I just bought a new telescope with these specifications:

  • Aperture: 203 mm
  • Focal Length: 1200 mm
  • F/ratio: f/5.9

I usually use a 28 mm eyepiece, giving me about 42.5x magnification, but I also have a 20 mm and a 10 mm eyepiece.

I was trying to find Messier objects, but I only found the Orion Nebula, and even then it wasn't very impressive. I was wondering, what types of objects are see-able in my telescope? I read that Charles Messier found the Messier objects using a four-inch refractor, and I have an 8 inch reflecting telescope.

When I tried to find things like the pinwheel galaxy, or the crab nebula, I only saw points of light. So basically, how do I see things like nebula and galaxies?
For reference, I live in the midwestern United States.


2 Answers 2


Dark Skies are your friend.

When Messier was searching for comets, it was before electric lighting and the nights were dark in a way that is rarely seen today.

Take a look at the Dark sky map, and try to get somewhere in the blue or black region.

Then allow your eyes to become dark adjusted, and to look with the edge or your vision, or learn to do astrophotography.

And limit your expectations. Messier was looking for comets (little fuzzy blobs) and he made a list of the fixed little fuzzy blobs that might confuse him. Most Messier objects do look like fuzzy patches. You might take an account with telescope.org to see what can be done with a telecope 16 times larger than yours.


Do you have a star chart to allow you to star hop from a known star to smaller stars to your target? Most messier objects are not naked eye visible and with the small field of view of a telescope, unless you know where to look, you're not likely to find something by blindly hunting around.

You also need dark skies, as most DSOs are small and dim.


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