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Hey,

I've always been interested in astronomy (well physics in general and I like looking at pictures from the Hubble telescope) and want to take star gazing up as a hobby but don't really want to rush in and buy loads of stuff in case I'm not into it as much as I think. Plus, I like gadgets so would only be tempted by something pretty impressive which I couldn't really afford to do until I have at least finished uni.

I don't know much in terms of constellations etc and locating them so obviously need to learn more about that. So, I was wondering what your advice would be on how to get started? As in are there books detailing stars worth getting? Binoculars?

Thank you!

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Search the electrical inter web for a book named "Turn Left at Orion", sit outside, find your way around.

Next, a quality pair of low power binos to get a better view.

Then, finish your education, get a good job, then think about scopes. :hello2:

All IMHO of course.

But is what my eldest did, and now he has more kit than I do, has darker skies (mid Wales) and earns double what I do now and is only 23.

The git :)

Cheers

Ian

P.S. the sky isn't going anywhere.

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Definitely binoculars. In terms of value for money they are hard to beat. I spent £370 on a small telescope, three eyepieces and a case to carry it all around in. I know I will want something better later. £160 bought me some high-quality 10x50 bins and a tripod (and there are cheaper options that are still very good). The thing is I find I do three quarters of my observation with the binoculars.

The bins are much more portable, much easier to setup and easier to use. I have seen some beautiful sights through the bins. Open clusters look particularly good.

OK, there are some things that you can't see with bins, so you will probably want a telescope at some time, but that will be in addition to the bins, not a replacement.

As for books there's Philip's "Stargazing with binoculars", and Collins Gem Stars is the best £3 you can spend on a book.

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Would have been easier if you had given an idea of a budget, even if low.

Do you have access to a half reasonable camera tripod?

At the inexpensive end here are few ideas.

Reflectors:

The 130P on an EQ2 mount for £175

The 114P on an EQ1 mount for £125

Refractors:

Star Travel 80 on EQ1 for £125

Opticstar AR80 (ONLY THE OPTICAL TUBE) for £135

For the Opticstar you would need a mount (camera tripod). Then a diagonal and an eyepiece. Say an additional £35 minimum for the last 2.:)

I would suggest the refractor approach as a first scope. Just plain easier to get along with.:)

If you get any then do not try for great magnification, it is a waste of money. :eek:

A book - go look and find one that makes sense to you. I find books are personel and what one person likes another looks at and wonders what the fuss is about. They have to present information to you in a way that you follow.:p

Binoculars: Fine as long as you want to see "wide" views. The magnification is low and fixed. I use them to find clusters and such like, then I turn a scope on the cluster for the detail. They are not a substitute for a scope. They are complementry to one.:hello2:

What will you see? Well absolutely nothing like Hubble pictures, please get that firmly in your mind. Hubble is a 2.4 meter scope outside the earths atmosphere. A "big" amateur scope is 300mm under several miles of dense, murky atmosphere that absorbs every wavelength that you might be interested in.:D

Other then the stars and the coloured double stars everything is a sort of murky grey. They are called faint fuzzies for a good reason.:mad::eek:

Just in case your budget is higher, I read an ETX 90 for sale on Astro Buy and Sell last night for £200. 90mm Mak scope on a Goto mount. The Meade set up and alignment is reasonable, the Mak's have a narrow field of view so the set up has to be done with some care and accuracy.

Expect to want to spend an additional £50 afterwards on various bits.

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I would go the binocular and book / star atlas / planisphere route to begin with - with your interest in the physics side of things you probably don't need to see every deep space object out there to start off with, just finding the brighter ones and understanding how they interact with their neighbours (which no telescope will show you, except maybe some galaxies, but you would need a BIG scope to see them in that much detail).

Star hopping with your eyes and the help of a planisphere or book, then bringing the binoculars up to confirm your discovery is a great way to lose a few hours out under dark skies. Most star clusters and galaxies may appear as fuzzy dots, many faint and hardly visible, but that fleeting glimpse out of the corner of your eye (averted vision) is what maked it worth while with your eyes or binoculars. After that, it's aperture fever to get ever-larger and more detailed views of the same thing, and that's when the price shoots up.

I started out with 8x42 bins that cost me about £135, they are the only pair I have ever needed. I tried some 15x70 but they were just too big and I couldn't get on with them (even when mounted on a tripod). You should consider mounting any pair of binoculars on a tripod as it will allow you to see things without any arm wobble. Most binoculars have a tripod mount thread at the front, an L bracket can be purchased that will allow you to screw it to a standard camera tripod.

binocular_tripod_adaptor_thumb.jpg

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/adaptors/l-type-binocular-tripod-adapters.html

(get the bigger one for more stable views)

As for gadgets, the Celestron SkyScout is pretty nifty. Get the speaker module too for an audio tour of the night sky, a great relaxing way to learn some facts and folklaw. It has a lot more going for it as a learning tool than the raw database engine in goto telescopes. I started out with one of these and binoculars. Not for everyone, but I like it.

41Qx0KtX60L._SL500_AA300_.jpg

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/misc/celestron-skyscout.html

51tNORkgiNL._SL500_SS100_.jpg

Speaker unit is expensive for it's size but works well, there is a cheaper non-branded version available IF you can find one for sale anywhere! It is about two inches across and comes with a cord so that you can hang it around your neck while listening. Of course, you could use headphones instead.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001CCVWYI/ref=asc_df_B001CCVWYI8128451?smid=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&tag=googlecouk06-21&linkCode=asn&creative=22206&creativeASIN=B001CCVWYI

One thing though - you really need to be outside and several feet away from any cars or structures for the GPS to find satellites, there is a manual date/time/location entry option if the satellites cannot be located so it should still work once this is done.

Edited by jonathan

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I got the "Astronomy, a self teaching guide" (Moche) to start off the basics with. Next will be "Turn left at Orion" which seems to be recommended by many on here.

My very first book was called "The starry heavens" which my parents bought me more years ago than I care to remember!. Still got it somewhere.

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In the absence of any specific budget, Binos are the way to go and if you find that you want to explore more, then of course binos will always compliment any scope you wish to upgrade to. Before buying any scope on any budget, it might be worth considering going along to a long astro observing session run by your local astro society or observing club. This will help you decide what you might need in order to meet your expectations. It will also help you gauge what all the specifications really mean at the eyepiece. To compliment binos, I would recommend the "Turn Left At Orion" book (Cambridge Press) suggested by others above and I would also suggest you take a look at this free piece of FREE planetarium software called 'Stellarium' which will also get you started in learning the night sky and where to find the constellations in the above book.

When choosing your binos, you might want to read this website which has plenty of useful information along with suggested viewing targets too. Hope that helps.

Clear skies

James

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Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. Think I'll look into getting a couple of the books suggested and some binoculars then.

Hi and welcome to SGL

I can recommend the bins on the attached link as I used to own the same model.

http://www.telescope...cial_Offer.html

Get the Philip's Stargazing With Binoculars and/or Turn Left At Orion books to help you learn the night sky.

HTH!

In terms of budget, I was going to try and get started for under £100 as I didn't want to spend too much straight away so something like these would fit nicely into that :smiley: . Although I'll have a look at the website mentioned above to see what options there are.

Thanks once again.

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For £100:

Planisphere: £10

Norton's: £22

Bins: £50

Red light torch £10-20

Membership of local astro club :£10-30

Warm clothing!

Don't be tempted by 'cheap' telescopes from the likes of Jessops, they are rubbish and a waste of money. Also, keep a look out for second hand kit.

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For £100:

Planisphere: £10

Norton's: £22

Bins: £50

Red light torch £10-20

Membership of local astro club :£10-30

Warm clothing!

Don't be tempted by 'cheap' telescopes from the likes of Jessops, they are rubbish and a waste of money. Also, keep a look out for second hand kit.

Yeah I was thinking when/if I get round to buying a telescope I'd like it to be one that i'd be happy using for many years so would rather save up for a while.

What would the red light torch be for?

Also, for second hand kit, is this the sort of stuff that would be better viewing it first to make sure it's ok as I imagine telescopes can be quite delicate?

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The red torch is so you can see without wrecking your night vision (red is darker than white so doesn't effect your night vision as much).

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Thanks for all the replies and suggestions. Think I'll look into getting a couple of the books suggested and some binoculars then.

In terms of budget, I was going to try and get started for under £100 as I didn't want to spend too much straight away so something like these would fit nicely into that :smiley: . Although I'll have a look at the website mentioned above to see what options there are.

Thanks once again.

Bins then.

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I would go along with what others have said here. The latest version of 'Turn Left at Orion' gives a realistic indication of what you can see through the eyepieces of telescopes and binoculars. Stellarium is a complete planitarium which is free to download and use - and bins can often be found in good working condition second hand. Is there an astronomy group at uni? They may help with sourcing cheaper bins or have a discount operation with a local store.

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There are also some cheap decent spotting scopes to start with which because of their light weigh make it easy to get out to darker skies.

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Yep,bicycle backlight, blanket to lay on,centre fold " Sky at Night". After 3months you'll have a bad back and terrible attitude to clouds, but you'll know your way around. You'll be able to use a Dob with a Telrad and find things.

Nick.

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Well, I started off with the Skywatcher 76 mini Dob. I found it highly enjoyable (and still do!) as a means of learning the sky. It is easy to use and shows a variety of objects, including great views of many star clusters, The Moon, both Jupiter and Saturn (with their respective moons), and many other (small looking) treats.

Until I raised the funds to buy a Skywatcher Skyliner 200p Dob, I was very pleased with the 76; but once I received the bigger 'scope the real fun began...

Being a novice myself, I suggest saving for the aforementioned 'scope, a copy of 'Turn Left At Orion', and a Telrad finder.

If- like me- you cannot wait to get started, then the Skywatcher 76 mini Dob (or the Skywatcher 130p, which is much better) is a reasonably good starting point.

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Also, I agree that it is worth looking out for second hand equipment (Gumtree? Preloved?), as I got my 200p via such means for a far cheaper price than through a shop- in fact, my setup (with a host of EPs, gadgets and books) cost me £400 second hand, compared with £750 had I bought it all new.

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If- like me- you cannot wait to get started, then the Skywatcher 76 mini Dob (or the Skywatcher 130p, which is much better) is a reasonably good starting point.

As in a substitute for binoculars? Or is it good enough to consider getting both? If the latter, it would be nice to look at something with a bit more focus whilst still having binoculars for future use as well, seen as though I imagine it'll be quite a while before I own a telescope.

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I was considering getting a 'scope first but after finding this sight and doing some reading I ended up with a pair of 15x70 binoculars, a planisphere, Sky Atlas and a copy of The Backyard Astronomer. I'm a total beginner and at the moment I can just lie down and look at the Moon, the MASSIVE amount of stars etc. that you can't see with the naked eye (this really amazed me) and try and star hop. The only thing that really holds me back is work and the weather!

Good luck and enjoy!

P.S. Keep using this site, it's excellent for info. and answering questions (and remember, there are no stupid questions. I'm finding that out myself!).

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