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Hi there,

 

I have come across this site a few times while researching about some scopes on eBay. 

I have recently started to get interested in Astronomy. My father use to have Russian made one many years ago that we observed the moon in. 

Now my sister has got a nice Sky-Watcher 130mm and I'm desperately wanting to join the fun and view the moon and Jupiter along with other planets. I'd quite like to take photos, Astrophotography but appreciate id need to spend considerably more on the mount and scope along with a DSLR! Offering up my smart phone will do for now though. 

I live just north of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands so I think I'll be in a good place to observe. My back garden has good views north and south. 

Unfortunately there are no telescope specialist shops locally, nor any used within budget so I have turned to eBay... 

I am a beginner and believe a Dobsionian mounted reflector is a good place to start but I feel an EQ mounted one would be better to learn from? There are no Dobs used on eBay that will post either!

The scopes I'm watching are the following

Sky-Watcher Explorer 130P

Sky-Watcher Explorer 130P SynScan AZ GoTo (might be out of budget)

Celestron AstroMaster 130 EQ MD

Sky-Watcher Heritage 114P

Which out of them is the best for my needs?

I am also watching a few Maksutov Cassegrain but not sure what these are compared to reflector scopes? My budget is around £200 max.

Thank you, looking forward to being pointed in the correct direction and learning!

 

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As a beginner, I think you should avoid equatorial mounts for visual observing - too troublesome.

Many beginners choose a Dobsonian as you get a lot of aperture for the money - but the mount is very basic.

Another good option is to get a smaller instrument with a GoTo mount, so you can find things that are not obvious to the eye. I'd recommend this.

A 130p Newtonian would be a sound choice.

What's a Maksutov? :happy11: Google it.  Good scopes if in your budget.

As a beginner you might be advised to buy new, otherwise you may find yourself in the position of having to "sort out" a used instrument and lacking the experience to do so.

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Welcome from land down under

You said it all in one sentence

You want to observe, and do AP as well

My choice of weapon would be a ED80 on a HEQ5 mounts

You can also put a solar filter on the ED80, to observe the sun

Last week purchased the SynScan Wi-Fi unit for my EQ5, and downloaded the SynScan APP

Take the guess work out when doing single or 2 star alignment, and  has function to point your mobile phone to object want to observe, and the scope will track to object you have selected

 

Skywatcher ED80.jpg

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I agree that it's best to use an AZ mount for visual (or smart phone photography), as Cosmic Geoff said. It's so much easier to use. If you want to take deep sky pictures, from what I've read on this forum, you'll need a big EQ mount, as cletrac1922 alluded to.

Anyway, welcome to the forum. I'm not as experienced as most people here but I have experienced the frustrations of an EQ mount.

 

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Thanks guys, I would like do some simple imaging with my smart phone but nothing serious as I appreciate it's an expensive route to get decent results. 

 

At the moment I just want to get a setup and start visually observing and learning before investing lots of money into the imaging side of things. 

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Posted (edited)

Hi,

I can confirm you won't go wrong if you get either of the 130Ps they are beautiful scopes that give wide, bright views but they are on the heavy side, so the simpler Alt-Az mounts will have difficulty mounting them stably. I started out with a 130 on an EQ2; it was badly mounted and weighed far too much for the mount and tripod. As a result, vibration would quite literally start even if someone breathed on the scope.(I didn't understand or use the Equatorial function of the mount for the 1st season, I just used the mount as an alt az.) I have never owned a refractor, so I'm not really able to comment on those. :) 

There is always debate about newer astronomers getting Go-To or not, I never possessed a Go-To mount, finding that the fun of knowing you found and object was often just as rewarding as the view of it, but I guess that's a matter of opinion. :) 

My advisory setup is a 130P on a plain EQ3/EQ5; in my opinion an EQ mount's worth the extra learning, as it will be easily upgraded and will be a very good jump-off point into the hobby. I would also recommend a red-dot finder to start off with--far easier to use than a finderscope! At the quite low magnifications the 130 will give, you shouldn't have much trouble locating objects that way. ;) (Although I'm sure such heresy will be condemned by others! :D)

John

Edited by JohnSadlerAstro
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Posted (edited)

I agree i think a 130p would be a good choice i'm not just saying that because i have one myself, but its a good starter scope. Its also a good all rounder for DSOs and planets alike so you will have plenty of things to look at as stated above if you are just starting out i would highly recommend buying new. 

 

Edit : if storage is not a problem and are fine with the handling of a dob then a 150p dobsonian is in your price range and would probably be better than a 130p

Edited by Olli

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First off, avoid ebay for the most part.  If you have a Craigslist equivalent over there, that's the best way to find local deals on Dobs.  Because they're big and bulky and expensive to ship, sellers often deeply discount them to get them out of the house or shed in a hurry.

There are classified astro ads here on SGL and on UK Astronomy Buy & Sell and several other boards local to the UK.  I would go that route to locate something within driving distance of your home.

£200 is a tight budget, so I would go with a Dob to get the most stable bang for the money.  A poor mount will ruin the observing experience with even the best optics.

A Mak is a catadioptric telescope that uses both lenses and mirrors to focus an image.  They tend to be more compact than Newtonians for a given aperture, but have a larger central obstruction and much longer focal length.  This results in slightly less contrast and narrower true fields of view.  If portability is a deciding factor, they may be an option, but they cost more per aperture than Newtonians.  An SCT is a similar design you may also want to look into if compactness is important.

With your budget, I would avoid refractors.  You could get a short tube 80mm achromat or longer tube 90mm achromat, but you'll never get the sharp, color-free views of a parabolic mirror Newtonian of similar cost.

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Welcome to SGL.

I would agree with the advice above; for visual, avoid the EQ mounts and go for Alt-Az; and as a beginner, avoid eBay. My first telescope was the Tasco 3" Newtonian on a crude fork & rod Alt-Az mount; bought to view Halley's comet in 1986. Many non-astronomy years later, I wanted to restart with something better, and the Celestron Astromaster 130EQ MD looked just right. I soon found that it was a time-consuming pain to set up, and the balance weight made the whole assembly very heavy. The motor drive was difficult to set for reasonable tracking, and I could not get the red-dot finder to display a useful dot.

My next purchase was the Skywatcher Skymax 127 Maksutov, with Synscan GoTo. Much simpler to set up and use. The GoTo helps you find the more difficult targets (Uranus, Neptune and fainter Messier objects), and keep them in the field of view at high magnifications; but, if you just want to scan the heavens, the up/down/left/right buttons give you "manual" control, but still retain tracking. If I want a wider-field view, I can use the Astromaster's optics on the Skymax mount.

You mention a budget of about £200, and have considered a Dobsonian. Have a look at the Skywatcher Heritage 130p flextube (currently £137 from FLO). It's quick to set up and I use mine on a 2' diameter, 2' high, glass-topped patio table. The rest of your budget could go on a 32mm Plossl eyepiece for wide-field views, and a x2 Barlow to double the magnification of your 10mm, 25mm (& 32mm) eyepieces.

Geoff

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The Heritage 114p with Virtuoso mount has positives and negatives.  I've had mine (in Glasgow) for 6 months now - although observing sessions have been weather limited.  

Positives:

  • If the best scope is the one you use, it can't be beaten if your main plans are for back garden observing.  You just pick it up, cart it outside and put it on a table.  Let it cool for a but and you're good to go.  No tripod to set up or bits to put together.
  • The motorised tracking of the mount is a huge plus even without full goto.  If you'll be regularly observing with someone else there is nothing worse than having to relocate an object each time you "switch".
  • I believe goto can now be added very easily with the Skywatcher wifi adapter (around £60) which combines with your smartphone (this is my next purchase).

Negatives:

  • Although fantastic for the moon, I've struggled with Jupiter. It shows a good size disc and the moons clearly but I've only got glimpses of the bands.
  • My skies aren't dark enough anyway but I suspect the smaller aperture will limit any use for galaxies etc beyond the "easiest" ones.

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18 hours ago, cletrac1922 said:

Welcome from land down under

You said it all in one sentence

You want to observe, and do AP as well

My choice of weapon would be a ED80 on a HEQ5 mounts

You can also put a solar filter on the ED80, to observe the sun

Last week purchased the SynScan Wi-Fi unit for my EQ5, and downloaded the SynScan APP

Take the guess work out when doing single or 2 star alignment, and  has function to point your mobile phone to object want to observe, and the scope will track to object you have selected

 

Skywatcher ED80.jpg

Don’t reckon there’ll be many ed80s with a heq5 Mount knocking about on eBay or anywhere else for £200 pal...

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On 10/05/2018 at 14:46, DeaconFrost said:

I live just north of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands so I think I'll be in a good place to observe

With Summer fast approaching, that eternal twilight, trying to observe through the warmer Months up here is not really that spectacular, in-fact  many Stars are just not visible? I'm over in Moray, we would have similar skies, however, during the longer darker Winter nights, we have probably some of the best skies in the UK, its just finding right spot, where no manmade lighting is visible to the naked eye, and having the skies and the weather in our favour, then you'll have some wow moments!

That said, my first scope was purchased from a chap in Strathpeffer, it was the Celestron 127EQ and Im so happy to have passed it on!!!!

I saw the Moon, impressive, but in comparison to what I have now, no contest,  the 127EQ  was not enjoyable, too much faffing with the setup and continual messing with the locks and keeping the eyepiece in the best location ( you'll find out if you use an EQ ) The scope took away the simple pleasure of just looking! However it did teach me the fundamentals of how the setup works, but literally after the first nights observing, I knew this type of scope was not for me.
Its very similar to the scopes your looking at, and although their build quality might be better, the simple task of just looking is/was hindered with too many  constant adjustments

The best thing I bought was the Skyliner 200P Dobsonian, and although this version is not suited for astrophotography, purely designed for visual use, it works very well indeed. If you have great skies, a 10"+ would offer more, but the 200P (8") is easily manageable.

Note: There is an astronomy club situated near Culloden, maybe worth checking out!
As for buying on eBay? Unless you know what your after, and the goods are local, their are better options, one being our site sponsor, First Light Optics, but there are others, but alas for us, NOTHING, no specialised shops in Scotland unless you rate Jessops! Although some Years ago, their was a dedicated astronomy shop in nearby (to me) Fochabers, but this was before time in the hobby.

Welcome to the forum. 

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13 hours ago, Girders said:

 

Negatives:

  • Although fantastic for the moon, I've struggled with Jupiter. It shows a good size disc and the moons clearly but I've only got glimpses of the bands.
  • My skies aren't dark enough anyway but I suspect the smaller aperture will limit any use for galaxies etc beyond the "easiest" ones.

You should be able to see the bands on Jupiter on a good night - you need to get to about 75x but I can easily see them in a 70mm (and my current 90mm) aperture so the 114 should have no problems!

Theres still a load of great stuff for smaller apertures out there - have you seen Turn Left at Orion? Some fab targets in there I’m not even halfway through! 

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I'd avoid an EQ mount also. ALT-AZ would be better with a nice Newt reflector on it. Can't go wrong with a Dob though. Easily on budget and you gets lots of aperture. 

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Posted (edited)

Here is some conflicting advice.

If you want to do observing only, and you are a beginner I'd get a simple Alt/AZ mount that will not only GOTO but track as well, or a PushTo Dobsonian.  This will be less complicated for you as you learn.

Having said that the only photographic things you are likely to get with that sort of set up is the Moon and the planets and maybe the Sun (with correct filters), with a suitable webcam.

If you want to get into serious astrophotography, that requires hours of long exposure and the Alt/Az mounts are not suitable for that, plus you will need a budget much much larger than £200 (see end of post)**. 

The Newtonians are great for visual and photography, but do require a bit of maintenance (collimation) as the mirrors can get out of line.  This can be a bit daunting to the beginner on top of having to get your head around alignment and finding your way around the sky.  

So at the end of the day you are faced with the following options:

Get a small budget scope to get started and learn your way around the sky etc, and then later when you want to get into astrophotography and have more money replace this with a different set up. 

But first some important DON'Ts 

Don't buy from Ebay or the local photography shop, use a reputable astro dealer

Don't buy a non motorised equatorial mount, they are horribly difficult and frustrating to use.

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

You get more aperture for your money with a Dobsonian (Newtonian)

or the slightly smaller:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html

Or this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/az-goto/skywatcher-skymax-102-synscan-az-goto.html

**For your info, for long exposure astrophotograhy

The minimum you can get away with for long exposure Astrophotography (i.e. galaxies, Nebulae, etc) is an HEQ5 and 130PDS and this doesn't include cameras, guiding equipment, dew heaters etc etc

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-mounts/skywatcher-heq5-pro-synscan.html

£776

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

£169

Carole 

 

Edited by carastro
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Sound advice Carole. Well written and broken down into basics of visual and AP.

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Of course everybody is different. I started with a small refractor on an alt/az mount, then had a couple of EQ mounted reflectors. I now have a dob and a mak. The mak came with a GOTO but I have ditched that in favour of an alt/az. That's because I am very impatient and want to be set up in a couple of minutes and prefer to find things for myself (again just a matter of choice). I mainly use the dob  as I can carry it straight out from the veranda to the patio and the smaller mak for solar (with a white light filter).

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I started with 90mm refract on EQ. Loved the scope, hated EQ. Upgraded to Heritage 130p mini Dob. Love it. Then I updated to a fully GoTo 8" SCT. Love that very much. In between, I bought a small 70mm refract which I use for solar observing. 

Now on the hunt for a second hand 70mm Televue Pronto refract. 

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Yeah I started with go to but didn’t know what I was looking at and had no context. Moved to a manual EQ was a total nightmare for finding stuff just didn’t work for me. Am on manual alt az now and wouldn’t be in a rush to change anytime soon!

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Thanks for all great in valuable feedback. 

I might have to have a re think taking onboard what has been said. 

 

How come the EQ mounts are a nightmare compared to Alt Az? Forgive my newbie question! Surely once alligned an EQ mount with slow motion controls should be easier to track an object versus a Alt Az?

Is eBay not recommended due to potential problems with complex instruments that I wouldn't be aware of or know how to fix? It's just I can potentially get much larger aperture and possibly go to within budget. Around 130-150mm.

If I buy new I'm 'only' looking a 114mm Dob or 130mm flex tube.

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Posted (edited)
Quote

How come the EQ mounts are a nightmare compared to Alt Az? Forgive my newbie question! Surely once alligned an EQ mount with slow motion controls should be easier to track an object versus a Alt Az?

It's the non motorised ones that are really the nightmare, actually finding the target.  I started with a manual EQ, and the slow motion controls on mine used to slip, so I was forever having to re-find the target.  A motorised EQ is fine but some people find the simplicity of the Alt/Az mounts easier. 

I do astro-imaging and am quite used to an EQ mount, but when I do outreach and am showing the public things in the sky, I can't be bothered with taking power and cables with me, so I use an Alt/Az manually as its quicker to set up and find things in the sky.  

The problem with Ebay, is you don't have any proper advice on your needs and you could easily buy the wrong thing.  Also no guarantees if it goes wrong or after sales service if you are unsure about anything.  Also you don't have the variety of scopes available at a given time.  There are several good Astro-Retailers around including FLO the sponsors of this forum, who know about telescopes, what they will do, what the best thing is for your needs and won't try to flog you the wrong thing, and indeed at least two of them has taken items back and given a refund if the item was not suitable for my needs once received and attempted to fit to existing kit.  You won't get that service on Ebay. 

Aperture is not the BE ALL and END ALL.  OK it magnifies things more, but then it also makes it more difficult to find in the first place, plus targets drift out of the FOV quicker, and you get a smaller FOV.

Carole 

Edited by carastro

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42 minutes ago, carastro said:

Aperture is not the BE ALL and END ALL.  OK it magnifies things more, but then it also makes it more difficult to find in the first place, plus targets drift out of the FOV quicker, and you get a smaller FOV.

Erm, aperture doesn't affect magnification or field of view, it just affects how much light is caught...

 

Magnification is a factor of the two focal lengths (ota and ep), fov is also affected by that, but more dependent on design.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, carastro said:

OK it magnifies things more

For a given focal ratio.  Have you seen the 27 inch f/2.7 Dob with an 1850mm focal length?  That's shorter than most 8" SCTs' 2000mm focal length.  It would gather over 11 times more light at less magnification.

Edited by Louis D
typo

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With an AZ mount you can move up and down and left and right just as you want. An EQ mount it tilted so to move to the next star it's not immediately apparent how to get there directly. You probably need to zigzag there (if you're not an expert). You might need to adjust the scope too if you move from looking south to looking north, say, because the finder can end up in an unhelpful position. 

Personally, I don't see a big problem with ebay. If you would buy a second hand camera or music system from there, why not a telescope. I've never tried, but apparently you can complain if something is not working as advertised. There's no special telescope reason for not using ebay. The people here can help you if you're not sure whether the scope is a decent one.

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I think the problem with ebay - for a beginner at least - its that you will inevitably find yourself at times unable to get the scope to do (or appear to do) what you expect to see.  At that point it can be very difficult to tell (even with help on here) whether it's something you are doing wrong or if it's a problem with the scope.  And while with 'proper' retailers or fellow 'proper' hobbyist astronomers you can probably easily go back for advice with eBay it's *likely* to be someone who bought or was given a scope and never/rarely used it so can't tell you if it ever worked properly, or help you with any problems you're having.  I suspect eBay can be useful once you know what you're doing but even then there are other options where you can be more confident what you are buying has been looked after.

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