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Need help buying first telescope!


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Hello all!

I'm new to the forum and I'm excited to enhance my knowledge in astronomy :eek:

I know very little about telescopes or even what to look for when buying one. I'd love to buy an expensive telescope that can view deep space and has a good camera but I'm a poor graduate student so I'd be limited in what I can buy :)

Any advice on what sorts of telescopes I should look for that are cheap but still powerful enough to view celestial objects not visible to the naked eye?

Thank you!

-neurostar

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Hi Neurostar - what budget have you set aside for the scope? There are many different types, sizes, and prices. Also - will it be fixed in place or will you need to be portable? If you are very light polluted where you use it then deep sky objects will be very difficult to see. :)

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Hi Neurostar - what budget have you set aside for the scope? There are many different types, sizes, and prices. Also - will it be fixed in place or will you need to be portable? If you are very light polluted where you use it then deep sky objects will be very difficult to see. :)

Hi,

thank you for your reply!

i'm not sure if it would need to be portable or not. i'm guessing portable is more expensive? also, i'm not sure if i'll have much light polution (i haven't moved yet) but that is something I will keep in mind!

i probably could not spend more than $100. could i get a quality scope for around that much?

-neurostar

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I recommend the Skywatcher Skyliner 200p easy to use and get great views of everything...

Thank you for the recommendation! The Skywatcher Skyliner 200p is a little expensive for me though..

From doing some browsing I'm starting to feel like I need to spend at least $200-300 for a good telescope.

Should I look for used telescopes?

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I would think it better to spend your money on the best pair of binoculars you can afford.

Get used to the sky and what you can see then upgrade as funds allow.

Cheers

Edited by JKB
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Thank you all for your helpful replies!!

So I've narrowed it down to purchasing a cheap/used telescope or a good pair of binoculars. I already have a really basic pair of binoculars but I'd like something with a bit more power.

I'd like to see the deepest in space as I could so would a telescope such as the Celestron 21062 AstroMaster 70 EQ Refractor Telescope be better than a solid pair of binoculars like the Celestron SkyMaster Giant 15x70 Binoculars?

Thanks again!

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I would think it better to spend your money on the best pair of binoculars you can afford.

Get used to the sky and what you can see then upgrade as funds allow.

Cheers

+1.

Binoculars can offer you a lot.

Many people (including me) use bino's for 5 or more years.

Actually, for the beginning you don't even need to spent a single Penny.

Install free but excellent program Stellarium, learn where the constellations and stars are located.Join local astro club.Attend astro-parties.Im sure people will let you to look through their scopes.So you can get impression of how objects look through various telescopes.

Learn about telescope characteristics, different types of telescopes, oculars, cameras etc. etc.Then you will have enough knowledge to choose suitable scope for you.

Let me give you an example of how things look through my 200 Dob from a Dubrovnik.(just for the record, my house is at dark location)

Moon-

Brilliant.You can notice huge amount of details at 160X.

Saturn-

At 390X it is smaller than a pea.For the most of time seeing conditions will not allow you to notice a lot of details.You can notice equatorial belt, Cassini division(maybe) and a division between rings and a planet itself.Image will also shake and blur due to seeing conditions.

M42-

Shape of nebula is easily visible at 160X (maybe less, dont remember).Also, there are no colors.Image is BW.

Leo triplet-

Duplet, in my case.At 80X it is a duplet.Bright galaxy core is visible, galaxies looks like a faint, foggy stars.

This is how things approximately looks like without any filters, from a city.

I never went outside the city, but if do galaxies and nebulas would show more details.

I don't want to dissapoint you, i just dont want you to get dissapointed when (if) you realise that this is not what you expected as many people do.

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Thank you Dob for the informative reply!

I tested out my 10 x 25 binoculars tonight and while it was exciting to see the magnified stars, I'd love to purchase either binoculars or a telescope that would allow me to stargaze with more definition. It'd be great to see saturn's rings, distant stars, galaxies, and nebulas. So I think my binoculars are not quite strong enough.

Haha, I'm not disappointed at all! Even with my smallish binoculars I had a great time looking at what stars I could. I'm pretty science minded so studying star maps (thank you for the stellarium suggestion by the way!!) and then finding distant stars in real life is right up my alley.

My summer will be pretty free so this should be a good time to get started with amateur astronomy :)

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I've looked at the spec of the AstroMaster 70 EQ Refractor and it really is a very basic telescope aimed at kids, and "adults making their first steps" in astronomy. I have no direct experience of it myself but I imagine you would outgrow it pretty rapidly. The mount is entry level and will have issues of vibration, lightness of weight, and poor eyepieces. It may be a little more satisfactory than binoculars however.

The second hand market should offer you a 1-2 year old 130mm Newtonian for a similar budget. This would give you a larger aperture and it can be upgraded as future finance allows to a more flexible and useful instrument. More deep sky objects will be available with it's larger aperture.

Mirror based systems offer larger aperture per $ than refractors which, in this budget range, will not have the quality of optics required to keep an adult interested.

A visit to a local astronomy club/society will introduce you to the different types and qualities of scope available, and you never know, maybe a member will have a "first scope" to sell on for a bargain. You'll get a lot of advice on the s/h market too :)

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I'd like something with a bit more power.

Large aperture bins will really open up more than going for small aperture high magnification.

As Dob has said, I'd look at joining the local astro-club. Having been to SGL6, there's always a great number of people that will offer a look through different scopes.

I bought my first real scope secondhand - muchos margin it was too!

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