If you haven't already, download and install your free copy of Stellarium
Stellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye,
binoculars or a telescope.
It is being used in planetarium projectors. Just set your coordinates and go. .
Make sure you take a moment to understand Light pollution
Bortle Dark-Sky Scale
The World Atlas of the Artificial Night Sky Brightness
A little effort to search out favorable viewing conditions will pay the greatest dividends for the least cost. Many city-bound hobbyists invest in
special light pollution filters but that is something for the next telescope as they can cost roughly the worth of your current new toy.
Don't worry that you may be missing out on something because your first setup is "extremely cheap".
What you have as a starter would be a technological miracle to those first great minds of exploration like Galileo Galilei. You should have a thousand
different wonders of discovery ahead before you have any cause to consider an upgrade.
For most tasks you want to use the least amount of magnification necessary to view your target. Accessories like barlow lenses will see little if any
use beyond the moon or whatever terrestrial viewing you may be doing.
The magic is to gather more light so your Emphasis should be on mitigating light pollution and atmospheric conditions ( less humidity is better)
I am assuming you are working with something like a 4" refractor.
Depending on the season, you should expect to see...
More lunar detail than you knew existed.
Venus as a bright sphere changing phases.
Mars as a rusty sphere with a possibility of a hint of white at the poles on a good night.
Jupiter as a bright sphere surrounded by the 4 Galilean moons. On a really good night you may be treated to a hint of color and banding.
Saturn as a bright orb. During favorable years the ring plane will show a clear gap between the planet and its rings.
The Andromeda Galaxy ( M82) On a good night it should appear as a faintly luminous fuzzy oval.
The Orion Nebula ( M42) On a really good night you should recognize a dimly fuzzy familiar outline lit up by 2 or 3 newborn stars towards its
Do not expect to see anything like the vivid colors represented in photographs. Celestial photography uses lengthy time exposure to capture enough
light to show color and detail. The human eye cant gather enough light light to define color in even the biggest telescopes'
Another important detail is in how you view an object.
Your eye uses 2 separate kinds of light receptors, cones and rods.
Cones process color in your main field of view.
Rods register black and white in your peripheral vision and are much more sensitive than cones.
When viewing faint objects learn to look from your peripheral vision rather than directly.
With a little practice it is actually rather startling. What was black sky straight ahead will suddenly resolve a nebula when viewed off to the
I hope this helps get you started!
edit on 9-8-2011 by Drunkenparrot because: (no reason given)