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Andrew Ray

Where to Start?

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I thought I had better say hi 😀 

I have been interested in space from an early age, the Apollo missions inspired me so much (I was allowed to stay up to watch Apollo 8), I wrote to NASA telling them I wanted to be an astronaut , they actually replied and sent me a pack with pictures etc. Bless! I remember watching the Apollo 13 mission unfold and James Burke showing us what was available to the crew to deal with the carbon dioxide problem, some tape, polythene and binders that held the manuals together, they had to adapt these to fit the filters.

But despite my fascination with the night sky I have never had a telescope.

And it finally it looks like I am going to get my first telescope!

But...which telescope?

And it is all a compromise.

Probably like all beginners I am going round in circles right now trying to decide what is best for me, visiting a supplier would be a help to narrow down my choices but that is not to be for a little while. I am more drawn to the deep sky rather than the planets, I would like to try my hand at astrophotography but equally use the scope for visual observations on the night. I want something that will not be too onerous to move around (I have mixed 23 bags of gravel by hand into concrete recently so I know how heavy some of these mounts can be, a 25kg bag of gravel is heavy, an EQ6 is almost that, isn't it?).

So, for a mount I am looking at an EQ5/HEQ5 to meet my needs but I just cannot make my mind up on a scope, refractor or reflector? If a reflector I am leaning toward Orion Optics VX6 or VX8 with the 1/10 pv upgrade. For one thing they are relatively local to me and I like to support local business. If I go for a refractor it is most likely to be an APO, probably a Skywatcher Evostar ED or Esprit.

I can only marvel at some of the pictures I see on here, a galaxy far to far away to reach in a lifetime, I can't wait to see these for myself.

Any thoughts are much appreciated.

Andrew

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Hi Andrew and a very warm welcome to the Lounge. I wish you a the best in the challenges ahead :)

Steve

 

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Refractors are like the plug and play of telescopes. You won't have to deal with collimation etc. that comes with the learning curve of it, but they're more expensive per mm of aperture and some people prefer the challenge

IMO I would go for an Evostar 80ED or if you can fork out the cash, go with an Esprit 80 and you'll never need to buy another scope for widefield. Pair that with a HEQ5 and you'll be set.

For a camera maybe starting off with a modified DSLR is the way to go or if you're prepared to buy something like a 1600MM or a 183MM, go for those but they're pricey

It really depends on how much you're willing to spend since this hobby can get very expensive when you dive deeper. A part of me also says get the scope and a solid mount, and master with a DSLR, then if you want to dive further, go for a cooled CMOS/CCD

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Welcome. Have fun with the choosing ... and the using! 🙂

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You will want both a reflector and a refractor. Since you did not specify a budget and mentioned two higher end scopes I will base my recommendation off of that. ;) 

On the reflector side you have two options. One more affordable (relatively) than the other. The more affordable one will be the Celestron EdgeHD 203mm/8" SCT. Reason being is it gives refractor like views when properly cooled and collimated. In order to help it cool quickly you will want the TEMPest fans from Deep Space Products in the USA. They are made for EdgeHD scopes and go in the cooling vent area. 150mm is really the better starting point for someone just starting out visually since it will make objects brighter and at better "scale" thus allowing you to subjectively "see" more. It can also be used for Astro Photography (AP) down the road. It will be £1,274 for just the optical tube assembly. I provide a link below to it as well as the other scopes I mention.

The much more expensive option in the reflector category will be the Takahashi Mewlon 210. In this case you do get what you pay for. I have owned the Celestron 8" and 11" EdgeHD scopes. Both perform well for their price point. However the Mewlon (which I also own) is significantly better on small deep space objects (DSO) and planets than either EdgeHD. It acts more like a 9-10" SCT than a 8" one. After seeing one in action I sold my EdgeHD scopes and bought a 210. To give you an example Jupiter was my 3rd to last favorite planet. My order of preference was: Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Mars, Jupiter, Venus in terms of the visible ones we normally look at. Until I looked at it in my 210. Wow! Blew my doors off! I caught four of the Galilean moons that were amazing to see and crisp and clear. There were multiple shades of orange and brown on the planet instead of the normal two shades of baby poop brown and orange normally seen in the EdgeHD's.  It became my 3rd favorite behind Saturn and Uranus which are two of my favorites and really good to view in the 210. DSO like gobulars are also well resolved in it. M13 looks like someone spilled sugar on a black table cloth. However it is a couple thousand more than the 8" EdgeHD. It is £3,045. 

In terms of Refractors the decision is a lot easier. The Skywatcher Esprit 100 is dead on the best value for the money. It comes with everything you need to image or view with expect for an eyepiece or camera. There are more expensive options out there but the performance does not justify the extra cost by that much of a margin. You pay a significant amount more for about a 10%ish improvement. The 100 is a good middle ground. It gives you wide field views but isn't as heavy as its sister 120. It is also a "fast" (low f/stop) scope at f5.5 compared to other scopes that are around f/7. It is £1,575. The Evo scopes are doublets which mean focus will be softer (not as sharp and clear), there will be some false color in them, and to manage that color they are very slow for AP at f/8 since faster than that you will see quite a bit more false color. 

All of the scopes I list will work well on the HEQ5 though for visual the AZ-EQ5 will likely be the better option since alt/az is always better than EQ for visual use since it is much more comfortable to use the telescope since it isn't put in sometimes awkward positions.

Celestron 8" SCT: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/optical-tube-assemblies/celestron-edge-hd-series.html 

Mewlon 210: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/takahashi-mewlon-reflector-telescopes/takahashi-mewlon-210-f11-5-dall-kirkham-reflector.html

Esprit 100: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/esprit-professional-refractors/skywatcher-esprit-ed-100-pro-triplet.html

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Posted (edited)

Welcome Andrew. I do like your astro/space  story. I would try for a Skywatcher ST 100 mm or an ST 120mm.I would buy a Skywatcher AZ4 mount. This is a manual alt/az setup. Look for two eyepieces. Say an 8 mm and a 20mm. These are normally a great improvement to the supplied eyepieces that come with a new telescope. Look on the used astronomy equipment listing sites. They are here on For Sale at Stargazers Lounge and UK Astro buysell.

You can see the telescopes at First Light Optics under telescopes and then the link to Skywatcher refractors. The FLO link is at the top of Stargazers Lounge pay. Likewise look under the mount section for the AZ4 mount.

Wishing you well

 

Edited by Grumpy Martian
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Hi, Andrew, and welcome to SGL.

Just to add to your confusion😉 have you considered a dobsonian. Definitely the best aperture for your money. The (some would say) downside is that it is fully manual - no fancy electronics to put your object in the middle of your fov, so you need to know/be willing to learn the sky. Some people get a lot of enjoyment out of "hunting down" their prey. Whether you are one of those people, only you can say.

Whatever you end up buying, you have a wonderful adventure of exploration ahead of you. Enjoy the journey.

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Lots of good information above so I'll just offer you a warm welcome.

It's good to have you here.

 

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Hello Andrew and welcome.

Peter

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Ok, even more to take in, firstly thank you for the replies and help.

I want to get the best value (don't we all?) and find something that I will be happy with so it has much to do with affordability, another compromise. As I have delved deeper into this I have realised that the £1,000 that I thought I would spend has risen to £2,000-£2,500, I think £2,500 is the maximum I want to spend, I am drawn to the Esprit ED 100 Pro. Although to start I am beginning to think that maybe a simple manual set up for a few hundred pounds makes sense until I find my feet, such as the set up that Grumpy Martian suggested.

As regards a camera, I have a Canon EOS 500D that I plan to use, eventually.

 

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I think that is very sensible. 

The Canon will get you some nice images even without the astro-mod.

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Andrew

First of all welcome from Land Down Under

I have a ED80 on a EQ5pro mount now for many years

The HEQ5 mount is a bitter heavier in construction and weight, and can get a conversion from gear to belt drive

Main question you have to ask yourself

What am I going to use the scope for

Just for viewing the moon, planets and DSO then cannot go past a Skywatcher  Flex Dob

If for imaging, then you definitely need a scope on a tracking mount, hence the EQ5 or HEQ5

Have attached pic of both my 10" flex Dob, and my ED80 on EQ5pro mount

Both pics were taken at club field days

The pic with the ED80 on the EQ5pro mount, was taken at a club solar viewing day last year

The scope in the background, with camera fitted, is also an ED80 on a HEQ5 mount

John  

Skywatcher 10in Dob.jpg

Skywatcher ED80.jpg

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Hi Andrew, welcome to SGL. You entitled your thread where to start and have done exactly the right thing by starting with this great forum.

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Hello Andrew, and welcome to the community, it's really hard to choose which scope to purchase, have a good long think,

you would be better off asking your questions in a relevant forum, you will get many answers, rarther than a few, good luck

I will see you around the forums.

Clear Sky's.

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Hi Andrew, welcome. However much money you spend there will always be a degree of compromise. No one scope will do everything. You`ll just have to keep on spending money from now on until you have all you want. Except it won`t be. 😆

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Welcome to SGL.

As you have expressed an interest in both observing AND imaging, you will need to make some compromises, especially with the telescope. If you really do want to do deep sky imaging, you can’t compromise on the mount so I would recommend that you consider the HEQ5 as being the minimum mount especially as you are excited by galaxies (and why wouldn’t you be excited!!) as these require a relatively long focal length and long focal lengths require more stable mounts.

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Hi Andrew, it might be prudent to go for a more basic set up if you are a little unsure about the size of the investment, but if you want to make the commitment then based on your budget, I would go with an Esprit 100 on a HEQ5, that’s a big chunk of your £2.5K spent, but it’s a great combination both for visual and imaging. Of course, you still need eyepiece(s) for visual  but your DSLR will do nicely for imaging, to assess if you want to go further.

It can be the start of a slippery slope mind, (I’m a good way down it, and still sliding) with the lure of cooled dedicated Astro cameras, auto guiding, and then wanting a permanent observatory to save on all of the setting up and taking down time.  Your recent experience of mixing concrete could prove useful for that one.
 

Enjoy! 

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12 hours ago, Andrew Ray said:

Ok, even more to take in, firstly thank you for the replies and help.

I want to get the best value (don't we all?) and find something that I will be happy with so it has much to do with affordability, another compromise. As I have delved deeper into this I have realised that the £1,000 that I thought I would spend has risen to £2,000-£2,500, I think £2,500 is the maximum I want to spend, I am drawn to the Esprit ED 100 Pro. Although to start I am beginning to think that maybe a simple manual set up for a few hundred pounds makes sense until I find my feet, such as the set up that Grumpy Martian suggested.

As regards a camera, I have a Canon EOS 500D that I plan to use, eventually.

 

Andrew

With that budget the EdgeHD 8" and Esprit 100 are likely the best option for you.

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Thanks for the further input and welcome messages, most appreciated.

There is certainly a danger of overload as there is so much choice and everyone has a favourite.

I did think when I wrote my second post that getting a basic setup would be the answer. Not so, it is just as difficult to decide and I guess you have all been there.

Must admit I am leaning very strongly to the Esprit 100... 

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Hi and welcome.

if you are at all interested in Astrophotography then it’s all about the mount. Start there and get that right and you will have a firm foundation for future growth. The Heq5 pro as mentioned is well established and will support up to 11kg of telescope. I would start with a basic ED80 type doublet with which you will get some amazing images for a great price. With a shorter focal length you will be able to get 60 sec images unguided on the HEQ5 and then learn about guiding for longer exposures.
As suggested above you can then swap scopes and maybe add an 8”SCT like a C8 for visual and with a FR guided imaging.

best of luck

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Hello and a warm welcome to the SGL.

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