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Skyliner 200P/Dob........The darker Site........can only get better!

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I`m aware this is more of an observation report, however its based on the potential purchase for anyone considering the 8" reflector as their first telescope or potential upgrade.

 I've been observing  for the last couple of Months from my back yard, in what was effectively a darkish site, that is until all the foliage fell of the trees. Now with the street lights in full view,  I'm able to clearly read something in my garden at night (who needs a red torch now?) So Sunday night, with the help of Google Earth, I drove about 5 miles out of the City, and ended up on a dark, little used access road to an old industry that had long left the premises. On immediate arrival my thoughts were Ok, this is good, as my eyes were getting accustomed to the dark. Three Meteors within as many minutes, and the whole of the Milky way visible. The  7x50`s were good, taking in the views, but something was`nt quite right, they started feeling stiff to operate, but I continued. I then decided I`ll set-up the telescope. Almost set-up, and a car is drawing nearer to me, totally blinded now, no matter where I look. Then at about 500 yards, they stopped and did a 180° degree turn and left. I must have been using their space, perhaps its a lovers hot spot? So now the scope is set-up, what's first. 25mm BST attached and Pleidaes is first. Great, what a view, not all in, like the 7x50`s but amazing view, next M31 Andromeda. Ouch! now I know why you need a seat, or a platform for the Dobsonian, or a Telrad!( I want a Telrad but trying to find reasons not too _ from the back yard, the 9x50 finder scope image is bright and clear, but at a dark site, its harder to see through, so Telrad back on shopping list!) With M31 exactly in my Zenith, I gave up. So onto M-101 ( Pinwheel Galaxy)Still cant find it! Next, Jupiter and out with the phone camera. Ten minutes later, with the phone complaining about lack of battery power, I inadvertently touched the zoom slider and hey presto, Jupiter was now in focus (not brilliant but enough to show a friend what's capable ~ the camera recording 4 Moons and Jupiter as a white disc, but no  detail, whereas, with the naked eye through the telescope, you can clearly see the weather belts (the 18mm BST is fitted for this) Now some visual problems with the finder scope, and eyepieces, as I keep having to clean the lenses as they appear to be misting up!( my thoughts also  suggesting that grease from the extendible eye-cup threads may be on the lenses) So back to visual observations and Binoculars, but these feel much stiffer now, then I realise its cold (its turns out to be -2°C) but the excitement is keeping me warm(ish) a hand full of Meteors again, random, no particular radiant, then I thought I`d give M31 another go. Putting the binoculars into the car, It now struck me why conditions were getting  worse, the cars doors are frozen shut and Ice all over the car? No wonder I'm getting problems. The red light shows that the main telescope mirror is clear, so I try to get a view of M31 and Wow! oh My! Wow!  totally amazing. Im used to a small grey patch / blob from my garden site, now I've got the whole viewfinder filled (25mm BST) but I think I need wider eyepiece to get it all in?


Primarily this report is to allay the fears of users and potential new users of the 200P/D and how good it is. I purchased on the advice and recommendations from this site, and honestly believed that my scope was good, but not in the way others were saying, which sort of puts the feeling, should I have bought something bigger or better maybe.......A B S O L U T E L Y  N O T........ M-31 blew my perceptions away, simply because the dark site offered the better viewing condition (despite everything freezing over!) Now my search is still on to get a better site,  at say 10 miles from the nearest light pollution and try again ( Ive already got a place in mind) 

I`m still hoping to complete my BST range, but now maybe need an additional  2" barrel, wide view eyepiece of 30+mm and a Telrad. Again, if I'm only out once a Month to a dark site, then is the Telrad worth the expense, as more often than not, I`ll be back yard observing with  some light filtering adaptors. But I'm sure of one thing, it can only get better. I still recommend the 8" Skyliner

Edited by Charic
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Nice one. It always makes me smile when another astronomer sees the true benefit of dark skies. That site you find 10 miles from the nearest light will be worth it. Remember it's not just hiding from direct light that makes a sky dark. To get truly dark skies we need to avoid sky glow. This means getting many miles from big cities.

A dark sky site is THE best accessory that any scope can use when hunting down DSO's

Make sure to plan your dark sky trips on nights near the new moon though, pointless swapping streetlights for moonlight ;)

8" of aperture from dark skies is awesome indeed. I recall using a buddies 8" SCT from a really dark sky site in Wales.......wow!

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......................................... now I've got the whole viewfinder filled (25mm BST) but I think I need wider eyepiece to get it all in?

Great stuff,

In our back yard we can get good views with the 8-inch big-un  - but desperately want to take it camping to Ullswater or Kielder to get the best out of it.

We tried a members 10" Skywatcher at the Northumrian Astro Club Meldon Park event, and it was truly amazing at the semi dark site (with restaurant lights in the background)

For the wider view lens, I noticed that the performance of the Maxvision range of eyepieces drops off at higher magnifications.

Armed with this knowledge, and seeing good results with Plossls at low mag, and dodgy results at the higher mags - I have taken the view that wide angle eyepieces do not need to be supa dupa expensive to get good results.

We have opted for the very wide 42mm Revelation 2" from Telescope House (£36 delivered)

The view is trimmed down from 70-degrees down to 65-degrees compared to the 30mm version.

But I felt that the 24mm 68o MV and a 30mm 70o Revelation would be too close together (50x and 40x)

I prefer the 50x and 28x differential,

and it fits in nicely with the 15x binoculars to double up from 15x to 28x to 50x 

A report from the 42mm will be coming soon, once I get a clear night.

Initial findings on a hazy, full moon lit night are:

-  Image is not as sharp or bright as the MaxVision (it is less than 1/2 the price, and was used on a very bad seeing night - so I would be very disappointed if it was better)

- The 24mm shows all of the double cluster nicely, the 42mm frames it better with an inky black sky surrounding the stars = very impressive.

- All of Pleiades is visible in the viewfinder (or most of it is). This is one of our must see objects with the binoculars, and the 8" scope / 42mm combination gives you so much more.

For £36 it was a no brainer.

It fills the gap between the 15x bins and the 50x MaxVision 24mm eyepiece.

It shows Andromeda, double cluster, and Pleiades in a new light.

And it can be used as a low mag finderscope to star hop - like I do with the binoculars.

For 200x mag and 200x plus I will need the more expensive eyepieces.

But for low mag, short duration use, the Revelation 2" seems to be doing the job OK.

I will compare it like for like with the 24mm MV once I get the conditions right to test it out.

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nice report, dark skies almost double your aperture, thats why we love them

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swamp thing..........Cheers, I could see the difference to my North and North East, which looks out over the sea, same contrast from sky to horizon, but in 5 other directions, as you say, there was an orange bubble of light over the Towns and City. The next site is easily  10 + miles in any direction from  light sources with some Granite screening? and about 30-40 mins drive.

Reeny.......Cheers, the 42mm is right on the limits for the telescope, and  age vs.  pupil size, I really should be limiting myself to about 34x and 35m EP? I`m trying to stick with the mathematical and practical solutions. That said, would I really see a difference in the brighter image of the 42mm over the 35mm.  I could just go to each extreme of  the telescope, knowing that I couldn't expect any more ? My previous thoughts on wide angles was to stay within the 1.25" size, but not afforded by BST SG, so 2" and between 35mm - 40mm.

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Nice report . I'm thinking of getting a skyliner dobsonian but torn between the 200 and 250 . Enjoyed your report though.

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Nice report . I'm thinking of getting a skyliner dobsonian but torn between the 200 and 250 . Enjoyed your report though.

Jason71........Hi, On paper the 250 is better. Practically though, it depends on many factors. The 250 is dearer, slightly heavier, slightly bigger and a larger aperture (Aperture is normally the priority if choosing a telescope for visual observations only, the 250 probably gets you just over 50% more light gathering, which allows you to see fainter objects, but only under the right conditions) mirror glass is pyrex ( less warping ?). Depending on your observation site and light pollution, it may fair no better or even worse than a 200.

The 200 is a great telescope for the first time buyer. I purchased a second hand Celestron 127EQ in October, very cheap, but the books included were where the real value was? I decided after just a Week, that the scope was not good enough or good enough for my needs, in fact just not good enough (1000mm my asre? and a Bird-Jones Barlow/corrector lens, and "Return to Factory for collimation [ aspherical mirrors cant go out of collimation on-axis, so it would have to have fallen out to be that bad to return for servicing, however mine was stripped, centred spotted for show!, and works very well on the Moon ONLY?. Great for kids, but I just don't like it any more or any other Bird-Jones type telescope, your just not getting good value ~ these are still nearly £200 in Argooooos!?]) : rant over: and very time consuming  using the EQ mount, and continual messing about with locks and alignments during the course of the night. NO! Not For Me. So I invested in the 200P Skyliner on recommendations from this site. Just this Week (this thread) I had my closest attempt to dark skies, and the telescope blew me away (again?) compared to my own back garden( due to street light pollution - now all the leaves have gone!). 

I would recommend you get a Skyliner 200P/D (P=Parabolic Mirror ~ D=Dobsonian mount) I would also recommend an 8MM BST Starguider lens as your first lens upgrade, available on ebay @ £49.oo That said, if you can afford the 250 then that may be your better choice. If I were to upgrade now, Id skip the 10" and go to a 12" or higher, as that would be a more beneficial increase for my needs.(thats not saying anything wrong with the 10") As these  telescopes get bigger and we get older, storage and lifting become a problem. I can just carry my 200P fully assembled into the garden, but anything bigger, I may have to start making two journeys, and separate  the scope from the mount. The 250 also comes in a flex-tube variety, which makes it more compact, but I don't understand  how the M2 (secondary mirror) stays in perfect collimation every time, with the constant extending and collapsing of the tube assembly, and then you probably need some sort of skirt for the scope to prevent stray light entering. My advice stick with a solid tube. have fun deciding.

Get the 200P as a great value observing telescope from @ £280 delivered from here http://www.pulsar-optical.co.uk/prod/telescopes/sky-watcher/dobsonians/skyliner-200.html   or get the 250PXD for @£460 here http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-250px-dobsonian.html.  Note that FLO mentions that the 200P is the UK`s BEST SELLING and the 250PX is ONE OF OUR BEST SELLING?

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Great thread. I live in the country side on the edge of a village backing onto fields. "Dark Sky" should be assured. The neighbour has an outside light that could illuminate most football pitches. But on learning learning of my new hobby said "just pop over and switch it off if it is bothering you". All set..... Then I start to notice the blooms of light from the motorway (out of site and over a mile away) and from the a small town 4 miles away.

How far do you have to go to find dark(ish) skies? Or do "seeing conditions" exacerbate limited light pollution?

I should probably stop whinging and count myself lucky to live under semi dark skies (and buy an LP filter because for us newbies, the toys make up for experience every time!)

On the "what telescope" front.

I have the SW250px Flexi Tube Dob. Loads of scope for the money. But it does weigh 30+ kilos and, even in Flexi form, it isn't the most ergonomic of beasts to carry around. Of course you could break it down and carry it in two halves. But if you need to do that you may as well get the 12". The Flexi bit of the tube seems pretty rigid and locks firmly into position with minimal hassle and light shrouds are available from £0 DIY to £70 for live on the scope v smart proffessionally made versions.


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