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Hello, This is my first post so i hope its okay to jump in and ask a question straight away. I should point out that i am COMPLETELY uneducated in this field.

My girlfriend loves star gazing, not astronomy. (she loves to look and wonder at stars but cares little for what they are called). she loves just sitting and looking up. She has also REALLY wanted a telescope since a young age. While shopping for something completely unrelated i found a Celestron AstroMaster 114EQ. now to me this sounds like it belongs more to the transformers with a name like that, it looked like a fairly heavy duty piece of kit but i much prefer to research these things before i buy them.

Can any of you tell me if i it is worth the purchase? I can find these on ebay for around £80 but have read elsewhere that anything sub £200 is probably going to be rubbish and i hate wasting money. At saying that she has been staring at the stars for so long with the naked eye that i suspect anything would be better than nothing?

Any advice is greatly appreciated. I really want to encourage her in her interest but im concerned getting her a piece of rubbish will just put her off in the long term.

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Evening Alek, your in the right place for advice that's for sure, the forum sponsor has a link on beginner scopes that you might find useful to gauge what is out there..

Personally I've read good things about the 130 dobsonian based scope, it's light, portable will sit on a table top for casual observing, should give a good start and allow you to just point at an object easily enough...

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes.html

I'm sure others will be along soon too with more helpful advice, it might also be worth looking checking out the links in the getting started with observing section on what to expect to see.. Very good reading.

Best of luck with your decision and clear skys

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Hi

Why not a decent pair of binnoculars?

Can see lots more with those and then see where the interest takes her.

An EQ mount may not be the best mount to start with and could put a casual observer off I feel (not that I own one just from reading and my own considerations).

Do you have storage space, is it far to your garden are there stairs involved, what about weight carrying, is your girl friend a no fuss approach or happy to learn how things work?

I would factor keeping £50 of your budget aside if you do decide on a telescope for getting one better eye peice.

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Heya

Cant answer you about the astromaster 114EQ, but there are definitely decent telescopes around for less than, or around £200.

I`ve got the Skywatcher Heritage 130p Flextube and I think you can get it for less than £130 in the UK.

I personally love it, its a joy browsing the nightsky with it , and I was surprised how well it performed on the moon and Jupiter.

For my concern its quality optics and definitely NOT a hobbykiller. 

Rune

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I'd be inclined to go with the binoculars, you can get some real beauties and at good reasonable prices. If she then develops into wanting more so to speak you could then invest in a scope. The other side is that if she then decides that just sitting there looking up is what she enjoys most then binoculars have other uses as such. One idea, if she enjoys just viewing the heavens, what a bout one of these light planetariums that shine up onto a ceiling. Hope it goes well. Welcome on board!!

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I think the bins are the best idea at this stage...they reveal more than the naked eye and having a wide field of view would still keep things in proporion if you see what I mean.

Plus they are 'point & shoot' no need for tracking or setting up.

Edited by baggywrinkle
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Thanks for all of the kind responces. Ill try and answer as best i can, sorry if i miss any.

First of all this: http://www.firstlightoptics.com/celestron-astromaster-series/celestron-astromaster-130eq-telescope.html is the one i mentioned in my opening post.

Binoculars tend to be more unsteady in my experiance (though iv only really used it for spotting terrestrial subjects in the past). In addition to this, I have more than enough storage space, weight and portability isnt an issue as i will be the one lugging it about and im fairly capable. I appreciate the effort in stearing me away from a telescope and towards binoculars but im fairly sure she would prefer the telescope. please dont think im ignoring your advice, I have taken it onboard.

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The Astromasters are OK but the finder on them is as useful as a choclate frog! And it cannor be easily replaced.

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

The Skywatcher gets good reviews and is so simple to use, an equatorial mount and its setting up can be a bit intimidating to begin with.

If you go for the Skywatcher make sure they inspect it before shipping it onwards. I have experienced one where I had to send it back due to shipping damage.

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A pair of binoculars that are designed for astro come equipped with a tripod attachment point so they don't wobble - and believe me, my binoculars come out rather more often than a telescope -

Astro bins can be something like 20x 70 and when you put both eyes to a pair, you are talking about a lot of light and some great sights.

Having said that, if you want a scope. Go for something that you'll keep. Involve HER inthe decision.

She'll appreciate that a lot more than the surprise of getting something that doesn't really suit her.

Personally, if she's like me, I'd rather wait an extra few weeks for the right one than jump in and have something I'm only half into.

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For about £200 you could also get this one http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html which will be easier to set up and use.

 ps the telescope you mentioned at the top (Astromaster 114) is not the one in the the link (Astromaster 130). The Astromaster series use the same mirrors as the Skywatcher models but many people complain about next to useless finder scope supplied with the Astromasters.

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Hi! As an Astromaster 114 owner I would advise against this for your gf. I've had some great sessions with mine and have seen a lot but with hindsight there are enough negatives with this scope to put a newbie off. The finder is criminally bad and a good finder is crucial if you want to enjoy your telescope experience! If ur gf just likes looking up then I think the stress of trying to find anything with the finder would put her off telescopes for good! The mount is also pretty wobbly which makes keeping things in view (if you manage to find them in the first place!) quite tricky! I have bought a finder which is great but it's extra expense which you could do without. My vote is for binoculars as a first step!

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I would avoid the 114, if I recall it is a bit of a mix of ideas and basically they do not work.

It is a short focal length spherical mirroe with a built in barlow to achieve a focal length of 1000mm and it just does not work.

The 130P at 650mm focal length you linked to is a better option.

May be silly but you could ask your girlfriend what she may prefer.

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Hi and welcome to SGL.

I'm still very new myself but think I can add a little which may be of use. Firstly the 130EQ will be far better than the 114EQ. Wider aperture and the 114 also has an additional lens under the EP which may cause you problems in the long run.

For it's money the 130EQ is pretty good. However there are some bad points with it which takes a patient person to overcome them. As mentioned the RDF is very poor, took mine off and replaced for just over £30 with a Rigel which is far superior. Secondly the mount is a little wobbly. As said patience is required but if used carefully can give many hours of pleasure. If I had waited and put another £50 to my budget then I would probably have bought a different scope. However from a lot of peoples advice I would have ended up with one that is a non EQ mount and even though the 130 is wobbly it still serves me better for what I want than a non EQ mount would have even been able to manage.

I know you wand to by your other half a scope and why not, but for a follow up or even for yourself the bins will be a better long term investment. I bought the Olympus DPS 10x50 for £50. These come out more than the scope and also get used when I do get the scope out. Plus they can be used for daytime and taken anywhere any time. I sometimes mount mine on a tripod with a £6 bracket for when I want to share a view or just want them steadier. If your othe rhalf just likes to sit back and watch the stars then the bins would be ideal as laying on the floor on on a recliner is an ideal place with them making for steadier viewing.

In then end the more money you spend the better quality you will get. If you only ever want purely viewing with no AP then go for a widest aperture possible with a reasonably steady mount. Expect to pay for extras on top as almost every scope will require additional EPs as the stock ones are not always up to it.

Also which I don't think has been mentioned yet, look for a local club / society as they often have event evenings and you can go along and see other scopes. However when you meet the serious members or those who have been going for a while their scopes will probably be well above your budget.

Good luck!

Let us know how you get on.

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Alek_Draven.........Hi, A pair of 7x50 Binoculars is my ideal for just looking at the constellations of Stars. They have a good field of view, and the Stars won't dance about, like they do in my 15x70's, that need a tripod to support their weight, and reduce the effects of high powered magnification shake. 

That telescope you suggest wouldn't be the best start for just looking at the Stars, and possibly not good for anything else? I have their Powerseeker 127 EQ to prove it!    If you were up this part of the World you could have my Celestron,  just to prove a point.
Just for Stargazing alone, I would recommend 7x50 Binoculars. There are also 8x40, 8x42, 10x50, but the shakes will be more apparent as you increase the first number, and the expense goes up when you increase the second number. There are pocket books available,  Stargazing with Binoculars. I have this 2010 edition. http://www.pulsar-optical.co.uk/prod/guide-books/stargazing%20with%20binoculars/binobook.html
Also a wise move to check out Stephens site here. http://binocularsky.com/      also a  regular  here at SGL. Don't be afraid to ask!
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I had a look through an Astromaster 114 scope on an alt-az mount recently. It made a good landscape scope, but didn't have much else to commend it. The mount was pretty awful, lots of slop in the controls - I'm not sure how much better the EQ mount would be. Eye relief was terrible with the supplied eyepieces (I had to take my glasses off and get my eye right against the eyepiece) but the image through them was sharp. Here are a couple test shots I took through it by attaching a DSLR:

13779432964_b5bbdd1b04_b.jpg

13779093503_310790c9c7_b.jpg

(The second is the Kit Hill memorial stack about 5.5 miles away.)

As others have said, a small dob would probably be better value for money. A good pair of binoculars might also fit the bill, but not everyone gets on with them. For finding objects in the sky, I'd recommend the free planetarium software Stellarium.

Hope that is some help, good luck.

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Hi Alek,

I would recommend to invest a little bit more and drop the Astromaster 114 idea based on the useful pictures taken by the Clear Sky Knight. Even for £80 that's a low quality image in my opinion. I think you should look more in the direction of a skywatcher 130p. 

Also, as to a beginner the view through a telescope may be someway disappointing, I would strongly suggest to get a low level star guide. (Turn Left At Orion for example) Altough the moon and jupiter may be awesome to view at first, a beginner may get the idea that it pretty much ends there, but that's not true at all. Lots more can be seen even with small telescopes, but you just need an easy guide to know where to look. This can be in the form of an experienced stargazer showing you around or a book as the one mentioned before.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Jorrit

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Personally I started with the Astromaster 130 and loved it.  It kept me in good stead for 3 years before I upgraded to my current £2,000 kit.  The only problem I had was the focuser was a little loose, but wrapping it in masking tape solved that.

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It would be well worth reading Qualia's excellent post "what can I expect to see.." in Getting started with observing. (Two sections down from here). There seem to be so many disappointments where expectations have not been realised.

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Maybe first take the Lady to a stargazing party or an astronomy club. 

here its possible to see different telescopes models and makes.

and of different sizes to. 

Once you have seen the multitude of scopes, had a peek maybe then you have a better choice.

forget box art, i got suckered by this, awesome pictures on box and the 20 zillion times zoom statements.

but what you can see is still awesome. small scopes only reach so far, the big scopes

cost alot more But the View is alot bigger and brighter, ( bigger the telescope mirror/lens the more light you gather )

but again size can have an impact, portability to also plays a part. 

an astronomy club or a star party will get you talking with like minded people and show you

different views you get from different telescopes.

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Hi Alek,

What got my interested in this hobby was an app called 'the night sky'. After staring at the sky with what god provided I decided I would use my grandads old bin's he left us when he died many years ago.

In the end I decided to buy the Astromaster scope I have. I do find myself getting frustrated with not being able to see some of the views others on here talk about and all I get is a bright white dot and i am tempted to upgrade now. I had this bought for my birthday back in October but i want to see 12 months in this hobby before I spend good money on another scope.

I didn't know at the time if this hobby would be a passing 'fad' and get bored or frustrated with things like the weather. Think about how much you spend at this stage and if she loses interested you have £300+ pound scope sitting in the corner collecting dust.

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I think the binoculars that can fit a camera tripod or similar are a good idea. I've a Heritage 130p, which is good - but reflector telescopes show things upside down. That's not a problem when looking at the heavens, but it means you can't use it for anything terrestrial.

Trying to go along to an astronomical society or star party might not be a bad idea too.

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