martin!
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Old 24-07-2018, 04:31 PM
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Merlin66 (Ken)
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Consider getting a copy of Norton's Star Atlas.
It contains a wealth of information on telescopes and astronomy in general, as well as a comprehensive series of star maps and listings of objects of interest.
Highly recommended.
https://www.worldofbooks.com/en-au/b.../GOR003354418?
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Old 24-07-2018, 08:06 PM
rrussell1962
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In addition to Norton's the book "Turn Left at Orion" is a gem.
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Old 24-07-2018, 08:55 PM
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I think TLAO and some other observational books are more attuned to the northern hemisphere market......
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Old 24-07-2018, 08:59 PM
SkyWatch (Dean)
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Hi Greg,

Some good advice already!

You have a telescope that will give you some amazing views, and as you progress in the hobby it should keep you happy for a long time.

Wrt to eyepieces, you have a 26mm which will give you around 64x with your scope, with a field of view of a bit over 1 degree: about 2 x the width of the moon. This will give good views of most of the Messier objects; but don't expect many of them to be very bright from the suburbs! Your 6.5mm eyepiece will give around 256x with a field of view of around 14 arc-minutes (about 1/2 the width of the moon). This will give you great views of the moon, and good views of the planets on nights with steady "seeing". You will need to let your telescope reach ambient temperature (usually an hour or two if you bring it from inside the house) to make the most of this high-power eyepiece because heat from the cooling mirror will affect the view, so don't expect the views to be sharp straight away.

I would suggest that down the track you might like to get an eyepiece that will give you around 100x: around 15 or 16mm.

I would also recommend strongly that you get involved with the Astronomical Society of SA, as there are many people who can help you, and you can get involved in members' viewing nights, meetings, camps etc. which will help you enormously. See: https://www.assa.org.au We have a library which is open at the meeting nights as well, and heaps of resources that can be borrowed by members for free.

We have monthly meetings at 8pm on the first Weds of each month at the Adelaide Uni, and there is a "beginners" lecture at 7pm on each of these nights. These are open to anyone (you don't have to be a member), and I think you would find them very beneficial.

As a life member and ex-President of the ASSA I am happy to talk about possibilities with you: feel free to send me a PM and I will give you my contact details.

- and check out some of the magazines that are out there, such as Sky&Telescope, and Astronomy

All the best, and enjoy your new scope and hobby!

- Dean
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Old 24-07-2018, 10:31 PM
Elecmuso
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Guys a big thank you. Especially Dean as I was pretty ignorant as to what I had and now feel comfortable that what I've got is a great start.

I have yet to even check collimation. Is that likely to be out?

Cheers
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Old 24-07-2018, 11:14 PM
Startrek (Martin)
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Hi Greg,

I should have mentioned it previously but a “must have book” for beginners and intermediates alike is “Astronomy 2018” published by Quasar and sold through many book stores. It’s published each year and covers everything you need to know about the basics of astronomy including month by month celestial data ,astro highlights for the year , moon map and much more

Bintel in Sydney have it on line for only $20 inc delivery ( attached )

I think even all the experienced astronomers would agree it’s a great resource book

Cheers

Martin
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Old 25-07-2018, 07:12 PM
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ZeroID (Brent)
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Hi Greg,
You've obviously got a computer so download Stellarium (Free). Set it up for your location and start learning where everything in the sky is. It gives a realistic view that is current with you location and time and makes it easy to learn how to find and navigate up in the darkness.
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Old 26-07-2018, 03:51 PM
Elecmuso
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Great idea - thanks.
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Old 26-07-2018, 04:07 PM
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A lot of people mentioning books on here. That's all well and good, but if you were to buy all of them, I'd recommend instead using the internet to look the same information up for free (it's out there) and spend that money on extra bits for your scope.

Just my opinion.

Markus
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Old 26-07-2018, 04:45 PM
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Astronomy is such a vast subject it's very easy to get "lost".
A couple of well balanced comprehensive books never go astray......
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Old 30-07-2018, 02:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merlin66 View Post
Astronomy is such a vast subject it's very easy to get "lost".
A couple of well balanced comprehensive books never go astray......
Exactly, the annual "Astronomy Australia" books I consider essential for everyone at ever skill level. As is a good sized planisphere and Sky Atlas/Star Map that you can use outside. I use the Sky & Telesvcope Pocket one which is about A5 size.

Yes ALL the information is online... IF
IF
IF you know where to look and IF
IF
IF
IF you know what information you want to find. Which is what gets many people and limits what they do with the hobby and how far they learn. A $100 for essential publications is well worth it to get anyone insterested in astronomy on firm footing for the rest of their life, whereas $100 wont really buy anything essential for the telescope, maybe a cheap eyepiece that gives poor constrast and hurts the eyes to use. I feel bad for anyone who gets buy by deliberately cheaping out in any avenue of life. Not to say the expensive routes are best, but if its something your are really passionate about and learning and have the commitment to learn then its money well invested. If you just want shiny things, good luck to you, sounds boring to me.

With a dobsonian you are going to be star hopping a lot to find your way around to things to look at. A large 8-10" diameter planisphere is great to help you get familiar with the constellations which is the first thing you need to orient yourself with where things are in the sky. Next is a skymap, both paper and digital are useful. These show you the fainter stars you'll see in the eyepiece along with clusters and where nebulae are. The hard part at this magnification is figuring out the scale of the stars in the eyepiece versus the map. So often I spot an obvious group of three stars and then on the star map see there are a dozen similar groups in the region of different sizes. In practice you often only use two eyepieces, something in the 20-30mm range to help you navigate the stars to your target then sojmething around 10mm to view. Spend the money on getting two eyepieces to fit that have good optics and eye reliefs and you're set for life. Then with the 20-30mm one look at somethinf recognisable like the southern cross then with pencil you can mark on the star map what the field of view covers. Then I cut up a postit note to cover the field of view then that becomes my guide for what to look for and where in the eyepiece when star hopping. Its then easy to stick it on pages for star hopping and help keep your place of where you are in the sky. A Star map type program on computer like Stellarium (free) or Starry Nights(commercial) really help just to browse and look for things to go hunt. If you have some viewing limits, eg trees and neighbours that obscure part of your view such a program you can use to find out when something you want to view clears the obstacle. Similarly on your smartphone something like Sky Safari is awesome to have for the above tasks too and also easy to use when outside at the telescope. You can just view any part of the sky easily with a dob and find interesting looking things on your own and having a digital skymap app on your phone helps you identify what you're looking at. The apps typically have an option to define an eyepiece field of view marker on the screen so again that helps you understand the scale in your eyepiece and navigate around.

The Sky&Telescope pocket star map gives good coverage, easy to use and opens flat and cheap so jotting things on it in pencil not a problem. Whereas high quality large expensive starmaps are less practical to use outside and people take care of them plus most people will never own equipment that can resolve to the dimness that these publications reach, so a useful cheap one will suit you for your life.

The great thing about the annual Astronmy Australia books is the richness of information. Firslty they are NOT useful for only one year. They do cover things to look out for during that year and special events like eclipses. But so much of the information is relevant for our lifetimes. Its dirt cheap and will teach you so much, no matter your current skill level. Some of the information does require existing knowledge/understanding which gives beginners the clues of areas they may want to look up online to learn about (ie knowing what you need to know about). So even picking up a few older copies is handy for learning. While times in past issues will be out of date in later years the planets and constellations are seasonal so so if an old issue says to look out for a certain constellation during September, that constellation will always be in that region ever single September. Whereas a timetable of when Io transits Jupiter you will need to check elsewhere for current/coming dates an times but at least the old issue taught you Io transits Jupiter so now its something you know about and can research further if it interests you.

There are of course essential tomes for certain areas of astronomy such as the fictional 1897 12 volume set of "Sir Alfreds Guide to Star Clusters of the Southern Hemisphere". It may be essential to researches and contain lots of data measurements and formulae but its not essential for astronomers in general. However I consider for Australians the annual "Astronomy Australia" book, large planisphere and S&T Pocket Star Atlas as essential for everybody willing to learn and want to get the most out of astronomy beyond peeaking through neighbours windows. If those three items are so expensive your life falls apart perhaps astronomy is not the best hobby for you. in fact those items are I think essential and a telescope to be NOT essential to astronomy.
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Old 30-07-2018, 03:06 PM
kens (Ken)
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Once you know how to adjust your finderscope, fit it to the scope and put in your widest eyepiece. In daylight point at a distant object and adjust the finderscope so both it and the eyepiece are centred on the same spot.
Do not point anywhere near the sun!
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Old 31-07-2018, 02:08 PM
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Once you know how to adjust your finderscope, fit it to the scope and put in your widest eyepiece. In daylight point at a distant object and adjust the finderscope so both it and the eyepiece are centred on the same spot.
Do not point anywhere near the sun!
+1 ! You may need to readjust using a star at night but daytime land object gets you very close. Also try to sight a roadsign or something to confirm where left/right/up/down end up in the eyepiece. I would put markers on a postit note and stick to scope upright to where you'll be using the eyepiece. it forever confuses me which direction is which and which direction to move the scope when star hopping. handy to have a meaningful reference you've tested and validated yourself.
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