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Something new but what....?


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A while back me and the wife had an accident in the car, a bloke decided his car looked better attached to the back end of mine and with any luck the insurance will be good enough to pay up, so far we have refused a £1000 payout and if the wife gets her way considering the pain she has been in we are hoping for £1500.

Anyway the wife has been kind enough to say I can have some money as the long suffering husband if there is anything left after fitting a patio door and sorting the garden, how much we have no idea but let's say for a ball park figure £200.

Considering my current set up a Skywatcher explorer 150p with an eq3-2, dual motors, cheap LP filter etc... what would you buy yourself to improve the set up. I really don't know what to get and any idea would be great, live in a city so LP is a problem if that's any help...

CHEERS and happy spending

P.s. Any web site links would also be appreciated as I don't always know what people are going on about be a fairly new astronomer

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well the 150p is a pretty useful scope i would go for an EQ5 mount to make things a bit steadier, maybe then sell the eq3 and get a nice eyepiece from the sale of old mount

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Hi Nightfisher!

Sorry to hear about your car accident! But I think you are right on the money with a 150mm scope. I have recommended similar things to many here on SGL as well. FWIW, I've recommended 6" dobs to beginners for years; actually, I teach hundreds of people introductory astronomy in both high school and college every year, and this is how we start everyone out: my 'workhorse' telescope for beginners is the 150mm f/8 Dobsonian (like the 150P over there, I think). The scope has many advantages:

1. Lightweight and rugged - easy for anyone from young kids to the elderly to use and set up. And you don't have to be afraid to let the kids use it, either. I have an even dozen of these on three campuses, and some have been in service for over 10 years and still work great.

2. Simplicity, simplicity! No gears, no levers, no buttons, no cables, no batteries, no computers, no alignment... NO FUSS. You can learn to point and use a scope like this in minutes, and perfect your technique easily over time.

3. (Almost) maintainence free. The f/8 scope is easy to collimate, very forgiving of small errors, and holds collimation very well. Once properly adjusted, and used with care, you won't need to touch collimation for quite awhile. Keep the dust cap on when not in use and that's it. I live and work in the (very) dusty desert, and I only clean mirrors once a year - you probably won't have to do it for years.

4. Easy to store, Easy to transport. The modest size and mass make it not only easy to move about and set up, but easy to pack into the boot for a bit of dark sky fun at a star party. These take up only an 18-inch square on the floor, so finding room for them is not a problem. EQ mounted scopes by nature need much more space, or must be disassembled before you can achieve compact storage. (Dob scopes have no tripod to worry about, either.)

5. You are paying for optics (and great views!) not for bells and whistles! Since you aren't buying a tripod, EQ mount head, gears, motors, or on-board computers - the dob is a great value. The best view for the money, hands down.

6. Easy on the wallet. Don't forget that you will want to add a few accessories like a wide angle (32-40mm) eyepiece for deep sky stuff and a high power (5-9mm) eyepiece for planetary work, perhaps a barlow lens (magnification doubler), a lunar filter (the moon is incredibly bright in a scope!), a star map, eyepiece case, and a red LED torch for use at night (it doesn't ruin your night vision like white light does.)

Yes, there are some upgrades you may wish to consider:

A) You can go bigger. A 200mm will store in about the same space, and is only slightly bigger physically (although about double the mass). More aperture will give you brighter views, and enable you to see 'deeper' into space to capture even fainter objects. If you have the money, this isn't a bad idea at all. Be cautious though, if you go bigger than 200mm, the scopes get physically large rather quickly! If you haven't gone to a local club's star party yet, NOW would be a good time. Lots of mates there to help you out, and you can see a wide variety of scopes from the very simple to the really grand.

;) You can add a computer. "intelligent" dobs are available which do not move the scope (no motors), but they do help you point the scope. This can be very valuable in a light polluted area, but be aware that these things really up the complexity and make the learnnig curve much steeper. The good news is that these sort of 'passive' computer systems can easily be turned off, allowing you to use the scope manually. Not so with most GoTo models.

As for an EQ mount, goto system, or astrophotography - let that wait a bit. If you have a nice dob of 150-200 mm, you CAN buy an EQ mount for it later and upgrade if you want to. The conversion isn't hard at all. Astrophotography is an entire new set of skills that require excellent basic telescope operation and astronomy skills first.

Add complexity only when you have achieved mastery of what you already have!

I really want you to succeed and have a blast, mate. No need to stress about getting the 'ultimate kit' right away. A nice dob will meet your needs optically - and your need for simplicty and stress-free observing. These scopes also hold their value very well, so if you decide to sell it off and upgrade in a year or so, you won't lose very much. I'm willing to bet you never sell your trusty dob, though. Many of us simply get our 'second' scope to do what the first one won't. :)

I hope that is helpful, feel free to PM me if you have specific questions - I'd be happy to help.

Cheers,

Dan

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I did consider both an upgrade to the 200P (as i have already tried astrophotography and would appreciate the extra 2") and a fully computerised got upgrade for the mount (eq3-2) but i thought as i only just got the scope (150P) it seems a shame to part so quickly without getting to know it and i am really happy wiht the 3-2 mount i guess you have to see the eq5 to know just now much more stability you get for the money....

I forgot to mention i only have the standard eyepieces and finderscope i got with the scope from the shop, i presume they are not the best and i know nothing about eyepieces/finderscopes so advice on good yet reasonable prices repacements replacement would be cool....

Ta

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Hi,I've got the 150pl and although everything is good to use a new finder and some better quality ep's of different sizes to the ones i've got would be a good move. The EQ3-2 mount and tripod are pretty good without extending the legs, and the you can sit on a chair also. Good shopping

Adamski

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I agree with what's been said. If you've got a scope don't think about upgrading it for some time. Get used to it, get experience, see where you feelings take you. You might take a change of direction or you might find some particular aspect lacking - give it time, see how you go and don't be in a rush to upgrade.

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