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About Girders

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  1. Hi Lee, I came very close to buying the Bresser as my first scope a couple of years back but like you couldn't find much info/reviews on them. In the end I found an offer on a Heritage 114p Virtuouso mini dobsonian for around the same price that also gave me tracking (and the ability to add GoTo later using a skywatcher wifi module for another £50). I figured that was worth trading for the smaller aperture. Like your Cometron 76mm, the 5" Bresser is a "tabletop" scope so would need to sit on a stable garden table etc (as otherwise you would need to be lying/crouching on the ground as the eyepiece will only be around 70cm off the ground). I think what Louis was suggesting was that you may be able to mount the entire scope - dobsonian base included - on a solid photographic tripod. I had a quick look at the specs but couldn't see any confirmation of being able to mount the whole set up on a tripod, but it is a common feature on the Skywatcher equivalents. Are there reasons you are looking at the tabletop size or would a 'full height' dobsonian be an option - Skywatcher Skyliner 150 is around the same price as the Bresser. My basic understanding is that any dobsonian is going to be of limited use for astrophotography as without tracking you'd be limited to short exposures - so no galaxies etc. Sorry - can't comment on the astromaster at all.
  2. That's good advice you've been given, but I'd add a few thoughts from my experience with my daughter (4 when we got a scope and now 6). My scope is a small 114mm dobsonian scope and for me that's the minimum size to give satisfactory results for a kid (and lots of adults). Even with that the planets are tiny and I can just about make out Saturn's rings and hints of Jupiter's bands. In order to see this you need to be looking at high magnification - and the planets will quickly drift across the eyepiece and out of view. It's quite a skill to 'nudge' or move the scope to keep the target object in view - and a hard skill for even older kids to master. If you can stretch money-wise to a telescope with a tracking mount it makes things much easier if you find the planet or star and it will still be in view when you let your daughter have a look. The other thing I have learned - and wish I'd really understood before hand - is just how rarely the telescope can be used by young children. So often the best time to view the planets is silly-o'clock in the middle of the night. And depending on where you are the nights with good weather are few and far between. In two years I've probably managed about 30 nights out - but only half a dozen or so of those have been at a time I could have my daughter out with me - and probably only three or four times she saw more than the moon. Smaller and less expensive scopes at the 76mm size will be fine for the moon and using lower magnification it won't drift out of view so quickly. It's a brilliant hobby for any space mad kid, but please have realistic expectations of what you can easily do - and assess your spending accordingly. I'd also just point you in the direction of other ways you can help your daughter's interest in space stuff. I've bought mine a couple of small meteorite fragments that she loves holding and looking at. And these can be got relatively inexpensively: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/meteorites.html and for me would be a better option than a "name a star" certificate. But in the end, you know your daughter best as to what level of interest she's likely to have and maintain, and seriously well done for wanting to help with her interest and for coming here and asking all the right questions! And if you aren't already watching Maddie & Greg Go Live on Youtube make sure she watches all their "Mission Space" shows from a couple of weeks back - I'm not ashamed to say that I learned more than a couple of things! Good Luck!
  3. Most of what I'd say has already been covered. I went for the Heritage 114 as I got a good offer on it, but my preference now would have been the Heritage 90 as my main interest is planets. I have a 6 year old daughter and the tracking the Virtuoso offers is essential for observing with small kids and even at 11 it will have huge benefits. As happy-kat has said, the Skywatcher wi-fi adapter is a nice addition but not really required for starting out or planetary observing. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars & Venus are all visible to the naked eye when in the sky so easy to locate with the scope. And the moon of course. PS - best addition to a new telescope you can give her is a warm fleecy jumper!
  4. Hi Mike, sorry I've only just spotted this thread. As someone who was in a similar situation 2 years ago (with a then 4 year old) I'd also recommend the Skywatcher Heritage 114p on the Virtuoso mount. It's a good size for kids to use and would be portable enough if you wanted to take it away from the back garden. But the big advantage it brings is tracking (additional mains plug or power tank required or it eats through batteries). Large dobsonians like the Skyliner 150 will no doubt give better views with their bigger aperture, but without tracking to keep what you're looking at in view of the eyepiece the target will very quickly drift out of view at the higher magnifications you'll want to use for planets. This can be hugely frustrating when trying to locate an object and then finding it's gone by the time your daughter is trying to look at it. Even a half decent effort setting up the scope will reward you with a target staying in view for much longer. I also found the motorised control of the scope to be much more controlled for locating targets than manually moving the scope. It also allows you to add on a Skywatcher wifi adapter (around £50) and then use a smartphone and app to turn it into a full goto scope. Unfortunately I've learned that just about everything relating to astronomy kit is about compromising. All you can do is try to pick out the things that matter most to you. At 8, your daughter may have the skills to nudge a big dob to keep things in view, and if you think so then it will be a great choice. If you think it's likely to be you doing most of the locating of targets and her then having a look, please give consideration to a scope with tracking ability. And I'll throw in one last complication - I chose my Heritage 114 because I got a great offer on it in a clearance, but if I'd had a straight up choice I'd probably have gone for the Heritage 90p Maksutov version which I'm lead to believe gives slightly better contrast for planets. Good luck with your choice.
  5. Like Peter, I've got the 114 Newtonian version (but may have gone for the Mak90 if I'd found it at same price). I've added the synscan WiFi and found it works well - although for planets you can find by sight the tracking on the mount is sufficient and I only hook up the synscan if I'm hoping to see something else (rare in my light polluted skies). I've never been tempted to use a tripod with it - just varying sizes of garden table. It has a reputation for racing through batteries so a DC adapter if you'll have an outside socket is an essential - or power tank type battery if you'll be using away from home.
  6. Interesting discussion. With very limited experience/equipment for astrophotography it hasn't really been an issue for me - all my lunar/planetary shots are single images - not really capable of being greatly improved by processing. But I think my guiding principle (for me) is that I want to replicate as closely as possible what I can see through the eyepiece. I have however had a similar dilemma with the northern lights. A few years back we had a great trip on the Hurtigruten Norwegian coastal ferry and saw some good (but not hugely strong) displays. Camera's capture the colour much better than the human eye - but the colours are genuine and very real, it's just our eyes do colour vision very poorly in low light. So I've got wonderfully colourful images - with almost no processing done other than noise reduction. But they have little resemblance to what we actually *saw*. Of course we have to 'show off' the best looking ones but I always make sure I explain to people that unless you are very very lucky they rarely look as colourful as that to the eye. And I think that's the important bit - to try not to set people up for disappointment when they try to repeat your view/image. Pic attached hopefully - left side the 'original' as per the camera and the right half is a quickly photoshopped version much closer to what we actually saw.
  7. I'll not weigh in on the benefits of the scopes suggested by others far more qualified than me. But I would give back to your comment regarding involving your almost 4 year old. My daughter has been involved in our stargazing since she was just over 4. In fact it was her interest in space that motivated out telescope purchase. And the big thing I've learned (fortunately before our ourchase) was that motorised tracking on a scope is a HUGE benefit if you are sharing viewing and (in my experience) essential if trying to let a little one view. You can manage fine without for the moon but the magnification required for the planets means they move across the field of vision too quickly. Even if YOU can manually track when viewing the kids won't be able to (at that age anyway). It just takes them too long to focus through the eyepiece and it's gone before you can be sure they ever saw it. And that's not even including the accidental nudges. If you can stretch to something with tracking (full go to not essential) I'd really reccomend it it intending to view with small children. And a smartphone adapter for live viewing rather than through an eyepiece makes a huge difference too. Great for the moon although tricky to line up well enough for planets. There have been a few threads on here talking about observing with small ones that will give more info on balancing the technical aspects with the specific needs of youngsters.
  8. Yep, I was going to suggest one of the scopes with the Virtuoso mini Dobson mount. Goto can be added later but I found tracking to make a huge difference to my early experiences.
  9. Glad it was helpful. And it's good to wait and not have to buy something under the pressure of Christmas. As various people on here told me - the stars will still be there when you and he are ready for a scope.
  10. Firstly - it's great that you're doing that. Meteorites. My 5 year old loves holding them. And what kid wouldn't love to hold a piece of a shooting star. The Camp Del Cielo ones in particular make a definite impression due to their surprising weight. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/meteorites.html
  11. Hi Jenb, I was exactly where you are now about a year ago with my then 4 year old daughter. After lots of research on advice on here I went for a Heritage 114p with the Virtuoso mount (which has motorised tracking). It doesn't have Goto (computer/smartphone control but you can add that later for around £60) https://www.firstlightoptics.com/heritage/skywatcher-heritage-114p-virtuoso.html At £175 it's a fair bit above your budget (and I started out with a 'hard' £100 limit too!) but I was really glad to have the tracking. Looking at the planets with high magnification they drift so quickly that it was really hard to handover to my daughter before we got round to setting the tracking up. She loves getting out to use the telescope but I really hadn't appreciated how rarely we would be able to get it out. Between clouds (and wind which makes it wobble too much), and the times of the planets rising and setting, and the long days over summer, combined with a 4/5 year old's bedtime restrictions makes it really tough. In the year she's probably only been able to view (a very tiny) Mars and (a very tiny) Jupiter a couple of times - and (a very very tiny but with visible rings) Saturn once. With my later bedtime I've been up and out there at all hours, but most of her experiences have been focused on the moon. Which she's fine with, but it's important to manage expectations. And viewing through eyepieces is tricky for the wee ones - even getting the 'one eye' viewing right it's still hard to look straight down the eyepiece. I often use a smartphone adapter attached to the eyepiece to show the image one the screen - which is great for the moon but can be tricky to position for the planets. It has certainly kept her interest in space going, but if I'm honest I think there are other more cost effective and interesting ways to do it. If you can get out to a true dark site on a moonless night - even without a telescope - it's amazing to see with the naked eye. And even standard binoculars will be a revelation. She also really enjoys watching any launches we can find on youtube etc - and some historical ones too. And every so often Nasa offers the chance to have names added to an upcoming space probe. Lastly (for now anyway) she's loved being able to hold meteorite samples. I got small collection 'from her' for my birthday and Christmas last year and she likes being able to hold them. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/meteorites.html I'm happy that as she gets older I've got a scope she'll get use out of over the years, but it's the other stuff that's really kept her interest for now. Hope that's of some use, David
  12. This sounds like something I've encountered sometimes when using the wifi adapter attached to my SW Virtuoso mount. The issue was to do with a dialogue box / warning on my android phone. The phone needed me to acknowledge that the wifi network I was trying to connect to did not have internet access and that I wanted to connect anyway. If I missed the chance to say "Yes" it was a hassle to track down the setting and I think I just disconnected and reconnected and made sure I was paying attention to the phone when trying to connect. Hope thats some use.
  13. I'd forgotten about these, but came very close to buying one. I was struggling to find reviews and then got the chance of a deal on my Heritage. You might be able to find some more info on them one year on... Compact tabletop dobsonians available in 5" and 6" https://www.bresseruk.com/astronomy/bresser-messier-5-dobsonian-telescope.html https://www.bresseruk.com/astronomy/bresser-messier-6-dobsonian-telescope.html
  14. Interesting question - and although the general request for recommendations in that kind of range as a first scope come up often, I can't recall many where they are "downsizing" (for want of a better word). I'm happy with my Heritage 114p Virtuoso and find the tracking (and adding goto with the skywatcher wifi adapter) very useful. Quick to set up and easy to store. But that's on the basis it's my first scope. And although I'm happy with my choice, I would definitely like "more" scope. I'd love to go for a SW 200 dob, but haven't for pretty much the reasons you sold yours. I can live with the compromise I've made because I've never really known better, but I think it would be very hard to go "back" from a 200 dobsonian to something in the 100 to 130 range. I know plenty here rave about the Mak 127 from various manufacturers, but I don't know whether that would be closer to what you aim for. Good luck, and I'll follow your choice with interest.
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