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Laser pointer vs red dot finder


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Hi guys, I've not used either before, but hoped someone with experiance of both could comment. Would be used on a dob.

Was considering a bracket & a 5mw green laser or just a straight Telrad.

Thanks

Peter

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Hi Peter. Well the laser finder is great if you have others with you because it will allow you to show them where in the sky you are aiming the scope. As a beginner, they are a useful tool to use because it makes it easy to point the scope in the right direction when you are using a star map as opposed to using a 'straight through' finder which provides an inverted AND back to front image. However, they aren't cheap and I have noticed that less and less astro retailers are selling them these days so I think your best source is going to be specialist internet suppliers if you are after a really good one. I have owned 3 such lasers and to be honest, they haven't lasted very long at all with the last one being returned because I had enough of them. There are some other drawbacks too. If you are observing at home, you might start to feel a little self conscious about the green laser telling everyone what you are doing and if you live in a large city like me, it won't be long before you start being buzzed by a passing police helicopter. When you are observing in winter, you certainly would need to use the 'energizer' batteries as the cold will affect the both the power and the amount of time you can have it switched on for. Believe it or not, I saw an advertisement for a dew heating strap that can be attached to the laser to keep it warm - what ever next!.

In the arena of red dot finders, I currently use and would recommend the Telrad. Not the prettiest piece of kit but reasonably priced and works like a dream. It projects onto its clear screen a set of circles that can be dimmed (important for the fainter objects) and the idea is your stare at the night sky with one eye and the other is on the red circles and merging the two together has the effect of projecting a red circle on the universe which of course can be directional adjusted to be in line with the scope. You can download off the internet free Telrad maps that help you find objects by scaling distances using the circles that are you can see. Very useful if you suffer from light pollution as some of the reference stars that you may wish to use are not visible to the naked eye. This clever device will get you to where you need to be. There is a smaller but similar device called a 'Rigel finder' which is also popular and is more appropriate for smaller telescopes because the Telrad can appear like an overweight 'shoe box' tied to your scope.

So as great as lasers are, I believe the Telrad (Rigel) works better and is also more forgiving on the batteries. The only problem I have had with them, has been to do with myself, in that I keep forgetting to turn the blasted things off when I'm not using them :):D (....I'm not the only one on here that has done that!) Though not part of your question, I would like to add that in the future, you might want to change the 'straight through' finder that is so often included with new gear and to get your self a 'right angled' finder (not cheap) because the view it provides is only back to front and NOT upside down which with the Telrad makes an excellent finder combo that will make searching the night sky a lot easier. Telrad will get you there, the finder will nail it down leaving you to fine tune with the scope itself - couldn't be easier!

Clear skies

James

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I broke my neck in an automobile accident about 6 years ago, and since that time, I have used a laser pointer attached to my scopes in place of a finder scope. The laser works quite well for me, and keeps me from having to twist my neck into positions that would be uncomfortable or impossible for me to reach now days.

I do like the laser very well, and can usually find something almost as quickly with it, as I ever did with a finder scope. Of course, there is no magnification involved unless I sight up the beam with a set of binocs ( which I have been known to do ) but very often it works at least as well as the Telrad, which is to me, the best "red dot" finder on the market !

Clear skies! Jim S

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In terms of ease of use, the laser and a good star map wins hands down, however, you need to be aware that the aviation community, not just in this country but worldwide, is up in arms about these devices and the police take a very dim view of lasers being shone into aircraft cockpits, whether accidental or not. My advice is that unless you live in a part of the country remote from airports, helicopters, etc. then don't take the risk with a laser. My second preference is a good quality red dot finder such as the Baader Sky Surfer V (I've used Telrads and ther red dots and find the Baader by far the best). Not so good though if you have restricted mobility as you still need to get down on your knees from time to time. I've never found finder scopes very intuitive but that's a personal preference - RACIs though (right angle, correct image), would be my recommendation.

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I second Alma's point of view about the aviation community.

As you are living in Nottinghamshire you have Robin Hood Airport/Nottingham & Castle Donnington/East Midlands airports - a bit risky to own a green laser I think.

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A good way to use a laser is not to put it on a bracket where it soon dies of cold but to keep it in your pocket and fire it through the finder for a quick align. The finder will send it the same way as the scope. But since you are under aircraft rich skies I would make this quick and occasional.

When they fade, tap them in the palm of your hand. It revives them for some reason.

Olly

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Get both, the laser for home use and the red dot (Rigel Qwikfinder) for starparty use... they hate lasers. l always seem to lose my position on the sky when looking though red dot finders. The laser is just so much quicker.. though the batteries do die in the cold (a quick reheat in a pocket fixes that). No-one more than a few meters away from you can see the beam, so use with impunity, just keep <5mW for safety and avoid planes!

I'd also add a 9x50 correct image right angle finder as the next level of finding, with that and some reasonable charts you are good to go for pretty much anything!

Cheers

PEterW

PS Thanks Olly, I have heard this one, but have yet to try it... will save me having to get a "2finder" bracket for my scope.

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A good way to use a laser is not to put it on a bracket where it soon dies of cold but to keep it in your pocket and fire it through the finder for a quick align. The finder will send it the same way as the scope. But since you are under aircraft rich skies I would make this quick and occasional.

When they fade, tap them in the palm of your hand. It revives them for some reason.

Olly

Olly, using this method is there any danger of reflection from the finderscope glass? Sounds bit tricky with one hand holding down the laser button against the finderscope and then the other hand slewing the scope....

Also does the finderscope expand the beam coming out the other end?

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