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Hello,

I recently joined my local astronomy club and have immediately become hooked. I've been very lucky to have been given a Meade 12" reflecting telescope (not sure exactly what it is yet as I am picking it up next weekend). However, I will be keeping it in Ireland where I spend my weekends as the sky is much darker than Birmingham, where I live during the week, and I know this scope is not very portable!

I really want to buy a smaller portable telescope to use when I am in the UK and to take to events etc. I would like a goto as I am still learning about astronomy and would like to have fun with the telescope without spending a long time setting up the scope. I like the look of the Meade ETX90 AT, or the Celestron NexStar 127 or 130 SLT. Would anyone be able to advise me on whether the extra cost of the Meade is worth it, or whether they would recommend something else? My budget is around £500 and I would like to be able to see planets and some DSOs.

Thank you in advance for your help!

Nicola

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I'm not an expert yet but I love my 200p dob as it allows me to learn my way around the sky. I think using computers is cheating to be honest and not really in the spirit of astronomy, but each to there own

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Also if you are looking to learn then my guess is you won't really achieve this with a goto as that will do all the work for you. Consider a dobsonian and the book turn left at Orion if you truly want to learn

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Hi Nicola....have you thought about a pair of binoculars first? I know they dont sound as grand as a scope, however i think it will give you certain benefits.

1) They can go anywhere

2) They are a relativley cheap way to see the stars & planets(and certain DSO including Andromeda etc)

3) They are perfect for learning your way around the sky

4) They compliment a scope as well, as certain objects really pop in 'Bins'

Get a set of bins, and a copy of Turn Left at Orion...and you will learn the skys in no time at all...then you can use any scope...goto or 'push to' and as i mentioned, they will always compliment a scope.

I wish you luck with that Meade by the way!....

Regards

Steve

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Thank you both so much for your suggestions! I have Turn Left at Orion and have been outside every time the sky is clear, just looking at the different constellations and trying to learn the position of as many stars as I can. I think your idea of buying binoculars for now is a really good one. Thanks also for telling me about the dob, I will definitely consider that for the future.

I am really looking forward to seeing the Meade, my uncle gave it to me as it is just too big for his house!

Thanks again,

Nicola

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I would agree re: GOTO. If it find's everything for you, you'll unintentionally leave out learning where things are in the sky, which is one of the most rewarding parts of it. I think you'll be hard pushed to get a goto that can compete with the size of the Meade, and so a good Dobsonian will get you a long way. Just my 2p :)

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You are most welcome. just as another thought...i did not start off using TLaO (turn left....), I used the 'Phillips Guide to the Night Sjy' written by the late great Sir Patrick Moore. its a small book and only £4.99 ish I think. This covers the basics as well as shows you how to star hop by taking you through the process of which stars to use etc. I knew nothing when I started (still dont know much!), but that book and a set of Bins was all I needed for a year or so...

That Meade will likley to be large...I assume it will be an SCT device, which will require a power tank (or form of power to use) which I assume you will get with it.

When the time comes for a scope I think the best thing to do (IMO) is first answer a couple of questions:

1) what do I enjoy looking at? (planets, Luna / Solar, bright DSO.etc) this will help drive your choice of scope (refractors are good at Planets , Luna / Solar..... reflectors (dobs etc) excel at DSO and are ok for planetary work from what I hear)

2) Do I want to take up Astrophotography (a different scope etc again and it all starts with the heaviest mount you can lay your hands on) you can start small with AP.....though it leads you larger!

3) Do I need to move it around? if so then you need to consider the weight (that Meade is not going anywhere!)

There are a few other factors, but thinking about those things (whilst using Bins and dong research) will stand you in good stead.

I really like refractors...a failing I know....but they seem to tick all of the requirements I have. I know they do Short tube refractors with the name 'Star Travel' made by Sky watcher which seems to imply they are ok to be on the go with you...

Here are some for example: http://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel.html

Regards

Steve

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This makes a lot of sense....I really don't want to go out and buy the wrong thing and then end up not enjoying it. So taking some time to find out what I like is definitely sensible. I really want to do astrophotography eventually, I am a keen photographer and have a Canon EOS 50D with a range of lenses so this will definitely be something I would like to do. However, I don't want to 'run before I can walk' and thought it would be a huge mistake to go out and buy some expensive piece of kit for astrophotography before I even know how to use a telescope. Ideally, I would like to move it around and I thought the HEQ5 Pro mount might be a good option eventually. But I definitely see what you mean re. GOTO and will not be lazy and learn my way around the sky first :-)

I bought Patrick Moore's Yearbook of Astronomy and am really enjoying it even as an armchair read. So I will get the Phillips Guide to the Night Sky too, you just can't have too many books!

Thanks a million for all your help.

Nicola

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http://www.firstligh...y-eyepieces.htm

http://www.amazon.co...S/ref=de_a_smtd

My son has just bought this as a starter

scope,+ the 4mm & 5mm EP.

http://www.harrisont...lter_1.25_.html

You will also need one of these.

Not bad for £220.He is very pleased.

Blown away by the first sighting of

Juipter.This is not a bad scope.

Steve.

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Hi Nicola, when you get the 12 inch Meade reflector (it might be a Lightbridge?), using this will help you focus on what you really want to do. It is a huge telescope and you might need a small step-ladder or box to stand on when pointing at the zenith. My experience of GoTo is watching others spending 20 minutes or so setting up and aligning the scope before they start, whilst I am viewing the heavens. Not a lot of fun in my view. Anyway, the message here is to try some real astronomy with the Meade and then this will help you decide which way you want to go, whether binoculars or a small telescope.

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http://www.firstligh...y-eyepieces.htm

http://www.amazon.co...S/ref=de_a_smtd

My son has just bought this as a starter

scope,+ the 4mm & 5mm EP.

http://www.harrisont...lter_1.25_.html

You will also need one of these.

Not bad for £220.He is very pleased.

Blown away by the first sighting of

Juipter.This is not a bad scope.

Steve.

I dont want to upset anyone here but the stated max useful magnification of 307x is WAY OFF the mark, with JUST the 'seeing' in this country taken into consideration you'd be looking at half that.

Steve

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Having been down the Goto route (though I bought it for the OTA, honest!) I have to agree with these comments - Goto can be a frustration and doesn't always work as well as you might expect (it is easy to do sloppy alignment, the system tells you it was successful, and then find that it doesn't slew to anything interesting when you press the Go button), and for a good one it can cost a lot of money. Then there's the choice of x thousand objects in the database, but in reality you will only be interested in a handful of them because most will be just stars with names you've never heard of, and quite a few you won't even be able to see from your current location due to things such as a house or the earth getting in the way.

To aid in learning the night sky and to get a real feel of where you are in the cosmos, I would recommend looking at the Celestron SkyScout. It's like a hand-held goto with a red dot finder, it will guide your eye to any star you can think of and tell you about it either on the red display or as an audio tour if you plug in a speaker or headphones (not all targets have the audio tour bit). It can be really relaxing to just point and listen when there's a clear night.

Spend your money on a small portable, manual scope such as a 130P / 200P reflector or 80mm / 102mm refractor. Really quick set up and take-down time, easy to store, no batteries (or just D cells if you buy an optional motor drive for an EQ mount such as the CG-4 or EQ3-2).

Edited by jonathan
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Hi Nicola. Welcome!

You're absolutely right - walk before you run.

I would say stay away from the Goto if you can. It's a great invention and I'm sure it suits some people fine, but it's much more fun finding your own way around the universe!

Good luck with the scope. Let us know how you get on with it.

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