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Mr_Grieve

First Telescope Advice - Eq vs Dob

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I am looking to buy my first telescope, partly to get back into astronomy after a gap of 30 years but also because my children (ages 13 and 11) have enjoyed it when I've pointed out the  objects or constellations to them. It will primarily used in our suburban back garden but would probably like to take it occasionally to a dark sky site.

I was initially thinking of getting either a SkyWatcher Explorer 130P or 150P - probably would have forked out for the 150P. However, having read some comments here about  equatorial mounts being fiddly to set up and a Dobsonian being easy to use and with the advantage of bigger aperture for the money, was  about to order a SkyWatcher Skyliner 200P .  I've just been put of from doing so by some  comments that it can be a bit fiddly to track objects, particularly if switching between observers.

If the scope was just for me I would almost certainly be buying the Dobsonian however I wouldn't want to put my kids off observing for the sake of me spending a bit longer setting up an equatorial mount. So the question is which is the greater problem - setting up an equatorial mount or using and tracking with a Dobsonian with multiple observers, particularly since some of the observers are used to the instant gratification of the internet and I would err on taking a bit more time to set up if it made observing easier.

Finally would there be any problems taking any if the above scopes in an estate car with multiple passengers?

Thanks

 

 

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You can motorise an equatorial, and to where the object would stand still there in the centre of the eyepiece, and for as long as you'd like.  It's easier to break down an equatorial into smaller pieces, for travelling, but then it would have to be put back together upon arrival.  Actually, it wouldn't be that many parts: tripod, mount-head, and counterweight(s).  They all go back together rather quickly.  For visual-use, with eyepieces, no camera, an equatorial doesn't have to be aligned perfectly with the NCP/Polaris the north star.

There are also somewhat budget-friendly go-to kits to consider for group-viewing... 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/az-goto.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi.html

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It's a good question to which I don't think there's any right answer.

With a Newt on an EQ tracking mount you should never lose the target - even with your children taking turns at the eyepiece - but I would argue that almost everything else is going to be more difficult. The eyepiece position will rotate as you track across the sky. Its height will also move. The mount itself will be pricey, will weigh quite a bit and may be a challenge to observe objects near the celestial pole. If tracking were the primary deciding factor, then an AZ tracking mount would probably make more sense. However, like an EQ tracking mount, you will be spending quite a bit more for this feature.

On the other hand, manually tracking a Newt on a rocker box (Dobsonian set-up) is not particularly difficult unless tracking at high magnifications or at the zenith. As with most things there will be a learning curve whilst you get used to the instrument's handling but I feel most folk will get the hang of this in very little time.

Sure, at the beginning it may be a bit of a pain with you having to constantly target the object before and after each of your children and yourself have a look but with a decent finderscope and a red dot finder there shouldn't be too much cause for concern. So long as one acknowledges that hunting down an object, star-hoping and tracking is all part of the fun and that it isn't a mistake not being able to find an object or to loose the object while tracking, folk quickly become confident and relaxed in their inherent abilities and eventually figure out how to do everything for themselves. What you and your children gain is a new set of skills, a deeper appreciation of our own movement through space, a cheaper purchase or the possibility of getting more aperture for your buck.

Finally, it will probably take up less room to store away a smaller 4-5" scope Newt or Mak and break down the different parts of an EQ or AZ mount and tripod, than it would to put in the boot of a car a rocker box and an 8" Newt. Here's a pic to give an idea of relative sizes:

95848399_scaletelescopes.jpg.8b910f927232bb762c45ce8340c42cc7.jpg

 

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Dobs are also far more stable dollar for dollar at equivalent aperture than an EQ mount.  It takes a massive EQ mount to hold an 8" newt as rock solid as a Dob mount, for instance.  This translates to faster settling times after touching the scope to move it, focus it or simply from contacting the eyepiece when observing.

11 and 13 year olds should be able to take to controlling a Dob in short order, so I wouldn't worry about having to constantly jump in and adjust it.

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Welcome from Land Down Under

First of all have to ask yourself, what I want to use a scope for

Observing or AP

If the former, then Dob the way to go

I have a 10" flex Dob, and when separated, the tube and mount take up entire backseat of my SUV

For AP, then you will need a tracking mount, something like a HEQ5

I have a ED80 on EQ5pro mount

You can now also get a WiFi adapter for SynScan controller for EQ mounts

Pics attached of both taken club field days

Scope in background my Dob is a Meade LX90, behind that 8" flex tube

Background ED80, is a second ED80 on HEQ5 mount

Hope been of assistance

John

 

Skywatcher 10 inch Dobson.jpg

Skywatcher ED80.jpg

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Following a post by Alan higher up the skywatcher star discovery is my pick. It is 150mm parabolic mirror it is on a tracking goto az mount so whilst it is a reflector the eyepiece stays in a usable position, the wifi app your children might find more fun to use, the mount has freedom find which is useful for group observing or if you run out of power you can loosen the clutch and move the telescope manually by hand. 

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Thanks everyone.

I was planning on manual system rather than goto to retrain myself and help the children learn their way around the night sky.

Rob and Louis' comments are reassuring and were in line with what I was thinking/hoping. I'm probably going to plump for the SkyWatcher Skyliner 200P.

Gavin

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15 hours ago, Louis D said:

Dobs are also far more stable dollar for dollar at equivalent aperture than an EQ mount.  It takes a massive EQ mount to hold an 8" newt as rock solid as a Dob mount, for instance.  This translates to faster settling times after touching the scope to move it, focus it or simply from contacting the eyepiece when observing....

 

This is absoloutely true from my experience. I've owned dobs in 8, 10 and now 12 inch apertures. Goodness knows what size (and cost) an equatorial mount would need to be to hold my 12 inch F/5.3 dob steady but the simple plywood dobsonian mount that an SGL friend made for me holds the scope easily steady enough to use 300x or even 400x magnification. The atmospheric conditions are the limit on what can be usefully used, not the mounting.

The Skywatcher Skyliner 200P is an excellent scope - good choice !

 

 

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The Skywatcher 200p dob is a very good choice. Not perfect but a very good price.

If you can up the budget a bit the Bresser 8” dob is a step up over the Skywatcher with a higher spec and  including proper alt and az bearings and a really good focuser. 

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/bresser-telescopes/bresser-messier-8-dobsonian-telescope.html

Edited by johninderby
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47 minutes ago, Mr_Grieve said:

Thanks everyone.

I was planning on manual system rather than goto to retrain myself and help the children learn their way around the night sky.

Rob and Louis' comments are reassuring and were in line with what I was thinking/hoping. I'm probably going to plump for the SkyWatcher Skyliner 200P.

Gavin

Whilst I do sympathise with this philosophy, a year of doing outreach with groups that include children reveals that GoTo is worth its weight in gold.  One formula that works is to have a pair of binoculars on hand and that provides some celestial sphere navigation experience whilst the (GoTo) scope eyepiece is occupied.  I would steer clear of the EQ solution because it is not intuitive so the 200P choice is a sound one in that respect. Enjoy.

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27 minutes ago, Owmuchonomy said:

Whilst I do sympathise with this philosophy, a year of doing outreach with groups that include children reveals that GoTo is worth its weight in gold.  One formula that works is to have a pair of binoculars on hand and that provides some celestial sphere navigation experience whilst the (GoTo) scope eyepiece is occupied.  I would steer clear of the EQ solution because it is not intuitive so the 200P choice is a sound one in that respect. Enjoy.

But working with the same two kids each outing would not equate to a public outreach event's experience.  My oldest daughter quickly picked up how to track with the Dob as a grade-schooler.  My wife, on the other hand, has no desire to touch a telescope, but still enjoys a peek at solar system objects occasionally, so I have to constantly recenter the object for her.  My other two children never showed the slightest interest in astronomy, so I have no idea if they could track with a Dob.

One thing I've noticed with tracking is that the view is more static.  Without tracking, you realize just how fast the Earth is spinning under your feet making the view more dynamic and interactive.

Edited by Louis D

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Both are different well maybe not the tube but the mounting.

For the same money in a 6 inch eq5 u can get a 10 inch dob version. 

The 10 inch will show u more especially dso. But being a push pull system moving it at high powers in small minute movements is not do easy. 

I know some u will say u can buy the dob tracking system but where I am thsts like $600 with tax that's almost like 90% of the cost of the 10 inch dob.

For example the skywatcher 10 inch classic dob is on sale right now for $719

The eq version probably the 6 inch size will cost the same but u will see less. The eq version ep is the perfect height for most adults.  Also having manual slow motion controls is very handy for high  power views. 

The dob you will be on your knees.  Even at the zenith u will be bending down .again some u will say put it on a table but it has to hold it steady or it will vibrations. 

The eq version can add a cheap drives like $49 for tracking. 

Ok u decide 

Joejaguar 

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3 hours ago, Owmuchonomy said:

Whilst I do sympathise with this philosophy, a year of doing outreach with groups that include children reveals that GoTo is worth its weight in gold.  One formula that works is to have a pair of binoculars on hand and that provides some celestial sphere navigation experience whilst the (GoTo) scope eyepiece is occupied.  I would steer clear of the EQ solution because it is not intuitive so the 200P choice is a sound one in that respect. Enjoy.

I can see the appeal of a GoTo system for teenage children, especially as it might use a mobile app, but I still remember the excitement and joy of exploring, unaided, the night sky as teenager. I was hoping, probably optimistically and nostalgically, that my children could have a similar experience. Plus I get more telescope for my money!

Assuming I do go for the SkyWatcher Skyliner 200P are there any essential accessories I should purchase: filters? collimator?

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Personally I would suggest just getting the scope and a decent star atlas such as "Turn Left at Orion" to start with. There are loads of accessories that can be purchased and many are very useful but narrowing down what to invest in for you is going to be easier when you have a little practical experience under your belt.

 

 

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I prefer Stellarium on a tablet or a 3-in-1 laptop when assessing what to search for on a given night.  If I'm having issues identifying an object like Neptune or Uranus, I'll zoom way in with Stellarium and bring it outdoors to look at the adjacent star patterns to figure out what is a star and what is a planet (or planetary nebula) in the eyepiece view.  Since it's free, it's great for beginners on a budget.

Essential accessories for a Newtonian of any sort would include basic collimation tools such as a collimation cap like a Rigel A-Line and a sight tube with crosshairs.  That, and reading online collimation guides like Astro-Baby's.

Other accessories would include eyepieces for low, mid, and high power views to start with.  I generally recommend a 2" eyepiece between 30mm and 40mm for finding the general vicinity of objects or observing large objects, a 12mm to 17mm eyepiece for most objects at mid-power, and a 5mm to 7mm eyepiece for high-power views of small objects.

I'd hold off on filters because they're mostly useful for viewing nebula in light polluted skies.  Start by observing the moon, the planets, and the brighter showpiece objects such many of the Messier catalog objects and a few he missed.  Some object categories like nebula and galaxies are nowhere near as visible from most populated areas as they were 200+ years ago when he put his list together, so temper your expectations accordingly.

An observing chair or stool is handy for comfortable viewing with Dobs.  Many folks on here recommend using water butt stands to jack-up Dobs a bit off the ground.

A unit power finder such as a Telrad or Rigel QuikFinder is handy for putting the scope on targets and for star hopping.

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Thanks again John and Louis.

I've got Stellarium  but I am used to using a paper atlas from years ago  - I'll probably use both.

The telescope comes with  10mm and 25mm eyepieces which will probably do to begin with and I'll wait and see how I get on before getting anything else, other than some sort of collimation tool.

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