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After enjoying gazing up at the night sky on recent trips abroad I've decided to take the plunge and pick up some kit for viewing at home, or at least near home. While away I was using my binos, a 8x42 Nikon pair, which gave nice views but I find I can't hold them very steady so end up drawing light trails when trying to view Jupiter and it's moons so I've decided something static is required. Having done some reading about what's available and setting my budget to £200 I've tried to narrow down my options to pick a telescope I think will work for me, but wanted to check my logic with you to check I'm understanding things correctly and see if I've missed anything glaringly obvious.

After hunting through the major suppliers such as FLO and RVO to find as much as I could within budget I had a short list of lots of Skywatcher telescopes, namely the Skyhawk 1145p, the SW heritage 130p, Evostar 90 EQ2, Skymax 90, the 130p (EQ2) and the skyliner 150p. Given my house doesn't have much outdoor space and is surrounded by street lights and other houses I'm expecting to travel to get the best from my scope (current thought is possibly Buckstones car park, west of Huddersfield) so I'm looking for portability and something I can set up from the car without too much hassle. This led me to rule out the two Dobs as I'm not sure what I'd set them up on, as they would need a table/stand of some sort if I'm not mistaken. After that things have gotten trickier. Aperture would suggest going for the 130p on the EQ2 mount, but I'm wondering if this will be too big/heavy to be easily portable and I'm finding it hard to find accurate weights for all the scopes/tripods to help decide. I then ruled out the Skymax as the longer focal ratio means a narrow field of view and I'd like to at least attempt to view some DSO, but conversely the Skyhawk has a very short focal ratio so would be less forgiving on EPs and they both come with EQ1 mounts which seem like the least stable option available.

This leaves me with the Evostar 90, does that sound reasonable, or is that also going to be harder to transport than I'm anticipating? I like the idea of it being good for planetary viewing, as that's where I'm likely to start with my observing, and splitting doubles sounds like a nice challenge which it sounds like the Evostar should be reasonable at doing but will I struggle with DSOs with this scope? Having read through Turn Left at Orion there seems to be a good range of DSOs that I'll at least get some enjoyment out of with the 90mm, and then I can always expand my collection if I decide I'd like a better view of them in the future. The evostar also leaves room in my budget for any accessories you'd recommend picking up to help with my stargazing.

Thoughts would be much appreciated, thanks all.

David

 

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Thanks Peter.

Steve's review really sells the Evostar as being a good choice for starting out, he seems to get some nice viewing out of it and his mum seems to like it. I think I've found that with all the scopes I short listed I can find a good review, in that people seem to like them, which makes me think that whichever scope I picked I'd get pleasing results from, which in some ways is reassuring and in other ways makes it harder to pick. The only negative I can maybe draw from Steve's review is that the Evostar is quite large and maybe one of my other options would be an easier choice for portability (although Steve's vid seems to indicate that all scopes are bigger than you'd maybe anticipate). Does anybody know where I could find exact dimensions for the scopes listed, and maybe their weights?

 

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I had a SW80ED and it was a great scope, punched well above its weight and easy to mover around. What mount were you considering?

TLAO is a very useful book, I would recommend it to anyone.

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My first setup was the Evo 90, it gave me, and still gives me good views and lots of pleasure, the EQ2 is lightweight

so that makes it a little unstable, especially in windy conditions, but the scope is really good, I replaced the diagonal 

with a William Optics 90 degree erecting prism, it also has a built in helical focuser, which I found to be a godsend, as

the rack and pinion focuser on the scope is not very precise, but for a first scope I found it worth every penny, I still use

it, but on my EQ5 which keeps is as steady as a rock, it's also good for Solar white light observing, obviously with a Sun

filter, I bought one that fits the same as the dust cap, so I still get hours of enjoyment from it, it's a definite keeper.

Good luck on your choice of scope, the problem is there are so many to choose from, once you get the bug you will want

bigger anyway, we all do, but the Evo is, as I have said, a keeper. 

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I was looking at the EQ2 mount, with a little apprehension about its stability. I've also seen the Evo advertised on the EQ3-2 but that goes above budget by a bit. Would that be better or is it still an imperfect solution and I'd be better getting the 2 and saving for a 5 in the future if I catch the bug?

 

I like TLAO so far, can't wait to try it out with a scope. 

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Welcome to the SGL forums! You've done your homework, and to be honest any of the scopes you list would be great to start out with.

Personally I don't much like the EQ2 mount on the Evostar you're thinking about - I think I would go either with the simpler Alt-Az option or spend a little more and get it on an EQ3-2 which although heavier, is very much more stable.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/evostar/skywatcher-evostar-90-az3.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/evostar/skywatcher-evostar-90-eq3-2.html

A full-size Dob such as the Skyliner 150p really is very easy indeed to set up, any bit of flattish ground will do. The extra aperture is a big step up! The Heritage table-top can also easily be set up on something like an upturned bucket - it's quality versus price is fantastic, but it's shorter focal length will make it a little more difficult to achieve higher magnifications. Several people here who have much more expensive scopes, also have the Heritage as a grab-and-go telescope.

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Hi. An eq mount takes more setting up for a beginner. If you are looking for simplicity and stability then I suggest a AZ4 I have one I use with my 120ed and so simple to set up and get going. The 120ed is alright to transport also. And as you are looking at a 90mm frac then transporting in a vehicle would not be a problem. Do not rule out a 150p as this is a good scope and again dob mount is so easy to locate and track targets quicky. Also there is more aperture with a 150p and aperture rules on like for like basis. To throw a spanner in the works if you can spend a bit more ,or buy used the 200p would be a very good scope for you and still transportable in a vehicle. You are on the right track with your scope choice's. Hope this helps

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4 hours ago, Putaendo Patrick said:

Welcome to the SGL forums! You've done your homework, and to be honest any of the scopes you list would be great to start out with.

Personally I don't much like the EQ2 mount on the Evostar you're thinking about - I think I would go either with the simpler Alt-Az option or spend a little more and get it on an EQ3-2 which although heavier, is very much more stable.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/evostar/skywatcher-evostar-90-az3.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/evostar/skywatcher-evostar-90-eq3-2.html

A full-size Dob such as the Skyliner 150p really is very easy indeed to set up, any bit of flattish ground will do. The extra aperture is a big step up! The Heritage table-top can also easily be set up on something like an upturned bucket - it's quality versus price is fantastic, but it's shorter focal length will make it a little more difficult to achieve higher magnifications. Several people here who have much more expensive scopes, also have the Heritage as a grab-and-go telescope.

Thanks for the tip. Is the az3 that much more stable than the EQ2? I think the EQ3-2 stretches the budget too much and still leaves me with a mount that might not satisfy my future expansion needs. The heritage is tempting, it looks like a tidy package that might not take up too much space when not used and could fit in the car even when we go on holiday. How much difference will the focal length make? I've heard it amplifies the impact of cheaper EPs, so would I need to factor in additional EPs?

 

3 hours ago, Timebandit said:

Hi. An eq mount takes more setting up for a beginner. If you are looking for simplicity and stability then I suggest a AZ4 I have one I use with my 120ed and so simple to set up and get going. The 120ed is alright to transport also. And as you are looking at a 90mm frac then transporting in a vehicle would not be a problem. Do not rule out a 150p as this is a good scope and again dob mount is so easy to locate and track targets quicky. Also there is more aperture with a 150p and aperture rules on like for like basis. To throw a spanner in the works if you can spend a bit more ,or buy used the 200p would be a very good scope for you and still transportable in a vehicle. You are on the right track with your scope choice's. Hope this helps

Thanks Timebandit, it looks like the AZ4 would completely blow the budget? Would an Az3 be a better compromise than an EQ2? I'm happy enough setting up the eq but am thinking more in terms of stability. I hadn't really though about just standing the 150 on the ground, but I suppose that's how it's supposed to work. I'm just thinking it might be a bit bulky, particularly for taking away should the opportunity arise. Just how big would the 150 be? I suppose there is always the temptation to chase aperture but for starting out I think portability is going to win out, I can always get a bigger scope in the future to go alongside the portable one.

Is the 90mm frac my best bet given the need for portability? And if so, which mount do I go for, assuming stability is the aim within budget.

Many thanks

David

 

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dobsonian-to-scale_15.jpg

The above should give you an idea of relative sizes.

Focal length doesn't in itself put demands on the eyepieces - but it is part of the equation! The key is Focal Ratio - which is the focal length divided by aperture (both in millimeters). A scope with a focal ratio of, for example, f4 is considered "fast" while one of say f10 is "slow". A large fast scope will need very good EPs, which means spending money! A slow scope can be used with cheaper EPs and quality will not be significantly lost.

The Heritage comes with 25mm and 10mm eyepieces which will give magnifications of x26 and x65 respectively - to observe the planets and Moon in more detail I would recommend magnification in the x120 to x150 range. An extra 5mm eyepiece would give you x130 - and will cost from about 25 pounds upwards new. Another alternative would be a Barlow with is an extra lens device placed between the telescope and the eyepiece which increases the magnification. A x2 Barlow, for example, would double the power of the supplied eyepieces. Again they cost from about 25 pounds upwards.

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Hi. If portability is your main aim and speed of set up then your probably better going with a frac, as a more compact package, easier to set up with no collimation  to worry about . Just set stand up, put scope on stand on dovetail in a central position to help balance, put eyepiece in and your ready to start locating targets(sometimes some ambient temperature equalisation needed,  but so does a dob and probably more so). I got my AZ used so was good price. I think an AZ3 should be ok for a 90 mm frac but just check the specs such as recommended  weight load of the mount to scope weight to be sure. By the way I use televue plossl  in my frac, not widefield but very sharp in my 120ed which is what you want to get those crisp images a frac is capable of.  

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Hello. If you are leaning towards the frac route in scopes then another scope has come to mind that may be worth you considering. The TAL 100rs I think if I remember correctly is around your budget ( I have seen them well under £200 used). I looked into one of these before I got my 120ed and from what I remember for the price point  they were a well respected and useful performer. I think they are a bit of a slower scope , so not as fussy on eyepieces so you can use cheaper ones. But as a slower scope probably better on planets , star splitting than dso(but I should imagine still capable). I hope this helps you. I am sure if someone likes this on this site with a TAL themselves, they will be along to give you a bit more information from first hand experience . All the best

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You do not need to worry about not being able to spot DSOs with a Maksutov. You can see a lot of them. I can hihgly recommend a Mak for portability, even the 127mm one. It's above your budget, but you might find one second hand.

The EQ3 mount that I use is not particularly portable, mostly because of the counterweights. And the mount is a bit bulky. There is a lot to say about having a grab and go scope on a simple (AZ type) mount. You can have a look at this mount that I have:

It is the cheapest kind of AZ mount that can be put on a photo tripod. There might be better ones for higher prices, like the Giro mini that a lot of people recommend.

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Just wanted to thank you all for your advice. In the end I decided to stick with the Evostar 90 as my first scope, Steve's review and Ron's experience suggested I'd be pretty happy with it as a beginner to astronomy, and it might last me awhile alongside any future purchases I might make. So I ordered on Wednesday and it arrived today, and is now proudly standing in my living room waiting for some clear sky, which don't seem forth coming in Yorkshire at present. I'll hopefully get first light some time soon and let you all know how my observing goes.

Thanks

David

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On 10 June 2016 at 12:46, Linda said:

You do not need to worry about not being able to spot DSOs with a Maksutov. You can see a lot of them. I can hihgly recommend a Mak for portability, even the 127mm one. It's above your budget, but you might find one second hand.

The EQ3 mount that I use is not particularly portable, mostly because of the counterweights. And the mount is a bit bulky. There is a lot to say about having a grab and go scope on a simple (AZ type) mount. You can have a look at this mount that I have:

It is the cheapest kind of AZ mount that can be put on a photo tripod. There might be better ones for higher prices, like the Giro mini that a lot of people recommend.

Good to see Maks being championed - they are always ruled out as just planetary scopes but that just isn't true. Linda is spot on with the advice above ?

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A first scope

On 17.6.2016 at 21:45, Brighouse Double said:

 In the end I decided to stick with the Evostar 90 as my first scope

Sounds like a good choice.

One of my neighbours came in last night, because he finally wants to order his first telescope. He had a Skywatcher brochure. I had already advised him earlier to buy either a Maksutov or an Evostar. But now he was hesitating between a 150mm reflector and a 120mm Startravel. It was up to me to explain the difference, although I neither have experience with refractors nor reflectors. I have told him about aperture, strange colors on bright objects and collimation. But eventually he needs to decide himself. I think he doesn't like the idea of collimation and will end up with the Startravel. Although I think the Evostar might be a better scope with its longer focal length. I have also mentioned that many astronomers end up having an 80mm ED refractor. But that is probably above his budget. I have also told him that most astronomers buy an additional light buck after some time.

Luckily it's not me deciding this time.

Edited by Linda
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When you travel to a dark site look at Diggly res at the top of Meltham, go to the top car park, very dark on a good night and no bother, its my old spot and must go back this autumn 

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