Observing the Deep Sky with your C-8
The current trend for deep sky observing the past decade and a half has been for the large aperture Dobsonian type telescope. No one will deny that scopes in the 16-36 inch range provide wonderful views and allow probing far deeper into the night time sky than amateurs have done before. Not all of us have the luxury of huge telescopes and part of the fun of using an instrument is pushing it to its limits. The C-8 is capable of observing literally thousands of galaxies, clusters and nebulae. The observer who takes the time to learn to use the C-8 effectively will be rewarded.
Most of us start out our deep sky observing career with the Messier list. This list is notable for it contains most of the brightest of the deep sky objects in the sky visible from the northern hemisphere. A few bright objects have slipped through the cracks and are not Messiers' (The Double Cluster in Perseus probably being one of the best examples), but the Messier catalog is an excellent starting point for anyone with any optical hardware from binoculars on up.
Observing the deep sky is a learned art. Here are a few tips from Rich Neuschaeferneuschaefer_rich@tandem.com
Keep observing. You will get better with practice. Your brain learns to see more as you do more observing.
Sometimes if you are very tired you won't see as much. Some drugs can make seeing dim objects more difficult.
Try to observe in a comfortable position. It really helps if you aren't straining your neck (or anything else) when you are trying to observe.
If you will be looking at very dim objects try to keep your eyes protected from bright light the day before you observe.
Try looking a little off to the side of the object.
Try tapping the scope so that the image will move a little in the field. Some objects are very large (M31) so you may need to move the scope just to see the whole thing.
Try different magnifications. Sometimes using more power when looking at a galaxy will make it easier to see.
When looking at emission nebulae try using a narrow band or line filter nebula filter.
Make sure your telescopes optics are clean and well collimated. Make sure your eyepieces are clean. Try different eyepieces some work better than others.
Some nights are better than others. Seeing and transparency can change a lot even on the same night. Try to find the darkest site possible.
Try a bigger scope. ;-)
Really, if you're at a star party and you can look through a larger scope it can help give you a better idea what the object looks like and then it can be easier to see in your smaller telescope. If you know were to look when trying to see structure in a DSO it can be a big help.
If you don't have access to a larger telescope find a photo of the object. Just remember the detail will be much more subtle through the eyepiece.
A fellow observer that I have "met" via IRC has a book out on observing the Herschel objects. Here's the information if you wish to take on this fun project:
THE OBSERVER'S GUIDE TO THE HERSCHEL 400
(No… I don't get any kickback on sales of the book!)
The Planetary Nebula Page This is a must see page for any deepsky enthusiast!
Observing the Herschels - A perspective
The Arp List Makes those Herschels look bright! But it is possible with a C-8.