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Walking on the Moon

Looking for a new telescope

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Evening Guys


I used to have a Skywatcher 150PL which i loved but it "Fell" from the loft a few years back "Or so she says :) " ) and literally bent in 2.  Anyway i'm on the lookout for a new telescope with a budget of around £400-£500 but this time i want to factor in a CCD or a telescope that will support a DSLR in the near future (something i have not tried yet is astrophotography).  I was just curious on peoples thoughts on what to get.  I loved the 150PL and i certainly do not mind getting another one, one gripe with it would be the size and i assume i would only be able to take pictures at UPTO 10s with a 3-2.





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For imaging you will realistically need the EQ5 with motors but most suggest goto, slight problem is that the EQ5 alone eats up the budget - well it does if goto.

To the scope. As you seemed to have got on well with the 150P you have the option to stick with a 150P in a way. You could get a 150P that is for visual, "modify" by moving the main mirror up the tube by 30-50mm and recollimating. Then the scope is able to place the prime image on the DSLR sensor. You would need to get a short extension tube for visual as you would have to move the eyepiece back out a bit, but an extension tube is not a great cost. Then you have imaging and visual, small cost but you have to alter the mirror position.

Other 150P option is to buy the 150PDS which is already set up for imaging with a DSLR, if it does not come with an extension tube then you would need to purchase one.

That sort of give you back a scope you were happy with, the route to getting there is up to you. The main question is the mount. Look at the used market perhaps either here or on ABSUK.

That is about the simplest, part of the reason being that imaging and visual have different requiements on the scope. My simple explanation is visual wants a big scope and a small mount, imaging wants a small scope and an big mount.

Edited by ronin
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I have the 150PDS and have used it on an EQ3 mount. I'm glad I upgraded to an AZ-EQ6. The EQ3 is a nice little mount for a light "grab and go" setup. If you can't afford to upgrade your mount, I would advise you to get a short focal length refractor instead of a Newtonian. The mount is over its load capacity with the 150P(DS) + camera.

An alternative would be the 130PDS which has a shorter fl than the 150PDS, and weighs a little less. There is an imaging thread specifically for this scope. Have a look at what people achieve with this scope, but note which mount they have.

BTW, for astrophotography you will need a motorized mount. If you are on a tight budget, consider getting a RA motor set and use your camera with a lens to get started in AP.

Edited by wimvb
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  • 2 weeks later...

Astrophotography is expensive and a setup is built from the mount up. Realistically the mount has to satisfy three criteria. 1) It must be equatorial. 2) It must carry the chosen imaging payload. 3) It must deliver a tracking accuracy compatible with the pixel scale of the optics and camera. In plain English this means the bigger the scope and the longer the focal length the better the mount has to be.

If we work backwards from this reasoning we find that the camera-carrying mounts like the Star Adventurer, https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-star-adventurer.html, used with short to medium focal length lenses, will do what you want them to do and keep you on budget. You'd have enough cash left to buy a nice Dobsonian for visual observing, assuming you already have a camera lens or two.

The moment you try to combine AP with visual in one package you either break the budget or end up with something that will probably leave you frustrated. My own minimum AP rig would consist of an HEQ5 carrying a 130PDS reflector. New, that would come in at just under £1000. The used market sees excellent kit fetching about 60% of that, so not a million miles off budget. (By the standards of kit advice on SGL!!!:eek:)


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As winvb and Olly have mentioned, if you want to image on a budget then camera lenses are likely to give the most bang for your buck. Here's a couple example images shot from a second hand EQ3 mount with RA motor.


Our two largest neighbours shot with a 50mm portrait lens (about 75 minutes of data), it looks like this on the mount.


There are a decent number of targets worth shooting at this focal length, something that many prospective imagers aren't aware of.


Heart & Soul nebulae with the Double Cluster (38 minutes), taken with a 50-year old 135mm lens and modded Canon 1100D.

It is possible to put together a capable imaging rig on a tight budget and working at a short focal lengths makes the learning curve less steep. Something like a StarAdventurer will take a 200mm lens quite happily. (I've had problems putting my heavy f2.8 200mm lens on my EQ3 but I suspect that it's a problem with tripod flex ruining my polar alignment rather than an issue with the mount itself.)

If you also want a scope for visual there are a couple other routes that might be worth considering. A cheap webcam is a good option for lunar and planetary imaging. Also, some people do manage to take worthwhile images with their alt-az scopes, there is a big thread about this in the Getting Started with Imaging section. Personally, I'd much prefer to work at short focal lengths and achieve much higher signal-to-noise ratios due with faster optics and longer exposures, but it depends on what you want to do.

Hope that's some help.

Edited by Knight of Clear Skies
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