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Any must-have accessories for a first scoper?


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Just got a Skywatcher 130M (130/900) which I'm learning how to use. Are there any accessories which I really ought to get to go with it? I don't mean extra eyepieces (yet) or planispheres (I have stellarium). I have a red bike light too. Anyone care to recommend?

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Hello Endure,

that's a great starter set; Though you might want to print some star charts (Cartes du Ciel or http://www.deepskywatch.com/deepsky-guide.html for example ) or get a book to take along ("Turn left at orion", or my favorite, "The Observer's Sky Atlas" even though it's a bit complex), as sometimes it's frustrating not to find things when you carried everything outside (and don't want to ruin your night sight).

If you're into electronics you can modify your red light to be dimable, as even red light can blind you at times or irritates you while trying to look through the eyepiece next to the star charts.

I started with a bike light and am glad that I have a red flashlight now :-)

If you are into planets, do consider getting an aditional eyepiece (as you did not state what you have I suppose you have the two that came with your telescope). The first high magnification of Saturn blew me away.

Even a 6mm Plössl for ~10gpb will do for starters, better a 28gbp 66 degree eyepiece as you don't have to get so close to it (eye relieve) and it has a nice wide angle view... TMB/HR Planetary Eyepieces are nice as well but a bit more expensive (starting at ~35gpb or so I believe, have 58deg afov, perform well though for the price).

Where do you observe? A foldable stool or armchair can be nice, along with a simple pair of binoculars to relax for a bit or even sometimes to find some difficult objects (especially if the sky is too light poluted to find an object through the finder and the telescope's minimum magnification is too high; Then you can try to find a bright star with the bino and star hop from there).

Does the telescope have a finder scope or a red dot finder? After some convincing I got a rdf and a telrad for my larger telescope, usually it's much easier to point at the right region and use a 20/30/40mm Eyepiece to find the object like that.

Did I mention warm clothing? ;-)

Really, there is not much you need to get started then a vague idea where to point the telescope at and common sense, accessories that are a "must have" will be very different from person to person and also depends on what, when and where you observe. So your own wish list is probably the right one, and it could be anything from an eyepiece to a bike trailer to get your telescope to a dark site.

Have fun! Keep us posted!

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Every Newtonian owner needs a collimation aid of some form; I use a simple Cheshire eyepiece. You will get sharper, more detailed views if you keep your optics aligned properly. As above, an illuminated finder (RDF/Rigel/Telrad) makes it much easier to see where your telescope is pointing. I would also recommend a good field star atlas. I use Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas. Stellarium is a very good planning tool, but you shouldn't use illuminated screens when observing because it stops your eyes getting dark adapted properly.

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Oh, I forgot about the chesire/collimation tool :-) But I guess a lenscap/film can could do (also the scope's aperture ratio is f/7 so it's not as critical as the shorter 130/650 newtons)

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;-)

Well, it's a mater of taste and habit :-)

It has no magnification (I once read a thread where someone was upset, realizing this AFTER buying a telrad/rdf :D ), but it projects a red dot "onto" the sky (actually on a piece of plexi-glass ;-) ). It will be on the same spot in the sky no matter how you look through (projected against infinity), and you just point it to where you want to look at:

For example you point between the bottom stars in lyra, and then you should see the ring nebula in a medium magnification eyepiece right away).

Or you point it at a star that's visible and hop from there through a low magnification eyepiece.

A telrad/quickfinder (or cheap chineese finder) will project cirlces onto the sky and make it even easier.

Then you can buy a book or print out maps with those circles on it, sorounding the deepsky-object you want to find.

You just align the bright stars visible with the naked eye onto the rings, and the object should be in the field of view.

Some also print out transparent sheets with circles to use their existing star charts.

This is much easier then star-hopping most of the time, as finder scopes are a bit tedious to look through depending on the angle and it's not allways easy finding things through it anyway (especially smaller/cheaper ones).

With a telrad/rdf you can comfortably look with both eyes where the red dot is, and it works from almost any angle behind the telescope.

Some faint objects may be hard to find though, especially if there is no bright star next to it that you can use as guide. So don't throw an existing finder away, you may be able to put both on your telescope with a bit of tinkering.

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As improving my English does not seem to work out very well, I really do hope I qualify to edit my posts soon. Excuse my many spelling and grammar errors; I will try to double/tripple check my posts in the future.

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Thanks :-)

By the way, I had quite some trouble the last few days in bright city conditions (some stars important to align the finder where not visible), but trial & error (roughly pointing the red dot finder where the constellation *should* be) worked after a few times :-)

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I have both a Rigel QuikFinder and a 9x50 right angle correct image optical finderscope on my Dob and I find this does make things much easier. With just a RDF, you may miss finding tiny/faint objects, yet with just a finderscope I find it quite easy to make a mistake and start star-hopping from the wrong star :o (unless it's an obvious double or strongly coloured, one star looks much like any other through a finderscope). I think the combination of both types of finder work together perfectly.

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I have a Telrad and a RACI finder in my Dob. I find I use the optical finder more when locally (LP skies), and the Telrad more when at dark sites.

The more stars you have to guide you the better the Telrad works, from LP locals I often struggle to find enough guide stars to use the Telrad alone. Here the optical finder works best.

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and with regard to the red light its best if you get one that fits to your head (ie the type with the elasatic strap attached) that way you keep youir hands free when handling your eye pieces and other kit.

+1 for the Telrad as well.

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If I got it right, the SW 130m only takes 1.25" eyepieces (same with the 130p).

You could get a cheap ~15gbp Plössl with 40mm if not having an eyepiece in that region already, as it shows you about the maximum field possible with 1.25" EPs.

That's roughly a 22x magnification and shows a real field of 2° 2' (On a 900mm focal length with 45 deg afov).

Not as nice as a wide-field EP but still shows the maximum field if you don't have a 2" focuser, so it's great for finding objects if the telrad/rdf doesn't cut it.

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Telrad:

+regular AA batteries

+three circles as in many star charts with those (but Rigel will work usualy too)

Rigel

+a little less problematic to dew

+high up = easy to view through on some angles (but a bit of paralax already)

+a bit cheaper

+I think it's a bit lighter

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I looked it up,

SW super Plössl 32mm 52° afov, @900mm focal length => 1° 51' field

SW super Plössl 40mm 45° afov, @900mm focal length => 2° 2' field

M.-SWA Erfle 24mm 67° afov, @900mm focal length => 1° 51' field

But I agree: A wide angle 20-24mm eyepiece is much nicer to look through then a Plössl with just 45 degree of apparent field of view. I really use the 40mm Plössl just if the sky is too bright to find anything with the finder, but usualy even the cheap 20mm Erfle-eyepiece will be enough to locate the object after roughly pointing at it with a RDF...

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The scope comes with 10mm, 25mm and a 2x Barlow.

Would this be a sensible purchase? It has a 15mm Kellner, a 6mm Plossl, a 2x Barlow with T ring threads and 3 filters. My local camera shop is doing them at £45 each.

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I would not spend £45 for a Plössl and Kellner, also the Barlow will probably not be of great quality.

It's not a horrible set, but not good, either.

Two eyepieces like that, a barlow and a color filter will total up to £30-38 (depending on the kind of EP and barlow) including shipping when bought elsewhere. But then, you will have to find a box yourself- though that's not that hard ;-)

The best of If the set is probably the T-2 thread, is that something you need? There are other options available as well, especially if you want to take pictures it might be wise to start with the "native" 900mm focal length, without barlow. It will be tricky enough ;-)

A good eyepiece is enhancing observations a great deal, and it's more fun, too. A 6mm Plössl will be critical already regarding eye-relieve, even for people without glasses.

Compare a 45 degree afov eyepiece with a 66/70degree afov field in Stellarium or such as well, though the real "whoa"-effect is hard to simulate in some software.

It will be somewhat like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Fields_of_view.jpg (though this is a lower magnification)- same magnification, but the whole object you observe fits into the view. Useful for groups of galaxies, manual tracking of planets, but also finding stuff at higher magnification.

Two 66 degree afov eyepieces will cost about the same as the set, and be much better.

If £45 is your limit, the 6mm EP and a achromatic barlow will be a good compromise, and give you nice views of planets and moon, untill you can afford another eyepiece.

But a wide-angle eyepiece for low magnification is something that belongs in every set ;-)

But as far as regarding filters, a single color or dark/polarizing filter for brighter objects may be sufficient (though with a 130mm telescope it's no must, even when observing the moon, but this is also a matter of taste).

A sun-filter is nice if you are into that, or for deepsky, save the money for a CLR (on smaller scopes) or a better UHC-Filter as it enhances contrast on some nebulas while blocking some of the light pollution (no miracles though).

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If you were buying them which two eyepieces would you recommend given a limit of £50? And which barlow? I already have a couple of Pentax cameras (DSLR and mirrorless) together with a Pentax T-ring so it would be nice to have a go even if I fail :grin:

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Don't waste your money on weather, the weather man may take it and gives you clouds anyway! :D

Eyepieces:

So what is your main target (moon and planets, or deepsky)? :-)

It all depends on your targets and the magnifications you want to achieve ;-)

Usualy I would recomend a 20mm and 6mm eyepiece with a barlow (=>20, 10, 6, 3), but on a 130/900 telescope 3mm will be magnifying a bit too high.

It's not impossible as it will still show brighter objects, but only on good optics & if mount and air are calm ;-)

On the other hand with a 20mm and a 9mm eyepiece it's a bit double (20mm will be 10mm with a barlow), so perhaps a 15mm and 9mm would be a good choice, though a wide angle 20-30mm is really nice to browse through the milky way and view larger objects. .The 25mm will do for a while though, it won't turn anyone blind and it sill nicer then cheap eyepieces under ~10mm.

9mm + Barlow could give you nice magnifications up to 200x for planets and moon. 6mm if you can live with the lower magnification but better image without an barlow.

In the long term a 3,2-4mm planetary eyepiece for 45gbp would be a nice adition, though at the maximum of the scope and not really showing more details then)

The cheapest wide-angle eyepieces (if ordered within europe) I know of are from "adapter4telescope" at ebay, http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Okulare-/29954/i.html?item=140600338359&pt=UK_Telescope_Eyepieces&hash=item20bc6ee7b7&_ssn=dyejar

They are probably not as great as the branded ones, but I have several noname and unlabled eyepieces, so far I was lucky and they perform the same as branded ones I have.

The cheapest wide-angle eyepieces (if ordered within europe) I know of are from "adapter4telescope" at ebay, http://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/Okulare-/29954/i.html?item=140600338359&pt=UK_Telescope_Eyepieces&hash=item20bc6ee7b7&_ssn=dyejar I have none from that vendor though!

Other vendors sell them for ~6-10gbp more.

I don't like barlows that much, and IMHO a cheap (achromatic) one will do for the beginning as long it's no plastic-lens toy barlow. Real good ones allready cost as much as a decent eyepiece, and that will always be superior.

Achromatic barlows

http://www.ebay.de/itm/Achromatische-Barlow-Linse-BA2-2x-fur-Teleskope-31-7mm-/200607942106?pt=DE_Foto_Camcorder_Okulare&hash=item2eb52a45da

http://www.ebay.de/itm/2x-Achromat-Linse-1-25-Zoll-3-17-cm-Barlow-Fur-Teleskope-Neu-Original-Verpackt-/370801371069?pt=DE_Foto_Camcorder_Teleskope&hash=item56557be7bd

A note on zoom eyepieces;

The 40gbp 8-24mm zooms the apparent field of view gets very small on one side of the zoom setting, almost resulting in the same actual field visible. My fiancee has a TS Zoom 7-21, it's nice for spotting scope use, but I think only 40 afov on 21mm.

Another possibility would be a 8mm planetary and the astro zoom (or a DIY version of it).

Basically it just adjusts the distance from the (unscrewable) bottom barlow element to the rest of the eyepiece.

http://vangestel.de/astrozoom/produkte/zoomkulare

I bouught one used it but I think it's only available in 2" and also over your budget..

It's the only zoom I'd reccomend as the afov stays about the same.

Your telescope just has a 1.25" focuser, right? You could also get a 12gbp Plössl 30-40mm as overview eyepiece with the maximum real field visible, but I hardly use mine after getting a 20mm wide angle one.

As for the camera adapter, you could search for a 1.25-to-T2 (or your camera's threading) adapter. Probably 15gbp or something...

I used my 3D printer for my Canon DSLR, works nice, but I don't make little to none astro photos ...

Also you could get a clamp/bracket or eyepiece with thread to take pictures through the EPs.

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