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A Newbie's Advice To Newbie's


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I've been into Astronomy since the start of 2012 and here are my humble top tips from what i've learnt:

1) Don't expect the views to look like on TV / Websites and Magazines. Saturn will probably look no better than this with expensive gear. (Which is still great IMO):

Saturn.jpg

2) I's definetly recommend my route if you have the cash. Get a GOTO with a Alt-Z Mount.

3) If you follow number (2) don't be afraid to go big. My first Telescope is a Celestron CPC 800. Saturn looks like the picture above.

4) Consider where you live. I'm lucky that i live in a little town in Devon. I can go outside in my back-garden and it's dark. if i didn't have this option it can be a hassle to travel and i might have thought twice about spending all the money.

5) Definetly consider a GOTO Mount. I'd like to learn the sky, but i can be setup and viewing anything i want in 10 minutes. I've seen a lot of frustrated people on here who complain about finding objects.

Finally, buy a Dew Shield, a decent Powertank and some Eyepieces to give you something to experiment with. it can be fun trying out different combinations and observing the results.

Hope this helps everyone.

Edited by Zaine UK
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I deffinitely agree with your comments on the exagerated views some expect when you look through the EP. Sadly it appears that many are under the impression that they will see huge Hubble type views of the planets and even stars and are very dissapointed when, having spent fairly large sums of money only see pee sized or smaller (at arms length) images. Personally, Saturn thrills me even when clearly seen at only 25x.

A couple of weeks back on one exceptionally clear evening I mannaged to push my 5" Mak to 416x with a 3.6mm EP (the only time I've ever mannaged it) and got a view of Jupiter not too dissimillar in size to your example of Saturn viewed on my laptop placed on my lap (for refference). Unfortunately, by the time Saturn should have been visible the sky had become murky and I couldn't even see it with the naked eye.

As for the GoTo, I quickly got fed up waiting for the scope to slew to targets. I just wanted to get viewing as quick as possible. It did help me get to know the skies. But it could be argued that you can do that with skymaps and a pair of binoculars.

Another consideration for a potential buyer would be if they are buying for a family who are likely to be viewing together. There could be advantages to the GoTo scopes in that they track objects once set up correctly and you haven't got to keep nudging a Dob between viewers.

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Even if I had the cash I'm not sure I would go down this road - though obviously everyones different.

I would guess for most people starting out from scratch a scope like yours is a huge investment for something you may or may not still want to do after the initial buzz has died away - although I'm guessing the resale value, given the scarcity of scopes at the moment, should be pretty good so perhaps not that great a risk really.

Gotos might not be so frustrating but personally I don't think they as rewarding either and diminish the challenge some what but I'm the first to agree theres no right or wrong answer here - its just personal prefrence.

You can learn the sky with a book and a patio chair in the garden but I agree light pollution should be a factor in the scope you buy if it needs to be transported.

The biggest single asset I've found getting into this hobby as a newcomer is this forum - so many people willing to help - so many viewpoints - this hobby can be as deep, as expensive as social as you want it to be but above all else it should be enjoyable and as a newcomer I'm not sure its the kit that matters so much but the learning aspect of the hobby.

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yeah first advice to give to a potential astronomer- LOWER YOUR EXEPECTATIONS

its just so much more amazing when you do, as you go in with no real sense of whats about to be shown to you, and then comes the woooowwww moment....i mean theres just so much to think about what your looking at, especially when it comes to dso's - i mean you're looking back in time!!! whats cooler than that???

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I've seen a lot of frustrated people on here who complain about finding objects.

They're have also been a lot of posts from people complaining they couldn't get their Goto to work.

Manual or Goto, neither is perfect, and both are deffinitily a learning curve for the beginner.:blob10:

Regards Steve

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My own advice to newbies is understanding how a seemingly clear sky can sometimes give you really bad views of the planets i.e. no detail on Jupiter.

The best way to demonstrate this is set your scope up in the house in front of a CLOSED window, use the highest powered eyepiece you can focus with on a planet, say Saturn, take a good look at the planet, now open that window.

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A couple of weeks back on one exceptionally clear evening I mannaged to push my 5" Mak to 416x with a 3.6mm EP (the only time I've ever mannaged it) and got a view of Jupiter not too dissimillar in size to your example of Saturn viewed on my laptop placed on my lap (for refference). Unfortunately, by the time Saturn should have been visible the sky had become murky and I couldn't even see it with the naked eye.

To clarify my earlier comment, I usually get my best (detailed) views between 90x and 180x, depending on the atmosphere, with my scope (127 Mak). I don't want to give false expectations if anyone is considering purchasing one.

Cheers Zaine, thats great for 8" with a 7mm EP. Id be blown away if I saw that.

Don't forget Ainsley, that to get a similar magnification with an 8" SW Dob though, you would need a 4mm EP as the Dob's focal length is almost half that of Zaine's scope.

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Even if I had the cash I'm not sure I would go down this road - though obviously everyones different.

I would guess for most people starting out from scratch a scope like yours is a huge investment for something you may or may not still want to do after the initial buzz has died away - although I'm guessing the resale value, given the scarcity of scopes at the moment, should be pretty good so perhaps not that great a risk really.

Gotos might not be so frustrating but personally I don't think they as rewarding either and diminish the challenge some what but I'm the first to agree theres no right or wrong answer here - its just personal prefrence.

You can learn the sky with a book and a patio chair in the garden but I agree light pollution should be a factor in the scope you buy if it needs to be transported.

The biggest single asset I've found getting into this hobby as a newcomer is this forum - so many people willing to help - so many viewpoints - this hobby can be as deep, as expensive as social as you want it to be but above all else it should be enjoyable and as a newcomer I'm not sure its the kit that matters so much but the learning aspect of the hobby.

I agree about people willing to help. Lots of helpful and kind people on this forum have helped me.

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great post "Zaine UK", I'm in the process of buying my 1st scope, looks like it going to be a "Skywatcher Skymax 127 SynScan AZ GOTO" (if I can get hold of one!).

Some very useful tips on here for someone like me which will no doubt prove invaluable.

I'm not expecting the Earth (pardon the pun) with mine, just to be able see the Moon in detail and Saturn's rings (however small) will do me, anything else is a bonus!

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They're have also been a lot of posts from people complaining they couldn't get their Goto to work.

Manual or Goto, neither is perfect, and both are deffinitily a learning curve for the beginner.:blob10:

Regards Steve

Quite agree, as I was reading this thread I was mentally composing a post saying exactly as you have.

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Living in the centre of a city with Bortle 7/8 and less than magnitude 5 skies, I would be completely lost without "goto".

Yes, there is a learnng curve, but once done, you can be observing within 2 minutes of plonking your gear down.

The autotracking function is also a godsend, you can change EPs, nip in for coffee, or in my case down to the gym for an hour, come back and the object is still in view.

Much better than the manic twitching you see with Dob-owners.

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Goto would not appeal to me. Hunting is part of the process for me. But I do understand the benefits of auto tracking ect. But once I've exhausted my fist scope (90mm) I'm going down the manual dob route. I think an advantage of seeing many objects with a small scope is I'll appreciate the views a lot more when moving up to 8_10 inch dob

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Yes, there is a learnng curve, but once done, you can be observing within 2 minutes of plonking your gear down

But this is true of ANY scope. Once you've learnt how to use any set up your away in minutes.

Twitching!. Never seen any birds through my Dob.:(

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I just wondered, those who are living in light poluted areas, and extolling the virtues of GOTO's, how does it make any difference, if the scope finds the DSO's, but you can't see them because of LP? I know exactly where many DSO's are, but with the LP I have in my garden, I can't really see them clearly, if at all on some nights! I'm not knocking GOTO, but am just curious?

Edited by Catweazel
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