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Absolute Beginner - 2 scope choice


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Apologies in advance for yet another thread on scope choice froma newbie :undecided:

I'm new to the obsession of starwatching, and my children and I have recently been enjoying the night views from our backgarden with a pair of 16x50 binocs. Cloudy weather permitting of course.

The Kids enjoyed the experience but found the binocs too unweildy and awkward to hold steady, so I decided to invest in a telescope.

My original (uninformed choice) was a Celestron 114eq first scope ordered from amazon and have just had to return it straight away unused, for a refund, due to missing parts and a non-working motor.

So I've researched an alternative or two after reading forums, reviews, a few books and the latest copies of Astronomy and Sky at Night magazines.

The choices are:

1. Skywatcher Explorer 130PM

2. Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian (budget could stretch to a 200P at a push).

Both I've heard are good scopes and not too expensive to get us started, but which would be better for 3 keen beginners?

My reservation on the dobs are the eyepiece is quite high and might be too tall for my six year olds to view comfortably. they do have the biggest aperture for the money but dont look quite as steady as the 130pm for use with small children.

Any and all advice is gratefully received. :)

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Hi Scribble, welcome to SGL. As I think you have realised, aperture is king. I would go for the 8" Dob if you have kids. You can always stand them on a little step if they can't see, don't forget the eyepiece isn't always going to be vertical.

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Bearing in mind you want the kids to enjoy the experience I'd go for the 130PM. I think having to move the scope to track the objects would be pretty difficult for a 6 year old, whereas the 130PM will do this for them. You could find the objects, step away from the eyepiece and the object would still be visible when your kids took their "turn", this wouldn't be the case with the Dob (unless you were pretty quick!!).

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I just think it would get to be a pain in the backside having to do it for 2 kids. Find the object, get kid number 1 to the eyepiece for a look before the object disappears, refind the object, get kid number 2 to the eyepiece....etc. etc.

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Thanks for all the responses so quickly!

Wow, didnt realise they would shift out of view so quickly (but then again, at a decent magnification I should have thought :oops: ).

Still torn - the immediacy of the 130PM or the long-term 'big' aperture of the dobs :?

Thing - you said get an 8" on a motorised mount wouldn't that be even more expensive? (pushing it for the 200P already - the wallet be a groaning at the thought)

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Well an 8" scope on a motor drive would be ideal!! :undecided: But then as you say things are getting expensive.

Using a Dob with 2 kids might well kill the hobby for you all before you've started. The 130PM would be much more relaxed and easy to use experience for you all to get into astronomy IMHO.

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Thanks for the link thing, there doesnt seem to be what I'm looking for there (at the moment), but will check back on astrobuysell, for any changes (I do, however, like to buy new to get a receipt for any problems - ala my celestron/amazon experience).

The head is saying 130pm for ease of use and as you say tracking, but I do keep looking at the dobs and thinking "mmm, 8 inch aperture" and the simplistic set-up.

Arrgh :undecided: , thanks for the points and a 130pm does seem like a good place to start.

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I know it looks like I'm trying to push one side of the argument but you could always get the 130PM, use it for 4 or 5 years and then look at what your needs are if you are still interested in the hobby at that point and your kids are older and able to do more for themselves.

My concern would be that the messing about with rushing "taking turns" on the Dob could make your kids lose interest pretty quickly at the age they are at. :undecided:

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Hello "scribble" - and welcome to Stargazers Lounge!

No doubt you are by now aware that there are many, many different telescopes to choose from, to start you off on what can become a fascinating (and expensive!) lifelong hobby.

You have done well to "narrow" down your choice of scopes to two very good instruments.

"Thing" is correct in saying that "aperture is King!" as telescopes are all about "light gathering" power - more so than magnification. However, there is another equally important "saying" with telescopes - "the best scope, is the one that is used most!" In other words, sometimes it is better to have a smaller scope which is easier to set up and use, than a huge scope which is awkward and heavy to set up and unweildly in use.

When choosing a scope, in my opinion one has to consider such things as:-

Do you have adequate storage space to leave your scope (preferably in a set up condition, ready to go?).

Do you have a reasonably light pollution free space in your garden in which to set up the scope?

Do you have the time to spend fairly long periods outside (often in the cold) viewing the heavens.

There may be other considerations which I have not thought about.

But! You have got to start somewhere, and in this respect I would tend to agree with "Gaz O'C" and go for the Skywatcher 130p to start your hobby. It is a scope with a reasonably good aperture at 5.5", and importantly, it is motor driven - which as "Gaz O'C" says, will allow it to "track" objects and allow you to leave the eyepiece to let your children view. The scope is not to high off the floor either. Also, the whole set up is light enough to handle.

I started out with this scope - and like many others, obtained a good grounding in learning about the night sky. The scope will give you truly excellent views of the Moon. You will be able to see bands of colour on Jupiter, and at least four of its moons (as pinpricks of light). You will also easily see the rings around Saturn, and the phases of Venus (when it's more suitable positioned in the future). You will also be able to easily see double stars, and identify some of the deeper sky objects such as galaxies, nebulae, and globualr clusters (but these will only be seen as very faint "misty" patches, as you would need a much bigger scope (bigger than an 8" Dob) to obtain what could be termed "pleasing" views of deep sky objects.

So yes, the Skywatcher 130P is indeed, an excellent telescope to start off with.

Best wishes,

philsail1

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Thanks everyone for the advice and welcome :undecided:

I have indeed decided on the 130P, thanks to some persuasive reasoning from all :)

the storage wouldnt be a problem in a fairly empty garage, light pollution is ok in my small garden, the nearest streetlight is obscured by side of the house and they are the newish ones that face down.

I dont mind spending the time outside and have done a few evenings recently (clouds permitting).

So thanks again everyone, I'll be making the purchase soon and look forward to making pestering "what is this?" posts on the forum!

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Hiya Scribble, just to confuse you even more, I will push the case for a DOB. One of my greatest delights is showing anyone who is interested, the sky at night. The look of amazement on peoples faces gives me imence joy. Now I have two goto mounts, a number of scopes to fit on them and recently aquired an observatory. The draw back with all this kit is setting up, especially tracking. One has to polar align :scratch: etc.

Now let me introduce you to me 10" Dob which has lived in a shed out in our gaden for at least 11 years. I must have shown over a hundred people, large and TINY the sky through this scope. Why this scope above all the others, Well its so easy to move and use, Just place the base where you want to observe, mount the OTA on the bearings, put an eyepiece in the focusser,turn on your RED DOT FINDER and your ready to observe.Yes you need a small set of steps (even I use them some times) and you will have to reaquire or just center the object between each viewer, but that is no problem.

Moving to a darker site is simple to, as long as the two parts of the dob will fit in your vehical plus the steps, the sky's the limit :undecided: . As previouse members have mentioned, Apature is king.

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For what its worth I started on a 130PM and went to a 8 inch dob. I love the ease of the dob, I have had the 2 kids and even the wife looking at more stuff through the dob than I ever did with the 130. I just got fed up in the end with polar aligning each time i went out so that the tracking would work etc etc. I just pick up the dob plonk it anywhere in the garden and we are off. You soon get used to giving it a little nudge along it almost second nature now.

Just another point of view, its not all beer and skittles starting out with an equatorial mount, the tracking is nice admittedly but it was getting to the point where I could not be bothered to get the 130 out and set it up. As everyone always says the best telescope for you is the one you are going to use most.

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BUT remember the 130PM has a wobbly EQ2 mount with locked and sloppy being the only two settings for the lock nuts. So when your tiny one touches anything it will wobble for three seconds.

So perhaps a second hand TAL 1/2M which has a rock solid mount and drive?

This is from my experience with my 8 year old. He can now accidently knock the tube/eyepeice and it is still locked on the target.

I found a TAL 150 second hand with RA mount on ebay for £90 which is cheaper than ta new 130PM....

Patience is the key..

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Reading all of the above with great interest,as I am in much the same position ,undecided about the 130 PM or Supa Trak Auto or the Dob 200p. How heavy is the Dob ? could a woman of advancing years lift it without slipping a disk ? only a short distance. Thanks .

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Hi Scribble. I've got a 130pm and you won't be disappointed, it's a great little scope and like Gaz said it's ideal being able to keep things in view with the motorised mount so that you can call the wife/kids/dog to come and have a look and not have to start looking for whatever it was all over again!

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get the 130p but be warned,i started off with this very inexpensive scope and within 3 months i bought the 200mm when i found how adictive observing was.

nothing wrong with the 130 just didan't want to commit lots of money to the hobby without being sure it was for me.

use a compass for rough polar alignment and see how you go.

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Cheers everyone, lots of views and opinions on this one :undecided:

I've ordered the 130pm and its due in the next day or so.

I haven't ruled out the 200p dob in the future (just dont tell the wife yet!).

Looking forward to a clear night in the next week or so to try it out 8)

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