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Hi all, I'm trying to get back into astronomy (had a Meade DS 2090 Mak when I was 10 but was too young to get into it) and I'm having a very hard time choosing a telescope. My main goal is to observe a bit of everything. Planets and the moon are great and I definitely would want to observe them, but my main focus would be DSO's. That being said, I would also like to have the possibility of doing some basic astrophotography afterwards. Not expecting to do 2 hours of long exposure and getting some insane images, but having a telescope (or rather a mount?) that can track would be nice to get some decent images. Basically, visual observation is a must, AP would be great but only basic, no need to get one JUST for that. I realize that visual observing and AP are 2 very different things, but my question is if it is possible to find something that is mainly used for VO and is somewhat capable (even if it's not great) to do AP with. Furthermore, a push to or goto would be fantastic as well since I'm not too familiar with the night sky. Is it really difficult to find DSOs yourself without reading and learning for hours and hours? My budget would be around 800 euros, that is everything included, telescope, mount, eyepieces etc... (If it's a little bit more than that that's fine as well). After hours of doubt and searching I thought the Orion Skyquest Xt8 Intelliscope would be good (push to) (around 750 euros), however being like most dobsonians, this one wouldn't track. This made me think : Should I rather look for a newtonian reflector with an EQ mount, or just give up my basic AP wish and go for a dobsonian that doesn't track? Some people have suggested to drop AP for now and go for the dob, is there a possibilty to upgrade later to make the dob work for AP, like putting it on an EQ mount, or would I have to buy a new telescope again? Any telescope, mount and added equipment like eyepieces and filter suggestions would be reaaaally appreciated, cause everything just feels overwhelming and I don't know what to look for anymore. Thanks in advance!!
I bought this second hand, but it was almost untouched, and a relative bargain to boot. New it costs 1199 EUR from TS (approx. £1035 as of 08/03/2019 but who has any idea how this might fluctuate). Highlights: Apo air-spaced triplet with FPL53 Multiple focus positions thanks to removable tube segments 2.5” rack and pinion focuser, rotatable, dual speed controls, 6kg payload, with printed scale CNC tube rings and dovetail supplied Retractable dew shield First impressions: It’s a really nice box. Whilst it’s described as a ‘transport case’ the supplied storage box is sturdy and well made. Inside, the foam fit is precise bordering on tight. It’s actually mildly difficult to get the scope out of the box. Things get a little easier if you loosen the tube rights slightly, allowing for some tube rotation, and a longer term fix will be some straps to aid lifting the scope out vertically. The scope itself feels very well made, and is what I’m choosing to refer to as ‘reassuringly weighty’. At just over 4kg (without diagonal, eyepiece, or finder) there are definitely lighter options available, but it’s hardly a heavyweight. The finish is powered coat white, which looks and feels very nice. The focuser is very smooth (compared to my SW ED80) and feels pleasingly solid. I’m not going to be testing the stated 6kg payload any time soon, but I can easily believe it will be able to handle it. The dew shield is held in position with a single thumbscrew, and whilst it’s retractable credentials are clearly warranted, it only seems to extend a couple of centimetres. As it happens, this takes the overall length down to 450mm which was the very top end of my acceptable range in order to meet my ‘travel’ requirement. The focuser body also incorporates a finder shoe, but if you wanna finder then you have to supply your own as there’s nothing included. The idea of having additional tube segments is that you don’t have to rack out the focuser so far, and so improves stability. This also allows for multiple reducer/flattener options for imaging use. The TS website details the specific configurations using their recommended equipment which provide a faster f/4.9 option for sensors up to 36mm, or a full frame flat image at the standard f/6.6. I might be exploring these options later, but for now, this is going to be for visual use. First light: OK - this barely counts, but I was impatient. Predictably enough, first evening with a new telescope and it’s raining. But I did manage a pretty decent look at my neighbours TV aerial and chimney stack. They need some re-pointing. … The following evening (9th March 2019) was less rainy, but much the same for cloud, all but for about 30 minutes of relatively clear sky, interrupted regularly by patchy cloud. So still not great. However, my ambitious setup to allow for cooling paid off and I did manage a few minutes of actual use with a SW 28mm eyepiece. The Baader Zoom I also treated myself to for my travel use is frustratingly still not dispatched. And when I say set-up, I mean just carrying everything outside. I’m using this on the SW AZ-Gti mount, and a Manfrotto tripod I had already, so it’s very easy to pick up and take outside. I was using the scope with one of the two removable sections in place (this is how it is stored in the supplied case) and was able to achieve focus with a 2" diagonal without having to rack out excessively. Sirius was an obvious target to the south, and an easy hit. Brilliantly bright, as expected, and a blue-ish white colour. The upper half (the rest was below my sightline from home) of Canis Major was easy to see, with several of the background stars also visible. Despite the less than great seeing, the view was impressive. Stars were tight and there was no obvious chromatic aberration. Moving up to Betelgeuse, it’s orange-red brilliance was very pleasing, and again I was able to make out some of the fainter surrounding stars. Overall the view was very impressive, and bright. My only real comparison is with my SW80, and of course I now have over 25% more light, so that’s to be expected. But still, it makes an obvious difference. I wasn’t able to note any CA or distortion, and a quick full visible spectrum (no filters) star test reflected spot on collimation and no apparent astigmatism. Alas, the break in the patchy clouds did not last long, and I was soon packing up for the night and heading out for a beer. I’m looking forward to getting some more quality time with this kit, and who knows, I might even align the AZ-Gti next time and write a brief review for that too.
Ten or twelve years before this evening, I was shocked on a winter night that I could plainly see the tremors of turbulence in my old Nikon 10x50 binocs while I watched the Moon. I had never noticed such a boiling of the air ever since, up until today. A clear sky after days and days of clouds and mist prompted me to take my super-fast-set-up 80mm achro (on an AZ-4mount) to have a quick look at the Moon. The first look through the 6x30 finder surprised me a lot: I could once again see the large-scale waviness that seems to make the whole Moon wobble, plus the smaller-scale turbulence that makes the edge of the Moon serrated, sharper, serrated in slightly different manner, then sharper again, then a bit serrated, in rapid succession. Noticing the focus was a bit smooth, I turned the objective a half-turn or so; turbulence became a little less disturbing and ugly, but still visible, even the smaller wavelets. Temperature was 1° or 2°, wind very still, tranparency and dryness excellent, making the probability of rain 0%. The usual conditions that give great transparency in winter, together with the horrible air agitation counterpart. Normally I start moongazing at 150x with my achro, lowering the power by steps till seeing allows it, but this time I gave up observing altogether because 24x in the main scope was already too agitated. I thought 10x was the lowest power at which I would ever see turbulence, 6x is a shocker. What is the lowest power at which you saw turbulence?
You're out with two APO refractors 65/420 and 70/478. Which one you would use DSO imaging and which of them left for visual observing meanwhile you're shooting? Why?