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Dear community! First of all - thank you a lot for the advices you are giving here, this is really helpful to getting started! I'm searching for my first device to observe the night sky. I've read several threads here on the same topic and as I can see that the common recommendation is to consider Dobsonian 6" as a starting device for a budget around 300€. Mostly this one was recommended: a 6" Dobson from Skywatcher e.g. https://www.astroshop.de/teleskope/skywatcher-dobson-teleskop-n-150-1200-skyliner-classic-dob/p,15559 But in my situation (a balcony), I think this device would be rather big, also not very easy to go outside with it. So I'm looking for a bit more compact solution suited for the balcony. And it’s tough to decide between a Newtonian or a refractor as you can imagine. Therefore I hope your experiences will help to clarify some questions I have. As everyone, I am looking for a good value and to get a best possible experience for a given money. Based on several recommendations, there are two prio options for me in the same price range of about 400€ including delivery to Germany: 1) Skywatcher 150P on (EQ3-2) https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/150eq32-1.html 2) SkyWatcher Evostar 102 (EQ3-2) https://www.firstlightoptics.com/evostar/skywatcher-evostar-102-eq3-2.html I'm living in a small town and I will mostly use it on my south facing balcony, while sometimes I'm planning to pick the telescope and go outside. I would rather prefer the Newtonian 150P because of it's aperture for the € value. But I've read that Newtonians aren't really good for balconies as I'll have to stay near it's front side and therefore would not be able to move it as close to the parapet as possible to get the wider observation field. Because of that, the "rear view" could be better options for the balconies. But moving to the "looking from behind" telescopes in the same price range I'll drop from 150mm to the 102mm and will have the color errors caused by CA. What would you recommend in my case - what will give the better observation experience in my situation - Newton or smaller reflector? Also some other considerations - moving down to 102mm is not a must if I'll go with a 120mm refractor on a simpler mount (https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/skywatcher-startravel-120-az3.html). Would you consider those as good options, or for a beginner "Alt-AZ + color errors of an f5 refractor" would kill the mood? 120 on EQ3 makes it too expensive. And to make it even more complex, in 102 range for an even less money there are Maksutov 102 options (rear view, EQ mount, no CA) like https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-eq-avant/sky-watcher-skymax-102-az-eq-avant.html and https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-starquest/sky-watcher-starquest-102mc-f127-maksutov-cassegrain-telescope.html (btw, do not understand what makes starquest so much cheaper). Are these good options in comparison to the above? I mean vs Evostar 102 it'll save me 100€ for the same aperture (can be used for eyepieces, etc.), but will it be stable on the supplied mounts and will I get comparable level of details for the planets and DSO? Sorry for the long post, it’s just a lot to consider for a rookie, so I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on my thinking
POLAR ALIGNMENT IF THE POLE STAR IS OBSTRUCTED (e.g. OBSERVING ON A S-FACING BALCONY!!!) Set up your scope on the floor (assuming it's reasonably level) in equatorial mode, with a rough guess at North. Put the tube into whatever 'home' position the instructions specify, or that you have chosen. Now choose an easily recognisable bright star at mid altitude. Pretend you HAVE polar aligned, and tell the scope to go to this star. When the slewing stops lift the scope very gently and turn the mount round till the star is in the centre of the field of view and you should have a fairly good polar alignment. If you are for example videoing planets and can also autoguide, this alignment may be all you need. But you can now refine it by the drift method if you need to - see https://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-resources/accurate-polar-alignment/ This method should be quite useful for Southern hemisphere observing, where the 'south pole star' - Sigma Octantis - is difficult to find especially in light polluted skies. And of course my advice here applies if you have a North-facing balcony!