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Howdy, all.  I am in the process of searching for my first telescope.  I am looking for something that is great for both planetary gazing and stargazing.  I live in an area that has light to medium light pollution, but have access to foothills and mountains, only a couple hours away.  So, I am looking for something that is semi portable, yet still big enough to have a good fov.  Most of the viewing would be done from the back yard, however.  I do plan on doing AP in the future, but just looking or a gazer at the moment.  I have read a lot of good reviews on the skyliner 200p, but was just wondering if there are any that are comparable in quality for a tad less.  the 200p is about $400 US, which is about the top of my price range.  Thanks in advance, everyone. 

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i think most of the others (orion, bresser) at the same size are going up on price rather than down. The 200 skyline is probably the best you will get in that price bracket, it is a cracking first scope that will keep you entertained for a long time. I think the only way to spend Less money is look second hand, or go down in size - as most people here love spending other people's money, you'll probably get a lot of "go for it" answers.

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200pis a bargain. It'll find you everything that's possible in your skies. It's a lifetime scope, just plonk it down and get going. An 18" high bench of seat will get you super comfy at the eyepiece. Couldn't recommend a better beginner scope. Seen some right horror scopes With wobbling tripods, built in Barlow and spherical mirrors for less money. Still possible to get plastic screws into plastic body parts and focusers which slop around,


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In the USA, both solid tube and collapsible tube Skywatcher 200mm Dobsonians are available. I would prefer the solid tube as it is cheaper, a little lighter and less in need of collimation (periodic alignment of the mirrors). B&H has the solid tube version at $355 which I reckon is pretty unbeatable: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1141702-REG/sky_watcher_s11610_8_traditional_dobsonian.html

Another contender is the Zhumell 8 Dob at $399. These come with a slightly better package of extras, including a laser collimator and an in-built fan which helps with cooling. https://www.telescopesplus.com/products/zhumell-z8-deluxe-dobsonian-reflector-telescope

In terms of design, reflectors with mirrors are cheaper than refractors with lenses, and Dobsonian mounts are cheaper than tripods - and these savings add up to a bigger and better OTA (telescope tube). There are several other good telescopes in the $300-400 range but all have very much smaller apertures. At the end of the day, an 8" or 200mm Dob represents "the best bang for your buck".

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When you go to these hills and mountains to observe are you envisaging driving to the location and setting the telescope up next to the car or are you thinking of something that you can carry up the mountain? Obviously, the latter requires a much smaller and lighter scope. 

As for astrophotography, unless you want to compromise your visual astronomy, it will require a second scope when you get to that stage. 

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