The moon is easy to find, but it will always be helpful to know when the moon will rise or set for your date, time and location. There are many moon calendars available online, or free to download to a smartphone or tablet. During the crescent phases, mountain ranges are more obvious, and even the smallest craters have terrific detail. When the moon is full or near-full, sunlight is shining straight down onto the lunar surface, casting fewer shadows and making it more difficult to see surface details, but rays coming out of younger craters are easier to see. If one of your goals is to explore the moon with an LTP telescope, we recommend scheduling your checkout so the moon will be in good position for viewing.
Saturn and Jupiter are certainly the best. Using an LTP telescope, you should be able to see Saturn’s rings and four of Jupiter’s moons and some of its bands. The “tonight” page of the EarthSky website is a good place to learn when these, and other planets, are visible in the sky and how to find them.
Bright comets are fairly rare, but the StarBlast is particularly well suited for viewing them. If one is in the sky, the EarthSky “tonight” page or This Weeks Sky will be useful in helping you find it.
These are objects far beyond the solar system. Objects of this kind include distant galaxies and gaseous nebulae. Unlike the moon and planets, it will take some effort to find a suitable viewing location to see these faint objects. The further away from the city you can get, the better. To view these objects, you should consider going to a state park, a national forest overlook, a small town park, a farm, or visit us at the River Ridge Observatory on a club meeting night.
Below is a list of deep sky objects most suitable for viewing with an LTP telescope. This is actually about half of a larger list of objects compiled by the eighteenth-century astronomer, Charles Messier, who made the first catalog of deep sky objects. He actually had no idea what they were! His intention was to discover comets, so he cataloged these objects to insure that he would not mistake them for comets in his later observations.
His telescope was FAR inferior to the Orion StarBlast, and the objects listed here are the brightest among his list, so feel empowered! Of course, you are by no means limited to just these objects. Feel free to explore!
And of course there are countless stars available to view. Most of them simply look like points of light and not much more, but some are more interesting. The Pleiades is a star cluster that has some gas around them, which is only visible from very dark skies. Albireo, which appears to the naked eye as a single star, is actually two stars orbiting each other. You can find lots more interesting objects like these using software described here.