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Posted by Bob Sal on May 20, 2003 13:40:05 UTC

One of the biggest problems with new observers is over-anticipation. Your not gonna see in the eyepiece anything like the pictures you see in magzines. That goes especially for deep sky objects and is true for planets also. The only thing that looks better in the telescope is the moon. First off, you wont see any color like in the photos. The details are very subtel. In my 80MM refractor I can see the 2 major bands on Jupiter most nights and on a real dark clear still night I can see more bands and have been able to make out the red spot. But remember, those nights are few and far between. Most nights you sit and wait for moments of clarity when the sky stills for a second or 2 and you get a clear image. The atmosphere is a big problem. The image goes in and out of focus constantly. I can see the rings of Saturn with the 80MM but the Casini Division is very hard.
Now with my 12" scope I get a must better image when the sky is still and clear, but still nothing like the pictures. I see lots of detail on Jupiter, but again it's very subtel. You have to train your eye to see what your looking for. It doesn't just jump up at you. Observing through a telescope is skill to be learned and you get better at it the more practice you get. Now, I'm not trying to discourage you. Just trying to give you a realistic picture of what to expect. The best thing is if you can get to a star party and check out whats going on. There are lots of good scopes out there today. One of the Orion or Meade 4" - 5" refractors is a great scope to start with. You will get real nice images of the Monn, Planets and Messiers with that. Good Luck. Keep us posted.
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