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Thread: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

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    Default Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope



    Tonight's seeing conditions were pretty bad due to cirrus/high-altitude haze blown off from the tops of thunderstorms. All but <2.5 mag was invisible. It was not a night for Messier hunting. So I took a break from drawing constellations and the binos, and pulled out a kiddie telescope just for the fun of it.

    You guys are probably going to laugh, but the scope is a plastic Tele-Science 50mm refractor with a focal length of 700mm. The entire thing, scope plus tripod mount, weighed probably less than 5 pounds and cost less than $30. It did come with a few eye pieces, low (20mm), medium (10mm), and high power (4mm). It even came with a 3x barlow lens, but when I tested it, I could not see anything at all. Either I don't know how to use a barlow, or the quality of this barlow was a joke.

    So I tested this scope on Saturn and Mars, as they were among the only objects showing through the thick cirrus haze. Stars like Vega, Arcturus, and anything near the zenith were barely visible.

    Despite bad seeing conditions and a cheap scope, I actually saw the rings of Saturn at 70x (10mm EP with a focal length of 700mm). It was difficult to see, and it took me a few minutes to make the rings out (partly because the scope kept shaking on such a flimsy mount), but once I did, I was able to etch that image in my mind. This is the first time I have ever seen Saturn's rings with my own eyes. No detail of course, just a bright off-white ball with a barely discernible ring around it. Tried the 4mm EP (175x), but could not get it into focus and it was too dim to really make anything out, which tells me that the magnification was too strong for this low caliber scope.

    I also looked at Mars, but couldn't see much of a difference in size between 35x and 70x, the planet is too small and too far to see any jump in size with this scope and set of eye pieces.

    It was fun to try this out with a kiddie scope, but would definitely not use it for serious astronomy. I don't think even kids will have the patience to allow Saturn's rings to appear as their eyes to focus and adapt to the view through the eye pieces.

    Link to report with sketches: 20140817.pdf
    Telescope: Apertura AD8, f/6
    Eyepieces: 2" Superview 30mm, 1.25" Super Plossl 9mm, 2" GSO 2x Barlow
    Binoculars: Orion Scenix 10x50, Celestron Skymaster 15x70

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    Default Re: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

    Forgot to mention that for each bright object, the scope showed a secondary object and a dimmer tertiary object next to the primary object in the middle. I almost mistook them for moons or nearby stars, but since they showed up in the same places in relation to the primary object in view, I realized that they are aberrations resulting from the scope's defects.
    Telescope: Apertura AD8, f/6
    Eyepieces: 2" Superview 30mm, 1.25" Super Plossl 9mm, 2" GSO 2x Barlow
    Binoculars: Orion Scenix 10x50, Celestron Skymaster 15x70

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    Default Re: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

    Seeing Saturn through my telescope, it looks like a little blurry ball and the blurry parts are the rings. Still pretty cool.

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    Default Re: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

    At a focal ratio of f/14 there is little chance of using either of the two shorter eyepieces and/or the Barlow. The math simply doesn't work and the images will be severely out of focus, at best.

    Nonetheless, I too enjoy tinkering around with small, cheapo scopes too.

    Thanks for the report and the sketches.

    Clear Skies
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    Default Re: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

    I first saw Saturn's rings from a 60mm scope that I inherited from my uncle. Don't remember actually but it was a Japanese make, had only a table-top extended leg tripod, so it was extremely shaky. Also checked out Jupiter (saw the moons) and the Orion Nebula (fuzzy blob). I guess the optics weren't all that bad. I also like to push the envelope with smaller scopes, takes me back to my beginnings in astronomy.
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    Default Re: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

    I have a Celestron Travelscope 50 and that's what I used to see the blurry rings of Saturn.

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    Default Re: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

    Hi Scorp. Well, it looks like had a lot of fun with this little telescope. And, the 10mm eyepiece would give you the maximum magnification with the aperture of this telescope. But, seeing Saturn, and making out the rings must have been an unexpected and interesting experience. And, your sketches look pretty good for the viewing that you had to work with. Thanks for sharing this fun read report with us Scorp, and best wishes for clear skies.
    - Marshall

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    Default Re: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

    Nice try with the kiddie scope, Scorp. Actually that's the kind of scope that will turn kids off to astronomy, because it show so little, and so poorly. The cheap Barlow is there just so they can make high "power" claims, which is the only number many parents will notice. So I'm hoping you didn't pay your hard-earned money for the thing, and rather pulled it out of a trash bin? You really need (and deserve) something much better...

    Ray
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    Default Re: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymondhow View Post
    Nice try with the kiddie scope, Scorp. Actually that's the kind of scope that will turn kids off to astronomy, because it show so little, and so poorly. The cheap Barlow is there just so they can make high "power" claims, which is the only number many parents will notice. So I'm hoping you didn't pay your hard-earned money for the thing, and rather pulled it out of a trash bin? You really need (and deserve) something much better...

    Ray
    I can see that, and no I didn't pay for this scope... it was in a box in my kid's closet that had been packed years ago, and was still unpacked until last week. I don't think it has been used in at least 4 or 5 years.

    I'm aiming for October to buy the AD8.
    Telescope: Apertura AD8, f/6
    Eyepieces: 2" Superview 30mm, 1.25" Super Plossl 9mm, 2" GSO 2x Barlow
    Binoculars: Orion Scenix 10x50, Celestron Skymaster 15x70

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    Default Re: Viewing Report - Saturn & Mars using a cheap scope

    Quote Originally Posted by ScorpAntares View Post
    I can see that, and no I didn't pay for this scope... it was in a box in my kid's closet that had been packed years ago, and was still unpacked until last week. I don't think it has been used in at least 4 or 5 years.
    Aha, so maybe you were the parent who got duped by the "high power" claim? Doing the math from what you described above, I bet it said "525 power!" somewhat on the box...

    Ray
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