Screen Version

What Can You See Through a Telescope?

For most things, it depends on its size!

Saturn The Moon
Any Telescope Over 6
Inches in Diameter:
Saturn Surface of the Moon

Spiral Galaxy M51 Star Cluster M13 Nebula M8
6-Inch Diameter
M51 with no details M13 with stars resolved on the edge M8 with some nebulosity
10-Inch Diameter
M51 showing some brightness variation M13 with many stars resolved M8 with nebulosity
16-Inch Diameter
M51 showing spiral arms M13 with stars resolved all the way into the center M8 with lots of nebulosity

These pictures represent the view under dark skies—without the moon or city lights. The galaxy, star cluster, and nebula will look much worse if the sky isn't completely black. Likewise, the planets and moon will look less sharp if the atmosphere isn't still. Also, these pictures look different on each monitor, so it's impossible to make them 100% accurate for everyone.