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Still unsure !!

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Hello folks

Its a bit long winded so i apologise in advance !

As a total newbie i joined SGL last November to seek advice on buying my first scope, i decided to go for the Skywatcher Startravel 120 refractor , but was unsure of which mount to choose eq or alt-az., my choice was based on portability and no need for collimation. I also decided not to buy anything until i had read on fellow members advice " making every photon count " which i now have. I was aware through previous research that this scope was prone to chromatic abberation , but having never veiwed anything through this scope i did not think it would bother me , i finally decided on the above scope on an EQ5 Deluve mount .

My initial interests would be to get some great views of whatever was within reach, with the future prospect of trying to capture some iimages as my learning curve grew bigger , as i already have a good dslr .

I was looking on SGL earlier on this week and notice a post from a newbie on a fixed budget (like myself) wanting to go down the refractor route (like myself) he needed some feedback . Well one of the replies really made me take notice ,he was saying that the newbie should be considering his main objectives on why he want to buy a scope and what he would be using it for in a years time , also he said he probabley should consider a scope in his budget with a bgger aperture ( as aperture is king) well this got me thinking " am i going down the wrong path here"? Bigger aperture means clearer images, collimation over Chromatic abberation ! Collimation cant be that difficult to learn ! .

So now i have been looking at the Skywatcher 200p Newtonian on an EQ5 mount, im aware that there are no motor drives, but its something that i ould consider adding/ upgrading to in the future when and if my interest grows. So your thoughts on this combo please !

Also in some of the reviews ive read its said that the eyepieces are not up too much , again your thoughts on upgrades without breaking the bank please , lastof all your thoughts on the Celestron 2x barlow/ adapter please , thanks

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It's a minefield out there......using this site has shown me how I bought the wrong scope and then how I bought the right scope.....I only have one,scope so it just depends on who's view point you listen too.  The info given on here is given with your best intentions.....To me...I wouldn't try and guess what I will be doing with a scope in a years time, as a mad keen beginner we just want to get out there....and then what we have,won't show us what we want to see.......and someone else's kit is always better lool........(Mr Tweedy - you listening ? lol)

Where do you draw the line....buy the best you can afford, enjoy it....and then see where your path leads...... I bought my Skywatcher 130p Synscan a couple of years back.....now I feel as tho I want to move to bigger....do I sell this scope and use the funds ? do I struggle to buy another and become a two-scope owner.......decisions decisions lol.

Good Luck

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I don't image and have six scopes!

My advice would be to ignore aperture for imaging. A small, good quality ed refractor of maybe 80mm will yield far better results than a large newt. No single scope is likely to serve visual and imaging. I would not want the 120mm f5 for my only scope although I really like it for white light solar observing.

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If you are serious about astro photography then I would consider a refractor over a newtonian. Then you will need a mount with tracking and probably a large wallet.

If you want ease of use and flexibility, pick up and go observing and are prepared to learn to find your way around the sky a little bit via star hopping, then a dobsonian is probably the one.

Collimation is something you should not be scared of and definitely should not be a major factor in choosing a scope. You cannot learn to collimate without actually doing it, if it does not work re-collimate until you get it right. Once you have done it you'll wonder what you were worrying about.

The eyepieces that come with the skywatcher 200p are ok to get started with but if you are serious about astronomy as a hobby they will need upgrading. My ep's are in my sig and my opinions are as follows.

Planetary: I have had some great views through the 10mm standard ep but boy was I blown away with the CHEAP revelation (GSO) plossls, they give great views with more detail, harder to look through for long periods but well worth it, I have just ordered another in 6mm. I had jupiter with my 9mm revelation in 2x barlow sunday night and it was the best views I have had, amazing crisp detail @ x300 magnification. It did take around 3-4 hours of viewing though and I only had it for about half hour.

DSO: For deep sky and star hopping my maxvision 24mm is amazing, wide field of view more contrast than the standard 25mm and flat across most of the lens, for £60 its a bargain, I also use my maxvision 16mm same spec as the 24mm but a little bit cheaper, these are fantastic ep's and work very well in my 200p.

After saying all this ultimately the best scope is one that is going to be used and can be used easily. A 16" monster dob would be great but if its a chore to get outside its not worth thinking about.

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You really need to decide what you want to achieve, visual and photography are quite different and consequently require very different equipment.

I am assuming that as you have "Make Every Photon Count" photography is your aim. With this in mind I wouldn't think that an 8" Newtonian on an EQ5 mount would cut the mustard. The EQ5 is bundled with the 200P and retailers tend to couple the OTA with the lightest mount that will (just) do the job for visual use. 

Reading your original post you say that aperture is king, this applies to visual observing, for photography the mount is of paramount importance. 

Have a look at the equipment used by the fine astro photographers that show case their work in the imaging section of SGL and give plenty of thought to what you want to do.

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You state that you are a "total newbie", as such I would recommend postponing imaging ambitions until you have had a chance to enjoy visual observation, this in turn will give you a much better appreciation of imaging. A 150mm 0r 200mm Dobsonian will give you a great start, collimation is easy to learn, chromatic aberration in a short focus refractor is there for life!   :smiley: 

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Depending on how serious the astrophotography will be you have a reasonable mount.

The EQ5 will take the ST120 easily - although there are as you point out limitations on the scope, CA being the obvious and there will be image distortion caused by Spherical Aberration (SA) as well. It is a biggish but short achro.

You have the option of going with the decision so far and getting used to everything, learn what you can and what you want then decide on a direction later, as in Visual or imaging. The mount will to an extent do for either to a reasonable extent.

If this was a reasonable approach the only thing I might suggest is the change from the Startravel 120 to the Evostar 120 - it is longer and the same aperture so no loss of light collection but the slightly slower speed of the scope will reduce CA and SA.

I would expect that you could attach a DSLR to the Evostar and start some imaging (get on the learning curve). If the imaging aspect became dominent then consider getting yourself a reasonable short smaller ED refractor, still on the EQ5 mount.

When you might want to increase the mount is if you went further into astrophotography and started adding guide scopes - these add weight and so a more robust mount could be preferable. Although replacement of the DLSR with a camera like the ASI 120 or an Atik ccd and the use of an off-axis guider and camera may keep everything within limits.

Edited by ronin
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One thing is for certain, most people end up with more than one scope, eventually.

I have four currently. PST for solar. ST102 for NB imaging, Skymax127 for planets and a 6" F8 Dob. But importantly I only have one mount (dob aside).

Some are borrowed, but if I had the funds I'd buy them all. They all do different jobs...


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Hello and thankyou for all the advice, in answer to brown dwarfs question " no , nothing purchased " at the moment ,

Just a couple more questions - with these two different scopes would it be possible to get some images of the moon ans sun without the need for motor drives ,using a fast exposure, and how noticable chromatic abberation when viewing through a refractor , is it obvious or so slight that its very difficult to see to the untrained eye ? . I still like the portability side of the 120 refractor , but the "being able to see more " side of the 200p newt also appeals , if i were to get into serious imaging then i would need to add motor drives for either scope ! But the 200p newt on an eq5 it at its limit before you add any other drives / camera etc so the mount would need upgrading ( more expense) , whereas i imagine the eq5 can handle the 120 refractor with room to spare for extra equipment . On a scale of 1-10 , with 10 being the objects viewable by the 200p newt , where would the 120 /600 refractor fall ? , as always uncomplicated advice needed please , thanks !

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There is always a compromise.

Moon and planets are generally taken using a webcam short avi files which can be done with a none tracking mount. No idea about the sun and the special equipment you need for that to be safe.

CA is visible on my ST80 regardless of if the eye is trained or not but improved when I used my own eyepieces but it never goes totally under higher magnification. But it does not bother me.

Have you looked at the PDS range?

Portability, how portable does the setup need to be. A refractor on a AltAz mount is more portable than on a EQ mount with weights I would think.

If only you could get to an astro club and look through some equipment.

Edited by happy-kat
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If you are on a fixed budget I would forget astro imaging altogether to be honest. I dint want to sound snobby but you seem go be coming from a position of bever having looked through a scope of any kind so its very hard to know how much certain factors outweight others. Refractors are easier to handle in many respects but newts make a better choice on cost of aperture.

To my mind a solid mount is always worth an inch at least of aperture. Bearing in mind any budgetary constraints ai would incline towards a 150 newt on an EQ5. To my mind the 8"/200 newt is a big beast and an HEQ5 is the minimum mount. Its not just the weight its the bulk. A 200 is a veritable sail in anything other than a very light breeze.

To really see the value of a solid mount you need go have experienced a very over mounted scope to see the difference the absence of any wobbliness makes.

I think you really need to get some views in before deciding or at the very least see some of this stuff in the flesh at a shop. Some of this stuff is a lot bigger and heavier than you may think looking at pics on the web.

Also, on the budget side of things whatever you buy you will most likely need some extras, better eyepieces, dewshield pethaps depending on what you go for so it would be better to underspend on the scope by a bit and have some money left over for other things.

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Hi Kayvee, 

I bought the 200p on the EQ5. For the visual astronomer, it's top end beginners purchase. By that I mean, it's a solid scope on a solid enough mount. The 32mm  EP supplied is pretty decent. 

I've since sold the EQ5 and gone for a Celestron AVX so that I could get more into astrophotography. I'm still a beginner, but my advice is based on what I would have done differently. 

From the fact you bought "Making Every Photon Count", my advice is based on you wanting to do astrophotography:

Invest in a decent mount first: Look at the prices for a HEQ5 or Celestron AVX brand new, and second hand. You'll see they hold their value well, so even if it turns out not to be the hobby for you, you won't lose too much money on them. Hopefully this will allay any fears about the money they cost!

The mount is essential to getting good images - you can have a huge telescope with fantastic optics... but if the mount is wobbling your images are going to be Rubbish.

Plan your budget; 

If you have a DSLR already; buy a decent tripod, aim the camera at the sky and start taking some pictures! If not, think about making the DSLR your first purchase. 

Then plan for a GOTO mount and a cheap telescope. It'll get you started with a decent mount and room to upgrade the scope later. 

Hope this helps... 

P.S. - Have a look at the Astrotrac DSLR mounts....

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