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Hi all,

I'm trying to get back into astronomy (had a Meade DS 2090 Mak when I was 10 but was too young to get into it) and I'm having a very hard time choosing a telescope.

My main goal is to observe a bit of everything. Planets and the moon are great and I definitely would want to observe them, but my main focus would be DSO's. That being said, I would also like to have the possibility of doing some basic astrophotography afterwards. Not expecting to do 2 hours of long exposure and getting some insane images, but having a telescope (or rather a mount?) that can track would be nice to get some decent images. Basically, visual observation is a must, AP would be great but only basic, no need to get one JUST for that. I realize that visual observing and AP are 2 very different things, but my question is if it is possible to find something that is mainly used for VO and is somewhat capable (even if it's not great) to do AP with. Furthermore, a push to or goto would be fantastic as well since I'm not too familiar with the night sky. Is it really difficult to find DSOs yourself without reading and learning for hours and hours?

My budget would be around 800 euros, that is everything included, telescope, mount, eyepieces etc... (If it's a little bit more than that that's fine as well).

After hours of doubt and searching I thought the Orion Skyquest Xt8 Intelliscope would be good (push to) (around 750 euros), however being like most dobsonians, this one wouldn't track. This made me think :

Should I rather look for a newtonian reflector with an EQ mount, or just give up my basic AP wish and go for a dobsonian that doesn't track? Some people have suggested to drop AP for now and go for the dob, is there a possibilty to upgrade later to make the dob work for AP, like putting it on an EQ mount, or would I have to buy a new telescope again?

Any telescope, mount and added equipment like eyepieces and filter suggestions would be reaaaally appreciated, cause everything just feels overwhelming and I don't know what to look for anymore.

Thanks in advance!!

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Visual and AP (Astro Photography) are two different disciplines within the hobby with two different requirements in terms of equipment. In the case of visual quality aperture is important because the bigger the size the brighter the object which translates to the more you can see. With AP it is first the mount, then the telescope, then the camera. And for a beginner it is better to start with a small short focal length refractor because it is more forgiving and easier to work with. AP is a very complex part of the hobby. Furthermore it is better for someone just starting out to start with visual, do that for about 9 months+ of just visual so that you can learn your equipment as well as the night sky. This makes the eventual transition to AP easier because you have taken the time to get familiar with the aforementioned before going deep into the complexity of AP.

In addition unfortunately with your budget it will be very hard to meet the requirements that you are asking for. And it is really not recommended to try and do AP and visual with the same scope. It can be done and people have been successful doing it but it can be very frustrating and the learning curve, which is already steep for AP becomes more so. 

That said a lower cost compromise that would fit your budget and do what you want to do option would be the Skywatcher AZ-GTi with the 127mm Mak for visual at £445 with the addition of the EQ (Equatorial) wedge and a 70ish mm refractor and a ASI CCD. This site's sponsor is an excellent resource for equipment and their professional staff is very knowledgeable and helpful. So much so that even though I am in the US I still order from them. I can't find the wedge on their site but I am sure they can help with it. A good refractor option would be the Skywatcher Evostar 72ED DS Pro for £269. A good CCD to work with would be the ZWO ASI 385MC for £333. Eyepieces (EP) for that scope do not have to be top shelf but you want something decent. The Explore Scientific 68 degree EP's work very well, are high quality, and are not expensive for what you get. For the Mak I would suggest the 28mm and 16mm and the 62 degree 9mm EP. That will cost you £164, £116 and £76 respectively. That will also give you a good range of magnifications to start with. 



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I agree that you should perhaps forget astrophotography for the moment.  For AP the accepted wisdom is that you should spend the greatest percentage on a mount, and with your budget that would be very limiting.

You mentioned getting a Dob and later converting it to an equatorial mount.  That's the way that I'd go.

I'd especially recommend the Bresser Messier 8 or 10 inch Dobs (Explore Scientific in the US)  These are well within your budget, and although a little more expensive than others they're are a cut above in specification.  One of the many advantages is the tube rings make it easier and less expensive to upgrade to an equatorial later on.

Granted there's no push to, but you add that yourself without spending too much money.  

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25 minutes ago, Second Time Around said:

Granted there's no push to, but you add that yourself without spending too much money.  

Thanks for the help! Do you have any suggestions as to how I would add the push to myself?

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Posted (edited)

Astro Devices in Australia has kits for many of the popular Dobsonians and what Serge (the owner) doesn't have he can likely make for you. He is wonderful to work with a provides fantastic support. I literally have posted an email to him asking a technical question and have had him call me within the hour to discuss it live! And that has happened multiple times. I use his Nexus DSC system and recently installed his 311k encoder kit on my DM6. A link to the website is: https://www.astrodevices.com If you want the whole stand alone kit and caboodle then the Nexus DSC with an encoder kit is the way to go. Not cheap but a great system. If you want to use your smartphone as the brains then the Nexus II and encoders is the path to take.

Edited by Dr Strange
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4 hours ago, Deltox said:

Should I rather look for a newtonian reflector with an EQ mount, or just give up my basic AP wish and go for a dobsonian that doesn't track? Some people have suggested to drop AP for now and go for the dob, is there a possibilty to upgrade later to make the dob work for AP, like putting it on an EQ mount, or would I have to buy a new telescope again?

You could go with a dual axis equatorial platform to put under a Dob later for basic astrophotography.

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19 hours ago, Deltox said:

Thanks for the help! Do you have any suggestions as to how I would add the push to myself?

If you do a search on "setting circles" you should find a lot of information.  There are 2 general types, digital and non-digital.  The latter are inexpensive, whereas digital setting circles, whilst superior, are much more costly,

Like Dr Strange, I too have the Astro Devices electronic digital setting circles.  I chose the Nexus II model that with the encoders came to about £500 after import duty, VAT and carriage.

Whether manual or electronic you'll need a star map app to work in conjunction with them.  I use Sky Safari Plus, although have just upgraded to the Pro.  These apps aren't just for setting circles though - they're a wonderful and inexpensive resource and a lot of posters here recommend Sky Safari or something similar.  

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