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Still frustratingly unsure of my scope purchase


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I'm so sorry to keep repeating posts and being a nuisance but i'm terrified of making a mistake.

I have around £4800 to spend on a scope which is amost certainly 99% for visual observing.

I have narrowed it down to the

1) Celestron CGEM 1100 (though i have heard that polar aligning and balancing can be a pain in the butt)

2) Celestron CPC 1100 HD Edge

3) Meade LX600 10"

Would love a large consensus of opinion from forum members as these scopes are gonna be available towards the end of July by all accounts.

Thanks,

Matt

PS Not too worried on weight as i'm 6' 3" and quite strong and it may well be permanently housed in a year or so due to a move anyway.

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Matt

With that budget it's understandable you want to make the right purchase. I'm not experienced enough to give an opinion but there's certainly many on here who are. Have patience, they will soon be along to give you some sound advice. e

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Hi Matt , remember that what is right for somebody else is not necessarily going to be the right choice for you . If you can , try to visit a few outlets and local Clubs to get your hands on the equipment and get a good feel for what you do like and what you don't.

Even though you say 99% visual , i bet you soon get the itch to try AP . Either way i think you're going to have a lot of fun choosing plus sprout the odd grey hair !!

Happy shopping :grin:

Rob.

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As said above it I had that much to spend, probably best to go to a club and test out a few. Other than that I would say, don't feel obliged to spend it all at once. You could buy something good for much less than that, and then perhaps upgrade a little bit later on.

if you look after the equipment easy enough to sell it on as well.

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If you're going to be using it for visual then don't bother the EQ mount. The eyepiece height on the alt/az will be more consistent and so easier to work with and it still tracks. Furthermore, you can still use this mount for planetary AP if you want to do that. The alt/az scope will be lighter and quicker to set up. So go for the second option.

Don't underestimate the telescope weight and bulk as a consideration. You may be perfectly able to lift a bulky scope but there will be times when you can't be bothered to lift it. The more bulky and awkward it is, the less you will use it. Many think they will be the exception to this rule, but few are.

The other thing to remember is that there is no perfect scope--they're all a compromise. You've decided you want a medium-sized SCT and have picked out three good ones. All of them will work for you and all of them will have pluses and minuses. It's your money, so go for what your gut tells you and you'll be ok.

EDIT: the only other thing I'd say is that this appears to be your first "serious" astronomical telescope. Is that right? If so, you are jumping in a little at the deep end price-wise. As others have said, there are cheaper options out there that will perform equally well. If I may be frank, I think for ~5k you're thinking of spending it's possible to get a much better visual instrument than a mass-produced SCT. For example, Lukehurst is selling an 18" with premium optics for the 4,800 ( http://www.dobsonians.co.uk/pricelist.html). If you want visual, an 18" Newtonian will blow an 10" or 11" SCT out of the water. Furthermore, it's quite feasible to add full tracking and GoTo to a premium Dob.

Edited by umadog
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Thanks guys and cheers Umadog, some valid advice there.

I think I will stick with an SCT as I would like to take the scope to the occasional outreach event.

I would like to see some of these in action but my local club does not have many like this.

It seems like fork mount may be my best option so I could be looking at either the LX600 10" or the CPC1100.

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Good to see that you're narrowing things down and that you're finding the right scope for your needs. However, I do feel honour-bound to point out that the Dobsonian (esp. with tracking) is a very capable outreach scope--indeed, it is for this very reason that it was invented. I'm just saying that "for the record", not because I'm trying to convince you to follow that path. As I say, the best thing is to do your research then go with your gut and buy what seems right for you.

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I have a 10 inch dob..not too heavy and great visually..

They say it is the goldilocks scope so not too big and not too small and that certainly feels right. I have seen over 650 galaxies in it so far so it performs well.

A 10 inch dob would be about £300 pounds leaving you £4500 to spend on other things!

If I had £4800 I would get a 20 inch plus dob and a shed for it and then I could see the spiral arms of M51!

Mark

Sent from my BlackBerry 9320 using Tapatalk

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I must apologise for not looking at the specs of those scopes carefully the first time, when I said that any of the three would work out well for you. Having looked at the specs, the LX600 is obviously designed to be an observatory-based imaging scope. You wouldn't want to be moving it around. You really want to have a think about what sort of scopes you're considering, because that one would have been a big mistake!

I think the second scope on your list is the only reasonable option. Thinking about it again, I really would encourage you seriously consider a truss Dob. A 14" custom built Dob can weigh in at around 50 lbs and be set up by one person in about 15 minutes. Cool down time will be much faster than the SCT. You'd also get better contrast, a wider field, and brighter views than a 10" or 11" SCT. You don't have to give up tracking, either, as there's the excellent (if expensive) Argo Navis/Servocat combo. Of course all this large custom built scope stuff is rather serious gear. As Stuart suggests, you can get killer views with a 10 Dob and that might make a better bet. A 10" Newt is a lovely thing: great wide field views of the summer nebulae from dark skies (when I go to big star parties I always take the 10" along with the bigger scope).

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Wow some amazing advice here, glad I didn't just jump into the LX600 system. I think I would be mad to not check out some Dobs, I know my club has them but it would have to be driven as I found the last one I looked through annoying due to drift. If I did go down the Meade route and after reading about the situation they are in financially not sure I would then I guess it would have to be the LX200 as opposed to the 600.

Great advice so far!!

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SCTs seem to have a powerful hold over the imagination of beginners. This was certainly the case for me. My first two scopes were 8 and then 10 inch SCTs. It took me a while to see what their limitations were. The big one, for me, is their focal length, which is just too long. It limits the FOV so badly and brings no compensatory advantages optically, though it does make them physically compact. Our 10 inch SCT has a longer focal length that our twenty inch Newtonian, which seems crazy, to me.

It also seems to me to be rather early in your astronomy adventure to be ruling out imaging. I, too, ruled it out for many years before becoming addicted!

If you really do feel that an SCT is for you and that you will be strictly visual then I, too, would go for a fork in Alt Az. The only downside is that you have to carry mount and tube together, making this a heavy operation. However, I'm small and I (just about) managed to do this with the 10 inch LX200. If anyone tells you you can later put it on a wedge for imaging I would advise against believing them! This system, in reality, is a royal pain in the rear. You will also need to carry a power supply for a dew heater or the SCT will fog up in no time. I never found passive dewshields good enough when living in the UK.

Since many people buy SCTs early on and then want to go into less traumatic forms of imaging there is a large market in second hand fork SCTs. They don't hold their value at all well, making them an excellent bet for buying second hand.

Olly

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Thanks Olly,

Yes you are right, SCT'S do seem to have a hold. I did have a try with an Lx200 10" at my club on an open night and quite enjoyed the sights through it but having said that there was a 10" Newtonian which was also very good.

I think I have given up on the cgem as I have had good advice that it's more suited to imaging and not really for visual but not sure why, is it because they take a few more minutes to set up and balance?

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An equatorial mount is intended for imaging these days. A computer can now run an alt az mount so it tracks the sky. Not for imaging, because the object will rotate slowly, but fine for visual. However, a GEM performs some contorsions which serve no purpose in visual use. Notably it has to swap sides as it crosses the meridian. No need to put up with this in vidual.

Olly

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Whats your scope experience to date ? i would be hesitant to drop large sums of cash on a scope without some experience as to what I wanted. I woulsnt drop big bucks on anything without having eyetime on stuff.

Personal opnion only as ai have not used any of the scopes you mention, I would avoid Meade, especially in their current situation because my antenna tell me you could either be buying a lemon from a factor where the workers are about to be laid off OR you could be buying a dead product when the new owners have a sort out. I am not keen on the CPC personally, slew speed seems very slow on the one I have seen.

Would I want an SCT as my sole scope ? Nope.....i prefer to have a range of scopes to use.

I dont know what your experience has been, if you ahve used SCts and just want a bigger one well and good but if you are inexperienced anything that gets recommended might not be right for you. Have you also budgeted for eyepieces by the way ?

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If I was expecting to be moving in a year or so and probably getting an obsy built I would be buying something that would do for the now and be good for outreach events in the future, therefore keeping my money and making my decision later on. A skywatcher 200/250 would be on my shopping list for the now with the intention of getting a big dob installed once I'd moved.

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Hmm, seems like i need to go back to the drawing board on this one. Astro baby, i have had had eyepiece time on most but never owned one personally. I have also budgeted for eyepieces so no problems there.

Just one last question, can a GEM be used ok just for a casual nights observing? I'm also rethinking fork mounted scopes as if/when a gear goes then at least i am not lumped with a complete scope problem. I am also thinking would a GEM be good just in case i do get into Astrophotography later down the line but i don't think i would, i'm already a photographer and i think doing that would drive me around the bend, i already sleep, drink photography as it is.

I thought choosing a scope would be fun but this is silly!!

Appreciate all the help so far though, i'm sure we'll get there in the end, luckily there is not a lot in stock at the moment due to summertime.

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http://www.firstligh...ar-150-ota.html

In stead of getting one scope,you might be better off

getting something like this to start with.If you get say,

a EQ-5 or 6 mount,you can put different scopes on

it.Bigger, sometimes, is not always better.I use my 4"

refractor, more than my C11,because it is easy to

set up & use.You dont need to spend loads of dosh

to get a good rig.

Steve.

post-1842-0-12229200-1369560647_thumb.jp

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I like others here prefer to have a range of scopes, but if I was lucky enough to have £4800 to spend on a general purpose visual scope I would buy a CT12L on an eq6 from orion optics , a superb tube assembly F5.3 so nice for both wide and planet stuff, superlight and a perfect fit for the eq6 ( which you could also get a small apo for in budget depending on eyepiece purchase.). The mount is very easy to service and has great support, the 1/10pv mirror will be first class. and it is still transportable (just). Total cost £3570 ish for the scope and mount.

Edited by LeeB
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One thing I think you did not mention is what you want to view? If it is a bit of everything then maybe your heading down the road that so many of us have been through where only a mixture of scopes and mounts for different situations will solve the problem. All very well having a huge scope but there may be times when a simple grab and go smaller set up will be best. In truth your budget allows you to acquire a mixture of things which could include a medium to large SCT,, ALT AZ mount, a GEM, ( good enough for imaging ) a small / medium APO refractor, and still change in there for a 8 or 10 inch reflector dob or not. Dropping 5 K on one type of set up whatever you get will probably not cover all bases.

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Thanks all, some excellent advice here and all who have contributed have more than likely stopped me from making a big mistake. I think it is back to the drawing board for sure. I will look at the Orion optics CT range and also the Orion skyquest XX16g truss Dob looks damn nice. It's nice to know i have some time to decide so no hurry at all.

Matt

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The XX16 will provide good views but it's enormously heavy for what it is. It weighs 195 lbs and the rocker box is very bulky. My personal feeling is that for scopes larger than 12" these tall-rocker MDF Dobs are no longer practical. For reference, Webster, the manufacturer I bought my big Dob from, produce an 18" that weighs just over 90lbs...

There's no point buying a large scope as a first scope. Nobody with a >14" scope has only one instrument. You need a smaller scope to go alongside it. Therefore it makes sense for the beginner to start off with that smaller scope and see where things go. Orion do a 10" Dob with tracking (if you want that). It will be well within you budget. Don't forget that you will also have to set aside money for eyepieces, star charts and at least one collimation device. From dark skies a 10" Dob will not leave you wanting.

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