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mike2k

Telescope question...

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Hi there

I am sure that this has been asked countless times, but my 8 year old daughter is after a telescope for Christmas, I have been doing some digging I was thinking about buying her this one Sky-Watcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian. However as we live right on the edge of Exmoor it seems a shame to buy something so un-portable. The problem I have is I don't want to spend any more on a telescope than the 150P which is my absolute maximum budget (she is only 8 she might well go off astronomy), I don't want anything to complicated because it will be a learning curve for both of us.  This whole thing is a bit of a nightmare! so I am hoping that someone can offer a solution :)

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Hi Mike and welcome to SGL.

You may be better off with a Skywatcher Heritage 114p for a small child, the 150P may prove a bit unwieldy and unintuitive to use.

Dave

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Or.. the Heritage 130p? Still very small and portable and easy for you both to carry and a big saving over a 150p. Getting yourself to Exmoor and plonking that on a picnic table will give great views.

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

 

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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28 minutes ago, Davey-T said:

Hi Mike and welcome to SGL.

You may be better off with a Skywatcher Heritage 114p for a small child, the 150P may prove a bit unwieldy and unintuitive to use.

Dave

Hi Dave,

That is a really interesting looking telescope. As she is really small for her age it might work brilliantly. I started watching a review on youtube and will hope to finish watching it tomorrow. Thank you

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21 minutes ago, scitmon said:

If you want something more portable and less complicated, perhaps a refractor such as https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/skywatcher-startravel-102-az3.html might be worth considering.

Hi Scitmon, I really worry about these Azimuth mounts as I have no experience with this sort of thing and won't get chance to practice I worry that she will get frustrated when I try to set it up

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23 minutes ago, ScouseSpaceCadet said:

Or.. the Heritage 130p? Still very small and portable and easy for you both to carry and a big saving over a 150p. Getting yourself to Exmoor and plonking that on a picnic table will give great views.

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

 

Hi ScouseSpaceCadet, I will look into this suggestion more tomorrow, as she is obsessed by the moon this could potentially allow me the budget to buy her extras for looking at the moon :)

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Hi and welcome to the forum :icon_biggrin:

For observing the moon, even the smallest telescopes show lots and lots of detail. Your daughter will be amazed by the lunar views that any of the scopes mentioned will give.

 

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My 8 year old son can use 130p by himself easily, the Moon looks great and planets too.

Binoculars are also great for astronomy...

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Hi Mike

Welcome to both you and your daughter from Land Down Under

I have the 10" Flex Dob, and I am out couple of times per month with my club doing presentations in primary schools, and Space Badge Cubs/Joeys scout movement

When doing presentations, I also have a small 2 step kitchen steps with loop handle, for 5-7yos to stand on

You will both have fun with a Dob, as quick and easy to set up

The Dob in background is a 8'' flex

John

 

 

 

Skywatcher 10 inch Dobson.jpg

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Welcome to SGL, @mike2k.

I think you've done your daughter a massive deed by simply joining this forum before purchasing a scope. It makes my heart sink when I see an individual with some tatty but equally-as-expensive telescope that will inevitably frustrate one to the point of never wanting to use it again. I wonder how many budding scientists or artists were successfully discouraged from pursuing astronomy and the wonders of the night sky by these kinds of shoddy instruments. Typically the scopes branded for children at Christmas might seem okay for the price but the set up is generally worthless. Shoddy scope, eyepieces, diagonal, finder and the tripods are tiny, they sag and wiggle. Something that would make anyone give up, especially a child.

It's probably not necessary to say, but 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. If you haven't already had a peek, First Light Optics comes highly recommended as one of Great Britain's best astronomy shops and, of course, SGL can help out a lot.

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 always 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) or AZ mounted, simply because Dobsonian mounts (the rocker box) are probably 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.

With that said, I think FLO's beginner recommendations are spot on and personally I think any one of the Heritages will be a lovely present for your daughter. The scopes come pretty much assembled and generally only need the finder attaching. They're all well made, very sturdy on their wooden Dobsonian mount and look very attractive. There's a large knob for altitude tension adjustment and a nut and bolt for azimuth, so they're easy to use. Standing the scope on a stool puts the focuser at about the right height for a child to use standing. The little 76mm weighs in under 2kg, the larger 100mm just under 3kg and the 130mm just over 6kg. 

It's late now, but when I get a moment, I'll try to report back and find some useful links for you and your daughter regarding lunar, planetary and deep space observing :thumbright:

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Hi @mike2k and welcome to SGL. :hello2:

A few xmas's past, a colleague that I work with, purchased the SkyWatcher Skyliner 200P dobsonian for his [then six and half year old] son. :Envy: - both dad and son are still using it.

BTW - good advice by fellow SGL'ers given above that have submitted suitable recommendations. 

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Hello @mike2k and welcome to SGL.

The Skywatcher 150P is a very capable scope and can be moved as a whole unit by an adult or can be broken down into two parts - the tube and the base for even easier carrying.

Lighter still is the 130 Heritage which can be moved in one piece very easily but will still give great views of the Moon, planets and brighter deep sky objects.

Teaching your children to never look at the Sun with binoculars or a telescope - as blindness may occur - is vital.

Stellarium is a free and very good planetarium program that will show you where things are in the night sky.

First Light Optics are a very good company to buy your scope from.

Mars will be back in 2020 and will be a good sight in either of the scopes above.

Edited by dweller25

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Hi,

As an aside,  I'll say you should each get a good pair of binoculars also. These are invaluable for learning the night sky, seeing larger star clusters etc. The other advantage is they can obviously be used during the day so she'll get a lot of use out of them. 

There is no need to spend a fortune. I got a couple of  pairs of 8x30s from eBay. As I couldn't check them personally, I ensured that I got them from someone with a good reputation, who was also selling other optical gear - generally there is a better chance that they have been cared for.

Peter

Edited by Peter_D

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Just a little more info for you and your daughter...

Within reason every scope shows a topsy-turvy image of orientation. Depending on the type of telescope, the star diagonal in use, the image may be upside-down, backwards, rotated, or normally oriented. For astronomical observing it makes no difference, for after all, there’s no correct up or down in space. The tricky thing is that when stargazing it is often hard to compare what you’re seeing through your scope to what your star chart or atlas is showing. 

Assuming your first scope of choice will be a reflector (Newtonian/Dobsonian) the eyepiece image is inverted. If you’re using a star chart or atlas, all you have to do is rotate the map 180º and then slightly rotate it a little further at an angle that more or less matches what you are seeing in the eyepiece. If you two get the astro bug, further down the line there are special 'correct-image' finders that provide a 'correctly' orientated view which makes starhopping and searching for objects much more easier.

Online there are many excellent resources, so here are just a couple that are worth looking into (both are free) and playing about with:

  • Stellarium - an excellent planetarium
  • Virtual Moon Atlas - playing with the settings to the left (and right) you can fix your orientation, plug in your scope's details etc and get an excellent idea of what will be possible through the scope you buy

Again, there are many excellent books on stargazing but these spring to mind immediately. Sure, the books are going to be a little heavy for your 8 year old daughter to tackle alone but you can read them together at night and they'll help you become a pro quickly so your daughter's early adventures will be easier and less frustrating:

  • S&T Pocket Sky Atlas - essential star map when out in the field star-hoping and hunting down those deep space gems 
  • Astronomical Wonders - excellent observing book and lovely introduction (might be worth purchasing before your scope)
  • Turn Left at Orion - this is extremely popular amongst beginner observers. Personally, I couldn't stand the thing but that probably says more about me than the book itself.
  • Rukl's Moon Guide - this is quite dry and out of print but it is cheap, extremely accurate and highly detailed. It is my go to Moon atlas.
  • S&T Field Lunar Map - nice to use out in the field.
  • Discover the Moon - it's not perfect but I feel it is a very good beginner's guide to lunar observing. It comes with both refractor and reflector orientations, handy features to pick out each night and a lamanated lunar map for both refractors and reflectors to take out in the damp field.

Other considerations. There are few more handy assessories that might make your sessions more enjoyable:

  • red torch to use at night to read the maps etc which can be suitably dimmed and which doesn't ruin your night vision
  • fingerless gloves, warm hat, warm socks, winter coat and boots big enough to accommodate 2 or 3 pairs of socks. If you're cold in winter, observing is horrid.
  • jaffa cakes, donuts, and other favourite snacks
  • note/sketch book, pencils, rubber and sharpener to plan your sessions and note down (writing or quick sketch) what has been seen
  • a seat to rest upon (ironing chairs are most useful)
  • patience of a zen master and of course, SGL.

Hope that helps and please, don't become a stranger. Get yourself and daughter on here (we're very family friendly, we don't do politics and we don't do religion) and please don't hesitate in asking any questions :thumbright:   

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Both scope mention is good the heritage 130 and the 4 inch f5 refractor on a az3.

The only issue with the heritage 130 is being a reflector if it need collamation (re alignment of the mirror) will be hard for both u both. Some people find it weird looking sideways in a scopes instead of being behind it and looking straight to where its pointing.

The az3 mount is very easy to use just move it to object and look at it. U even have slow motion controls so she can keep the planets from moving out of the eyepiece view.

The the 4 inch may be kinda large  for a 8 yr old, I would say get the 80mm f5 version.  Being a refractor u will never worry about mirror being off alignment.

And a refractor can also be used in daytime to look at stuff.

Joejaguar 

Edited by joe aguiar

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Thanks everyone for your invaluable advice. FLO will definitely be the place that I purchase the scope from, they are based in the same city that I work (Exeter) and I like to buy locally wherever possible. I will digest what everyone says over the rest of the week and probably come back with more questions.

Thanks again for the help

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+1 for the Skywatcher Heritage 130 P Flextube. Compact, lightweight, versatile, and easily transportable even by a child; excellent optics, that hold collimation well; decent and sturdy Dob mount. Can be handled almost intuitively - children love it; see below:

DSC_0781.thumb.JPG.c01aee2aaf41ee12ac4a4aa6aad3bacd.JPG

Re buying "extras": I'd avoid to purchase a moon filter. The moon's picture in a small scope may seem too bright at low magnifications; but it dims down rapidly when you switch to higher powers. A decent moon app (LunarMap HD), or book (21st Century Atlas of the Moon by Wood/Collins) would be a better investment.

Good luck with your choice - and welcome to this friendly forum!

Stephan

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On 19/11/2019 at 04:34, Philip R said:

A few xmas's past, a colleague that I work with, purchased the SkyWatcher Skyliner 200P dobsonian for his [then six and half year old] son. :Envy: - both dad and son are still using it.

The children in school have no problem using the 8" dob, we have a small (3 step) step ladder that means even the 5 year olds can have a go.

It's only the carting around you need to worry about.

The dob and stand go in the back of the zafira fully assembled, or base in the boot and ota across the back seat in the fiesta.

I'd go for the 150p it should be portable enough unless you were going to walk into Exmoor! :D

Edited by bingevader

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The 150P with the 750mm focal length is really quite portable and has significantly greater light gathering capabilities than the smaller scopes mentioned. 
 

I have one and have managed to see some wonderful sights from my very light polluted location and it’s the one I’d recommend. It won’t only be a starter scope but one that will stay in the collection even if you and your daughter decide to add to the arsenal. 
 

 

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The telescopes attached onto these Dobson-type alt-azimuth mounts are Newtonians.  Newtonians afford the largest aperture per pound spent.  But there's a catch: Newtonians require routine collimation, more so than any other design of telescope.  The procedure can be difficult at first, but then becomes easier; learning by doing, keeping at it.  The shorter the Newtonian, the more difficult it is to collimate; the more exacting, the more precise the collimation needs to be, and for sharp and pleasing images, particularly at the higher powers.

Note the focal-ratio when selecting a Newtonian or Newtonian-Dobson, and generally from f/4 to f/8.  An f/4 is more difficult than an f/8.  An f/5 is the shortest that I recommend and suggest.  An f/4 Newtonian is configured primarily for photographic applications, although they are used visually, with eyepieces, as well.  The longer the Newtonian, the easier it is to reach the higher powers, and where "Wow!" and "Look at that!" exist.  But an object zips out of the field-of-view of the eyepiece faster at the higher powers; with a manual mount, without motorised tracking.

The shorter the Newtonian, the higher the degree of coma is made manifest.  At the edges of the views round stars become streaks, lines, particularly at the lower powers.  No doubt the shorter Newtonians are most attractive, as they are more compact, ergonomic; easier to carry, handle and stow away.  A 130mm or 150mm f/5 Newtonian is a compromise, and an acceptable one.  You get a shorter tube, being more difficult to collimate, and more difficult in reaching the higher powers, but 2x and 3x barlows are available to ramp up the magnification.  Never consider any Newtonian shorter than f/5, for visual use.  After all, telescopes are all about seeing faraway objects up close.  Else, use your eyes or a pair of binoculars.

At a 1200mm focal-length, a 150mm f/8 Newtonian-Dobson is a bit long.  My 150mm f/5 Newtonian, with a focal-length of 750mm, is a bit short...

1540706887_6f5z2.jpg.75dc5173b62f45442e2e272d390da07f.jpg

...with the 650mm focal-length of a 130mm f/5, even shorter.  Yet both, again, are an acceptable compromise between ergonomics and optical performance.

A 150mm f/10, with a 1500mm focal-length, is a bit too long...

2ab.jpg.1a1421d2ac7eeea68ad3b81270ebe464.jpg  

A focal-length of 900mm is seemingly the ideal, the sweet-spot, and that exists within this one...

https://www.amazon.co.uk/TS-Optics-150mm-Newtonian-Telescope-Gsn1509ota/dp/B00IN7EBFW

With that being the ideal compromise, albeit without a mount.

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On 18/11/2019 at 22:40, Davey-T said:

Hi Mike and welcome to SGL.

You may be better off with a Skywatcher Heritage 114p for a small child, the 150P may prove a bit unwieldy and unintuitive to use.

Dave

Hi Mike, sorry I've only just spotted this thread.  As someone who was in a similar situation 2 years ago (with a then 4 year old) I'd also recommend the Skywatcher Heritage 114p on the Virtuoso mount.  It's a good size for kids to use and would be portable enough if you wanted to take it away from the back garden.  But the big advantage it brings is tracking (additional mains plug or power tank required or it eats through batteries).  Large dobsonians like the Skyliner 150 will no doubt give better views with their bigger aperture, but without tracking to keep what you're looking at in view of the eyepiece the target will very quickly drift out of view at the higher magnifications you'll want to use for planets.  This can be hugely frustrating when trying to  locate an object and then finding it's gone by the time your daughter is trying to look at it.  Even a half decent effort setting up the scope will reward you with a target staying in view for much longer.  I also found the motorised control of the scope to be much more controlled for locating targets than manually moving the scope.  It also allows you to add on a Skywatcher wifi adapter (around £50) and then use a smartphone and app to turn it into a full goto scope.

Unfortunately I've learned that just about everything relating to astronomy kit is about compromising.  All you can do is try to pick out the things that matter most to you.  At 8, your daughter may have the skills to nudge a big dob to keep things in view, and if you think so then it will be a great choice.  If you think it's likely to be you doing most of the locating of targets and her then having a look, please give consideration to a scope with tracking ability.

And I'll throw in one last complication - I chose my Heritage 114 because I got a great offer on it in a clearance, but if I'd had a straight up choice I'd probably have gone for the Heritage 90p Maksutov version which I'm lead to believe gives slightly better contrast for planets.

Good luck with your choice. 

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You don't have to sacrifice aperture to get a more portable scope, the question of portability has been asked by users and tackled by manufacturers, and they came up with 150mm tabletop dobsonians. The most affordable is the Bresser 150 f/5.

https://www.teleskop-spezialisten.de/shop/Teleskope/Dobson/bis-150mm/Bresser-Messier-6-Dobson-Newton-Reise-Teleskop-mit-Zubehoer::3462.html

It costs about 40€ more than the Sky-Watcher but it has a vastly wider field of view, and it's much shorter and lighter.

And for the sake of being complete, Bresser also makes a 130mm f/5 tabletop, but the focuser is a 1.25" unit.

https://www.teleskop-spezialisten.de/shop/Teleskope/Dobson/bis-150mm/Bresser-Messier-5-Dobson-Newton-Reise-Teleskop-mit-Zubehoer::3461.html

Priced at 199€, so less risk of it becoming a big pile of idle money. (both are parabolic so no worry about optical quality)

 

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i think you will enjot that scope 5.1 inch and parabloic miror, i also bought it to test it for the christmas time.

joejaguar

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