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Newbie help with extra kit

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OK, so I know I've done everything wrong. I didn't do my research, didn't go to any clubs or meets – I just jumped in head first.

The thing is we are moving to Fuerteventura soon and we want to take up astronomy and astrophotography, hoping that we will have lots of clear skies.

Anyway, I didn't want anything too complicated so I want and bought a secondhand Orion SkyQuest XT8 Dob.

As we are going out soon I want to get fully geared out as much as I can as it would seem to be easier.

I have looked briefly on these hallowed forums for advice and have come to the conclusion that I need a few eyepieces, a Barlow lens, a better finder (probably) and a collimator.

Now I don't know how good this scope really is, so I'm unsure how much to spend on eyepieces.

I am looking for something in the range of 6mm, 9mm, 15mm and 32mm eyepieces.

I was considering the Celestron Omni but I also saw that the X=Cel range was recommended for less than 10mm eyepieces as they cause less strain on the eyes.

For the Barlow I was thinking Celestron X-Cel or the BST Starguider, then I was thinking Telrad Red Dot finder and a Cheshire collimator and I'll probably need a moon filter and a case for the eyepieces.

I know this is a long post, but has anyone got any comments on my selections?

Edited by g9ern
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Accident prone - must be a Gemini!

Seriously though, congrats on your choice of scope - excellent for visual observing. It won't be that useful for astrophotography (beyond the moon and maybe the planets) since for that you really need a driven equatorial mount (and the disposable income of an investment banker). But for visual use it's hard to think of a better instrument for starting out.

Does it come with any eyepieces? If so I'd start with them. If not, the focal lengths you suggest are all sensible. 25mm is a great workhorse low power eyepiece also, and you can usually pick them up cheap second hand (almost every new scope comes with one). Plossls (Celestron, Skywatcher, Revelation) are good eyepieces, but I'd agree that for the shorter focal lengths (15mm and less if you wear glasses, 6mm and less if not) a longer eye relief like the BST Explorer or Celestron Ex-Cel is nicer. You also get a wider field, which you want with a Dob due to the lack of a driven mount. With all those eyepeices a Barlow is not a necessity, but it does come in handy - the Omni is well priced and reasonably good. Opinion seems to be divided on whether to acquire one at a time or to go for a kit - if you are aiming for different types of eyepiece I would say buy them one at a time - no need to splurge all at once.

For a finder, on mine I use a Rigel Quick find a 9 x 50 RACI - as a combination it works great. The Telrad looks even better than the Rigel, but is pretty chunky. But a red dot finder is perfectly adequate to get started, especially if you have dark skies.

As for filters, I tend not to use them much. You should be able to pick up a moon filter for cheap on the second hand or surplus market, but a lot of people don't bother. Try observing first and decide for yourself if you need one.

Best of luck!


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Unfortunately you will be limited to snapshots and live video feed. Long exposure astrophotography will not be possible. You will however be able to pull out a while lot of detail visually by comparison to other telescope designs in the price range. So if you're interested in practicing viewing techniques like averted vision, you'll be all set.

A solid suggestion might be light pollution filters, if that's a factor where you live. Orion sells one that will work across the board for any target as opposed to certain nebulae. In my opinion it's best to shoot for low and high magnification levels like a 32mm and a 6 perhaps. That would bring you to 200x magnification in the XT8.

I'll warn you that thread-pitch on filters is actually not a standard in this industry, so if you have Orion eyepieces it may be best to stick with Orion filters. You can always return filters that don't work, but watch out for cross-threading and such. Great telescope though; best wishes!

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15 hours ago, billyharris72 said:

For a finder, on mine I use a Rigel Quick find a 9 x 50 RACI - as a combination it works great. The Telrad looks even better than the Rigel, but is pretty chunky. But a red dot finder is perfectly adequate to get started, especially if you have dark skies.

+1 for this solution. This is a great way to find objects for a beginner.

I recommend you to buy a good sky atlas.

Fuerteventura must be a spectacular place to do astronomy, with many objects standing high in the sky and a good observing temperature.

As for the start at astrophotography: why not start with a DSLR only? Together with a fisheye lense or a telelens you can take nice sky pictures. E.g. a 70mm wide telelens with 400mm zoom, matches a 70mm refractor with a 40x magnification. This might be an uncomplicated way to get started (without the scope in between) and learn how it works. Then you can always decide to buy a specific astrophotography scope later.

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Thanks for the responses guys.

I think I'll get a 6mm (I do wear specs so will go for a better one) and a 32mm for now. (saw a 5mm BST in the classifieds but I'm obviously not allowed to bid yet). Scope came with a std. 25mm (and a red dot finder so I'll probably stick with that for now).

Was thinking about getting a long zoom for our cameras anyway (maybe get some windsurfing shots) so will probably go for that as well.


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I think that under the new rules since the forum update you are allowed to bid on anything from the classified section, but that the Code of Conduct is showing the old rules and needs updating.

Having said that, I'm not sure that a 5mm would be a particularly good choice. High magnification viewing is largely dependant on the atmosphere and so it is good to have a range of small increments so that you can pick the right eyepiece for the conditions on any particular night. If you are only going to start with one high magnification eyepiece then I would play it safe, assume that the atmospheric conditions in Fuertaventura are not too dissimilar to those in the UK, and start with a 7mm as my high power eyepiece and then look at getting 5 and 6mm eyepieces later if it becomes clear that the atmosphere can support the magnifications they provide.

At the other end of the scale, in my 8" Dob I prefer to use a 24mm ES68 over a 32mm Plossl as it gives the same real field of view but with more magnification and a better corrected image across the field.

For collimation I would recommend getting a laser and barlow in addition to the regular cheshire/sight tube as it makes it a lot easier to see the effects of your adjustments as you make them.

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