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Paul Terry

First Telescope and Gear - Help please :)

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Hi all,

So there's probably thousands of posts like this on this forum, but everyone's circumstances are different so I hope somebody I can help.

I'm simply looking for my first telescope, I'm fairly certain I'd like a reflector and my budget is about £300. My main desire is to get close up views (not necessarily photographs) of the moon, closer views of nearby planets and possibly the odd galaxy. I don't think I want it motorised just yet, that's perhaps for upgrades later or telescope 2.

I have my eye on the SkyWatcher range, mainly the 130, 130P, are these good scopes? Fundamentally, what's the difference with the 130P over the 130? The 130 seems to come with more magnification ("x36, x72, x90, x180") over the 130P ("x26 & x65").

More importantly though really, what other gear would I need to buy to be sensible and not be stuck needing to order a week down the line? i.e. Collimation tool, filters, etc.

I apologise if this seems a little simple and similar questions have been answered before, I am a beginner, but I'll catch up eventually.

 

Thanks

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For £300 the most aperture you can get for your money is the Skywatcher Skyliner 200p. This is a fairly big telescope though and so best suited to someone observing from a garden or driving to a dark location and then carrying the scope for a few yards. It isn't really suited to photography, although you will be able to hold a camera up to the eyepiece to get a shot of the moon. Despite the size, the eyepiece is a bit low and so the most important accessory for this scope would be a height adjustable stool/chair so that you can comfortably sit to observe.

With regards to the 130mm telescopes you've looked at the main difference between the 130 and the 130p is that the "p" indicates a parabolic mirror instead of a spherical one. A parabolic mirror gives a better image and so is the one I would recommend. I wouldn't get hung up on the magnifications listed. Magnification = telescope focal length / eyepiece focal length so the magnifications given are just dependant on the different focal lengths of the two telescopes because both telescopes have the same two eyepieces included. However, the magnifications you will want to use only depend on the telescope aperture, so for both 130mm scopes those magnifications are the same, you just need to buy different eyepieces to get there.

A reflector will need collimating every so often and so a tool to do it with is a good idea. A cheshire/sight tube is probably the best tool to use while you're learning although you might get away with a cheaper collimation cap or you can buy a laser (but cheaper lasers need to be collimated themselves before you can use them to collimate the telescope.

At some point you will want to upgrade your eyepieces but I would recommend just buying the telescope and using the supplied eyepieces for a few sessions first to get the hang of things and so that you can make a more informed decision. When you do upgrade BST Starguiders at £50 each are my standard recommendation.

You may also need to invest in some more suitable clothing. It is a lot colder sitting/standing in one place at night than you may imagine. I would suggest that you always need to dress for a season colder than it currently is (i.e. dress for winter in autumn) and in winter dress for winter up at the top of a mountain. Your feet will be in contact with the cold ground all night so don't neglect thermal socks and good shoes.

You also need to be able to find your way around the sky and where the interesting objects are. If you have a PC I suggest downloading Stellarium (free!) to help plan out your sessions beforehand and if you have a phone/tablet to take outside with you I suggest SkySafari plus (not free). You can also buy printed star charts if you wish but I find it easier to use electronic maps. The book Turn Left At Orion is often used by new astronomers to start finding things in the sky.

Lastly, you'll want a red light torch so as not to ruin your night vision and possibly a patch to cover your non-observing eye.

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Hello Paul.

Welcome to the forum. All good advice from the previous post. I would add a couple things. Do you have a local astronomy club/society? A look through and hold of club (or members) scopes, and a chat about different types, will be a huge help. Whatever you buy, get it from an assured source. Avoid fleabay. Avoid department stores. For new kit use a reputable astronomy retailer. You can see the reviews on this site. If buying used, then the local astro club again, or the classified ads here once you you have built up the time/posts.

What are your viewing circumstances? By that I mean will you have to carry the scope up/down stairs? Will you always view from the back garden, or do you want to go to dark sites? Where will you store the scope? Do you have a lot of light pollution at home? Subject to answering these questions, the Skyliner 200P is (in my view) a good choice.

Don't worry about collimation too much just yet. A new delivered scope may be way off collimation. You can do this for yourself. Or if buying over the counter, the retailer will help. alternatively, the local astro club can help. they may also have the collimation tools. There is no substitute for a bit of assistance from a 'grown up' if you have a new scope that is way off. After this, a reflector should need only minor tweaks. If you aren't pushing the scope to it's magnification limits, then collimation being a bit off is not that important.

Turn Left At Orion is an excellent book.

Hope this helps, David.

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36 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

For £300 the most aperture you can get for your money is the Skywatcher Skyliner 200p. This is a fairly big telescope though and so best suited to someone observing from a garden or driving to a dark location and then carrying the scope for a few yards. It isn't really suited to photography, although you will be able to hold a camera up to the eyepiece to get a shot of the moon. Despite the size, the eyepiece is a bit low and so the most important accessory for this scope would be a height adjustable stool/chair so that you can comfortably sit to observe.

With regards to the 130mm telescopes you've looked at the main difference between the 130 and the 130p is that the "p" indicates a parabolic mirror instead of a spherical one. A parabolic mirror gives a better image and so is the one I would recommend. I wouldn't get hung up on the magnifications listed. Magnification = telescope focal length / eyepiece focal length so the magnifications given are just dependant on the different focal lengths of the two telescopes because both telescopes have the same two eyepieces included. However, the magnifications you will want to use only depend on the telescope aperture, so for both 130mm scopes those magnifications are the same, you just need to buy different eyepieces to get there.

A reflector will need collimating every so often and so a tool to do it with is a good idea. A cheshire/sight tube is probably the best tool to use while you're learning although you might get away with a cheaper collimation cap or you can buy a laser (but cheaper lasers need to be collimated themselves before you can use them to collimate the telescope.

At some point you will want to upgrade your eyepieces but I would recommend just buying the telescope and using the supplied eyepieces for a few sessions first to get the hang of things and so that you can make a more informed decision. When you do upgrade BST Starguiders at £50 each are my standard recommendation.

You may also need to invest in some more suitable clothing. It is a lot colder sitting/standing in one place at night than you may imagine. I would suggest that you always need to dress for a season colder than it currently is (i.e. dress for winter in autumn) and in winter dress for winter up at the top of a mountain. Your feet will be in contact with the cold ground all night so don't neglect thermal socks and good shoes.

You also need to be able to find your way around the sky and where the interesting objects are. If you have a PC I suggest downloading Stellarium (free!) to help plan out your sessions beforehand and if you have a phone/tablet to take outside with you I suggest SkySafari plus (not free). You can also buy printed star charts if you wish but I find it easier to use electronic maps. The book Turn Left At Orion is often used by new astronomers to start finding things in the sky.

Lastly, you'll want a red light torch so as not to ruin your night vision and possibly a patch to cover your non-observing eye.

Sorry to just quote the whole thing but this just about has all the best advice I've read from the last year (even including the eye patch).

It simply has everything. Good job that man. Can we copy it and put it somewhere?

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For £300 it's worth checking the SGL classifieds - 200P's and 250P's often appear.

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27 minutes ago, JOC said:

For £300 it's worth checking the SGL classifieds - 200P's and 250P's often appear.

although i wouldnt let it go for £300 id be open to offers on my 250px with GoTo

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There is no shortage of advice on buying a first scope, both here and elsewhere online. Check the FAQ's on this forum.

You should regard your first scope as a leaning experience that will let you home in on what kind of observing interests you (having tried it) and what kind of telescope you ultimately want.  A 130p Newtonian is a sensible first choice (cheap but fairly capable).  Be aware that aperture, while important, is not the only consideration. Convenience of use also matters. There are reasons why some people will pay thousands of pounds for an 8" telescope outfit rather than just £300. :happy11:  Also be aware that GoTo will allow you to locate non-obvious objects far more quickly. Don't imagine that 'real astronomers' don't use GoTo - because they do.

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4 hours ago, domstar said:

Sorry to just quote the whole thing but this just about has all the best advice I've read from the last year (even including the eye patch).

It simply has everything. Good job that man. Can we copy it and put it somewhere?

Thanks, Domstar.

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Hi all,

Thank you for your great advice. I am now looking at the 200P, I'll do a bit more reading then take the plunge.

My viewing cirmcumstances are good, I don't really need to lift it far as at night my location gets pretty dark, there's not a lot of light pollution. I'm not adverse to driving/carrying to more remote location either.

I have the Norman Lockyer observatory close by and have had a chat with them and other visitors a few times which has helped.

Also thanks for advice on the extras, some things I have (outside clothing, red torch) but the eye patch seems like good advice too.

Cheers all!

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A few other items you may want to start investigating:

1. An observing chair or stool.  Being height adjustable is a plus.  It gets tiring standing at the eyepiece trying to hold yourself steady in a hurry.

2. Some sort of table or bench to set your eyepiece case, tablet, charts, etc. on so you don't have to set them on the ground.

3. A dedicated toolbox to keep all your miscellaneous bits and pieces in.  Things like collimation tools, camera adapters, red light flashlight, microfiber cloth for cleaning eyepiece eye lenses, etc. can all be kept together.

4. A foam lined case for your eyepieces.  I find cheap pistol cases work well for low cost eyepieces.  Pelican style cases are more appropriate for high dollar eyepieces.  It's nice to have them all together and nicely organized.

5. A white light solar filter to safely observe the sun for not a whole lot of additional money.

That's just off the top of my head.  Have fun with whatever you buy.

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Just want to say thanks to everyone for your replies. I opted for the 200P Dobsonian in the end and Wow, its just what I wanted.

Great views of the moon and tonight I saw Andromeda for the very first time - OK it's just a blurry smudge, but it's Andromeda and that counts.

So thanks again all, great advice!

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Glad you got sorted Paul, this place is an absolute gold mine of information.  Enjoy what you have for as long as you can, but beware aperture-fever.  It's rife around these parts ;-)

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3 hours ago, Paul Terry said:

Just want to say thanks to everyone for your replies. I opted for the 200P Dobsonian in the end and Wow, its just what I wanted.

Great views of the moon and tonight I saw Andromeda for the very first time - OK it's just a blurry smudge, but it's Andromeda and that counts.

So thanks again all, great advice!

Get up early (around 5 am) and check out the Orion nebula before sunrise for a real treat.  It's easily the finest nebula in northern skies.

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On ‎4‎/‎09‎/‎2017 at 21:06, Paul Terry said:

Hi all,

So there's probably thousands of posts like this on this forum, but everyone's circumstances are different so I hope somebody I can help.

I'm simply looking for my first telescope, I'm fairly certain I'd like a reflector and my budget is about £300. My main desire is to get close up views (not necessarily photographs) of the moon, closer views of nearby planets and possibly the odd galaxy. I don't think I want it motorised just yet, that's perhaps for upgrades later or telescope 2.

I have my eye on the SkyWatcher range, mainly the 130, 130P, are these good scopes? Fundamentally, what's the difference with the 130P over the 130? The 130 seems to come with more magnification ("x36, x72, x90, x180") over the 130P ("x26 & x65").

More importantly though really, what other gear would I need to buy to be sensible and not be stuck needing to order a week down the line? i.e. Collimation tool, filters, etc.

I apologise if this seems a little simple and similar questions have been answered before, I am a beginner, but I'll catch up eventually.

 

Thanks

 

Hi from land down under

Have a 10" collapsible Skywatcher dob as my first purchase

Get either a 1.25 or 2'' barlow

Right angle spotting scope is a good investment as well, and saves having to lay on the ground when using the straight through spotting scope which comes with the dob

The collapsible is easy to transport as well, and both the mount and scope fit on back seat of my SUV

Tie scope back to seat belt mount to stop from rolling onto the floor of the car

Have since purchased a Skywatcher ED80 on a EQ5 mount for AP

 

Cheers

 

John

 

 

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