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Aronnax

Scope woes, or is it just me?

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Here’s the rub. I’d welcome your thoughts / comments.

About 15 years ago I was given a Simmons 4.5 inch reflector (http://www.simmonsoptics.com/downloads/manuals/archive/TSI_6450_Telescope%20Assembly%20Instructions.PDF)

I am of the opinion that this is not a ‘quality’ product and struggled with it for a while until I moved house and it got put away for a few years. I got it back out and set it up last night (which was a bit optimistic, as the clouds rolled in), and re-familiarised myself with setting up the EQ mount etc, so from that point of view it was time well spent.

However, having done a bit more research in the intervening years, I recognize that the eyepieces that came with the scope are laughably poor quality, and the finderscope (all plastic) isn’t the most helpful. The mount is wobbly, and focusing is not the smoothest. I fear that I’m going to get frustrated with this scope and not get out there actually using it.

So, is it just me, or does anyone else have any experience with this scope(?) that can offer any advice. Part of me, in fact all parts of me except the wallet part, wants to pack this scope away forever and invest in something with a lot more quality (and upgrade aperture too).

So, can I make this scope work for me, or would I be better off starting from a higher quality baseline with a new telescope?

Your thoughts/experiences would be most welcome.

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Similar story when I re-discovered my old Tasco.

Best advice I can give, is gain experience by using what you have got and find a local astro club to compare it with other scopes.

Don't rush into replacing the whole set up at the moment, you could try investing in a quality eyepiece and colimating it to see if things improve (you could use these items with other scopes later should you upgrade)

After mucking about with the Tasco I eventually got some reasonable views, it was the ep which was holding it back

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If it was me i would probably leave the scope alone for a while and maybe get a good set of binoculars and learn the skies rather than trying to use a scope that you can see yourself getting fustrated with.

I think if you see some nice things with binoculars then your more likely to keep at the hobby rather than getting fustrated with a poor quality scope.

After using the binoculars and getting aperture fever then maybe buy a better quality scope

but thats just me.

Edited by Mansnake

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Hi,

I have no experience of this scope, however I did have a quick look at the instruction manual you linked to, and was thinking about the best way forward for you.

The first thing to say is that it is not at all obvious from the manual whether the primary mirror is parabolic or not. This will have quite a significant effect on whether it is worth perservering with the scope.

Secondly, what diameter are the eyepieces and barlow? Are they the currently most common 1.25" or are they the much less common (nowadays) 0.965"? If they are 1.25" then you can always begin to purchase some more decent eyepieces and a decent barlow to try out on your scope, knowing that if you do decide later to upgrade to a better scope then the eyepieces will still be useful to you. However, if your current eyepieces/barlow are the old 0.965" then that option won't be there.

Thirdly, you might chose also to upgrade the mount/tripod. If you decide that the scope is worth it, and you get much better seeing through better eyepieces, then it may well be worth considering getting a more sturdy mount/tripod combination.

I hope this helps!

Jim

Edited by JimBobs63

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Thanks for the replies so far, I think new EP's will make a big difference for sure. But they are 0.965", and I worry about future compatibility. I collimated as best I could beforehand with a DIY collimating cap (hole in a bit of plastic!).

I certainly won't be rushing out to buy anything rashly, and want to look through some other scopes to see what difference there is between them.

I have had good views out of this scope in the past, and I hope to have more in the future, but it feels like I'm doing battle against it again, which is part of the reason it was put away for so long.

Edited by Aronnax

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I can't comment specifically on your current telescope Aronnax, but I had pretty much the same experience when i started out. I bought a Celestron 114 on a manual eq mount, and whilst I could, with a little bit of hard work, get a reasonable view of the moon with the 25mm ep that came with the 'scope, the remainder of the set up left a lot to be desired.

By the sounds of it you've persisted for a while, but before you decide to open your wallet it might be best to give it one final chance under a clear sky and make an assessment then, but if the component parts are as you described in your original post, I can't see things getting any better.

I'm not going to recommend anything to replace it with (not least because you haven't asked and I'm hardly qualified to do so being relatively new to this hobby as well) but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that from my own experience, having spent a couple of thousand pounds on this hobby already, it is easy to jump in and make a purchase thinking you know exactly what it is that you want, and then realise that you need more aperture/stability/filters/ep's/delete as appropriate.

If I had my time again I'd have spent several more days or weeks on this forum asking questions before spending my hard earned. The one thing that I would have found out is that the mount is everything. Whether you're using your 'scope for photography or visual use the ability to solidly mount your optics is the most important thing. I've bought a second hand Celestron CG-5 GT Goto and it is by far and away the best money I've spent.

Back to the original question. I suspect that you know that you're going to have to take the plunge so Good luck and don't be afraid to ask those on here that know for their advice/recommendations and then your next purchase might not need replacing for some time! :)

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Richard, you spotted my deliberate omission... of course I've been window shopping and have in mind a scope that I would like, and I know what I'd like to see and do with it, but that's for another thread :)

Jim, I don't know if it is parabolic, I would presume not given the "budget" nature of this scope, I will investigate when it is in front of me.

I would dearly love a bigger/better/brighter scope, but rest assured I won't be buying the first thing that I look at, I'll be taking my sweet time, and posting on here for input if/when that time comes :)

What would people think about buying new 0.965" EP's for this scope?

Thanks again for your comments so far.

Edited by Aronnax

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This telescope is a typical 'department store' type and to be brutally honest, I really don't think that you will ever get it to work that well. There are two major obstacles to this, the mount and the eyepieces. I would not recommend spending any money on new 0.965 eyepieces for this instrument as the rest of the kit doesn't really warrant the cost.

I would suggest that you start saving your pennies and carrying out some more research - you've already started that by making this post. Try to determine what objects interest you most (solar system or deep sky) as this will heavily impact your choice of telescope and mount.

For astrophotography, the mount is without doubt the most important consideration but I firmly believe that it is just as important for visual astronomy too as a wobbly mount will lead to early frustration regardless of the telescope mounted on it.

There are some excellent observers on SGL (I'm not one of them unfortunately!) and I am sure that they will readily answer your questions as your research continues.

In the meantime, check the collimation, tighten up the nuts and bolts and enjoy the Moon, planets and open star clusters at low power to get the most enjoyment from the telescope that you currently have.

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I agree. Don't spend any money on it. Go to some local events and look through some other scopes. Bring your scope with you and see when an experienced observer can get out of it.

The focal ratio looks pretty large so even if the scope isn't parabolic I think you should still get reasonable views (especially at lower power). Buy a copy of "Turn Left at Orion" and see what you can see. In the mean time, read up about what's on the market and if you're still keen you'll be in a position to make a good decision.

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I think you've said pretty much what I was thinking.

I will be wheeling out the beastie again, when the seeing is better, and making some critical appraisals.

I've been looking up at the skies now for many a year, it's just the scope that's been in hibernation for a couple of years, but I was inspired to get it out again lately to see if it was really as ropey as I remembered.

I will be persevering... and will investigate some local help / a society too.

Thanks for your comments, they're all welcome :)

@umadog, it's f7.9 by my calculations.

Edited by Aronnax

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If you had said that the eypieces were 1.25 then I would have said get a couple of reasonable plossl's and give it a go with them.

Looking at it I would say it was a spherical mirror, f/7.8 and the age of it.

If it needs collimating then you really need a collimator, they cost around £30, although you can do a reasonable job with a collimating cap and these can be made fron an old 35mm film container. Search for Astro-baby she has a set of instructions and I think it covers using a collimation cap. Much cheaper.

Look on UK Astro Buy and Sell as occasionally 0.965" eyepieces come up for sale there. Suspect that you cannot buy new.

The 6mm and 4mm you have will be of almost no use. You want something like 8mm-10mm-12mm. If you can locate a couple inexpensive then perhaps give them a go. If you get a better scope ypou could always resell the 0.965's.

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I would support the views shared above that the scope is probably not worth investing any more money in. Although I believe that researching the internet for kit and prices is useful in seeing what's out there, it is very easy to go round in circles with all the specifications as they won't mean a thing unless you have some reference point from which to evaluate what will best meet your own expectations regarding the objects that you want to observe.

Joining an astro club should form part of your research, especially if you have the opportunity to go with the club's observers to take a closer look at some of their kit (both inside and out). Some of the gear out there is a lot larger than the advertisements would suggest, and will give you the opportunity to ask questions like, how long does it take to set up, what are the cool down times, are there known problems or glitches. There are a number of clubs that actually lend out kit to their members to use which is a very useful resource and stems the urge to part with your cash in the short term.

Cl;ear skies and look forward to hearing your suggestions regarding a possible new alternative.

James

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Thanks all. Keep an eye out for the obligatory 'New scope advice' thread in the coming weeks / months...

In the meantime, I'll keep tinkering with this scope and see what I can get out of it. I'll use it to practice my collimation on!

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