I want to know if bringing the image of a DSO in eyepiece generally represents a problem for beginners in astronomy.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm assuming by DSO, you mean Deep Sky Object. And it is not difficult to see DSOs in your eyepiece. It seems I haven't quite understood you question. $\endgroup$
    – Takku
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 19:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ For telescopes of intermediate to high aperture, for some extended DSOs like the Eagle Nebula, the magnification is so high that the object occupies your whole field and you can't distinguish it. Viewfinder provides a better view. Is that what you mean? @Takku Is that you? It was unexpected to see you here, I must say. :P $\endgroup$
    – Cheeku
    Commented Jul 12, 2014 at 3:32
  • $\begingroup$ It depends on a number of things, local light pollution, aperture, eye piece, focal ratio, the size and brightness of the target, ect. There are a number that are visible in 4-6 inch scopes in moderate light pollution, Andromeda and the ring nebula for instance. $\endgroup$
    – asawyer
    Commented Jul 14, 2014 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ @asawyer Round here it's persistent cirrus level haze that makes breaking out the scope pointless most nights. Nasty stuff: youtube.com/watch?v=zBWVhiaG8Qg Ignore the woo at the end, just think about what that sky would do to a view of say M57, the Ring Nebula. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 25, 2015 at 0:11

4 Answers 4


It's a pretty broad topic. It depends a bit on the type of DSO. Speaking in general, most DSOs lack brightness, and so to observe them you need two things:

  • lack of light pollution
  • lots of aperture

Light pollution

Observing from the city, DSOs are challenging. The further away you are from city lights, the better your views. Deserts, national parks, sparsely populated areas are all good. Driving at least 1 hour away from the city usually provides very noticeable improvements. Light pollution maps help in finding places with a dark sky.




The bigger the aperture, the better you can see DSOs. If you're a DSO hunter, you must be focused on increasing aperture before you do anything else. What helps here is having an instrument with a good aperture / cost ratio, such as a dobsonian reflector.

There's essentially no limit here - more is always better.

It should be noted that a larger aperture will always perform better than a smaller one, even when light pollution is very heavy - but of course it's best if both aperture and dark sky cooperate.

Other factors that may help:


These are the most over-utilized and over-hyped accessories, especially for beginners (most people are too much focused on filters and not enough focused on things that really matter). That being said, some nebulae do look better in some filters.

Dave Knisely is one of the foremost experts in the amateur astronomy community in terms of DSOs and filters. Read anything he writes on the subject, e.g. this long article:


In a nutshell: If you can only get one DSO filter, get a UHC. If you can get two, also get an OIII filter. Of course, dark sky and large aperture should always come first. Don't bother with filters if you're observing from the city using a small aperture.

Filters are useful for nebulae. They don't help with galaxies, star clusters, individual stars, etc.


Find a book called Turn Left At Orion. It's a fantastic introduction for beginners to DSOs. It will help you find the easier targets, and essentially open up the sky for you. Later you'll be able to figure things out on your own.


It should be noted that the entire Messier catalog can be observed in a relatively small telescope even in the city - and all Messier objects are DSOs. I've seen the Dumbbell Nebula (M27) and the Ring Nebula (M57) in 6" of aperture in a very light-polluted place (Silicon Valley). So, no, it's not that hard to observe DSOs.

Of course, if the sky is dark and/or the aperture large, all DSOs look better. This is especially true of globular clusters, such as M13. They already look pretty spectacular in any aperture, even in a small scope - but the view is mind boggling in a very large dob.

M13 aperture comparison


Some can, some can't. Viewing really is determined by ability, experience and technique when you leave viewing conditions aside.

A lot of DSOs have a lower surface brightness, one thing I always notice is when an observer continuously increases their magnification to see the object larger. Surface brightness is proportional to magnification, the higher the magnification the less bright an object appears, to see an object as bright as possible you need to use the lowest possible magnification. Using a smaller diameter eyepiece (larger magnification), you will need to develop techniques such as averted vision to truly see the beauty of some objects that otherwise appear dull.

Finding them can be exceptionally hard if your not familiar with the viewing region, easily overlooked or thought to be a tuft of cloud. Eye adaption is key when viewing so you need to spend significant time on an object before the details appear.

The Messier objects contain some well known DSOs, and can show some amazing details with patience. Understanding that the Messier objects were cataloged with poor optics and small apertures makes them prime targets for beginners.


There are many dso for the small telescope ,but dark skies are needed. A 6 in telescope will see more under dark skies than a 10 in in light polluted skies.


Yes, it is difficult. It is also difficult for experienced observers to view Deep Sky Objects with an eyepiece.

I used traditional eyepieces for nearly 50 years in areas with very dark skies and with apertures up to 14". I was as skilled as any but in all honesty I was never satisfied with the eyepiece and all the gimmicks used with it.

I bought my first electronic eyepiece about 15 years ago. It was a security cameras with lots of hot pixels but the writing was on the wall. Regardless of its problems I was able to see a lot more detail and color in objects that I could hardly see with any eyepiece. When I move up to the Mallincam a year later my eyepieces ended up in a junk box where they have remained ever since.

Some traditionalists will be annoyed with my comments and claim I am only looking at a camera image. Then they will show you a sketch that took numerous sessions (years in some cases) and say "I saw that with my own eyes, a little bit at a time." except they usual forget to mention the little bit part.

One of the few DSO eyepiece views I enjoyed were the globular clusters. Now I see them in 4K and in color. That view could take a somewhat boggled but open mind and straighten it out completely. :)

See the Mallincam io group for thousands of images made by the various cameras.


Most eyepiece users are limited to the Messier Catalog and even then some of the objects are barely viable. I recently compiled a DSO catalog to use with my 10" SCT that includes objects that are barely viable (faint fuzzies), it contains 26761 objects.

Do the math and if the electronic part bothers you then wonder why do you listen to digital music?


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