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first telescope??


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hey all,

got into astronomy a few months ago from my physics teacher, he let me borrow his celestron astromaster 130eq- MD for the weekend to see if i liked it, and i did.

i am thinking of getting a scope but im not sure which one, i've been looking at the one my teacher lent me, and the astromaster 114 but im not sure if they are good.

my price range is up to £180, i'd like to use if for viewing the moon, saturn and other close galaxies

would love to hear what you all think is a god scope.

Thanks Mark

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I don't know how it compares to the Celestron, but I would imagine it would be similar.

The 130P is a very popular starter scope but, for an extra £40 you could get a Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian which has a bigger aperture and is a slower scope. The slower scope will be easier on the EP's, both those that come with it and those you will inevitably upgrade to in the future. The 150P will also give you a higher magnification that you will need to see the planets and moons in some detail. The larger aperture will make seeing the brighter DSO's much easier. Whichever you go for, you will probably want a moon filter so you don't blind yourself :) I would wait a little longer and save up for the bigger mirror if I were you.

And as for what they look like, hopefully it'll be dark when your using it so you won't be able to see what it looks like!

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im not too keen on the dobsonian telescopes because of their difficulty of

A. transporting

B. using, where i would use i would have to take a table of something with me because there isn't one there

the astromaster 130eq md and the skywatcher explorer 130p are the ones im thinking about buying

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Im sorry i cant offer any advice since im new also, but just wanted too say that teacher you have sounds like one hell of a teacher! i cant imagine any of my old teachers lending me a pen let alone a telescope:)

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For the begginer I would recommend a Dob as a first scope for easy set up and go, by the time you put together and set up an Equatorial Mount you could be well on your way viewing and enjoying with a Dob which is what its all about (getting the bug!) If you take to the hobby I would recommend getting an Equatorial Mounted goto scope as a second purchase in the future, 6" or 8" and then you have the option to start imaging too. Just remember if its a chore to set up, you will only get bored and sell up.

Good luck

Mike.

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Hello Mark!

For what it's worth, I teach into astronomy to hundreds every year, from middle school kids (8-12 year olds) up through adults at college. I've also advised quite a few folks here on SGL on getting their first scope, too. Everyone in my astronomy program starts off the same... with a 150mm dob. My reasons are many, and I have 12 of these in service at three campuses. 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.)

There are other scopes, and some smaller, but often they don't save you much unless you really move substantially down the food chain in terms of optical performance, stability & simplicity, and durability. You can also search for "Join my astronomy class" on SGL. I post lots of telescope activities to share, things you can do with the telescope to increase the enjoyment and enhance the learning - and you can download them for free.

Also, 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 could also see different equipment and maybe even have a go at some of the scopes.

I really want you to succeed and to 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. :D

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 have the celestron 114 and think it's a good scope, I'm also new mind and have not had experience with other scopes mind.

I'm now in the process of upgrading my ep's to improve the views which I'm sure will be followed by a sob on the not to distant future!!! But I'm sure I will be keeping the 114 as so easy to pop in the boot and off you go.

I'm sure you won't be disappointed by the celestron but the guys on here give alot of great advice and it's well worth listening too.

Good luck with the choice.

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im not too keen on the dobsonian telescopes because of their difficulty of

A. transporting

B. using, where i would use i would have to take a table of something with me because there isn't one there

the astromaster 130eq md and the skywatcher explorer 130p are the ones im thinking about buying

It's actually the opposite as long as you compare scopes with the same apperture. A 6" reflector with an equatorial is bulkier and heavier then the same 6" on an dobson mount.

For a 6" dob, a chair is better. The EP will be at about eye level if you sit by it.

The choice of equatorial vs dobson mount is about tracking vs ease of use. With the eq it will be easier to keep the object centered in the EP, if you take the time to align it.

The dob requires no setup time but you have to nudge to keep objects in view.

The dob always keeps the EP in a very accessible position (as long as you have a chair or a portable stool) while the EQ may require you to rotate the scope in it's tubes to make the EP position more accessibly/comfortable.

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Between the Celestron and the Skywatcher (imho) I think you'd have a better time with the Skywatcher 130P on EQ mount. The Celestron one seems to come with a few "tacky" accessories that need replacing soon (eg the finder is poor to say the least). The Skywatcher is a more rounded instrument with a parabolic mirror, and everything you need to get going - don't worry about the motor - you can add that later making it a great first scope :D

Edited by brantuk
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if i wanted to start doing astrophotography, would the Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian be ok, or would the celestron with motor drive be better?

thanks in advance :D

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the celestron finder is appalling. i had one, i liked the scope, and i dont think the eq mounts are such a big hassle as some people are saying, it didnt put me off and was pretty simple to use so dont let that sway you! in any case, to those of you who say that those 'setting up' minutes could be used observing - true, but you could argue that if a couple of minutes are really important then you really arent spending much time observing anyway?

and by setting up i assume you mean polar align? you can use eq without PA, and can even roughly PA in seconds.

so this extra time im really not sure where you get it from?

Edited by chemtom24
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I agree that the Skywatcher is the best option. The red dot finder on the Celestron is rubbish as it's too bright and its adjustment is too fiddly as well. Skywatcher does what is says on the tin (....tube even). One problem with both Celestron and Skywatcher scopes at there price point is not the scopes themselves bit the awful mounts that they are sat on, they're so twitchy - did you discover this on the one you borrowed?

To that end I would plump for the dobsonian, more aperture and not so twitchy in use. Imaging at the price point you are entering in is not a realistic option, although the dobsonian would permit using a webcam at planets and the moon. Should you want to pursue imaging later on, then you could always transfer the dobsonian scope to an equatorial later (HEQ5 minimum) without having to change the scope itself as it has sufficient aperture compared to the your original choices of the Celestron or its Skywatcher equivalent.

Hope that helps

James

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Hi Mark

I have recently just got into all this stargazing malarky and bought a secondhand scope from a mate

Its the Skywatcher explorer 130 PM and is a great starter scope

I'm still getting to grips with it and am really happy with it so far.

Like James said, the mount (EQ2 on mine) is OK for getting going but this is probably one of the weaker points.

That said it has enabled me to start my star gazing. Its easily transportable, not overly heavy and comes with enough accessories to get you going.

I did buy a couple of extra, better quality EPs, but the ones supplied are OK to start with

hope this helps

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Well i picked my first scope up friday but not been able to use it as the weather is **** here. i was told for my budget the celestron was the best option but with all the bad comments iv just read on here im starting to think iv made the wrong choice but im still yet to use it so i can not comment on it as of yet but i will say one thing.......................................................................it looks cracking lol.

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thank you all for your comments, i think the dob is going to be the one :D

M3 Andy would you be able to message me on how you get on with your celestron, would really appreciate it, thanks

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Ive a SW 130 with EQ2 and have never really had any troubles. In fact Ive not even polar aligned and have enjoyed seeing Saturn several times and even managed to witness a few meteor showers a few weeks ago. The truth is its all about your own preferences. I often just grab it out of the shed. Lie up my target in the RDF and ease it into view in the EP. Ive not had the chance to properly set everything up yet like polar aligning and motor drive. But for some quick casual observing an EQ is just fine. Just make sure you have a rough idea of what you want to see.

SW 130 on EQ gets my vote :D

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