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lpjr

First Telescope = Head Explosion

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After finally being convinced by my son that astronomy is not a short term fad I have decided to purchase a telescope for him. He shows a lot of interest in the planets so his interest in the immediate future will lie here.

We have the normal town light pollution in our back garden but are fortunate to have an allotment where there is little pollution so the telescope will be moved between the two locations. On a budget of between £150 and £250 I started my research. My aim was to find a telescope that shows good detail ofthe planets, I do not want one where all be sees is a white blob, because his interest would soon fade.

I have to admit after reading about reflectors, refractors, apertures, goto and all the other stuff my head began to hurt. So I have come seeking help.

In short can a get a telescope that will cover the above within budget, if so which telescope. If not how much would I have to spend to get the required specs.

Ps I like the idea of these go to scopes, it would give my son cofidence in finding planets on his own.

thanks for any advice given. If anyone wants any tips on canadian canoes I will happily return the favour.

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Hi IPjr,

I am just up the road from you. I have different scopes that I could talk you through and let you see in the flesh. PM me.

Ian

  • Like 9

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Hi there, I'd avoid goto for a first scope part of the joy of astronomy is learning the skies. It's actually quite easy to find planets once you learn to star hop.

Best beginner scope many people recommend is the skywatcher 200p dobsonian.

Simple as chips but alot of scope for the money.

Good luck and clear skies

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I agree with the 200mm suggestion. One of these will serve very well with just about everything up there: Planets, stars, deep-sky objects, comets, etal. A 200mm Dob is a scope for all interests.

Clear Skies,

Dave

  • Like 1

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Hi

Will you be walking to your allotment?

Will the telescope be stored downstairs?

How old is your son? (different ages perhaps different expectations and patience)

Edited by happy-kat

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Ipjr,

I've written this reply elsewhere but I think it is pertinent to your own concern and may be of some help.

When looking around at your new potential purchase, the general precept is that aperture rules and so you'll find that if a beginner asks 'what should I buy?' 99% of those answers are always going to suggest the biggest Newtonian (reflector) you can afford and carry about, and more than likely a Newtonian which is Dobsonian mounted rather than GEM (EQ) mounted, simply because the former mounts are easier to use and set up and are a lot cheaper. Again, it is for the same reason that Goto isn't always recommended. It's quite a pricey addition and so in effect you're putting more money into the mount and less into the optics.

Most beginners want to see a little of everything and at a decent price. If you are looking for faint DSOs like globular clusters, nebulae or galaxies you need aperture and low magnification, the former to get as much light as possible and the latter to get as wide a view as possible. Newtonians excel at all these factors and because of their light gathering capacity, they are also decent scopes for viewing the Moon and planets.

After you've got your scope with its supplied EPs you will probably want to get a couple more eyepieces, but do that after you've practiced a little. That way, you'll be able to make a much more informed enquiry and decision. But, if you do decide to buy a Newtonian, your telescope will require collimation. So, you will need a special tool to do this, so you ought to budget yourself for a Cheshire which I think are about another £30 - £40.

Another thing to look out for - and I think this is really important - are astronomy sketches. You can find these in the observing and sketching sections of SGL. If you have a look at the type of telescope from which the sketch was made this is the kind of thing you will see when observing from a telescope of similiar aperture. From time to time folk do crop up here who are very disappointed with astronomy-stargazing, they thought they were going to see colourful swirling galaxies and nebulae, or those wide and super bright globular clusters seen in the photos, only to see a fuzzy in grey, a planet the size of a pea. So, make sure you're well informed. You might find this thread helpful.

If possible, try to get along to a local astronomy club or take up Uplooker's kind invitation. Look through the type of telescope you think you may purchase and see if the view meets your expectations. Most stargazers will be only too happy to help.

It's probably not necessary to say, but just in case, I'd suggest that you buy your first set up from a specialist telescope shop that can provide advice and an ongoing service  – not from ebay and not from some supermarket or photographic store where the staff will generally have no knowledge of what they are selling. If you haven't already had a peek, First Light Optics comes highly recommended as one of Great Britain's top class astronomy shops and, of course, SGL can help out a lot.

I hope this helps and please don't hesitate in asking more questions.

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I would usually say an Evostar 90 on whatever mount you want or decide on.

A goto mount will add to the cost, and you will learn the skies with one, actually you have little option. I or you or anyone can see a fuzzy patch, aim a dobsonian at it and look at it in greater detail. Nowhere is any of this action have you learnt exactly what it actually is. If you want to tell a goto to point at it then you have to lknow what to tell to thing to aim at. Will say a goto can drive you to exasperation. Usually people are expecting something with the power and performance of a PC. The reality is the processor is a 20 year old 8 bit device with so little memory most will not believe it. And "user friendly" was a term that came out after a goto was developed.

On all of them goto ot not if you want to see anything specific you have to know where it is. Contrary to belief buying a goto does not mean a compulsary labotomy.

Depending on the mount the Evostar (refractor) will perform most actions well. Certainly planets and the brighter DSO, and clusters. If you or son want to look at M31, Andromeda use binoculars.

If possible take a look at the varied assortment of scopes available, you may as well know what the confusion relates to

There are clubs around and many will be holding public night at this time of year,

Edited by ronin
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welcome to the SGL ipjr.  I would take up ian's (uplooker) offer.  you cant beat seeing telescopes in the flesh with the bonus of some free advice from a experienced user of astro equipment.

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Another vote for meeting up with uplooker, he is a pretty decent chap and will help you with a decision that could make or break a new interest

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Hi there, I'd avoid goto for a first scope part of the joy of astronomy is learning the skies. It's actually quite easy to find planets once you learn to star hop.

Best beginner scope many people recommend is the skywatcher 200p dobsonian.

Simple as chips but alot of scope for the money.

Good luck and clear skies

Rrrrfrdr

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Ipjr......take the offer #2

Hands on experience cannot be beaten. Your ability to decide is made easier. Not everyone has or is offered this facility

After that if you still need any help, always keep asking here, were always learning and willing to help.

Then buy the best you can afford on the telescope alone. Dont worry too much about the extras  / upgrades that we all suggest. They can come later.

My recommendations for telescope and equipment are all in my signature. There's no rush to build a system overnight. The Stars and Planets will be there long after we're gone.

Welcome to SgL

Edited by Charic
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There is nothing wrong with a goto mount but should be used as a last resort. There is a great sense of joy and accomplishment when you look up an object on a star chart then find your bearing looking up at the sky and after 10 minutes of fishing around through the eyepiece BAM there it is :)

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My first was a 5 inch goto sct. I loved astronomy instantly and then got a 11 inch edge HD . SCT. with a ccd camera.  That was a lot to deal with so I got a 10 inch dob for the drive way. Then I went on travel and got a 110 refractor. I must say for the most part everything will be a faint fuzzy thing without a camera to gather more light. I expected the 10 or 11 inch to show the faint fuzzy blob more clear but it was mostly a bigger clearer fuzzy blob. As one of the other posters said I got into this expecting to see the colors you see on the web pictures only to find out I can see that only with a camera in my long exposures. I find the long focal length like 1500 mm on my 5 inch sct works well for planets. 5 inch does not let enough light in to use the 1500 mm properly for faint objects. I have found a new love in just seeing stars and getting to know the skies. I realized I really dont even need a scope for that, Just a good pair of binoculars. So 10 k later I realized I just need binoculars.  lol.. As I got bigger and bigger scopes they became less used due to the size and setup time. A wise astronomer once told me do you want a scope you like or one you will use. Go for portability. Can you carry an 8 inch dob to your site etc. I think most 8 inch dobs have a short focal length which imho is not best for planets.  Hope this helps 

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Also if you have a mobile phone with a data tariff you can use an application and attach your mobile to your telescope and effectively push to the telescope to locate an object. There is a simple alignment procedure and you have to find that first star but you do anyway with a go to mount.

Goggle sky is free and gives you an idea of what push to would mean though it would not be the application you would really use.

Stellarium is free to install on a PC very good application.

Absolutely think about portability whilst most things can be moved any effort involved can make it a chore that occurs less and less and with this weather something quick is more likely to get used in a cloud break.

Edited by happy-kat

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Love the title of this thread! :) I think for a first scope aperture is most important to get bit by the astronomy bug. I had a 200p on an eq mount and it was great for visual observing but I soon learnt that with astrophotography aperture is not that important and requires a very expensive mount to carry the weight I wish I had bought a 200p dob as my first scope as I would probably still have it.

Edited by The_PSY3NTIST

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I'd go for a 200mm dob, is easier to move around than with an equatorial mount, and you get a lot of scope for the money.

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Hi and welcome to SGL, my vote would be a 200 dob, my first scope was the 130p az goto i sold that after a year because I was not learning the night sky because the goto system was doing it all, at the end of the day Its what you want out of a scope if you want to image then a dob is not very good if its just for observing then i would say a dob

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Reckon the offer from Ian is about as good an it gets when it comes to choosing a scope nothing beats hands on experience. If it was me I'd leap at the chance :)

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Goto actually requires prior knowledge of the sky, due to when performing the initial alignment it will ask you to point the scope at named stars. In other words, one needs to know the names of stars and their locations before the system will work. I do think that goto can cause some frustration in the early stages of the hobby so beware.

I own an Evo 90, its a great little scope and does well on the moon and planets. Shadow transits on Jupiter are easily visible. Also got the great red spot from very stable skies recently. However, it is only 90mm and tends to run out of light on objects outside the solar system.

Plus 1 for the 200p Dob. It will show most objects well and will trounce the Evo on the moon and planets. Later on, you can remove the tube from the cradle and buy a suitable driven EQ mount which will enable automatic tracking for high power moon and planet views.

Steve

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