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Hi all,

Found this site at the weekend after starting some research about taking up astronomy as a hobby (always had an interest in space since first seeing Star Wars aged 4!).

General consensus seems that a Skywatcher Heritage 130p Dobsonian is a good, cheap (ish) starter scope, and am now looking for the best price! Just wondered if anyone could recommend any alternatives for a similar price (i.e. no more than £150), and any recommended books, guides, etc. Seen that Phillips have published a few, but wanted to know if anyone had any other good suggestions.


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My favourite book by far is the Backyard Astonomers Guide by Dickinson and Dyer. It's a comprehensive intro to the hobby which I would then supplement with Nightwatch by Dickinson - very useful charts showing what to look for

have fun

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am now looking for the best price...and any recommended books, guides, etc.

It's probably not necessary to say, but just in case, I'd strongly suggest that unless there's someone in the know who you know, to buy your first set up from a specialist telescope shop that can provide advice and an ongoing service – not from ebay and not from some supermarket or photographic store where the staff will generally have no knowledge of what they are selling. If your haven't already had a peek, First Light Optics comes highly recommended as one of Great Britain's top class astronomy shops. I have absolutely no connection with the shop itself, but just really respect folk who respect others and their hard earnt dosh.

There are so many books about it's hard to pick out any one of them and say, this is the one. There are those which give context and depth to what is being viewed, others a more practical working guide. On the latter front, many folk recommend, Turn Left at Orion. I also think SGL is a great place, helping us, informing and guiding us. It is a precious place of stargazing refuge.

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I had the 130p for two weeks now, and it's a great grab&go scope- even though I own a larger one.

I just wish I had more chances to observe with it! One week was completely cloudy.

It shows quite some details for the price, though a 150 or better 200mm Dobsonian will reveal much more... sometimes you can get one used for a good price, but none of those will be as portable as the little one :-)

If you expect full color images, it won't be a good scope, but if you are as happy as I am to find and observe small, blurry shapes, this is a great device :-) And you can get out of a light polluted city so quickly...

Even if you upgrade to a larger scope at some point, this one will be a nice addition or a gift for someone (or ebay...).

My recommendations in the order of importance and/or for easy tuning: :-)

-50 Cents of black cardboard for a light shroud that just slides into the tube when you colapse it; Whiteboard marker for secondary mirror edges.

-Small 3-leg folding stool, and a round foam seat-pad to kneel on. The thing is really low for some observations...

-(wooden) Box to store and perhaps put the telescope on (easier to view through then)

-Pipe isolation and zip tie to wrap around the handle (then it's easy to carry it half a mile to a field) and/or a big backpack

-0€ film canister collimation tool or 25€ cheshire (I used it with a red light, I did not even took the laser collimator along )

-adjustable red light and/or head-light (from $2, or DIY) to read maps without ruining night vision/adaption

-perhaps a good star chart/book, or at least Stellarium and Cartes du Ciel as suggested by nytecam :-) In the beginning it's sufficient to print out guides to find the famous starter objects such as the ring nebula, star clusters, brighter galaxies.

-€30 6mm 66degree eyepiece.

-€16 achromatic barlow or a 2.5mm HR Planetary for €33: I was amazed how well this telescope can show Jupiter and Saturn...

-The included eyepieces are O.K,, a 20mm 66deg or better 30mm wide angle erfle eyepiece will be a good addition, but can wait until later. I know, not the best eyepieces, but relativly affordable and better then the included reverse Kelner.

-Cheap Lidl-Binoculars, not the best out there, but a nice addition to locate objects.

-Warm clothes! (Wait, this belongs on top, even before buying a telescope. Nothing worse then freezing!)

-A friend or two to keep you company so loud mice and owls don't scare the heck out of you so easily.

I do have a few 10€-15€ Plössl eyepieces, but it's no fun to view through a 4mm Plössl (gotta get so darn close), and the wide angle eyepieces are much more rewarding then a 30mm Plössl.

I usualy take along a 2.5mm + 8mm Planetary, and 20mm Erfle as those fit easily into my jacket.

Wide angle bonus: Especially on high magnifications you won't have to push the Dobsonian as often to follow the planets you are looking at... Go for HR Planetary, Erfle or those 66deg eyepieces. It's well worth it, even though really good eyepieces start at 100€ and up, those will be fine for a long time.

Moon: Ruins deepsky observations, but oh boy does it look good in the 130p compared to a smaller scope. Especially around the light-shadow zones there is so much detail to look at.

Ring nebula: Even close to a city it's already obviously a ring with a dark-ish center, while in my 76mm reflector it was just a small disc, not much different then a faint star

Jupiter: Moons, details on planets, and so bright...

Saturn: Even under difficult conditions there where glimpses of the Cassini gap in the rings; At 260x mangification it looked rather big, crisp and I spent almost half an hour following it's path over the night sky.

I hope you find some helpfull things in my rant, and I wish you good luck choosing the right telescope for yourself. It's a nice hobby, even though all the terms and things to keep in mind can be a bit intimidating at first.

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To be honest, I don't think you'll get a better scope for that cost; the alternatives that get suggested are always "a bit bigger, but a bit more expensive".

Schorhr's list is a good wish list - but to be honest, the scope as it comes and a seat to sit next to it are adequate. Placed on the floor, it is a little low - certainly too much for standing, and I'm not that keen on kneeling - hence a seat! Alternatively, a putting the scope on a table works well.

I'd recommend a Cheshire collimation tool - though my 130p came with the collimation spot on. But I didn't want to waste time if the collimation was off.

Other than that, a guidebook and warm clothes, and you're all set. A red or dim torch is handy, but not essential for the first outings - you're probably going to be looking at bright things anyway at first, so don't panic about dark adaption.

Turn Left At Orion is a very good guidebook. It's very handy for telling you how to find things, and showing you what you ought to be seeing - so you can then try to figure out why it's completely different...

And also, +1 for Stellarium. It's a bit of a weird UI, but it works very very well.

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