I am often asked if the deep sky images shown below are what one sees when looking through the eyepiece of a telescope. Unfortunately, the answer is no. You will be greatly disappointed when you gaze through a telescope expecting to see these images. They will appear as nothing more than fuzzy grey patches; if they appear at all. Only in very long duration photos where the photons of light can be captured over time will the true beauty of these deep sky objects be revealed.
For instance, if you view the Rosette Nebula through a very large scope, you will only see the central stars of the nebula. The beautiful structure surrounding the central stars will not be visible. To give you an idea of the process I went through to get the Rosette image please look at the video I created at the end of this page. It will start out showing the central stars as I mentioned above and then the grey area of the nebula emerges in long duration camera exposures. The rose then blooms in the final post processing phase. My mother passed away in 2012 and to honor her I created this video since she adored roses. I think she would have enjoyed this nebula. Her image, when she was a young woman, appears at the end of the video.
Of course the moon and planets are a different thing altogether and they look gorgeous when you see them on an evening when the atmosphere is stable. That's because these objects are relatively close to the earth. A view of the Moon or Saturn through the eyepiece of a telescope is an awe inspiring moment for sure. Take a look at the images below of the Moon, Saturn and Mars. This is what you may see on a night of good seeing through a modest size telescope. All the images below were taken with a small 4" diameter refracting telescope except where noted in the captions.