Solar System Observing

There is a lot to view in the "great out there" of deep space, but there are also myriad wonders closer to home in our cozy little solar system: comets, asteroids, and most of all, the planets. When it comes to visual observing of the planets, as mentioned, the SCT cannot claim to be "the best." The refractor really is tops here. The SCT can deliver excellent solar system images, though. When the atmosphere is steady, you can bump up the magnification on a C8 SCT to over 400x and not only see the rings of Saturn but also detect subtle detail in the rings—detail that may escape a smaller-aperture refractor. Light, you see, is also important in planetary observation. Sharp is good, but if the image is so dim the eye has difficulty picking out details, the refractor's razor sharpness does not do much good.

The other pluses the SCT brings to the deep sky help it master the solar system as well. These telescopes' excellent, accurate drive systems are even more of an advantage in the realm of the Sun than they are in deep space. Imagine trying to nudge a telescope along to keep Jupiter in view at a magnification of 500x. Sitting relaxed on an observing stool while looking through the eyepiece helps even more when viewing the planets than it does viewing deep space objects. The planets—especially Jupiter and Mars—offer a wealth of detail, but it is subtle. When trying to see these details, being comfortable and relaxed really helps.

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