You are here:

Astronomy/reflecting telescope problems


QUESTION: Dear Paul, I have a SkyProdigy 130 reflecting telescope and while I have had no trouble at all seeing planets and stars through it, I don't seem to be able to see any galaxies or nebulae. Even when the sky is dark enough for me to easily and clearly see the arch of the milky way with the naked eye, when I direct the telescope at a galaxy or a nebula it just appears as a blank black spot. Could you give me any advice as to what I'm doing wrong? Thanks!


It may be your expectations.  In your scope you won't see vast clouds of stars.  What you'll see is best described as a "dim fuzzy" ball of cotton. My guess is that you are seeing these, but they are not impressive.

Try starting with the brightest objects like M42 thr Orion Nebulae...which should at least shows some dim form even in a small scope.

You now know why amateur astronomers are always interested in bigger scopes: they gather more light, and make dim objects easier to see!

Hope that helps.  Let me know how you get on.

Paul Wagner

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Paul, thanks for your answer. I don't even seem to see dim or fuzzy things through the telescope. Whenever I try to look at things like the Orion Nebulae I see nothing but a flat black space. I can't make out any shapes or spots at all. Is that normal on a clear night?

HI Liz

OK--I have only one other suggestion.  Make sure that you are using the lowest possible magnification when you are looking for/at these objects.  The Orion Nebula is almost the size of the moon, and if you are using a high-powered eyepiece it will actually be much harder to see.

So pick the eyepiece with the largest number on it (should be about 25mm or so--the higher the number, the lower the magnification...) and use that to look for the nebula.  

With this scope the nebula should appear as a dim cloudy glow around a small nucleus of stars.

Give that a try, and let me know what happens.

Paul Wagner  


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Paul Wagner


Astronomy and telescope making. Have made at least seven telescopes, both refractors and reflectors, and have spent 30 years looking at the nighttime sky.

©2016 All rights reserved.