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mikeDnight

What's a serious Telescope?

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There's an almost endless banquet of telescopes available to the amateur today, and this may at times create some confusion for a newcomer to the hobby. So without going into all the intricate differences in designs and capabilities of every telescope, I was wondering what you would consider to be a "serious telescope"? 

For me, I've have some amazing times at the eyepiece of a 3" refractor and a 4.5" reflector, so on a personal level, I could play quite merrily with scopes of this aperture and not get fed up. Where does your heart lie and why?

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Posted (edited)

I don't think there is such a telescope, I think it's the user that's serious or not.   

😀

Edited by Peter Drew
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From my relatively limited experience as a visual observer, a lot depends on sky darkness. A smaller scope under very dark skies will equal a much larger scope under more light polluted skies. How to directly compare those two is more difficult to put into percentages, i.e. an 8" newt under Bortle 2 with excellent seeing conditions equals x percent of a 20" dob under Bortle 5 with so-so seeing... lots of variables here.

I'm into DSOs and some of the fainter objects, so all else being equal, aperture is king. I have a 200p newt on an EQ5 that I picked up for peanuts, and a 20" dob that I only managed to buy because work was insanely busy for six or eight months and I was frankly too busy to spend any money on holidays etc. 

I've seen the same DSOs with both the 8 and 20", but naturally the 20" is a leap in terms of detail and brightness, whereas the 8" may just reveal a faint patch of nebulousity. Price per increase in aperture is exponential though. Those extra inches of aperture don't come cheaply and a scope that costs 5x what a smaller scope costs doesn't necessarily bring 5x more enjoyment.

As far as what constitutes a serious scope, that's entirely subjective I would say. It's more down to the observer. I've had some of my best widefield views with 12x70 Cometron binos that I paid £30 for.

The stress of using a smaller scope is greatly reduced as well, easier transport and if something happens to the mirror or optics like a nasty scratch or heaven forbid, the secondary or an eyepiece somehow drops on the primary mirror, it won't precipitate a nervous breakdown! 

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None of mine are serious - its a hobby for me and I do it for fun :grin:

So Peter is probably right in that respect - it depends on the approach and attitude of the owner rather than the scope.

When a look back at all the years of observing that I've done though, it's when I've been using my larger aperture scopes that I've been able to go deeper, look futher and see things that I otherwise would have found harder or not been able to see at all. So I guess currently my 12 inch dob is the nearest I have to a "serious" scope despite my lovely (and somewhat more expensive !) refractors.

 

 

 

 

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A 'serious' telescope?  Well, all my scopes, including my present brace, have been  'fun' scopes - I wouldn't want to be serious when I'm observing, I want to be enjoying myself.   :hello2:

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But if you want to talk serious scopes, I've always fancied using the fork-mounted 88-inch f10 Cassegrain UH88 atop Mauna Kea 😀. But only if I could use it there of course! 

I'd lose my widefield views though 🤣

Hawaii_-_Big_Island-_UH_88-inch_Telescope_on_Mauna_Kea_(14,000_ft)_(6563853263).jpg

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Rob Sellent said:

I think this kind of 'scope' wouldn' take itself too seriously....:biggrin:

66568436_noseriousscope.jpg.a011afea25b099e8e18de26b5b0019c8.jpg

Aye, but that's the hi-vis non-slip grip tube with ED triplet glass in there! A wolf in sheep's clothing. The looks are simply a clever design to reduce theft, unless you happen to be six. I do note the absence of a focuser however. Maybe it has internal focus like the old Zeiss, but controlled via a wifi app?

NB-I know we've strayed a bit here from the original post, couldn't resist though...

It would be interesting to have a budget vs high-end scope/EP combo 'shootout' of some sort and see what's what. I'm pretty happy with my £55 36mm Baader aspheric that has received terrible reviews. I've happily used mine against a 21mm Ethos on some objects!

Edited by Ships and Stars
update
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For an amateur astronomer. For me a serious scope it would be an 8" aperture  reflector newt with a decent figured mirror first of all . As I class this as a "proper telescope" . Why first of all for the great all round quality of views that you can achieve on so many objects. Seeing conditions permitted then lunar and planetary then you really do see some worthwhile detail moments from a scope of this size compared to some of more restricted aperture scopes on the market. And at a true dark site the 8" of aperture on the fainter DSO can really bring to life those fainer DSO and wooow  moments that a smaller aperture just cannot deliver .A good 8" reflector can be such a versatile and rewarding scope to have. It is also in my opinion so portable, so no shall I go out tonight because of size and weight issues. Such a versatile and worthwhile investment a good 8" that it can give you years of enjoyment without the need to "upgrade". And best of all so well priced. The best bang for buck" serious" scope available IMHO.

 

 

 

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It's the small cheap scopes on e.bay that are labelled "Pro" than put a wry smile on my face :grin:

Behind closed doors professional astronomers are all using those,  of course :rolleyes2:

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Posted (edited)

I think a proper telescope has nothing to do with size, as even a small lens or mirror will show much more than the eye alone, and different sizes serve different purposes anyway.

For me it's about the design and usability. If a 3" refractor is well made and capable of producing sharp images, has a usable focuser, finder and a mount that allows it to be pointed accurately and easily at a given target than that is a proper telescope. This is where most department store scopes fall down into the toy category. 

Edited by CraigT82
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I suppose this topic also begs the question, what is serious amateur astronomy ?

Someone at my astro society reckoned that you need to be an active member of the BAA to be considered a "serious" amateur.

Maybe thats for a different thread though.

 

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Well, I would consider This to be a serious telescope.

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7 minutes ago, John said:

I suppose this topic also begs the question, what is serious amateur astronomy ?

Someone at my astro society reckoned that you need to be an active member of the BAA to be considered a "serious" amateur.

Maybe thats for a different thread though.

 

All perspective isn't it! I'm still learning the stars, but after a year or so, I can walk outside now and name many of the brighter stars and point roughly where different DSOs should be. I've been know to be off a few degrees though!

Those of you who have been doing this for decades using any type of scope from cheap binos to triplets and then sharing your experience on here, hats off to you!

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Posted (edited)

Amateur astronomy is whatever ypu want it to be and can be done with cheap or expensive scopes. You can just dabble a bit and enjoy yourself with a cheap scope or at the other extreme you can get all serious with a high end scope and try to be a pseudo professional astronomer. Either is equally valid in my opinion. But what I absolutely hate is the “serious” amateur astronomers who look down their noses at the dabbler.s.

So if you want to be “serious” that’s fine but just remember that to most it’s just a hobby that they enjoy in their own way.

Time for a bit of John Mcenroe 😁

 

Edited by johninderby
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A "serious" telescope doesn't wobble and it can find things and track them all on its own.
After nearly 60 years I'm still looking for one.  :icon_scratch:
A Dobsonian comes close on solidity.
We'll have to wait for an organic, quantum, AI superdoobrywotsit to steer it straight to the required spot.

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Probably one you can't lift or aford.

More seriously anyone that let's you enjoy our hobby.

Regards Andrew 

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15 minutes ago, DaveS said:

Well, I would consider This to be a serious telescope.

Do they do one in blue? You can't take a red telescope seriously.

Hang on though.. I made a red GRP tube for an 8.75" mirror in my youth.  :icon_bigsmurf:

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every scope is serious its a frame of mind, bigger don't mean better and the more you spend wont make ya happier the only thing that matters is the state of the sky but don't lisen to me im quite Mad 😀. charl.

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As pointed out - depends how seriously you take the term serious :D

I do have my view on that - serious scope is one that provides most opportunities to do serious stuff. I have one such scope in my "stable" and I indeed consider it serious, although it probably is not if other seriousness criteria is applied.

That would be RC8" in my case. It is reflector so it does not suffer chromatic aberration - suited for UV/NIR for example. It has symmetric off axis aberration - suitable for astrometry. It is suitable for visual (but a bit less than other models out there due to large CO) and particularly well suited for all kinds of imaging. It is EQ mounted - there fore suitable for longer precision tracking. With additional gear it is suitable for spectroscopy.

Only thing that it is not suitable - is solar work. With full aperture filters and additional gear - it might be suitable for that as well (but I'm not even going to calculate cost of that).

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I would consider as a serious telescope, any well-executed instrument that offers a very good image of what the instrument's aperture is capable of providing.

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To pick up on and reinforce Peters point,  when I find myself looking at bigger and/or better astro'equipment, when either I'm ashamedly not or can't use what I have,  I  try to remind myself of what Galileo used so influentially.  To misquote somebody, serious is as serious does.

image.png.eae080ce004739f973e78ef2f69e819b.png

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22 minutes ago, Alfian said:

To pick up on and reinforce Peters point,  when I find myself looking at bigger and/or better astro'equipment, when either I'm ashamedly not or can't use what I have,  I  try to remind myself of what Galileo used so influentially.  To misquote somebody, serious is as serious does.

image.png.eae080ce004739f973e78ef2f69e819b.png

 

 

But back then this was a "serious" telescope.

And times have moved on .and I am sure Galileo would love to use some of the kit we have nowadays 😵

 

 

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To me a serious telescope is the one that actually gets used on a regular basis. 

Rob

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6 hours ago, John said:

I suppose this topic also begs the question, what is serious amateur astronomy ?

Someone at my astro society reckoned that you need to be an active member of the BAA to be considered a "serious" amateur.

Maybe thats for a different thread though.

 

I'm going to leave answering that apparently simple question to someone else John. 

As for the BAA. Definitely another thread! 😊

 

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