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Need help getting started with observing dso on a budget

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18 hours ago, azathoth said:

Hemmm just one opinion among several, the 130STL is a 130mm aperture. For visual observation with a Newtonian and with the goal of looking at DSOs specifically, many people will agree to say that aperture should be prioritized over Goto (Unless you can't carry anything more then a light small telescope because of health issues.)

Usually, with a Newtonian, it's recommended to start at a minimum aperture of 6" and more. I am not saying the Nexstar 130 is a bad choice, I am just throwing another option in, the manual 6" traditional Dobsonian, very popular, very reliable, it has no entry level electronics on it.

People have good results with it, it's not too expensive new and easily available second hand for much less then $500, you still have remaining money for a couple of eyepieces 😁


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Posted (edited)

Aperture and Easy for the Dob at 8"s a small stool will be all that's needed. A 8" Newtonian on an Eq mount will be alot of work and much less ergonomic by comparison, one has to rotate the ota as the target moves accross the sky to keep the eyepiece at a comfortable level unlock and lock axis clutches and the eyepiece hight even with the tripod legs not extended will be quite high adjustable chair may make it easier but yet another thing to keep ajusting as you move from one target to the next. I run a 6" Newt on an Eq 5 but only for objects like planets and comets objects that need long period observation or are more effected by atmospheric instability than dso then the tracking capabilities become worth the extra physical efforts, for dso there are many more target's so if this galaxy isent a good view move to that star cluster over there kind of thing. Dobs for Dso are hard to beat for their aperture and ease of use, Hope this helps 🙂

Edited by SIDO

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On 08/08/2018 at 22:26, azathoth said:

It seems that the 8" dob is my best route, but my only difficulties will be manually finding objects, and I'm very inexperienced. I heard that it's possible to install a motor for finding dso' s or something related?

You can prepare yourself finder charts using planetarium software to show you the way. 

I used Cartes du Ciel to prepare these. Print them out, put them in plastic covers and use them with a red light at the telescope to see where your scope should be pointing, what you should see through your finder, and what you should see at the eyepiece. 

Every time you prepare one and use of these, you will be gaining experience and expertise that you may well miss if you simply use GOTO.

Example of my Finder Chart for M82 attached.


Finder VIew M82.PNG

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Not sure what part of WV you're in, but as has been recommended, I wouldn't go with anything smaller than an 8". Especially in more light polluted areas. I personally have a 12" GoTo and I feel it's the right size for me. Some days I wish it were larger for better observation in more urban areas, but then I think if it were larger, it'd be more to haul around. GoTo isn't absolutely necessary, but it is certainly nice to have. If you don't have it, you'll force yourself to learn your way around the night sky and star hopping techniques which are great basic skills to have. There are numerous apps, books and other resources available to help you find your way around and locate objects. Learning those basic skills though are important to just about every amateur astronomer. There have been a few occasions when I want to look at something that's not in my hand controller catalog and I need to figure out how to find them. It's rare, but it does happen. I would say that if you're deadset on a GoTo, save your money until you can afford it. Otherwise, a manual will suit you just fine. Another option would be to go ahead and get yourself a manual dob now and then save up the cash to get a EQ mount and adapt your telescope to that. You could also buy an 8" Newtonian reflector that's already bundled with a manual EQ mount (exactly the same scope that's on a dob, just a different mount type) and then slowly upgrade it by putting a motor on it or buying a GoTo EQ mount. Benefit of a dob is they're easier to learn and use for beginners. Benefit of an EQ mount is they're more versatile and can be used for observation and astrophotography. Just something to think about if you're considering an 8" reflector.

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