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Collecting info for first scope purchase - am I being too ambitious?


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I know, I've only just joined and anyone reading my intro will know that I'm also very much a newcomer to astronomy. However, based on expensive experiences in the past my usual approach these days is to try and move to where I expect to be if at all possible, rather than buying/selling/upgrading etc until I reach that point. It often works out cheaper in the end :D.

With that said, how mad would I be to be contemplating something like these?

1.

SKYWATCHER EXPLORER-250PX TELESCOPE (linky: http://www.sherwoods-photo.com/sky_watcher/skywatcher_fs.html)

254mm (10") f/1200 Motorised Parabolic Newtonian Reflector

EXPLORER-250PX + EQ6 SynScan Pro GOTO

Cost: approx: £1189.00

2.

A second hand Celstron CM1100 + HD EQ mount (linky: http://astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.php?view=17210)

Cost: £1250

The CM1100 does seem like a bargain, though the seller mentions a bloom on the inside of the collector plate. Is that easy to rectify?

Obviously the 2nd option is also something that could sell at any minute, but ce la vie if that were to happen. Really, I'm just sounding out the experienced amongst us as to whether I'm being over-ambitious or not. I'm interested in astrophotography as a long term aim, but just being able to explore and wonder at the sky at night comes a pretty close second. I suspect that I'll be wanting more aperture if I went lower which is why I 'm thinking of the above two as a place where I would be happy to be at for some times to come.

I'm also interested in those 80mm ED APO's that seem so popular for wide field viewing and would look at mounting one on the same mount - is that possible with the EQ6? If so, is it even a possibility to 'downgrade' to an EQ5 and save some weight and expense?

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Fairly impressive beginner set-ups there. Can't comment on the other scopes but i've got a Skywatcher ED80 a love it! I've got mine set-up on a HEQ5 Pro but they can fit on an EQ6 no problem. I've PM'd you by the way.

P.S. No matter how much you initially spend you will always find bigger/better things to tempt you. in other words, don't choose Astronomy as a hobby if you really don't like parting with money! :D

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These are big scopes, but the only difference between a big scope and a small scope, both similarly equipped, is size. The bigger mirrors of course give you better light grasp and resolution. The bigger tube and mount give you more backaches, but if you can afford it, and are sure you are ready to commit that much to this hobby, then go ahead.

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Hey there,

First off, if you are going to buy anything I would visit FLO (First Light Optics) which is a 'partner' of SGL. They offer 10% discount as you are a memeber of this forum, however you must make 30 posts on this forum to qualify for the discount.

My main question is what is your budget???

As many people will tell you, aperture is key. Although you also have to counter in what you would like your scope for. Is it going to be primarily planetary work, deep sky stuff, or are you on a mission to begin astrophotography.

If the latter is your path then you may consider going for a cheaper set up and saving some money to purchase a digital SLR or good CCD / modded webcam + acessories, this can range anywhere from £200's to >£1000's so you may want to consider this when purchasing your scope.

From what I have heard the HEQ-5 and EQ-6 mounts are better than the Celestron CG-5 mount as they are less noisy and of a slighly sturdier build.

As for your final query, I assume that the 80mm APO will attach onto both the HEQ-5 and EQ6 mounts as they are a simple dovetail connection. If you want to see faint DSO's I would stick with a larger aperture, perhaps a 200mm+ reflector. But if you want a high quality lenses scope then the 80mm (and above) APO's may suit you, but they will be over £1000's when combined with the mount, and you still have to purchase a camera/cc if you want to image things.

Hope this helps :D

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Thanks for the sensible replies and not calling me an idiot :D.

Regarding budget - the items above are around what I'd be prepared to spend. I'm a pretty proficient photographer (purely amateur) and have lots of DSLR gear - far too much really. In fact I have a few lenses that each cost more than either of the above scopes, so astronomy almost seems like a cheaper hobby to me :lol:.

Is the 'heavy duty' mount described in the C11 ad likely to be a CG-5? I've heard myself that it's not as slick or as solid as the EQ series.

Longer term I aim to have a permanent pier set up, so size is not as significant as it may appear at first. Even in the short term (i.e. now :lol:) my aim would be to keep the scope permanently setup in an outhouse at the bottom of the garden, and wheeled out when needed (this warrants another question about getting a trolly of some sort to wheel the tripod with :lol:).

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Hey there,

First off, if you are going to buy anything I would visit FLO (First Light Optics) which is a 'partner' of SGL. They offer 10% discount as you are a memeber of this forum, however you must make 30 posts on this forum to qualify for the discount.

But, getting 30 posts is easy. You just go to the imaging forum, and look at 30 pictures, and say, "Hey, great shot!" on every one. You'll be there in an hour. :D

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Hey there,

First off, if you are going to buy anything I would visit FLO (First Light Optics) which is a 'partner' of SGL. They offer 10% discount as you are a memeber of this forum, however you must make 30 posts on this forum to qualify for the discount.

But, getting 30 posts is easy. You just go to the imaging forum, and look at 30 pictures, and say, "Hey, great shot!" on every one. You'll be there in an hour. :D

LOL :lol:. I manage a photography forum and see that activity all the time. We call such users 'bots' :lol:.

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Hey there,

First off, if you are going to buy anything I would visit FLO (First Light Optics) which is a 'partner' of SGL. They offer 10% discount as you are a memeber of this forum, however you must make 30 posts on this forum to qualify for the discount.

But, getting 30 posts is easy. You just go to the imaging forum, and look at 30 pictures, and say, "Hey, great shot!" on every one. You'll be there in an hour. :D

LOL :(. I manage a photography forum and see that activity all the time. We call such users 'bots' :lol:.

I think it's only 10? So you are already there. :lol:

http://stargazerslounge.com/index.php/topic,22276.0.html

Whatever you decide - have fun

Bill£ :lol:

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Is the 'heavy duty' mount described in the C11 ad likely to be a CG-5? I've heard myself that it's not as slick or as solid as the EQ series.

Dynamo,

the CG5 is pretty much the same as an EQ5, and is almost certainly not comfortable under a C11. In your budget I would first stick the heaviest duty mount you can afford, and be able to manage. The HEQ5 is a good bet, but the EQ6 is a step up again. If you wish to get into serious astrophotography, a heavier duty mount will serve you much better

Perhaps you should consider to buy an ED80 first, on which to "learn the ropes" and get a second large aperture OTA when you're ready for it. The 10" newt and 11" SCT are both very big.

Also consider your maximum budget - scope and mount are only half the story - there are many many other things you will find yourself "needing" in order to get the most out of your set up.

Andre

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Both good scopes but personally I would probably go for the Newtonian as it will be a bit more versatile than the Schmidt-Cassegrain. Thats just my opinion - other views will differ no doubt :D

Before buying anthing of this size I would definately make an effort to see these "in the flesh" - they are very big scopes :shock: - they would really benefit from a permanent site as thay are not really portable.

Also remember to budget for eyepieces unless you already have some. The 1 or 2 that come with the scopes will not satisfy you for long. It has been said that you should budget 30%-50% of the value of your scope for eyepieces if you want decent ones !.

John

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With reply to Whiplash, thats why I '' partner, I know they sponsor but they also pay for the servers that SGL run on.

and it is 10 posts, I am sure it was 30, maybe its changed.

Yeah I second the Newtonian route, they are loads faster (focal ratio) than a Schmidt Cassegrain.

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Is the 'heavy duty' mount described in the C11 ad likely to be a CG-5? I've heard myself that it's not as slick or as solid as the EQ series.

Dynamo,

the CG5 is pretty much the same as an EQ5, and is almost certainly not comfortable under a C11. In your budget I would first stick the heaviest duty mount you can afford, and be able to manage. The HEQ5 is a good bet, but the EQ6 is a step up again. If you wish to get into serious astrophotography, a heavier duty mount will serve you much better

Perhaps you should consider to buy an ED80 first, on which to "learn the ropes" and get a second large aperture OTA when you're ready for it. The 10" newt and 11" SCT are both very big.

Also consider your maximum budget - scope and mount are only half the story - there are many many other things you will find yourself "needing" in order to get the most out of your set up.

Andre

Yes, Andre that's another option I've been considering - i.e. the ED80 + a solid tripod (maybe the EQ6) and move on to the bigger aperture when I get the pier support sorted out. I'll reach the same endpoint either way, but was curious mostly about whether the C11 that's currently on sale (quite near to me) was such a bargain that nabbing it now would make sense.

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With reply to Whiplash, thats why I '' partner, I know they sponsor but they also pay for the servers that SGL run on.

and it is 10 posts, I am sure it was 30, maybe its changed.

Hi EA2007,

First Light Optics sponsors SGL in part by paying for SGL's server costs. The minimum post count is 10 and has never been 30.

Should you, or any other member be looking for a discount please contact us first for a discount code and please note that as Whiplash has pointed out not all items are discounted.

For more info please look at this thread.

Cheers

James :D

(First Light Optics)

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Yes, Andre that's another option I've been considering - i.e. the ED80 + a solid tripod (maybe the EQ6) and move on to the bigger aperture when I get the pier support sorted out. I'll reach the same endpoint either way, but was curious mostly about whether the C11 that's currently on sale (quite near to me) was such a bargain that nabbing it now would make sense.

Ooops, a typo from me there. My name's Andrew!

yes, it is a good point, however, you'd be surprised how frequently bargains arise second hand. I'm sure a similar deal would come up again...

Andrew

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Is the 'heavy duty' mount described in the C11 ad likely to be a CG-5? I've heard myself that it's not as slick or as solid as the EQ series.

Dynamo,

the CG5 is pretty much the same as an EQ5, and is almost certainly not comfortable under a C11

Rubbish, I've got a C11 on a CG-5 (which, includes 3 x 11lb counter weights) and it handles it with ease! I bought a non-motorized CG-5 and added motors to it so, can't comment on the GOTO version.

Suspect the EQ6 is better for long exposure astrophotography but to be honest, if I was doing that, I'd buy a Losmandy G-11, etc.

Sorry for the rant but CG-5 gets a lot of bad press and for no real good reason IMHO. The EQ6 appears to be 'trendy' at the moment but for the price the CG-5 is a blumming good mount!

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Hi, not sure I can advise as such merely let you know what I do… I got back into astronomy after a nearly 20 year gap and went straight for a 10” Newt on a CG5. I upgraded to an EQ6 Pro and bought a dual mount bar to mount both the 10” and an ED100 on the EQ6 which it handles fine (with the caveat that I haven’t tried astrophotography yet!).

Along the way I’ve also got myself an EQ5 mount with motors to put the ED100 on when I don’t feel like climbing steps to look through the Newt, then getting on my knees to look through the ED100 which is something to consider should you wish to dual mount the scopes!

Therefore I can’t call you mad for contemplating a similar setup! Only you can be the judge of whether your interest is sufficient to merit a certain level of investment but I’m very happy with my setup!

I'll echo WebSentinels comments in that the CG5 is indeed a good mount but a C11 or 10" Newt will be more comfortable on an HEQ5 or EQ6 - especially if you wish to mount two scopes on the one mount.

James

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It's always confusing when you get conflicting views from more experienced people! There are lots of reasons why this happens, it's a bit like asking for the quickest way to get from London to Inverness.

It has been suggested that a 10" Newtonian is more versatile than a C11. A 10" newt will show DSOs very well and also give good views of planets. A C11 will also give lovely views of smaller DSOs and is very good for high power planetary views. It isn't so good on wide field views because of it's long focal length. However this can be remedied to a significant extent by a focal reducer bringing the focal ratio down to F6-7.

When it comes to imaging the C11 gives you more options that the newt bringing into play a range of focal reducers that can see you imaging from F2 to F10. Newtonians lack the focus travel of SCTs so you are more restricted when it comes to focal reducers.

For planetary and lunar imaging it really is no contest. The C11 is a magnificent planetary imaging scope and is the choice of some of the worlds best imagers.

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Is the 'heavy duty' mount described in the C11 ad likely to be a CG-5? I've heard myself that it's not as slick or as solid as the EQ series.

Dynamo,

the CG5 is pretty much the same as an EQ5, and is almost certainly not comfortable under a C11

Rubbish, I've got a C11 on a CG-5 (which, includes 3 x 11lb counter weights) and it handles it with ease! I bought a non-motorized CG-5 and added motors to it so, can't comment on the GOTO version.

Suspect the EQ6 is better for long exposure astrophotography but to be honest, if I was doing that, I'd buy a Losmandy G-11, etc.

Sorry for the rant but CG-5 gets a lot of bad press and for no real good reason IMHO. The EQ6 appears to be 'trendy' at the moment but for the price the CG-5 is a blumming good mount!

Bit harsh but yes I agree.

The C11 is marketed by Celestron with a CG5 mount.

http://www.firstlightoptics.co.uk/proddetail.php?prod=c11sgtxlt

Bill£ :D

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Paul,

I started with the 250PX / EQ6 Pro. After a very short time I realised that a Newtonian was not for me. Even with the tripod at its lowest height, I needed steps to reach the eyepiece. Even more frustrating was the way in which the equatorial mount moved the scope, such that the eyepiece was not always accessible, even with steps. In these circumstances I had to loosen the scope rings and twist the OTA - not a lot of fun and a real nuisance when you are out for a cruise round the sky trying to see what you can between clouds.

Since I was happy with the EQ6 Pro, I decided to sell the Newtonian and buy a C11. This is most definitely better - I can extend the tripod legs to have the OTA ride higher and use the diagonal to make viewing much more comfortable and convenient. Am I happy with the C11? Yes - but it is still quite a big lump to lug out into the garden and I've realised that one scope doesn't tick all the boxes, so I'm buying a refractor to supplement it.

Your journey may be different, but those are my experiences.

One thing I'd add about EQ5 and EQ6 mounts is that there has been an open source software project to provide an alternative way to control the GOTO versions rather than using the hand controller. I now control my EQ6 Pro with my laptop (hand controller mothballed) - I use a proprietrary planetarium program, but the free to download ones like Cartes du Ciel work just fine too. It may be possible for you to save a few bob by buying a motorised EQ5/EQ6 mount without the GOTO bit. Have a search on this forum for EQMOD and EQDIR to get details.

Mike

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Thanks for that Mike - it's nice to hear from someone who's experienced both. I've been looking into the EQMOD thing since I first came across it a few weeks ago. It ticks all my boxes - geeky (I'm a software developer), highly customisable, and potentially a cheap way of saving a few bob :D. I'll definitely investigate this more. I'm a Linux/Mac user at work and home though I do have a Vista laptop for the corporate stuff. Once thing I've noticed is that a lot of the software seems Windows only. I'd love it if there were OSX alternatives for most of the tools that people keep referring to. I've found some already, but suspect that I may need to go Windows for a complete setup...

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I don't know about the 300P and imaging on the EQ6 but remember you will eventually want to add a guide scope on top of the 300p if you want to do longer exposures.

I image with a 250px/80ED on a standard EQ6 that has been self modded to goto with the HEQ-5/6 MCU Update kit http://eq6.update.rajiva.de/

You can see some images from my setup here http://www.freewebs.com/mikesastroimaging/index.htm

Hope this helps.

Mike.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Paul,

Just thought I would share my experiences with you.

I have just started in astronomy and opted for the Skywatcher Explorer 250PX/ EQ6 Pro Combo. It is a heavy beast, but manageable for me. I carry the tripod and mount out, then the OTA then the counter weights, in my experience you WILL need an extra counter weight! I have not been able to balance the scope with the 2 provided. Also to make assembly easier I would recommend removing the "camera mount" (just a screw in one of the tube rings and add an additional dovetail. I ordered the scope and mount separately so got two included anyway 1 with scope another with the mount. This makes attaching the scope to the mount much easier as it acts as a handle, it is now possible to set up the scope on my own before I did not feel comfortable without an assistant :wink: . To get round the eyepiece position problems inherent with a Newtonian on an equatorial mount I bought 2 bicycle quick release bolts to replace the tube ring screws and also installed my own version of "Wilcox Rings" at the top and bottom of the tube rings. Now to rotate scope I just release the quick release bolts and rotate. I still need to counter sink the bolts and find some way to reduce friction a little more.

I am not sure I would be able to do the same with the 300P on an EQ6 or (NEQ6) as the 250PX is on the limits of manageability (unless you plan to permanently mount the scope, I know you aim to pier mount it eventually). With a few in expensive homebrew mods I am very happy with the 250PX on EQ6 and recommend this set up. The views are well worth the effort to set up.

Hope this makes sense and helps in your decision excuse any errors have written this in haste.

Good luck

Pete

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