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Hello everyone, another new starter with a load of daft newbie questions 🙂

I've had a telescope before but it was a cheap thing my brother gave me that was only truly good at taking up space in my house....

Move forward a decade, take a Saturday night, add in a documentary about Voyager, a nice bottle of red, and a laptop and I woke up to discover I'd purchased a Skyliner 250px!

Setup was straight forward and got a bit of clear sky on the first night so pointed it at the things I really wanted to see, the planets.

Unfortunately, it turned Mars from a microscopic red dot into a miniscule red dot. I had better luck with Saturn which went from a star sized dot into a wee white spot with rings!

First lesson learnt, buying a big-ish telescope doesn't mean I can actually see distant planets.

Whilst setting up the finder scope I learnt lesson number two. Aimed the finder at the only star I could see, moved to the eyepiece to find that my empty sky was in fact FULL of stars. So lesson two was that the big mirror at the bottom was actually to collect light, not to allow me to see Jupiter's great red spot.

The third lesson hasn't been completed but I know from my SLR that buying cheap accessories almost always leads to disappointment. Knowing this hasn't stopped me from buying a cheap barlow and cheap 6mm & 8mm eyepieces. Yet to be delivered but I suspect they'll be used only once.

I spent some time trawling through threads on the forums today but really got lost in all the jargon. I tried asking Google translate what a 14mm DSO 70 deg TS BST ED AFOV plossi was but it mumbled something about Mandarin Chinese then crashed my web browser...

So, rather than continue to order cheap tat from the interweb I'd like to ask the experts here.

Seems like nice big planets are out (although there are threads here that great views of Jupiter can be had) and that I should focus on stars?

Presume I'd need :

- a single decent mid zoom eye piece and stick to the basics for now.

- some sort of filter so the moon looks like the moon, not the sun.

- maybe a telrad as I'm not loving the stock finder

Anything else for an absolute beginner? And what would you recommend I point the scope at to begin with? Something that is easy to find but provides a view that will make me say 'wow'!

Stupid questions I'm sure, sorry....

Edited by Markyttt
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Well, that might happen for some - under right circumstances but I think it is better to be prepared and manage your expectations and learn to find joy in all of this in different ways then being inst

Hi and welcome to SGL. You've got yourself a very nice scope and that scope is capable of showing very nice planetary views if that is what you are after. 6mm and 8mm eyepieces might not be the w

Lesson no 4 - There are still places on the internet filled with helpful and kind people. Lesson no 5 - Not all Skyliner telescopes come correctly collimated Lesson no 6 - Collimation is a m

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Hi and welcome to SGL.

You've got yourself a very nice scope and that scope is capable of showing very nice planetary views if that is what you are after. 6mm and 8mm eyepieces might not be the worst things in the world although they are cheap.

Do you know what make/brand did you order?

I usually don't use filters on the Moon, but yes, I know it can be very bright, so variable polarizing filter could be an option - you can tune that one to level of brightness you like. Moon is best observed when not full - it is both less bright and more surface detail can be seen due to shadows.

You can now observe Jupiter, Saturn and Mars with your scope and if you take some measures to ensure quality views - you should be able to see plenty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bM9g18Q109o

Your scope is potent for viewing deep sky objects (yes, that is what DSO stands for :D - in time you'll learn all these abbreviations) and you should try looking at some of them too. How much you'll see depends on light pollution you live in. Get a copy of Stellarium - it is free/open source planetarium software and it will show you what is in the sky at any given time and what you can observe.

It is not easy to recommend an eyepiece unless you state your preferences. Budget is also critical part of the equation. Do you wear eyeglasses when observing? You don't need to wear them if you are just near/far sighted - telescope focus will compensate for that, but you do need to wear them if you have astigmatism or other issues. Eye relief of eyepieces is important if you use eyeglasses - if not, then it is only matter of comfort and different people have different preferences. Same goes for apparent field of view and other characteristics.

Here is rather nice mid power eyepiece that has overall good characteristics (good eye relief, budget friendly, wide(ish) AFOV - apparent field of view, another thing learned):

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/bst-starguider-eyepieces/bst-starguider-60-15mm-ed-eyepiece.html

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Hi @Markyttt and welcome to SGL. :hello2:

You could have a look at the Baader planetarium 8-24mm Hyperion zoom (link below). The beauty of it is that it can be used with 1.25" & 2" focus tubes. There is also a 2.25x Barlow lens that will complement it.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/baader-planetarium/baader-hyperion-zoom-eyepiece.html
https://www.firstlightoptics.com/baader-planetarium/baader-2-zoom-eyepiece-upgrade-kit.html

For viewing the Moon I use a variable polarising filter. They are available in 1.25" or 2"

Telrad of Rigel RDF may be an improvement. Other optical finderscopes are available.

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Thanks so much for warm welcome and taking the time to reply!

I've picked up an unbranded barlow 2x, a 6mm eye piece labelled 'Astro Basics' and a laser collimator. The SkiView app has been on my phone for ages (one of those rare apps that just works) but my mini spending spree included SkySafari Pro (which doesn't 'just work')
 
To be honest, I'd be more inclined to spend £50 on the BST StarGuider than half the scope price on the Baader whilst I learn the ropes.

As for preferences, I'm on day two so have no idea! I know that if I can find a way to make good views accessible then I'll have a hobby for life, if I struggle then the scope may end up getting ignored.

I'm based in the UK so our version of a dark night is a long long way away from a majestic Sub-Saharan night sky.

So I guess I'm looking for the hook, the view that will make this a life long passion, something like 'Get the stargazer 15mm, use your app to find M81 (or something) and prepare to be amazed'. I'd hoped Saturn would be my hook but little the white dot with possibly a ring around it didn't have the desired effect.

 

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9 minutes ago, Markyttt said:

I'd hoped Saturn would be my hook but little the white dot with possibly a ring around it didn't have the desired effect.

 

What eyepiece were you using for this? I'd imagine your scope to be capable of some cracking views of it. You might find that barlow does help, even if it's not the most expensive one out there! I have often wondered how effective it would be to use the scope with its cap on, but with the little hole exposed. I guess this would reduce aperture but increase focal length?

I got quite a bit of satisfaction out of seeing the Andromeda galaxy for the first time. It's actually a naked eye object in dark skies, but pretty tricky. Later in the year, the Orion nebula is nice. 

 

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15 minutes ago, Markyttt said:

So I guess I'm looking for the hook, the view that will make this a life long passion, something like 'Get the stargazer 15mm, use your app to find M81 (or something) and prepare to be amazed'. I'd hoped Saturn would be my hook but little the white dot with possibly a ring around it didn't have the desired effect.

Well, that might happen for some - under right circumstances but I think it is better to be prepared and manage your expectations and learn to find joy in all of this in different ways then being instantly hooked on views - there are other things to be instantly hooked on here.

Have a look at these two short videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6NIBBldy8U

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI7IPPmu76U

As for "hooking on" factor - rather than seeing images - think about what you are seeing. When next observing Saturn - think that it is a gas giant ~1.4 billion kilometers away. That little disk that you are observing is in fact 116460 kilometers in diameter. It floats there in emptiness of space and you get to observe it - to see its bands and its rings and few of its moons - yes, it's got moons - you see them and then you get a chance to find out more about them by reading relevant texts online (wiki is decent place to start).

Think about that galaxy M81 that you are seeing - it is about 12 million light years away. It is large spiral galaxy, billion of suns out there and you get to see them all.

You get the idea ...

Important thing is - the more time you spend and more you learn - more you will be able to see. Observing is a skill and you learn it with practice.

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Hi there and welcome aboard. Wow, I wish I'd bought something as good as that after a bottle of red. Good choice.

As Vlaiv said, it's pretty damn amazing to be able to see this stuff with your own eyes rather than books or television etc. Welcome to being one of the few percent of people who do this.

Some of the stuff that's blown me away:  Craters and other features on the moon, Saturn's rings, cloud bands and red spot on Jupiter, watching Jupiter's moons change position during the night or from day to day, knowing that the black dot I'm watching cross the face of Jupiter is actually the shadow of one of its moons (watching an eclipse on another planet!), thousands of stars packed into a "ball" - a globular cluster (like M13), looking at the different colours in the stars and realising they are different types/sizes and at different stages in their lives, seeing the shell of an exploded star from millions of years ago (M57 - planetary nebula), watching a specific star at a precise time and watching it wink out for a few seconds as an asteroid crosses its path, looking at galaxy after galaxy in the Virgo cluster, seeing the magnificence of the milky way from a truly dark site...

If you're sufficiently motivated and patient, and maybe with a couple more eyepieces, you'll be able to see all those things and more with the telescope you just bought. Your scope is bigger than anything I've used for the above.

Try not to get too bogged down with the technical stuff, go enjoy the skies.

Cheers,

Mark

Edited by Starwatcher2001
trypo
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@vlaiv-  that's a really good answer, and the videos are great (if a little depressing 😂). Don't get me wrong, I'm in awe of the night sky, I've been lucky enough to travel to places where even with the naked eye, the views are amazing. I think the expectation vs reality part of the video really sums things up. There's plenty of posts here including nice images of the planets and galaxies so , like an idiot, I thought that simply buying a decent telescope would provide me with the same views. All hobbies needs some time and love to bear fruit, this will be no different. I suppose where things are different is that I can get my standard crop dSLR, point it at the sky, open the shutter and take great photos of the moon/milky way without any special kit, the telescope will clearly take a little more patience.

@sputniksteve - Stock 10mm eye piece, suspect the issue is probably more to do with current position of Saturn (just above my horizon) & light pollution than stock optics.

@Philip R - It was the jokes about whether one needed a collimater to collimate a collimater that made me join the forum 😊

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Could anyone tell me if the eye piece kits are any good for a starter? The Celestron one seems to include a lot of options (5 eye pieces + barlow + filters) for the price. I've also seen that I can import the Zhumell kit from the US which seems well reviewed.

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26 minutes ago, Markyttt said:

Could anyone tell me if the eye piece kits are any good for a starter? The Celestron one seems to include a lot of options (5 eye pieces + barlow + filters) for the price. I've also seen that I can import the  kit from the US which seems well reviewed.

They are not highly thought of, here. A better option is to build up a collection of your own eyepieces, over time. Choosing the most suitable and cost-effective ones you see fit, as your needs grow. Your scope is fast, and you would do better than a set of basic plossls.

There is a reason you see lots of these sets being sold second-hand.

Best to start here:

 

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1 hour ago, Markyttt said:

Could anyone tell me if the eye piece kits are any good for a starter? The Celestron one seems to include a lot of options (5 eye pieces + barlow + filters) for the price. I've also seen that I can import the Zhumell kit from the US which seems well reviewed.

Good Evening,

So I’m no expert but I’m so glad I started to build my eye piece collection separately. I now have a collection of 8 eye pieces from a varied of makes including BST, Vixen, Baader, GSO & Explore Scientific!  Surprisingly my go to eye piece is the 30mm Vixen NPL which is actually the cheapest out of all my eye pieces however still very well made. 

My advice as a beginner would be to buy as you go, spend a little and see where that takes you.

Don’t get me wrong I loved my first night out with my telescope (blew my mind), but my experience has only grown now that I’ve upgraded my eye pieces. 
Hope this helps from a fellow beginner Mick!

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1 hour ago, Markyttt said:

Could anyone tell me if the eye piece kits are any good for a starter? The Celestron one seems to include a lot of options (5 eye pieces + barlow + filters) for the price. I've also seen that I can import the Zhumell kit from the US which seems well reviewed.

No, I’m afraid not. The kits nearly always contain filters and eyepieces that you probably won’t use so don’t actually represent good value. The celestron kits particularly are extremely over priced.

BST starguiders are often recommended as “good budget eyepieces”. Personally I find this quite shocking as they are nearly £50 a piece but hey ho. Your scope will be relatively unforgiving on eyepieces so if nothing else something like this should be an aspirational target if nothing else.

However - and this might seem controversial - I have never, and I mean never, heard or met anyone who wasn’t totally blown away by their first view of Saturn. And that’s true even if people that aren’t interested in planets as a rule. It may be worth investing some time in learning what views through the eyepiece of a scope look like to avoid potential disappointment. 

Have a go at M13, M27 and the moon next. If they don’t blow your socks off then...

Edited by MimasDeathStar
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A lot of the photos of planets and nebula have had some editing done to them with stacking and processing software, so may not necessarily look the same. Your scope being 10 inches should see amazing views. I took a image of orion nebula unprocessed with my planetary camera on my 6inch skywatcher explorer, you should be able to see plenty of Dso's with your scope and cracking views of planets. Clear skies 1797335648_M42_0000104_52_16copy.thumb.jpg.441390cfdfde4602d89e4758bdbfc06d.jpg

Edited by LeeHore7
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Mars has an eccentric orbit round the Sun.  At times, Mars is close to the Earth, at other times far, far away.  The other night, I was strolling about outside, and suddenly saw a red "star" rising up out of the east.  I brought out my 100mm f/4 Newtonian and had a look-see.  With a 4mm SR eyepiece inserted into a 2x barlow, and for a simulated 2mm, I watched that ball of orange-sherbet over and over.  It took a bit over 30 seconds to traverse the field-of-view, and at 200x.  I then took a shot of it...

090420-Mars-4mmSR2x2.jpg.b4abdeff5b9d97e440169200ca5a2ab9.jpg

That was about the size of it, and seemingly not particularly close to the Earth.

A 250mm aperture is certainly capable of realising up to 500x; realistically up to 300x or so, but only if the collimation is spot-on, and for sharp, pleasing views.

Collimation is made much easier if the primary-cell is spring-loaded, with springs of metal instead of rubber, if not already so equipped. 

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Lesson no 4 - There are still places on the internet filled with helpful and kind people.

Lesson no 5 - Not all Skyliner telescopes come correctly collimated

Lesson no 6 - Collimation is a minefield of differing opinions, methods and equipment

Lesson no 7 - Above can actually be done with a milk bottle top with a hole in + patience

Lesson no 8 - Manage expectations, I won't be following the progress of Mars Curiosity Rover from my back garden.

So thanks for all your replies so far, they've all been useful. For now, I'm going to wait for my cheapo eye pieces to arrive and start learning the basics before worrying about more additions. Waving the scope out of my back door last night before bed gave me a view of the moon that's already made the purchase price worthwhile 🙂

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On 05/09/2020 at 19:50, MimasDeathStar said:

No, I’m afraid not. The kits nearly always contain filters and eyepieces that you probably won’t use so don’t actually represent good value. The celestron kits particularly are extremely over priced.

BST starguiders are often recommended as “good budget eyepieces”. Personally I find this quite shocking as they are nearly £50 a piece but hey ho. Your scope will be relatively unforgiving on eyepieces so if nothing else something like this should be an aspirational target if nothing else.

However - and this might seem controversial - I have never, and I mean never, heard or met anyone who wasn’t totally blown away by their first view of Saturn. And that’s true even if people that aren’t interested in planets as a rule. It may be worth investing some time in learning what views through the eyepiece of a scope look like to avoid potential disappointment. 

Have a go at M13, M27 and the moon next. If they don’t blow your socks off then...

What do you mean by the scope being unforgiving? A more powerful score requires better quality eye pieces?

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6 minutes ago, HutchStar said:

What do you mean by the scope being unforgiving? A more powerful score requires better quality eye pieces?

It has to do with F/ratio of the scope. Fast scopes - meaning less than F/6 (so F/5.5, F/5, F/4.5, F/4 and such) have large angles of converging light rays and that causes issues with simple eyepiece designs. This usually manifests itself as eyepiece not giving sharp view in outer parts of the FOV - different aberrations can and will be present like coma and astigmatism and so on ...

Same eyepiece in slow scope - F/8 and above will preform much better. In scopes F/12 and above all eyepiece designs work equally well in terms of performance to the edge of the field.

Complex eyepiece designs solve this issue by using more glass elements and exotic glass types - but that raises the cost of eyepiece.

Original scope is F/4.7 and is considered fast scope, so yes, most cheap eyepieces will perform poorly in outer parts of the field and one needs coma corrector + very good eye piece designs (like 100e+ per piece in terms of cost) to display perfect star fields to the edge of eyepiece.

Some people are simply not bothered by this and enjoy view as is and don't use coma correctors nor expensive eyepieces. They concentrate on what is in the center of FOV and don't mind little "seagulls" at the edges.

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It’s the focal length. when you get under f/5 / f/6 aberations and defects in cheap eyepieces become more noticeable. You will notice the difference between the cheap kit eyepieces and a decent budget eyepiece like the Starguider.

Of course a good eyepiece like a Televue or Pentax XW will work really well in a fast scope but also cost £££££

Edited by johninderby
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I'm sure someone will probably explain it better, but the Skyliner 250PX has a short focal length of f/4.7.  This isn't a fault or a bad thing, it's just part of the design. But it does mean that the light cone hits the eyepiece at steeper angle than longer focal length telescopes, and it's demanding on the eyepiece to get a good image.  Good quality eyepieces might be needed to get the best from the scope, whereas longer focal length telescopes can often get away with eyepieces of lower quality.  The upside is that you get a nice big mirror and plenty of light coming in, with a relatively short tube. This makes the scope lighter and easier to handle.

Edited by Starwatcher2001
someone did explain it better ;-)
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It's ironic. Until this had been pointed out to me and that my 18mm BST didn't have great definition at the edges, I had never noticed it!

My cheap 10x50 bins I thought were fantastic, until I saw the view through a much better pair!

If you aren't interested in what's at the edge, it shouldn't bother you.  But once you've seen it.....

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I have read many times of a Newtonian(mirrors) as being "unforgiving" of simpler, and less-expensive, designs of eyepieces(lenses).  It's actually the exact opposite, with the inherent defect, coma, of shorter Newtonians, at f2.x, f/3, f/4, f/5, and even f/6, exhibiting the defect increasingly more as the telescope "grows" shorter. 

Analogously, a shorter achromat, barely a refractor, is more "unforgiving" of a #8 light-yellow colour-filter when attempting to suppress its inherent defect, chromatic-aberration(or false-colour), and when compared to a Baader "Fringe Killer" filter.

The short-achromat then says to the Baader filter, "You've made me beautiful, my darling.  I'm forever in your debt."  ...and how.

One might slather on a tonne of "cosmetics", but if unattractive before, unattractive in one way or the other forevermore.

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On 07/09/2020 at 09:28, Markyttt said:

Lesson no 6 - Collimation is a minefield of differing opinions, methods and equipment

Lesson no 7 - Above can actually be done with a milk bottle top with a hole in + patience

Lesson 7 is not entirely correct 🙂 but yes, you could build a collimator at home with a piece of tubing, etc.

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