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I need some help choosing!

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Hi there

I am buying my boyfriend a telescope for Christmas, but as it's a relatively large amount of money for one thing, I want to be absolutely sure that I get one that's going to be value for money.

I have narrowed it down to 2 at the moment (though you lot may just confuse me and add another 5 to the equation!)

The Konus Digimax-90 or the Meade ETX 70

What I need is something that will be easy to use for a novice (though he will be a very enthusiastic novice) I like the idea of the automated ones, and as we live in a city, something that can be transported to the beautiful Welsh hills (on a train perhaps) quick adn easy set-up would be beneficial, and the option to set it up to a laptop, digital camera etc is a must.

So... how am I doing so far? Are the 2 I have chosen decent options? I had a long chat with a very helpful man from the UK Telescopes website, he recommended the Konus (maybe cause they sell them....??) and a friend from another forum I go on recommended the Meade.

I hate decisions, especially when I know nothing about what I'm buying! :oops:

Any advice would be gratefully received

Thanks in advance :hello2:

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Hello lotte

I dont know much about the konus brand but i know you will not go far wrong with a mead long established trustwothy company with a long pedegree of making first class quality scopes

but before you make a final descission you might want to take a quick look at our sponsors FLO

first light optics if you click on there add at the top of the forum page it will take you directly too their web site they are really good and you will get first class unbiased knowledge on a whole range of scopes and they are very competitive with their prices I got my skywatcher from them excellent scope and brilliant service both before and after sales these guys really know their stuff and they really care about their customers too not just in it to sell scopes cant recomend them highly enough as will most other of the forum occupants but anyways good hunting best wishes from Pete

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The ETX 70 has been superceeded by the ETX 80 (slightly larger scope) and some of the issues with the 70 have now been resolved. I'd follow the above advice, but if you do go for a Meade make sure you get an 80.

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If I were you I would Not get anything in that price range with goto as a first scope. I have had the misfortune to spend several nights and days (looking at the sun) with an ETX 80. I have never seen a worse telescope. My daughter has a £ 20 trashy telescope which is easier to use and gives as good images as the ETX.

The computer goto was so frustrating to use that I gave up. It only works if you are able to go through a tedious alignment procedure each and every time and then is not perfect. If you are not familiar with the sky and the goto is a bit off you will be stuffed.

Buy a skywatcher 130 pm. It is the best starter scope I know of. It is easy to use and has larger and better optics. It is cheaper than any goto scope and will give really nice views of all objects. Many people on this forum have one or started with one.

Goto scopes can be good but the cheaper ones are poor value for money and give poor images.

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Just please remember. At the lower end of the market to make Goto scopes cost effective something has to give. The celestron scopes have a better reputation than the Meade ones. However they still cost more and can see less than a skywatcher 130.

For every pound spent on computer power you loose money on optics. Many of these small GOTO scopes have a list of thousands of objects which you simply can not see with a small aperture telescope.

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Hello Lotte,

Yes you have a difficult choice! But, the Skywatcher 130PM is a guaranteed good first time buy. Like many people starting off in astronomy, I had one, and it proved to be an excellent scope for the price.

Click on:-


I would tend to agree with "partimer" when he says

"For every pound spent on computer power you loose money on optics. Many of these small GOTO scopes have a list of thousands of objects which you simply can not see with a small aperture telescope".

However, another aspect you should consider when starting off in astronomy, is your "lifestyle." What I mean by this is:-

Do you (or your boyfriend) have a suitable space in which to set a telescope up?

Do you have space to store it?

Do you have "time" to spend sitting out watching the stars?

How important is having a "transportable" scope.

Also "will your boyfriend want to use the scope to look at things on land, as well as things in space?"

If several of the above are quite important factors, then you really need a scope which will fulfill as many of those conditions as possible.

Perhaps you might like to take a look at this one:-

Click on:-


The Skymax can be used for Astronomy and terrestrial viewing, and is easier to set up, and more portable than the 130PM). (I have the smaller 90mm version, and it is an excellent little scope).

Either of the above scopes will give your boyfriend an excellent introduction to astronomy, but the "Skymax" is the more portable, and easier to set up scope.

Best wishes,


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Hmm, but the ETX80 is now S@N best buy as an amateur scope, knocking the 130 of its long held pedestal ( :crybaby: )

Don't get me started on Sky at Night 'reviews'. All I'll say is that who ever is responsible for some of them should really be ashamed of themselves.

As I said I've used two completely unrelated examples of the ETX 80 and both on a number of occasions. I'll repeat again it was the worst telescope I have ever used (and I spent years with Tasco's etc).

Magazine astronomy reviews are, too say the least, not dependable.

The best place for a review is somewhere like this where different points of view can be raised over a scope without any financial complications.

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A tad harsh I think. :shock: S@N have done some excellent reviews on all sorts of items in the past. They wouldn't give the 80 such a high rating as a beginner's scope if it didn't deserve it, particularly when you take into consideration the scope that it replaced in that position!

Let's not forget that the original poster asked for advice on two scopes - the Konus and the Meade. She didn't ask about the Skywatcher which, although we can all agree is an excellent scope, is off topic.

I'm simply giving her advice on the queries raised. Of the two she asked about, the Meade is better.

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Relax Thing

All I'm saying is that I would advise against the etx 80 no matter what the reviews say. The original post also hinted that some other suggestions may be welcome.

At the sort of price area of the two scopes mentioned there are plenty of good scopes but not all are Ideal for a first telescope. If a goto telescope is easy to use and accurate and can see the objects it points at then it will be a good first telescope.

On the other hand A simple sky chart and a simple telescope that can actually see the objects shon on the chart may be a better option.

As to S@N, I won't hijack this thread but they tend to give only positive reviews. Sometimes they are spot on but sometimes they give very poor scope's a very distorted review. This is easy to spot when you have spent 20 years playing with small telescopes but a beginner will not be able to spot these things. Unfortunately the bad telescope and equipment referred too seems to always come from brands which have a large advertising budget.

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part timer - no offence taken!

You're quite right that the 130 (especially the pm version) is an excellent scope! My first scope in fact (it was my first love and it'll be my last!)

If the original poster is willing to look at non-GOTO scopes then she wont go at all wrong with the 130.

I've had an ETX-70 before, which was pants, but I was lead to believe (erroniously perhaps?) that the 80 is a much better scope. My step mum has the 80 and she finds it perfect (for a 60+ yr old, but I didn't mention that!)

130 IS far superior in every way, though.

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I spent so long fiddling with the Etx 80 to get it to work at night that If I had been a beginner I honestly would have given up.

The optics are not terrible but only as good as my little girls 60mm toys'r'us refractor. My 90mm Maksutov on a camera tripod absolutely crucified the ETX on every object. The main problem with the Meade is the mount. It's horrible and never seems to work well. It is not possible to just use it by hand so you are stuck with the handset which is often unresponsive. Also the batteries run out rapidly. and the scope stops working.

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Wow, that's a lot of information to take in!

Thanks everyone for your input - I would rather have more informed opinions, than just go for the first thing that someone on the other end of the phone recommended - especially as he was the one selling it! Not that I am doubting his integrity in any way.

I am happy to have my mind changed - the money isn't spent yet, and as I said it's a lot of money (to me anyway) and I don't want to buy a lemon :hello2:

The reason that the two I was looking at are automated is purely because that is what was recommended to me. The original I was looking at was a Celestron 130 I think, but when I spoke to the guy on the phone he intimated that a non-automated one might be a bit of a faff and take a long time to set up etc. I got the impression that it might put off a beginner. Saying that, my partner is a bit of an uber-geek and if he's into something, he will get really into it and not mind manual setting up etc. On the other hand we both work full-time so there's the time issue....

Oh, decisions decisions! I might give Steve at FLO a call anyway, but I am happy for any other suggestions that people want to give me!

My needs are:

Not TOO expensive - around £250 tops, though if I can get cheaper it means I can buy accessories

Portable - possibly by train

Easy for a novice to use and understand

And obviously not least, I want to be able to see decent images of the sky at night (I'm not sure whether daytime usage would come into it, but I don't want to rule it out, especially as it may be lent to my dad who's a photographer)

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OK, having spoken to Steve at FLO, I'm going to chuck something else into the mix:


I realise portability by train is impossible (about time my fella learnt to drive anyway :) ) and this is quite BIG

other than that, please can I have some opinions? Steve was extremely helpful and obviously knowledgable, but I'm just the kind of person that can't buy without a million opinions!

Thanks lots..... over to you :D


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Ask Steve if it will bring a DSLR to infinity focus without extra gizmos. If so, it's got a nice upgrade path ahead of it, too, when you throw the tube on a mechanised equatorial mount for astrophotography. It looks like a solid choice, Lotte, bags of value.

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Just found this thread :)

Yes, the Skyliner 200p has a focuser with Direct-SLR connection so no worries there. Lunar imaging with a Dobsonian is relatively easy but a motor-driven GEQ mount would be required for anything more ambitious.

If portability on a train is important then something like the Skymax 127 Supatrak would be good but if you can transport by car and want the most telescope per £ spent then the Dobsonian wins.


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