View Full Version : What can I see with what I've got?

2010-Dec-22, 12:08 PM
The lunar eclipse motivated me enough to get my old telescope out from the closet that Ive had since I was about 6yrs old; I'm 22 now lol. It's a Meade 114EQ Telescope, specifics are (D: 114mm, F:910mm, f/8). I'm not even completely sure what those numbers really mean to me other than the dimensions of the telescope. When I got it, it came with a load of lenses that I have since lost.. Only one left is the 12.5mm lens. It's good enough to see the moon with some awesome detail but that's only entertaining for so long. So what kind of lenses would I need in order to see more interesting objects like distant comets, planets, fuzzy galaxies, nebulae, etc.

If I had to have a "starter" planet and/or lens set, what would it be? When I was a kid, I didnt know anything about telescopes, other than I can see far with them and neither did my parents.. So any help you guys can give will be much appreciated!

2010-Dec-22, 08:23 PM
There are two versions of the scope. It appears you have the better one of the two. Mount is a bit shaky for high power but otherwise it isn't a bad scope for the money.

Main limitation is its aperture of 114 mm. The larger that is the more you can see. There's a lot this scope can show you. A book like Turn Left at Orion (most major book stores carry it and all can order it or get it on line) will guide you through a year's worth of viewing with the telescope. Then you are ready to explore further. If you don't already have a pair of binoculars get a pair of 7x50 binoculars. They will be a great addition to the scope.

You will need an eyepiece or two. They come in all types and price ranges. Simple basic Plossl design is best for this scope. You don't need the expensive kind. I'd add a 30mm one for low power viewing. The scope should work up to about 150x, maybe higher on a few nights. A 2x barlow would give you that with the 12.5 you now have.

Most any telescope dealer has a line of inexpensive plossl eyepieces that would be fine for your scope.

Probably most important would be to locate an astronomy club in your area and learn from them. Often members have spare eyepieces they no longer use and would sell cheaply or loan to you. At star parties you will learn far more than any book or internet forum can begin to teach you and learn it far faster. Sky and Telescope as well as Astronomy Magazine have websites that can help you locate a club or google "astronomy clubs" to turn up more club location sites.

Sky and Telescope has many good on line articles about telescopes that will help understanding the numbers and getting more out of your scope.

Many others exist on the net.


2010-Dec-22, 08:38 PM
Haha, I definitely noticed that it's not super stable when I was looking at the moon. I had it out on our deck the other night and everytime someone would walk around, the deck would vibrate and the telescope would wobble out of focus. Drove me crazy. Ill have to do a google search for any astronomy/telescope stores in my area. Would I have any chance of being able to see saturn with enough clarity to discern that it has rings? I know Jupiter has been in the sky for the past few months and would seem like an easy planet to see. From what I've read, Mars seems to be fairly difficult/boring, but I plan on getting pretty familiar with this thing so as long as I dont have to go out and spend hundreds on another scope Ill be happy.

2010-Dec-23, 03:15 AM
I have a telescope of the same aperture, but a Dobsonian model (an Orion XT 4.5). To second the other post, I'd definitely get a low-power eyepiece, at least 25mm, and a Barlow, which will effectively double your number of eyepieces (for instance, I almost never use my 10mm eyepiece, preferring to use the 12.5 with a 2X Barlow). If you still have the documentation, I'd recommend at least collimating the reflector for optimum performance.

What you can see depends not only on aperture, but also light pollution, experience, and what you want to see. With those in mind, you should have no problems with double stars and most open clusters; globulars are hit-or-miss, but a telescope this size is just capable of resolving the edges of them into stars (seeing one of these beauties through a big telescope is on my bucket list). The brighter nebulae and galaxies are within reach, but the fainter ones will probably have to wait for a larger instrument (or dark skies, if not readily available). Jupiter is by far the friendliest planet to the small-telescope amateur; the Great Red Spot is an easy target with patience and good timing. Mars is a toughie; though most sources will say you need at least a 6 to 8-inch telescope to do it justice, you'll be able to see its polar ice caps and broad shadings when it's at opposition. Saturn is a beauty, and you'll probably be able to see at least four of its moons.

2010-Dec-23, 03:26 AM
That shake is due to the deck not the mount. Always put the scope on solid ground. Decks will always be unstable.

Yes on Saturn though you'll have to get up about dawn right now. Jupiter is very well placed just after dark being nearly due south and at maximum altitude.

Yes, Mars is not a beginners object. Right now it is hidden in the sun's glare and very tine as it is on the opposite side of the sun. Even when close it isn't an easy target as other than the polar cap all features are very low contrast. Orange filter can help contrast.

You do need a low power eyepiece. Right now you only have medium power which darkens many good targets and limits the field too much. A 30mm plossl will greatly aid your viewing. Yes, lower power not higher. The idea you need a 400 power scope is pure advertising created. The rings of Saturn were just fine in my first commercial scope, a very cheap 30x 3" f/8 reflector.

Only binoculars are needed to see the moons of Jupiter, many of the stars in the Pleiades, the O association of blue stars hiding amid the 3 star belt of Orion and many other objects.

For now obvious targets like the Pleiades, Orion Nebula once Orion gets high in the sky, the Double Cluster and similar objects are good targets once the moon is out of the sky. A dark location helps as will a lower power eyepiece.

All of the Messier objects and many NGC objects can be seen in the scope so it can keep you in objects for several years.