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List of bits I need and/or want

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I'm entirely new to this and have spent several weeks reading various boards before buying a secondhand Skywatcher 150PL and EQ3-2. I've got a 25 and 10mm eyepiece and 2x barlow. I think I need/want:-

motor drive

moon filter

light pollution filter

ccd webcam (spc900nc or similar) and mount

I'm totally sure I'll have missed off several items there and would be grateful for any additions plus as money won't stretch to every item at once which order they should come in for the best user experience. Also do I need/want a dual motor drive system or will a single one do?

I'll be viewing initially from my garden despite the urban light pollution as I'm a single dad of 3 and it's awkward getting time off being a parent and will be initially at least pointing it at planets rather than deep sky hence why I opted for the PL.



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You will at some time need a collimation tool.

Also I suspect a few more eyepieces, say an 8mm and a 12mm.

The PL will be fine for the same things as the P. They are both 150 and with the same magnification the image will be the same size and brightness. Not a great deal of difference for imaging either, there is not that great a deal of difference.

The motors will, I would say, be the best one, a lot more convenient, especially with kids. Get the dual set, almost the same cost and a dual set make things much easier.

Motors come before camera as you have to track to image.

Other then that, not a lot that you need at could be considered essential.

Nice choice and scope, easy to transport and should see lots, enjoy.

Look up an astro club, may be useful.

Just thought: look up astro-baby.com, guide to collimation, but it also covers using a collimation cap. Nice cheap option to collimation until the finances stretch to a proper tool. Or necessity forces a proper collimation tool.

Edited by ronin
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I never watched through Moon filter, but i can tell you one thing.When watching full Moon it will ruin your night vision badly.Its really bright and after few minutes of watching you will be almost blind.

You won't really get blind, when observing Moon your eye adopts to brigth object so it passes smaller amount of light to your optic nerve.And when you move your eye away from the eyepiece everything will seem dark because eye needs to adopt again.But now it must adopt to dark and pass more light to optic nerve.

About LP filter, most astronomers usually buys UHC.Some people thinks OII is better (they all do the same thing) but in my opinion UHC is better.

LP filters are used exclusively for watching nebulas and they won't work on any other object.

Edited by Dob
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[bought] a secondhand Skywatcher 150PL and EQ3-2.

Yay! Nice choice! - You'll get a lot of enjoyment from that!

motor drive


moon filter


light pollution filter

Oh skip that! - A narrowband filter like an Orion Ultrablock is a nice (albeit expensive) item for improved views of nebulae alone, but the broadband "Light Pollution Filters" are pretty ineffective for visual use against urban light pollution which is, itself, broadband in the modern world.

They're maybe OK for people out-of-town whose main light pollution is yellow street lamps, and maybe of use for DSLR astrophotography purposes, but I've just sent my Baader Neodymium back for refund as it was clear to me it didn't make any difference to skyglow where I am. Many others have had the same experience.

will be initially at least pointing it at planets rather than deep sky hence why I opted for the PL.

Don't worry about light pollution in that case - it has no detrimental effect on lunar and planetary viewing.

Incidentally, I think the best-kept secret in lunar observing is a "#29 Deep Red Filter". It acts like a moon filter, but helps preserve your night vision (not that it matters for urban planetary viewing), and - best of all - lets you observe at far higher magnification than is normally possible (provided that you can get used to a red moon)

Edited by great_bear
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my two pennys worth for stuff youll need

a good book is useful......."turn left at orion" always gets good reviews on here,

a planisphere might be useful (£5 from amazon)

if you have a smart phone there are loads of good apps such as "star walk", "planets", "stellarium" etc etc

Download "stellarium" for the PC (its free...just google it) ....a very useful tool for learning locations of things as it runs in real time

Patience....it will take you a lifetime to learn this stuff, and you still wont know it all !!!!!!

have fun and enjoy


Edited by stick
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I've already got and used Stellarium thanks. An excellent program. Alas I've no smart phone but my two eldest have laptops I can second for the cause. Hadn't thought of a book and can't think why I'd failed there so thanks for the tip.

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When looking for a book take your time.

I am one of those that does not get on with TLAO, just leaves me wondering what all the fuss is about. Suppose that it doesn't present the information to me as I prefer.

Another thing is don't ignore the astronomy/star books intended for children. They tend to be fairly basic and if you have no prior knowledgw that is where to start.

One other item, a small torch. Best if it has a red filter. Would suggest one of the wind up ones that you can get for £2-4 from Wilkinsons. Cheap and no need for batteries

In case yopu haven't done it, line up the finder scope and the main scope. Makes pointing the scope at the right thing a lot easier.

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The 150PL has a focal length of 1200mm whereas the 150P is 750mm focal length. The PL is also slower at f8 than the P at f5.

The 150PL will give you greater magnification for a given eye piece, and will be a lot sharper on the planets for sure. You will need to collimate so a tool for that will be indispensible.

To reduce the brightness of the moon you can replace the main tube cap and remove the small offset cap. This will reduce the glare and change the focal ratio slightly. Might save the price of a filter.

If you can bear odd manual tweaks in Dec then you'll only need an RA motor to track. It is more cost effective to get both motors at once though. A red light torch won't be necessary in a light polluted area and with 3 kids you'll be in and out of the house anyway. Better quality eye pieces will improve this scope immensely as the supplied ones are just enough to get going - you'd be looking at spending at least £30-£50 each however.

Hope that helps :)

Edited by brantuk
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I have the finder roughly aligned but will need to tweak it next time out. I like the sunglasses and offset cover tips and especially the cost of them. Thanks for those.

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i'd go for a light pollution filter. I use a Seben one (Seben = rubbish reflectors but good filters) that I picked up for a tenner. It's a God send being only 20 miles from London, inside the M25.

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To reduce the brightness of the moon you can replace the main tube cap and remove the small offset cap. This will reduce the glare and change the focal ratio slightly.

Changes it significantly in fact - turning my F5 130P into an F15 telescope (not bad for lunar I guess?)

But I've never been sure which offers the best resolution - a stopped-down scope or a filtered one...

Anyone know?

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