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Orion XT8 Not so dark yard or 120mm at darker site?


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I recently decided to get the Orion XT8 and have enjoyed views of the planets but realized that there is a lot of light pollution in my area. I can just make out a tiny wisp of the milky way in a good night. I really don't want to lug this scope out to a darker site and have the patience to learn how to collimate it. Would I be better off taking a 120mm refractor to a darker site versus using xt8 in my backyard?


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What I'm most interested in trying to see right now are galaxies other than the Andromeda Galaxy. That and the smaller one below it are the only ones I've seen. What size/quality refractor in a moderately dark site would it take to do the job? I have a 65mm spotting scope. Would it be worth trying with that first? Thanks

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You will struggle seeing any galaxy at all with a 65mm spotting scope regardless of going to a dark sky site.

Andromeda visually just looks like a faint fuzzy blob through my Skywatcher 200mm Dob reflector (similar to your XT8) when using averted vision. If you have a large light gathering bucket like a reflector of 400mm or so you might get lucky.

Planets and the moon look great though and look even better with decent Mak scope which has greater focal length.

Clusters also look great through a Dob - think Pleiades - even from my light polluted backyard Bortle 7.

I personally would not bother in trying to find galaxies visually. Photography is a different animal of course and the cameras are far more sensitive than the human eye and can capture far more photons than the eye.

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Maybe I'll just stick with the xt8 and haul it out to a dark site once in a while. What I would really like is a more experienced astronomy guide to help me find a few new things and help me collimate it when the time comes.-thanks for the advice!

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I have not had a close look at this particular scope. But if it is like many others (newtonian reflectors) I have seen, you can improve the situation for yourself at little cost by addressing stray light.


Do you have a red astronomy torch? The sort you can set really dim?
If so just shine it over the open tube end and look through the eyepiece.
You will see a red sky! That is an indication of how off axis stray light is affecting your viewing.


Fit a dew shield on the end of the tube. A black gym mat weighs next to nothing.
This will cut down stray light entering.


Can you see the back of the primary mirror? If so put anything opaque on the bottom of the tube.
Thin black plastic for example.


Look at the black paint inside the tube. Some scopes have what is better described as darkish grey!
You can either repaint the tube with better matt black, or flock the tube.
You don't need cover the whole inside. A few inches at the top is a big help.


Some newtonian scopes have bare bright metal on the focus tube and fittings that are inside the tube.
Can you blacken anything here?


All of the above measures are low cost and don't call for great skills so are good steps to improve the view.
The good news is that should you take the scope to a dark site, the measures will show as improved contrast.


Hope this helps, David.

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Thanks for the suggestions! I do have one of those red  flashlights. Definitely have a problem with street lights and neighbor spot lights. I think if I get creative I might be able to put some sort of screen up.

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