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Noob help please! My brain is about to explode!


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Hi All

Ok that may have been a little over dramatic but jheeezz I didn't realise it would be this complicated!

My wife and I are very keen to get ourselves our first telescope but I am finding myself getting more and more confused as to which is the best way to go. I'm very keen on a reflector telescope and I don't have a huge budget. I have seen a few telescopes and I was hoping that you guys would be able to assist me with some advice. Please bear in mind that we are both complete noobs when it comes to stargazing.

My wife found the Celestron LCM 114 online for very cheap but i am a little concerned that it may be just a "supermarket telescope" which you guys seem to avoid like the plague! Saying that it does have the starfinder which will make life easier for somebody new to astronomy? When i say new to astronomy I've always had a interest in it and i can pick out a few of the easy constallations Orion, Big Dipper but i've never owned a telescope.

I have found the following.

Skywatcher Explorer 130 (EQ-2)

Skywatcher Explorer 130P (EQ-2)

Skywatcher Explorer 130M (EQ-2)

I'm not too sure of the differences to be honest? The motorised one seems logical to keep track of an object once found (if I understand it correctly).

Skywatcher Skyhawk 1145P

Seems like a very good budget telescope and I would have some extra cash for some new EP (see I'm picking up the lingo already!) Not that I would know what to get yet!

Or if I can find a little more money this seems like a good buy.

Skywatcher Explorer 130P SupaTrak AUTO

I think the first main targets for both of us will be the planets and branching out to nebulae/galaxies soon after. Is there one of the telescopes above that will do a reasonable job of both?

I'll thank you in advance for your replies and apologise in advance for any stupid questions! :grin:

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As a fellow novice i have only been into it for about 4 months but you quickly pick up the lingo and the advice on here is really good!

I have the Celestron you talk about and i would avoid at all costs because yeah sure its good for a few nights but as soon as you want to do anything decent with it (which wont take you long) you will struggle and the EP's you buy will make little difference due to the scope design so not worth it in my opinion.

I have the skywatcher 150pl which is the 130 bigger brother and i must say i am extremely happy with it, i know that the 130p is a firm favourite on the forum but i have no experience with the motor drive (130m) but as you say tracking the stars is easier once set up!

A fiend of mine has the 130 and he loves his also so i would recommend that one if thats your budget, the SW 114 is also a good scope from what i have read but the 114mm aperture is smaller than the 130mm of the 130 and would allow less light in which will give you a different view and you may want to upgrade sooner as a result so the 130 might be the best bet!

Like i say i am not an expert but from my knowledge so far and experiences with the celestron i hope the above helps!

Thanks

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I can recall my own confusion and internal debate when I got my own first scope - not sure that will ever leave me. However, you're in a great community and will get some excellent advice here.

Final choice really comes down to many factors, but key among these are; how and where you want to use it, what space you have available, weight and portability - and if you can give a little more detail on these it should help to narrow the lists. If you are interested in photographic or video (webcam) imaging it also brings in another range of considerations.

With regard to the LCM114, and in common with a lot of these short reflector designs they are based on the Bird-Jones design, which effectively employs an extra lens (internal barlow lens) at the bottom of the focuser tube. Whilst this does give reasonable views, they are difficult to collimate properly and probably best avoided. It does at least have the parabolic primary mirror.

Both the skywatcher 1145P and the 130P are in my mind better buys, though much will depend on your requirements/answers.

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Thanks for the quick replies!

The first thing is it looks like the Celestron LCM 114 is best avoided.

The second thing is how and where we want to use it. We do have a small balcony attached to our bedroom which would be ideal to sit on and enjoy the night sky. It faces approx ssw and is approx 10ft x 5ft.

We could also use it in the back garden.

I don't have any immediate plans for camera setups as I already have one expensive hobby (snowboarding) and I don't want another just yet! Just looking at these amazing celestial objects will do for now (famous last words)...

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As usual, I can thoroughly recommend the 130p with the supatrack mount, as it means once youv found an object you just leave it in tracking mode and (providing you've aligned right and leveled the tripod, which I forgot to do the other night) it keeps it in FOV for quite some time before you start to notice any drift.

I tested it by aligning it the best I could, pointed at jupiter then left it for 10 mins. When I came back Jupiter had drifted ever so slightly to one side, I was extremely impressed as if you leave it not in tracking mode you can quickly see how fast things disappear.

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All things being equal, aperture wins. Of course, all things aren't equal - you've got cost, size, and portability to balance. A lot comes down to your situation. Will you want to take it to a darker location, or is your garden fine? Are you limited for storage space?

I use the Skywatcher Heritage 130p - so a Dobsonian mount - and I've been surprised by how quickly you get used to giving it a 'nudge' to keep the target in view. It only gets noticeable when using high magnification - and I find I only do that for planets and the moon. Personally, my logic was that motor drives or computer handsets added complexity and cost, and I wanted to start cheap(ish) and simple. I've also been pleasantly surprised how easy it is to find things manually with a 30mm eyepiece, a book, and a little persistence. I am, in short, a Dobsonian mount convert. (Though they're not good for photography - that's their biggest problem. But like you, I decided that that could wait).

If you've the space and money for it, the Skyliner 150 Swamp Thing linked to is a good bet... unless you've the space and the money, in which case the Skyliner 200 might be a better bet ... unless... well, you see the pattern.

Oh, and I think the difference between the 130 and the 130p is that the latter has a parabolic mirror, which I gather is better (but I don't really know why).

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Thanks again!

I'm not sure i'm any more clear on what i would like but you may be converting me to the Skyliner 150P Dobsonian. It's a little over the budget i had planned for this but i do like the idea of viewing DSO's.

How portable would something like that be? It looks fairly static to me?

I am also edging towards the http://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p.html The wife also likes the look of this as well, although this may have something to do with it being glittery lol! Another plus is that it will keep us nicely in budget.

Would it be possible to view DSO's with the 130p?

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Would it be possible to view DSO's with the 130p?

In theory yes, though much would depend on how dark/clear your sky was - though I would say it's getting pretty marginal at this aperture. Potentially each step up in aperture will bring more light to your EP, giving better views - the limits on this are the price, weight and size. The 150P is light and quite manageable and will give better views than the 130P and the 200P is better still if you can manage the weight and dimensions. Personally I think the dobs are pretty neat and elegant and certainly take up less space than a mounted tripod (I currently have three in a line in my conservatory and am getting a fair bit of grief from the other half). Also the majority of the money is spent on the optics rather than the mount, which means the views are generally very good.

The draw back is manual tracking and no go to unless you want to spend a chunk more - though its a lot simpler to take out and setup, will probably get more use for that reason and you will get to learn to find your way around the sky.

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First question has to be budget. How much do you have to spend - and can you add to it in a month or two?

Second question - what are you after seeing? Planets/Moon or Solar or Deep Sky.

Third question - do you want to take up astrophotogrpahy?

If the answers are 1. £500 yes you can add to it later. 2. Planets/Moon and a little DSO. 3. No

Then the answer for me would be something like http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html it is an 8" reflector - fantastic return on investment. Will give respectable views of the planets and moon as well as a number of DSO's - especially under darker skies.

If you want to take images then the budget has to go up and then it starts getting much more complicated.

If your only interested in Planets / Moon and a little solar then maybe something like http://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/skywatcher-skymax-127-synscan-az-goto.html and then you can invest in some solar filter ( about 40 quid for the scope above http://www.firstlightoptics.com/solar-filters/astrozap-baader-solar-filter.html)

Cheers

ant

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You can see DSO's in the 130p, although I wouldn't go expecting to see alot of detail in most galaxies (although galaxies like M94 turn up quite nicely) however for star clusters its brilliant and most nebulas aswell. (Bear in mind Im observing from a garden in a suburban area with light-moderate light pollution, havn't had chance to take it to a dark site yet).

As for the glitteryness of it, it does show up better in real life aswell.

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Well, I'm loving using my 130p - but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't already trying to figure out how to store a 250px in my flat...

So, despite the light pollution where I live, I've seen a number of the brighter galaxies, such as M65 and M66, M81 and M82 - but don't expect Hubble like views. What I see are small fuzzy grey blobs, often with a hint of shape - but that's about it. Something like this - but I can't make out the NGC - http://www.deepskywatch.com/Astrosketches/m65-m66-sketch.html

There's a thrill in finding them, and knowing what you're looking at, but I'll be honest - with my scope, at least, I prefer planets, the moon, and open clusters. For example, the Double Cluster is lovely, and looks a lot like this: http://www.deepskywatch.com/Astrosketches/perseus-double-cluster-sketch.html

Planet-wise, I've seen the cloud bands on Jupiter, the Great Red Spot, the shadow of Io on it's surface, the rings of Saturn including the Cassini division (though that is open to discussion), and the dwarf planet Ceres (which was dull to look at, but hey, it's interesting to know about!)

Not bad for 2 months, and a little scope; it'll show you interesting things. Just more aperture would show more.

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The 130P is the better of the 130's, the parabolic mirror being the reason.

The problem I see with a dobsonian is that the intended use is for 2 people. They do not track and so when you swap over the target can be lost. First any movement of the tube will lose the target - that can be a simple small touch, and the obvious is that the traget will move. If you get the hang of locating and nudging a dobsonian and say your wife doesn't then she is left out of it. It could as easily be she gets the hang of it and you don't, so you are left out.

The catch here is that a 130P isn't overly big and so you may want to go bigger pretty soon. Someone has mentioned the 150PL and that is a nice size but is also £100 more on the EQ3-2 mount.

For accessories you will have to get a collimator sooner or later (£25) and you will want extra eyepieces - 3 Vixen plossls will be about £100 and 3 BST's will be about £150. I say 3 as I think the supplied ones are the old Kelner designs.

Do not think about the imaging aspect at this stage.

Edited by ronin
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Thanks for all your advice.

After weiging up sizes, reviews and of course the major pain in most of lives... cost! We have decided to go for the 130P.

Now comes the waiting and of course the clouds to come on delivery day! I will put up a review so that any other newbies will hopefully find my findings useful.

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I newbie too 6 months , I have a skywatcher 130p which is a great starter scope mine has a motor with tracking whick is easy to use also its on a alt/az mount which is really quick to set up

May I recommend getting yourself a proper power unit of some kind. I ran mine of batteries the first few times I used it but then bought a powerstation and it runs so much nicer than 8 batteries. Also (in the long run) less expensive than having to get new ones every couple of weeks.

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May I recommend getting yourself a proper power unit of some kind. I ran mine of batteries the first few times I used it but then bought a powerstation and it runs so much nicer than 8 batteries. Also (in the long run) less expensive than having to get new ones every couple of weeks.

Where would I get one from? How much?

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I got mine from ebay from a company called Kidzoutdoors I think. Cost me about £50. Alot of people seem to use a maplins equivalent though which is less expensive.

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sky-Watcher-7Ah-Rechargeable-Power-Tank-12V-Power-Supply-also-suits-Celestron-/321108549258?pt=UK_Photography_Telescopes&hash=item4ac38f9e8a is the link to the people I got mine from, brilliant service as a bulb didn't work so they send me a replacement bulb, then when that didn't work just sent me a brand new unit.

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Hi guys im new to the forum and stargazing so please bare with me with my explanations of what i need to know but.....PLEASE HELP......I bought a 130p skywatcher about a month ago, set it all up no probs and polor alighned it....+90, set the latitude to 52 degrees North (Birmingham uk) took the telescope outside and had a wonderfull night veiwing Jupiter and Saturn but i found that i had to keep adjusting the latitud lever and occasionaly the RA and DEC, this was no problem and i kept the planets within my FOV, But this is where the problem starts.....I bought a motor drive for the EQ2 mount(for which i have) set it up, polar alighned my scope again to make sure it was correct took it out side and realised that all of a sudden i couldnt even focus on the planets any more?? the eye peices that id been using the previous 2 wks worked fine but now i cant get nothing alighning with the RED DOT FINDER and the big disc of light within the focus is no longer there for me to pin point the planet im veiwing, all i see is black and occasionally very small white dots which look like light trying to get inn but it does not! iv checked the alighnment of the mirrors and all seems fine but still no joy! Also please could you help with the fact that polar alighning the scope......iv done it and i still have to move the scope with the latitude lever to get Saturn in my FOV no matter how far i decline the RA around the axis?????? PLEASE HELP.

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Delivered at lunchtime today! :grin:

How do i know that this afternoon will drag on and 5pm will take an age to get to!

I read up about the mount, balancing and polar alignment. The mount is still still slightly confusing but I hope once it's in use things will become a little clearer.

Anything i have missed?

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