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  1. #1
    Tatenlyle1's Avatar
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    Default Very bright planets with little detail



    I am relatively new to this game; recently upgrading from a Meade ETX 105EC to a Dobsonian mounted Orion XT8 intelliscope Newtonian. As expected the images with this telescope are far better than the ETX (in my opinion).

    Now, however, I am finding that the planets are very bright. Generally the only colour I m seeing is bright white. I am not expecting to see colours but I did expect to see greater detail:

    Venus - extremely bright with no detail
    Mars - Slightly reddish in colour - no visible ice cap detail.
    Jupiter - Best one for detail - can see the banding (no red spot). Have seen the transit of Io and its shadow across the surface.
    Saturn - Just bright white. I can see Titan and I think I can see the Cassini Division of the rings.

    I am using the supplied eyepieces - Sirius plossls (25 and 10 mm) and a Baader Hyperion 8 mm. I also have tried some filters (Antares 12 yellow, 15 Yellow, 21 Orange and 23a Red) and other filters (light pollution, variable polariser and a rubbish moon filter).

    I live near Cardiff in South Wales and the skies are quite light polluted. I have moved out into the hills where the light pollution is much less and as far as the detail is concerned there is very little difference.

    Are my experiences to be expected? Is there anything I can do to improve the detail? Would I be better off purchasing different filters, and if so, which ones?

    Thanks in advance for any help and advice

  2. #2
    skaven's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tatenlyle1 View Post
    Venus - extremely bright with no detail
    This is to be expected -- at best, Venus will always appear as a bright white disc or (right now) a crescent. It should have sharp edges but will not show any surface detail.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tatenlyle1 View Post
    Mars - Slightly reddish in colour - no visible ice cap detail.
    Mars is TINY right now -- so unless you have VERY good atmospheric conditions and a perfectly collimated scope, you probably won't see the ice cap or surface detail. However, such detail *is* possible to see with your scope. With a 5-6mm eyepiece you should be able to pick out the ice cap.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tatenlyle1 View Post
    Jupiter - Best one for detail - can see the banding (no red spot). Have seen the transit of Io and its shadow across the surface.
    If you've seen Io's shadow, then your scope must be pretty well collimated and you must have had pretty good atmospheric conditions that night. Best I've seen with my C10 (same scope as yours just 2" bigger) has been some suggestions of currents and eddies in the bands.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tatenlyle1 View Post
    Saturn - Just bright white. I can see Titan and I think I can see the Cassini Division of the rings.
    First time I observed Saturn it looked like this. Almost looked like a black-and-white drawing of Saturn, not a planet. The detail improved dramatically when two things happened: 1) I waited until Saturn was directly overhead, and 2) by doing #1, I had waited for my scope (and the surrounding air) to completely cool down and settle. Once these happened, the surface color and texture on the rings really jumped out with a 5mm eyepiece.


    Keep working at it -- you'll eventually get those awe-inspiring views! Just make sure your scope is perfectly collimated (do a star test before you swing over to the planet) and make sure you're stacking the odds in your favor by putting the planet high overhead, and late in the night (so things have cooled off).

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  4. #3
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    Venus will never show any appreciable detail.

    Mars will seldom reveal much to an 8 inch Newt/Dob.

    Jupiter will show banding and you should be able to see the Great Red Spot as well (but only if it is in the right spot, if you'll pardon the pun).

    Saturn will occasionally show you some banding and (pretty much always) the rings. Under good conditions you should be able to see the Cassini Division.

    I doubt filters are going to do much to improve Jupiter or Saturn - I never use them.

    But recently I've not even been bothering with Jupiter - it is too low on the horizon which means that I'm just not going to see much detail at all through all that atmosphere.

    Saturn is a bit of an issue at this time of year as well. My usual observing times of early night-time or early morning tend to have Saturn low on one horizon or the other so I'm not getting good (or any) looks at all.

    IMHO, this is just not a great observing time for my favorites. Even M42 is disappearing from my view quite early. . .

    Oh, well. I've always got something to complain about!

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    I have nothing much to add to what the others said above. Wanted to you welcome to the forums. Cheers and clear skies to you!
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    Thank you all for your prompt responses. It has certainly given me something to think about. A 5 mm eyepiece was going to be my next purchase. Will have to keep trying and wait until the object I wish to view is directly overhead!

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    You have great advice above already. If anything, I'd suggest you to consider a good 2x Barlow instead of a 5mm. You will have the equivalent of a 4mm with the Hyperion 8mm, which will bring 300x in your scope for those good atmospheric conditions nights and, more important at least to me, your 25 plossl will become a 12.5 (about 100x) and still retain the larger eye relief compared to the 10mm.

    Just my opinion, but I hope it helps !


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    Forgot to mention!

    If you were to consider a barlow, a good alternative is a GSO 2x barlow, which becomes a 1.5x by unscrewing the bottom lens, so you will have more choices.

    Clear skies


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