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GOTO or not?


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Nothing wrong with that. If what you want to do is view visually and don't need tracking etc then a dob makes much sense.

As you say, simple and easy. It would be ideal if that's what you're looking for and don't need more.

Also, don't be too scared of colmination. It's a bit of a worry the first time but it's like riding a bike, after doing it once you won't think twice about it thereafter.

Good luck :)

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You appear to be already half way there, panning the sky with your binoculars. Collimation, after the initial learning curve, you get intuitive quickly, after which it  becomes a brief check.  As long as you feel you do not aim to get into A.P, then learning to locate and digesting what you see / observe, is very satisfying.

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I own the SLT 102 GOTO

And overall they are not bad scopes visually and some short AP if you learn about field rotation.

They do stay with the object however they are not as superior as the GEM of EQ5 and above, i see this as a learning curve to understand of how to align and what is required.

So what can you get imaging?

a maximum of 70 sec exposures maybe more depending on when the goto re-aligns, the results i had that 2 images out of 5 has field rotation after 65 secs, which i think is great of you want to understand what AP is all about to give you an idea see below.

153xp4n.jpg

what are the dissavantages?

Scope does get the full affects of CA (chromatic aberration) which causes halos around bright objects, however fringe killers filters > filter out the wavelengths to reduce the affect. Goto isn't as good as GEM / EQ5 however overall best for beginners

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I like the idea of AP but realistically it's very unlikely I'll ever go down that route given time, location and funds. If I do ever decide to try my hand at it it won't be for several years and so that isn't one of my factors of consideration. I'm very content for simple visual astronomy for the foreseeable future.

I do need to consider the usability with children of anything I do get. I home educate my children and have a lot of friends who do so and while my children are too young to have much interest at the moment (my 5 year old daughter was mesmerised by the moon last week but "humphed" at what I considered to be a stunning view of M45 and was exceptionally unimpressed with Jupiter!) I would like to be able to offer some of the older children in the home ed community an opportunity to experience what the sky has to offer. I imagine there are pros and cons to each option when taking this into consideration as well and primarily whatever I get is for my own enjoyment.

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Having used a MAK127 on a Synscan Alt-Az GoTo, I always felt the mount was rather near the weight limit. Frankly, the motors struggled a bit! For a truly portable GoTo, the MAK102 is significantly lighter. The MAK127 (as a 5" scope) tends [iMO] to sit rather on the threshold for clear DSO observation. In that way, the advocates of rather larger Dobsonians do have a point. For manual star-hopping, MAKs (even Dobsonians) have a relatively small field. A short tube refractor might be easier to start with. I might even be tempted by an Alt-Azimuth mount of "GIRO" type for star sweeping - Much more robust and intuitive, compared to an equatorial, especially if children were among the users.

Unfortunately, not merely are there many opinions, but it can be hard to find ONE scope that satisfies all needs. Perhaps eventually you have to (we all had to?) take some sort of "leap of faith". :p

Edited by Macavity
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Good luck in what ever you choose. My experience with kids is that they like to have a brief look, whether it be for example Jupiter a nice double star or bright cluster, but that is it. Children do enjoy star parties though, and these events are a great opportunity to see and maybe experience lots of varied scopes.

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It has been interesting reading the different views that often surround topics like Goto. I started out down the manual route and now have Goto and understand the virtues of both systems but for me there is an important consideration for new people starting out buying their first scope and that is that any budget should primarily be spent on the scope itself and that any extras like Goto should come on top of that. There is no point in buying a Goto system that is capable of finding several thousand objects if the the scope that you are now only able to afford can only reveal a fraction of the objects that the Goto can find for you. So ultimately decide on the scope that you want from your initial budget and find extra money for Goto. Now of course you could go down the manual route first with a dobsonian (best value for money scope) and then when you have been using that for a while, you can then later put some mounting rings around the scope and transfer it onto an equatorial mount with Goto at a later date. Now there are some dobsonian scopes that come with a Goto system but as far as I can remember they have to be bought with the scope at the outset, I don't believe that there are any after market systems that can be added to upgrade the initial setup.

So there is a manual route for you to consider which is cheaper and that will also allow you to' upgrade' to a Goto system in the longer run if you want to. Personally I would put astrophotography to one side for now as kit specific to that area of interest is different to that best suited for observing and it is an area that needs a little bit more research to arrive at the correct overview of the subject as a whole in order for you to decide specifically how far you want to go with it. Coming back to the subject of Goto, I would like to leave you with some other reasons for its consideration. We seem to be getting more cloudy nights than clear ones in the last couple of years (at least it feels like that  :grin:) and I have found that on nights when it is occasional cloudy, Goto provides a convenient solution (once alignment is complete) as I can just dial in the chosen object and wait for the sky to clear in that particular spot and then observe. The alternative manual method would have me star hopping my way over to the same object but broken cloud will interfere so much with that process that it hardly seems worthwhile. So given that like everyone else I prefer to observe in clear skies, sometimes the option to observe under a bit of broken cloud is better than nothing and therefore Goto certainly provides you with options. One other reason that I turned to using the Goto method was because I live under light polluted skies. When I had a manual set up, I always had a problem finding a number of objects and one in particular M51. Time and time again I would check my charts and books but could I find it - no chance. Then I put my modest scope on top of my Goto mount and after pressing a couple of buttons the scope then pointed in the same direction but I still couldn't see it. It was then that I realised that the problem wasn't my star hopping but in fact my scope - it didn't have enough aperture to reveal this object which at one level was a relief as I thought it was me and my ability to find objects that was at fault but without the Goto I would never have known. Not all Goto systems are the same in that I can use my motors to go and find objects 'manually' as well as using the Goto catalogue but not all Goto's allow you to do that so you will need to do some research in that area.

Ultimately I prefer to do more observing than finding as I have limited time, though I recognise that for some, the process of tracking an object down provides some of the pleasure. Goto comes at a price but should not be taken out of your budget for the scope itself. I find Goto is useful when showing non astronomers (family and friends) the night sky because you can construct your own tours leaving you to answer questions etc whilst the scope is moving to its new location. Yes there hidden costs such as a power supply and its takes longer to set up but once done the rest of the night is a breeze!  :grin:

Hope my comments help not confuse you more with your future kit decision.

James

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Andy - that's my husbands conclusion. He knows nothing about astronomy and apart from a cursory "very nice dear" when I drag him out to look at something or other through the bins he has no interest. He does know computerised stuff though and he reckons the more computerised something is, the more things there are to go wrong.

I'm a back to basics sort or girl. I don't mind if it takes longer or I end up frustrated because I can't find something and I have a suspicion that using a goto will remove some of my feeling of achievement and I'll end up looking at something and thinking yes, very nice, what's next. As others have said I'm sure for me a lot of the fun and achievement is in finding something myself and then wallowing in looking at it.

I have both. I like 'em both. But I mostly want to spend my time observing, not hunting. I'm time poor. From what you've written it's clear what your preference is, so go with it :)

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Yes, I suppose my preference is clear!

I think given my chances to get out and about observing are pretty limited with two small children and a mr working away portability isn't my main concern and I just want to be able to go out and look, not spend my time panicking about breaking some computerised gadget of some sort.

I'm sure at some point I'll end up with both! When we are able to afford to start going on holidays I'm sure I'll want a smaller more portable 'scope to take with us to (hopefully) many dark sky destinations. :)

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Good point by James about the Goto being able to find thousands of objects but only being able to see some of them with a smaller scope. Later on in the spring I was planning on using both my Goto and my dob side by side and using the Goto as a glorified finder scope for some fainter objects that I may not be able to pick out with the smaller scope. Have the Goto slew to the target, see where the finderscope is pointing and then finding the same point with the dob's finderscope. 

I know it won't be that easy once I try it, but we'll see.

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Have the Goto slew to the target, see where the finderscope is pointing and then finding the same point with the dob's finderscope. 

Good Point! I used to look for the "double cluster" with binoculars. Never with success. It's a bit in "no man's land"?

Turned out I was looking in significantly the *wrong* direction. But sighting along a GoTo scope did put me right. :p

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There's really no need to worry, panic or be scared about breaking the computerised gadget Goto. In modern life, it's far less gadgety than most of the things we rely on, including the computers we use to post to this forum.

What is maybe the important distinction is to not be stuck with something you can't use in all situations, like a mount that _always_ requires electricity (see some of the fork/alt-az goto mounts). A goto EQ mount is a manual mount with some motors and a controller added on, in no way does that detract from the fact it's still a fundamentally good mount that can be used just as manually as a Dobsonian.

The other consideration with kids is the setup time and the size. EQs tends to come with swinging, sticking out counterweights and other potential hazards or things that could be knocked etc.

So in your situation, the simple dob sounds like an excellent starting point. As you've pointed out, most likely you'll end up with more than one thing over time and that's quite possible, each different setup will offer different trade-offs and allow you different possibilities. You're unlikely to be disappointed with a dob, after all getting started is about having a look with your eyes, and that is exactly what a dob is all about :)

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I do need to consider the usability with children of anything I do get. I home educate my children and have a lot of friends who do so and while my children are too young to have much interest at the moment (my 5 year old daughter was mesmerised by the moon last week but "humphed" at what I considered to be a stunning view of M45 and was exceptionally unimpressed with Jupiter!) I would like to be able to offer some of the older children in the home ed community an opportunity to experience what the sky has to offer. I imagine there are pros and cons to each option when taking this into consideration as well and primarily whatever I get is for my own enjoyment.

With children patience will be a problem and also, like the adults on this forum, they will be completely different in their attitudes and interests.  Getting a scope suitable for both yourself and the children may not be possible, but as you have patience then a GOTO may not be worth it.

Speaking personally I don't want to waste time finding objects only for the clouds to roll in, I want to look at them or image them, so a GOTO solved everything but for you  it may well be that a larger aperture Dob might be the best answer.  You haven't said what your budget is.

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Libby have you considered a push to scope I got the orion 10" xti runs off a small 9v square battery and it can also be pushed in all directions if you want to move it manually :)

I've been looking at this scope and it's brethren for some time, seems to offer the help for finding objects without the overhead of full GOTO.

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