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Hi Mat,

             some good advice already. 

I'd opt for the best scope on an EQ mount with a RA drive. That way you will have nothing to worry about in the setup department. Once the mount is set to your location, and assuming you aren't travelling that far to observe, simply align the mount north and away you go. I say this because I just couldn't imagine observing without tracking. I know a few here seem to do it but for me at medium and high magnifications it must be a right pain. All for the application of a simple dc motor!! 

 

Ed

 

            

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I've lost count of the number of people who bought go-to because they thought it would make things easier. I've watched as they've struggled along, often in the dark, getting more and more stressed as

A lot of people in favour of dobs and I can understand why but one question that hasn’t been asked is “how dark are your skies” none GoTo dobs will probably involve star hopping which is fine if you’r

A go-to and tracking mount is not necessarily a photographic mount. On a modest budget I would forget photography and buy a nice basic Dob. (This is an astrophotographer speaking, by the way.) Ol

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13 minutes ago, skyhog said:

....I say this because I just couldn't imagine observing without tracking. I know a few here seem to do it but for me at medium and high magnifications it must be a right pain. All for the application of a simple dc motor!! 

 

 

 

            

Far more than a few  I think :smiley:

 

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Hi guys,

Thanks very much for all of your help. Reading the replies has given me some clarity over what I'm actually trying to achieve. I think that the goto mount and photography idea is going to take a back seat, at least for a few years anyway.

So for now I think I'm pretty much settled on either the Skyliner 200p or 250px 😀  Very excited.

Mat

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Don't forget there's the option of a Bresser Messier dob, too.  A little more expensive but with better bearings and a much better focuser. Still a long waiting list for them too, though.

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I would rather walk barefoot on Lego than suffer a dob or any other manual mount for one very simple reason.  I live under Bortle 8-9 skies and light pollution makes star hopping more or less impossible in any meaningful way.  Yes a goto mount was frustrating at first but not nearly as frustrating as just not finding any target night after night.  With a goto mount there are always at least two bright stars to align to and after that accuracy is generally very good these days and polar alignment, at least for visual use, is easy enough to get the hang of and to get accurate enough to keep objects centred and tracked once found.

I still use a Telrad for the bright planets and lunar obs but for DSO's it's goto all the way...

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Goto has been around for over 30 years now, hardware problems not withstanding, is it the fact that lack of knowledge about the sky in general is the biggest issue here? Beyond that modern goto mounts should be foolproof surely?? 

 

Ed

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23 hours ago, skyhog said:

is it the fact that lack of knowledge about the sky in general is the biggest issue here? Beyond that modern goto mounts should be foolproof surely?? 

Theoretically you are right, it should be foolproof. But in practice there are challenges - Understanding the mount & how it works (manuals are not the best written either) and the fact that in urban areas we cant necessarily see all parts of the sky (sometimes not even the Pole star). This can be very frustrating during initial alignment when the mount wants to select a star in a corner of the sky and that part is blocked by a tree :) Ofcourse knowledge of the sky also helps esp when it offers a star for alignment and you havent got a clue which direction its in and to make matters worse, even if it slews to the star, you are unsure if its the right one!

There are tools out there like StarSense which can help in this regard, but not everyone has these.

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I suppose the problem of familiarisation was already pretty much embedded when you worked your way up to these kinds of scopes. Now starter scopes can come with this level of tech so it can't be easy I'd imagine. There was always a skip to next alignment star with Meade goto, I'm pretty familiar with the sky but asked to centre on 'shedar' always had me scratching my head....now alpha cassiopeiae.....thats different....👌😉

Ed

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Goto probably kept me in the hobby. Life's too short to spend nights failing to find the target you're looking for. I guess you could argue that's part of the skill, but I guess it depends if you enjoy the journey or the destination.

 

As a brief counter argument to the ease of goto, I had the modern skywatcher GoTo up and running in about 30 minutes. The hardest part was working out what format to enter the date. With the use of stellarium on my phone, I skipped the star it wanted behind my tree, and immediately after asking for it, had M13 directly in the center of my view. I've now moved on to use EQMOD and a PC, and it's even easier to find what you're after using plate solving - it's not even necessary to do the 2- or 3-star alignment anymore.

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Hi Mat,

I think you realize by now that your “question” was really several questions in one, which have been teased apart by previous answers. But to summarize:

- sensible to choose between visual and imaging (and you have prioritized visual for now)
- tracking and goto are separate beasts (and you seem minded to forego both for now)
- wifi is just a variant on goto mounts, some use a handset instead
- imaging (especially long exposures for DSOs) really needs a good equatorial mount, not an alt-azimuth, though the latter can sometimes be adapted with a “wedge”
- a tracking motor can sometimes be added afterwards to the RA axis of a manual equatorial mount
- the sky darkness at your location (or your most likely viewing location) may affect choice – because more light pollution > harder star hopping > more benefit from using goto  

Some further thoughts from me (though bear in mind I have much less experience than some of the other contributors above, check out our respective ratings) :

It sounds obvious, but think very carefully about how you are likely to use your scope. If I had been using mine on my own, I might well have opted for the largest dob I could afford, and been content with nudging. But I have a partner who wants to share the hobby, and I also do some outreach work with schools, so a tracking capability made a lot of sense. I can see less, but I can find more, and I can share it with more people.

Only you can decide how much you will value the actual finding of astronomical objects. For some people, the thrill of the chase is as exciting as finally looking at the target, and so for them, goto may be beyond the pale. For others, life is too short. They want to spend their time observing the objects. There is nothing "wrong" with either view. Do remember, though, that even with goto, you will still need some basic sky sense. The tech doesn’t work every time, and even when it does, the identity of the object of interest may not be immediately obvious in your low power eyepiece. You’ll still need to be able to compare the view with a chart, know which way is East, etc. There’s no substitute for that.

If you do decide to go with a goto scope, don’t be tempted to think of it as a substitute for finding your way around the sky, i.e. recognizing the main constellations, their relative positions, the way they move through the night and change through the year, getting used to the angular distances in the sky. I came late to practical astronomy after a lifetime of reading about it and was amazed how little I knew about how the sky actually worked. If you think there’s a risk of that, consider holding off for a while, get some binoculars and spend some time just watching the changes. Another point is that a good knowledge of the sky will help when performing alignment of the goto mount (because you need to find some known stars to fix on).

Some comments were made about the difficulty of use of goto tech vs a manual setup. There is something to this, based on my experience with a Skywatcher wifi mount. I felt the instructions were not as clear as they could have been, and it took me a while to get used to the app and sort out issues like maintaining dark adaptation, though I have now sorted everything out. I can see that there might be sufficient hurdles to put off some newcomers.

Comments were also made above about the noise of goto mounts. I share the concern, and generally there’s no way to avoid a goto operation running at the mount’s maximum (and hence noisiest) slew speed. But with the SW mounts at least, the dual encoding capability (if you choose to use it) allows you to manually position the scope close to the prospective target, then use the goto for the remaining part. I’ve been doing this successfully and it’s much quieter.

Good luck with whatever you end up with.

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5 hours ago, Zermelo said:

Comments were also made above about the noise of goto mounts. I share the concern, and generally there’s no way to avoid a goto operation running at the mount’s maximum (and hence noisiest) slew speed.

Think it depends on the specific mount. My AZ EQ6, even at Max slew speed is a hum at most and certainly not distracting. Being belt drive helps of course. Once it’s tracking its essentially silent. 

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From someone who uses a GoTo dob, there will be a huge learning curve that will come with frustration. Once you get it sorted, it's amazing.

 

Note that you will need a proper AC power (a good battery, which is not cheap)

 Most alignment problem are from power. But it's all good when you get a good battery, until the motor gears slip 😢 then it gets messy. Not sure how common of a problem it's, but I got it after one year of use.

 

 

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On 18/08/2020 at 09:22, MathewRimmington said:

Hi all,

Thanks very much for the thought provoking replies.

I had totally not considered the config time for using a wifi mount, or that the mounts I've found so far would have issues with long exposure shots with not being equatorial.

I'm feeling more convinced that I should go back to my initial requirement of buying a better scope without tracking, for this purchase at least.

One other thing that occurred to me whilst looking at the more portable scopes, I had thought that it'd pretty good to take my scope on my travels. Like if I went camping to Kielder, or somewhere darker than Cheshire where I live. Is there a more portable scope with a robust mount anyone can recommend which would still deliver on good views, but be carry-able on a short hike away from a campsite?

Thanks again.

Mat

I take camping a Skymax 102 with an AZ5 mount and aluminium tripod, but more often than not due to the dodgy weather lately, the 10x50 binoculars are used a lot more.  Binoculars at a dark public campsite are more discrete, easier to pack away and grab at will, while still providing a great widefield experience.

 

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3 hours ago, John said:

It's worth recalling that the original posters budget was £300-£400 for the scope AND mount.

 

Absolutely correct, but as always happens with this topic, the conversation turns to the age old argument between GoTo fans and manual fans....and their entrenched positions 😀😀.....always amusing and never reaches a conclusion, it’s gotta be the oldest running argument on these forums...long may it continue!!

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29 minutes ago, Jiggy 67 said:

Absolutely correct, but as always happens with this topic, the conversation turns to the age old argument between GoTo fans and manual fans....and their entrenched positions 😀😀.....always amusing and never reaches a conclusion, it’s gotta be the oldest running argument on these forums...long may it continue!!

GOTO or not, I guess the OP will want to stick more or less to their budget :smiley:

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On 22/08/2020 at 23:48, John said:

GOTO or not, I guess the OP will want to stick more or less to their budget

🙂 Cause thats the bit that goes ouch !

Edited by AstroMuni
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I think that your suggestion of either a 200p or 250px are both great options. They are very competent telescopes -to start with- and both could be upgraded if you ever wish to with stiffer springs, different finder, focuser, different azimuth bearing etc. They also both really open up the possibilities of seeing many more faint fuzzies! A 10” dob can be considered a lifetime telescope. The speed in which an 8” or 10” solid tube dob can be setup ready for observing is also ideal. I regularly observe with someone that uses the Bresser 10” and they are setup ready to go in about 5 minutes while I am still very much ‘assembling’. If you can work to the top end of your budget and manage the size/weight (the Sky Watcher base is both bigger and heavier than other brands), I would recommend a 250px. This is assuming that you can find one in stock or don’t mind waiting. If you think that may, in the future, upgrade the focuser, springs etc it might be worth saving for the Bresser instead which could be cheaper in the long run. From memory, the finderScope supplied with Skywatcher is better (in my opinion) than the Bresser which has a smaller aperture.

Having owned a 250px (albeit about a decade ago) and comparing those memorable views to a Bresser 10”, in my opinion, the optics are pretty much on par with each other. Synta, who distribute Sky Watcher telescopes, are very consistent with their newtonian mirrors. If correctly stored and cared for, the coatings should last a very long time indeed.

While there is quite a learning curve to becoming familiar with the constellations and DSO locations, this is also part of the fun. Below are some useful links to star charts to help you find those fuzzies without goto 😄.

Monthly updated Sky maps: http://skymaps.com/downloads.html

Messier charts: http://www.custerobservatory.org/docs/messier2.pdf

Cadwell objects: https://sherwood-observatory.org.uk/astronomy/finder-charts/caldwell-finders

Edited by Rob_UK_SE
Including star chart links
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Having recently owned a 10" Bresser dob i  agrree with Rob . Apart from the fact that there are naturally shall we say , a bit clumsy , they are by far the most satisfying scopes to look through ... and hey ! , thats what most of want to do , isn't it ?. (accept for the astro photographers out there who walk a different path ) 

Also if you are a bit stuck for space , a collapsible 10" is an option ( very easy to transport too ) . 

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Thanks again folks :) I ended up ordering a Skywatcher 200p Dobsonian. It might take a while to arrive though, but this was never going to be an impulse purchase so I'm happy to wait a little.

I noticed that budget was mentioned a few times above. I had quite a conundrum with the budget to be honest. I could have stretched it further to a 250px, but then I wouldn't have been too comfortable buying extra goodies like eye pieces. When it came to decision time, there were a few things drawing me to the 200p over the 250px. But the budget was probably my main factor in deciding to go with the 200p. And at least this way I've got some spare cash to play with for extras. Very excited about it.

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On 24/08/2020 at 19:14, Rob_UK_SE said:

I think that your suggestion of either a 200p or 250px are both great options. They are very competent telescopes -to start with- and both could be upgraded if you ever wish to with stiffer springs, different finder, focuser, different azimuth bearing etc. They also both really open up the possibilities of seeing many more faint fuzzies! A 10” dob can be considered a lifetime telescope. The speed in which an 8” or 10” solid tube dob can be setup ready for observing is also ideal. I regularly observe with someone that uses the Bresser 10” and they are setup ready to go in about 5 minutes while I am still very much ‘assembling’. If you can work to the top end of your budget and manage the size/weight (the Sky Watcher base is both bigger and heavier than other brands), I would recommend a 250px. This is assuming that you can find one in stock or don’t mind waiting. If you think that may, in the future, upgrade the focuser, springs etc it might be worth saving for the Bresser instead which could be cheaper in the long run. From memory, the finderScope supplied with Skywatcher is better (in my opinion) than the Bresser which has a smaller aperture.

Having owned a 250px (albeit about a decade ago) and comparing those memorable views to a Bresser 10”, in my opinion, the optics are pretty much on par with each other. Synta, who distribute Sky Watcher telescopes, are very consistent with their newtonian mirrors. If correctly stored and cared for, the coatings should last a very long time indeed.

While there is quite a learning curve to becoming familiar with the constellations and DSO locations, this is also part of the fun. Below are some useful links to star charts to help you find those fuzzies without goto 😄.

Monthly updated Sky maps: http://skymaps.com/downloads.html

Messier charts: http://www.custerobservatory.org/docs/messier2.pdf

Cadwell objects: https://sherwood-observatory.org.uk/astronomy/finder-charts/caldwell-finders

Thanks very much for the links 

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8 minutes ago, MathewRimmington said:

Thanks again folks :) I ended up ordering a Skywatcher 200p Dobsonian. It might take a while to arrive though, but this was never going to be an impulse purchase so I'm happy to wait a little.

I noticed that budget was mentioned a few times above. I had quite a conundrum with the budget to be honest. I could have stretched it further to a 250px, but then I wouldn't have been too comfortable buying extra goodies like eye pieces. When it came to decision time, there were a few things drawing me to the 200p over the 250px. But the budget was probably my main factor in deciding to go with the 200p. And at least this way I've got some spare cash to play with for extras. Very excited about it.

Hi Mathew , I have actually returned to using a Dob as my only scope .. i bought a 200p Skywatcher Dob from Widescreen Centre in Cambs ... Just by chance they actually had stock !!! It was one of those fate moments lol . i used it for the first time last night .. OMG what a great evening of viewing . Obviously the 250mm that i used to have captured more light , but , honestly , looking at the likes of Jupiter and Saturn wasnt that different . I am sure you will be completely blown away with your scope . 

Clear Skies 

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I’m a completely newbie that bought a go to expecting to write the name of the galaxy and be able to see it in the middle of the eyepiece. That’s what I thought. But is much more complicated than that. Much more. 
and due has electric pieces, can break ( mine is being fixed  right now)

anyways, the goto can be used manual if you get desperate, so , personally I’d go again with a go to, but keep in mind it’s not as magic as you can think

 

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On 18/08/2020 at 22:14, MathewRimmington said:

Hi guys,

Thanks very much for all of your help. Reading the replies has given me some clarity over what I'm actually trying to achieve. I think that the goto mount and photography idea is going to take a back seat, at least for a few years anyway.

So for now I think I'm pretty much settled on either the Skyliner 200p or 250px 😀  Very excited.

Mat

A great choice. Last night I set my 200P SW dob up in less than 90 seconds and enjoyed views of the moon, Mars, Uranus, the Pleiades and the Hyades. I can’t recommend a decent star app enough for a manual scope, SkySafari plus is worth every penny.

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