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Best scope for ultimate beginner


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Hi everyone

I been looking through the forums for a couple of months now and have yet to buy my telescope. Would be great to get your thoughts on which suits me best.

Firstly I have never used any scope so would need to be pretty straightforward to use. I have been looking at skywatcher heritage 130p as I've read that's its a pretty good beginner scope. I live in London so I'm not expecting to get great views from here but will be using it a lot from leysdown on isle of sheppey in Kent, which I'm hoping will be darker skies. Is that likely?

I mostly want to look at DSO's and I know I won't see them as clear as Hubble but would they be more than blobs in the sky with that scope? Of course it would be great to view planets as well.

I have a budget of around 150 but could possibly stretch to 200 if there was massive differences in the scopes. I have a few apps to find things in the sky and turn left at Orion so I'm hoping it will be easy enough to find objects in the sky but any advice on this would be great.

I don't have much storage space and it will be transported quite a bit so size and weight need to be considered to fit in a relatively small car.

Any help, advice and suggestions would be a massive help

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Hi

I am very happy with our heritage 130p, size, weight and the great 'plonk and go'.

Yes DSO are fuzzy blobs but at this stage of our investigation in to this hobby it was right and looking at what you hope to find first helps you imagine more. No space for a larger scope and mount. Jupiter is small but pretty clear, the moon is amazing.

First Light Optics have for this month a reduction on it too.

Since purchase the two best buys are the maxvision 16mm and bahtinov focusing mask, I have also made a light shroud which helps with my local street lights.

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I started out as an absolute beginner earlier in the year, and bought myself the Skywatcher 130P.

From an optics point of view it is very similar to the Heritage 130P (130 aperture, parabolic mirror), while the heritage has the simpler Alt-Az mount. The optics of mine are good enough to see the bands on Jupiter, Saturn's rings, the Orion Nebula (though pointing my scope at it was the challenge the first time, but you live and learn) and no doubt many other things I've not found yet.

As you're in London, with limited space, have you considered spending more and getting a refractor instead of the reflector? Smaller, easier to move devices, and smaller apertures mean less issue with light pollution. Only costs tend to be higher.

Going to the alt-az will pretty much stop you doing any photography, but that isn't an issue unless you suddenly want to take picture of DSOs.

One other thing I'd note is that as the Heritage is an open tube, you might find it even more susceptible to all the light pollution.

However, if you're going to plan your stargazing to be somewhere darker, then the heritage sounds perfect to me: small and mobile (alt-az mount making set up a breeze!).

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Light pollution will affect any telescope the loss of contrast is in the air not your scope. Stray light from ground sources can cause a loss of contrast too but this is easily combatted by a shroud if needed.

Remember oft quoted " aperture is king ".

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Depending on you location in London try and get along to the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers, they meet in Regents Park monthly, Wenesday nights I think, a search should locate their site, and hopefully meeting details.

Gives you a chance to see scopes and talk to people.

I have always thought that something like an 80mm f/7.5 or f/8 achro would be a good starter scope, capable of most things, robust and maintenance free. Just never found one, and if there is they are for whatever reason costly.

Will say that buying a scope is the sort of start, you will need additional eyepieces, suggest 3 although 4 gives a better selection, and if a reflector you will need a collimator at some time.

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+1 for 130P - (do get the P not the non-P), Heritage or on the EQ2 mount. The EQ2 isn't great, but it's just about good enough for visual with the little 130P and it works out at only £40ish or less with the tube as a kit and it gives you options, not least learning how to use an EQ mount, which is worth £40 any day :)

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I started with an astromaster 130 and then moved to a 150p dob - and noticed a dramatic difference.  Mainly I think because of the longer focal length on the 150p (1200 compared to 650 on the astromaster) which means it's easier to rack up magnification e.g. on the Moon; but the images are clearer and brighter too.  I love the dob and still use it regularly  (even though my kids think it is their scope :grin: )

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Agree with Ramstar.  A 200dob would suit you nicely.  Very simple mount and 8inches of light gathering goodness.  DSOs are still fuzzy blobs but they are bigger brigter fuzzy blobs and you can see a tiny bit more detail.  Views of the planets and moon will also be great.

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For portability, SCTs and Maks eat Dobs for breakfast, but the cost is much higher. Try transporting a 200P Dob on the bus, or in a tiny car. My C8 OTA is much lighter, and I could take it to a dark site in our Peugeot 106 (even when we went camping with loads of other stuff (and the missus' shoes)).  I could reasonable take it along on a bus, if I use the alt-az mount rather than the EQ. The ultimate beginner's scope must be a pair of binoculars, but a dob is very good as well. There are collapsible and suitcase Dobs with good VERY portability, at the expense of a bit more set-up time.

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While a 200p is generally regarded as being the best "bang for buck" of the dobsonian scopes, it isn't very small. Portability could be an issue; I'd suggest trying to see one.

The Heritage 130p mini-dob is much more portable, though you'll want something to set it on, or a seat to sit next to it.

 

I mostly want to look at DSO's and I know I won't see them as clear as Hubble but would they be more than blobs in the sky with that scope? Of course it would be great to view planets as well.

That's a tricky question to answer. Some objects are fine in town. I'm in fairly central Reading, which is disastrous for light pollution, but things like the Orion Nebula, Lagoon Nebula, Omega Nebula & Ring Nebula (a personal favourite) are all visible with shape despite that. Open clusters are fine, and some globular clusters - M13, M22, M4 - are on the very edge of resolving (all speckly in averted vision). However, most globulars are little fuzzy balls, and galaxies are very challenging, very faint. The core of M31 is visible, but it's tiny compared to what you seen in a dark location.

From somewhere dark, though - well, my 130p somewhere dark outperforms my 250px in town on faint fuzzies. With occasional dark site trips and star parties, I'm at 80 Messier objects found (though a few weren't really 'seen', not in the detail I'd like) since Feb.

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+1 here for the Heritage 130P rather than the 130 on an EQ mount as it is more beginner friendly.  Extend the scope, attach the finder, plug in an eyepiece and you're off.  You may want to invest in something to put the scope on,  I have a little folding table that I use.

A friend of mine bought a 2nd hand 130 on an EQ2 and hardly took it out as he wasn't keen on the additional set up time needed to align the mount.  It was fun for me to learn the process though :)

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+2 for the Heritage. It is surprisingly small and can be carried with one hand making it very portable. As mentioned above you might want something to put it on, I use a patio table although on the floor it is a nice height for the children.

I can't really comment on how well they view fuzzies as I haven't had much chance to view them yet. From what I have seen the ring nebula does look really nice and I have seen the Andromeda galaxy stretch right across the field of view, this is from my back garden in a large village.

There would also be money left other, perhaps after getting used to it a collimator and extra eyepiece or two could be considered.

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Thanks for all your opinions. I'm definitely going to order the heritage 130p. Can I also ask the image I will see would be back to front and upside down is that right?

If so can I use adapters on the eye piece (and what are they called) to have everything the right way round? I just think as a beginner it's going to be hard enough finding things let alone them being the wrong way around.

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Yes everything will be upside down, but then again there isn't really an upside down in space :)

It doesn't really affect finding things for me as I tend to locate with the red dot finder and view through the eyepiece.  Things don't tend to be perfectly framed anyway, for instance I viewed the owl cluster recently at it was on its side compared to reference pictures.

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If you are using it in your garden at home and then only transporting it by car to the isle then I'd plumb for a 150p dob if you want new only or a 200p dob if you can get second hand.

my 150p shows the minimum level of detail I would consider setting up my scope for, although i view from heavily light polluted skies.  The storage difference between a 150p dob and a 200p dob is neglible as they have the same focal length and around the same size base footprint.

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Thanks for all your opinions. I'm definitely going to order the heritage 130p. Can I also ask the image I will see would be back to front and upside down is that right?

If so can I use adapters on the eye piece (and what are they called) to have everything the right way round? I just think as a beginner it's going to be hard enough finding things let alone them being the wrong way around.

The image in a newtonian is 180 degree rotated, it may take a little time for a beginer to get used to, but it's much easier to orientate with a star atlas, you just need to look at the chart up-side-down, then everything is at right place.

Images through a diagonal (refractor or compounds) are right side up, but left-right mirrored, which is much more difficult to get use to, IMHO.

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Also note that whatever you're looking at will appear to rotate throughout the evening (as you're using an Alt-Az mount, rather than an Equitorial mount). For example, here is the constellation Orion as it rises (left) at around 1800, and sets (right) at around 0230

post-28380-0-20897100-1389887553_thumb.p

It's a bit weird at first, the whole upside down thing, but you'll get used to it surprisingly quickly :)

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