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Hi all SGL-ers, I am a newbie and was after a few questions answered if I may.

My son(6) and daughter(9) have recently (with the help of projects at school) expressed a keen interest in the planets and all things astronomy. I have always been a little interested (not enough, I admit, to have purchased any kind of telescope)

My childrens interest, which let's face it, might disappear by next year knowing how fickle children can be, has peaked my own and so I was thinking of getting a "basic" telescope for us all to use.

Having read quite a few articles and reviews, it seems that anything cheap generally has an aperture under 80mm and they don't give the best results... but, it is not in my interest to spend too much on what may be a temporary whim.

I think I have decided on the Skywatcher Heritage-100P which can be picked up for about £90 as it does have good reviews and is apparently one of the best "entry-level" scopes... but I wouldn't mind a second opinion (or a first educated option)

Am I making the right decision in not going too mad, and in your exert eyes, is this the model which seems right for me/us?

Many thanks in advance.

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My problem, and it is mine, is that the 100P is a fast f/4 scope.

This generally means the scope will be critical of collimation, and it will also likely need reasonably good eyepieces. The collimation means you will have to buy a collimator soon and that is another £25 or £30. Starts to add up and it adds up fast.

The supplied eyepieces will be Huygens and they are usually not that good, and if you ask for better then it will be something like the BST's at £49 and 2 of them exceeds the scope cost. Not sure that plossls are good at f/4, some are some are not.

The scope is nice and small but that brings with it certain disadvantages.

The scope will need a table to place it on, no problem if at home, not so easy if you take it elsewhere.

Not sure what to offer as an alternative, I used a 114P a few nights back and that was good, the Heritage 114P Virtuoso comes to mind at £160 (FLO) but then you may  be better off with the 150P dobsonian at £175 (Note the cost keeps going up!).

Concerning reviews especially magazine reviews, never read of a review yet that says avoid whatever scope at all cost, yet there are a few that everyone knows to avoid at all cost.

One bit to remember is if the tube length is about half the focal length then definitely avoid, it means a bird-jones design and they are trouble.

There are a few clubs in Norfolk, depends on which bit of Norfolk you are in.

http://www.astronomyclubs.co.uk/Clubs/Counties.aspx

Edited by ronin
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Hi and a warm welcome to SGL. Lots of good advice in post #2. I too would avoid an F4 scope for a beginner. A better choice (in my opinion, for what it's worth) would be the Heritage 130p, it's F5 (650/130 = 5) so collimation less critical.

These basic scopes are best if you are on a budget because more of the money will have gone into the optical parts compared to high tech scopes where money has gone into the electronics. Not against technology and not everyone will agree with what I've said.

A downside to a no-frills scope is you have find sky objects yourself, but many new folk want to look at the moon, bright planets, more obvious deep sky objects like the Orion nebula (M42) and the Pleiades, and with a red dot finder like the 130p comes with you should be ok.

The 130p does need a solid table or similar to stand it on. A senior member of my local club has a 130p and uses it to good effect.

Meeting up with a local club, as already suggested, is a good call. Most clubs are happy to help, my own local club often gives advice to visitors with no obligation to join.

All the best in your decision, Ed.

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I have owned a Heritage 130P for about 4-5 yrs now (maybe longer...........i think it came out in 2009) and I have only collimated it once and that was when it arrived new from FLO and the only reason i collimated it was to see how the proceedure is done. I had to uncollimate it first as it was spot on to begin with.

The scope itself is a little gem and punches above its size. It is good enough to give you yrs of observing pleasure until a time when you may decide you want to upgrade to something bigger and even then you will find yourself or the kids still use it because its so easy to setup and use.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher

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 The collimation means you will have to buy a collimator soon and that is another £25 or £30.

I think it's worth noting that the 100p is one of the models fitted with Skywatcher's "collimation free" primary mirror cells that lack standard collimation screws and are claimed by the manufacturer not to require collimation. However, I don't own one to be able to give any first hand perspective on how true the claim is.

Also, for what it's worth, the supplied eyepieces are MA rather than H but I expect that is what you meant and the sentiment still stands.

All in all I would suggest that the 100p is a good little scope that the kids should be able to handle themselves and that won't break the bank or require significant storage room. However, given that the kids have expressed an interest in the planets something with a longer focal length is probably better just so you can get some higher magnifications out of the supplied eyepieces, a 90mm Celestron Astromaster perhaps. (But then that's an extra £50 that could be spent on whatever the shortest BST Starguider EP is).

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I think it's worth noting that the 100p is one of the models fitted with Skywatcher's "collimation free" primary mirror cells that lack standard collimation screws and are claimed by the manufacturer not to require collimation. However, I don't own one to be able to give any first hand perspective on how true the claim is.

Also, for what it's worth, the supplied eyepieces are MA rather than H but I expect that is what you meant and the sentiment still stands.

All in all I would suggest that the 100p is a good little scope that the kids should be able to handle themselves and that won't break the bank or require significant storage room. However, given that the kids have expressed an interest in the planets something with a longer focal length is probably better just so you can get some higher magnifications out of the supplied eyepieces, a 90mm Celestron Astromaster perhaps. (But then that's an extra £50 that could be spent on whatever the shortest BST Starguider EP is).

Looking at the video, the 100p does seem to have no collimation screws on the back of the scope (unless they are covered by what looks like a rear "dust cap"). The secondary mirror has the same screws as the 130P. To be honest..........most scopes (reflectors) under 6" rarely fall out of alignment/collimation and need collimation unless you really abuse them and chuck them about or take them for a drive and hit every pothole in the road at 80 mph. Moving them from inside the house to the garden is fine and maybe (just maybe) need collimation maybe once a year.

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Buying a telescope and finding no one in your family is interested after a month is always a danger, but the problem is most of the cheaper scopes under 100 pounds don't give you much room to upgrade if you find the opposite is true. The Heritage 100 is certainly good enough, the Heritage 130 considerably better but more expensive. I don't know what your pain limit is!

Another inexpensive option would be a basic refractor, for example for 75 pounds: http://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/celestron-astromaster-70az.html It has the simple up-down side-to-side mount not the more expensive Equatorial mount (which I don't really recommend at this level). It's cheaper than the Heritage, so if it doesn't work out, less is lost. By if the hobby does blossom, it might make a good telescope for the children to use on their own while you yourself graduate to something like a Dobsonian 150mm or 200mm.

It is well worth remembering that no telescope at the amateur level (and that could be a thousand or even ten thousand pounds) is going to give you the incredible colour imagery you might have seen on photos from the Hubble Space Telescope or billion dollar investments in the Atacama Desert, Chile! Underestimate your expectations at the begining, and you will find the fascination grows rapidly. At 6, your son will need a lot of your enthusiasm and encouragement to keep his interest and attention. At 9, though, your daughter may soon find she is able to explore independently.

Good luck

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Binoculars are a great start in astronomy for adults but I honestly don't think they would hold the interest long for young children. They won't be able to hold them steady enough and they won't be able to see well the things they would really like to see like lunar craters, Jupiter's moons and Saturn's rings. Passing the binocular from one to the other would lose the object and even if they had one each it would be difficult to convey where to look. At this stage I think a telescope, operated by the adult would be a better start.  :smiley:

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Just buy a family membership to the local astro society, and have the use of many scopes available to you.

If you absolutely have to buy a scope, I wouldn't settle for less than a 150/1200, the only compromise on that scope is that it isn't a 200/1200. Anything less has far too many compromises/

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FLO have the 60 mm celestron frac for £59.

That's probably as cheap a useable scope as you'll find.

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If you absolutely have to buy a scope, I wouldn't settle for less than a 150/1200, the only compromise on that scope is that it isn't a 200/1200. Anything less has far too many compromises/

If I had bought either of those it would have killed the hobby out right for me. Choosing a telescope is like shoes not all shoes fit every foot.
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I would agree with getting involved with an astronomy club.

And we all are entitled to our opinions about telescopes.   

So many of us started with 50 mm binoculars.   I see nothing wrong with a 70 mm refractor or a 90 mm reflector as starters, and naturally larger is better.  

However your opinion differs.    I would be interested to know the basis of your statement.   I am not saying you are wrong, just wish to understand your thoughts and I am sure the original poster would benefit from your insight. 

I should have qualified my statement better to start off with. I was talking merely with regards to reflectors. Most of the tabletop dobsonian reflectors have serious compromises. For example, you need a sturdy base for them. Some have limited collimation options. I just felt that whilst an 8" dob is the ideal reflector option, it's just that bit dearer than a 6", and if you buy a 6", I feel that the only compromise you have made is on aperture. The 6" is forgiving on collimation, while still remaining very sturdy, easy to align, easy to setup. It has that "wow" factor when people see it, which is always good.

I'd love to have more experience with a good refractor, and I'm sure most of the affordable 50-70mm refrectors are perfectly usable, but they nearly all come with poor tripods and/or mounts. An AZ on a good tripod would be good, but a lot of them seem to come with those awful EQ-2 style mounts.

I hope I've explained my opinions.

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Hi all,

Thanks for all your input, opinions, reviews and suggestions. Quite a lot to take in for a newbie!

Have had to look up certain terms and abbreviations from your replies, but I have persevered!!

I'm still not 100% convinced that I need to spend more that £100 on a beginners scope and am actually beginning to go the other way and think that a cheaper/less spec one would suffice at this early stage. I do hear those of you that suggest otherwise, but  price is of course a factor here.

I know everyone started somewhere, so if anyone has any recommendations for the "cheaper" end of the scale, then I would be glad to hear them.

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I think in this case then the 60mm refractor offered by FLO is the "best cheapest" option.   :smiley:

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The FLO site has a banner across the top (it scrolls through aspects), one "banner" is Beginners Scopes.

FLO have put together a 60mm scope at £60 (£59 actually) in anticipation of a reaction to an advert (wish I could remember who's) if you look at Beginners Scopes you will get about 6 options. There is also a 70mm Celestron that is a little bigger at £75.

Both are on a simple Alt/Az manual mount.

The 60mm is a possibility to look at a few things, but the 70mm would I think be a better option. I would expect that to allow you to see enough more to be worth the extra. And so be better to determine if you or whoever wants to develop a greater interest. You cannot really start at rock bottom and expect a good experience, so I feel anyone needs to get something half reasonable.

Think you will still need a couple of additional inexpensive plossl eyepieces from somewhere to add to the experience.

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I started with and still use my heritage 130p. Whilst slightly over budget last week first light optics had one return for sale at £99.

I also enjoy the views of my little 80mm refractor on a simple altaz tripod.

There is this which would give you change to buy a further eyepiece next year if the interest grabs.

http://stargazerslounge.com/topic/256835-man-on-the-moon-telescope/?fromsearch=1

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Agreed the 60mm frac for £59 is a good shout a decent little scope for relatively little money and can always be useful as a grab and go option if you decide later to get a more expensive and bigger one.

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Good shout by ronin on the 70mm option at £75.

Always the way tho a little bit more gets you a little bit more it's where you draw the line

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