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Finally been breaking out the telescope to get a better look at things recently, and have been attempting to take advantage of Mars's and Venus's positions in the sky, but I haven't been able to see them any better than pin points of light, even after focusing on them.

I'm using a Celestron Starsense Explorer LT 114AZ Newtonian Reflector, aperture of 114mm, focal length of 1000mm, and focal ratio of f/9. The lenses I've been using are the 25mm and 10mm along with the 2x Barlow Lense that comes with it.

Taking the time to research during the day where the planets will be at, and how close they will be to the associating constellations so that I'm not entirely relying on the StarSense app, I'm extremely confident I found them. I'm currently in Kansas and typically check the sky after 9 pm to make sure it's dark enough. I'm just at a total loss as to why I'm not seeing planets, and am instead seeing what looks like to be stars. Checking the app, finding Gemini, Taurus, and Orion, then aligning my scope finder a few times on the horizon and on objects far away to make sure I have the right spot leads me to believe I have found the correct object. I have no idea what else I could do to improve the sight.

I also am always taking out on my back patio and am out there more than an hour or so.

Any pieces of ideas, or thoughts would be welcome. I've only been doing this off and on for about a year. Let me know if there is any further information that I can give, that I neglected on.

Thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ 1000mm focal length with a 10mm eyepiece gives 100x magnification. You should definitely see more then a pinpoint. Not sure what the problem is though. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 15:27
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    $\begingroup$ I googled "distance to mars right now" and got theskylive.com/mars-info which says Mars is pretty far right now, about 1.58 AU, which means it may take some skill and experience to recognize its tiny disk compared to stars, or to recognize its particular orangish color, especially if you're not using up towards 100x and you have good astronomical seeing which can improve as the night goes on. Venus is also 1.11 AU but should be easier because the illuminated disk will not be circular and its super-bright, roughly -4 magnitude. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 19:15
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    $\begingroup$ You should be able to recognize Venus by eye without a telescope as unmistakably bright (it's always close to -4 mag!) and dazzling in a telescope. So I think this means you might be starting at high magnification and not good at pointing. Step 1) align your finder scope with your main scope by looking at something in the distance (like 1 km away or farther during the day near the horizon (and don't look at the Sun!) and 2) Center Venus in the finder scope, then look at your lowest magnification of 40 X (25 mm eyepiece, NO Barlow!)... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 19:19
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    $\begingroup$ and if you don't see Venus immediately "walk around" your starting point in small motions until you see something dazzlingly bright pass through your field of view (FOV) and then slowly move until you center on it. Then go back and adjust your finder to center Venus in it also. Once you can do this easily, THEN try for other planets. Unfortunately Jupiter is not really out at night and Saturn's in the morning, so you can try again for Mars $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ Thank you for the advice! I'll keep that in mind and try again next time it's clear out. I've also reached out to the local astronomy club to see if they'd be willing to show me the ropes next time they have an event I can attend. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 21:15

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I've gone ahead and reached out to my local astronomy club and received back an invite to their next event as well as helpful information for more viewing.

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    $\begingroup$ Oh when possible, this is by far the best answer to your question, great! Please feel free to add more later, based on what you learn. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 20:20

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