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Opinions on newbie telescope


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Greetings all,

Just thought I'd run my thinking past some of you wise folks before parting with my hard earned dosh. I'm a beginner, looking to buy my first scope and prior to joining SGL I've spent many hours scouring the interweb to research this topic.

To cut a long story short I'm looking for a decent portable scope around the 500-750 quid mark that offers good all round performance. I live in a terribly light polluted part of London so I'm somewhat limited to lunar and planetary observations from the back garden. However, I'd like a scope that I can easily chuck (metaphorically of course) into the back of my Ford CMAX, alongside a few bags, and hotfoot to some dark sky areas for some DSO observing. Also, there's not much storage space in the house so the scope needs to pack down to a reasonable size.

Having spoken to a few other London based stargazers it's been recommended that I invest in a scope which has a GoTo mount. Apparently the light pollution round our way makes PushTo navigation frustratingly tricky and can result in evenings being wasted trying to find objects which aren't visible anyway due to the seeing conditions.

After much wailing and gnashing of teeth I reckon that the SkyWatcher SkyLiner 250P FlexTube Auto offers the best bang for my buck.

Skywatcher dobs seem to offer the best value for money to the novice such as myself. The 10inch model hits the sweet spot for aperture, weight, size and cost. The FlexTube seems to pack down well and (more importantly) be quickest truss tube design to setup. The Auto mount can be upgraded to offer GoTo capabilites more cheaply than buying the off the shelf SynScan model.

I know I'll need to buy some additional kit (decent EPs, shroud etc) but I'd be grateful if anyone has any comments on my telescope selection. I looked briefly at the 12inch model but my gut instinct is that it's just too big and too expensive for my circumstances.

I've seen the SW SL 250P FlexTube Auto on sale new for around 650 quid. Am wondering if it'd be possible to pick one up second hand? Any ideas on where to look and what would be a good price? Also, how easy is it to upgrade the Auto handset to a Goto handset? Is it simply a case of just plugging it in as I've read here?

I'm going to head along to the next WOLAS meeting in July so if any of you are members then hopefully I'll see you there.

Appreciate your help.

All the best

Stu

Edited by ScoobyStoo
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Hi Stu, your choice of scope is very good, you certainly won't need to upgrade it for a while, if ever. A 10" dob will take up less room when stored but i'm unsure about the goto capability with dobs. Does the flextube one have goto? That will also be easier to store and transport. Tripods and mounts can be stored in the original boxes but these can be hungry for space. When i got my 6" in feb i was surprised at the size of the boxes. I know i haven't been very helpful but on your budget i would be looking at the same stuff.

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Hi Stu,

You've done a lot of homework, and the choice does seem reasonable. Large aperture, can't go wrong there!

For 2nd hand,

You can try have a look on U.K. Astronomy Buy & Sell or eBay (only if you're familiar with eBay though -- lots of dodgy goods there).

Or you can wait a month (and 50 post) for your membership to allow you to see the classifieds - 'For Sale' section here in SGL.

HTH.

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Thanks for your responses.

To be honest my only real worry with this scope is that at F4.7 it's fast and whilst I love a wide field view as much as the next man, that's going to mean I need better (and more expensive) eyepieces.

There's a small part of me that's actually leaning towards the 8inch model which at F6 is going to be more forgiving on eyepieces.

As a total beginner, is the jump from 8 to 10 inches really going to worth it? I wonder if I might be better off getting the 200p instead and saving a few quid.

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You referred to the possibility of goto and light pollution but you also said that you think that from the city you'll only try to view planets and the moon. You won't need GoTo for that. And when you're at a dark sky site you will have enough darkness to find things manually without even Push-to. So you might want to consider either the plain Flextube version of the 10 inch, or the solid tube version (saving £125 or £230).

You mention that space is an issue for storage, but since the scope will (I presume?) stand vertically on its mount when stored do you think it will matter/help to use the Flextube version? Similar question regarding the transportability - the solid tube will still fit across the back seat of pretty much any car. Flextubes don't weigh any less than solid tubes either, on these models at least.

I think I read somewhere that the Auto/Goto scopes don't move as smoothly when being manually pointed, but I might be wrong so I hope someone will correct me if so!

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Well, did some more research on the Skyliners, including actually having a look at a few of them in the flesh. Have posted my findings here in case they prove useful to anyone else:

10" and 12" solid tubes: No good because they take up way too much room in the boot of the CMAX (can't lay them across the back seat as there are a couple of kids seats fitted).

12" flextube: Packs down impressively but still needs to be laid horizontally in the boot and the base is significantly more awkward to fit in than the 10".

10" flextube: The tube only packs down by about 30cm which isn't much, but it's just enough for the tube and base to stand upright in the boot even when assembled. This leaves the other half of the boot free for the rest of the family to pack with their assorted junk, thus keeping everyone relatively happy.

Am going to go for the AUTO model simply to make life that bit easier and allow me the option to upgrade to GOTO.

Thanks to those who offered opinions. There don't seem to be any of these on the 2nd hand market (good indication that they are keepers?) so now it just remains to see which retailer's got the best price!

Edited by ScoobyStoo
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The manual dob does move more smoothly than the auto version when moving it manually but you can always nudge it with the hand controller. I have heard that the encoders have been upgraded on the goto dob, and also been told that supposedly by plugging the goto handset into an auto dob you could be invalidating your warranty.

Despite this, we decided to add the goto handset to our auto dob and have been really pleased. You just need to check the handset is the the AZ one and it is upgraded to the right version and then just plug it in, instead of the auto handset. We have found that for the tracking and goto to work, the base needs to be level. You will ideally need a light shroud too for the flextube. We use one made from a camping mat and Velcro.

Edited by Sarah
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Hi Stu,

Good luck with your purchase. A friend of mine bought exactly the same Auto model a few months ago and the grin hasn't moved from his face since - other than when there's cloudy skies.

Be sure to post your thoughts & experiences on the scope when you've had some time to enjoy it.

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