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15

The easiest way to determine the magnitude of a given star is probably to use the Pogson relation. The idea is to determine the magnitude of a star knowing the magnitude of a reference star; it is thus quite easy, using a well-known reference as Vega or Sirius. The Pogson relation is given by: $$m_1-m_2=-2.5\ log\ \left({\frac{E_1}{E_2}}\right)$$ where ...


10

This is a very common question, yet very hard to answer if you prefer a clear, concise, uncontroversial answer that applies to all situations. So I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to describe your main options, and let you choose. Be aware that you'll make the choice while still not knowing much about optics. So, in a sense, it will be just the ...


8

Squinting works the same way as a pinhole camera. Ideally, light from a single point source entering your eye anywhere on your pupil will be focused on a single spot on your retina. But this works perfectly only if you have perfect vision; otherwise light entering near the top of your pupil may be directed to a slightly different spot on your retina than ...


6

The Failures of High Magnification Higher magnification doesn't help you observe deep sky objects better. Deep sky objects unlike stars are extended objects. They subtend a finite solid angle on you. This ensures that the surface brightness(brightness per unit solid angle) of extended objects remains constant. Hence, a higher magnification would not make it ...


5

As for projecting the Sun onto a screen at a low cost, I would recommend starting with a ~50-200$ sunspotter box, which is basically a lens mounted on a wooden box, that projects the sun onto a white piece of card. The advantage of using a telescope is that it can be programmed to track the Sun, so that if you want to trace sunspots, for instance, you can do ...


4

The aperture of your 4.5" telescope is one thing, it's also important what focal length you have. Is it a f/5 or rather a f/8? The f/8 would be suitable for viewing the Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, maybe even Mars and Venus. You can also buy a good solar filter, attach it in the front of the optical tube assembly, and view the sun. But be careful with that, and ...


3

It depends. The Barlow is usually a cheap shortcut for avoiding to buy an expensive short focal length eyepiece. Also you need Barlows and high magnification usually only for small objects. For example the ring nebula (M57) is pretty tiny, and might benefit. Your telescope is still rather wide field, so getting high magnifications might be neccessary to ...


3

Go out in the daytime and practice lining up on the leaves of trees on a distant hill or some such. It's easier to find targets when they aren't against a nearly featureless black backdrop. If you have a finder scope, likewise align it to the scope's view using a distant daytime target. At night, look first for the moon to get a feel for how aligning ...


3

Several points need to be made. 1. Performance The performance of the whole optical stack is incredibly resilient w.r.t. small spots on the primary mirror. The mirror might look visually very, very dirty, but the performance of the whole instrument will remain essentially the same. Even if you chip the mirror at the edge, it shouldn't matter. Take a marker ...


3

The objective lens of a telescope forms an real image of the night sky, the size of that image is in proportion to the focal length of the objective lens. The reason for this is simple geometry: If two stars are 1 arcminute apart, and the lens is forming an image of them, then the further the image is from the lens, the further apart the images of the two ...


2

The resolution of a telescope is the resolution of the image created by the primary mirror at the focal plane. It provides the minimum separation between two equal brightness stars that appear separate in that image. Often, astronomers put a photographic plate or a CCD at the focal plane, create long exposure photos and these can then be examined at ...


1

Sometimes this can be difficult to wrap your head around in Astronomy, as telescopes generally have a fixed aperture and focal distance, and simply use an eyepiece at the end to make a difference. If you, instead, look at a camera you can get the concept quite quickly. DSLR cameras have swappable lenses and many lenses include non-fixed focal distances ...


1

The Raleigh criterion is the maximum theoretical limit that ignores the architecture, quality, and state of maintenance of optics. It basically says "assuming the optics in this instrument are PERFECT, this is the resolution you could get out of it". It's a calculation that looks only at the diameter and ignores everything else. In other words, no matter how ...


1

Jupiter is a very bright object, so maybe the best procedure is to use your filters, they might help with the glare. However, I think you have either a case of low resolution or distortion. Generally, the larger the diameter of the telescope, the better is the resolution (more details here). Resolution defines how much detail you are able to resolve with the ...


1

Try the moon first. If you see nothing but black, assuming that you don't have a lens cap on or something, then most likely, you are zoomed in on, well, relative blackness. The star you were viewing is probably off to the side now. Or, you may just be looking through the eye-piece at the wrong angle or something. The moon is too big a target to miss, and ...


1

You have to set your equatorial axis to tilt to match your latitude eg if you were at 5 degrees North then the axis needs to tilt to 5 degrees. Then you need to find an object of known RA and declination (at my latitude I always used Polaris as it didn't move) and then set the setting circles (the dials) to those, then direct the telescope to the RA and ...



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