Jump to content

Stargazers Lounge Uses Cookies

Like most websites, SGL uses cookies in order to deliver a secure, personalised service, to provide social media functions and to analyse our traffic. Continued use of SGL indicates your acceptance of our cookie policy.

  • Announcements

    sgl_imaging_challenge_banner_widefield.jpg.36065d79cb2625eb299137a5b4432c96.jpg

brianpr1

Newbie: Advice on what to buy

Recommended Posts

brianpr1    0

Hi, I am another newbie looking for advice and guidance please.
I intend to buy a telescope as a christmas present for my granddaughter, age 14, who is starting GCSE Astronomy. I plan to retain some viewing rights for myself. I have gone through the usual process of Google, YouTube, reading online instruction manuals and searching on this and other forums and reached some preliminary opinions, now I'm hoping for reality checks from people who know what they are talking about.

There seem to be two almost independent decisions: What mount? and: What optics?

What Mount?  

About 40 years ago, without benefit of the internet, I bought a cheap refractor, 60mm/900mm on a cheap AltAz mount. It gave some good views of the moon but I never found anything else for long enough to see it, and to switch between me and my children viewing anything but the moon was impossible. It saw very little use. That has left me with an aversion to AltAz in general and Dobs in particular. It may be that AltAz with slow motions would be better, but that solution approaches the price of a GEM. I appreciate that many people think very highly of Dobs, but I don't want either of us to feel the frustration and disappointment that I had with that refractor. It is personal prejudice, but I have ruled out a manual Dob.

The second condition is that this scope will not be used for photography. The merest mention of imaging seems to result in quadrupling the budget, and I am not going there.

That leaves me with three options; Goto on a simple AltAz, Goto on a GEM and a manual GEM (SW EQ1 or 2) with the sub-option to motorize the RA axis. This is where the doubts set in. Initially it seems to be a no-brainer, the manual GEM puts most of the money into the optics and manual slow motion on RA should be sufficient for visual work, but this is where I need advice. Am I right about the manual GEM?  The syllabus includes knowledge of equatorial co-ords, and after looking at many tutorials, instruction manuals and youtube videos I am not sure what all the fuss is about when it comes to polar alignment of an EQ mount, especially for visual only. Am I in for a rude awakening on this too?
I think my inexperience may be making too light of some of these things, but I read one thread on here where someone commented that he didn't see the point of producing a mount (SW EQ1) with no provision for polar alignment. At that point I found myself thinking "Hold on, you have a powerful scope on that mount, take rough aim at Polaris, put the rod vertical and adjust alt, then put it horizontal and adjust azimuth. Repeat as necessary and you're there." Am I missing something? (apart from getting the NCP centred without crosswires)

My real uncertainty is about finding faint objects with no accurate way of pointing at the right spot. The consensus seems to be that setting circles on budget mounts are a bad joke, so that means star hopping. I suppose that in theory it should be possible to translate turns of the slow motion wheels to angular movement of the scope. Would this be any more accurate than the circle markings on low end mounts for the small movements from star to star? I am reluctant to put money into a Goto, but if it leads to a better experience for both of us then so be it. I hope that a combination of Stellarium, star hopping, calculation from wheel rotation, and patience in finding our way around will make a manual GEM feasible. I am assuming that after finding the target that keeping it in view with the RA wheel would be simple. Is that another foolish idea? This paragraph is the game-changer. If my ideas and expectations above are unrealistic then I have to look again at Gotos. Before I go there I hope to get some feedback from the forum.

So far I think we should go for a fairly low budget option to see how we get on, and unless there are good reasons to avoid an equatorial mount then that is my preference. It seems to be more appropriate for studying astronomy at school level and I am sure that my granddaughter can cope with the alleged complexity of equatorial co-ords in practice as well as in theory. I am looking at either a SW 1145p on EQ1 or 130p on EQ2 and that brings me to choice 2, the optics.

The 130p is roughly 50% dearer with 30% greater light gathering than the 1145p. OK, but I asked myself what that means in practice. What would we see with the 130p that would be more difficult and fainter or impossible in the 1145p?

Is there any objective information relating magnitude of faint objects to mirror diameter? There is a big difference here, my eyes are old and long past their best, but my granddaughters should be pretty good. What other factors on the scope are relevant? Both have RDFs and I am going to go along with that until we have some experience. The extra cash is a subjective decision, but will the bigger diameter allow us to see well known objects that the smaller scope will not resolve? I'm not sure that is a question that can be answered, so the decision has to be "go for the 130p". The next unanswerable question is where to stop. Why not a 200p on an EQ5? My feeling is that the 130p is less intimidating as a first scope, it is easier to carry around in a car to dark sites and it is more likely to be used than something even bigger and more unwieldy. The cost is moderate (£193 vs. £467 for 200p) in case it does not get much use, low enough to keep it in reserve if I later decide to go for a 200p for myself. On the other hand, will we be disappointed with the 130p right from the start and regret not going for bigger? I plan to visit the Astronomy centre near Todmorden if we ever get a clear Saturday night, and I am thinking of joining a local society, but that doesn't help in time for a christmas present.

Now the reality. Everything above is based on reading and watching, without any practical experience whatever. In the real world is it going to be vastly different? What do the experts think?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mr niall    374

Wow that’s a lot of consideration! You’re definitely an astronomer then!... if it were me I would definitely go for the 130 with the eq2. Mostly because of the mount. I’ve had a go an a couple of eq1s and they are a little insubstantial for me.

I moved from a cheap 70mm refractor to a 127mm maksutov recently and the difference was massive. They say that “aperture is king” and it’s not wrong. 

As for the EQ dilemma - I can relate to your old alt az Mount troubles, (I had a bad one as a kid) but good quality mounts aren’t in any way inferior to GEM mounts. In fact comparing my EQ3 mount with the £30 quid tabletop mount off a broken skywatcher heritage 130p, I use the latter almost exclusively as it is much much easier and quicker to setup and rock solid. Targets are easier to find in alt az than eq (I think)

Yes polar alignment is dead easy - especially if you are only doing visual astronomy as you don’t have to be bang on perfect if you aren’t doing astrophotography. Setting circles are a total waste of time in my opinion, they just aren’t accurate enough to get you near enough to where you want to be.

I moved from a goto to a manual scope. There is no “right or wrong” in this debate, goto was time saving but manual forced me to learn the sky and constellations so I feel like I’m gaining more from the hobby than just looking through an eyepiece BUT it can take me half an hour to find challenging objects and sometimes I’m not even sure if I’m in the right place! Star hopping isn’t difficult and I’m a big fan of the RDF finder over a finderscope. It’s just a practice thing. I prefer manual (I’m also a cheapskate...)

Id really really recommend getting a copy of Turn Left at Orion, I’ve not seen enything better for beginners (like me!) 

But all the scopes you are considering do the same thing (look at the sky), and will provide you with a lot of pleasure. I think the biggest problem with this hobby is that there is always something better or something you can spend money on to improve the experience but it’s very difficult to qualify whether the improvement justifies the outlay! 

I wouldn’t worry too much about mirror diameter vs magnitudes. Light pollution is always going to be the biggest factor not the scope; there’s more targets out there for my old 70mm than I could have viewed in 20 years IF I had perfect skies but few of us do and you can’t really compensate for that with a bigger aperture. Don’t worry about your eyes, they won’t matter. It’s all about “exit pupil”; but practice is the biggest difference.

Edited by Mr niall
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brantuk    3,106

I started with a 150P on EQ3-2. If I'd known more at the time I would've bought it with an EQ5 for the extra stability. It's always worth getting extra aperture where possible - you'll see more with it. Star hopping is very straight forward once you know the constellations. :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ronin    3,718

Only my opinion:

Mount: Consider the EQ3-2, reason is that you can polar align it = it has a polar scope that the EQ1 and EQ2 do not. You can later add the simple dual motors to the EQ3-2 to track. Not sure of the capacity of the mount but you are not looking to load it up. I assume 5Kg maybe 7Kg, but 5 seems fair. The EQ3-2 would be better for anything in the future, just that bit more capacity and options.

Scope: The problem. Guess a 130P sounds fair for size, but the 150P would be better just heavier. Also reflectors are not necessarily as easy to use as expected. All scopes have their foibles. In the refractor line there is a Bresser 102/600, maybe too costly £212, also a fair lump guess up at 4Kg(+) - should weight mine to find out I suppose. Don't think Bresser make an 80mm. There are 90mm scopes but they are all "long", but worth considering.

If you can track down an 80mm of about 640-800mm focal length then get one. 80mm always sounds small but is likely athe most useful single size around.

Eventually imaging will come into consideration, the EQ3-2 will allow simple imaging = attach a DSLR to thje mount in place of the scope and get some wide field shots. You could even attach a DSLR to a scope to do it the other way and at least get an idea. Almost no additional cost. Odd way of putting it but the Bresser 102 is sort of configured for imaging, for visual you have to add in one of the extension tubes. But they give you 2 of them.

Trying to rhink of a reasonable f/6 or f/8 80mm achro refractor.

Looks fair TS 80mm:https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p7935_TS-Optics-80-600mm-Refractor-Teleskope---optical-tube-with-rings.html

Edited by ronin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
NGC 1502    685

It’s so tough to answer your questions in a way that helps (not your fault of course).

It’s a reasonable guess that your 60mm refractor had a wobbly mount, and a wobbly mount will lead to serious frustration, likely to put it’s user off astronomy for life.  I’ve seen new folk at my club, bright intelligent people, get totally confused with a basic equatorial mount.

I’d far sooner have a solid alt-azimuth mount with smooth manual movements, or good slow slow motion controls, with a 4 to 6 inch reflector, and a red dot finder or similar, plus a couple of not too cheap eyepieces, that will give good service for years and lead to many years of great astronomy.  A good supplier is our sponsors, First Light Optics, and no, I don’t work for them !

A simple and fast set up is a good idea, less to frustrate, less to go wrong.

Now, I’m not saying what I’ve suggested is the best advice you’ll get on this forum, others may disagree and be correct, but what I’ve outlined comes from what I’ve seen working for new people at my local club.

All the best in your choices, Ed.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ronin    3,718

Maybe not what many will recommend but how about the Meade ETX 80 ?

Short refractor (not keen of short refractor but I do have one), goto, small, compact, usually grumbles at you when in use, alignment is fairly straight forward. Have always said Meade got that bit right.

Do NOT consider ever attaching a DSLR, immaterial of what the manual may say, and you might get 100x magnification out of it if you bought a good 4mm eyepiece (not plossl). Not sure if a BST Starguider at 3.2mm would work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
45 minutes ago, brianpr1 said:

About 40 years ago, without benefit of the internet, I bought a cheap refractor, 60mm/900mm on a cheap AltAz mount. It gave some good views of the moon but I never found anything else for long enough to see it, and to switch between me and my children viewing anything but the moon was impossible. It saw very little use. That has left me with an aversion to AltAz in general and Dobs in particular. It may be that AltAz with slow motions would be better, but that solution approaches the price of a GEM. I appreciate that many people think very highly of Dobs, but I don't want either of us to feel the frustration and disappointment that I had with that refractor. It is personal prejudice, but I have ruled out a manual Dob.

If you know it's a prejudice, ditch it! What you hated about that 60/900 was instability, not altaz motion or manual control. Dobs are wonderfully stable and accurate. Some of the current great values are:

http://www.teleskop-spezialisten.de/shop/Teleskope/Dobson/bis-200mm/Bresser-Messier-5-Dobson-Newton-Reise-Teleskop-mit-Zubehoer::3461.html?MODsid=4d2cb30fcbd05cd694bb4df3989adca5

http://www.teleskop-spezialisten.de/shop/Teleskope/Dobson/bis-200mm/Bresser-Messier-6-Dobson-Newton-Reise-Teleskop-mit-Zubehoer::3462.html?MODsid=4d2cb30fcbd05cd694bb4df3989adca5

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p7222_GSO-Dobson-Teleskop-150C---Oeffnung-6-Zoll-mit-hochwertigem-Crayford-Auszug.html

And forget doing math with angles and setting circles, no one would keep their patience more than a few minutes with that method. Star-hopping is natural and very effective. You use it everytime you walk around or drive your car: you spot landmarks and orient yourself according to them; well star-hopping is the same except landmarks are dots, lines and figures in the sky.

And just like you find many destinations by foot or by car without using maps or GPS, you'll soon know many destinations in the sky. Dob + star-hopping is the most natural way to travel the sky, just grab the scope and point it. Only binoculars are more immediate but they're another league. By the way, the GSO scope on sale at Teleskop Service has those tension springs that you can remove if you balance it carefully, up/down motion will be smoother. I've done it on my 20-kilos GSO 300mm tube, the benefit was obvious!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
alanjgreen    864

Hi Brian,

I am visual only astronomer and my advice would be to stay away from EQ mounts. AZ is much simpler and todays mounts are much much better than those of 40 years ago (dont use a 40 year old mount to compare to todays offerings). If you are not doing photography then you do not need an EQ mount. Eyepiece position can end up anywhere with EQ :(

What is your actual budget? I see some numbers mentioned but whats the maximum you can spend. Advice is no good if its pie in the sky!

If I were starting out now AND if I wanted to share the hobby with a younger person, I would go for a 6" reflector and I would go for goto. Sure its great to find things for yourself but its sure TIME CONSUMING. Goto scopes have TRACKING (keeps the object in the view) so you can swap people at the eyepiece and it will still be there. With manual if will soon drift out of view :(. Its much easier to study an object if its just there in front of you!

I see you are in Preston and only you know how much "opportunity" (clear skies) you get there and how much "commitment" you will have to use the scope (will you be done by midnight or a regular all nighter?). If its just an hour here and there then goto will get you targets delivered to the eyepiece.

When I came back into astronomy after 30 years abscence, my little 130 goto scope delivered so many objects that I was instantly hooked and I soon had to move on to more aperture (to deliver fainter stuff)

I would recommed you check out the skywatcher star discovery 6" reflector with goto

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

its a great starter scope and 6" aperture will get you access to many sky objects. You will find member reviews if you search for them here and videos on youtube if you search there.

I wouldn't go smaller than 6" and some of those mounts EQ1, EQ2 are pretty feeble offerings to be honest. EQ have all those weights to carry about and needs three trips into the house to get it all outside. Not my cup of tea!

If you want a lifetime scope then 8" is where the aperture starts to really deliver but then so does the SIZE & WEIGHT and storage considerations. A 130mm or 150mm reflector is an excellent starting point in my view.

HTH,

Alan

Edited by alanjgreen
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cosmic Geoff    220

If you like the idea of a GoTo and are only interested in visual, an alt-az GoTO mount should be your first choice. Why? The equatorial option  is most useful for photography. Formerly an equatorial mount made keeping a planet, etc in the field of view much easier (with a manual slow-motion or a motor) but nowadays an alt-az GoTo  will do that, in addition to the GoTo function. For the beginner, an equatorial mount represents extra hassle and confusion, whatever you are trying to do with it.

As for the telescope, it's really your choice. There is a balance to be struck between aperture (good) and cost, weight and bulk (not good, especially if you are planning to transport it to a remote site).  You can see a lot more at a dark-skies site than in a town, and this applies particularly to faint fuzzy objects (galaxies, etc).

Dobsonians are a popular recommendation, but be aware that the reason they are cheap is that the Newtonian reflector is relatively cheap to manufacture, and the basic mount is extremely cheap to manufacture. If you suspect that, actually, you'd rather have a mount with slow-motions, or motors, or GoTo or other feature that makes observing life easier and more productive, then you should not buy a Dob.

My experience is that while it is good to have a small telescope on a simple mount that you can take outside and use right away (grab'n go), GoTo is a huge help in finding non-obvious objects. (This is even more true in an urban area.) With my small and large GoTo scopes I have seen many objects that I would have had absolutely no chance of finding without the GoTo.

Personally, I don't have a high regard for the concept of 'star-hopping' which seems to be making a virtue of doing things the hard way. I found out that it was extremely difficult to find anything non-obvious (i.e. not visible in a 7x50 finderscope) when using a large manual telescope, and soon desisted. I wasted hours trying and totally failing to find various objects.

A Newtonian reflector or Maksutov of the 127mm or 130mm aperture class will show enough to keep you entertained for a couple of years while remaining portable and relatively cheap.  Or a smaller refractor might be suitable.  A bigger instrument will show more, particularly of the faint fuzzy variety, but with GoTo added to the equation, you will find cost ratcheting rapidly upwards. 

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Astro Imp    2,733
59 minutes ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

Personally, I don't have a high regard for the concept of 'star-hopping' which seems to be making a virtue of doing things the hard way. I found out that it was extremely difficult to find anything non-obvious (i.e. not visible in a 7x50 finderscope) when using a large manual telescope, and soon desisted. I wasted hours trying and totally failing to find various objects.

 

I couldn't have put this better.

I persisted with 150P on an EQ3-2 for some time and apart from a handful of easily found objects concentrated on lunar and planetary observing. IMO an equatorial mount with a Newtonian reflector is only needed for astro photography and the low end mounts you are considering are too lightweight for that use. Earlier in the year I upgraded to my present GOTO scope and now see more in an evening than a month spent struggling to locate objects.

As @alanjgreen suggests I would seriously consider the S/W Star Discovery.

Your idea of visiting @Peter Drew at Todmorden is excellent, you will learn more in an evening than a week trawling the internet.

Good luck.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brianpr1    0

Thanks for all the helpful comments and suggestions and thanks for the references, there are some there that I had not looked at before.

To set a budget is more difficult than it seems. This scope is a surprise christmas present for a fourteen year old who has chosen to study astronomy at school. The cost will be shared 50/50 between her parents and me. We don't know whether it will be used frequently or just for a couple of days then left to gather dust so we are reluctant to spend big money on it. The question is not to find an upper limit, it is to get a scope that will reinforce her school syllabus by teaching her, in an interesting and enjoyable and practical way, the fundamentals of coordinate systems and generally navigating around the sky at least cost, however much that is. I have to admit that I am hoping to get a look-in, and that this scope will give me a better basis for deciding what to buy for myself, but that's another story....

 In the previous post I put forward my own views based on my legwork, my very limited previous experience and my preferences, but the intention is for my granddaughter to take ownership and responsibility for this scope. Obviously I will help as a second pair of hands for assembly, and we will have to learn collimation skills together, but, in setting up and operating, it will be entirely her scope and her decisions. That means pressure on the budget is downwards here too, not the customary ratcheting up, because a very expensive scope would not truly be hers. To present her with, say, a 200p/HEQ5 Pro would be overkill amounting to intimidation, she would feel enormous pressure to use it, would need help moving and setting it up and generally not be independent with it.

 A 1145p AZ Goto (£269) would no doubt be acceptable without being intimidating, but it would be more a GeeWizz item than a supplement to her course. She may use it a lot, but would she be learning much beyond the geography of the moon? My feeling is that a GEM with a 1145p (at half the price of the Goto) would be well within her capabilities to understand and operate and would supplement her schoolwork without being too costly. At the same time it would be a real telescope, not a toy and, once she gets the hang of it, she would be able to move it, set it up and use it without assistance. It would be very much a testing-the-water item and with the 1145p at £134 it would not matter too much if it is hardly used. The difficulty is that by going too far down market it becomes unsatisfactory and disappointing and guarantees non-use. If the wish to use it is there but a 1145p/EQ1 turns out to be genuinely not good enough for her then I would quickly replace it with something better.

Some of the comments about star hopping are a bit worrying. From my position as no more than an armchair theorist at present, I had formed the impression that this was the fall back foolproof option for getting around. Using my book with some star hopping tours in it, I tried it out in conjunction with Stellarium. Using the guide book to get around Stellarium, with labels and guide lines swiched off, was an abject failure, but using Stellarium with constellation lines and labels, with equatorial grid switched on, made much more sense of the book and made me feel that I would have a good chance outside.

The other surprise was the overwhelming disapproval of equatorial mounts for visual observing. I am reluctant to comment on this because I have no practical experience whatever, but without computer control eq. mounts seem to me to have the advantage over AltAz/Dobson, even for visual observation, to the point of being no contest. Obviously there is much more to it and individual aims, experience and preferences have a very important part to play in the decision making. I will have to get my hands on one before I say any more. Todmorden, here I come.

It seems that a 114mm can see a useful range of DSOs etc. and for a first scope is probably powerful enough to be interesting. It's a shame about the flimsy EQ1 but I think with patience and care it could be adequate for visual observing for a beginner. If all goes well then at £134 it will serve for a year or two before replacing it with something bigger and better. If it is not used much then it is cheap enough to be worth keeping for just one or two uses a year. The flavour of today is the SW skyhawk 1145p from FLO. I will hold fire for another week to mull it over and perhaps do a bit more googling, but I hope this one will be a pleasant surprise for christmas. I plan to order a collimation cap and a red torch at the same time as the scope. I have a book called "The practical Skywatcher's handbook" which gives lots of useful information, including turn by turn directions to various DSOs and other items. I will see how we get on with that in conjunction with Stellarium on my granddaughter's iPad. If the scope gets a lot of use then a motor drive is £27, probably worth having even for visual observing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Geoff Lister    107

If you want a 114mm, it would be worth looking at the Skywatcher Heritage 114p Virtuoso, at £175. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/heritage/skywatcher-heritage-114p-virtuoso.html

I have the 90p equivalent and I have found it very easy to use in all of its 3 modes. (1) unpowered, as a simple push-to Dobsonian; (2) powered with tracking, just point it towards Polaris, turn ON, point it towards the chosen celestial object (manually or with the up/down/left/right buttons), and the mount will keep that object in the field of view; or (3) powered and with a Synscan handset to get full GOTO. The mount uses 8 AA size alkaline batteries ( it is very frugal when tracking, but a bit thirsty when doing high-speed powered slewing), or can be powered by a 12V 1.5A plug-top supply sold for under £5 for powering flexible LED stick-on light strips.

If you want fully manual, the Heritage 130p is also worth considering at £137. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

I use mine on a 60cm diameter, glass topped, patio table; so no tripod legs to hit / fall-over, in the dark.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nyctimene    384
26 minutes ago, Geoff Lister said:

If you want fully manual, the Heritage 130p is also worth considering at £137. https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

+1 for the Heritage 130 P Flextube! Very good optics, decent mount, easy to handle and to transport to dark sky sites. Can be upgraded, if your granddaughter persists with astronomy, with better eyepieces, an AltAz mount (e.g. manual: Vixen Porta; GoTo: Skywatcher AZ GTi) on a good tripod. Would also serve as an excellent grab-and-go scope. Have a look here:

http://neilenglish.net/a-newtonian-travel-scope/

and here:

https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/463109-onesky-newtonian-astronomers-without-borders/

(it's the same scope, just another brand).

Stephan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Geoff Lister    107

My 130p mount with enhancements:-

5a0ddc7b594f0_130pMountadditions.thumb.jpg.f45dde32a9ca54be2d18015ae2a1dbfd.jpg

The altitude scale and compass help find desired objects a little faster. The patio stool is lower than my normal table, but makes a stable platform.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brianpr1    0

Thanks Geoff and Stephan. Geoff, that mount is definitely the GT version.

I saw the heritage 130p on Youtube - a lot of people recommend it highly. I've also looked at the virtuosos and they are serious contenders too, although once again the cost starts creeping up. I am in a bit of a chicken and egg situation, I need to use the scopes before I can decide, but to use anything I have to decide to buy it first.

My priority is to get something that will help understanding of the course syllabus, which is why I keep coming back to an equatorial mount in spite of recommendations to keep away. Imaging in any form is not a factor: Cameras will be banned on this cheap and cheerful setup. All the same I am concerned that I am the fool walking in where others fear to tread.

I have done a search on here and found several beginners who have just gone ahead and bought the 1145p/eq1 combo, but I cannot find any feedback from them, good or bad, and feedback from equatorial users is what I really need.

Feedback from users of any equatorial mount would be useful, are they really as difficult as is made out?  To me one big advantage, after spending a few minutes on alignment, is that once declination is locked on target, say a faint DSO, tracking should be just a matter of adjusting RA manually or switching the motor on if it has one, then tweaking declination infrequently. Is that fair comment?

The eq1 tripod seems to have a reputation for being shaky. Anyone: Does this still apply if the legs are retracted, viewing from a low chair? Is the actual head shaky or otherwise suspect?

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ricochet    508

Personally, I would avoid any combination of a Newtonian reflector and equatorial mount. As it tracks across the sky an equatorial mount will rotate the telescope, which with the focuser sticking out of the side of the tube, results in extreme variations in the eyepiece position. If your granddaughter is also doing a gcse in yoga perhaps this will not be a problem but for the rest of us it adds the requirement to loosen the tube rings, rotate the scope to get the focuser in a useable position, and then to retighten the tube rings with every change of target. 

I am also unconvinced by the idea of using an equatorial mount in order to fit the syllabus. Surely there must be a lot more on the course than RA and Dec coordinates of objects? I understand the importance and usefulness of the coordinate system but out under the stars I simply never use it. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mered    32
44 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

Personally, I would avoid any combination of a Newtonian reflector and equatorial mount. As it tracks across the sky an equatorial mount will rotate the telescope, which with the focuser sticking out of the side of the tube, results in extreme variations in the eyepiece position. If your granddaughter is also doing a gcse in yoga perhaps this will not be a problem but for the rest of us it adds the requirement to loosen the tube rings, rotate the scope to get the focuser in a useable position, and then to retighten the tube rings with every change of target. 

I am also unconvinced by the idea of using an equatorial mount in order to fit the syllabus. Surely there must be a lot more on the course than RA and Dec coordinates of objects? I understand the importance and usefulness of the coordinate system but out under the stars I simply never use it. 

Agree with you on the reflector/eq mount combo. I started with this and couldn't get on with it at all. I got into imaging in the end, so an equatorial mount was necessary there, but if I ever get a setup purely for visual I will look at a dob or just get an alt/az mount for my refractor. I did try my ST80 on the wobbly mount my 130P came with, and even that I didn't enjoy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cosmic Geoff    220
3 hours ago, brianpr1 said:

Feedback from users of any equatorial mount would be useful, are they really as difficult as is made out?  To me one big advantage, after spending a few minutes on alignment, is that once declination is locked on target, say a faint DSO, tracking should be just a matter of adjusting RA manually or switching the motor on if it has one, then tweaking declination infrequently. Is that fair comment?

This is true, but asides from the negative comments made above, beginners often seem to find the proper alignment of an equatorial mount rather baffling. I once owned the cheap motor for the EQ2 which cost about £27. It was rubbish and soon stopped working.  The EQ5 with motor is a decent and quite stable equatorial mount (with reassuringly scaffold pole like legs) but a new one would blow a big hole in your budget. The problem with the cheaper mounts is the aluminum legs which are wobbly especially when fully extended.  I used to have an EQ-2 equivalent mount which was annoyingly wobbly at higher magnifications with a 70/700mm refractor on it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Geoff Lister    107

Probably a decade ago, I bought a Celestron Astromaster 130EQ-MD, and I found it a pain to set up. The motor drive just used a potentiometer for speed control, so accurate tracking was almost impossible. The counter-weights make the whole assembly heavy, and often catch on the slow-motion drive knobs. As mentioned above, the eyepiece is rarely where you can get to it easily.

5a0f27fb76deb_AstromasterEQmount(R).jpg.b306df2344f13ac1adba25e58ec83de2.jpg

My next purchase was the Skywatcher Skymax 127, Alt/Az mount with Synscan GOTO, and I have found this very easy to set up and use. The Astromaster's OTA will fit on the Skymax mount to give more user-friendly view, and double the field of view offered by the Skymax's Mak OTA.

5a0f27e597473_Astromaster130onSkymaxmount(R).jpg.b2af81c4a4706d580665e957a45c58aa.jpg

Geoff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
brianpr1    0

Geoff, thanks for that further info. Your photos have answered  an unasked question: It is possible to use rings and dovetail to mount another OTA to the AZ Synscan. I was concerned that the extended overhang might be too much for the alt axis bearing and motor. I saw your comments on another thread about using Stellarium, I have not tried the ocular view yet, but I will now.

I wish I could justify the high cost of a Synscan Goto, but that is how the ratchet snares its victims. The problem is to spend no more than "necessary" for a first scope, which may not be used more than three or four times if it does not hit the spot, without penny pinching so much that we are both discouraged. After reading Ricochet's comments on another thread, about the time for an object to cross the field of view, I think I may be too pessimistic about Dobson mounts, but my previous attempt with manual AltAz put me off for 40 years. I don't want to do that to my granddaughter. We are going to the Astronomy centre at Todmorden this evening, that should help to straighten my ideas out.

Looking at practicalities, the options are:

SW  Skyhawk 1145p, Eq1,      £134    Good OTA, inadequate mount?

SW Heritage 130p, Dob,         £137    +30% area over 114. Easy to transport but finding/tracking?

SW Explorer 130p, Eq2,         £193    Good OTA, mount just about OK for visual? 44% more costly than 1145p

SW 1145P SynScan Goto        £269    Not quite the same tube as the Skyhawk above. No provision for collimation?

SW Explorer 150P EQ3-2        £310    +73% area over 114, +33% over 130. 60% more costly than 130p/Eq2.

I don't think any amount of advice can sort the cost/benefits of that lot in a decisive way, basically I pays my money and I takes my choice.

I don't go along with the theory that, being beginners, our brains will overheat if we look at an equatorial mount, and now I understand what the mounting rings are for we can quit the yoga. I look forward to the challenge an Eq mount may offer with its extra facilities and possibilities beyond a Dobson. For starters I want to try a couple of methods of polar alignment without a polar scope and check them using the drift method - no chance (or need) of doing that with a Dob.

The rational choice is between the first two, the romantic but wrong (for us at this time) choice is the Goto, the best choice for us is the 150p, or I can sit on the fence and spend £193.

Sticking to the first two, the trade off beween apertures does not bother me too much for a first scope. I have been led to believe that the 114 will see plenty of interesting fuzzy blobs, just fuzzier and not quite as many as the 130. I have to take that on trust. There have been plenty of recommendations for 80 and 90mm refractors, so won't a 114mm reflector give good results in comparison with them?

The mounts are a different matter and a much more personal decision. If my choice had to be between a 200p/Eq5 or a 250px/Dobson at roughly comparable prices then I would not hesitate in choosing the Eq5, even for visual only. By the same preference my choice now should be the 1145p/Eq1, but the mount has come under such strong criticism, and Dobsons under such praise, that I wonder just how bad the Eq1 can be. Cosmic Geoff's comments about cheap motors have saved me £27 if I do go for Eq1 or 2.

Edited by brianpr1

Share this post


Link to post
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

  • Recently Browsing   1 member

×