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Stu1smartcookie

Choices , how do we arrive at our ideal set up ?

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So , Astronomy....a fantastic hobby that will never get boring . We all know this , it’s why we chose this as our fascinating pastime . But , how do we arrive at our perfect set up? With a seemingly inexhaustible choice of astronomical equipment , how do we choose ? Well , of course the savvy amongst us ... probably most of us , will read reviews and advertisements but we  choose without even testing a scope before buying . I’ve got three scopes now in my short renaissance with astronomy and I’m still not sure if my set up is right for me . You have to judge so many things when buying equipment.. where will you use it ? Are you into imaging or visual astronomy? What is your budget ? Refractor , reflector, Cassegrain.. or even a pair of binos . So , you have your scope but then you have to choose the mount ! EQ or Alt Azimuth , Goto or manual ? .. and then it’s the accessories .. an endless choice of Eyepieces, Barlows as well as field flatteners and extension tubes ... a laser or Cheshire collimating tool ??? It’s not even as simple as getting what you pay for ... a small refractor with fantastic optics can be more effective than a large Dob especially if the Dob is just collecting dust as it’s too big and cumbersome to be used on a regular basis ... guilty as charged here ! 

I look at many peoples profiles on here and see that they own a variety of equipment .. it’s an expensive hobby and , to be honest , there is NEVER a right or wrong set up as there are so many combinations that work for so many people . 

What I have gleaned from my short time back in the astronomy fold is that it’s the most satisfying and frustrating hobby that I could ever imagine being part of . That may be down to the equipment .. but primarily it’s down to things that are uncontrollable... light pollution , and , cloud to mention two . 

Whatever our reasons for buying the variety of equipment that’s on sale there is one common goal which we all share ,  The enjoyment of seeing a part of the universe with our own eyes,instead of looking at a heavily processed image from our friend the Hubble scope. And , being part of a community , that never judges you , even if you have the humblest scope . 

What an amazing hobby astronomy is . 

Thanks for reading my ramblings . It’s a bit self indulgent as I’m trying to justify having three scopes .. But , I’m sure we’ve all been there , and enjoyed every minute of it . 

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No need to justify it - you need three 'scopes (at least).  I have three, and want a short focus frac, then a dedicated solar.  At the end, you gather what you are comfortable with - for example, I'm happy with just a collimating cap (no Cheshires or lasers), and I don't want extra "clutter" in the optical path, so won't have a Barlow or a coma corrector.  But we're all different, and find our own path - there is no right or wrong, and enjoyable observing is what counts!

Doug.

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Completely agree with Doug, we all find our own way.  You look up and are fascinated by what you see.  Equipment that enhances that fascination is what you need.  Equipment that frustrates and dampens it: you need to loose.

There are always surprises in astronomy.  The first telescope was probably someone looking through the bottom of a bottle, wondering where it all went.

Enjoy it for what it is.

John

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I love my 12" dob and it's fantastic to use for public outreach. It has that wow factor of being a giant telescope and the views are crystal clear with my higher end eyepieces. However, sometimes I just want something smaller that I can grab and go. I have a small spotting scope that I use for target shooting, but it's not great for astronomy. It works, but it's not great. I have a small set of binos that are also great for hunting, but they are very small aperture, so again, not great for astronomy. I backed the Unistellar eVscope last year and should see my scope in May and I'm really excited about that, especially after seeing the clip from The Gadget Show Season 28 Episode 4 that just aired. I think that will become my new grab and go when I get it. It's an amazing piece of EAA gear all packaged into one with some other unique features. I'd still like a nice set of astro binos and a dedicated solar scope like the Lunt 80mm.

It's definitely not a cheap hobby, but as said, it's an interesting one. Everything I have and everything I would like to have serves a slightly different purpose, but it all advances my enjoyment of the hobby and that's the most important thing.

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Agree , guys .. out of the three scopes I have i favour my WO Z73 , but the dob gives the wow factor , my other refractor on a goto mount is so easy to “set up and go “ . I don’t have a Mak yet though  hmmm 

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8 minutes ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

Agree , guys .. out of the three scopes I have i favour my WO Z73 , but the dob gives the wow factor , my other refractor on a goto mount is so easy to “set up and go “ . I don’t have a Mak yet though  hmmm 

Yeah - Maks and SCTs are slow, can/do give higher mags, and in particular, give lower figures for exit pupil meaning that contrast is better at lower mags.

Doug.

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The nice thing is that buying used allows you to try many different sorts of scopes for relatively little outlay. If you buy carefully then it is almost like renting them for a while.

I have tried quite a few sorts of scopes: fracs including achros, ED and Fluorite doublets and triplets, Maks, SCTs & Dobs. I do find myself coming back to refractors again and again for their no nonsense nature, aswell as the lovely contrast and beautiful star shapes. They can also be used for solar and can be very portable, making them even more appealing.

I do still have a variety of scope types, and enjoy using a dob under a dark sky or a Mak on the Moon for instance too, so it is horses for courses to a large degree.

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I was thinking the very same thing today.. I have mentioned in previous posts that not a day goes by when I haven't changed my mind on which scope I am 'getting next'  

This morning I had decided on a Mak with a GOTO mount and by this evening I had figured out a plan as to how I could save up for an ED80 for astrophotography .  The only way this ever disappears is when I take my ST80 outside in one hand - star atlas in the other- and am enjoying the stars within a minute...

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It comes down to where you live and how mobile you can be in my case at least. I would have half meter dob if I lived in a house. Unfortunately I am constrained by a balcony ( although corner one so I see S, W, N and NE ) but also have nice communal area on the roof so small and portable is desirable. I went from cheap achro to slightly more expensive apo to expensive mount and tripod to another achro to mak and to short focal achro. At one point second bedroom which we don't use since the little one still sleeps in our bedroom became full blown astro room with equipment in thousands lol.

I am now settling on 102 mak for both visual and eaa with 0.5x focal reducer. I wish someone whispered to me about this setup when I started. I find the 102 mak very versatile. One of the best buys was Baader zoom. With that tool I was able to nail down which eyepice focal lengths I like the most and I can now concentrate on getting those sizes in fixed fl eyepieces. What's interesting is that my first choice of eyepieces ( BST Starguiders ) looks to be spot on. 60 degrees wide looks to be my 'spot' as far as fov is concerned. So now decisions, decisions. I really like Morpheus 76 but somehow feel better at 60. Not many choices there in higher quality oculars though....

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The hobby can be as cheap or expensive as you want, like most hobbies can be these days.

My vx14 dobsonian set up I wouldn't change, it's perfect for me at the moment. My smaller cassegrains and achromats I enjoy for the variety but I would swap them all for an apo and hope to at some point.

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11 minutes ago, Paz said:

The hobby can be as cheap or expensive as you want, like most hobbies can be these days.

My vx14 dobsonian set up I wouldn't change, it's perfect for me at the moment. My smaller cassegrains and achromats I enjoy for the variety but I would swap them all for an apo and hope to at some point.

You are right of course , but , because of the vast array of equipment it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment and splash the cash on the next have to have accessory. I commend your choice of scope though ... and I really hope you get that apo . 

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The vibrant used market for astro equipment is a real bonus for developing experience of difference types of equipment and how they suit you and your requrements. The process is also about learning about yourself and how you want to participate in the hobby as well.

Over the years I've owned 25-30 scopes covering all the main designs. Early on I realised that anything I owned had to be portable because of my storage and observing site constraints. I've also learned that complexity in setup / tear down means that my enthusiasm for using equipment wanes quite quickly.

I now own 6 scopes - one 12" dobsonian and 5 refractors ranging from 70mm to 130mm in aperture. Mostly the refractors are used on undriven alt-azimuth mounts. That seems an odd balance but it reflects the preferences in how I observe, what I observe and where I observe so they all get used and I'm sure that I'd miss one of them quite quickly if I parted with it.

All my scopes bar one were bought used and the oldest is nearly 20 years old now having been with me for more than half of it's life.

I've yet to be tempted into imaging in any form.

I've lost count of how many eyepieces I've owned and sold over the years - I did try and list them all a while back but I simply could not recall them all !

Occasionally I do try something a little different to see if it grabs me but after 30+ years in the hobby I guess I'm a little set in my ways now because the established preferences seem to win out in the end. At least this process can be relatively low cost thanks again to the used market.

After a few years I reckon most folks reach a point where they know what works for them and their circumstances. It does make it quite difficult making recommendations to folks starting out in the hobby though because trying things out for yourself is probably by far the best way to actually sort out what "floats your boat".

Probably the most interesting thing that has happened to my involvement in the hobby over the past couple of years are the opportunities to participate in plenty of outreach events through my astro society. This has injected more enjoyment and satisfaction than any equipment purchase that I've made over a similar period despite the opportunity I've had to acquire a couple of really top end scopes recently as well.

I suspect each and every one of us plots a slightly different route though this marvellous hobby, with the help of some feedback from others, reviews, and possibly most importantly, building our own experiences, and long may it be so :thumbright:

 

 

 

 

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48 minutes ago, Stu1smartcookie said:

it’s very easy to get caught up in the moment and splash the cash on the next have to have accessory

 I have been guilty of this plenty of times! :)

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I went through a large number of scopes trying to find the holy grail, in the end i decided on sticking with Luna and solar system and settled on a 127 Mak, and now have the holy grail, i did add a nice 90mm f5.6 frac but sadly it does not get used

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For me it was simple! I merely spent a small fortune buying then selling great gear, only to realize that what I'd just sold was what I really wanted. Then try to buy back what I had, only to find its nolonger in production. Eventually as time passes, things go full circle and your beloved scope returns to the market. Thirtyeight years down the line and well over £22,000.00 under the bridge and am in a happy place. :happy7:

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On ‎02‎/‎11‎/‎2018 at 21:32, nightfisher said:

I went through a large number of scopes trying to find the holy grail, in the end i decided on sticking with Luna and solar system and settled on a 127 Mak, and now have the holy grail, i did add a nice 90mm f5.6 frac but sadly it does not get used

I like the idea of the mak … looking at one in a couple of weeks

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I have the three scopes that I know are keepers, but I enjoy endlessly buying, trying, and selling eyepieces , always at a small loss, but who's counting. :smiley:

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11 hours ago, Saganite said:

I have the three scopes that I know are keepers, but I enjoy endlessly buying, trying, and selling eyepieces , always at a small loss, but who's counting. :smiley:

I reckon there's quite a few of us who have done/are doing that! It's probably the same bunch of eyepieces doing the rounds too?. I swear I have bought an ep or two (the same actual eyepiece, that is - not just 'another one') that I had sold a few months earlier - TV plossls are a good one for that! Wouldn't it be interesting to be able to track them to see who and where they go to next?

Edited by Roy Challen
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2 minutes ago, Roy Challen said:

I reckon there's quite a few of us who have done/are doing that! It's probably the same bunch of eyepieces doing the rounds too?. I swear I have bought an ep or two that I had sold a few months earlier - TV plossls are a good one for that! Wouldn't it be interesting to be able to track them to see who and where they go to next?

I know I’ve bought back a scope or two that I’ve sold previously!

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2 minutes ago, Stu said:

I know I’ve bought back a scope or two that I’ve sold previously!

Yeah, I'm waiting for 'my' Borg miniachro to come back to me at some point, preferably with the Baader Zeiss prism I sold it with!

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