Jump to content


Losing my Scope, What to buy next...

Recommended Posts

Hi there,

I currently have access to a Skywatcher 200p and am loving it although imaging is a bit tricky with it for deep sky objects. However I will be losing access to it later this year. This obviously means I need to reach into my pockets and buy something for myself. My main aim is to photograph the Messier list of objects which means I need some sort of tracking scope setup. My question is which one...? I'm not looking to break the bank so preferably something under £1000 but if that isn't possible then I could go a little bit higher... Portability would be useful but not an absolute must. I currently have a DSLR so that would need to be able to be fitted to it as I can't quite justify buying one of the proper sky cameras at the moment.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't know how much experience you have already Simon but..... :-)

If you are used to reflectors, then you could do a lot worse than something like a Skywatcher 130PDS/150PDS on something like an HEQ5 mount - that will push your budget to the limit, before you even start looking at coma correctors, but the PDS range are designed to reach focus with your camera, so would be a good option to start with - there is a great thread that will show you what people are achieving with the 130PDS - it is a great scope!

The mount is definitely important though and I think most would suggest the HEQ5 to ensure stability and a bit of room for upgrading with more/heavier equipment. It is at the top end of your budget but, if you went for something cheaper, you may find yourself looking to upgrade more quickly.

The alternative is the ever popular Skywatcher ED80, but you will be pushing your budget higher with that - although there are some cheaper, smaller ED refractors that are around.

I know you said that you are interested in the Messier objects but, if you have the DSLR and like the idea of portability you might like to give some thought to the Skywatcher Star Adventurer and a sturdy tripod. Good way to get started and learn the ropes. I think people use these with various lenses and you can still go for some of the brighter and larger messier objects - Andromeda and Orion would make great targets and lots of globular clusters etc. If you went that route, you would likely have more money left over for a modded DSLR that will help you pick up more data than your normal DSLR.

And check out Making Every Photon Count - available through FLO and written by SGL's very own Steppenwolf - it will give you the grounding you need....definitely worth buying if you haven#t already!

So much to think about, but I am sure you will get lots of helpful suggestions from more knowledgeable members!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It really depends on whether you want to stick to a reflector or would consider a refractor. I personally would go for an ED80 on a HEQ5 pro mount, but New that will be over budget and you would have to look at the secondhand market.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like the 150P and EQ5 is the setup I'm likely to go with... Within my budget and there is a customer return available on FLO at the moment which means I will have a bit of money left for a wide angle lens for milky way photography as well ;) haha Yeah I'm doing multiple things ;) https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-150p-ds-eq-5-pro-goto.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Can anyone tell me if there is much advantage over the EQ5 pro goto over the standard EQ5 goto...? Looking at these two options at the moment as they are the same price. I can't see any reason for getting the 150P except for the star database which I'm pretty sure can be added to the 200P setup at a later date. Or am I missing something else here?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah ok, Looks like I'm getting the 150P then :( Don't think I can quite stretch my budget to the PDS with the 200P unfortunately :( Unless I can find them both second hand ;)


Edited by simondodd
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that leans me back towards the 150P unfortunately :( Much as I'd love to throw a few more hundred pounds at it for the 200P I don't think I can quite justify it unfortunately :(

Thanks for the advice though, much appreciated!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I guess going by the fact that the HEQ5 and HEQ6 pro are hard to find second hand means they are very popular and when people buy them they rarely need to upgrade to something better... Guess I'm buying new unless I get lucky on fleebay or the clasifieds here ;) 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, simondodd said:

It's the HEQ's I'm looking for really so I can potentially upgrade to a bigger scope in the future without having to upgrade the mount for the extra weight ;) Thanks though.

The EQ6 is a higher capacity than the HEQ5 - it will future proof you more than an HEQ5

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

No such thing as a HEQ6 (afaik). There’s the EQ6 Pro, which, if manufactured after a certain date, is identical to the NEQ6 Pro. 

In order of weight capacity according to manufacturer specs / google for the older bits...

  • EQ1/2
  • New EQ3 (5.5Kg)
  • New EQ5 (9.1Kg)
  • New HEQ5 (13.7Kg)
  • Old HEQ5 (18Kg)
  • New AZEQ5 (15Kg) 
  • New EQ6 (18Kg)
  • Old-ish EQ6/NEQ6 (now the same thing, but before a certain date the EQ6 had a lower payload capacity than the NEQ6 - 25Kg apparently)
  • Original AZEQ6 (??)
  • New AZEQ6 (20Kg)
  • EQ8 (50Kg)

Confused yet?!!

Skywatcher’s own PR blurb for the new generation mounts say they take more than the old, but mooching about at specs says opposite *shrug*. So take all with pinch of salt.

Pro / SynScan means (or SHOULD mean) it’s got dual stepper motors and will take / is supplied with a full GoTo handset. Pro / Syntrek means it’s got dual steppers, will take a full GoTo handset, but is only supplied with an up/down/left/right handset. Non-Pro usually means it’s got an RA motor and no DEC motor, or no motors whatsoever. Or apparently full GoTo functionality based on your FLO links. Who knows!

The two FLO links above to the 150PDS and 200P are a tad confusing. The image is of the EQ5 Pro Goto in both cases - you can tell this from the handset. So, worth a call to clarify either way. As far as I’m concerned those are different scopes on the same mount, and if ordered, that’s what I’d expect to receive - EQ5 Pro SynScan + Scope. If it turns out to be otherwise, FLO should really ensure the pictures match the product description to avoid this kind of confusion.

Nothing stopping you using the 200P for AP. Both are F5 scopes. Yes, the PDS is “designed” for imaging, but ultimately an F5 scope is an F5 scope, and is therefore suitable. The key difference between P & PDS versions is usually that the PDS has Dual Speed focuser. The P doesn’t - it has single speed focuser. The Explorer 150PDS is SLIGHTLY shorter on the tube, which means the focuser ends up further out once focus is achieved, thus allowing more room for filter wheels etc between scope and camera. With the 200P, you tend to end up stuck with just camera. This tends to be more of an issue when imaging with DSLR. With CCD, the back focus requirement is usually a bit more manipulatable, but with DSLR you’re stuck with the depth of the sensor within the camera body and no way to reduce that down. In this regard, it’s all down to how serious you want to get in to AP.

When you factor in the mount, the 200P package is a bit of a duffer as it’ll run out of payload capacity once you start to introduce guide scope as well as camera etc. The 150PDS package has more headroom in terms of mount payload capacity as the scope itself is lighter, thus freeing up the remaining capacity for camera etc.

Anything smaller than an F5 200mm reflector generally can get away with an EQ5.

F5 200mm scopes (e.g.: 200mm Explorer, FL1000) are generally recommended to be on HEQ5 bare minimum for AP.

F6 200mm scopes (e.g.: the 200P Skyliner, the Dob version of the Explorer, which is 200mm longer than the Explorer, FL1200) is generally recommended to be on (old)EQ6 bare minimum for AP, preferably later EQ6/NEQ6 or New EQ6.


PS: Buying secondhand, I managed an NEQ6 Pro & Skyliner 200P Dob for £830 all in. I’ve had to add Guidescope, QHY5, and EOS 650D, which takes the total to £1230.

Edited by Marci
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.