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Always wanted one but finally did it. Mars is closer to the Earth than it has been for the last 77,000 years. Granted only by 1 to 3% closer, but what the heck.
I didn't want to spend alot until I find out if I really like it. I ended up with this one from Orion. Of course I also bought a 45 degree correct vision a set of filters and carrying case . So all together spent about $450.00 with tax.
Man, even with the moon filter I just about burned my retna when I looked through the view piece at the moon.
The wife loves it. We were out on Saturday night for about three or four hours just fumbling around with it. I'm sure there's plenty to learn about using the telescope to its full potential, but for now, we're pretty happy with it.
 

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That is very cool! Some years back I researched telescopes and was eyeballing the 8' models. Some of them have a computerized box that is programmed with many space objects and will automatically home in on each. But I was looking at about $2,500 at the time and never got one .
 

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nedro : I'm sure there's plenty to learn about using the telescope to its full potential...
Yep, like setting it up in an upstairs bedroom, to zoom in on the hot neighbor's bedroom while she's undressing.
 

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Pete : Quote (nedro @ Aug. 11 2003, 12:58pm)I'm sure there's plenty to learn about using the telescope to its full potential...
Yep, like setting it up in an upstairs bedroom, to zoom in on the hot neighbor's bedroom while she's undressing.

Must be for those not getting IT on a regular basis.


Plus, I haven't bought the solar filter yet. So I'm religated to night views.
 

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bubba : so what did mars look like?
I'll tell you when I find it. I was mostly letting my wife and my brother's 14 year old play with it all night. I thought I found it, but I think it was Venus. Like I said, lots to learn.
 

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nedro : Quote (booth23 @ Aug. 11 2003, 10:05am)Tell Jodie Foster I said 'Hi' and let us know when you meet your dead relative  
I'm sure there's a joke in there, but I don't get it.
If you'd seen the movie 'Contact', you would get it.
 

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We only had it out on Saturdaynight. I didn't even know what to look at. Thanks for the info Bubba!
We live within a city so we have to go up to Skyline to view the starts and such.
 

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My boss bought that same scope about a year ago.  My roomate had a cheap one too.  It was pretty cool to have a couple beers and set it up to look at stuff.

Mars should be pretty easy to find, it is noticably red even to the naked eye.  

Try using some binocs to find things, and then slew the scope to them. With Binocs you can even see the rings of Saturn!
 

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Nedro, if you go out tonight, Mars will be about 2-3 'hours' behind the Moon. If you put the Moon at 12 o'clock in front of you, Mars will be at about 10 o'clock. It looks like a bright, red star. If you wait for another 2 weeks, the Moon will be at its new-phase, and the sky will be much darker. You really can't miss Mars as it's about as bright as Jupiter gets during opposition. Pretty exciting stuff.

Congrats on the purchase. I have a 4' Bushmaster reflector. It's cheap enough but with a few good eye-pieces you can see the distinct rings of Saturn when it's in opposition (as Mars is now). With an 8' Orion reflector (with good eye-pieces) Jupiter is about the size of a nickle in your field of view. Amazing! I'm sure you'll be able to see plenty with that refractor you bought.

PM me if you have any questions and I'll try and offer what little I know.
 

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Yuk yuk...good one.

You actually can see Uranus with a good-sized telescope but it's not too impressive. Unless you have the best of conditions (dark, dark skies with little/no pollution) it comes out as a faint, blue dot.
 

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What a great buy, Ned!
In college, I was taking a bunch of astronomy/astrophysics classes and borrowed my brother-in-law's telescope.
I managed to check out Saturn at just the right time where you could see it's rings. Oh, it was soo cool!
The moon was great to look at close up as well.
I could spend hours looking up at the sky.
 

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Something you might want to check out. Since i work for Lick Observatory they let us know about this stuff.

PART ONE: Tuesday 26 August

As you are surely aware, the opposition of Mars to Earth in late August will bring our celestial neighbor closer to us that at any other time during the last 60,000 years. [For historical perspective, 60,000 years ago Sabretooth Tigers were still munching the occasional wayward UCLA undergrad out near LaBrea.] Since our observatory was founded around a wonderful telescope designed for visual observing, it seems only right to offer its use to observatory personnel in order to witness this event.

The romantically challenged may insensitively point out that Mars is only a few kilometers closer than at other relatively close oppositions which occur every couple of decades or so, and the difference is thus quite imperceptible. That may well be, but I still hope to have my own grandkids get a peep at the Red Planet this time around.

The apparent size of the disk will be larger than Saturn ever is, and is comparable with Jupiter's size when that planet is farthest from us:

min(arcsec) max(arcsec) Aug 27(arcsec)
Mars 3.5 25.7 25.1
Saturn 15.0 20.9 17.3
Jupiter 30.4 50.1


(Unfortunately, neither Saturn nor Jupiter will rise high enough to observe in August.)
 
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