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Iain L

Best way to buy a telescope

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I started observing with binoculars, (bins) as we tend to call them, they give you a good general view

of the night sky, but it helps if you know what you are looking at, try this site http://binocularsky.com/

it's really good, tells you everything you need to know, the newsletter is free and shows you what to look for

in the current month, you say you have very little light pollution, that is a bonus for a start, you will still want

a scope in the future though, we all want to see more.

Good Luck and Clear Sky's.

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Found the post. Seeing as I wasn't sure if you already had a suitable tripod this might have worked for your caravan friendly arrangement.

link here

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Thanks for the help happy-kat, that has given me more ideas. The biggest problem I was having last night with the reading was finding a way to mount a scope as all the 130 scopes I have seen were tube only. I was a bit surprised on the cost of some of the mounts, but I guess you get what you pay for. I'm going to have a look for some better binoculars as a stop gap, and I can take them with me in the car whenever I go out.

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Astroboot have brand new 130p OTA only for £45.  Looks like they even have a 2" focuser! Obviously you would want an eyepiece to go with it but they can be very cheap for a basic one. They have dovetails fitted so you fit them easily enough to a cheap mount/tripod if you can find one. There's even a standard one for £35 quid without the dovetail. Useful if you can find someone is selling their 130p mount and rings.

 

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I've just had a look, I have also seen an AZ3 mount. Would that be any good to start with? I have also seen a EQ3 head, just need to find a mount and counter weights for it. I have to admit, I am enjoying looking at the parts to make up a set.

Edited by Iain L

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Hello Iain,

An EQ-3 equatorial is a bit of a beast, and not what I would immediately think of when also thinking of the terms "portable" and "grab-and-go".

Your thought of an AZ3 is on the right track, but an AZ4 would allow you to move up to a 150mm f/5 Newtonian, which would excel there at your darker site.

The optical-tube of a 150mm f/5 is not as large as you might think at first...

6 f5ha.jpg

...and as a standard, table salt-shaker alongside illustrates.  You would retain the portability factor, yet with an aperture that would, again, excel under darker skies.  Magnifications with this li'l wonder range from a low-and-wide 19x, to 300x and beyond even with the aid of 2x and 3x barlows.  Versatile it is indeed, and for observing most everything in the night sky; the gamut.

This is an image, albeit small, of a Bresser 150mm f/5 mounted on the Sky-Watcher AZ4...

s-l225.jpg

I'm able to pick my entire kit up and move it to anywhere I desire on my land...

6 f5ab.jpg

Here's the same 150mm f/5, but mounted on my modified EQ-3 instead...

6 f5 kitb.jpg

...and that I cannot pick up and carry from spot to spot; that is, not without considerable strain.

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Thanks for the help Alan. There's so much to think about, I've got to get myself out to have a look at and play with some mounts.

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Take yourself time. As it was suggested above, a pair of good bins could be the best way to start with. You could explore the night sky with such a wide-field instrument, which you will use later anyway for a quick peek.

How about a Newtonian as a next step? The Skywatcher Heritage 130P Flextube would take very little space in your caravan, as the tube is collapsible.

It gets good reviews; there is a huge thread on this in the CloudyNights forum (Beginners forum - OneSky Newtonian - Astronomers without borders).

It could serve you for many years as a travel/grab-and-go scope.

Stephan

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I've ordered a pair of Nikon Aculon 10x50 bins. I'll spend a bit of time with them, and depending if I find a real bargain of a scope, I'll spend more time researching scopes. The flextube could be a very good idea!

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14 minutes ago, Iain L said:

I've ordered a pair of Nikon Aculon 10x50 bins. I'll spend a bit of time with them, and depending if I find a real bargain of a scope, I'll spend more time researching scopes. The flextube could be a very good idea!

You mentioned a high street 2nd hand outlet so to speak in your thread concerning your binoculars, and although we all like a bargain I would avoid buying specialist equipment like astro gear from anywhere that does not have knowledge of such or retailers that has a fairly bullet proof returns policy.

Onto telescopes, I can vouch for the AZ4/150P combo that works pretty well. The AZ4 though portable is quite substantial, which is good, but I wouldn't want to carry it any great distance.  The Heritage 130P is by contrast extremely portable, amazingly so for 130, and produces good views.  It has a very basic helical focuser which initially I found frustrating, but despite its simplicity it does work sufficiently well! Meade does a very similar telescope which reputedly has pretty much the same optics, but has a closed tube and a more regular r&p focuser. Its more expensive but is still quite compact.

http://www.rothervalleyoptics.co.uk/meade-mini-lightbridge-130mm-dobsonian.html

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25 minutes ago, Alfian said:

You mentioned a high street 2nd hand outlet so to speak in your thread concerning your binoculars, and although we all like a bargain I would avoid buying specialist equipment like astro gear from anywhere that does not have knowledge of such or retailers that has a fairly bullet proof returns policy.

I have a 14 day no quibble return and 6 month repair or replace policy.

 

The Heritage 130p could be a winner! I was thinking about the possible stray light but have found a few articles on making shrouds from foam or yoga mats. I've been looking at zomei tripods with the idea of mounting a scope to that, but I'm unsure of how stable that would be.

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Iain L,

have a look at Phil Harrington's "Touring the Universe through Binoculars Star Atlas" (TUBA). It's former print version is not available any more, but there is a FREE download version, covering only objects for bins. It lists 1100 Deep-Sky objects; so contact Phil's website and his column in the CloudyNights forum.

You might find, that at  the 10x-magnification of your bins the view gets a litte "shaky" after a while; so consider to add a (cheap/secondhand) tripod.

Alan M. Mc Robert  from Sky and Telescope built a rectangular frame 1,5x0,25 m for his bins, which eliminates shakes almost completely; look at this:

www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-equipment/image-stabilize-your-binoculars/   (Feb. 6, 2007). I have built this device to use it with my 10x50 Zeiss Jenoptem bins, and it works really well! Cheap and simple to build, and you'll gain a full magnitude of star brightness, paired with much more freedom of movement, compared to a tripod.

Stephan

 

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The heritage 130p ota one member has successfully mounted on a decent photo tripod I'll add a link later. 

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5 hours ago, Iain L said:

I have a 14 day no quibble return and 6 month repair or replace policy.

 

The Heritage 130p could be a winner! I was thinking about the possible stray light but have found a few articles on making shrouds from foam or yoga mats. I've been looking at zomei tripods with the idea of mounting a scope to that, but I'm unsure of how stable that would be.

A 130mm aperture would surprise and amaze, especially under darker skies.  I recently got an even smaller tabletop, a 100mm f/4...

Z100 100mm f4 Newtonian2a.jpg

It's the same as this one, but in a slightly different configuration... https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-heritage-100p-tabletop-dobsonian.html

With the collapsible tube of the Heritage 130P, the portability and ease of handling should prove to be just as satisfying.

With a Newtonian's focusser at the front on the side of the tube, the telescope is controlled and guided best, with the arms and the hands, whilst standing; and as if before a captain's wheel. 

 

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If its any use my own Skywatcher 200P (8") FlexTube is in a photo on the last page of this thread - also on page 3 I think is a useful diagram offered to me by brantuk which shows the relative sizes of dobsonian telescopes.  (Sorry my new shiny toy and first telescope that I can't stop going on about - the regulars on here will be getting fed up with me mentioning it!!)

In it's 'shut' form my telescope measures about 90cm X 30cm x 30cm.  One person can easily move the tube and base separately a good distance  (which is how I do it), together they are both awkward and heavy to shift more than just extremely short distances.  It's the Goto that put the price up, but you don't need to have a goto with it.  I store it in it's stand vertically with a dust-cover over it where it takes up the sort of space a traditional style plastic dustbin might.  FWIW I got mine from First Light Optics after running that thread and can't fault them.

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I started this astronomy lark just over a year ago with the help of ebay and very little money. 

First, I picked up a classic 3" Japanese 1970s achromat refractor with a 1250mm focal length f/16 focal ratio (so very forgiving of eyepieces). Branded Prinz 660 and originally sold by Dixons.  

I paid the princely sum of £27 for the scope.

Picked it up from the seller from a motorway services car park. It came with various accessories, including half an EQ1 mount, eyepieces and a big wooden coffin,  none of which were any use! I decided to refurb it by replacing the old 1" eyepiece holder with a modern 1.25" visual back and got a small collection of decent budget plossls (£20 a piece). 

It cleaned up very nicely and gives excellent views with pinprick stars and good contrast.  However.... it's 4 feet long and hard to mount steady at high magnifications. I have learned that mounts are very important as a wobbly view drives you nuts. And mounts can be expensive even if the telescope can be cheap.  It's worth considering that big, long telescopes need solid mounts.

My second purchase was the 130p reflector mentioned a few times already. I picked mine up mounted on an EQ2 for £45 in excellent condition except for some paint missing from the counterweight.  It's pretty good. The tube is very light and the F/5 short focal length is easy to mount. I can pick the whole thing up and carry it and it fits in the boot of a Golf.  For £45 for the tube, mount, tripod and two standard skywatcher eyepieces I was quite chuffed.

It's easy to get carried away in a high priced hobby but for beginners it is still possible to get a good starter without too much financial investment.

I did make one mistake - I got a vixen porta ii mount from ebay. It is not strong enough for the long Prinz 660. It's ok until you touch it then it vibrates too much and too long. Better than nothing but I should have saved my pennies for a Skytee or a EQ5.  But then again, you don't find out until you try :-)

 

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I've noticed on eBay that the majority of scopes and other equipment all seem to be about 200+ miles away. I did manage to get an eq5 mount on gumtree for £50

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If you are looking for a cheap image stabilizer, have a look at this:

On 12.1.2017 at 16:18, Nyctimene said:

Alan M. Mc Robert  from Sky and Telescope built a rectangular frame 1,5x0,25 m for his bins, which eliminates shakes almost completely; look at this:

www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-equipment/image-stabilize-your-binoculars/   (Feb. 6, 2007). I have built this device to use it with my 10x50 Zeiss Jenoptem bins, and it works really well! Cheap and simple to build, and you'll gain a full magnitude of star brightness, paired with much more freedom of movement, compared to a tripod.

Stephan

Sorry -  double post!!

Edited by Nyctimene
Double posting
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