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DarkNorth

Another of those beginner types.

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Hi, 

I've long wanted to get into astronomy but money and living in a location where you couldn't see much (London) meant I went down the budget route of Binoculars. I've not been able to spend much time on it though due to work and numerous over things.  But now I have the money, and some time  I hope to start looking properly.  I'm not inmtending to rush into buying a top of the range scope as I have limited knowledge of the sky and I don't know how much time I'll be able to invest as I'm not at my best atm. This will change later.

I'm looking to buy a proper telescope now and use a combination of both the binoculars and telescope to get used to looking, but I usually found I couldn't hold the binoculars stable enough to look and though I have a stand, since I've moved out of London both are currently in the loft so will need to get them back down. I've not used the stand yet but its nothing special.

With regards to scope, I'm looking to view planets and wanting to see the milkyway if possible I don't know if more distant objects are viewable on the same scope or whether a more expensive scope would be needed. I would also like once I can afford a suitable camera to be able to do a bit of astro photography.

The two things that confuse me really are what items would I need to start with as in inventory for viewing at home - for now I am not concerned with travel.  What would be a priority order of purchase and then what recommendations would people have. I am a noob, but I don't want a telescope thatI grow out of too quick, I'd spend a little more for a scope that can go beyond the basics. 

A 400-500pound budget for now including assessories - I realise you can add to the list later. But also do all stands go with all scopes or are the scopes all with proprietary connections?

 

My guess is my list would be 

Telescope
Stand (Most likely a go to stand) - but I understand an equatorial is better for following objects, I am guessing one that does both would be the best but I suspect price will be an issue
eyepieces
Filters - e.g. moon filter
Star chart/Astrology books. I do own one that I bought with the binoculars but I think I probably need a better quality one.

Is this the basic list you would recommend? Or is there things missed off?

What accessories would you advise for add-ons later?

The biggest questions then would be what scopes would you recommend for the use I require. As I say - for now galaxies and nebulae are probably requiring different scope to planet viewing?
I think I Am going to learn as I go because I'vbe tried reading up on all the various components and I found myself getting confused on what would be better -without using a scope and knowing what I can do with it, its going to take a little time to get experience and I am fine with that. With a good quality starting scope and stand I think I can pick it up - and I'll be able to start comparing.

Thanks for any help received.

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Hi and welcome to SGL.

If you want a scope that will do almost all things well - planets and Moon, galaxies, star clusters, double stars, nebulae, etc ... and you don't have special requirements for travel or such, this is simply the best option:

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

It is a bit larger scope (maybe look up some videos on youtube to get idea of its size), and while it is excellent "starter" scope - it is also scope that many people consider "for life". It comes with all basic accessories that you will need to start observing (eyepieces and such) and considering your budget you will have enough for additional books on astronomy and any eyepieces, filters, barlows etc that you might like to add at some point.

You did mention that you would like a goto version (above is manual) - there is such scope in "goto" variant as well, but of course it is more expensive (and above your budget I'm afraid, so if goto is something that is very important, there are other options):

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-flextube-goto.html

Something else to consider is that this scope is not suited for astrophotography and in general astrophotograpy requires dedicated equipment and is quite a bit involved and expensive. One can certainly do astrophotography on a budget and even get decent results, but it usually means not using telescope and just using camera and lens on a simple (yet good) mount. Once you start thinking about telescopes and astro photography, then you need to start thinking in thousands for budget.

 

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2 hours ago, vlaiv said:

Hi and welcome to SGL.

If you want a scope that will do almost all things well - planets and Moon, galaxies, star clusters, double stars, nebulae, etc ... and you don't have special requirements for travel or such, this is simply the best option:

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

It is a bit larger scope (maybe look up some videos on youtube to get idea of its size), and while it is excellent "starter" scope - it is also scope that many people consider "for life". It comes with all basic accessories that you will need to start observing (eyepieces and such) and considering your budget you will have enough for additional books on astronomy and any eyepieces, filters, barlows etc that you might like to add at some point.

You did mention that you would like a goto version (above is manual) - there is such scope in "goto" variant as well, but of course it is more expensive (and above your budget I'm afraid, so if goto is something that is very important, there are other options):

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-flextube-goto.html

Something else to consider is that this scope is not suited for astrophotography and in general astrophotograpy requires dedicated equipment and is quite a bit involved and expensive. One can certainly do astrophotography on a budget and even get decent results, but it usually means not using telescope and just using camera and lens on a simple (yet good) mount. Once you start thinking about telescopes and astro photography, then you need to start thinking in thousands for budget.

 

 

For observing dob way to go

If want to adventure into AP, then you will need a scope with go-to mount

Have attached pic of both my 10" dob, and ED80 on EQ5 mount

ED80 is fitted with solar filter

John

 

 

Skywatcher 10 inch Dobson.jpg

Skywatcher ED80.jpg

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The skyliner 200P mentioned above is the quintessential beginners scope and, although goto sounds novel, it will only benefit you since you have binoculars to learn the sky using binoculars  in unison with the scope. Goto is nice but, you will find it very exciting to hunt down objects then point to them through the scope, the thrill of the hunt will be fruitful and really be rewarding. Goto is something you can grow into and benefit from once you feel you've conquered the sky and deserve a break, that manual 200p is a really great all purpose visual scope. It will also leave you with room for accessories which you will need like a good book and a planisphere to help you identify constellations, I wouldn't hesitate on that scope, of course if you can manage the got version then by all means treat yourself.

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Even though it's a bit over the budget you have mentioned... I couldn't recommend the Celestron 8SE enough... that scope will serve you for ages.. mine is around 10 years old and it still gives me some of the best views most nights.. all except the RARE clearest nights, it out performs my 14" dob on planets....

 

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There are various threads here and websites elsewhere giving beginner advice, and our sponsor FLO has a section on beginner scopes.

As you may have noticed already, you will get a variety of advice.  I suggest getting a small, easily managed general purpose telescope to start with, and on a GoTo mount (unless you are wedded to the idea of finding everything by your own efforts).  Professional astronomers use GoTo, but the cheaper GoTo kits are intended for beginners, even those who can't identify any bright stars by name.

To answer some of your questions: all GoTo mounts track adequately for visual use.  Milky Way: at a dark site just use your eyes.   A general purpose scope will serve to view all the objects of interest, for now.  Filters - of marginal use and non-essential.  Accessories: wait till you have the scope and feel the need for more.  The sole exceptions are : power supply for GoTo (the internal batteries are useless) and extra eyepieces (the 9 or 10mm eyepieces in starter kits are typically not very good).

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Also factor in weight and size. You may find taking a 200p out side to setup too heavy and bulky or you might store it in a room where there are stairs so getting it out to use a pain. It's finding a telescope that works best for you so it gets used to take advantage of those clear patches.

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Goto is nice but, you will find it very exciting to hunt down objects then point to them through the scope, the thrill of the hunt will be fruitful and really be rewarding.”

I see this advice a lot and to give a contrary view I find the hunt frustrating and the ‘thrill’ of finally finding an object is massively outweighed by the disappointment of realising I could have viewed two or three more objects in the time it took me to find the first. 

Give me a nice Goto mount any day. My observing time is limited and I would really rather rub sand in my eyes than spend half the night missing targets. 

Don’t get me wrong - I often have an unstructured meandering across the night sky with binoculars and enjoy stumbling across interesting sights but if I have a target in mind I’d rather just end up straight on it. 

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I can't read any of your post on my tablet it is just solid black lines.

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31 minutes ago, dannybgoode said:

I see this advice a lot and to give a contrary view I find the hunt frustrating and the ‘thrill’ of finally finding an object is massively outweighed by the disappointment of realising I could have viewed two or three more objects in the time it took me to find the first. 

I'm pleased to see you write this, I completely concur, having GOTO has completely changed my observing and made my nights under the stars far more enjoyable.
I realise this is a personal preference but one size doesn't fit all.

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I like my Goto - when it works (and I have had odd problems) it shows me things I'd never find myself.  I'd sooner spend time looking at something interesting than spend ages chasing something I'd probably not find - the trouble is, esp. with DSO's that unless I am certain I am in the right place I constantly doubt that I as they can be so difficult to see.  The Goto gives me confidence that I should find the object where the scope has stopped and I look harder for it - at time it still takes me a long time to find what is actually under my nose - some of these things are only clear at certain magnifications (or lack of magnification depending on its size).  The ring nebula is a case in point - I'd easily miss it (it's still not immediately clear with the Goto), but knowing it's an adverted gaze type object once I know I'm there I find it.   Something I'd never do without the goto. 

TBH I think I'd have given up a long time ago without the Goto.

FWIW I've got the 8" version of that truss tube SW Dob above and it's a great starter scope.

Edited by JOC
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As I mentioned above AP is something for later on, I don't have the budget for a camera in the short term, and with health considerations would be something I'd hold back atm, just being able to view things beyond the naked eye would be a good starting point.

Size is a factor to a point, as due to spinal fractures/osteoporosis I will have a limit on what I can carry myself - this may improve with time.

As far as Go to Mount is concerned it would be something I'd like to get. EQ mounts were mentioned for best at tracking as you don't need to manually follow, but I guess a go to does pretty much the same thing. SO maybe thats something for more advanced interest in astrology later.

Narrowing down the scope to fit the criteria (and mount etc ) would be the main thing now. I've looked at the ones listed above. And my budget could be increased a little to accommodate a bit better scope if I felt it was the right one to get. 

The one mentioned 200p with goto Looks a possible. How do you know what eye pieces fit or is it a simple case of the right brand/right size?

Thanks.

 

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1 hour ago, DarkNorth said:

How do you know what eye pieces fit or is it a simple case of the right brand/right size?

The 200p GOTO has a 2" focuser together with 1.25" adaptor so all eyepieces will fit.

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1 hour ago, DarkNorth said:

As I mentioned above AP is something for later on, I don't have the budget for a camera in the short term, and with health considerations would be something I'd hold back atm, just being able to view things beyond the naked eye would be a good starting point.

Size is a factor to a point, as due to spinal fractures/osteoporosis I will have a limit on what I can carry myself - this may improve with time.

As far as Go to Mount is concerned it would be something I'd like to get. EQ mounts were mentioned for best at tracking as you don't need to manually follow, but I guess a go to does pretty much the same thing. SO maybe thats something for more advanced interest in astrology later.

Narrowing down the scope to fit the criteria (and mount etc ) would be the main thing now. I've looked at the ones listed above. And my budget could be increased a little to accommodate a bit better scope if I felt it was the right one to get. 

The one mentioned 200p with goto Looks a possible. How do you know what eye pieces fit or is it a simple case of the right brand/right size?

Thanks.

 

If lifting heavy things is a concern, then think again about 8" dob. It's not the largest scope out there, but it's bulky. Basic version without goto is 26Kg - divisible in two parts. About 11Kg OTA (Optical tube assembly - or scope main tube) and about 15Kg base. OTA is somewhat bulky but easily carried by one person. Base is bulkier and you can carry it via handle - it feels like lugging around heavy bulky travel suitcase.

Goto version is a bit heavier - due to motors on the base.

 

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This is a rather versatile go-to mount, and can be used in manual mode as well in the event of battery/motor/computer failures; perish the thought...

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/alt-azimuth/sky-watcher-star-discovery-wifi-az-goto-mount-tripod.html

Every house begins with a foundation, as does a customised telescope kit, and tailored to the user.  The next step: what sort of glass shall I place upon it?  This ready-made kit includes that go-to mount, and a 150mm f/5 Newtonian...

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/sky-watcher-star-discovery-150i.html

Newtonians require the most work in keeping their optical-systems aligned, collimated; and for sharp, pleasing images throughout the range of magnifications.  In return, however, you get the most aperture for the least amount of expenditure.  A 150mm f/5 Newtonian is most versatile, in observing the gamut, most everything in the sky, from a low 23x, to 200x and beyond with the aid of 2x and 3x barlows.  It's the closest one may come to an all-rounder; a "jack of all trades".  I know, as I have one myself; many of us do...

973825255_6f5ra.jpg.9b105ab4619aee6b55cbfe5d9106b829.jpg

The Newtonian of that kit however, to save weight and in being less of a burden upon the mount, is of mostly plastic, yet still quite capable.

Another telescope, at or near the stated budget, that might be placed upon the mount is a Maksutov-Cassegrain...

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/skywatcher-skymax-127-ota.html

That one would require less work to maintain, and is designed for the upper range of magnifications; medium-to-high powers.  Inexpensive eyepieces, including the wide-angled, would play very well with that design of telescope.  Low-power, wide-field views would not be possible with that one however.  Although, in future, if such is desired, a short refractor can take care of that aspect of observing...

 https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/skywatcher-startravel-102t-ota.html

That one, however, would not be suitable for viewing brighter objects, only the dim and dimmer of sprites, deep-sky objects and vistas; and due to chromatic-aberration, or false-colour.  Refractors require virtually no maintenance at all.  They are the least work-intensive of the designs of telescopes -- although I prefer to take them apart, blackening and flocking them throughout, and for improved contrast.  This customised kit would require virtually no maintenance, no batteries; just you, the kit, and the sky above...

The foundation... https://www.firstlightoptics.com/alt-azimuth/skywatcher-az4-alt-az-mount.html

The glass... https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p2684_Skywatcher-Evostar-102---102-1000mm-Refracor---optical-Tube.html

I would've listed a UK vendor for that one, but for some curious reason or other, no one offers it as an OTA.  The three daughters(U.S., Canada, and Australia) can get the same OTA, made by Synta...

...but the mother cannot.

 

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I'm giving this a long thought, particularly as I now have dates for surgery (March) so I might temporary hold off buying for a few months and instead see if I can improve my general knowledge in the short term. Also I'll then know my situation with work hopefully for the long term. IS there any recommended books I See theres a lot of books out there. PLanet wise I think I've been generally good at spotting Mars, Venus and Jupiter -  the latter two are quite easy, Mars if you know the area of sky isn't too bad. Mercury I think I've seen once at Dusk, but I appreciate like Venus its a dawn/dusk one. It's possible I've seen Saturn too but i'm nopt 100% (all naked eye). I found binoculars difficult to use but I didn't use a stand at the time. I Also had moved to London meaning the night sky was less friendly.

I will keep track of the info here and come back to it of course.

I bought t these in 2014 but don't know how good they are. I did my best to research what was said and at that time I chose these over a scope for cost/location reasons but never found the time.

https://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0000AKGX3/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1849073007/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
https://smile.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B005XXZCR0/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It's all in the loft and I suspect the book has gone missing anyway. My parents moved whilst I was in hospital so I had little control over how stuff was packed.

 

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Hi!

You already seem to have a very nice pair of binoculars, I hope you can get them them back as soon as possible so you can start looking up! 😁

If there is one book you should get, it is Turn Left at Orion. It’s a very good  observing guidebook for beginners and advanced observers alike, with details on how and when to observe the Moon, Planets and Deep Sky Objects. The book has a lot of drawings which describe quite accurately what you will be able to see with an amateur telescope. I wish I had it when I was observing with my first telescope.

As for the telescope, I’d recommend something that is reasonable portable. The best telescope is the one you use most often and being portable definitely helps. Not anything too heavy and bulky. That said, the mount should be stable in order to avoid vibrations. There’s nothing more annoying than an unstable telescope mount. 🙄 GoTo is a nice feature to have, but at £400-500 price range, buying a scope with a GoTo mount means most of your money are going to the mount, not the optics. Oh and you need to remember that at this bugdet deep sky astrophotography is out of question, however planetary and lunar photography can be done with following setups as well. 😎 

I have a few suggestions;

1. Skyliner 150P 

Cost: £188 (FLO)

The 150P is a nice telescope on a sturdy Dobsonian mount, it is not as heavy as it’s bigger brothers. Most likely the best telescope for less than £200. 

 

2. Skyliner 200P 

Cost: £275 (FLO)

If you feel that size and weight are not an issue, go for the big brother! It is widely considered the best value for money telescope and many of us here will recommend this scope to you. (Have a look at the reviews of the scope, there are many on the internet). Having used similar telescopes, I have to say they are great value for money. The GoTo version of this scope is available at FLO for £750, not including the power source.

  

3. Skymax 127 SynScan AZ GoTo + Power Source 

Total cost: ~£430 (FLO)

Here is an example of a compact GoTo telescope with good optics. This scope will track and find objects for you, once you’ve done the initial alignment. My local astronomy club has one of these and it’s a pretty good telescope. The Skyliners will show you brighter images with more detail and are more stable, though.

I began my stargazing hobby with this telescope’s little brother, the 102mm Maksutov. I was very pleased with it and it gave me my first glimpse of the rings of Saturn, the cloud bands of Jupiter and the endless craters on the Moon.

 

All of the setups mentioned above will show a good detail of the planets, while also being able to show you some fainter deep sky objects. The “nice to have” accessories might include a red light torch, a Planisphere and Stellarium/SkySafari app on your phone. 

Eyepieces can be bought later. First try out the ones supplied with the telescope. When the time comes to grab a few extra eyepieces, I highly recommend  the Celestron X-Cel LX line.

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One of the great, fun things about telescopes, and over binoculars, is that you can change the magnification.  I'd give it up if all I could have is a pair of binoculars.  Instead, I would just walk outside, look up at the sky and muse, "Oh, how pretty", then go back indoors.  It has been said that there is no one telescope that can do it all, in regards to low-power and high-power observing, but I beg to differ.  To observe the sky at a binocular-like 20x, then in the next moment 150x or 200x, and everything in between, is desirable, possible, and with one telescope.  That would cover all bases: the galaxy in Andromeda and the Pleiades; other yet smaller galaxies, globular-clusters and nebulae; then high-powered views of the Moon, the planets and the double-stars.  The brighter and brightest objects in the night sky, the Moon and the planets, are far fewer than the vast multitude of the dim and dimmer deep-sky objects.  We know that the Moon and the planets are relatively close to Earth, and here within our solar system.  But everything else lies outside our home, and at distances to boggle the mind.  The farther out that they are, the farther back in time one sees.  When you look at this globular-cluster through an eyepiece...

M13.jpg.8cb728398e8aff2c9644f5384c34bd3f.jpg

...you're seeing it not as it appears at that moment, but rather as it appeared over 20,000 years ago; most ancient.  The light that it sent out, that it may send still into space, took that long to reach us, and at the speed of light.  It is, therefore, over 20,000 light-years distant.  When its light first left that cluster, and headed towards Earth, someone made this out of ivory in what is now France...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Brassempouy#/media/File:Venus_de_Brassempouy.jpg

The refractor and the Newtonian are the oldest yet most effective designs, and from the early-to-latter 1600s.  That's all man had to play with, until much later.  In the 1940s, the Schmidt- and Maksutov-Cassegrains came into being, and that's it, too.  In developing telescopes, the endeavour has proved almost as difficult as making a human eye from scratch.  Collectively, they're the only instruments with which to observe the heavens, and to this day.  It's not a lot from which to choose.  The primary function of a telescope is ever so simple: to observe faraway objects up close.  Back in the golden, olden days, low-power views were handled by the naked eyes, and effectively, as there wasn't nearly the level of artificial light pollution that plagues us today.  Oh, I suppose if all I had was a pair of binoculars, I'd make merry use of it...

...but only if telescopes were non-existent.  But simply knowing that telescopes do indeed exist, then what are we waiting for?

 

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9 hours ago, Alan64 said:

One of the great, fun things about telescopes, and over binoculars, is that you can change the magnification.  I'd give it up if all I could have is a pair of binoculars.  Instead, I would just walk outside, look up at the sky and muse, "Oh, how pretty", then go back indoors.  It has been said that there is no one telescope that can do it all, in regards to low-power and high-power observing, but I beg to differ.  To observe the sky at a binocular-like 20x, then in the next moment 150x or 200x, and everything in between, is desirable, possible, and with one telescope.  That would cover all bases: the galaxy in Andromeda and the Pleiades; other yet smaller galaxies, globular-clusters and nebulae; then high-powered views of the Moon, the planets and the double-stars.  The brighter and brightest objects in the night sky, the Moon and the planets, are far fewer than the vast multitude of the dim and dimmer deep-sky objects.  We know that the Moon and the planets are relatively close to Earth, and here within our solar system.  But everything else lies outside our home, and at distances to boggle the mind.  The farther out that they are, the farther back in time one sees.  When you look at this globular-cluster through an eyepiece...

M13.jpg.8cb728398e8aff2c9644f5384c34bd3f.jpg

...you're seeing it not as it appears at that moment, but rather as it appeared over 20,000 years ago; most ancient.  The light that it sent out, that it may send still into space, took that long to reach us, and at the speed of light.  It is, therefore, over 20,000 light-years distant.  When its light first left that cluster, and headed towards Earth, someone made this out of ivory in what is now France...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venus_of_Brassempouy#/media/File:Venus_de_Brassempouy.jpg

The refractor and the Newtonian are the oldest yet most effective designs, and from the early-to-latter 1600s.  That's all man had to play with, until much later.  In the 1940s, the Schmidt- and Maksutov-Cassegrains came into being, and that's it, too.  In developing telescopes, the endeavour has proved almost as difficult as making a human eye from scratch.  Collectively, they're the only instruments with which to observe the heavens, and to this day.  It's not a lot from which to choose.  The primary function of a telescope is ever so simple: to observe faraway objects up close.  Back in the golden, olden days, low-power views were handled by the naked eyes, and effectively, as there wasn't nearly the level of artificial light pollution that plagues us today.  Oh, I suppose if all I had was a pair of binoculars, I'd make merry use of it...

...but only if telescopes were non-existent.  But simply knowing that telescopes do indeed exist, then what are we waiting for?

 

 

Sir, you have a wonderful writing style. I enjoyed reading your post immensely.

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