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Asterbridge

The obvious "which telescope" from the newbie

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Hi everyone, 

So come on hit with which telescope to buy, I jest.  

From some of the other posts some information would be useful.

I'm based in Dorset, UK and am a beginner.  I would ideally like to be able to achieve some astrophotography too or at least to be able to do some astrophotography in the near future.  

My budget would be up to say £700 I guess at a push and looking at the web you're promised the Earth and a world of expectations but I'm guessing most of that would be advertising speak.

Thanks for looking, 

Michael. 

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Everything I've read on here for astrophotography it is all about the mount. Their is a book everyone raves about (every photon counts) your going to need at least a mount that can track. Eq mount with motors or goto. 

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1. Buy "making every photon count" (book) and read it twice before you spend/waste your money on the wrong kit.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/making-every-photon-count-steve-richards.html

2. If you need to read around some kit in the meantime then the mount should be the first thing you buy and it should be the best you can afford. Long exposure photography relies on a good mount.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-eq5-pro-synscan-goto.html

 

3. A small telescope will be less affected by the wind and easier to manage

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/pro-series/skywatcher-evostar-80ed-ds-pro-ota.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p-ds-ota.html

 

4. or if you have a camera already then these are worth looking into

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-star-adventurer-astronomy-bundle.html

 

But buy the book whatever!

Alan

Edited by alanjgreen
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how much of a beginner would you say you are?

 

I started about two years ago, with grand plans and a small budget. Bought myself a Celestron 130SLT which was great for visual, and with a T-ring & barlow was a good start into astrophotography of the moon / planets. It also gave me a rude awakening as to how bloody hard photography was down a scope.

 

Over the last two years I have been thrilled, frustrated, and close to kicking the mount. But now i'm hooked, and took a leap with an upgrade to the mount and now planning a new OTA.

 

stick with it, read the odd book or two, and don't rush into photography.

 

As a first scope get something portable and easy to use, as its more important to get your gear out and set up than have a huge scope sat in the garage gathering dust.

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Welcome to SGL, cheapest way to get into astronomy is buy a decent pair of binoculars and https://www.firstlightoptics.com/books/turn-left-at-orion-book.html

If you then get hooked and want to progress into having a scope and probably astrophotography, read "Making Every Photon Count" at least once.

That way you won't blow your £700 budget and by the time you decide which mount/telescope suits you, you'll have saved a bit more towards a decent setup.

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HI welcome to SGL.

Photography and visual are two completely different worlds. In visual, aperture is king, while in imaging, the mount and good optics are king. No one scope will do both very well.

If I were you, I wouldn't rush right into astrophotography. Instead I would get a good visual scope, an 8" dob and a couple good eyepieces that could last you forever. 

Deep sky or planetary photography I think is too much for a beginner just starting out. Get a visual scope, learn the night sky, then decide if you still want to do photography.

If you are keen on doing astrophotography then I recommend (as a cheap option) skywatcher 130pds + EQ5. This is what I have, and while not the optimal, it gets the job done. But in reality its probably better to spend the money on an HEQ5 + 130pds.

Anyways, hope you enjoy whichever path you choose to go down!

clear skies.

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As a start it just about impossible to do visual and astrophotography. Both sort of require a scope and a mount but kind of (AP) small scope+big mount and (Vis) big scope+smaller mount.

AP is goto equatorial. Visual can be goto equatorial, manual Eq, goto Alt/Az, manual Alt/Az.

Next is budget. An EQ5 is £540, and that is the smallest that would make sense. Owing to the mount size and the budget you are then getting limited - the much liked 80ED is £350. So we are at £900. Attachments etc will easily account for another £100. So £1000. For better images you will need a flatenner. Last one I bought was £150. In effect a "startrer" imaging rig is £1200 when bought new.

If the AP side takes over then you wil eventually be considering mono, guide scop, guide camera, filter wheel and filters. Throw in that decent filters are say £100 each and people use several. You can see that cost increases, and all that stuff now needs a bigger mount.

The 80ED will do visual, actually fairly well, you do not need hernia inducing scopes. Equally it has limitations.

Not sure of clubs in Dorset but check for any: http://www.astronomyclubs.co.uk/ Also check for counties bordering Dorset.

There is the option to get an EQ5 now and something like the Bresser 102, and get going on visual. The 102S may allow you to play with basic imaging and becoming familiar with the aspects, just not the imaging "quality" of a reasonable apo or ED. I would suggest you consider that entry path. Then for imaging later consider a 70-72mm ED or apo.

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On 10/11/2017 at 20:01, Galen Gilmore said:

 

On 10/11/2017 at 21:49, ronin said:

As a start it just about impossible to do visual and astrophotography.

Photography and visual are two completely different worlds. In visual, aperture is king, while in imaging, the mount and good optics are king. No one scope will do both very well.

 

Hi Michael, and a very warm welcome to SGL.

I started out with a very similar post to yours, so completely understand where you are coming from. Exciting times lie ahead for you!

You have some great advice above, namely, read Steve's book, Making Every Photon Count :)

Some of the other advice, quoted, is traditional, but not necessarily accurate. There are plenty of dual purpose telescopes which will be excellent visually, and with a camera. Especially those with a Newtonian design, which offer perhaps the best bang for your buck with a telescope that isn't too much of a compromise for either discipline.

As usual though, there is always more to a subject than first appears. For photography, you need other bits for best results, including software to process the photos. For visual you will likely want to improve and expand your eyepieces, and these can be costly too.

If it helps, I have found that in practice, although I have several dual purpose telescopes, I very very rarely use them that way. This is mostly due to the photography side taking priority, and the nuisance of setting things up exactly the same each time if swapping between camera and eyepieces. You can do it, but it isn't really practical.

In the end, what I found works best for me is to have my imaging gear on the one hand, which gets the priority spend wise, and alongside it have a ready to go and much more affordable Dobsonian telescope for visual use. You can pick an 8 or 10 inch version up almost new for a couple of hundred, and once you get the hang of setting up for photography, you can just leave that gear doing its thing while zipping about the sky with the Dob.

At any rate, we look forward to sharing your progress. Ask as many questions as you like, SGL is a collective treasure trove of information :)

Clear skies

Tim

Edited by Tim
Typos, stupid tablet keyboard :p
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A big thanks to everyone who took the time to reply.  

I think that I'll just start enjoying the sky then the photography will come later one.  

I've decided to lower my budget and have been tempted with the Celestron Nexstar 4SE, seems a good mix of portability and cost.  

 

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You will find 4” aperture very under whelming for visual use.

aperture is not important for imaging but is a key factor for visual. I wouldn’t go smaller than 8” for visual if it was me !

i suggest you do more research before jumping in.

HTH,

Alan

here is a 6” goto within budget

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/sky-watcher-star-discovery-150p.html

here is an 8” manual within budget

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html

there are plenty of good second hand scopes on astrobuysell. If you sell them on then you won’t lose much on a second hand scope.

Edited by alanjgreen
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I agree with the above. I had a 4.5" scope as my first (real) scope, and it got me started, but after about 9 ish months it lost its magic. Now I crave the 8" dob, it would be better if you got one of those as your first. 

The lack of go-to isn't that big of deal, as the first objects you will be looking at are very easy to find. And by the time you start searching for some fainter stuff you will have gotten fairly good at star hopping.

IMHO

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Hello Michael & welcome aboard SGL! As you see, we love questions here and will respond. Soon you'll be one to respond, too. In the meantime, I'll ask you a question - have you heard of Stellarium? If not, it's a FREE software-program (commonly called a 'planetarium-program') that can help you find your way about the sky - from your location in very realistic detail. As well as complete with any (or all) types of objects you tell it you want to see. There are many others available, and they can cost upwards of £200. Other's are free. Stellarium - one the very finest - is totally free. I'm not exaggerating in saying this is one of the greatest bargains in the Universe!

So here's a 'cut & paste' to find how to get it and what it can look like:

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

On this link is the main page for downloading Stellarium. Choose which version is correct for your computer. Here you go:

http://www.stellarium.org/
 
As for instructions, a full copy of them is bundled with the program that you download. But if you need another copy for some reason, these can be downloaded here:
 
https://sourceforge.net/projects/stellarium/files/Stellarium-user-guide/0.16.0-1/stellarium_user_guide-0.16.0-1.pdf/download

This program is quite large, so download when you have a few minutes. I'll leave you with 2 screenshots: First one shows basically how Stellarium appears before you customizes it, while the 2nd. shows my copy while identifying a satellite. Mine is much more advanced - just to give you an idea about Stellarium's great range of options. Please know that I am an experienced user.

In the Beginning -

5a07e8b0d6650_StellariumScreenshot-BeginningScreen.thumb.png.73fd156dd943fded3e7f1f1b79e47207.png

 

My Copy - Chasing a Satellite -

stellarium-653.thumb.png.fb508d944cb71a87108ce6726bdc2e6a.png

 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

If you already have this quite famous program, someone else may want it! If you have any questions, ask away! Many of us know how to use it - including one member here, Alex Wolf, who is one of it's developers. Nice to have you, Michael.

Starry Skies & Happy Hunting! :thumbsup:

Dave

 

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There's a case to be made for the small rich field scope, just as there's a case to be made for binoculars. Although we have big scopes here, we also have small ones for just this reason. Oh dear, the awful truth is that one scope just isn't enough! (But we always knew that...:evil4:)

Olly

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10 hours ago, alanjgreen said:

You will find 4” aperture very under whelming for visual use.

I have a 4" scope as my main scope and it is anything but underwhelming. There is plenty that can be observed and it has the beauty of being very easy to handle and quick to setup.

It sounds like the OP has already made his purchase so please, let's not take the gloss off it already.

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12 hours ago, Asterbridge said:

A big thanks to everyone who took the time to reply.  

I think that I'll just start enjoying the sky then the photography will come later one.  

I've decided to lower my budget and have been tempted with the Celestron Nexstar 4SE, seems a good mix of portability and cost.  

 

First scope is always very special as it reveals the night sky, enjoy it.

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31 minutes ago, ollypenrice said:

There's a case to be made for the small rich field scope, just as there's a case to be made for binoculars. Although we have big scopes here, we also have small ones for just this reason. Oh dear, the awful truth is that one scope just isn't enough! (But we always knew that...:evil4:)

Olly

Olly,
sadly the truth,
I have realised this a long time ago, unfortunate that my good lady is not convinced!

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5 minutes ago, Stu said:

I have a 4" scope as my main scope and it is anything but underwhelming. There is plenty that can be observed and it has the beauty of being very easy to handle and quick to setup.

 

I did have a 4" as my only scope and regret the day it went.

I now have a 80mm ED and its great, can see things I cannot see with my naked eyes and even more portable than the 4".

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1 hour ago, Alan White said:

I did have a 4" as my only scope and regret the day it went.

I now have a 80mm ED and its great, can see things I cannot see with my naked eyes and even more portable than the 4".

That's what I love about the Tak, highly portable but still has the 100mm aperture, not just 80mm.

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I've not made a final decision yet, but the more options that are thrown my way do muddy the waters.  It's difficult as there are so many options and people will always have differing views and all as equally valid as the others. 

I looked at the 8" Dob (learning the lingo) are my first question is how portable would it be?  My back garden isn't suited as the are high fences, lots of trees and it's very small.  

Thanks for the tip on tellurium Dave, I'll be sure to have a look at that.  I did download the SkyPortal app which is quite clever.  

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If you are interested in imaging, it’s worth checking out the video astronomy section here and the EEA section on Cloudy Nights. I started last March as a total beginner and was warned off photography. However, there are fantastic new cameras and while it is still very difficult to get spectacular images to rival Hubble, I’ve found that you can get surprisingly good images in bad conditions. I see more with my camera than I ever could visually because of London light pollution — and that’s was most important to me.

Your entertainment in imaging does depend a little on how much you enjoy working with computers. You will spent time struggling with Windows and software. Personally I don’t mind that, tweaking these things to work how you want is part of the fun. For imaging, I wouldn’t let price or difficulty scare you off. You can get easier cheaper solutions than a heavy eq mount and scope. However, I would say if you don’t like computers, then avoid it.

I have a small scope (150pds) and a lightweight mount (eq3-2 goto) and am very happy with what I get. An 80ed, a 130 or 150 newtonian or a 4” - 8” SCT (and focal reducer) will allow you to see stuff and take images if you get a cmos camera like the asi290 mono or the ASI224 colour. I suggest those only because I have the ZWO asi cameras and they are relatively inexpensive and very good. Other manufacturers make similar cameras with the same sensors. 

Yes you do need a heavy mount and expensive equipment if you want to win astro photography competitions, but if you just want to see stuff the bar is far lower.

For imaging make sure you get a “fast” scope which is generally around f5 or less. That means you can make your exposures shorter, given the same amount of light. If you have a bit of a search on the Internet for examples with the equipment your interested in you can see the kind of results you can get. You can image dso’s with stacking at short exposures under 5 seconds.

You can use an alt az mount for imaging so long as you keep your exposures short and stack — search out SharpCap and have a look at stacking. I would make sure you get a mount with tracking if you are remotely interested in imaging since it will be annoying and your results will not be good otherwise. A tracking mount is also futureproofing if you want to get into imaging later.

Personally for £700 I would second either of the scopes suggested by alanjgreen above, or another option:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi/sky-watcher-explorer-130ps-az-gti.html

Or buy the 130pds and the Skywatcher GTi az mount separately, that would leave you with 256 and you could get a asi224 for £273, if you don’t mind spending the extra 50. 

Attatched is an image taken when I was playing with a new camera. This was using a 71mm refractor on a regular photo tripod — no proper mount, no tracking at all and I roughly eyeballed the focus since I had no bahtnov mask. I was also stacking exposures of a half second since the seeing was terrible. It’s not going to win any competitions but it was taken out of a bathroom window in central London with light coming in from the room next door. That’s what was on screen on my laptop as I was pointing the telescope at Orion. You could get much better images with the ASI224 and the 130pds or the 80ed in a reasonable location.

As I said, for imaging, it does depend on how much you want to fly the computer rather than the mechanical-optical stuff through an eyepiece, but seeing dso is not so hard with a low noise high sensitivity camera.

 

3B0A2FA9-899B-428D-86FE-F0A0F189AA48.jpeg

Edited by London_David

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Thanks London_David. 

Are any of these telescope cameras Mac OS? I have a Sony 7r which could be connected to a telescope via T mounts. 

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2 hours ago, Asterbridge said:

I have a Sony 7r which could be connected to a telescope via T mounts. 

 

Ooooo, great camera, and capable of amazing images on the right telescope.  Will you be able to resist putting it on your scope? I'm not sure I could!

The ability of various telescopes to fully illuminate a full frame camera like the 7R varies enormously, and even then the field of view can be affected by optical artefacts, known as coma, and chromatic aberration. If you foresee your purchase actually being used for night sky photography, then definitely go for more questions. (A lot of them will be answered by the recommended book).

As for the portability of the 8" dob, it basically comes in two pieces, the base, and the tube. The base is made of wood and normally needs carrying on its own. The tube too is more easily carried separately. Not the kind of thing you would want to carry far, put it that way. Once in position though, there is no faffing around with setting it up, it is pretty much ready to go right away, although if you keep it indoors and then take it outside, it will take a while for the mirror to cool and this will affect the views you get (this is true of most scopes with mirrors).

Hope that helps a bit

Tim 

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Hi Tim. 

Im not sure that I could resist putting the camera in the telescope. It’s served me well for landscapes so perhaps it’ll do well for me in the sky. 

I think that the 8” don might be too big for me guess it depends on the weight in the end though. 

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15 hours ago, Asterbridge said:

Hi Tim. 

Im not sure that I could resist putting the camera in the telescope. It’s served me well for landscapes so perhaps it’ll do well for me in the sky. 

I think that the 8” don might be too big for me guess it depends on the weight in the end though. 

Tim, if you "may " use your camera then get a powered tracking mount. Find out if the skywatcher star adventurer can carry your camera then you don't need a separate scope? (Just email FLO using website link)

visual astronomy and photo astronomy are really two separate hobbies.

i would buy the book "making every photon count" before you spend your cash. The sky will still be there :) there is no great rush. Knowledge is power!

Alan

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