|It's been a few weeks since I've really had the chance to go looking. I've had a few quick observation evenings with friends, but nothing really to write about.
Tonight however, was a MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH. I went to the local astronomy shop and got some tips.
I learned about collimation (the aligning of the inner mirros) and purchased a collimation tool called a "cheshire". Proper collimation means crisper images. You get much better focus when the primary and secondary mirrors are aligned properly.
This is critical. I was looking at a galaxy and was having trouble seeing the spiral arms of it. I was told NOT to look straight at it, but look just to one side or the other of it. That way my eye wil pick up the more subtle faint areas of the object. It worked and I saw the arms. It was awesome.
Another breakthrough was looking at a variety of M objects. Tonight I saw several. The sky was pretty clear for around here and I could definitely make things out that I couldn't see before.
M81 and M82
This was cool. In my 6" telescope they were pretty much a fuzz-ball and a smudge in the sky, but they were definitely there. As my eye trains more, I'm sure I'll be able to make out a bit more detail. It will also require a much darker sky for my small scope as well.
Again - cool. Pretty much another fuzzy spot in the sky, but cool none the less. With using the averted vision, I was able to make out a few detailed specs within the cluster.
Mizar / Zeta Ursae Majoris
This is not a Messier object, but a binary star in Ursa Major (the middle star in the handle of the Big Dipper). Even my little 6" scope can split this one. I used the 25mm lense to see it split nicely.
I couldn't focus well on Saturn and Jupiter. I tried, but I think my collimation is too far off as well as the issue that my mirror wasn't cooled down much when I was trying to view them. A few hours later I was facinated with the Messier's and never re-looked at the planets.