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LILYDENISE

First time stargazer, need help purchasing telescope

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Hello everyone, happy Tuesday.

First time stargazer here, I'm hoping I can get some awesome feedback from you guys. 

my fiancé and I are planning on taking a trip to Great Basin National Park from October 25th-30th, we're trying to catch the new moon, we want to do some deep sky viewing but we're having such a hard time on knowing which kind of telescope to purchase. we do have a few must- haves on our purchase, but I wanted to see what you guys recommend and what your experiences have been.

we need a telescope that is portable

good for deep sky viewing

reflector vs. refractor

and almost, but not necessarily, easy to use (we have time to learn the ins and outs of it)

I apologize if its a lot, but trying to understand the jargon, as of now, is giving me a hard time :D

Cant wait for any responses!!

p.s. anyone ever been to Great Basin? what should we expect on our trip? its our first time going and first time doing any serious camping!!!

THANKS A BUNCH!!!

-LILY 

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First things first... Whats your budget?!

And how portable do you need?  Fit in a backpack?  Or fit in the back of a car?

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13 minutes ago, LILYDENISE said:

we need a telescope that is portable

good for deep sky viewing

reflector vs. refractor

and almost, but not necessarily, easy to use (we have time to learn the ins and outs of it)

We need a bit more information to give you an useful answer.

Portable - is that 'backpack for 10 miles' or 'lift out of 4x4 truck'?

Good for deep sky viewing - as a rule of thumb this means an aperture of at least 8 inches - but I'm guessing this is a dark skies area so with a smaller aperture you will still see something.

reflector vs refractor (or catatroptic) your choice, but see previous answer.

easy to use - depends what you mean - a Dobsonian is easy to learn to use, but not so easy to find anything with.  A GoTo system is not so easy to figure out how to operate, plus you need power for the duration of your trip, but easy to find 1000's of objects once you have figured out how to set it up and align it.

And what is your budget?

 

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Thats a lot to ask, especially for the portability & deep sky aspect. Love to see what others suggest, but an idea of budget might help too. If the skies in the Great Basin are dark then another option might be a good pair 20x70 binoculars. They are certainly well in the portability range, and even in my light polluted back garden back here in the UK i can see a fair amount of fuzzy stuff with them! :) 

Edited by Knighty2112

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Hi LILYDENISE,

You and significant other will get many hours of enjoyment with an 8 or 10" Dobsonian. Light, easy to transport and just superb to share an astronomy journey together.

Get a good sky chart book, a red wrapper over your headlamp and you will never look back.

Welcome and nice job asking in the forums too!

Stu

 

 

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41 minutes ago, LILYDENISE said:

Hello everyone, happy Tuesday.

First time stargazer here, I'm hoping I can get some awesome feedback from you guys. 

my fiancé and I are planning on taking a trip to Great Basin National Park from October 25th-30th, we're trying to catch the new moon, we want to do some deep sky viewing but we're having such a hard time on knowing which kind of telescope to purchase. we do have a few must- haves on our purchase, but I wanted to see what you guys recommend and what your experiences have been.

we need a telescope that is portable

good for deep sky viewing

reflector vs. refractor

and almost, but not necessarily, easy to use (we have time to learn the ins and outs of it)

I apologize if its a lot, but trying to understand the jargon, as of now, is giving me a hard time :D

Cant wait for any responses!!

p.s. anyone ever been to Great Basin? what should we expect on our trip? its our first time going and first time doing any serious camping!!!

THANKS A BUNCH!!!

-LILY 

DSO viewing and portability are not two things that go hand in hand. As mentioned above you need aperture and big apertures are less portable. 

Personally I would think that this is as big as things get in terms of aperture before you are no longer 'portable' in the true sense of the word. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

I am sure a US supplier will stock these, they can be collapsed down into a very portable form. 

Of course if by portable you really mean fits in the back of a 4x4 then get a 8 inch dob. Like this:

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

Or if you are willing to shell out for a go to package something like this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/se-series/celestron-nexstar-5se.html

or this 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astro-fi-series-telescopes/celestron-astro-fi-130mm-reflector.html

Adam 

Edited by Adam J

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Hi @LILYDENISE/Lily and welcome to SGL. :hello2:

Depends on what your interpretation of deep sky is.

Reflectors, mainly SCT's & Mak's do require time to cool down to acclimatise to the surrounding air. Also they can be fairly bulky and heavy if you are relying on travelling light and may not be airline friendly. A lighter reflector would be a Sky-Watcher Heritage 130P Flextube, as shown below.

sky-watcher_heritage-130P_flextube_1_main.jpg.7364f0ffa0fe1379ee8640f95a20596b.jpg

 

Small refractors, (i.e. upto 60-80mm), are good for most astro-targets, but as aperture increases ...so does the length of the OTA and the price. You would need a steady mount too.

As @Knighty2112 suggests, a pair of binoculars, but avoid zoom binoculars. Cheaper option all round and can be used for other outdoor pursuits during the day-time hours too. The only accessories you need for binoculars is a camera tripod & head or monopod and possibly an 'L' bracket to mount them on, (if not included with the binoculars).

Edited by Philip R
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Hiya Lily,

Just adding more to the great advice....

It's probably not necessary to say, but just in case, I'd suggest that you buy your first set up from a specialist telescope shop that can provide advice and an ongoing service – not from ebay and not from some supermarket or photographic store where the staff will generally have no knowledge of what they are selling.

When looking around at your new potential purchase, although there are excellent reasons to buy a refractor the general precept is that aperture rules and so you'll find that if a beginner asks 'what should I buy?' 99% of those answers are going to suggest the biggest Newtonian (reflector) you can afford and carry about, and more than likely a Newtonian which is Dobsonian mounted rather than GEM (EQ) mounted, simply because the former mounts are easier to use and set up and are cheaper, so in effect you're putting more money into the optics and less into the mount.

Another consideration to take into account is that if you start small, say with the 3", or 4", although you may have a plus on portability, you may soon be wishing you had gone for that 6", or that 8" etc. So have a serious think about this as well. You need to weigh aperture against portability.

After you've got your scope with its supplied EPs you will probably want to get a couple more eyepieces, but do that after you've practiced a little. That way you'll be able to make a much more informed enquiry and decision. But, if you do decide to buy a Newtonian, your telescope will require collimation. So, you will need a special tool to do this, so you ought to budget yourself for a Cheshire as well.

Another thing to look out for are astronomy sketches. If you have a look at the type of telescope from which the sketch was made this is the kind of thing you will see when observing from a telescope of similiar aperture. From time to time folk crop up who are very disappointed with astronomy-stargazing, they thought they were going to see those colourful galaxies and nebulae and wide and super bright globular clusters seen in the photos, only to see a fuzzy in grey, a planet the size of a pea in the palm of your hand.

If possible, try to get along to a local astronomy club and size up and look through the type of telescope you think you may purchase and see if the view, weight, bulk etc meets your expectations. Most stargazers will be only too happy to help.

I hope this helps a little and please don't hesitate in asking more questions.

Oh, and welcome to SGL 😀

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1 hour ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

We need a bit more information to give you an useful answer.

Portable - is that 'backpack for 10 miles' or 'lift out of 4x4 truck'?

Good for deep sky viewing - as a rule of thumb this means an aperture of at least 8 inches - but I'm guessing this is a dark skies area so with a smaller aperture you will still see something.

reflector vs refractor (or catatroptic) your choice, but see previous answer.

easy to use - depends what you mean - a Dobsonian is easy to learn to use, but not so easy to find anything with.  A GoTo system is not so easy to figure out how to operate, plus you need power for the duration of your trip, but easy to find 1000's of objects once you have figured out how to set it up and align it.

And what is your budget?

 

Hi! thanks for the response!

I probably should have been more specific on 'portable', oops! definitely something that we can carry in a backpack.

It is a dark skies area, and we are planning on using it more so for those types of areas in the future. We cant see anything even if we wanted to here in Chicago. 

Easy to use as in set-up and alignment, we are super beginners, I understand it may not be possible, but like I mentioned we are more than happy to learn, its an exciting process for us :D 

As of right now our budget is $600, we feel this might be a comfortable amount for a first time telescope. What do you think?

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1 hour ago, CraigT82 said:

First things first... Whats your budget?!

And how portable do you need?  Fit in a backpack?  Or fit in the back of a car?

Our budget is $600. we are thinking its a safe bet for a first time telescope. What do you think?

And we definitely need to be able to transport it in a backpack or some sort of carrying case. 

thanks for the reply :D 

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Spend way less than $600 on a pair of 20x50 or 70 binoculars and a monopod to rest them on...plus a good star map and red light...Find out if you have the bug for astronomy truly first.

You and other could learn some constellations and scan the beautiful sky making your own memories as you go. Dress warm too, wear a hat, nothing clever about being cold...

If you don't like, you can use binoculars for normal viewing, sell them etc...

Edited by Stu Todd

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Backpack as in hiking to the observing site?

Or carry case to and from a car or the bus stop?

This breaks down very nicely into kit bag sized chunks.

It's a very sound piece of kit and from our reasonably dark back garden gave us an enjoyable whizz around Hercules, Lyra and Cygnus the other evening.

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2 hours ago, Knighty2112 said:

Thats a lot to ask, especially for the portability & deep sky aspect. Love to see what others suggest, but an idea of budget might help too. If the skies in the Great Basin are dark then another option might be a good pair 20x70 binoculars. They are certainly well in the portability range, and even in my light polluted back garden back here in the UK i can see a fair amount of fuzzy stuff with them! :) 

$600 is our budget for our first one, we are for sure going to continue with stargazing in the future but we sort of want to get the hang of things. its not often that we travel on adventures like these and he we are just ecstatic about it. Now I've never considered binoculars before, I would definitely like to get a pair for those times where we don't want to make such a long trip. Hopefully we can see something here in Chicago 😬. GREAT IDEA! THANKS! 

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2 hours ago, Stu Todd said:

Hi LILYDENISE,

You and significant other will get many hours of enjoyment with an 8 or 10" Dobsonian. Light, easy to transport and just superb to share an astronomy journey together.

Get a good sky chart book, a red wrapper over your headlamp and you will never look back.

Welcome and nice job asking in the forums too!

Stu

 

 

THANKS STU! I'll most certainly be looking into a Dobsonian. Any recommendations on a good sky chart book? :) 

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36 minutes ago, LILYDENISE said:

something that we can carry in a backpack

If that means a few Km hike into a camp and staying there some nights, comfortably - unless you're SBS/SAS 😋- you could share an extra 5kg to 10kg related to astronomy.  If you mean backpacking serious Km, then I wouldn't consider anything more than a small set of binoculars. 

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1 hour ago, bingevader said:

Backpack as in hiking to the observing site?

Or carry case to and from a car or the bus stop?

This breaks down very nicely into kit bag sized chunks.

It's a very sound piece of kit and from our reasonably dark back garden gave us an enjoyable whizz around Hercules, Lyra and Cygnus the other evening.

We were heavily considering hiking to the observing site, but right now we're leaning more towards driving there, and that's only because our senior dog will be coming along for the journey and she has a difficult time getting about. I don't want to make her overexert  herself, however, I did want backpack portability should I find a sitter for her, but that's not looking too good.  

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24 minutes ago, LILYDENISE said:

THANKS STU! I'll most certainly be looking into a Dobsonian. Any recommendations on a good sky chart book? :) 

'Turn Left at Orion: A hundred Night Sky Objects to See in a Small Telescope - and How to Find Them' by Guy Consolmagno & Dan Davies...

...often shortened to 'Turn Left at Orion' or abbreviated to 'TLAO'.

Edited by Philip R
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2 hours ago, Rob Sellent said:

Hiya Lily,

Just adding more to the great advice....

It's probably not necessary to say, but just in case, I'd suggest that you buy your first set up from a specialist telescope shop that can provide advice and an ongoing service – not from ebay and not from some supermarket or photographic store where the staff will generally have no knowledge of what they are selling.

When looking around at your new potential purchase, although there are excellent reasons to buy a refractor the general precept is that aperture rules and so you'll find that if a beginner asks 'what should I buy?' 99% of those answers are going to suggest the biggest Newtonian (reflector) you can afford and carry about, and more than likely a Newtonian which is Dobsonian mounted rather than GEM (EQ) mounted, simply because the former mounts are easier to use and set up and are cheaper, so in effect you're putting more money into the optics and less into the mount.

Another consideration to take into account is that if you start small, say with the 3", or 4", although you may have a plus on portability, you may soon be wishing you had gone for that 6", or that 8" etc. So have a serious think about this as well. You need to weigh aperture against portability.

After you've got your scope with its supplied EPs you will probably want to get a couple more eyepieces, but do that after you've practiced a little. That way you'll be able to make a much more informed enquiry and decision. But, if you do decide to buy a Newtonian, your telescope will require collimation. So, you will need a special tool to do this, so you ought to budget yourself for a Cheshire as well.

Another thing to look out for are astronomy sketches. If you have a look at the type of telescope from which the sketch was made this is the kind of thing you will see when observing from a telescope of similiar aperture. From time to time folk crop up who are very disappointed with astronomy-stargazing, they thought they were going to see those colourful galaxies and nebulae and wide and super bright globular clusters seen in the photos, only to see a fuzzy in grey, a planet the size of a pea in the palm of your hand.

If possible, try to get along to a local astronomy club and size up and look through the type of telescope you think you may purchase and see if the view, weight, bulk etc meets your expectations. Most stargazers will be only too happy to help.

I hope this helps a little and please don't hesitate in asking more questions.

Oh, and welcome to SGL 😀

This is excellent! thank you so much! 

I never would have thought to check out local Astronomy clubs, I didn't think those were a thing. I HAVE to find one near me. 

 

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1 hour ago, Philip R said:

'Turn Left at Orion' by Guy Consolmagno & Dan Davies.

 

1 hour ago, dweller25 said:

👍👍👍

In my Amazon cart as we speak! thanks for the recommendation. the preview of it looks great too very detailed on pretty much everything!

  • Like 2

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I'd look at a 8*42 binoculars anyway as one could be using those while the other the telescope if you get one. There's a lot to see even with low magnification that binoculars give. Deep sky objects are generally grey fuzzy blobs that get bigger with aperture so you can still hunt for many objects with binoculars and you'll get a feeling for with that book. Even binoculars that size will show the four main moons of Jupiter which are fun to see orbiting the planet over different nights plus chase comets with.

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3 hours ago, Rob Sellent said:

If that means a few Km hike into a camp and staying there some nights, comfortably - unless you're SBS/SAS 😋- you could share an extra 5kg to 10kg related to astronomy.  If you mean backpacking serious Km, then I wouldn't consider anything more than a small set of binoculars. 

HAHA! not any serious backpacking, I wouldn't last :(. something from the campsite to the observing site. especially since we'll have my older dog with us. she's going in a backpack too lol. but I am considering those binoculars so that we both can enjoy the views at the same time. 

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@LILYDENISEa few more pointers:

  • If you haven't done so already, I'd also enquire at Cloudy Nights. They're like the US version of this site, SGL.
  • For star hopping and finding objects, this is an excellent write up: Locating Objects in the Night Sky
  • To get a general idea of what you'll see in a 4" scope, this is an excellent write up: What Can I Expect...
  • For star hopping and locating objects a map is essential. The Pocket Sky Atlas is excellent. You can also use apps but I have no idea how that works.
  • So as you don't ruin your night vision, if you want to read, see your way around, you must use a green or red light. A cheap torch and a good layer or two of thick red nail varnish is a nice DIY tip.
  • Also, do not underestimate the evening/night chill in autumn/winter. Thermal Underwear/Down Jacket/Hat/Glooves/Neck Scarf thing/Thick Soled Boots are all handy.
Edited by Rob Sellent
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Lily

Welcome from across the ditch, Pacific Ocean

Portability is a big issue, and also depending on where you want to just view, of further down the track, venture into Astrophotography 

For viewing cannot go pass a small Celestron, though Skywatcher 8" flex Dob, be ideal as well, depending on type of vehicle you have, and whether you also camping out under the stars, as well, and have lot of camping gear to transport as well

Attached pic is of my 10" flex Dob

The scope in background is 8" flex Dob, and one in the middle is a Meade LX90

If you both ever make it across the ditch, only too happy show you both around, and view overhead, where I am

John

 

 

 

 

 

Skywatcher 10 inch Dobson.jpg

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