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Hi,

I've decided a few weeks ago that I would like to purchase my first telescope. However, after trying to research the ideal telescope, I seem to find one that Looks good only to then keep on finding more that seem like they will do the job. So after struggling with independent research I thought I would come here to hopefully get some advice off you guys.

Firstly, my maximum budget would be £500. This has to include everything I need to initially buy, of course if something that is a lot better but costs slightly more then I'm more than willing to consider it.

Ideally I would like something that gives me the ability to look at planets, the moon and deep sky objects. I would be using it on some land with little light pollution and may consider travelling (if necessary) to achieve better results. Also, ease of use would be a factor in the purchase. I do not mind putting time in learning how to set it up or to use it but would like to know if it comes with clear instructions that are easy to follow.

Initially I had considered the following: http://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/skywatcher-skymax-127-synscan-az-goto.html. However I'm now doubting whether that is the ideal one to buy. The logic behind this was that it has a few positive reviews and it came with a GOTO mount, which with its database of objects, would be easier for me to use.

So what I would like to know is:

What do you recommend? Would it be possible to find a list of everything I needed that came close to my budget.

What are your experiences, if any, with the particular model listed above?

And finally, since I am new to all this, how difficult is it to set up and use a model such as the one listed above?

Sorry this has been a long post but I feel that without seeking the opinions of others I may end up buying an inferior product and wasting my money.

Thanks in advance,

Seddon016.

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For visual buy a Dob, something along the lines of this http://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html or bigger...

The Dob comes as a complete package. The eyepieces supplied are adequate to get you started, but you will almost certainly want to replace them later once you have gained experience in using your scop

You get 2 basic eyepieces to start with. These will last you a few sessions while you get used to what the scope can do. I'm sure you know this but it's worth repeating that, with the exception of the

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The scope you have linked is a Maksutov. These have a rather limited field-of-view - or FOV - and yield excellent contrast on planets and other denizens of our solar-system. But are not the best one I'd choose to pursue deep-sky objects - or DSO's - due to their limited FOV. The Dobsonian Gerry linked for you would act as a great scope for those DSO's and give very nice views of the planets and other solar-system creatures like the Moon and comets and the Sun - with proper filters used! And Dobs, as we call them, have a decent FOV for extended objects like the Veil Nebula.

But don't "pull the trigger" just yet. I'd suggest you give a bit more thought to what all you are hoping to see. And other possibilities like astrophotography, video-astrophotography, spectroscopy, etc. While letting this roll through your synapses for a bit, I'll drop you some links to a program that will give you excellent star-charts set for your own location - very realistic and beautiful, too. A similar planetarium-program can easily run one upwards of £200 or more. This one, called Stellarium, is easily one of the best available and is used by professional brick & mortar planetariums, schools, colleges, all sorts of things.

Stellarium is absolutely free to download and use. Setting it up to show you, from your own location, any and everything you wish to have it include can take you from 10 minutes to 10 days. It's up to you to program it to include whatever you decide on. So here's the link, and 2 more for instructions:

http://www.stellarium.org/
 
As for instructions, the most current one's are posted in Wiki due to their being new features & functions being created almost daily. There is also a Pdf. that's almost up-to-date. Here's the Wiki-Link:
 
http://www.stellarium.org/wiki/index.php/Stellarium_User_Guide
 
And the Pdf. is here:
 
http://barry.sarcasmogerdes.com/stellarium/stellarium_user_guide-new.pdf

Enjoy!

Dave

Edited by Dave In Vermont
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Welcome to SGL

I have the MAK127 as shown and it is a good scope, BUT...for planetary and lunar work due to its long focal length.

The goto works well and I also plonk my little short FL ED80 on it which gives lovely wider field views for DSO's. The mount is light and that can mean shake at higher magnitudes. I bought it as a goto grab and go.

For apeture look as said at a Dob, £500 would get you a good one. You could even consider second hand you could proably get a goto dob for that money.

Good luck.

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First of all thank you for all of your replies, I really appreciate the help.

Also, I've looked into the link provided by jetstream and it looks good plus there are several good reviews. Although I don't quite fully understand what all the technical details of the scope mean (I would certainly love to find out more) would this definitely be good for viewing objects listed in the first post?

I have also looked into the program you mentioned, stellarium, and that looks like it could be extremely useful. There are lots of resources how to use it and would mean that I do not need a GOTO mount. In regards to photography, I would love to be able to take some pictures, however I feel like it would increase the price quite significantly so that would have to be an upgrade for sometime next year (if it is possible to do an upgrade like that.)

After looking at the linked scope I then saw similar ones which still came under my budget, are they better quality? Or is it not necessary. Furthermore, if I was to purchase the linked dob, would that be the complete package so to speak? Or would it require further modifications/attachments that would improve the viewing experience.

Sorry to keep pestering, I just want to make sure my first purchase is a correct one and one I won't regret!

Thanks Again,

Seddon016

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The Dob comes as a complete package. The eyepieces supplied are adequate to get you started, but you will almost certainly want to replace them later once you have gained experience in using your scope and have a better idea of what you are looking for. The finder scope is usable but can end up in difficult positions for viewing. I replaced mine with a right angled finder Called a RACI which is not only more comfortable for viewing, but also gives a " right way up " image. You will also require a collimation tool. I have a Cheshire collimator. Hope this helps.

Edited by laudropb
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A Telrad or my preference the Rigel Quickfinder is a must for a dob IMHO as is a Cheshire/sight tube combo http://www.firstlightoptics.com/other-collimation-tools/cheshire-collimating-eyepiece.html

Collimation may seem hard but it is not, and the f6 of the 200p will have a larger sweet spot for planetary/lunar views and be "easier" (cheaper) on eyepieces.

The size of these things go up pretty fast the larger you go... the 200p will compete with much much more expensive scopes. Wait until you see M13 or M37 in it...

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In my humble opinion, a good starter kit for the budget indicated would be a classic 90mm f10 refractor on a manual equatorial mount, along with a pair of 10x50 bins.  Such a kit will allow you to try out all areas of astronomy (except deepsky astrophotography).  It will also really encourage you to learn the sky.

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You have received some great feed back but it is really difficult to give advice as we all have different requirements and expectations.

A couple of points to bear in mind:-

i) The GOTO scope you linked to (indeed any GOTO scope) requires a reliable power supply, running off AA batteries invariably leads to frustration. 

ii) The Dob that has been discussed is an excellent scope for visual but is not suitable for imaging. 

Good luck and take your time, you can rely on receiving excellent advice from the members here.

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Hi, looking in to all your advice I have now added the following into my basket. I've attached a picture to the post. So I'm not sure what exactly is the difference between the two dobs and which finder scope to buy.

Could someone explain how the dobs differ and which would be more suited to my needs. Again with photography. I would maybe consider that in the future however for now I don't believe it is necessary for me.

So hopefully I can decide before the end of the week as I'd like to be using it sometime soon.

Thanks.

post-47761-0-21202100-1446656461_thumb.p

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Flextube is an alternative tube design where the middle section of the tube is made up from sturdy struts. The scope tube will collapse down to take up less room for storage / transport. They are a little heavier than the solid tube alternatives. Optically they are the same as the solid tube versions.

The 250PX has a 10" primary mirror wheras the 200P has an 8". The 10" gathers a lot more light than the 8" but is a bit heavier and more expensive. Both very popular scopes !

The Illuminated finder scope that is at the bottom of the page won't fit the dobsonian scopes. You need one of these instead:

http://www.firstlightoptics.com/finders/skywatcher-9x50-right-angled-erecting-finderscope.html

Hope that helps :smiley:

Take your time though - "buy in haste, repent at leisure" as the saying goes. :wink:

PS: I'd put photography to one side for now. Completely different in terms of equipment needs !

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The difference between the 200p and the 250px is the diameter of the mirror, 200 and 250 represents millimetres, so 8" and 10" respectively. Apart from the diameter of the tube they will be more or less the same size, but because of the larger mirror the 10" will be a bit heavier. Both are superb scopes, the 10" because of its size will show you a little bit more detail on objects, not enough to blow your socks off in comparison but the difference will be there. But it has a much shorter focal length than the 8" though - this makes accurate collimation a little bit more important, and it will be less forgiving on cheap eyepieces. The solid tube version of both is 1200mm long, but the flextube can be collapsed substantially down from that. All this means is that it's easier to store away or put in a car.

If it were me I'd only consider buying a scope (and a cheshire to collimate it) at the moment. The finder scope that comes with it is perfectly serviceable, and you may find that you don't want anything more. Having a play around with the basic kit though will give you a feel for what you want and will certainly save you money.

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I'd recommend going along to a "star party" and trying out some scopes. Make a note of the ones you like and then look up prices on-line (rather than ask "what did it cost" - which some people might not like). Don't forget that for anything involving DSO's/AP a good mount is essential and a mount can cost as much as the scope (if not more) - so make a note of the mount type too.

I have a 127 MAK (as linked to - but I just bought the scope (second-hand) as I have a fixed mount - HEQ5pro head on a pillar, otherwise used for an 8-inch NEWT - a 200pds, as in the photo).  The 127's great advantage is small size and low weight - it is very portable (and comes with a shoulder-bag) and doesn't fill-up the obsy if I have visitors round who "want to have a look at Jupiter, the Moon, etc... I wouldn't consider it for many DSO's, but I haven't had the chance to play around with it too much. However, it's quite a popular scope and you should find one at most star-parties to try out.

Once you have a scope (which should come with at least one eyepiece) and mount. My "priority list" of non-essential bits to add for a first scope would be:

  • zoom eyepiece (say a 25-8mm)
  • "red dot finder"
  • moon filter (depending on the scope - the Moon can be a bit harsh on the eye)
  • solar filter (objective) - means you can look at "sun-spots"

P

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I've been trying to speak to some people at my university whether or not they can maybe point me towards a club or society which could help me with this but have had no luck as of yet. I was wondering if anyone could confirm that the setup in the attachment would be good to start with for general use, in particular for planets and deep sky objects. I think I'm definitely ruling out photography for a while until I get used to everything but if everything in the attachment will be good for a starter then I think I will go with that.

Thanks again.

post-47761-0-50478400-1446663786_thumb.p

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The 'scope already comes with a finderscope, so you can lose the right-angled one for now unless you really want one (when you place your order, you might be able to simply upgrade to the right-angled finderscope).

The Rigel Quickfinder is an alternative to the finderscope, you will almost certainly end up using one all the time whilst the other gathers dust ;)

An alternative to the Rigel is the Celestron StarPointer. It works pretty much the same way but is less than £30.

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The 'scope already comes with a finderscope, so you can lose the right-angled one for now unless you really want one (when you place your order, you might be able to simply upgrade to the right-angled finderscope).

The Rigel Quickfinder is an alternative to the finderscope, you will almost certainly end up using one all the time whilst the other gathers dust ;)

An alternative to the Rigel is the Celestron StarPointer. It works pretty much the same way but is less than £30.

Ah right I thought I'd read that it could be quite uncomfortable to use without a right angled one so assumed it was a must to have initially. And I'll definitely remove the Rigel then if it will gather dust (unless that is better)

Thanks for you're help.

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Ah right I thought I'd read that it could be quite uncomfortable to use without a right angled one so assumed it was a must to have initially. And I'll definitely remove the Rigel then if it will gather dust (unless that is better)

Thanks for you're help.

I use a right angle correct image finder and a Rigel Quikfinder with my 12" dobsonian. It's a very effective combination :smiley:

The supplied straight through finder is decent in quality terms but it's one of the first things that gets replaced by many simply because it can be hard on the neck / back muscles.

It's not a "must have" upgrade but certainly falls into "extremely nice to have" for me :smiley:

I'd definitely keep the Rigel Quikfinder in there though (not the additional battery pack though - the standard battery lasts ages) but you could defer the right angled finder for a while.

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If you're intent on a right angled finderscope, I'd be inclined to keep the Rigel (no need to go for the battery pack version btw). I find it quite hard to navigate with a right angled finder, so use the Rigel for the bulk of the star hopping etc, and use the right angled finder to zero in on the target. That's my set up, but like a lot of this, it's personal preference. Personally I'd buy the scope and the Cheshire, and see how I got on from there.

Edit: pipped to the post by John [emoji4]

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

Edited by inedible_hulk
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Ok so I think I will go for everything in my lost post: the 250px dob, the right angled finder, the collimating eye piece and the Rigel (without the battery pack).

Just to confirm, will this set up be sufficient to see planets and deep sky objects? Just don't want to get this wrong. Also are the eyepieces supplied decent to start with and then later on I can chose to upgrade them?

Thanks

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You get 2 basic eyepieces to start with. These will last you a few sessions while you get used to what the scope can do.

I'm sure you know this but it's worth repeating that, with the exception of the Moon, nothing you view through a scope looks anything like the images you see. Most deep sky objects, with the exception of a few showcase objects, are faint and hazy patches of light.  The larger planets (Jupiter and Saturn) will seem small in the eyepiece. Very nice, but small. The other planets will look smaller still but they are clearly not stars.

I'm not trying to put you off - us visual astronomers thrive on teasing subtle details out of small and / or faint objects :smiley:

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You get 2 basic eyepieces to start with. These will last you a few sessions while you get used to what the scope can do.

I'm sure you know this but it's worth repeating that, with the exception of the Moon, nothing you view through a scope looks anything like the images you see. Most deep sky objects, with the exception of a few showcase objects, are faint and hazy patches of light.  The larger planets (Jupiter and Saturn) will seem small in the eyepiece. Very nice, but small. The other planets will look smaller still but they are clearly not stars.

I'm not trying to put you off - us visual astronomers thrive on teasing subtle details out of small and / or faint objects :smiley:

Oh ok thanks. And I understand what you are saying, I'm not expecting to see some NASA style photos because that is just unrealistic. However, I appreciate that it will just be small images that I'll see. I'm just very excited to start observing as it seems such an excellent way to spend my spare time. Although after being reassured by many people that the scope is a decent model then I'm happy to purchase it.

Thanks for the help everyone!!

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