What Can You Expect To See Through A Telescope

What Can I See Through A Telescope?

Astronomy is a lifetime hobby that can be enjoyed by everyone from young children to the oldest among us from all walks of life and interests. You can observe and document the heavens any way you want. You can even take part in scientific studies at your leisure. It is a great way to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family.

While you are enjoying the night sky, you may be wondering if you can see the same brilliant and amazing stuff professional astronomers see in telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope. Will you be able to see the same nebulae, planetary features, galaxies and the other beautiful phenomena you enjoy watching on the Internet and television?

First of all, do not expect to see things exactly the same way as the professionals. Their photos come from very long and tedious exposures using state-of-the-art CCD cameras with telescopes far more sophisticated and expensive than the ones you can get as an amateur.

This is not to say you can’t see some beautiful things, far from it. There are still many awesome views you can get even with the least powerful equipment available. These include:

moon   sun   comet   saturn

The Moon

Most telescopes provide a good view of the moon. Craters and detailed surface is visible clearly on a good cloudless night.


The Sun

Remember to always use solar filter if you want to see the sun. 



This is an image from NASA. It would require a lot of photo processing with normal telescope. You will be able to see a streak but not that bright



This is Saturn, as seen through the telescope, with no post processing. Captured with at least 114mm aperture telescope with an eyepiece.

Detailed surface of the sun or planet can be seen by merging several images with a photography technique called bracketing and a software to blend them into one. Having a bigger telescope certainly helps too.

binary stars   galaxy   nebula   star clusters

Binary Stars

A star system with 2 stars orbiting around their common center of mass. Sometimes they could just be double stars (optical illusion) far away from each other, from from where you stand they look close. 



It is best to use reflector telescopes to view deep sky objects like this. are great for kids to learn about the vastness of space.



They appear as bright (slightly vague) bright patch. With bracketing photography, combining hundreds of frames, the image will have detailed view. 


Star Clusters

A vast region in space, packed with stars. You'd need a large telescope to view this in detail. Of course, more details can be seen with post processing. 


How Do I Identify Objects?

Identifying objects in the night sky is an art that you learn through practice.

The first thing you need to do is to get an updated star map for your area and make sure it is relevant to the Southern Hemisphere! For example, this one. There maps will show you where objects are in the sky and when they will be visible. Study the map and the sky and get familiar with few of the landmarks.

The next step is identifying what you want to see. There are hundreds of objects you can see every night, and no guide will be able to show them all. Fortunately, there are thousands of websites and videos all over the internet that will point you in the right direction provided you know what you are looking for. Pick an object from the list in the above section and then search for them.

What Can I Expect To See Tonight?

What you can see will depend on many things, but the main issues with be the telescopes aperture size, its focal length, the focal length of your eyepiece, your location, and your observational skills. The aperture size and focal length are fixed when you buy the telescope. However, you are free to replace the eyepiece as needed to get the best views you can get. As for your skills, they come from practice. The more you observe the night sky, the better you will get at identifying things.

As for location, that is a different matter. The sky is different wherever you are and therefore the things you get to see will vary from place to place. This goes beyond the light pollution you get in urban areas. While you can always take a trip to where the sky is dark, you will only be able to see the stuff visible from your area.

In order to know what’s available in your area, we suggest you check out a night sky guide such as the Annual Australian Night Sky Guide. The $26.95 Australia Night Sky Guide and resources like it provide a handy map to the heavens in your area. With it, and the help of your local astronomy club, you will be gazing at the heavens like a pro before you know it.

Astronomy Night Sky Guide 2019