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TL;DR: are there any cheap ways, including secondhand, of mounting a 130P-DS for not-completely-terrible results?
I am looking to buy a telescope as a gift for a family member. I had in mind a budget of around £150-£200, and from looking at advice had almost settled on the Sky-Watcher Explorer 130P. But then I realised that there's a good chance that if they get into astronomy there's a good chance that my relative will want to do some photography, and would probably be interested in attaching their micro four thirds camera. I've learnt that the 130P is not great for this as you cannot get prime focus, so you need to look at the Sky-Watcher Explorer 130P-DS instead.
Great, I thought! It's a bit cheaper, but it isn't available in a kit with any form of mount. OK, I'll need to get one of those too...
Then I started looking at mounts. Oh my, those things crash through the top of my budget! Even the EQ2 mount on its own, when you can find it, is about £115.
(Given that you can get the spherical version of the Sky-Watcher 130 on that mount for £155 from FLO, that seems to value the OTA part at somewhere around the £40 mark.)
So, I'm after advice on whether there is an affordable way of doing this.
I've read enough on this forum and other sites around the web to know that the main recommendation is that the heavier duty the better. Something like an EQ3 or upwards. And that for AP a lot of people seem to view an HEQ5 as a starting point. But since I can't stretch to that, I'm OK with leaving it as an upgrade path for my relative if that's the way they want to go (or option for future gifts!).
I know that for next-to-no budget I'm not going to be able to give something that will get the best out of the telescope. I know that getting motors and whatnot to do the guiding that will make DSO photography possible is way out of the realms of possibility. What I'm hoping for is some sort of option that gives acceptable results. Usable rather than unusable. Limiting the results rather than destroying them! Getting this set up so that they can do reasonable observation at first, and maybe give a try at attaching their m4/3 camera to try photographing the moon. If that whets their appetite then mount upgrades can be possible later.
Since I'm planning on a new OTA, I'd be happy with going secondhand for the mount.
I've been trawling ebay, and see the odd thing like this come up:
To my untrained eye, it looks like there's an EQ2 mount on that, so I'm wondering whether that would do the trick. (Working on the, possibly faulty, assumption that if EQ2 is viewed by Sky-Watcher as being sturdy enough to supply as the kit mount for the 130 and 130P, it's probably up to scratch for observing with the 130P-DS too.)
Even that, at another £58 inc postage for the buy it now would be over my budget, but I'm wondering more generally whether trying to grab something like that to essentially discard the tube would even be feasible as an option if I can get one at the right price.
Or, of course, I'm open to any other ideas and suggestions that the forum might have.
Thanks in advance, and clear skies.
I’ve been starting to think about my next scope, and knowing that order lead times are quite long at the moment, I’ve been spurred into writing by the pre-midnight appearance of Jupiter and Saturn.
I’m hoping for some wise input to break me out of analysis paralysis. Here are my thoughts so far. Please feel free to rebut/add anything at all (but you might want to note my PS). Thanks in advance.
Context: I’ve had a "budget" (but quite decent) 70mm F/10 refractor on a GEM for a while now, and recently have started to take observing more seriously, learned my way around a bit, and started to run up against aperture limits. My partner is also interested, but not so keen on spending long hours in the cold watching me failing to find stuff. We already have Telrad, barlow and a few extra EPs.
Location: most observation is likely to be from the back garden, which ClearOutside declares to be Bortle 4 (I would say slightly generous, some nearby lighting) but we have darker skies within a 15 minute drive that we would like to take advantage of with the next scope.
Likely Targets: equally interested in solar system, DSOs and doubles, so not much help on the decision there I'm afraid. Might be interested in spectroscopy at some point, but not a deal breaker. Not really keen on solar.
Imaging: we are both interested to get into this “at some point” but I have taken on board the message that visual and imaging often send you down different paths, and we have agreed that we will prioritize visual for a few seasons, and consider buying further kit later if we do decide to do imaging. It might be a bit nuanced now with decisions like mounts, but ideally we would prefer to spend only what we need for visual work now, rather than going for a higher spec that would also support photography at some unknown point in the future.
Budget: not particularly constrained, but ideally looking to spend no more than £600.
Aperture: I know some have said good things about some 130mm scopes elsewhere, but I feel anything less than 150mm doesn’t seem enough of a step up from the current scope (and also possibly because Patrick Moore always said six inches was the minimum size for a beginner! ). I even considered a 200mm but decided against on portability (and on the heights of some of the prospective observers! ).
OTA: looking to a Newt for bang/buck. There is so much choice that I’ve only been looking at Skywatcher models so far – not because I’ve already decided they’re best, but they seem to be a decent quality/price point for us and then I’ll have something to compare with if people suggest alternative ranges. So in the 150mm arena I've been looking at the Explorer 150P (F/5) and 150PL (F/8). Obviously if we were going to do imaging we’d opt for the shorter model, but for visual the F/8 is quite appealing to me with its 1200mm focal length – better contrast and magnification, more forgiving in various respects (eyepiece design, collimation, …) We’re probably not looking to spend more than £50ish per eyepiece, and may need two or three more yet, so that favours the PL. On the con side, we are obviously sacrificing some TFOV compared with the F/5, and it’s physically longer. I'm thinking a wide-field 32mm will span most DSOs with the PL. The 150P comes with a 2” Crayford focuser, the PL has a rack-and-pinion, I’ve read pros and cons for both? We’re unlikely to make use of 2” ultra-wide field EPs. Both scopes have parabolic mirrors, which I like, and I've read good things about the durability of the coatings. The PL seems to have attracted some good feedback in these pages.
Mount: Getting tricky now. But GoTo (or at least PushTo) is an absolute must, because there will be one or more observers who will be wanting fast location (and even I will probably lose the will to live if I have to star hop too much). I have seen good things written about the Skywatcher AZ GTi (and it’s a keen price), but I’m advised that it’s not too stable with anything larger than a 130mm instrument. So if I went for the F/8 150 Newt, then in the Skywatcher range we’re looking at, minimum an EQ3 pro, possibly an EQ5 pro (I’m quite comfortable with equatorials). Is it worth the extra £160 for the EQ5? Would we only see any benefit in the future for imaging, or will a 1200mm tube behave better now on an EQ5 anyway? One other factor: noise. Small back garden, so motors must be quiet, and need to be able to slip and slew by hand without the GoTo losing its fix.
So, where I am at the moment: For the sake of convenience, I’m still framing this in terms of the Skywatcher range (in the absence of some revelation of a better value offering elsewhere).
I seem to have convinced myself of the following:
- GoTo (probably on an EQ mount )
- Skywatcher are a brand to beat
But still undecided on the focal length. I’ve found one or two “150P vs 150PL” discussions on these forums that are interesting but haven’t been conclusive for me, mainly because I have no preference on planetary vs DSO. I think more of a factor for me on the longer focal length is just the effect on stability, and the impact of that on the mount decision. We could live with the PL on an EQ3 if it were steady enough for regular visual, even knowing that we wouldn't use the mount subsequently for photography, or even for upgrading to a 200mm for visual only. Is it just a question of living with a bit longer wait for the image to settle after focusing, for example? That wouldn't be a problem. But if an EQ3 is only marginally capable handling the 150PL, that would push us into considering either the 150P on EQ3 or 150PL on EQ5.
So as I said, a bit deadlocked at the moment. If anyone can chip in with any thoughts that sway it one way or another (or unpick it and take it in some other direction), I’d be very grateful!
(PS Yes, I know I’ve not mentioned Dobs. Yes, I have considered them, but as I mentioned, it’s important to me that we have a scope that finds and tracks objects. While I’m sure you can make a Dob do that, I don’t think that’s its raison d’être. Please don’t be offended, Dob lovers).
By Ryan Adams
I recently posted a thread getting ideas for what scope and mount I should get for beginner astrophotography.
After researching on my own and getting thoughts from others on scopes and mounts here is what I have come up with.
Mount - Skywatcher EQ5 GOTO
Scope - Sky-Satcher Explorer 130P-DS
Guide Scope - Skywatcher Evoguide ED50
Guide Camera - ZWO ASI120MM Mini
DSLR - Canon 350D
I understand that the camera I am using is fairly old but it is an old DSLR that I have at home and it saves me money on buying a new camera. All in all this setup comes to just over £1000; I just wanted to people's get thoughts on this set up and if it can be improved in any way without stretching the budget by more than £100. Also I wanted to know whether any of the equipment I have chosen isn't great.
Thanks in advance,
By Anthony RS
Is anyone here using the TS Photon 6" F4 newtonian? I'm about to purchase it but I have some doubts and questions:
1- Does it hold collimation well, at least in a single session?
2- Is it impossible to balance in DEC due to its small dovetail or is it possible but harder?
3- Is the focuser rigid enough or does it introduce tilt?
4- Will collimating it be a nightmare?
5- I'm really picky when it comes to coma, should I expect some coma on edges even while using the Skywatcher Aplanatic F4 CC?
6- All in all, do you advice me to buy it or have some other option in the same price range.
By Ryan Adams
I am relatively new to astronomy, as well as this forum so I'm sorry if anything seems obvious that I don't pick up on. However after using a very basic set up to capture some photos of the moon I wanted to invest in some astrophotography equipment.
Ideally I am looking to spend around £800 - £900, and I wanted some ideas on good mounts as well as scopes that can be used to take decent images of the moon along with other celestial bodies in the solar system.
I have been looking at the Celestron Nexstar 6SE as well as the sky watcher explorer/evostar series attached to a EQ-5 Pro GOTO Mount but as I said I am relatively new to the hobby and have no idea what's good and what's bad.
I would also prefer it if the mount is suitable for deep sky astrophotography along with planetary imaging as once I get the hang of planetary imaging I would like to take a stab at deep sky astrophotography.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.