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Equipment advice please


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Hi All

Appologies first for writing a thread which no doubt you see on a regular basis.

To date....

I have been enjoying some Nikon 10-22 x 50 bins of late and pinched my fathers Tasco newtonian that he never used. Other than a few quite good lunar views i have found the tasco to be quite poor - because it is. As an utter novice to this, the EQ mount it is sat on is naff. Counterweights make it awkward to handle and frequently snag on the stand. For this reason and a few others, i quite like the ideal of having a computerised scope.

Contemplating a purchase....

  • I could get a reasonable set of lenses for the Tasco (with eye relief!!!) and learn how to use an EQ mount properly
  • With no science applied to this statement, i quite like the idea of having a refractor. Skywatcher startravel 102 c/w go to system.
  • My brother has the Celestron Nextsra 127SLT; wanting to be different the skywatcher skymax 127 goto could be a good option.
  • I had considered saving a bit more and getting a light bucket that is the 8" skywatcher dob with go to system. However i'm quite tall and bending double to an eyepiece didn't do much for my enthusiasm.
  • Next option is based on feedback and suggestions forum members ;)

I note that Skywatcher own Celestron, which pressumably explains much of the similarity between the two product ranges. However, is there much difference in brand pedigree or value?

Thanks in advance for feedback and suggestions

Oat

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the 2 main scopes you mention are very different....the 102 startravel is best for deep sky objects, the 127 mak is best for lunar and planets, my advice would be to decide what sort of objects you would prefer to view, then get a scope suited for that

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I'm going to challenge accepted 'wisdom' here on SGL, DON'T get a newtonian as a first scope they can lead to immense frustration and complete disillusionment with astronomy, the almost constant need for collimation is an incredible pain and if you don't have the stick to it ness required at the beginning to mess around with secondary and primary positioning you will be tearing your hair out after an hour of fruitless screw twiddling. Something that will get you up and seeing in the shortest time possible like a little mak or refractor which don't require that you spend additional funds on a collimator etc is probably the best bet and will show almost as much and they're not so fussy about eyepieces either, the performance of newtonians of f5 and below suffers with the quality of eyepieces used and you will certainly need to spend more money on upgrading almost immediately, with maks and refractors you can get away with cheaper eyepieces.

Elsewhere in SGL there is a thread bemoaning lazer collimators not being collimated on arrival, the general consensus was 'how terrible send it back' newtonians never arrive collimated and therefore should be sent back where they came from.

This has been wriiten partly in frustration and anger, I am an experieced observer and still have many problems with the collimation of my 200pds, if I were a beginner it would have totally turned me off astronomy and been on ebay or in tiny tiny pieces long ago.

There are always collimation threads and newer members getting hot under the collar and annoyed but the wise ones continually suggest these imo unsuitable telescopes for budding astronomers.

Edited by Rob Severn
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the 2 main scopes you mention are very different....the 102 startravel is best for deep sky objects, the 127 mak is best for lunar and planets, my advice would be to decide what sort of objects you would prefer to view, then get a scope suited for that

Indeed, deciding which scope to buy should be based on what objects you wanna observe, although TBH for DSO you want aperture not a little frac. An 8" Dob would be a wiser choice.

You can always sit down rather than bending over. That's what I do.

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you could always print out a 360degree setting circle and tie it in with a wixy digital angle guage for "push to" which would mean you wouldnt need to spend on a goto and could use the money to buy a better analouge one

for sitting down i use a little seat, but alot of members use iring chairs or even a piano stool that can be raised and lowered

the celestron nextstar system is supposed to be better than skywatcher

both companys are owned by a chinease firm "synta" who also owns orion US

celestron seems to get the technology first, then skywatcher but optically they are identical

the 127 is best only for planetary and moon and very very bright dsos (orion for instance) but the 102 is ok for widefield, i owned one and found it had way too much colour fringeing which sometimes messed the night for me (but you can get a filter to fix it)

personally i would go for a 8 - 10"dob and get a wixey and setting circle, using a app on a android or IOS or even a laptop with a planetarium software (starry night, stellerarium (its free) would give you the alt and az coordants which will place the object in the field of view for a 30mm eyepeice pretty good ;)

as others have said dobs are best for "bang for your buck" and their ok on planets too, my best view of jupitor was in a 300p (12") it was like a hubble image

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you could always print out a 360degree setting circle and tie it in with a wixy digital angle guage for "push to" which would mean you wouldnt need to spend on a goto and could use the money to buy a better analouge one

for sitting down i use a little seat, but alot of members use iring chairs or even a piano stool that can be raised and lowered

the celestron nextstar system is supposed to be better than skywatcher

both companys are owned by a chinease firm "synta" who also owns orion US

celestron seems to get the technology first, then skywatcher but optically they are identical

the 127 is best only for planetary and moon and very very bright dsos (orion for instance) but the 102 is ok for widefield, i owned one and found it had way too much colour fringeing which sometimes messed the night for me (but you can get a filter to fix it)

personally i would go for a 8 - 10"dob and get a wixey and setting circle, using a app on a android or IOS or even a laptop with a planetarium software (starry night, stellerarium (its free) would give you the alt and az coordants which will place the object in the field of view for a 30mm eyepeice pretty good ;)

as others have said dobs are best for "bang for your buck" and their ok on planets too, my best view of jupitor was in a 300p (12") it was like a hubble image

........gee cann't wait for juipiter to come back!!!!!

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Thanks guys. I already see a trend towards big dobs here!!

What do i want observe? Well like most novices i guess i want one that fits all, but accept that's probably not possible.

I suppose what concerns me the most is being able to find a centre a scope on a chosen target. That was the attraction of a GoTo system. Even a Wixey and a setting circle, i am a novice and may not have the skill / experience to use it and track objects; skill that you guys have no doubt built up over years.

An 8" dob for £300, i can see the attraction. An 8" dob with beginner friendly GoTo for £800 and i find either i have deep pockets or very short arms :eek:

I have a samsung galaxy with SkEye and Google Sky Maps which are a pretty good help to find my way around.

Thanks again for sharing your experience with me ;)

Oat

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Manual tracking with a Dob really becomes second nature in a very short space of time. Left is left,right is right,up is up and down is down. Its that simple. There is NO question that Dobs give you the biggest "bang for buck". They simply do. Why pay 2-3 times the cost for a refractor or any other type of scope for the same aperture?.

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Left is left,right is right,up is up and down is down.

Really? So images are the right way up (not that that matters).

I'm surprised because a dob is basically a newtonian and they are upside down (i think).

But as a beginner, finding my chosen object i fear to be a slow and frustrating task.....

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Hi OAt, I don't have Goto, but not having it is great for learning the sky, I just use Stellarium which is free to download and use this to star hop. Some objects are very easy to find and some are difficult, but if I've worked for 10 minutes to find an object then its a buzz when you get it centred in the eyepiece or on your DSLR screen, its all part of the fun I recken:)

I would go for the 200p dob if your not intending on doing any DSO imaging, it would be simple to use, have the most bang for the buck, and it will be good both on planets and DSO's.

And yes your correct in thinking that Newts give an image which is upside down, but still this won't take long to get used to, take your time theres no rush to learn the complexities of telescopes, just enjoy the journey:)

Edited by starfox
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Thanks again folks.

There was ref above to fitting a setting circle to a Dob, presumably a digital compass would be a better fix?

A Dob c/w digital compass and a wixey replaces the need for a GoTo system as far as i can see. (correct?)

Ref astrophotography, i don't have a DSLR so the only photography i may do would be of easy to capture objects using my digital compact via a universal scope to digital camera adapter.

Many questions but i'm only planning to buy one scope and want to make sure i enjoy it! I am planning a trip to Sherwoods in Warwickshire to see all these tubes in the flesh. I pressume Sherwoods would be my most local store?

Oat

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there is the system im going to put on my coulter dob, its a gemred digital rotary encoder, its like the wixey, but its for 360 degrees instead of up and down.

im not sure what you mean by the digital compass, do you mean the north south or the angle kind (angle kind is what the gemred is)

as the north south kind i dont think will work as the coordants are given in degrees on a scale. but the system of the wixey and setting circle / gemred creates a "push to" system, a goto also tracks the object

a digital camera on a dob is ok for the moon and quick an fast go at the planets but it wont beat a webcam in quailty

im not sure about stores but hopefully some one will know that one

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I thought about this myself before I got my setting circle set up (which works suprizingly well for a low tech solution) but a few things put me off

Firstly I think a digital compass would point to magnetic North not Astronomical North which is not the same thing - only a few degrees difference which in a wide field E/P might not be an issue but if the Dob is not level and your one or two degrees out on any of your measurements it certainly won't help. The main reason I decided against this however (and indeed the Gemred solution) is I didn't want too many electric gadgets on the go at the same time in the cold. I tried at one point to fit my android phone to the spotting scope but it was a very frustrating experience - for me not to be repeated - but the Wixey is not backlit and will turn off to save battery power - I'm not sure if the gemred does the same though I suspect it would - the phone certainly does - in combination with cold fingers and batteries draining in the cold I decided against.

I suspect that if cheap digital compasses worked that well there would be a lot more people using them in combination with Wixeys - if you you read the posts on the DIY section I would guess they are few and far between suggesting to me at least is is not that workable a solution - but its relatively cheap - if you decide to try it out let us know how you get on - best of luck anyway.

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Skywatcher and Celestron it'd are the same, the mounts and goto hand controller software different.

If your brother had the mak then why not get the frac, then you have the best of both worlds. The Skywatcher 102 received very good reviews in Sky at Night magazine, you'll be able to find the review online I'm sure.

Then get some decent eyepieces and a 2x barlow for it, an LPR filter and a neutral density moon filter.

Happy days!

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