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Beginner Needing Info: What Can I See?

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Posted by Scott Nelson on May 18, 2003 15:59:33 UTC

I am seriously considering getting a telescope, but before I drop a chunk of change on a decent scope, I have some questions about what I can really see.

There is a photo shop in town that sells telescopes (I live in Des Moines, IA) to ask for advice, tips, etc. I talked to the telescope expert who works there and showed him some photos out of an issue of Sky & Telescope. One was a photo of Jupiter where you could see the cloud belts, the great red spot, etc. And the magazine said that it resembled the view through an 8" scope. Also there was a picture of Saturn with great detail, you could see the Cassini Division, etc. It was an impressive picture. The guy said "I don't care what this says, you'll NEVER see the planets like this. I've looked through the telescope they have at Drake University and I still couldn't see them like that." He was very emphatic about it.

But I've been doing alot of research on the web, and I've seen several impressive astrophotography pictures of Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars that people have taken with 10"-12" telescopes, and I've gotten the impression that you really can get some detailed views of the planets through an amateur telescope.

The planets are my primary interest, but I am also very interested in looking at the Messier objects, too.

So...I'm confused as to what I can actually see. Can anyone help to clear this up?

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