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Hey all. I have a plan for an observatory in the back garden, hopefully starting in a year or two. That will be set up mainly for imaging. But I need something to keep me going until then  


In in the meantime I would like to get a fairly basic telescope for viewing. I won't be imaging with it. I want something portable, so when I have the obsy set up I still have something small to take to friends houses. I also want it basic enough to teach a young child with  


Price wise i am I am looking at the couple of hundred pound mark. I don't want to spend much more in case I don't use it much when I have the obsy (and with building an extension I have limited money to spend on hobbies!).


the startravel 102 on an eq1 mount seemed to fit the bill, but I think planets will be a particular selling point to the little one. (DSO's don't seem to impress kids when they just look like a smudge in the sky!). Having read this forum it doesn't seem to be that good for planets. I like the evostar 102 but coming purely on an eq3-2 mount nearly doubles the price. 


Any auggestions?

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I have a ST 102 but on a AZ3 mount. I use it mainly for solar observing using a Herschel wedge but it does make a nice grab and go scope for night time sessions. There is some CA present on bright objects but I can live with it. I do not think I would go down the Eq-1 route. It is not a very steady platform to use.

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I built a 4.5" mini-Dob for the kids out of a spare mirror, which makes a very portable little scope. The Heritage 130P, and similar small dobsonians also fit the bill. The EQ1 mount and tripod are rather wobbly in my experience, certainly with a small but still quite hefty scope like the ST102 on top.

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In terms of bang for buck I would agree with Jules' suggestion. It is an f8 scope, easy on eyepieces and will give nice results on Planets and the moon. The question is, how portable does it need to be? The 150p is not that heavy so is easy to move about but is reasonably long. It will go in a car easily though.

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Hello and welcome to SGL

For visual you are in a bit of a no man's land. You want it portable but you do not want to see DSO as smudge, even though most are. The only way to improve on smudge type view is aperture. But you do not want a massive reflector as you have portability problem then and also out of your budget.

I would suggest the skywatcher 150p or 200p if you want a bit more aperture. Great "proper scopes" for visual and still reasonably portable.

Or a refractor, something like an ed80(used should be in your budget) will be very portable on a AZ , but for visual on dso not so good. But the ed80 is good for getting into Astro photography.

I hope the above helps☺

Edited by Timebandit
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Thanks guys. Just to clarify I'm not fussed by seeing DSO's at all for a portable scope. I will save that for when I get a proper imaging set up. If it's an all rounder, then great, but planets and lunar would be the main use. 


As for portability i do want small. A 200 reflector is probably at the limit for size. 

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I suspect that the problem is becoming that £200 will not really get you much into astronomy these days. Recently a couple of people have asked similar and it is getting harder to identify anything that is of some use. Annother example is getting started in imaging, used to be able to get a 70-72mm ED refractor and an EQ5 for £800-1000, now it is £1000-1200. Aslo you are asking for a scope around £200, bet you want a mount as well. Really the requirement is a reasonable scope AND a reasonable mount for £200.

Will say that thee seems an absence of reasonable 80mm achros these days, it seems to be 70mm the 102mm and the cost jump is widening. Thinking an 80mm f/7 achro would jsut about fit. I do not really like the fast f/5 achro's. Used to be a 90mm but they sort  of faded away.

The Evostar 90 would do, the long focal length allows for Jupiter and Saturn and less CA then a shorter 102. There is an ES 102 that is something like f/6.9 but over budget. Think the ES 102 can be bought with their Twilight mount (?) but again cost rises.

The smaller Mak's may be an alternative, just be aware that the longer focal length will eventually mean a smaller field of view which may pose a bit of a problem.

One area top look into are the EU retailers, they often hold different stock to the UK.

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A six inch f/8 Dob will do anything a 4" achromat can, and better, but it's not the kind of telescope you take with you as hand luggage. 

I have a four inch refractor. The OTA is slightly over 5kg. With mounting rings, finder + foot and shoe and eyepieces it is more like 7 kg.  It needs an EQ3-2 at least. Either way, as a complete system definitely not hand luggage!

EQ mounts are heavier than Dob mounts! If you mean portable in the sense that you can take it out in two parts and set it up alone, then both a Dob and an EQ3-2 fit the bill.

My choice would be a six inch f/8 Dob. At f/8 a Newtonian is such a sweet telescope! Low on coma, easy on the eyepiece, a small secondary and complete absence of false colour make for an excellent experience!

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Another scope to look at is the telescope service of Germany TS 80 F7.5 achro i had one and it was a great scope for about £100 but you would need a mount

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This ticks all the boxes in terms of budget, portability, and simplicity:


Yes I'm biased as I have one, but I've owned a LOT of scopes and this one is very impressive for a 200 quid scope including mount!

....but don't just take my word for it:

First Light Optics Quote " Of all the telescopes we stock the Skyliner 150p Dobsonian probably has the highest performance-per-£. "


Edited by Chris Lock
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I note that you want the portable scope mainly for planets.

see here: 

A smallish aperture scope would be a good choice for planets, considering your budget. The dominating effect of the atmosphere causes larger scopes to under-perform on fine detail. For deep-space, which you say is not of primary interest, you would want a larger and less portable instrument.  Any of a small long-focal ratio Newtonian, long-focal ratio refractor or Maksutov within your budget might suit you. E.g a 102mm Mak. Even a 70mm refractor of good quality will give pleasing views of Jupiter, Saturn and the Moon and be less affected by bad seeing than a bigger and more expensive telescope. You'll have to compromise on the mounting as a decent one will be way over your budget. 

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Starting to get a decent shortlist. Would it be worth adding the evostar 90 with eq3-2 mount? Small aperture, f10, seems like it would be good for viewing planets. The eq3-2 should be good enough to cope with any reasonable upgrade in future. Bare in mind this will always be my portable set up. My permanent one I can go far bigger and invest more money when I'm ready. I live in a dark location anyway. 

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I have both 76mm and 100 refractors. The 76mm probably gives a bit steadier image at f/16 than the ED100 at f/9 in poor seeing, but it's not by that much. This is vastly outweighed by how much more the ED100 shows me. The 76 is lovely classic refractor but I couldn't cope with it being my only scope, I would be missing so much through lack of aperture! (I'm sure the Dob Mob would laugh at me calling 4" good aperture when compared to their 20" scopes and dark sky trips lol)

Basically what I'm saying is, if you choose a refractor which I sense you are leaning towards, try and get a 4" 100mm around f/10, as this kind of aperture in refractors still cuts through poor seeing but has the resolution on planets to show interesting detail, will resolve stars in globs, and show some bright DSO's in nice detail compared to smaller refractors.

refractors verses Newtonians - I think refractors show bright objects in a sharper more sparkly, prettier way, but the bigger aperture Newts make the faint stuff more visible and will resolve more detail in good seeing.



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52 minutes ago, Seeq said:

Starting to get a decent shortlist. Would it be worth adding the evostar 90 with eq3-2 mount? Small aperture, f10, seems like it would be good for viewing planets. The eq3-2 should be good enough to cope with any reasonable upgrade in future. Bare in mind this will always be my portable set up. My permanent one I can go far bigger and invest more money when I'm ready. I live in a dark location anyway. 

I'm not personally familiar with that scope or the mount but both look like sensible choices. The EQ3-2 is clearly better than the EQ-2 but cheaper and lighter than the EQ-5

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Your very first post mentions portable and sharing with children, so a telescope should look like a telescope I think this means refractor plus they are very portable and easy for a child to look through with the eyepiece at the bottom of the tube. The az3 with the evostar90 would be one to look at plus it comes in under budget. The az3 has knobs to turn for tracking the object and is easy to setup. 

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My 5 year old is not that great with my fracs (yet?) he grabs it to look through and knocks it out of position, and knocks his eyes against the eyepiece again knocking it out of position. You need a solid mount with young kids! I need to try him with the Dob and see how that goes? lol.

How old are your kids?

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