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Take a look at this thread  

You could get some very nice imaging done with the cameras you already own using the star adventurer https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-star-adventurer/skywatcher-star-adventurer-astronomy-bundle.html. You don't necessarily need a scope to do this.

Then buy something like this for visual observing with your son https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

All with the bonus of doing both at the same time.

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Thanks to everyone who has posted, Ive been amazed at all of the reply’s and help you’ve all given me.  I will let you know how I get on, I will be making the purchase beginning of December so it

Hello again, this is the scope I think I will get. A few people on here have mentioned the 127 Maks and I think it will have more chance of getting used as it seems very portable and easy to store whe

You seem to be attracted to the 150pds. ?  It will give a marginally better view than a smaller instrument, (130mm) provided that viewing conditions are good.  Sharper? No, just slightly better detail

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Regarding @Stuand his excellent post note that whilst you can get a 130P DS ota very cheaply (I did) to get the best out of it imaging DSOs there is a lot of intervention required. This is fine if you are so inclined but a Coma  Corrector is a must for most reflectors and a Baader version especially if mounted internally is much better in that scope than a SW version. Other things to master are collimation, which needs tools, the focuser needs to be checked for alignment, the draw tube needs shortening to avoid ‘pacman’ type stars and it needs a good EQmount which is more than your whole budget. If you are fussy about your images, reflectors produce the ‘starburst’ effect on brighter stars due to the vanes supporting the secondary which some love and some hate.

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4 hours ago, Stu said:

An Startravel 120 is a fast achromatic scope so will show a fair amount of CA on the moon and bright objects. It will be ok on deep sky for visual but I suspect it may struggle a bit for imaging

I think if you limited yourself to achieving some but not all of your objectives then you are more likely to have success.

The SkyMax 127mm for instance would allow good visual views on the moon, planets and most of the smaller DSOs. The field of view would be too narrow for some of the larger nebulae and open clusters. It would also allow lunar and planetary imaging, but would struggle on DSOs because of its slow speed and long focal length, needing careful guiding and longer exposures.

One suggestion of the 130PDS reflector is, I think, a good one on you budget. There is a thread on here some showing the imaging results people get with them and they are very capable scopes. Visually they would be pretty handy too, perhaps a little limited on planets but lunar should be fun and DSOs quite doable too.

Thank you for your advice, it’s much appreciated. 

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2 hours ago, Paul67 said:

Take a look at this thread  

You could get some very nice imaging done with the cameras you already own using the star adventurer https://www.firstlightoptics.com/skywatcher-star-adventurer/skywatcher-star-adventurer-astronomy-bundle.html. You don't necessarily need a scope to do this.

Then buy something like this for visual observing with your son https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

All with the bonus of doing both at the same time.

Thanks for that, I didn’t even know about the star adventurer. It looks a good bit of kit.

I will have a good look at the attached link as well.

Thanks again.

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26 minutes ago, Owmuchonomy said:

Regarding @Stuand his excellent post note that whilst you can get a 130P DS ota very cheaply (I did) to get the best out of it imaging DSOs there is a lot of intervention required. This is fine if you are so inclined but a Coma  Corrector is a must for most reflectors and a Baader version especially if mounted internally is much better in that scope than a SW version. Other things to master are collimation, which needs tools, the focuser needs to be checked for alignment, the draw tube needs shortening to avoid ‘pacman’ type stars and it needs a good EQmount which is more than your whole budget. If you are fussy about your images, reflectors produce the ‘starburst’ effect on brighter stars due to the vanes supporting the secondary which some love and some hate.

The more I read the more I’m thinking I will need to remortgage the house or something. 

Thanks for the helpful post. 

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58 minutes ago, Ray Mondo said:

The more I read the more I’m thinking I will need to remortgage the house or something. 

Thanks for the helpful post. 

I think you will find astronomy a very expensive hobby if you wish to start off doing averything, as mentioned prior.

I do think maybe your best bet is to buy the Sky Watcher Star Adventurer (as suggested by Paul) and a ball-head mount (you may already have one depending on the tripods you have to hand?) if you wish to start by purely imaging, or to buy something like a Skywatcher 250px (or maybe smaller if that is too big) and enjoy visual observing only for a while.

I think something worth considering is that it is much easier to spend ££££ thousands when looking to get good images... but it would cost you far less to get absolutely splendid views visually. My 250px, right angle finder, telrad and 2 eyepieces have proved enough for me over the last 3 years, and likely many more years to come. And that "fully complete" setup cost me maybe £700 total (i built up to it, got the eyepieces later and used the default for several months, about £500 for scope, right angle and telrad). My basic imaging setup with a scope half the size cost me over £1000 outright!

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2 hours ago, pipnina said:

I think you will find astronomy a very expensive hobby if you wish to start off doing averything, as mentioned prior.

I do think maybe your best bet is to buy the Sky Watcher Star Adventurer (as suggested by Paul) and a ball-head mount (you may already have one depending on the tripods you have to hand?) if you wish to start by purely imaging, or to buy something like a Skywatcher 250px (or maybe smaller if that is too big) and enjoy visual observing only for a while.

I think something worth considering is that it is much easier to spend ££££ thousands when looking to get good images... but it would cost you far less to get absolutely splendid views visually. My 250px, right angle finder, telrad and 2 eyepieces have proved enough for me over the last 3 years, and likely many more years to come. And that "fully complete" setup cost me maybe £700 total (i built up to it, got the eyepieces later and used the default for several months, about £500 for scope, right angle and telrad). My basic imaging setup with a scope half the size cost me over £1000 outright!

Thanks for your help. 

Im starting to think that just viewing will be the way forward for now. I will have a look at the 250 as well. What eyepieces would be the best to aim for in the future. I think the 150pds is more in my budget with a good mount and eyepieces. 

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17 minutes ago, Ray Mondo said:

Im starting to think that just viewing will be the way forward for now. I will have a look at the 250 as well. What eyepieces would be the best to aim for in the future. I think the 150pds is more in my budget with a good mount and eyepieces. 

Okay, if you are starting with a visual setup, you could give some thought to whether you want to spend your money on a smallish telescope with GoTo, or a big one  on a plain Dobsonian mount, like the 250px mentioned above.  While the relative low cost of  a Dob scope for the aperture, or its haul-outside-and-look simplicity, may appeal, you can do a lot more with a scope on a fully featured mount.  For instance, I looked at Mercury, Venus and Arcturus with my 127mmGoTo this afternoon.  Try doing that with a Dob, ROFL.  And earlier I had the same scope on the EQ5 mount and had a go imaging the Moon in daylight.

Were you to invest in a 127mm Mak GoTo outfit, it would continue to be useful for something, whatever other equipment you acquired later, and it makes a good general purpose starter scope (in fact that seems to be what the makers explicitly intend this package for.)

Eyepieces - I think it's early to be worrying about that.  The ultimate choice will be made after you have acquired a scope and started using it. For instance, if you don't have a Dob there is less reason to buy the more exotic eyepieces giving an ultrawide field of view.

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I know I risk getting shot down in flames for suggesting this, but:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p-ds-eq3-pro-goto.html

The focal length is enough for planets, even with an ordinary webcam, and despite the scare stories you can get unguided tracking for 30-60 second subs (which will keep you busy for a year or two. All that's needed is good polar alignment and patience in fine-tuning the mount.

The 'Bible' Making Every Photon Count offers the EQ3-2 as the minimum for imaging.

If you add guiding you should be able to achieve 1 arc-second for as long as you want, when you have run out of brighter targets or want to go 'deeper'.

The coma corrector is an optional extra, as its shortening the focus tube (leave it long if you want to easily enjoy visual use).

The EQ3-2 is comparable to a Star Adventurer if you want to use it with a camera/lens combination and will give longer exposures with short-mid length lenses (135mm is nice).

And when you are ready to upgrade, you can sell the mount but you will probably want to keep the scope!

How do I know? I have a 130P-DS which I used on an EQ3-2 for two years and now have moved to an HEQ5 pro mount.

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5 hours ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

Okay, if you are starting with a visual setup, you could give some thought to whether you want to spend your money on a smallish telescope with GoTo, or a big one  on a plain Dobsonian mount, like the 250px mentioned above.  While the relative low cost of  a Dob scope for the aperture, or its haul-outside-and-look simplicity, may appeal, you can do a lot more with a scope on a fully featured mount.  For instance, I looked at Mercury, Venus and Arcturus with my 127mmGoTo this afternoon.  Try doing that with a Dob, ROFL.  And earlier I had the same scope on the EQ5 mount and had a go imaging the Moon in daylight.

Were you to invest in a 127mm Mak GoTo outfit, it would continue to be useful for something, whatever other equipment you acquired later, and it makes a good general purpose starter scope (in fact that seems to be what the makers explicitly intend this package for.)

Eyepieces - I think it's early to be worrying about that.  The ultimate choice will be made after you have acquired a scope and started using it. For instance, if you don't have a Dob there is less reason to buy the more exotic eyepieces giving an ultrawide field of view.

Thanks for your detailed help. I did look at a Dob but decided it was too basic and heavy. 

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5 hours ago, Stub Mandrel said:

I know I risk getting shot down in flames for suggesting this, but:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-130p-ds-eq3-pro-goto.html

The focal length is enough for planets, even with an ordinary webcam, and despite the scare stories you can get unguided tracking for 30-60 second subs (which will keep you busy for a year or two. All that's needed is good polar alignment and patience in fine-tuning the mount.

The 'Bible' Making Every Photon Count offers the EQ3-2 as the minimum for imaging.

If you add guiding you should be able to achieve 1 arc-second for as long as you want, when you have run out of brighter targets or want to go 'deeper'.

The coma corrector is an optional extra, as its shortening the focus tube (leave it long if you want to easily enjoy visual use).

The EQ3-2 is comparable to a Star Adventurer if you want to use it with a camera/lens combination and will give longer exposures with short-mid length lenses (135mm is nice).

And when you are ready to upgrade, you can sell the mount but you will probably want to keep the scope!

How do I know? I have a 130P-DS which I used on an EQ3-2 for two years and now have moved to an HEQ5 pro mount.

The 130 was the first scope I considered. Do you think the 150 pds with the basic eq3-2 mount will give a better quality view through the eyepiece? 

Thanks for your help

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7 hours ago, cletrac1922 said:

Welcomed from land down under

To do any sort of imaging, you going to need a scope with tracking ability

That is where budget comes into it

Refractor is better than reflector for imaging

 

 

Thanks for your help. 

I think I’m going for a reflector for now as a good reflector and setup is quite a bit over budget for now. 

 

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7 hours ago, Ray Mondo said:

The 130 was the first scope I considered. Do you think the 150 pds with the basic eq3-2 mount will give a better quality view through the eyepiece? 

Thanks for your help

This is where the compromises come in. Yes for visual a 150 would be better, but imaging would be more marginalnon the EQ3-2 Mount. The 130 is smaller and easier to mount, imaging would be easier too. I have a 130mm Heritage used for visual and it is a nice compact yet surprisingly capable scope.

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41 minutes ago, Stu said:

This is where the compromises come in. Yes for visual a 150 would be better, but imaging would be more marginalnon the EQ3-2 Mount. The 130 is smaller and easier to mount, imaging would be easier too. I have a 130mm Heritage used for visual and it is a nice compact yet surprisingly capable scope.

Thanks for the reply. 

So if I was to look at the moon for instance with the 130 would it look sharp or soft? How much detail could I resolve with a good eyepiece?

Thanks

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8 hours ago, Ray Mondo said:

The 130 was the first scope I considered. Do you think the 150 pds with the basic eq3-2 mount will give a better quality view through the eyepiece? 

Thanks for your help

 

The 150P-DS will be marginally better for visual but is a bit large for the mount for photography.

The 130P-DS would be a better all-rounder, I suspect, but there are no 'right' answers only issues to balance to suit your situation.

In the end the best scope is the one you use!

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53 minutes ago, Ray Mondo said:

Thanks for the reply. 

So if I was to look at the moon for instance with the 130 would it look sharp or soft? How much detail could I resolve with a good eyepiece?

Thanks

It is a matter of degrees. You would still get good sharp views of the moon which are rewarding to look at. Would it have the same resolution as larger scopes or an expensive refractor? No it wouldn’t but that is part of the compromise. Take a larger scope, say an SCT or a larger Newtonian and you need a much bigger (and more expensive) mount to do AP with. Keep the scope to a size like the 130PDS and you gain an ability to do both types of astronomy rather than specialising in one or the other, plus you get to stay within your budget.

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1 hour ago, Stub Mandrel said:

 

The 150P-DS will be marginally better for visual but is a bit large for the mount for photography.

The 130P-DS would be a better all-rounder, I suspect, but there are no 'right' answers only issues to balance to suit your situation.

In the end the best scope is the one you use!

Thanks for the advice, it makes sense. 

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47 minutes ago, Stu said:

It is a matter of degrees. You would still get good sharp views of the moon which are rewarding to look at. Would it have the same resolution as larger scopes or an expensive refractor? No it wouldn’t but that is part of the compromise. Take a larger scope, say an SCT or a larger Newtonian and you need a much bigger (and more expensive) mount to do AP with. Keep the scope to a size like the 130PDS and you gain an ability to do both types of astronomy rather than specialising in one or the other, plus you get to stay within your budget.

Thanks, it seems like a few people are giving similar advice which makes sense. 

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9 hours ago, Ray Mondo said:

The 130 was the first scope I considered. Do you think the 150 pds with the basic eq3-2 mount will give a better quality view through the eyepiece? 

Thanks for your help

You seem to be attracted to the 150pds. ?  It will give a marginally better view than a smaller instrument, (130mm) provided that viewing conditions are good.  Sharper? No, just slightly better detail and resolution.  Actually the Moon is the easiest object of which to get an impressive view - any small telescope will elict a response of 'wow, craters!' while Mars elicits 'round orange dot ... meh' 

The one you linked is one of the 'traditional' amateur astronomer instrument setups and the fundamentals have not vastly changed in 100 years.  The Newtonian OTA is perfectly fine for visual and is simple and cheap to manufacture (in times past, amateurs used to make their own, even down to the mirrors.)   It's when you try imaging that the trouble starts. The geometry of the newt dictates that for best results the secondary mirror should be small and the focal movement restricted, to minimise the central obstruction. They can be modified to accept a DSLR camera but this introduces a degree of compromise to push the prime focus further out.  And the focus still does not reach far enough out to accommodate various gadgets that an imager might want to use - an ADC, a filter wheel, or a flip mirror.  Now you see why many planetary imagers opt for the much more expensive SCTs.?

As for the mount, in its basic form you can't do much with it that you can't do with a Dob, except that you can track manually by using a RA slow motion instead of nudging in two axes.  It does have the advantage that (at extra cost) you can upgrade to RA &DEC motors (powered tracking), or a full GoTo.  Some beginners find equatorial mounts just too confusing, what with all those angles and stuff.

There is one more snag with Newtonians, which gets more vexatious the bigger they are - the range of eyepiece movement. The eyepiece gets into odd positions, the range of height being the most vexatious.  When I first set up my 203mm Newt on the EQ-5 mount, I extended the tripod legs so that it would see low objects over the garden fence, and then discovered that at the zenith the eyepiece was seven feet off the ground, meaning that I had to stand on a step-up at risk of overbalancing and landing in a heap on top of some expensive scrap. Not good.

In short you need to think carefully about what to buy, why you are buying it, and where you are going to compromise. Because unless you spend a four figure sum, you WILL have to compromise.   My earlier recommendation stands.   

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5 minutes ago, Ray Mondo said:

Can someone possibly let me know if this will be any good? It seems to have a better mount but obviously the tube will be heavier. I don’t really understand why it’s a similar price to the 150.  

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-200p-eq5.html

Don't buy this.

A couple of years ago I put together an almost identical setup. Within months I replaced it with an 8" GoTo SCT, which was far easier to use and had GoTo, and had more potential for imaging, as I discovered later.   Not having GoTo while having it on a smaller instrument was the killer.   The SCT was a lot more expensive but I feel it was worth every penny.

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14 minutes ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

Don't buy this.

A couple of years ago I put together an almost identical setup. Within months I replaced it with an 8" GoTo SCT, which was far easier to use and had GoTo, and had more potential for imaging, as I discovered later.   Not having GoTo while having it on a smaller instrument was the killer.   The SCT was a lot more expensive but I feel it was worth every penny.

Hi, thanks for your replies. 

I didn’t realise the 200p was so massive, I don’t fancy falling in a heap either ?  

Its so hard to make a choice, I wish I could try before I bought one. I don’t have an astronomy club anywhere near me so I couldn’t even try a club one. 

 

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Also worth considering that equatorial mounts may not necessarily be the most intuitive for visual observing - often the tube must be rotated multiple times per session to keep the eyepiece in a usable position which can disturb balance, also there is the possibility of scope-mount collisions (with small scopes not so much of an issue).

I think a beginner looking for visual-only at first will be best served by some form of alt-az, being that a dob platform or a fork mount etc, because it will be comfortable out of the box and intuitive to use. I'd say use EQ mounts when imaging and at no other time if possible.

Another thing to think about with visual is go-to as mentioned above, but I think that part of the hobby is learning the sky and go-to can rob you of this somewhat if you come to rely on it. Also I do not think go-to will fit within your budget in a nice way (it adds hundreds to the cost of any scope). I think it would be best to go for something small and cheap, but without the expectation of things being mechanically perfect or electronically assisted.

Maybe something like the SkyWatcher heritage 130-p would be a good start. It's well below budget (I think once we see how much we can spend I think we can forget that we don't need to spend it) and is a well-received item by beginners. It gives you an entry to the hobby and can be used to keep you interested while you build up an idea of what you will want later down the line (i.e. you might save for a big imaging rig, or a larger electronic visual scope, once you see the ups and downs of a telescope for yourself).

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Just to confirm (as I have one), the ST120 does show quite obvious chromatic aberration on the Moon.  Given what you've said thus far I don't think you'd be happy with it.

James

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