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Can anyone recommend a city telescope?


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Hello all,

I'm a new member here so apologies if this is in the wrong section.

 

I'm a third year Physics undergrad living in London and I want to get started in using telescopes which I have little experience in.

I was wondering whether anyone can recommend a city telescope which I can pack and take with me to the countryside in the holidays, I know there are a multitude of types, but I was hoping someone could guide me to the most beginner friendly telescope with good results. I have a balcony dorm, with a very clear sight of Saturn, Mars, Jupiter and the Orion constellation (Winter).

I'm looking at a budget of 200-300 pounds, but that can increase slightly if there's a really good recommended telescope.

I have read in some articles that 200-300 pound budget is not sufficient enough for a good telescope and I would be better off with binoculars, could someone also shed some light on whether this is true? I'm looking to do an astronomy project in my 4th year and knowing how to work a telescope would be really helpful.

 

Many thanks to anyone who can help out!

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You could start by looking at this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

It's a small table-top Dobsonian reflector with 130mm of aperture. You can use it on any raised surface (some people use an upturned bucket!). And despite it's reasonable price, it is good quality. Several people here with considerably bigger and more expensive scopes have the Heritage 130 as a grab-and-go.

And +1 on the Baker Street group!

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14 minutes ago, southerndiver357 said:

Hi kaioken, I would have a word with The Baker Street Irregulars http://www.bakerstreetastro.org they are based in London. I'm sure if anyone has an idea of what scope would suit you, it would be them.

HTH

Hi, thank you for the suggestion! The Baker Street Irregulars are just a stepping stones throw away from me, I didn't even know such a society exists. Will definitely pop down there sometime this week.

 

11 minutes ago, Putaendo Patrick said:

You could start by looking at this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

It's a small table-top Dobsonian reflector with 130mm of aperture. You can use it on any raised surface (some people use an upturned bucket!). And despite it's reasonable price, it is good quality. Several people here with considerably bigger and more expensive scopes have the Heritage 130 as a grab-and-go.

And +1 on the Baker Street group!

Hi, thanks for the reply. This is a very interesting reflector and a lot cheaper than I expected to pay. Would I require extra peripherals to view Jupiter's belts?

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You may be interested in an eyepiece or two. And a good Barlow to boost the magnifications available for close-up views of the planets, including Jupiter and his belts. Saturn's rings as well. The eyepieces supplied are a 10mm and a 25mm. These will give you 65X and 26X respectively. To find the magnification of telescopes and eyepieces:

Find the focal-length of the telescope in question. This 130mm scope has a F.L. of 650mm, which is known as a F5 for it's focal-ratio: 130mm X 5 = 650mm. Now to find magnification you divide the focal-length - F.L. - by the focal-length of the eyepiece: 650mm / 10mm = 65X. And the 25mm: 650mm / 25mm = 26X.

Simple as that!

Have fun -

Dave

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Reflecting telescopes do need to be collimated from time to time (re-aligning the primary and secondary mirrors), so you may want a Cheshire eyepiece (25 to 30 pounds).

For the Moon and planets you will also probably want an eyepiece which gives higher magnification. The supplied 10mm EP will give x650 magnification in this scope, a 5mm would double the power to a very useful x130. A reasonable Plossl design EP starts at about 30 pounds new, although something like the BST Explorer would be much more comfortable at about 45-50 pounds.

If, however, you really want to specialise in observing the planets and Moon, you might want to look at small Maksutov design telescopes. They have a much narrower field of view but can achieve higher magnifications more easily. This is a table-top Mak from Orion in the USA, I don't know if it (or similar) is available in the UK.

http://www.telescope.com/Telescopes/Cassegrain-Telescopes/Orion-StarMax-90mm-TableTop-Maksutov-Cassegrain-Telescope/c/1/sc/14/p/102016.uts

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Hi, I too live in a somewhat light polluted city location. I would suggest a Maksutov (size is down to personal requirements). These are compact easy to pack safely & transport about.

I found I got crisp views with plenty of depth, using a 90mm scope and that was without an LP filter. 

The mount depends on you but maybe a SW Supatrak / Goto Mount both are light enough for transportation.

Hope this helps...

 

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10 hours ago, Dave In Vermont said:

You may be interested in an eyepiece or two. And a good Barlow to boost the magnifications available for close-up views of the planets, including Jupiter and his belts. Saturn's rings as well. The eyepieces supplied are a 10mm and a 25mm. These will give you 65X and 26X respectively. To find the magnification of telescopes and eyepieces:

Find the focal-length of the telescope in question. This 130mm scope has a F.L. of 650mm, which is known as a F5 for it's focal-ratio: 130mm X 5 = 650mm. Now to find magnification you divide the focal-length - F.L. - by the focal-length of the eyepiece: 650mm / 10mm = 65X. And the 25mm: 650mm / 25mm = 26X.

Simple as that!

Have fun -

Dave

Hi, thanks for the reply and the useful magnification tip. What eyepieces would you recommend? Also, if I were to get a smaller eyepiece would this have a negative effect (e.g blurring) on planets/moon?

As for the Barlow, would you recommend a 2x Barlow? This is the one I see crop up a quite a lot.

9 hours ago, Putaendo Patrick said:

Reflecting telescopes do need to be collimated from time to time (re-aligning the primary and secondary mirrors), so you may want a Cheshire eyepiece (25 to 30 pounds).

For the Moon and planets you will also probably want an eyepiece which gives higher magnification. The supplied 10mm EP will give x650 magnification in this scope, a 5mm would double the power to a very useful x130. A reasonable Plossl design EP starts at about 30 pounds new, although something like the BST Explorer would be much more comfortable at about 45-50 pounds.

If, however, you really want to specialise in observing the planets and Moon, you might want to look at small Maksutov design telescopes. They have a much narrower field of view but can achieve higher magnifications more easily. This is a table-top Mak from Orion in the USA, I don't know if it (or similar) is available in the UK.

http://www.telescope.com/Telescopes/Cassegrain-Telescopes/Orion-StarMax-90mm-TableTop-Maksutov-Cassegrain-Telescope/c/1/sc/14/p/102016.uts

Hi, thanks for the reply, I really like the specs on this telescope, however I think the optic type is spherical and I have read that this is inferior to parabolic type, is there a reason for this?

 

Also, I was wondering whether you could shed some light on this telescope as it is what I looked at first before learning about table top telescopes:

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

 

Although, I'm unsure as the Maksutov design you suggested has over 2x the focal length and it is essentially the same price. So I may be better off with something like that.

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Don't start pricing eyepieces or Barlows until you've decided on a telescope is my advice here. But any eyepieces and/or Barlow should be something good that can be used with any upgrades you purchase by way of a larger telescope - or quit the 'hobby,' or something, and need to sell. But I'm sure others will be along to help you on your quest(s).

It would be very easy to spend more on eyepieces and Barlows that an initial telescope will cost you.

Dave

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2 hours ago, Dave In Vermont said:

Don't start pricing eyepieces or Barlows until you've decided on a telescope is my advice here. But any eyepieces and/or Barlow should be something good that can be used with any upgrades you purchase by way of a larger telescope - or quit the 'hobby,' or something, and need to sell. But I'm sure others will be along to help you on your quest(s).

It would be very easy to spend more on eyepieces and Barlows that an initial telescope will cost you.

Dave

Thanks Dave, in that case I will research them after having sufficiently used the default eyepieces with my telescope.

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The Explorer 130p is a fine telescope which in fact uses the same parabolic mirror as the Heritage 130p, so in respect to performance there is little difference. However I personally don't much like EQ2 equatorial mounts. EQs are designed to follow the stars as they "move" across the sky and are great when they are solid and precise. EQ2s in my experience are neither. I suggested the table-top Heritage primarily because it is small and compact.

If your current student life-style can accommodate a larger scope, I would recommend a 150mm reflector on a Dobsonian mount such as this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html The extra aperture is a significant improvement and will give you more possibilities in the long-term - but do try to look at one in the flesh to see if the size is manageable.

Maks are excellent scopes, but tend to be quite specialised and best used on small objects such as the Moon and planets as their view is quite narrow. Their big advantage is they are very compact and can achieve higher magnifications more easily - but they have smaller aperture unless you want to spend a whole lot more! Aperture really does define your ability to see fainter objects and get more detail. This said, one of the problems of observing in a big city is light pollution and a slower scope such as the Mak will pull out more contrast. Maksutovs fall into the category of catadioptric telescopes while combine glass and mirrors, and as such their design is very different to a reflector. So don't worry about spherical versus parabolic mirrors.

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14 hours ago, Putaendo Patrick said:

You could start by looking at this:

I was about to say exactly the same. Much less than your stated budget and a great little scope. It's easy to collimate (you can look down the focuser while adjusting) and holds collimation well; even with the flextube design, I can transport and use it maybe 5 or 10 times and the primary will have crept 2 or 3mm off at most. Plus the flextube design makes it comparable to a 127mm Mak for portability, but with a wider FOV. The little Dob base needs to go on a table or similar for comfortable use; later, you can attach it to an AZ4 (pricey), or try a little DIY.

 

15 hours ago, Kaioken said:

I have read in some articles that 200-300 pound budget is not sufficient enough for a good telescope

Hopefully you've seen enough on here to disprove this. There are good scopes (though not as good as the Heritage) on FLO for under £100. Most at that price are rubbish, but not all.

Billy.

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19 hours ago, Putaendo Patrick said:

The Explorer 130p is a fine telescope which in fact uses the same parabolic mirror as the Heritage 130p, so in respect to performance there is little difference. However I personally don't much like EQ2 equatorial mounts. EQs are designed to follow the stars as they "move" across the sky and are great when they are solid and precise. EQ2s in my experience are neither. I suggested the table-top Heritage primarily because it is small and compact.

If your current student life-style can accommodate a larger scope, I would recommend a 150mm reflector on a Dobsonian mount such as this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html The extra aperture is a significant improvement and will give you more possibilities in the long-term - but do try to look at one in the flesh to see if the size is manageable.

Maks are excellent scopes, but tend to be quite specialised and best used on small objects such as the Moon and planets as their view is quite narrow. Their big advantage is they are very compact and can achieve higher magnifications more easily - but they have smaller aperture unless you want to spend a whole lot more! Aperture really does define your ability to see fainter objects and get more detail. This said, one of the problems of observing in a big city is light pollution and a slower scope such as the Mak will pull out more contrast. Maksutovs fall into the category of catadioptric telescopes while combine glass and mirrors, and as such their design is very different to a reflector. So don't worry about spherical versus parabolic mirrors.

Thanks for the help, I have actually seen the skyliner 150p dobsonian and would have really liked to get one, however it is a very big telescope and will take up a lot of space. Although I am seriously considering getting it, even though it will be a behemoth in my small flat. It's a very small price up from the skywatcher explorer 130p and looking at the specs it seems well worth the small price difference.

 

I've essentially narrowed it down to 3 telescopes:

- Heritage 130p flextube

- Skywatcher explorer 130p

- Skywatcher Skyliner 150p Dobsonian

I've organised a trip to the Baker Street group to get a feel for the hobby and also see some of their scopes. Again, your help has been invaluable, thank you.

19 hours ago, billyharris72 said:

I was about to say exactly the same. Much less than your stated budget and a great little scope. It's easy to collimate (you can look down the focuser while adjusting) and holds collimation well; even with the flextube design, I can transport and use it maybe 5 or 10 times and the primary will have crept 2 or 3mm off at most. Plus the flextube design makes it comparable to a 127mm Mak for portability, but with a wider FOV. The little Dob base needs to go on a table or similar for comfortable use; later, you can attach it to an AZ4 (pricey), or try a little DIY.

 

Hopefully you've seen enough on here to disprove this. There are good scopes (though not as good as the Heritage) on FLO for under £100. Most at that price are rubbish, but not all.

Billy.

Hi, thanks for the reply.

Yep, I have heard great things about the flextube and I'm astounded at how good the price is!

I'm glad I joined up here to get experienced opinions rather than just searching up different telescopes on the internet, I have a variety of options now.

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As you are a student in London how do you get around? If you take your telescope out of your flat to go observing or you pack up for the holidays in the country is it going to have to go on public transport? I can't imagine taking my dob anywhere other than by car and I suspect the same would apply to the 150p and the Explorer 130p. You may find that solely from the practical point of view of needing something easily transportable you need to stick to the smaller end of the scale, perhaps something like the SW ST80 or 90mm Maksutov that could be fixed to a good quality photo tripod.

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You have a balcony this could limit viewing position, i.e. where you can stand and where a telescope might be. So I would not choose a eq mount with a reflector. I think a telescope from which you view from the bottom would be better either a refractor or a MAK and from your balcony you might find sitting to observe might work better even if using a tripod. 

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