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Complete Novice - But enthusiastic learner!

Posted: Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:45 pm
by JanB
Hi Everyone
My name is Jan and after 45 years of longing at the age of 50 my children bought me a telescope for Christmas. I did a bit of research and eventually was advised to get a Meade DS2102 Audio Star. I excitedly took my telescope out tonight in anticipation of maybe seeing something exciting instead of the usual pin pricks of light, but unfortunately all I could see was .. the usual pin pricks of light :( I used the red dot finder to locate the planet I wanted to see and used a 25mm and 9mm eyepieces, but it did not look any different to looking without anything. Can anyone tell me what I am doing wrong or is that all I can expect :( I also tried to align it as per instructions, but when it slewed to the alignment stars, I could not see anything ( I did try refocussing by the way :D ) My rear garden runs in an arc from east to west so I have a wide area, although I am on the outskirts of the city. If anyone has a similar telescope or any advice at all, I would be very grateful - I don't want my children to think they wasted their money :(
Many thanks

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:27 am
by David Frydman
Hi Jan,
Try pointing it at the Moon which is now a crescent in the early evening.
Use initially the 25mm eyepiece.
The planets now visible are Jupiter which should look like a disc with several nearby starlike moons and Venus early evening.
Stars themselves look like stars in any telescope just brighter than unaided eyes.
You are not doing anything wrong I think. Just be patient.

Regards, David

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:44 am
by LeoLion
Hi Jan , You have a great astronomical society in Cardiff .Two of us 'Yorkies' spent a great fortnight in Turkey with them on a total solar eclipse trip . I'm sure you will get some help from their members. Surf their website and you will find they have observing sessions . Make contact by phone to confirm if an event is 'on' on a projected date . Best wishes for the New Year with your new telescope.

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:51 am
by The Bat
Hi Jan and welcome.

Have you made sure your red dot finder is aligned with the main telescope? This is something you can check in daytime. Find something like a chimney pot or telegraph pole in the telescope, and then look through the finder to see if it is pointing at the same object. If not, you need to adjust the finder until it is centred on what you are looking at. Any telescope will show that Jupiter is not just a point of light, but if the finder is out, you may have been pointing at the wrong thing.

As David says, the Moon is a great target to get started on.

Good luck.


Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:27 pm
by M54
Will have to make the assumption that the scope is aligned by the normal method for Meades.

Have you entered the data correct?
Cardiff is 51.5 N for Lat and -3.2 for Long.
Long may be 3.2 W.

The timezone is GMT/UT or 0, cannot recall which.
Just in case DST is OFF.

Sure there is something else.

To align get the base of the scope as level as possible. By eye/estimate is not good enough.

Then point the scope tube Due North, again as accurate as possible. Aimed directly at Polaris is probably as best as you can get.

Then move the tube down until it also is level, again guesswork is not enough.

Put the longest focal length eyepiece you have in.

Then pick the "standard" easy align.

The scope will choose a star that is prominent and on its own. This is where the set up comes in. If you were out by much at the levelling and due north stage you will not have the star in the field of view.

Use the finder scope to get the star in view then the main scope to centre it. Press Enter and the scope should pick another prominent star, hopefully this one will be in view. Centre it and press OK/Enter.

Assumes that you have set up the finder and the scope.

An awful lot depends on the setup as the scope has a fairly narrow field of view.

At some time get a 32mm or 40mm plossl simply to get a bigger field of view, don't worry too much how good it is you simply want the wide view for alignmnet. To level get a bubble level, Scope and Skies sell them for telescopes. Can be stood on the base and put in the eyepiece holder.

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 6:25 pm
by Brian
Hi Jan, Welcome!

Lots of good advice there.

First make sure the handset is set to track astronomical targets. It isn't necessary to set up (align) the telescope to use it. With the handset on, you can just use the arrow keys to move the telescope round to your targets. This works for brighter things like the Moon, Jupiter and other planets, bright double stars. Then use the arrow keys to move the target back into your field of view as and when it drifts out. This way you can get a minute or so observing between each re-alignment using the arrow keys even if you are using eyepieces giving moderate magnification. With a little practice, just use the arrow keys to keep the target in the centre of the eyepiece. Simples!

You should certainly see Jupiter as a small disk , with it's moons either side. And our Moon has enough detail on its surface to keep you observing under different lighting conditions for years :)

Let us know how you get on,

Posted: Thu Dec 29, 2011 7:10 pm
by David Frydman
Dear Jan,
I think part of the problem is that the telescope is of long focal length and the real field of view is narrow even with the 25mm eyepiece.

There have been similar queries to yours before here.

You need to be quite accurate in setting it up because of this small field of view.

So you should follow the careful advice given by those above.

Even so I think there were comments before that if you find an object there may be problems if you then seek something a long way off in the sky.

At least if you find the Moon you can align the finder acccurately, and then work with precision.

Regards, David

Posted: Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:38 am
by dazcaz
Jan, I live in Cardiff. I am not the World's greatest astronomer by a very big stick, but I am willing to help you if wish.
I'm in Splott, but don't let that put you off :)
Two of my scopes are easily travel-able.

If you look at a star through a 'scope you will only see a pin prick.

Looking at Jupiter will show you what your scope can do and jupiter is easy to find. Go outside about 8PM or a later and look towards the south. Brightest thing in the sky, just left of, and slightly above the moon.

Make sure that you have your finder set up. Do this in daylight using a local landmark, or at night using either the moon or a street light. Find your "target" in the scope and centre it in you view. Then adjust your finder so the red dot is bang on this object... it's easier to do this on a land based object as these will not move :)
You will probably need to re-adjust your finder each time you remove it from the scope. You soon get the hang of it.

Once you have the finder set up, find Jupiter in the finder and then it should be in view through the scope. Use the highest number eyepiece first and then go to smaller numbers. You will need to re-focus when you change the eyepiece.

I always found the GoTo alignment of a Meade problematic... I never could get my old Meade ETX-70 to do a star tour. This was probably due to operator error. Those who know better seem to really enjoy the GoTo :)

If you want a hand, let me know. I could pop up and meet you or we could meet at a open dark spot, park or hill.

Cardiff astronomical society are great. I was a member for a while, but could never get to the meets. They have an observing site next to a golf course on Caerphilly mountain and hold their meetings at the uni in Cardiff.

Posted: Sun Jan 01, 2012 11:26 pm
by Ender Of Days
How are you powering the scope ?
as power is everything for a goto scope,it doesn't take much of a power loss for the things to play up,
Just practice indoors as much as possible and get to know the scope back to front,it helped me with my 125,

JJ.. :)

Posted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 10:25 am
by phillj
Hello Jan and a warm welcome to SPA, and a belated happy New Year.


Many Thanks

Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:23 pm
by JanB
Thank you everyone for your quick replies...I have been off the scene for a while and didn't expect such a quick response.
Thank you all for your kind welcomes :) and the helpful info sent. I have tried some of the suggestions, but still have not had a clear enough night down here to align the scope properly :( I am hoping with the colder weather I will have a more appropriate opportunity - I have managed to see some fantastic views of the moon, but I find it very bright through the scope, I have heard of a moon filter, would that solve this problem?

And a big thank you once again :D

Jan :)

Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:31 pm
by The Bat
Hi Jan

The Moon can look painfully bright through a telescope. A moon filter would help dim it down a bit. They are relatively cheap.
An alternative is a variable polarising filter. They are a little more expensive but allow you more control over the amount of light coming through.

It is much better to try aligning your scope in the daytime. The sky is moving and the field of view is constantly shifting. You are better off trying to align your finder on a fixed object like a lamppost or chimney. Much easier fiddling with the screws in daylight too. Once you have aligned it in daytime, you can fine tune it at night if necessary.

Hope that helps.


Posted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:03 pm
by David Frydman
Dear Jan,
If you are able to use higher magnification the Moon is less bright.
Also when a crescent it is much less bright.
Full Moon is not the best time to look.
Regards, David