How to see Planets and what Telescopes to use

How to see Planets and what Telescopes to use


Ease your work. How too see planets through a telescope

The heavenly bodies that are easiest to find in the limitless ocean of space are planets of our solar system. Some planets are so bright that they can be viewed with the naked eye as well. This list includes Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. All you need to know is when and where to look and you can view these companions of the Earth for most parts of the year.

However, you cannot view all of them on a single night. The telescope is the first invention that paved way for humans to explore the space. It allowed us to view the treasures of space and this urged us to seek more knowledge about them. The field of Astronomy emerged to the arena of Science due to this desire.

The very first thing any new astronomer might want to look at, through his telescope, is one of the planets. One major reason for this is the fact that planets are quite close to us than the distant stars. Due to this, they appear in form of round disks even with the smallest of telescopes. All the planets of our solar system can be viewed with an ordinary telescope but if you need clarity in the vision, one with a good magnification is recommended.

Every planet has a lot to offer as you will find something unique to observe on each one of them. The amazing details of Martian surface, cloud bands of Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn are some common examples.

The experience of observing planets through different telescopes does vary a lot. Focal length and Aperture plays a vital role in determining the quality of results you will get. Focal length controls the magnification while the aperture is responsible for the resolution of the image you see. Both these factors have practical limitations so actual results can be different from the expected ones generated from the generalized formulas. However, the rule of thumb is that magnification of 50x is useful per inch of aperture. Beyond that, the quality of the image will start to decline due to the atmospheric scintillation.

Saturn seen through telescope. Credit: wikimedia


Once you have the basic knowledge about telescopes, you need to know how to use them for observing planets. Select the planet you want to observe. Knowing the rising and setting times of your current location will help you about the planets that could be observed. Check online sky almanacs to know the location, altitude, and azimuth of the selected planet. Next, you need to locate the planet by using a star chart.

Find a bright object that is twinkling less than the surrounding stars. Compare its location with the star chart and if it is not there in the chart, it is the planet you were looking for. Focus your telescope on the planet for observing the details of it. Increase your magnification gradually for better observation. A circular disk of the planet is your guide here as the telescope is properly focused if you could see that sharp and clear.

As you are aware of the working mechanism of telescopes, you need to get your hands on one to give it a practical try. The telescope that is most suitable for planetary observation is a Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope. The presence of longer focal lengths alongside small secondary central-obstructions, that gives you large apertures, is an ideal combination. The fact that it saves quite a lot of cash in comparison to other telescopes adds much more weight to its worth. Schmidt-Cassegrains are also more than handy for this purpose. They do have a shorter focal length but still captures great views of all the planets of our solar system.

Another class of them that is very useful for this purpose is Refractors. The image produced by a high-quality refractor is simply the Best. It won’t let you down on any ground whether it is sharpness or contrast. Refractors which have long focal lengths and large apertures can be quite expensive but you won’t regret buying them as every penny will be worth it. Some common examples include Celestron Omni 102mm, Sky-watcher USA ProED 100mm, TEC APO140ED, and Explore Scientific AR 102mm.

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