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Do i get a basic scope or a second pair of binoculars?


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Im sorry if this has been asked a million times before, which it probably has and have had a search through the forums and found myself debating what to get.

At the moment i have a pair of 10x50 bins and have been looking to get myself a pair of 15x70 binoculars and a basic tripod/monopod for them but on doing a bit of reading of reviews and browsing through some web stores have found a couple of telescopes which sound like they are capable of doing what id like from a scope for the time being and looking for some feedback/experience from these scopes.

I figured i wouldnt have much change from £100 if i was to get a pair of bins and a mount and have seen 2 scopes that have caught my eye that are within my price range and look like they could also be 'uprgadable' by buying better lenses etc as well.

The 2 scopes that caught my attention are :

Skywatcher mercury 707

Skywatcher Evostar 90

My main interest is looking at the main planets (saturn, jupiter, mars and venus) if thats what they are classed as, as well as the moon.

I know the general rule of thumb is you get what you pay for but from the little i have read, these scopes are capable of doing this as well as possibly having room for improvement with better lenses/filters, i could be wrong with the second part tho. I was thinking as i already have a pair of half decent bins, with one of these i would have something that would be quick to set up in the back garden, if we actually get any clear skies at some point but could also take in the car along to a local meet as well.

Would one of these scopes be better than the 15x70 bins for observing these planets or would one get the same or more detail with the bigger bins on a mount?

Any help/feedback from members who have experience with one or both of these scopes would be greatly appreciated.

Sorry for the lengthy post and thanks for any replies

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Would one of these scopes be better than the 15x70 bins for observing these planets or would one get the same or more detail with the bigger bins on a mount

You can use bins to follow their movement against the background stars, and the 15x70s should show Jupiter's main moons, Saturn's largest moon Titan, the phases of Venus, Mercury spotting in the twilight (make sure the Sun is below the horizon if you try that) and perhaps spotting Neptune & Uranus as a point of light. But you won't see any planetary surface detail.

A telescope is your best option here, how about a small maksutov ? they usually have good optical quality, mainly free of collimation issues, are very compact and great for moon planets & double stars.

HTH, Ed.

Edit, don't know what your budget is, but this would get you up & running for £ 155 - http://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/skywatcher-skymax-90-eq1.html

Edited by NGC 1502
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If you didn't already have some binos I would have said the 15x70's as you will always use them no matter what scope you get in the future, However, I agree with Ed above in that even a very modest scope will show you more detail than even an expensive pair of binos. But if I was being honest with you, I would save a little more and purchase a dobsonian scope be it the 130P Heritage here which a number of forum members have or a little more and you could have the Skyliner 150P here which would be my preferred choice. Like anything, you get what you pay for and of course if astronomy doesn't work out for you but you have bought a popular scope, then you can always resell and recoup some of your initial investment and therefore minimising the cost of the 'trial'. It is a tricky situation when you are starting out because on the one hand you don't want to spend too much money if you are not 100% sure you are in it for long haul but if you buy too cheap, then the views are likely to be uninspiring and will persuade you not to go any further.

As we are in the 'quiet' season, you could hang on for a bit till the darker nights arrive to see if you can attend your local astro club's public observation evenings to view some of the typical scopes that are out there. This approach is certainly the most valauable in getting your head around what all the specifications really mean at the eyepiece. It might be worth seeing if you can contact somebody from the South Wales Community Group on here (under the forum heading community on the forum's front page) to tag along at their next observing session to see some of this kit up close and to discuss the finer points of different designs etc - I'm sure they would be very welcoming.

In summary, a scope will reveal more detail than binos, the dobsonian type of scope will yield more aperture (resolution of detail) for your money and in addition, I would save a little more to receive a lot more observing satisfaction.

Clear skies

James

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As you have 10x50's then get the Evostar 90.

You can adjust the magnification by getting a couple of inexpensive eyepieces and you will get more out of it.

Even 15x70's will just show Saturn anf Jupiter as a small disc, the Evostar will be good on Jupiter and should be able to get a reasonable view of Saturn and the rings.

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Binoculars really specialize in wide field viewing, and even if you upgrade to stronger ones, you will still be stuck at that end of the spectrum. I would advise you to go for the scope. Then you can add higher magnifications to your arsenal. Especially if you are interested in planets, a scope is the way to go.

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Thanks for all the input, certainly given me food for thought. It probably wont be until about Mid August/September time when i'd be getting one. At the moment im getting a little overwhelmed with all the different types of mounts, polar aligning, some scopes saying f5 and others being f10 and have no idea what all that is about. I just thought it would be using certain stars as reference points, pointing the scope in that direction, use finder scope to target what you are wanting to look at, then look and enjoy it through the scope or is there more to it than that?

I thought about second hand as well, hopefully will be able to see the classifieds on here after a certain time but not sure ill get the 50 posts required without actually spamming which is something i wouldnt do.

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A good site for second hand items is Astro Buy Sell, the UK version. There are a lot of good people selling on there. Don't make your first scope too complicated with all the electric gadgets. The best scope for a newcomer is a 6 to 8 inch Dobsonian. And with this, get the Sky & Telescope Pocket Star Atlas. That's all you need to have a lot of fun. If you bog yourself down with all the complicated gear, you're less likely to use it.

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If you can get one, try for a second hand Heritage 130P. They normally come up on ABS for about £80 - £100 and it's a brilliant scope, good aperture, and 40mm bigger aperture than the Evostar.

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I agree with the comments re the Skywatcher Heritage 130p. I bought one after outgrowing my 15x70 bins and love it (although I still use the bins). Through the 130p I've seen the polar ice cap on Mars (with a 3x TAL Barlow), the cloud belts of Jupiter, the phases of Venus, and the rings of Saturn (plus moons), along with galaxies and nebuale, and cracking views of the Moon, all of which have blown me away.

It's basic in terms of its operation, which is great for a beginner, but powerful in terms of its optics. There's also the option to upgrade to the Skywatcher Synscan GOTO mount in the future, which I've done, but haven't been able to have a play with it outside due to this British "summer" weather... :-(

Edited by Hermit
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There's also the option to upgrade to the Skywatcher Synscan GOTO mount in the future, which I've done, but haven't been able to have a play with it outside due to this British "summer" weather... :-(

That's very true. It fits the Synscan Goto mount perfectly. Looks a bit weird but who cares once it works.

I must try my Heritage on my 8SE mount and see it it fits/works.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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I too would recommend the Heritage. I bought this scope after using 10x50 bins for a few months and am more than happy with it.

I still use the bins for general scanning but the Heritage shows me a lot more, is very portable, holds collimation well and as mentioned previously has great optics.

HTH

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I agree, the Heritage on the Synscan mount does look strange. It reminds me of the hybrid toys that the kid next door creates in Toy Story 1...

Edited by Hermit
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Thanks again for all the replies, I've been reading up on the sykwatcher heritage 130p which looks awesome and the reviews speak for themselves. The only concerns i have with that scope are that ill be mainly viewing from my garden which although is dark, there is still light pollution from street lights and with the flextube extender not being covered, wont the light pollution interfere with that more than if it was covered? Also, i would have to buy a tripod to mount it on as well which i guess would be cheap enough but it all starts to add up. The other reason i mentioned the skywatcher refractors is apart from them coming with a tripod etc. they also seem to be low maintenance, not having to worry about mirrors going out of alignment, especially if im taking it in the car with me to various meets and star parties, and if i do get drawn into this hobby id probably be saving for a good, 'long term investment' scope within the next 12 months (i turn 40 in the new year and have overheard my brother suggesting to my parents about everyone chipping in for a telescope for that) and the small refractor could possibly be used as a sort of finderscope with the right eyepiece to give a bigger field of view, or have i read into that wrong somewhere along the way, lol.

Still, i think i would go with the advice of people with a lot of experience rather than my gut instincts and will carry on doing some more research, should hopefully be able to come along to any meets and starwatching parties where hopefully could see a wide range of scopes in action which would also help in making a choice.

Thanks again :)

ps - on a side note, did anyone else in south wales notice the 5 minutes of sunshine we had about lunch time, hopefully a sign of things to come

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Thanks again for all the replies, I've been reading up on the sykwatcher heritage 130p which looks awesome and the reviews speak for themselves. The only concerns i have with that scope are that ill be mainly viewing from my garden which although is dark, there is still light pollution from street lights and with the flextube extender not being covered, wont the light pollution interfere with that more than if it was covered? Also, i would have to buy a tripod to mount it on as well which i guess would be cheap enough but it all starts to add up. The other reason i mentioned the skywatcher refractors is apart from them coming with a tripod etc. they also seem to be low maintenance, not having to worry about mirrors going out of alignment, especially if im taking it in the car with me to various meets and star parties, and if i do get drawn into this hobby id probably be saving for a good, 'long term investment' scope within the next 12 months (i turn 40 in the new year and have overheard my brother suggesting to my parents about everyone chipping in for a telescope for that) and the small refractor could possibly be used as a sort of finderscope with the right eyepiece to give a bigger field of view, or have i read into that wrong somewhere along the way, lol.

Still, i think i would go with the advice of people with a lot of experience rather than my gut instincts and will carry on doing some more research, should hopefully be able to come along to any meets and starwatching parties where hopefully could see a wide range of scopes in action which would also help in making a choice.

Thanks again :)

ps - on a side note, did anyone else in south wales notice the 5 minutes of sunshine we had about lunch time, hopefully a sign of things to come

Don't worry about a mount, it has it's own. Just plonk it on a chair or table and stargaze away!

Light Pollution isn't worse with an uncovered FlexTube, there may be some stray light occasionally, but you can make a light shroud very easily. ;) It's also very portable :) (I stargaze from my backgarden with the same scope).

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The 2 scopes that caught my attention are :

Skywatcher mercury 707

Skywatcher Evostar 90

I've got a mercury 707 - The scope is ok, the mount was pants ('was' as in it fell apart in next to no time)

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If you do decide to get a telescope and later on do not use it, it can end up being a 'White Elephant'! Having binoculars, these can be used to view differnet items as and when you want to. I all ways tell people (new to astronomy) to get binoculars first and if they still like astronomy after a while go out and get a telescope. Buying a second hand telescope is probably the best way to start, if you can try one out first this would also help, maybe at a local club viewing session? That way, you can try equipment and ask the owners any questions.

HTH

Peter

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Another spanner in the works.......

A guy i work with has got a travel scope, from what he said it sounds like this one :

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Celestron-Travel-Scope-Refractor-Outfit/dp/B006MCYAH4/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=C6ZLO3S0UIFL&coliid=I2V994MUZNPWRW

he had it for christmas, used it a couple of times and lost interest. He said i can have it for £25.

Do you think this would be worth a punt at that price? I've had a read through some reviews and know the tripod is pants but was talking to my uncle who is a keen photographer and he has a tripod i could use.

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There’s a hell of a lot more to it than that but it will all make sense to you very quickly providing you learn to crawl before walking. The first thing you should buy is not a telescope but a good introductory book on astronomy and telescopes. Here you will learn all about the different mounts and all the other stuff regarding focal ratios and the best type of telescope for your needs. Also, get outside with those binoculars, a simple star map, and familiarize yourself with the way the sky works and the Celestial Sphere.

Having done that, then if you are still interested you ought to consider a telescope instead of another pair of binoculars. My advice here, to quote my old friend Van the Man, is to “Keep it Simple” and buy a three or four inch refractor on an uncomplicated mounting. The last thing you want to do is to get one of those scopes with GoTo technology as you will spend more time faffing about with it than you will observing. I know you haven’t mentioned those but you would be amazed the number of people who, knowing nothing of astronomy, go down that route only to encounter disaster.

So, get the book, then the scope. Who knows where it will lead if you get bitten by the bug.

Regards

Thanks for all the input, certainly given me food for thought. It probably wont be until about Mid August/September time when i'd be getting one. At the moment im getting a little overwhelmed with all the different types of mounts, polar aligning, some scopes saying f5 and others being f10 and have no idea what all that is about. I just thought it would be using certain stars as reference points, pointing the scope in that direction, use finder scope to target what you are wanting to look at, then look and enjoy it through the scope or is there more to it than that?

I thought about second hand as well, hopefully will be able to see the classifieds on here after a certain time but not sure ill get the 50 posts required without actually spamming which is something i wouldnt do.

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