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A little knowledge is dangerous


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Greetings from RG14Sky aka Newbury.

Brand new to amateur astronomy and the forum so thought I would say hello and HELP...

I have been doing a bit of research and decided that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

I am pretty sure that I am interested in deep field astronomy as well as planetary but as there are more deep field objects...

My research has led me down the path of some kind of a reflector but as a total amateur and not having any experience I am a bit confused on where I should invest my hard earned money.

I have been looking at the Skywatcher and Celestron’s as they seem to have a good reputation for quality.

My big issue is aperture vs cost and GOTO systems vs manual.

As an amateur and with at most a couple of hours on a good night to observe I believe that a GOTO system is best as this will help me peak my interest and make life easier. The challenge is aperture vs cost of mount. As the aperture size goes up so does the cost of the mount (intuitive).

I guess my question is, as a complete amateur how much of a difference will I notice between the following scopes:

· EXPLORER-130P SynScanTM AZ GOTO 130mm (5.1") F/650 Computerised Parabolic Newtonian Reflector Telescope

· SKYMAX-127 SynScanTM AZ GOTO 127mm (5") F/1500 Computerised Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope

· Celestron Omni 150XLT Reflector

· Sky-Watcher Explorer-150PDS (EQ3-2) 150mm (6”) f/5 Parabolic Dual-Speed Newtonian Reflector Telescope

· EXPLORER-150PL 150mm (6") F/1200 Parabolic Newtonian Reflector Telescope + EQ3-2 Mount

· EXPLORER-200P 200mm (8”) F/1000 Parabolic Newtonian Reflector Telescope + EQ5 Equatorial Mount

· Celestron NexStar 6 (XLT) Schmidt Cassergrain Telescope (GOTO)

I have looked at the Dobsonians but a little akward to transport.

The other trade off is size as I do want to take it to darker skies than what Newbury can offer and unfortunately much of the sky in my garden is covered by trees.

Obviously I have got aperture fever even before I have begun but how much am I going to notice between a 130mm and 150mm? Also the Schmidt Cassergrains, nice and small but is the 6” equel to the 150mm reflector?


Dazed and confused.:)

Edited by brantuk
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Hi RG and welcome to SGL, there is no one scope which will cover all aspects, that is to say from deep space to the Moon and Planets, of all the scopes you have listed the best bang for your buck would be the 200P Newtonian on the EQ5 mount, for ease of transportation then you are into Schmidt Cassegrain types, in the end it will boil down to what you want to generalise in, but until that time the basic Newtonian would IMHO be your best bet, I am sure there will be many more suggestions from the members to come :)


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Thanks guys. I was chasing a Celestron 6SE on ebay but it is getting out of my price range and the Skywatcher 200P + EQ5 is about the right price. A bit bulky but the kids can ride in the roof top box ;-)

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I have a Skywatcher 200P on an EQ5. No GOTO (I didn't want one) but I can honestly say I love the thing. It's big and heavy so consider that. I'm not sure but I think you can retrospectively add a GOTO to the mount?! You can also buy them with a GOTO, but it starts getting pricey.

FWIW SW 200P EQ5, brilliant!

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Hi RG;it sounds like you intend to have the kids involved in your stargazing,if so,that may well weigh on your decisions.What ever setup you decide on, get one that will track,nothing worse then centering your object and its gone while you and your kids are switching positions.When you get the scope,take the time to learn and understand the alignment procedures so the objects will stay in veiw much longer.Practice will shorten the time to setup considerably.The "goto "option when properly setup will allow you to find more objects in the available time which can be a plus with kids,but pricey, and the money could be used for a bigger better scope hence better veiws of what you do find.A good star chart will help greatly if you don't opt for the "goto" but it takes time to learn the sky well enough to find objects quickly.I have had some good success using only manual setting circles but you have to be very accurately aligned for them to work decently.Don't forget the step stool for the kids or you will be hoisting them up to the eyepeice all night long.My aching back!I bet atleast one of them gets hooked after you get started.Nothing like the look on a childs face when they see Saturn for the first time through a scope.Get ready for an all consuming,challenging endevour,especially when kids are involved.Wish you and yours the best of clear skies.Good luck.

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A newtonian gives the best apparture per pound an sct is the most compact package, however at the 150mm level, I would say that the dob is the lightest to pick up, quickest to set up and cheapest. No it doesn't have goto but with a dob you can be looking whilst the others are setting up their goto. the 150p dob is the closest thing to grab and go of all of them. the extra inch makes a difference at a dark site so it will give better views than the 127 mak. it will be steadier than the synscan alt/az mount and no battery pack to have to carry. imo there's no real point getting an eq mount unless you want to do imaging and an eq mount suitable for imaging isn't portable. which brings you down to 2 choices really 127 mak or 150p dob, portability wise there's not much to choose from either. the dob is the quickest set up. occasionally you will have to collimate but a small mirror holds collimation quite well and you probably won't have to collimate every time. the mak on its goto will shine on moon and planets and be ok on brighter dso's, the goto will help you find targets quicker but because its a slightly wobbly mount with the 127 on will be a little more difficult to focus. It will however track the target quite well once it's been aqquired wearas the dob has to be constantly nudged to keep it in the frame. Some find this annoying others take to it like a duck to water.

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Hi RG...& welcome...if your kids are under 5ft 6..they'll need small steps to stand on to view through a 200 on EQ5...this will take time on swap-overs between you & the kids...a go-to will be worth saving for, cos the 'scope is well worth getting...&..it all fits in her honda jazz boot...good luck in ya search

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Hi and welcome to the Lounge.

If you get the Mak with goto now, which will give excellent views of the Moon, Planets, and Double stars, then you can get a Dob or Newt on an EQ mount later which are good for DSO's.

The Mak would probably be the most child friendly, as you can set the tripod up low to the ground so the kid's can get to the eyepiece comfortably, and as already mentioned will keep the object in view. This may be a bit trickier with an EQ regarding polar alignment, with the tripod lower down.

If you are not too familiar with the sky, a goto will give you the option of a tour round the objects on view that night. It will generally start with the brightest and work downwards, although some stuff may end up too faint, or washed out by light pollution.

Whatever you decide on, have fun. :)

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