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  1. I am fascinated by M57 - maybe because its the first nebula i could readily identify in a scope... ANy picture to me looks good.. I don't think you need to recycle, can you just edit you post processing settings? reduce brightness/contrast a little?
  2. Pondus, I am, its things like this that I wanted to do when I was a kid and couldn't. My daughter, 5, has already memorized all the planets in the solar system (in one week), how many moons, how many we can see, and simple facts of each planet. She loves looking at Jupiter, and even woke her up (to the wife's dismay) to see Saturn. Wish I had parents like me :D. Wife is even into it now too, and neighbors have already come to take a gander and been impressed. Splitting Rasalgethi last night and seeing different colors was actually quite exciting too, I'm going to enjoy doubles more than I thought I would.
  3. Last night was probably my last night before I go back on the other side of the world for a few more months. No more good viewing (above 70% with no clouds for the rest of the week). INCREDIBLE night. 84% Quality on Sky Live. Crystal Clear Skies! I really have very little Light Polution - less than I think LP maps give me credit. They site 42% LP, I'd say it feels much less- nothing like growing up on the farm, but good enough. Dew became a huge issue on EPs that were in my transport wagon, despite 2X high cardboard around wagone to combat dew. Ayy EP that sat for more than 30m required a good 10min wrapped in my hands before it was warm enough to undew. Funny Pun . Started storing the most used in my pockets with caps on. By 2am my AVX mount started doing some weird slewing stuff, suddenly shifting directions for a second and then going another direction. I thought it was slipping, dew on the mount? But then I looked at the dew controller for the dew shield on the scope and the red light was dimming 75% when it did that, I think my 7ah Power Tank was pretty much out of juice 4.5 hours use..... Next size up is 17ah at 22lbs UGH.. I stopped after I saw my last glob, didn't want to risk damage to the mount/motor from underpower while slewing? Definitely scared me when it started sarcastically trying to slew. I DEFINITELY want better EPs, despite what people say, I used 6mm and 8mm with and without Barlow extensively last night. 6 was PERFECT for planets. For some reason I never thought to try the 8mm with 2x Barlow on Jupiter or Saturn, and never touched 8x on Saturn. Need to. Question: Am I insane for thinking 6mm with 2x Barlow on saturn was actually not bad? 781x Mag, could see clear ring split and some atmospheric change on the sphere. at 6mm (391x) Saturn was absolutely ASTONISHING!!! Clear planet - but took a while to get the perfect focus on the stock focuser - once I got it I was giddy like a schoolgirl! Actually took a video with my iphone at 6mm 2x Barlow for facebook, turned out not bad at all! WTF. I thought at this Mag, listening to people talk it would be a fuzzball. While the video showed clear ring split about 2/3rd out of the ring and some faint atmospheric differences, even in the EP it was clear as day. 6mm was definitely the best though, I feel like if I had a really good EP at that FL I could see more than one ring split? Is ring split even the right term? AT the end of the night as I looked through my notes I do feel like I spent too much time with the 6mm, but I really wanted to get a feel for it, as most people sayd 300x+ should be the best I can expect, but darn near 400x was surprisingly great. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE: any recommended targets for the future in 4 months time? Anything I should try? And any recommendation to what else I should be looking for or recording in my OBS? Here's my field notes from Sky Safari: List: 9-10 May 2017 Jupiter (Planet in Virgo) Observed: May 9, 2017, 9:21:47 PM Comment: First night with new 1.25" kit. Quality or lack thereof shows, particularly in the 6mm. Potential for it to be an issue with the climate is low. Viewing was near perfect in the 8m of jupiter. Never thought i would see this much clarity. Three moons in view with the planet in tight arrangement. Planet itself is marvelous. Two primary band show without effort. Red spot not visible atm, must be on other side :(. Can see smaller storms within the two bands however. Can also see smaller bands/polar band and one more above in image of band where red spot should be. Hint of one more band and atmospheric differences on opposite. Wow!, 4 bands easy, 5 bands total? Update: went back with 6mm, opinion changed a little, not bad at all - focus is extremely finicky, if its not exactly on point its not as good, possible the issue before. 8mm may be better, hard to tell. Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 8mm Plossl. Hercules Cluster - Messier 13 (Globular Cluster in Hercules) Observed: May 9, 2017, 9:48:31 PM Comment: Absolutely fills view of the 13mm. Feels like it has four or five arms to it that spread from the epicenter. Cluster of stars in the center are intrigueing, i feel like i see them better when not looking directly at them. Same for cloudiness if the center of cluster, interesting phenomenom. Went back a second time an hour later with the 6mm and the 1.25 2x barlow to get a tight view of the center. WOW. Reservations about 6mm gone, it is just a bitch to focus on stock sct. Thats 783x at 3mm with a full moon. Or is my math wrong? Low light pollution but low elevation, sitting at 70meters. I can see stars. Plenty of them. Whole object view is imposssible at this mag, purely the center.. but still tons of stars in it, some so faint to observe others clear as day Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 13mm Plossl Vega - Alpha Lyrae (Variable Double Star in Lyra) Observed: May 9, 2017, 10:05:13 PM Comment: Wanted to take the 6mm out for a star. Definitiely convinced it might be the EP quality being low. On a collimation check, i saw intense chromatic abboration, like a rainbow strobe across the whole donut from start to just past 1/2 EP size when it evened back out to white. Collimation shows good, so there is no issue with short one hour trips in minivan and orig shipping container. Back to star, bright.. actually good point of reference, and usefull for checks on system. Manual finder is spot on. Starsense put it 1/2 view of 13mm. Good enough. Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 6mm/13mm Plossl. HD 171485 (Double Star in Lyra) Observed: May 9, 2017, 10:22:29 PM Comment: Further testing 6mm and the barlow. Not bad, hard to achieve true focus but a feel a little better about it. I can see three of the four stars in this tight arrangement, the 11magnitude is just shy of my observation with a full moon, but the 10 is visible. 171485 is clearly the brighter of the grouping. Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 6mm Plossl. w/ and w/out Barlow Ring Nebula - Messier 57 (Planetary Nebula in Lyra) Observed: May 9, 2017, 10:53:57 PM Comment: Best observation of M57 ring achieved yet. 2" EPs only showed small blob, faint ringlike appearance as before. 8mm is extremely dim but best view 13mm brighter but harder to see ringiness closeup, clear ring just on edge of observability, below 8mm is pointless in full moon, 25mm required to find. Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 13mm Plossl Rasalgethi - Alpha Herculis (Variable Double Star in Hercules) Observed: May 9, 2017, 11:30:17 PM Comment: Wanted to see difference in split with lower focal length pieces. 6mm with and without barlow reveals clear split. Primary star is yellowish in color. Secondary is white. Slight blur with 6mm and barlow Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 6mm Plossl w/ /wout Barlow Messier 4 (Globular Cluster in Scorpius) Observed: May 9, 2017, 11:46:22 PM Comment: 25mm reveals few stars. Moon too close. Only after a long look i see hint of cluster Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 25mm Plossl Saturn (Planet in Sagittarius) Observed: May 9, 2017, 11:52:25 PM Comment: Ok, liking 6mm more. Saturn shows good detail. Still low in horizon but i can see a clear split in the rings. I can see titan, clearly off to the side. Rhea and Tethys tight near one another opposite side from titan. Pretty sure im seeing dione, as encyladus is too close, haze or reflection of light from saturn is blocking. Mimas is not visible, too close to rings? Damn beautiful despite atmospheric turbulence. Can definitely detect differences in saturns atmosphere. Definitely lose resolution at 3mm adding the Barlow. But still see split in rings. Atmosphere differences are almost too minute to detect at this mag 1240am update. Little higher. Much less disturbance. Clearly see ring split at 6mm and not bad at all at 3. 6mm definitely shows good atmosphere shift now. 391x Mag on the 6 is actually quite superb once focus is nailed. What would the difference be with a real eyepiece versus the kit? At 3mm, roughly 783x mag, still shows minor detail in atmosphere, ring split still visible albeit less clear - better focuser helps - too touchy on stock. How can it still look this good so far past recommended 555x? Possibly best mag achievable in my location is 400x, definitely surprised - very happy with telescope at this point. Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 6mm Plossl Bode's Nebulae - Messier 81 (Spiral Galaxy in Ursa Major) Observed: May 10, 2017, 12:59:15 AM Comment: Appears in 26mm as faint smudgy star. 6mm shows larger smudge with a brighter core. 8mm shows better detail. 13fogged up Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 6mm Plossl Whirlpool Galaxy - Messier 51 (Spiral Galaxy in Canes Venatici) Observed: May 10, 2017, 1:20:03 AM Comment: Very faint at 26 13 and 8mm. Long observation at 8 reveals some hint. Moon is brighter than sky safari at this point. I could read a novel in it. Must try to see these at new moon Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 6mm Plossl Blinking Planetary Nebula - NGC 6826 (Planetary Nebula in Cygnus) Observed: May 10, 2017, 1:24:34 AM Comment: Looks like a hazy star that loses in the haze until you look away and back again. Blinking effect is very cool. Shifting focus to nearby star in the 8mm works fine. Looks like any other star at 25mm. At 6 and 3mm the effect is very pronounced. Center completely vanishes until a blink or looking at other star nearby Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 8mm Plossl 16 Cygni (Double Star in Cygnus) Observed: May 10, 2017, 1:42:40 AM Comment: Quite far apart, even at 13mm. 8 mm to center then jumped to 3mm. Wide split, both appear rekatively same with very small difference in magnitude. Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 8mm Plossl Messier 92 (Globular Cluster in Hercules) Observed: May 10, 2017, 1:50:47 AM Comment: 25mm reveales a small cluster, easily defined. Drilling into 8mm shows clear defined stars and a central structure typical of globs. At 6mm with the 2x barlow wombo combo for globs, there is an incredibly detailed crental structure, with a nebula like look to it as it envelops numerous visible stars and drifts around the edge of visibility. Dropping back to 6mm offers hints of stars leading outward from main cluster. 8mm seems to be the best clear view of the glob, showing both good central structure and outward laying stars. Want good EPs now! Location: Home. Pond Location Equipment: 9.25. 8mm Plossl
  4. Had the most amazing night out on the beach - almost cloudless skies, little to no haze, Sky Live says 48% Light Pollution, but felt much less. Clear Horizon just about all the way across and a full moon. Was saving the moon for the end of the night, since I'd be near blind by the time I was done but dew build up forced me to terminate (parked the mount about 20ft shy of my 120ft outdoor extension cable's reach from a pavilion near the parkinglot - note to self - measure extension reach first!) Dew shield arrived today, so hopefully a blowdryer won't be so necessary as often. I kept the 25mm PL in with the barlow most of the night, swapped around with the 40mm 2" a little, and tried the 32mm only to go back to the 25mm. My 1.25" cheapo kit came today with one or two more viewing nights left for me on my vacation, I think I'll enjoy the lower Focals, should help me decide what I want to start with when I get back. I'l experiment with them tonight and take notes so I can figure out what it looks like I am using the most. I decided to make observation notes on the better stuff I saw in Sky Safari on my iPad. I'll share. I did not record OBS for Saturn and Jupiter but remember well. Saturn seemed a little less impressive at first than from home - but I could have swore I began to see some variation in its atmosphere with the 25mm and Barlow - still trying to figure out the moons, I can definitely see at least one well, and a few more really faint but don't know if they are moons or further stars - need to do extended obs to verify. I feel like Titan is further away than I think and might not be visible in my FOV with the 25mm 2x Barlow centered on the planet? JUPITER - oh how I love you! Today I made out 4 clear bands and a hint of a fifth near the south pole. Red spot was clear as day, went back to measure the transit about 3 hours later, cleared close half of the planet's visible side. Moves fast! Maybe a little less than half, was only an afterthought on the second viewing. 4 moons Crystal clear again, I love seeing them in a different arrangement every night, really shows you how much they move in a day. All this with the 25mm PL and Barlow, so that puts me at 188x. Oh I'm giddy about looking tonight with the 1.25 pieces I picked up and can't wait to look some day with an actual good EP. GSC 4953-1119 (Star in Virgo) Observed: May 8, 2017, 10:26:06 PM Comment: Sitting near jup moon callisto. Barely visible with 25mm plossl and barlow 2x. So faint. Skies clear, slightest haze from sea air but still better view of jupiter than home.. surprised i can see it. Wonder if i can find again at home. Sky live sites 83% viewing quality. Location: Henderson State Park, User Defined Equipment: 9.25. 25mm Plossl. 2x Barlow Hercules Cluster - Messier 13 (Globular Cluster in Hercules) Observed: May 8, 2017, 11:10:58 PM Comment: Startedwith 2" 40mm. Actually used this to drill down the alignment on my mount manually to make starsense more accurate since manual align is only getting so close. Always visual is just 1/4 off.. So beautiful. Took it to the 25mm plossl and 2x barlow. Fits just in. For every minute i spend looking i swear i can count a dozen more stars. My favorite glob so far Location: Henderson State Park, User Defined Equipment: 9.25. 25mm Plossl, 40mm 2" Cor Caroli - Alpha2 Canum Venaticorum (Variable Double Star in Canes Venatici) Observed: May 8, 2017, 11:50:28 PM Comment: Clearly split. Feels about 1/4 inch apart. Both stars bright, main star about double or triple magnitude of secondary. Location: Henderson State Park, User Defined Equipment: 9.25. 25mm Plossl. 2x Barlow Alfirk - Beta Cephei (Variable Double Star in Cepheus) Observed: May 8, 2017, 11:59:59 PM Comment: Easily split in the 25mm PL with barlow. Primary star is four times the brightness of secondary. Less than 1/4" apart Location: Henderson State Park, User Defined Equipment: 9.25. 25mm Plossl. 2x Barlow Rasalgethi - Alpha Herculis (Variable Double Star in Hercules) Observed: May 9, 2017, 12:11:37 AM Comment: Resolved easily in 25mm PL with barlow. 1/8" apart. Primary is two to three times brighter. Two other stars at edge of view resolve well too, nice to look at Location: Henderson State Park, User Defined Equipment: 9.25. 25mm Plossl. 2x Barlow Messier 5 (Globular Cluster in Serpens) Observed: May 9, 2017, 12:17:29 AM Comment: Almost missed it. Star sense was off by enough to put it just out of view on the 25mm pl barlow. Shifted around and detected a very faint hit of a glob. Sat watching for a min and was able to see a good bit more detail. Went to car and got hoodie. Note to self... hoodie is amazing for isolating extraneous light like the moon. Got a better view, want to see more again later without moonlight Location: Henderson State Park, User Defined Equipment: 9.25. 25mm Plossl. 2x Barlow Messier 3 (Globular Cluster in Canes Venatici) Observed: May 9, 2017, 12:46:23 AM Comment: Near zenith. Perfect night to view, resolves well in the 25mm pl barlow. Fills a quarter of the EP easy, longer viewing reveals a thinner cloud of stars than initial view thatextends further out. Larger stars clearly visible in cluster Location: Henderson State Park, User Defined Equipment: 9.25. 25mm Plossl. 2x Barlow Messier 53 (Globular Cluster in Coma Berenices) Observed: May 9, 2017, 12:59:55 AM Comment: Unimpressive glob. Possibly haze/cloud issue. Location: Henderson State Park, User Defined Equipment: 9.25. 25mm Plossl | 40mm 2" 2x Barlow
  5. SO after I looked at some more info about Spica, I'm pretty sure at this point it was my eyes playing tricks on me. Last night I noticed some stars I couldn't get a good focus on sometimes - made them look like a tight double even though they arent, but at other times I could nail the focus perfectly. I'll practice more with it - could have been the barlow that comes with Celestron's 2" kit. After hearing Dave talk about the TV Barlow, that might be my next investment after a baader clicklock and their diagonal. Unless someone has a better suggestion for a diagonal. I can already tell I'll prefer clicklock over screws. I thought more about it, and in the interest of time, I picked up the 1.25" kit too just to get a taste for the eyepiece fl differences. Its relatively cheap, and I know cost and performance are very relative to one another. For now I can justify it as an intro kit, get me used to the focal lengths, and then can let that be the eyepieces my daughters use as they grow up. For now she is content just looking, but I know her well enough that in a years time she is going to want to do too. I'm much more comfortable letting her handle an eye piece set thats effectively $20 each over something that is 200+ per. I only have another week before I have to leave for work for 4 more months, so this gives me something to reference and ponder while I'm gone. On another note, I found M51 and M104 last night. 104 was fairly clear despite the moon, but I had to sit on M51 and its cousin for a bit before I could make out some details on the 26mm with and without the 2x Barlow. I got a much better view of Saturn, and could make out Titan as a small dot of light (possibly a second, but don't know which), as well as Jupiter and its moons. Despite the moon being closer to Jupiter tonight, I felt like I was able to make out a lot more detail this time around.
  6. May not of been, it was ridiculously close - could have just been my eyes too
  7. Ok, so I think I was describing my problem wrong in regards to using the barlow. The Eye relief is the issue, I feel like the range where my eye can be and still view well is fine with any of the 2" pieces in the kit, but as soon as I add the barlow I have about a 2mm range my eye has to be in. Any more or less than that range and i can't see anything. ie. if my optimum eye relief is 20mm from the eye piece, I add the barlow and i need to be like 10-12mm away and I only have a forgiveness of 1-2mm. If i move a little outside or inside that, the image gets funky (can't see the whole view or gets warped) but without the barlow I have much more forgiveness.. like 8mm either direction.
  8. Lmao. Barlow! AC changed it on me every time lol
  9. I'm new to this.... total newb - so bear with me. Setup: C9.25 AVX w/ Starsense | 40mm, 32mm, 26mm 2" w/ Barlow | 25mm PL 1.25" After a cloudy night in which I only saw Jupiter for a brief second, and a second night resulting in being unable to set up starsense and only seeing Jupiter and its moons with my daughter I finally had a good night! Starsense has been an issue, and I think i pinpointed it down, I was calibrating with the HC and then trying to use SkySafari to goto - I don't think you can do this? The end result was me always manually slewing 1/4 of the sky and only being able to lock in on Jupiter and Spica (didn't realize it was a double until i looked for a few seconds - suprise!). As I began to give up on goto features I took the time to look at Luna, and fell in love with the detail I was getting on all eyepieces with and without the barrow. Around 1am, after I was determined to see more than Jupiter (of which I was able to make out 4 bands, the red spot, 4 moons vary obviously changing position every time I looked at it after messing with settings and eyepiece) I reset the ASPA on the HC and disconnected it. I then aligned with SkySafari -> Starsense and calibrated on Spica (only one i was 100% sure of identifying by myself) It started tracking extremely well. I felt like a kid again!! I found the ring nebula (M57) AMAZING!! Saw Hercules Cluster (M13), And even got to see Saturn - which I woke up the wife and almost woke up my daughter to see. Wifey was amazed but half asleep - I was damn giddy. Crystal clear in the 26mm with the Barlow albeit I wished I had slightly higher mag. I kept going back to the Ring Nebula, it was the only Messier object I could see well with a tree in the way and rude neighbors with floodlights blocking out the horizon. I really wanted to get better detail on it. It felt a little overly blury, but I feel like that was more because it was so small and my eyes were getting tired. AT the end of the night I saw Venus rising and got a great look at it, like a mini moon, and had to call it a night/morning. A few things and questions: I noticed that when I use the barrow, it's hard to get my eye the right distance from the eyepiece - is this because the Barlow cuts my pupil diameter in half? Why is this. Makes me really not want to use a barlow unless absolutely necessary 26mm is nowhere near enough! On the 9.25, that comes out to 90x mag/180x with the 2x Barlow - which I already am not too much a fan of using. I found unless I was looking at the moon, the 26mm/Barlow stayed in the tube almost the whole night after I got goto working. from 1am-4am, it didn't leave. I live in florida, but have some of the clearest and least light polluted skies in the pandhandle. Despite the low elevation, I think I can push the limits of my scope to 280/300x. I understand you lose some definition at higher mags, especially on planets/luna - but what about globs/galaxies/nebulae? While I was giddy at seeing the Ring Nebula, I was also dissappointed I didn't get celestron's cheap 1.25" kit for the higher mag pieces (the 2" Kit, while I prefer the 2" lenses does not do the 9.25 justice) Because I really want to see other DSOs, as well as Jupiter/Saturn slightly larger to get some more detail, what 2 EPs should I shoot for next. One for DSOs, one for Planets. Will a single 2" EP fit the bill with what I already have covered without a 2x Barrow? 5-600$ limit for now per EP Moon - its darn near full right now I feel like anything close to the moon than 1/6 of the sky was invisible as a result - unfortunately I redeploy in a week for 4 more months, so this is the only time I have to play. On little to no moon nights, how much more can I expect to see, would M57 and M13 be more clear/defined, they weren't too close to the moon. Dew..... I have a heated dew shield and controller being overnighted - I wish there was a big red flag when I was buying my first OTA that said get a dew shield! Blow Dryer worked fine with a 100ft extension cord to get it out there, and actually came in handle for the starsense and eyepieces as well... need to find a small portable dc blowdryer that will connect to the powertank! I'm so darn excited!!!! I can't wait to see more. C9.25 AVX w/ Starsense | 40mm, 32mm, 26mm 2" w/ Barlow | 25mm PL 1.25"
  10. Dave, thanks! I just double checked the Celestron site, and for the 2" kit, they specifically say it fits all of their SCT OTAs, other refractors and Newtonian need another piece or a 2" focuser. So looks like I will be good to go. some of the products shipped from amazon llc, but the scope came from Adorama. I will be sure to send an email their way, and if everything works great, I'll even send them a thank you. Everything should be here by the third, so hopefully I have some clear skies to work with before my leave ends.
  11. Dave, thanks for the reply! I bought from Amazon since I'm in Kuwait. Or was, traveling home now. From what I read on the celestron website the celestron 2" diagonal fits the back of the C9.25. The celestron 2" diagonal is included in their 2" kit
  12. Alright. I settled on the Celestron C9.25 XLT on the AVX mount. Theres an article here here floating around mentioning others popular advice to just buy something at some point and it was good enough to convince me. The week after next is perfect for viewing and I will be home on vacation so timing was... yeah. Why not? Everyone seems to have nothing but good things to say about the 9.25 as well I was itching for the 11, but I think it may be a hair too big and already pushes the AVX close to its limit, and I've read enough to know how frustrating that becomes with stability/wind. The 9.25 sits at 10lbs under recommended which gives me room for a 2" eyepiece set and some to spare. If I really wanted, I could try some AP, but I'm not gonna make a huge effort to it in the start. I just want to enjoy what I can see. Picked up the 2" eyepiece set celestron sells. I can upgrade later based on needs I actually confirm I want versus blind recommendations. Other accessories picked up were the power tank, the wireless network adapter to use my iPad with the goto on sky safari as I learn to work stuff and show my daughter what she's looking at in the sky. And I dropped a few on celestrons 2inch t adapter and t rig for a canon eos series since they are cheap. Im curious about star sense, is it worth it?
  13. Yeah, I'm gonna get the C9.25 on an Advanced VX. If I chose to move into astrophotography, I can always upgrade the mount much later or put a different scope on the AVX. My next question, if I buy the 2" Eyepiece Kit that Celestron makes, will I need anything special for the 1.25" visual back it has? Or does the diagonal take care of that? https://www.amazon.com/Celestron-94305-Two-inch-Eyepiece-Filter/dp/B000A3OPTE/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1493480433&sr=1-1&keywords=celestron+2"+kit edit: or am I better off buying a 2" Visual Back.. they are cheap - is that all I would need for the celestron 2" kit?
  14. It seems like 2" eyepieces would solve this problem, no? I may be misunderstanding the purpose of the 2", but my impression is they do give a wider FOV. On a C11, say, it wouldn't suffer from the vignetting a C8 has. Either way, I definitely want to start out with a GEM. The more I look the more i realize their advanced vx line is a much better starting position than the nexstar line with those weird mounts. Astrophotography is a long way off for me, and visual observation is much more important. Thank you for your advice
  15. I've always been interested in astronomy, ever since I was a child. Turns out I made a better software engineer than an astrophysicist/aerospace engineer. That's ok.. I love my job! I have two young daughters and I don't want them to go through the same experience I had when I was a child. My parents, the cheapskates they were bought the dept store $60 special and I never touched a telescope again for 24 years. My purchases are for me, with the intent of educating my daughters, and the oldest who just turned 5 is fascinated by space. I want her to explore that fascination better than I did when I was a child. I'm familiar with the basics, been doing research for about a month. I did the same amount before I jumped into photography as a hobby and love my Canon 5D mk II 8 years later. But, when I started, I made the mistake I used to make often - I'll buy something to get me by, and started with a rebel, then a canon 20d, and then the 5d. I never touched the rebel again, never touched the 'decent' lenses, and only use the 20d occasionally if i wanted faster shutter speed but haven't touched it in 2 years. The end result was I regretted the initial purchases and wished I would have just gotten the 5D first. I'm wary of repeating that same mistake with a telescope. one day I would love to do some astrophotography, the 5D mkII used to be a legend for that, but taking the advice of Ed Ting, I'll resist. For now. Final bit: We live in Panhandle Florida minutes away from the ocean, where we live has limited light pollution and I can get to zero pretty easily with a short drive - unfortunately I'm still sitting very close to sea level. On the good side, we do occasionally make trips home to the Blue Ridge mountains in Virginia, so that will be a great reason to haul a scope on a trip. I am currently deployed in Kuwait, and will probably get a 7x50 or 10x50 sent out to me just to start out until the end of my deployment. My starting budget is $3k, and I have a stipend of an extra $250 per month that I put into any hobby type projects I'm doing - used to be Magic the gathering- but I have since quit for the 4th time. Now that I've said ALL of that, I have some questions. I'm settled on an SCT. I don't think there's any talking me out of it, maybe someone can. I noticed some Celestrons have a bottom rail, while others do not. it seems as if I buy a NexStar, then I'm stuck with one arm bandit mounts - and there's not a chance of using a later upgraded German EQ? While I feel like a Celestron 8" would be a great place to start, but something keeps pulling me to the 9.25 or 11 inch. I know from many many posts I've read that images seen from cameras are never what we see with out eyes, takes many shots and long exposure times to produce that. I have seen some examples of what to expect visual out of a 4inch refractor, but can't find any good visual only comparisons of different SCT sizes. Specifically 6, 8, 9.25, and 11. While each brand differs slightly, it does seem like celestron is prefered for SCTs? I keep looking at their Advanced VX and CPC lines - because something feels off about the NexStar lines that I can't put my finger on, and am curious where the real differences are outside of the mount? Any other advice?
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