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Hello,

I really need some help. I don't understand the latest technology never mind all this jargon related to telescopes. So what I'm asking for is for one of you lovley people to tell me in simple terms, which telescope to buy. :grin:

It's a christmas present for my boyfriend, I'm looking to spend between £90-£130. We live in Surrey, England so the amount of clear nights and lots of artificial light probably makes stargazing difficult? :confused:  I don't know if certain telescopes are better than others for town gazing??? I will take it camping to wales quite a bit, where I know a great place for a pitch black night and awesome stars. I'm hoping it will help make him more enthusiastic for camping.  

He loves physics and space etc...He loves the book "A breif History of Time" by Stephen Hawkins, and I even think he might understand it... I thought it would be a nice gift for him as he really loves the mysteries of space. But I don't want to waste money.

It's not just for looking at stars, he likes planets and... um, other stuff. I don't even know what you can see through a telescope! (In fact if someone could tell me what to expect, that would be awesome. I don't know what it means when it says, "you'll see bright planets" does that mean you'll see blobs of lights, or the rings of saturn?")

After reading through this I'd like to remind everyone that the telescope is NOT for me. It is for my super smart boyfriend. 

Anyway, please help me!

Just note; lens size, zoom stuff, mirror thingis and mean nothing to me.... I really need precise instructions. :embarassed:

Thanks just for reading this, even if you can't help.

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Celestron skymaster 15x70 binoculars are a great choice, I've had mine only a few days after having my scope for quite a while and to be honest there are a lot of objects that I can see better with th

Vouchers are sensible but nothing beats a proper present under the tree to rip open! Maybe that's just still the kid in me though. I will throw another suggestion into the mix, a Skywatcher ST-80. htt

I use a wide-field refractor - an Skywatcher Startravel 80. It's very portable (It can be slung over the shoulder and taken to the park), and the wide field of view makes it quite easy to find stuff.

The Skywatcher Heritage is one option within your budget. It is a reflector, using mirrors to produce the image at the eyepiece. It has a lot of fans and is very portable for your camping trips:

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/heritage/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

There are many other telescopes available of course. As for what you can expect to see, have a read of this:

http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/196278-what-can-i-expect-to-see/

Oh, and welcome SGL  :smiley:

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Thank you, and I have seen that they are highly reccomended, however with a telescope he could set it up, find what he was looking for, etc, and it would be easy for others, like me, to just look through the hole and see what he's all excited about. Also, he'd want to try and take photos through the lens, which I imagine would be easier with a telescope.

It's also a Christmas/Birthday present and a pair of binoculars just isn't as cool, even if it would make more sense to those of you who do this as a proper hobby. Thank you for trying to help though!

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Agreed, binos will give your BF (and you) the most joys and convenience when looking up. A cheap tripod would be a great addition, something i think is essential for bino viewing!.

If you are lucky you may be able to pick up a decent scope for under £100 on AstrobuysellUK but you would need to know what to look for. Also, a tripod is essential for a scope.

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If you can find a local astronomical society (they're all over the place, but rarely advertise so Google for one in your county) you could go along as a visitor to the next meeting. Not only will you be able to pick their brains, but being on a face-to-face basis you could also bat your eyelashes at any of the male members and at least one of them might be willing to accompany you as you go to look at a used scope or two. That way you should be able to get a much better (or at least more expensive) scope that is still within your budget. I'm sure your BF won't mind a 2nd hand unit if it means getting better resolving power so he can view dimmer objects and/or have clearer views of the planets and their moons.

It's surprising what can turn up at junk/flea market/car boot sales. For just £35 I bought 2 this year from which I've made on good one - although I may have to spend as much again or a bit more to bring it fully up to spec. Even then I would still be well within your budget. On my first serious attempt to use it I got a clear view of Saturn and 4 of its moons on the lowest 'power setting'. Increasing the magnification to 'medium' I could look at just one of the moons with a decent image quality.

Ps. Do you camp under canvas - a tent, trailer tent or folding camper? If so then Shell Island would be an ideal stargazing holiday destination. It's not just 'right on the coast', but is actually just a humongous sand dune covering a claimed 300 acres! Allegedly it's the largest camping site in Europe, but is only licensed for those sleeping 'under canvas' although this year a couple of members of my car club rolled up in motor homes and were still allowed in, although they had to erect full awnings ostensibly as bedrooms. The few towns in the area are mostly small and several miles away so light pollution is not much of a problem. The only thing to watch for is that at Neap tides the single approach road can be under a couple of feet of seawater. Any decent Sat Nav should take you right to the front door.

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"he'd want to try and take photos through the lens"

This just put your budget up to at least £2000 lol. I think you're gonna have a problem if he's as smart as you say - a beginner scope is rapidly going to become boring for someone who "... loves physics and space ..... and .... understands "A Brief History Of Time"....".

However - it might just tickle his interest enough to upgrade quickly to something more suitable. The idea of binoculars is very good - a pair of 10x50's and a planisphere is what got a lot of people started (including Sir Patrick Moore and myself lol). You'll get a nice pair for around £100 and it's something that we all still use despite having telescopes and imaging gear. If you go this route look for porro prisms, fully multi coated lenses, and Bak4 (or Bak7 which I think is the latest).

You might also consider getting him a one year membership subscription to your local astronomy society - especially one that does a lot of observing evenings outside. He can trip along with his shiny new bins and join in - and he'll get to see and look through a lot of different scopes which will provide the information needed to choose one for himself. Also consider a subscription to Sky at Night and/or Astronomy Now magazines.

It's a lovely idea getting him a scope for Xmas - a lot of partners post similar messages here every year - but it's not really a good idea to choose one for him unless it's just a passing phase - which I suspect it won't be in your case. So do consider the alternatives carefully.

Hope that helps and a warm welcome to SGL. :)

(Oh by the way - it will deffo stimulate his interest in camping - I wound up with two towcars and a caravan as a result of astronomy lol)

Edited by brantuk
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You could always get him gift vouchers towards a purchase of his choice. FLO sell vouchers, other retailers may also.

Certainly not as exciting as a telescope under the Christmas tree, but then he could choose something that suits his needs. He could also add some more money on top if he wanted something that cost a bit more.

Some good advice though about visiting an astro society or buying him a year's membership.

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Vouchers are sensible but nothing beats a proper present under the tree to rip open! Maybe that's just still the kid in me though.

I will throw another suggestion into the mix, a Skywatcher ST-80.

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/skywatcher-startravel-80-eq1.html

In budget, compact and light for camping, can be used as a guidescope if more serious imaging is taken on, always in demand as a guidescope so re-sale will always be easy. Has the "Direct" Slr connection so add a T-ring and snap away at the moon and maybe some other targets.

Other than that its just a great little scope at a reasonable price.

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Wow! You've all been so helpful! The post where you directed me to "what you should expect to see" was very eye-opening and so useful. In fact everything has been really useful! I wasn't aware it took so long to get a good view. I'm quite impatient and have unrealisic expectations... He's a lot more grounded... The truth is you were so helpful I panicked and wound up telling him my idea. He does want a telescope, and was thinking of getting one once we are settled in a place of our own and have a little more money. He thinks seeing fuzzy little blobs IS really cool- I was worried he'd be let down as all the space pictures he shows me are the really cool NASA ones.

So, after speaking to him I think getting a telescope now would be silly, as he does want a really good ,aka, expensive one further down the line. What can you see with a more affordable pair of binoculars? So, a £70 pair? I don't really want to spend as much on them as I would a telescope.... It's hard, buying him a pair of binoculars instead of a telescope is similar to expecting a car and getting a scooter, in the cool gadget rankings. I was thinking perhaps Binoculars for birthday and then something else spacey for Christmas. That way he still get's a suprise. This is all so hard. :sad: And that second hand telescope looks good, and all the others are so cool looking. I really do want to get him a telescope... I think I'm going to have to sleep on this one.

"Do you camp under canvas - a tent, trailer tent or folding camper"

We just have a standard tent. It's our first. :grin: Before that it was camping with the parents, and they always had the little extra tent just for sleeping where us kids went. (Camping with the parents is awesome! They have a trailer tent and a fridge and a full grill, stove... EVERYTHING) Anyway, on that... I do want to go to the Shell Island. I think I went as a kid, or we were going to but the tide was in so we couldn't get to it. All I really remember was being scared the sea was going to come and get us!

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"buying him a pair of binoculars instead of a telescope is similar to expecting a car and getting a scooter"

Not really - binoculars offer a wider field of view than most telescopes, and a wide view is essential for the best observing of some objects. E.g. the Beehive cluster is brilliant in bins cos you can see the whole thing - whereas in a scope you only see a few stars in the corner of it. It's more like buying him a very useful accessory that goes extremely well with a telescope.

I have 4 or 5 bins and they all get used for observing different things. :)

Edited by brantuk
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I know technically binoculars make more sense... that's why I'm seriously considering it. It's just, telescopes are so cool! What would be the mimimum you'd want to spend on a pair? I googled the brand you mentioned and there was quite a price range... 

"My first telescope was a Sky-Watcher Mercury707 (I still use it). It's a great little refractor so long as you look after it. I love it! I'm not saying there isn't better out there for your price range but if your on a tight budget this may leave you with enough for accessories.  "

It does look good! A less expensive model to learn on might be a good idea, so that he'll have a better understanding when he upgrades, if he uses it enough to warrent the expenditure... So many options. I'm currently browsing through astrophysics books... I figure he can get the night sky map on his phone with that App.

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Have a look at what folks say about the Celestron 15x70's. They'll need a tripod but you can easily get quite an acceptable one from a camera shop. You'll also need a camera tripod "L" adaptor for them:

http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/80167-celestron-skymaster-15x70-binos-review/

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/binocular-accessories/l-type-binocular-tripod-adapters.html

:)

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Vouchers are sensible but nothing beats a proper present under the tree to rip open! Maybe that's just still the kid in me though.

I will throw another suggestion into the mix, a Skywatcher ST-80.

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/skywatcher-startravel-80-eq1.html

In budget, compact and light for camping, can be used as a guidescope if more serious imaging is taken on, always in demand as a guidescope so re-sale will always be easy. Has the "Direct" Slr connection so add a T-ring and snap away at the moon and maybe some other targets.

Other than that its just a great little scope at a reasonable price.

Great bang for the buck, great optics, very portable and he / you could always add some wants later !
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Wise words from brantuk, binoculars would be better but if you are dead set on an actual telescope for the xmas 'wow!' factor, and want one that is very portable, maintenance free, and reasonably well made you could do a lot worse than this:

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/skywatcher-mercury-705.html

and throw in a a copy of this for £20:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Turn-Left-Orion-Hundreds-Telescope/dp/0521153972/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

which will guide him around the night sky.

Total is just under your budget and he'll be happy as Larry. You should give him the book first so he says how great it is but secretly thinks a telescope would be really cool. Then give him the telescope.

Back of the net.

Oh, and get him to sign up to this forum!!!

Cheers

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Wow! You've all been so helpful! The post where you directed me to "what you should expect to see" was very eye-opening and so useful. In fact everything has been really useful! I wasn't aware it took so long to get a good view. I'm quite impatient and have unrealisic expectations... He's a lot more grounded... The truth is you were so helpful I panicked and wound up telling him my idea. He does want a telescope, and was thinking of getting one once we are settled in a place of our own and have a little more money. He thinks seeing fuzzy little blobs IS really cool- I was worried he'd be let down as all the space pictures he shows me are the really cool NASA ones.

So, after speaking to him I think getting a telescope now would be silly, as he does want a really good ,aka, expensive one further down the line. What can you see with a more affordable pair of binoculars? So, a £70 pair? I don't really want to spend as much on them as I would a telescope.... It's hard, buying him a pair of binoculars instead of a telescope is similar to expecting a car and getting a scooter, in the cool gadget rankings. I was thinking perhaps Binoculars for birthday and then something else spacey for Christmas. That way he still get's a suprise. This is all so hard. :sad: And that second hand telescope looks good, and all the others are so cool looking. I really do want to get him a telescope... I think I'm going to have to sleep on this one.

"Do you camp under canvas - a tent, trailer tent or folding camper"

We just have a standard tent. It's our first. :grin: Before that it was camping with the parents, and they always had the little extra tent just for sleeping where us kids went. (Camping with the parents is awesome! They have a trailer tent and a fridge and a full grill, stove... EVERYTHING) Anyway, on that... I do want to go to the Shell Island. I think I went as a kid, or we were going to but the tide was in so we couldn't get to it. All I really remember was being scared the sea was going to come and get us!

Wow! You've all been so helpful! The post where you directed me to "what you should expect to see" was very eye-opening and so useful. In fact everything has been really useful! I wasn't aware it took so long to get a good view. I'm quite impatient and have unrealisic expectations... He's a lot more grounded... The truth is you were so helpful I panicked and wound up telling him my idea. He does want a telescope, and was thinking of getting one once we are settled in a place of our own and have a little more money. He thinks seeing fuzzy little blobs IS really cool- I was worried he'd be let down as all the space pictures he shows me are the really cool NASA ones.

So, after speaking to him I think getting a telescope now would be silly, as he does want a really good ,aka, expensive one further down the line. What can you see with a more affordable pair of binoculars? So, a £70 pair? I don't really want to spend as much on them as I would a telescope.... It's hard, buying him a pair of binoculars instead of a telescope is similar to expecting a car and getting a scooter, in the cool gadget rankings. I was thinking perhaps Binoculars for birthday and then something else spacey for Christmas. That way he still get's a suprise. This is all so hard. :sad: And that second hand telescope looks good, and all the others are so cool looking. I really do want to get him a telescope... I think I'm going to have to sleep on this one.

"Do you camp under canvas - a tent, trailer tent or folding camper"

We just have a standard tent. It's our first. :grin: Before that it was camping with the parents, and they always had the little extra tent just for sleeping where us kids went. (Camping with the parents is awesome! They have a trailer tent and a fridge and a full grill, stove... EVERYTHING) Anyway, on that... I do want to go to the Shell Island. I think I went as a kid, or we were going to but the tide was in so we couldn't get to it. All I really remember was being scared the sea was going to come and get us!

Another nice gift, maybe, for both of you would be a copy of either or both Night Watch or A Backyard Astronomers Guide ! They can be had on Amazon for around $35 Canadian ! These books were written by highly respected people in astronomy and are written in layman's terms for the amature astronomer / beginner of all ages to understand, yet they have a technical sense and touch on all aspects of this great hobby ! If I had to choose only one it would be Night Watch first as it also has some great sky charts of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and are well presented and easy to orient / use ! If he or both of you stay in this hobby you will continue to reference them time after time, there is no doubt ! I am sure others will agree with this and have more recommendations as well !?
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I'll add another vote for the 130p heritage. the best scope for your budget are not binoculars simply because they are not a telescope. If I was wanting to get into astronomy and got a pair of bins, they'd be in the cupboard the next day probably never to be used again. Not because they are no good but because I don't get on with them. My arms shake, my neck hurts and lets face it...views of jupiter and saturn are the kinds of things that get you interested. you won't get that with bins.

get the heritage....i've got one and although I've moved on to imaging I still use it. I am currently looking AT my bins (or rather the bin shaped pile of dust) on the shelf in the shed.

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Have a look at what folks say about the Celestron 15x70's. They'll need a tripod but you can easily get quite an acceptable one from a camera shop. You'll also need a camera tripod "L" adaptor for them:

http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/80167-celestron-skymaster-15x70-binos-review/

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/binocular-accessories/l-type-binocular-tripod-adapters.html

:)

I have 2 pair one for home and one for my remote cabin on the Ottawa River with Bortle Class 1 skies and they throw up some incredible, low power, wide field views ! Keep in mind though they are a bit on the heavy side and can be held / steadied for a short period by holding out at the very end but for longer viewing times they have to be supported some how ! This entails either a solid tri pod, mono pod , neck strap etc.or by propping them against a fence, post, wall of a building or something similar or you could fabricate your own method of support ! I would never do with out mine and you wouldn't either especially for camping under darker skies
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If you go for the bins, get a decent tripod that doesn't shake like crazy every time you look anywhere near it. My first tripod was a cheap one; it was really light with a plastic head. I tried to use it once and sent it straight back.  Also make sure that it'll extend to a height that makes it comfortable for your b/f to look through the bins.  If it doesn't go high enough, he'll get a right pain in the neck.

I have a pair of those15x70 bins and I'm really happy with them. Good luck:)

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Celestron skymaster 15x70 binoculars are a great choice, I've had mine only a few days after having my scope for quite a while and to be honest there are a lot of objects that I can see better with these bins than the scope.

I think he would be well chuffed to own a pair of these and at a good price too.

As far as the "cool" thing is concerned.....I can understand where you are coming from but in all fairness it's what about looks cool in the sky that counts.

Bungielad.

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