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Newbie: Advice on what to buy

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3 hours ago, Ricochet said:

I can hear your bank manager groaning from here. ;) 

It is "only" £21,147, but where's the challenge in a Goto?

After last night the choice is 1145p/Eq1 or 130p/Eq2. I will order one or the other this week. It will give us something to think about between targets.

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Ricochet, at the Astronomy Centre my granddaughter looked at an Eq1 and a Dobsonian, and was totally unfazed by the Eq, she will readily get to grips with an equatorial mount.

I know that, having asked for advice, the response has been overwhelmingly in favour of a Dobsonian and I am ignoring that to go for an equatorial, and a cheap one at that. In fairness to me, there have been several voices in support of equatorial on this and other similar threads. Computer controlled finding and tracking means that for visual work at our budget there is little to choose between types of mount, but computer control is likely to be counter productive in learning to find our way around the sky and the cost is too weighted towards electronics over optics for us.

My reasons for preferring equatorial over Dobson is that tracking is easier, controlled movement in RA is better than nudging the scope in two axes to track. I looked at youtube videos of the moon taken with webcams and 1145p/eq1 setups. The images were steady as the moon pssed across the field, then wobbled and shook alarmingly as the user twiddled with RA, then settled down to steady again within a couple of seconds. Not as steady as a Dobson, but good enough for me. With a very short scope such as the Heritage 130p each nudge will give a larger angular movement than on a larger and longer scope. I know that it still works, but I want to minimize the risk of becoming discouraged. If the target is lost then movement in RA should recover it, but recovering with movements in alt. and azimuth are less likely to succeed without effectively star-hopping again. We are not in such a hurry to get started that a few minutes for rough and ready polar alignment will put us off for the night. Setting circles on these cheap mounts get a bad press, but "totally useless" is probably too strong. How about "fairly useless"? For absolute beginners in less obvious parts of the sky I imagine that being inside a cone of around 10deg radius is better than "Do you think that's it?". For me, the clincher is that I just cannot force myself to press the button to order a Dobson, but I am eager to order the 130p/eq2 in spite of all its deficiencies.

Ben-surely-not, yes, the 130p is a better choice, but it's that ratchet again. It is 44% more expensive and 30% more area. For a scope that may quickly fall into disuse but, more likely, could be replaced in about a year, it will be easier to write off a 1145p than the 130p. The counter to that is that the 130p may not be replaced quickly or at all, I don't know if the 1145p would be the same. I had decided to go for the 130p as the safer option and hang the expense.

There are other possibilities rising above the horizon. I planned to order today, but will be holding back a bit longer.

Edited by brianpr1
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3 hours ago, brianpr1 said:

Setting circles on these cheap mounts get a bad press, but "totally useless" is probably too strong. How about "fairly useless"?

Having tried it on two mounts, I'd go for 'totally useless.' In several hours of investigation & testing, I don't recollect that I ever found anything with the circles.  Aiming a red-dot finder at where you think the object is via a star chart  will give you better accuracy than within 10 degrees. With the average telescope, a 10 degree radius of sky gives you about 100 chances of missing the object vs 1 of finding it.

If you visit a Victorian observatory, you may see real setting circles. :happy11: They are about 2 feet across. Even the practical circles for amateur mounts, in the days when they were still made, were around 6 to 8 inches across.

Edited by Cosmic Geoff
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Hi Geoff,

Bang goes another illusion then. The sooner I get to grips with the real thing the better it will be.

Things are changing on the "Which telescope?" front: I had no idea that Astronomical matters could move so quickly, but I think my granddaughter will be blown right out of her socks. I'm old enough to know better, but I'm still going to have problems waiting for Christmas. Meantime, I will not be able to post again until Saturday.

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On ‎19‎/‎11‎/‎2017 at 11:55, brianpr1 said:

My granddaughter spent most of her time with the main 16" Meade SCT, and the rest at the other 16"

This may have been a big mistake - she will never be satisfied with a 130P!

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Well, this has been an interesting week. On Monday, I was ready to order a 130p/eq2 when a member of this forum sent a message generously offering us (My granddaughter May and I) the extended loan of his Vixen Super Polaris mount. At this stage I had no idea what this mount was like, but a quick Google revealed just how amazingly good it is, together with a download of its instruction brochure.

I still cannot find the words to show how much I appreciate this kind and generous loan and May is away on a Scout camp in the Lake district and doesn't know about it yet. Obviously I accepted without hesitation.

The next job was to find a scope worthy of fixing to the mount. I had seen a SW Explorer 150p/750mm in the SGL sales section, I know May is more interested in DSOs than planets and we are keeping away from AP work, it looked good so I went for that.

Wednesday was a longish trip to collect the scope, Friday was another longish trip for the mount, and most of this morning has been spent putting it all together, making a start at sorting out how it works in practice and generally playing with it indoors. Every time I touch it I appreciate the engineering skill and precision in this setup, it far exceeds anything I could have imagined for two raw beginners. The challenge now is to develop our observing and handling skills to match the level of this setup. One thing that is already obvious is that although May could probably manage the weight of the components individually, the size, awkwardness and weight of placing the scope on the mount will be too much for May to handle on her own so observing with it is going to be a joint venture. I have fewer commitments so I guess that I will be using it more than May, although she will have absolute priority.

Before I asked the "Which telescope" question I spent some time searching the forum for similar questions and answers. I found lots of help and advice, much of it relevant to my questions, but I didn't find any follow-ups from the OPs. I wanted to know what they bought, how it went, were they satisfied, how they got on with it etc. but I found nothing.

As a practical way of trying to show my appreciation for all the helpful replies and comments, and for the outstanding generosity shown to us, I plan to post some follow ups on this equipment as we learn how to use it. Is it worth doing? If it is, then I plan to start a new topic in this section on the grounds that newly joined beginners are most likely to see it here. Is that ok or is there a more suitable section full of follow up reports that I have somehow missed?

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Brian, yes absolutely. We're all vampires for reports and reviews, the more the better! However most people start separate forum topics for reviews and reports so that may explain why you won't come across these if you are doing "best for newcomer" type searches.

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45 minutes ago, Mr niall said:

However most people start separate forum topics for reviews and reports

In support of this observation I can confirm that this^^^ is what I did.  With lots of contributions my initial what to buy thread went to about 5 pages, I have an observation diary thread that is ongoing and is charting my experiences with the telescope, I've done separate threads for things I built and made, and I post with huge excitement when I get something new and exciting to play with.  I suspect I am not alone.

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