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Telescope for an advanced amateur astronomer!


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Hello,
 
Just wanted to start by saying that I love the website and the service you provide - I've heard nothing but good things from others who pointed me in the direction of these forums.
 
I am looking to purchase a telescope for my son who has maintained a steady interest in astronomy for about a year since receiving his first telescope - a 400X70mm refractor with a couple of different lenses and a 2X Barlow, nothing spectacular.
 
He has made the most of the scope, sighting as far as Jupiter and its moons, even taking some pictures with a modified webcam in place of the eyepiece.
 
We've established that he enjoys this and I am looking to spend about £1000 on a full setup (telescope and accessories) that would allow for him to progress further and also last him a long time, he's very technical, making the most of his laptop to aid in his search of the skies, so software packages and the like aren't necessary.
Something that isn't huge would be ideal, (I have seen some massive Dobsonian (?) scopes on YouTube) as we live in an apartment and he operates from our front and rear balconies.
 
Hopefully this is enough information to be useful, I did try and have a look at the options myself and the GoTo scopes look spectacular but the additional accessory options like battery packs, lenses and filters got the better of me.
 
This Sky-Watcher in particular caught my eye and budget-wise it leaves room for accessories:
 
 
I apologise for the lengthy post, I am grateful for any and all recommendations.
 
Kind regards,
 
 
Frank
 
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Frank welcome to SGL.  The scope that you have listed is a nice Mak/Cass scope.Because it is a f/11.8 focal length the quality of the eyepieces are not so critical. This scope will be brilliant o

Frank, don't make the newbie mistake of buying an eyepiece set. They are not very good and most of it you will never use. The filters are useless! Eyepieces are scope specific!! (depending on ind

Hello Frank, I have, 2 of, the Skywatcher Skymax 127 setups, with the Synscan handset (I bought a second one for my holiday home in France). They are ideal for use on a balcony. They will work on

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23 minutes ago, nightfisher said:

Frank, the skywatcher in your link is a very good scope, i have the same tube on a different mount, another to consider is this, a bit more money, but a nice mount and decent optics

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/se-series/celestron-nexstar-6se.html

Thank you for your response nightfisher.

The 6SE looks like a remarkable scope - my only concern is that the price leaves little room for accessories.

Do you think the Skywatcher along with a set of lenses (I was thinking Celestron?) and a few other bits that I don't know of yet would provide a rival experience to that of using the 6SE?

Many thanks,

Frank

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Frank welcome to SGL. 

The scope that you have listed is a nice Mak/Cass scope.Because it is a f/11.8 focal length the quality of the eyepieces are not so critical. This scope will be brilliant on the Moon, Planets, Double Stars and the brighter Deep Sky Objects like Globulars.

Your Son may wish to download the 'Virtual Moon Atlas' which highlights the main features and phases. He might decide to follow the Lunar 100 list to get to know the Moon really well rather than just looking at the craters.

Best of luck with your purchase and don't forget that because SGL is a family friendly website your Son could join as well.

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Hi Frank,

There is a second hand Celestron evolution 6 in the for sale section, worth a look. Same tube as the 6SE but more modern wifi mount which may fit with your sons other interests software etc

FLO (site sponsor) are having a sale starting Boxing Day too.

Alan

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+1 for the skywatcher - there’s actually a full review in this months bbc sky at night that hit the shops a couple of days ago. Very positive review and seems to tick all the boxes of what you are looking for. I did have the scope (not the mount though) and can recommend it thoroughly.

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2 hours ago, Buendia said:

Thank you for your response nightfisher.

The 6SE looks like a remarkable scope - my only concern is that the price leaves little room for accessories.

Do you think the Skywatcher along with a set of lenses (I was thinking Celestron?) and a few other bits that I don't know of yet would provide a rival experience to that of using the 6SE?

Many thanks,

Frank

The skywatcher will be a very good scope, i really like my 127 Maksutov, regards EP`s you want to get a low cost 32mm plossl, a 20mm plossl and a nice 12mm but not a plossl in this size, better getting the BST starguider in 12mm

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A compact Mak/Cass goto setup would seem to fit your restricted situation well, the 127 Mak is a capable scope. Buying second hand would save a lot of money which would allow for some good eyepieces. In my experience equipment sold by established members of this forum I have found to be well looked after and a good safe buy. Sponsors FLO have,as said, a big sale coming up, so it might be worth hanging fire for that too.

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My advice is to forget the scope for now. Decide on what he/you want to do and decide on a mount.

If goto, sounds like it will be, then look at the EQ5, costs around £580 I believe (but that coulkd be a number from elsewhere).

Battery - no choice and possibly build something yourself = small AGM battery and a trickle charger. If at home use a mains-DC item from Maplin.

If budget allows and feasible then an HEQ5 would be better but an HEQ5 is not a small item, the EQ5 is easier. Going to presume HEQ5 is too much.

Scope then is whatever is the best at least initially. If he wants just visual then a Bresser 102/600 (will have CA), maybe the Bresser 102/1000 (less CA) both are around £220

If better quality is required then an ED, the standard being the Skywatcher 80ED, smaller aperture so it is a trade off. However it allows for sticking a camera (DSLR) on the rear and head off to get a series of exposures to come home, stack and process.

You can go buy a Mak/SCT if preferred also. Bit -ve on these as they are norrow field of view so alignment may be a troublesome at least at first.

The EQ allows visual and imaging to a fair extent. And at sometime most try a bit of imaging. Half the thought is the EQ5+Bresser 102 then later buy a nice 72mm for imaging with.

However it is oddly more apparent that deciding on the mount is more relevant then deciding on the scope.

Do not get dragged into the Magnification aspect. For Saturn you need say 125x and that will be adaquatre for about everything other then Mars, suggest  you forget Mars - therein lies maddness and dispair.

Eyepieces pick up 2 or 3 BST Starguiders (£50 each), say 25mm, 12mm, 8mm. I do not use barlows. Not as flexible as you would think.

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@Buendia, can I ask a basic question to start. Is your son most interested in observing or imaging? You mention that he has taken a few images with a modded webcam, is this what he wants to progress, or to get better views?

The setup required for imaging and observing is quite different, so it is important to understand this. There is a middle ground which is lunar and planetary imaging which, to a degree, can be combined with a scope which is suitable for observing.

Please let us know and it can guide the answers better.

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Hello all,

Thank you kindly for taking the time to impart your knowledge - lots for me to take in as I am not well versed in the subject myself...

I had a chat with my son earlier and he decided that observing takes the cake over imaging - I was hoping to find some kit that does both of these things but I would rather get a scope and mount that is excellent at one rather than okay at both.

As per the recommendation from @ronin, I began looking into Bresser and was drawn to the Bresser AR Refractor range - I know he already has a refractor but I thought about it and perhaps giving him a considerably better scope in a format that he is already familiar with, along with a sturdy mount, would be best?

Would his experience observing the skies be improved for example with something like the:

Bresser Messier AR-127L/1200 EXOS-2/EQ5 Telescope
or the
Bresser Messier AR-102s/600 EXOS-2 GoTo Telescope
or even the
Bresser Messier Refractor AR-127L/1200 EXOS-2 GoTo Telescope

And perhaps more importantly, would they last him a decent amount of time?

Size wise they are okay and I understand that refractors do not require collimation - sorry for being all over the place here, I just want him to have the best possible experience whilst also making a lasting initial purchase that I could supplement further with lenses and the like...

Again, many thanks for all your insights, whilst a warm welcome was expected, this has been above and beyond my expectations,

Frank

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Frank, some good options you have pointed to there. One observation I would make is that EQ mounts are not always the easiest to set up, and are not necessary for visual astronomy.

I wonder whether an alt az goto mount might be better, and easier to setup.

A 6" SCT might give a little more aperture and resolution in a package that is easier to manage; a 127mm/1200mm focal length scope is quite a large beast.

Something along these lines...

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/nexstar-evolution-telescopes/celestron-nexstar-evolution-6-telescope.html

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Hello Frank,

I think your son is sensible to concentrate on observing rather than imaging / photography. The latter requires a different approach to equipment than the former so it is very difficult to find a single scope that is good at both.

The Bresser refractors you link to are good scopes but very large compared with the 127mm maksutov-cassegrain or Celestron 150mm schmidt-cassegrain that have been mentioned earlier. I'm not sure that the observation capabilities will be any better than the much more compact 127mm or 150mm scopes either (I have owned all three of these scope types).

As Stu says, the equatorial mount is not particularly intuitive to use.

 

 

 

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41 minutes ago, Buendia said:

Hello all,

Thank you kindly for taking the time to impart your knowledge - lots for me to take in as I am not well versed in the subject myself...

I had a chat with my son earlier and he decided that observing takes the cake over imaging - I was hoping to find some kit that does both of these things but I would rather get a scope and mount that is excellent at one rather than okay at both.

As per the recommendation from @ronin, I began looking into Bresser and was drawn to the Bresser AR Refractor range - I know he already has a refractor but I thought about it and perhaps giving him a considerably better scope in a format that he is already familiar with, along with a sturdy mount, would be best?

Would his experience observing the skies be improved for example with something like the:

Bresser Messier AR-127L/1200 EXOS-2/EQ5 Telescope
or the
Bresser Messier AR-102s/600 EXOS-2 GoTo Telescope
or even the
Bresser Messier Refractor AR-127L/1200 EXOS-2 GoTo Telescope

And perhaps more importantly, would they last him a decent amount of time?

Size wise they are okay and I understand that refractors do not require collimation - sorry for being all over the place here, I just want him to have the best possible experience whilst also making a lasting initial purchase that I could supplement further with lenses and the like...

Again, many thanks for all your insights, whilst a warm welcome was expected, this has been above and beyond my expectations,

Frank

In my opinion that would be a mistake. EQ mounts mentioned are huge and for Astro photography.

Your original plan of a Mak was a much better one!

Alan

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A Mak I can recommend from experience is:

https://www.harrisontelescopes.co.uk/acatalog/celestron-nexstar-127-slt-telescope.html#SID=42

Compact, GoTo, easy to use, portable (all elements together - tube, mount, tripod), good aperture, good magnification range, and reasonable field of view at the low mag end (with 1.25" eyepieces).

I moved to an 8SE, but wish I'd kept the 127 Mak for the sheer ease of use and storage!

Doug.

 

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I can only agree that for observational astronomy, an equatorial mount will add a level of complexity that is simply not required. A Maksutov Cassegrain or Schmidt Cassegrain would be an excellent accompaniment to your son's existing widefield instrument.

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If the young gentleman wants to explore the sky’s properly, he needs aperture (size). So a dobsonian will be the way to go. If you can help him carry it, and you have space, a 10” Skywatcher Dobsonian will blow him away. Together with a select set of BST Starguider eye pieces and an ES 82° 24mm at the linger end. Other accessories would be a  a TelRad Finder to complement the existing finder, a Cheshire collimating tool and an OIII filter. This little lot would be about £1,000 and keep him happy for year (observing only).

Good luck

Paul

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If you choose well the scope will last years and give a portable setup great for grab and go. What is very nice about your very first choice is the az gti mount will work fine with no power as for normal use you can use your hands to nudge the mount.

My mount I power using the small lightweight celestron liFePO4 tank.

Edited by happy-kat
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Hello all,

I hope this post finds you well. Sorry to revive an old thread like this, just wanted to post an update.

The following items are what I along with my son have decided on. We are torn between the Skymax 127 with Wi-Fi capablities (which also adds the Celestron Powertank and increases the £££) and the non-Wi-Fi version as the views from our front and rear balconies aren't exactly spectacular to begin with, possibly causing an issue with initial alignment, Polaris however is visible...

 
The little guy has recently laid eyes on one of those Nintendo Switch things and though he hasn't asked for it specifically...I can feel a disturbance in the force...he was outside last night getting started on the Lunar 100 list, so I'm not too worried. Thanks to @Mark at Beaufort for the suggestion.
 
Many thanks! I'm indebted to you all.
 
 
Frank
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24 minutes ago, Buendia said:

Hello all,

I hope this post finds you well. Sorry to revive an old thread like this, just wanted to post an update.

The following items are what I along with my son have decided on. We are torn between the Skymax 127 with Wi-Fi capablities (which also adds the Celestron Powertank and increases the £££) and the non-Wi-Fi version as the views from our front and rear balconies aren't exactly spectacular to begin with, possibly causing an issue with initial alignment, Polaris however is visible...

 
The little guy has recently laid eyes on one of those Nintendo Switch things and though he hasn't asked for it specifically...I can feel a disturbance in the force...he was outside last night getting started on the Lunar 100 list, so I'm not too worried. Thanks to @Mark at Beaufort for the suggestion.
 
Many thanks! I'm indebted to you all.
 
 
Frank

Frank, don't make the newbie mistake of buying an eyepiece set. They are not very good and most of it you will never use. The filters are useless!

Eyepieces are scope specific!! (depending on individual scope focal length).

better buy 2 or 3 good ones for the focal length of the scope. EPs that will give you x50, x100, x150 and x200.

here is the equation you need...

scope focal length/ desired magnification = eyepiece focal length

so, 1500/100 = 15mm ( a 15mm eyepiece gives x100 magnification in a 1500mm focal length scope like the one you listed :) )

x50 is 30mm EP

x100 is 15mm EP

x150 is 10mm EP

x200 is 7.5mm EP

its ok to go +\- 1mm from these numbers but you need to keep the EPs / magnifications nicely spread out. Magnification differences of under x50 don't make much difference to the view at the eyepiece.

Better spend 150 on three BSTs, I see these @FLO

8mm = 187 magnification (high power)

12mm = 125 magnification (mid power)

15mm = 100 mag

18mm = 83 mag

25mm = 60 mag ( low power)

i would go with 25mm and 12mm and 8mm for starters... that gives a good spread of magnifications in the skymax (gaps of x60)

Everything else you listed looks good :) 

Alan

Edited by alanjgreen
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7 minutes ago, alanjgreen said:

Frank, don't make the newbie mistake of buying an eyepiece set. They are not very good and most of it you will never use. The filters are useless!

Eyepieces are scope specific!! (depending on individual scope focal length).

better buy 2 or 3 good ones for the focal length of the scope. EPs that will give you x50, x100, x150 and x200.

here is the equation you need...

scope focal length/ desired magnification = eyepiece focal length

so, 1500/100 = 15mm ( a 15mm eyepiece gives x100 magnification in a 1500mm focal length scope like the one you listed :) )

Alan

I agree with Alan on not buying the kit, but not on constricting yourself to exactly 50x magnification gaps. For the cost of the kit you could buy three more Starguiders. A set of 8-12-18-25 would cover everything this scope has to offer I think.

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4 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

I agree with Alan on not buying the kit, but not on constricting yourself to exactly 50x magnification gaps. For the cost of the kit you could buy three more Starguiders. A set of 8-12-18-25 would cover everything this scope has to offer I think.

Yes, we agree. I was still editing while you were typing. I found three BST with a nice gap of x60 for the 1500mm skymax scope.

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6 minutes ago, alanjgreen said:

Yes, we agree. I was still editing while you were typing. I found three BST with a nice gap of x60 for the 1500mm skymax scope.

Indeed we do. :) That's the one problem with forums, you never know when someone else is still typing!

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