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tomo1515

What's more important when purchasing first scope?

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I am interested in getting into astronomy and I'm looking at purchasing my first telescope. My budget is roughly £200 and I'm looking at a reflector. What essentially makes a telescope good? The focal length or the the mirror type in my case? I have seen a couple both the same size aperture of 130mm. One of which has a parabolic mirror however it has a focal length of 650mm. The other, a spherical mirror with a focal length of 900mm. I intend to observe deep space objects like the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy, and from time to time things like the Moon. Which type scope best suits my intentions?

The telescopes I've been looking at:

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-explorer-130p.html

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-explorer-130.html

(There is quite a difference in price but which is worth it the most?)

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If visual, go for as much aperture as you can afford.

Ideally get to a star party, and look theough various scopes and see what takes your fabcy; you might fall in love with something which costs and extra £100 and just means you have to save up another couple of months. Well worth the wait for something you really want rather than buying something you don't know much about.

Good luck.

James

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Hi, can I suggest you look at the Skywatcher Skyliner, this would suit your needs and sugest you set 150mm as your minimum aperture. http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html

Note the 8" 200P is a best seller......I have the 200P and happy with its performance with the eyepieces I use.

Paraboloid over spherical is a better choice for the mirror, and a Skyliner, mounted on the Dobsonian mount will be far easier to use and set up, over the EQ Systems you mention in your links.

Edited by Charic

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I should have mentioned in my first post that I'll be taking it with me when I go camping in my camper van, my bad. The Skyliner looks great the only possible issue is the size. 

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The 200P (8") should  fit comfortably on the back seat of say a Ford Focus II. The Dob base should fit a front seat or in the boot. A camper van should have  more than enough space!

The 150 (6")  being thinner will need less space and should  still  work well at  darker sites. 

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The 6" skyliner is a far better option than either of the scopes youre considering. The 900mm focal length scope you're looking at is only F6.9, and you mentioned it has a spherical mirror. For a Newtonian to have a spherical mirror it would need to be in the region of F10, so I'd avoid that one as it will have spherical aberration. Personally I wouldn't give any credence to the sky at night reviews, they are usually of poor quality and the percentage rating is utterly meaningless.

You won't regret the 150 Sky Liner.

Mike

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Don't forget second hand!! there's a few dobs pop up on http://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.phpevery now and then and you can save a lot of cash or get more for your money here. If you're not desperate then its worth keeping an eye open for a bargain :)

As James mentioned its worth going to a star party if there's one near and you have the time to see what various scopes are like to look through

hope this helps

Davie

Edited by Davie

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Thanks everyone for the replies. They have been really helpful and I'm taking all your posts into consideration. I'm probably going to have a look on Astro Buy Sell and see what pops up. Once again thanks for your replies, they have cleared up a lot.

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Just another observation. When I was looking for an SCT I was told 8" you can carry 10" is lugable. So true.

As you can see I got a LX90 8" second hand, never regreted it.

Edited by astrofox

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What makes a telescope great is the one you actually take out and use :-)

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Good advice above. 

The main problem with so many of these small scopes is the ridiculous wobbly mountings they are on. These tiny EQ mounts wobble like jelly and seriously detract from the whole observing experience.

The skyliner mentioned above is on the far more stable Dobsonian mounting. This is a HUGE improvement that cannot be understated.

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go as charic says, dob is the way to go, bigger the better you will get the wow factor then. and in a camper van no problems. i used to fit my 14" dob all my camping gear into a pug 306

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Well Tomo can I suggest you buy the biggest Dobsonian you can afford. Then go and buy the biggest motor home you can afford and you've cracked it. You will be future proof for years to come. lol.

Best of luck with your choice and I hope you get plenty of clear skies

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Thanks everyone. As I'm a beginner I'll probably start off with 130mm as being 15 I want it now. To save to get a 150p or the 200p Dobsonian will take a while and I can always upgrade in the future as I progress in the hobby. Your advice has been invaluable and I've taken it all onboard. Thanks for your help. 

Tom,

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The most important thing is getting a scope that you will use.

Generally this means easy to set up and small.

If you are going to take it camping then I assume that the skies will be reasonably dark.

Not sure what mount you want, there are differences. A manual EQ is likely not the easiest to use, a manual Alt/Az is more obvious.

Are there any clubs around you that you could visit and have a look at the equipment being used. Since Stargazing Live i due soon quite a few clubs will be holding public evenings.

http://www.astronomyclubs.co.uk/

Search through and see if any are near.

Be careful of scopes that deliver one aspect, they are fine if that aspect is what you want and are familiar with. Too easy to select a scope on biggest aperture, or highest magnification.

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Thanks everyone. As I'm a beginner I'll probably start off with 130mm as being 15 I want it now. To save to get a 150p or the 200p Dobsonian will take a while and I can always upgrade in the future as I progress in the hobby. Your advice has been invaluable and I've taken it all onboard. Thanks for your help. 

Tom,

[rant]

I rushed (like you) and bought the SkyWatcher 130 (the 900mm one) and I regret it slightly. partially because the focal length is slightly too high for me (I intended to view comparatively wide angles and DSOs) and partly because my birthday was just around the corner and i'd have got a boat load more money to spend on a scope.

I'm 17, I know the pain of wanting stuff now (I paid £5 extra to get it next working day, day it arrieved was the first cloudy day in perhaps over a week :embarassed: ) buit wait, it's worth it.

Looking back at it now, I'd have preferred a dobsonian-mounted scope, AP is well out of my price range anyway and cheap EQ mounts are wobbly and even a little uncomfortable. (And a bit of a pain to understand, though you'd get it after watching a few videos.)

[/rant]

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Also the 130p heritage on the same page for £105 has the same size mirror as the two scopes you were looking at.

Has had pretty good reviews on here and would be easy to cart about re camping.

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I've changed my mind and made my final decision. I've stretched my budget to £300 and I'm going to purchase the Sky-Watcher Explorer 150P EQ3-2. The reason being is that I've read that the mount is far more stable and the extra 150mm will suit deep sky viewing better. Thanks for all of your help.

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Great scope, congratulations. I have the 150P but on the AltAz 4 mount and it's great.

Have seen Saturn, Great views of Jupiter, a free of the M clusters.

make sure you collimate it and you will be rewarded with some fantastic sights.

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Its a pity your not in your camper up my way?......I have a Celestron 127EQ that you could  practice on, under darker skies,   to see if an EQ mount is up your street. 

There are easier methods in setting up a telescope, but once you have mastered  Polar alignment  and re-alignment settings for each target, and a few rotations of the telescope tube,  it should  get easier, but by no means any quicker.  Thats the reason I went for the 200P Skywatcher Skyliner.

Nevertheless, enjoy your new telescope, and dark skies ahead, although the lighter nights of Summer will soon be with us!

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I have and am currently using the skywatcher 130 explorer (with spherical mirror) its a nice scope for a beginner but the mount I had was cloged up and so had to put new grease on.

I am saving for the 200p on the eq5 I would say don't get the 130 explorer, its a nice scope but you will soon become bored of it... Not sure about the 130p and I got told I may as well get a 200mm then it can be a scope for life.

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You know, going for a tripod and german equatorial mount adds an awful lot of clutter to the telescope itself. Then there are counterweights. The elegance of the Dobsonian mount is that there is so little of it. Most of what you buy is telescope. The Dobsonian mount is also far better then a light German mount, being more stable and ten times faster to set up. The German mount is needed for deep sky photography but that's another story and any old German mount won't do. It has to be a very good one to be any use.

Olly

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There are hundreds of opinions mate :)

You have to think about few key things:

- Price. What can you afford ? The scope itself is not the end of your spending. There are eyepieces, collimation tools etc. Try to fit all of this into your budget and calculate what's the highest you can go.

- Portability. This is a critical issue for many people, me included, and one that's most often dismissed when choosing a scope, only to turn out to be a BIG issue later ( pun intended ). Sure, a 250P scope looks amazing and tempting. But are you going to move it to your care and away everytime ? Or just place it in your garden ? Big scopes are very difficult to handle on regular basis - or at least require quite a lot of effort and logistics. And believe me, if going out means sore muscles, banging the walls and being terrified that you will break it everytime you move it three flights of stairs - you will end up using it less and less frequently.

- Purpose. What do you intend to do with it ? Imaging or Visual. Planets or DSO. Nebulas or Galaxies. Or maybe a bit of everything ?

Personally, I would recommend either a dobsonian or a SCT telescope. I myself went for SCT as my main scope because while it's not perfect in anything - it's pretty damn good at everything, including big aperture and compact OTA design.

But the most important thing is - I think - whatever scope you will get, it will still allow you to see amazing things, don't forget that and don't let yourself fall victim to specs and aperture fever :)

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