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I am considering getting a solar 'scope, can anyone give me their opinions/experience with the entry level solar telescopes?

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the coronado PST is probably the most common entry level scope, or just buying some Baader solar film and making your own filter.

i started with the Baader and progressed to a PST. despite its small aperture i love it, it takes a little practice to get use to the focusing and the tuning ring but the views are very good.

it is no slouch when it comes to imaging either, just check some of the images out on here.you may struggle to achieve focus without shortening your webcam adapter though.

i would not spend £700 new on one, but the £300 for the 2nd hand one has represented a good investment.

Edited by bunnygod1

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I'd be tempted to suggest going for a white light filter first and see how you get on. The PST is I guess the obvious entry-level choice, but it's not ideal for imaging and if you know that's the way you want to go there are other and perhaps better options depending on how DIY you want to get.

James

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I have the Lunt LS35 which was going second-hand for a great price last year. That is the only real alternative to the PST.

I really enjoy that little LS35, but I do now hunger for something bigger (aperture fever strikes at all wavelengths ;)).

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the only way i would ever get a bigger aperture would be a PST mod, but the thought of doing it does worry me!

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I'd suggest a white light filter made from solar film and mounted on whatever scope you have. A dedicated solar scope to observe a single object is one hell of an investment. I'm not knocking solar observing but to fork out the cash for a basic solar scope (Coronado), i think you would want to eat,sleep and breath solar observing.

Just my opinion.

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I'd suggest a white light filter made from solar film and mounted on whatever scope you have. A dedicated solar scope to observe a single object is one hell of an investment. I'm not knocking solar observing but to fork out the cash for a basic solar scope (Coronado), i think you would want to eat,sleep and breath solar observing.

Just my opinion.

And of course, the danger of a small H-alpha scope is that you will be hooked after one or two really good proms. And indeed you will be eating, sleeping, breathing solar :evil6:

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I do that now , and that's just in Whitelight ... !

I dread to think what I'll be like when I get the "Solarscope" . . . :p

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I'd suggest a white light filter made from solar film and mounted on whatever scope you have. A dedicated solar scope to observe a single object is one hell of an investment. I'm not knocking solar observing but to fork out the cash for a basic solar scope (Coronado), i think you would want to eat,sleep and breath solar observing.

Just my opinion.

Have you looked through one Paul? It's dangerous for the wallet! :-). I guess I thought in a similar way until I tried one and now love the extra dimension observing during the day brings. I often find it is clear during the day and then clouds over at night so solar gives more opportunity. Plus it's warm, so the Mrs gets to be around too which is nice.

I first looked at the sun through some very small Binomite binoculars, Coronado too I believe, something like 10x25. I still have them and used to enjoy having a quick peak at the sunspots although detail was very limited. I did observe the last transit of Mercury with them from work which was exciting.

I tried some solar film on an ST80 for a while but it didn't really do much for me. I then bought a PST and really love it. It is so simple to setup and use, just takes a bit of getting used to adjusting the focus and etalon, but the detail visible is amazing. I love watching the prominences, you can see them changing over a period of hours, and sometimes changes happen within minutes which is incredible to watch. There is a definite sweetspot, but I don't find this an issue. In terms of Ha, my next step will be a stage 1 mod using a Vixen 80M, I'm gradually assembling bits for this. Ultimately I'd like something like a Lyra 102 stage 2 mod but that will have to wait for finances to allow.

The PST allowed me to view the recent transit of Venus, for all of 6 minutes, but I saw it and it was amazing. There is another Mercury transit in a few years I think.

Just recently I've bought a 1.25" APM Herschel Wedge for white light observing on my 106mm apo. This was a very reasonable price (199€) for the package including the filters required and I am hoping the views live up to the reports I've seen elsewhere. Significantly better than using solar film I think.

Anyway, apologies for rambling but hopefully that's helpful in some way!

Stu

Edited by BigMakStutov

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Nope i've never looked throught one but have no doubt i'd enjoy it. Its just not something i'd spent the cash on because i really dont have that level of interest in the Sun. You cant deny though that for observing a single object, it is very pricey. Thats all i was saying.

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Yes, I do agree with that. I guess the balancing factor is that the sun is just so dynamic that there is always something new going on, and changes happen in real, observable time intervals so it never gets dull. Particularly at the moment whilst we are around solar max I reckon it is worth it.

Stu

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As i said, if you eat,sleep and breath solar observing then absolutely a PST is for you. If you only have a passing interest, then a white light filter is the way to go.

In defence of nocturnal observing, Jupiter is very dynamic. Its great fun to observe it over a period of hours and see the surface change and the moons changing position.

Plenty of other dynamic nocturnal objects to see: meteors,satellite flares,asteroids, lunar eclipses,UFO's,Chinese lanterns etc.

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Paul, I didn't have that much interest in astronomy until I looked through a telescope. Sometimes you get more hooked than you were expecting :)

To the OP, I'd really encourage you to give it a go. If you're not too sure if it's worth the cost, you could consider buying second hand at a fair price so you can sell on with little or no loss if it doesn't work out.

However, I suspect it will be for you, because it is very pleasant viewing in the sun, feeling the warmth of the very object you are looking at, not being tired or frozen, and as already said, it is so dynamic. Seeing a flame ten times the size of the Earth will impress most people, never mind astronomers!

Hope it works out for you. It has been a real eye-opener for me. This is the only star out of all the billions we can see in any detail other than colour.

Edited by Luke

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I have the Baader filter and do use it, it is just that I might be making a country move and where I am going would definately be one where night light pollution would be a real problem and I want to keep my hand in and therefore do some daylight observing instead.

I would want to do some imaging too. At present I am just considering options.

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Lots of people seem to start imaging with the PST. There are however a few niggles. The main one is that it can be a real pain to reach focus with a camera. Sometimes you can get away with using a shorter nosepiece, but it seems that's not a reliable fix. Cameras that are large enough to get the entire image on the sensor tend to be expensive, too -- ideally you need a sensor at least 5mm square. The build quality also seems a little ropey. Some seem fine whilst others can be smothered in threadlock. Mine came with a very rough focuser though I know they're not all like that.

I machined up some bits on the lathe to modify mine so I could use an SCT focuser, but it's common for people to mod the scope for more aperture by fitting it into an f/10 'frac. Unfortunately that increases the image scale to the point where the default blocking filter is too small to give an image without vignetting and a larger blocking filter is several hundred USD (after spending quite a bit on the donor scope and filters for the mod). All of this stuff is very DIY. The second hand market is perhaps less lively than it might be because the ERF can degrade over time.

I've never used the Lunt 35mm, but these days I don't think there's a great deal of difference in price between it and the PST. If I hadn't got my PST cheap then I'd be seriously considering the Lunt instead I think. I don't know if the Lunt is feasible to modify for greater aperture either. If that sort of thing is on the cards then perhaps the PST is the better bet.

James

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Unfortunately the PST prices seem to have gone up a lot since I bought mine. Think mine was under £500, they seem to be nearer £660 now which would definitely have made me think twice. Secondhand is definitely a good option as long as you are careful to avoid some of the issues with earlier ones such as rusting of the objective. Worth doing some more research if you go down that route.

I can only encourage you to give it a go. I have a nice balance between normal observing at night and solar, not focused on either really and don't do imaging. It keeps things interesting

Cheers

Stu

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I read up on all the modding, PSTs, and Lunts, and came to the conclusion that I didn't want to be mildly disappointed or get Lunt envy, so went straight for a decent Lunt LS60 with the pressure tuner (no moving internal parts).

The views through it are great from the get-go, there is still a sweet area but it's probably larger and less noticeable than in a Coronado PST which I read is very obvious. The extra aperture no doubt helps a lot, and the larger blocking filter (B1200 instead of B600).

The Lunt feels extremely well made, like a scientific instrument should do, and takes my Baader Zoom eyepiece well. Yes, I probably spent just a shade under £2,000 for the scope and eyepiece, but it's going to satisfy my solar observing needs for quite a while. The next step up probably costs over £1,000 more (so I'd have to spend about £3,500 to get a better scope), that price definitely is out of my equation for hobby vs bank balance!

One reason why I didn't go down the PST Coronado route is that I would almost definitely have to mod one to get the kind of performance I wanted, end up costing a surprising amount, and I didn't want to have to do a DIY project as it would probably just sit on a shelf unfinished. Also the quality was not reported to be that great.

Edited by jonathan

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