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Storm77

New to Astronomy, telescope buying advice.

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Hi, I have wanted to buy a telescope for a while now. I am unsure about my first telescope, originally I was considering a sky watcher heritage 130p. I have also noticed a 150p version is now available. My budget is around £200 at the moment. I have to consider the fact that my 5 year old son wants to look at planets, he is interested in space. Also I am interesting in photographing objects, can I do this with a dobsonian?  (I have a DSLR). I like the dobsonian design as it is simple to use, so I can quickly go outside and observe something. 

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The 150 is a great model and if you can can afford it over the 130 you will get the benefit. Perfect for your son aswell-quick and easy to set up and will give stunning views of the moon and planets.

Unfortunately though apart from holding your phone up at the focuser you will be very limited for taking photos.

You really need a eq mount with tracking-not too mention deep pockets!!!!

P.s forgot to mention-welcome aboard 😁😁

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You don't need an EQ mount to do planetary photography but it will need to track.

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Welcome. Sky at Night magazine did a favourable first light review last month on the Skywatcher Heritage 150, billed at £219. Also showed a photo of the moon taken with a phone adapter. Might be worth a look at that model.

Hope you and your lad have lots of fun. 🙂

Edited by Floater

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Welcome! The Heritage 130P and 150P are great scopes to get started. Keep in mind that the planets will be very small disks at useful magnifications (even in large scopes), I'm not really sure a 5 year old is able to recognise and appreciate these views.

You can take a snapshot of the Moon and maybe you're able to capture the moons of Jupiter or a hint of the rings of Saturn, but that's about it. Astrophotography requires a different setup and a great amount of effort (and budget) to get reasonable results.

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A dobsonian is indeed probably going to be the simplest and best bang for your buck.  If you can get your son enthusiastic about double stars, stars of different colour (such as Alberio), clusters, and asterisms (no telescope required) then I think you'll get a lot more out of it.  You could Iook up for yourself some simple facts about stars, why they are a certain colour and brightness, and back up that info with views through the telescope.  There's nothing to say you shouldn't be able to locate Neptune, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn (Saturn should look very nice with the rings showing at the moment, in the new year it will become an early morning object), but as others noted mostly they will be tiny discs or just points of light in the telescope. 

You might need a steady step ladder for your young astronomer as the eyepiece might be too high for him, and if he touches the eyepiece or scope then he'll likely knock it away from the target.

Edited by jonathan

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18 minutes ago, jonathan said:

 

You might need a steady step ladder for your young astronomer as the eyepiece might be too high for him, and if he touches the eyepiece or scope then he'll likely knock it away from the target.

The heritage is the small table top one.

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3 minutes ago, popeye85 said:

The heritage is the small table top one.

I'm confused then.  If I put my Skywatcher 150P reflector vertically on a table I wouldn't be able to reach the eyepiece, and I am 6' tall.  Is the Heritage measured differently?

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15 minutes ago, jonathan said:

I'm confused then.  If I put my Skywatcher 150P reflector vertically on a table I wouldn't be able to reach the eyepiece, and I am 6' tall.  Is the Heritage measured differently?

40 minutes ago, jonathan said:

 

You might  a steady step ladder for your young astronomer as the eyepiece might be too high for him, and if he touches the eyepiece or scop then he'll likely knock it away from the targe

There are a couple versions of the 150. I imagine you have the f5 version but you can also get a portable version called the "hertige".

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/sky-watcher-heritage-150p-flextube-dobsonian-telescope.html

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Thanks for your replies. I will probably get the heritage 150p. My son will love looking through it, he has been watching The Planets on repeat. Am I right in saying that a tracking scope costs a lot more and takes time to set up?

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An advantage of the Heritage 'table top' scopes is that the OTAs have a dovetail, so they can be remounted on an upgraded mount later.

Edit:

There's a certain amount of setting up if you want to use a tracking scope, but the manufacturers are making it very straightforward.

You could look at the SkyWatcher Discovery 150 scope, which is about £450, but the Heritage will be one that you'll probably find easier for your son to use.

You will need to know the locations of the brightest stars (as you use them for the initial alignment), for which I strongly recommend getting a planisphere (you can often buy them in The Works with a star chart or guide book for about a tenner).

As for cost, yes, they'll be a few hundred £££ new, but you can often find them second hand for more reasonable prices.

 

Edited by Gfamily

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As a newbie who bought a skywatcher heritage 150p as my first proper 'scope back in the summer when it came out , I'd say it is a pretty good instrument if you are at the budget end of the market. It's not really the right tool for anything beyond basic snaps as far as photo use goes (you can buy a fairly cheap adapter to attach your DSLR and use the 'scope like a big lens) . Unfortunately spectacular astro photography comes with a spectacularly hefty price tag and a steep learning curve . What the heritage 150 ( and it's smaller brother , the numbers in the name denote the diameter of the mirror in mm ) does give is a simple robust mount , a lot of light gathering potential, and a basis for further improvement and adaptation over the original package if your interest continues.

I can't help but think the skywatcher advertising dept. missed a trick with the heritage scopes : they should have used the line ' The truly telescoping telescopes !' , because that's what they do : the length of the tube when not in use is roughly half that of the operating size. So, on my 150p,the tube part closed is 44cm, but opening it up for use you slide the front part forward on a pair of rails, and tighten two locking screws . Now the tube part is 77cm long.

While I had the scope and tape measure in hand, I  just put the whole thing on the floor, swung the tube up to the vertical position and measured the highest point the eye piece holder goes to , which was 80cm . So if your child's eye line is 80cm or more above ground, they will be able to see any part of the sky with the scope base on the ground.  Mind you, to look  through it an adult would have to do some 'Twister' style contortions to use it like that ! I have a hefty little table which is 30cm tall, that makes it OK for me to study objects which are fairly high in the sky, but I've also bodged together a table top for an old cheap workmate type vice which allows me to place the scope higher, and swing the tube closer to horizontal without me having to stand on anything to look in the eyepiece.

As an ex primary school teacher I reckon one of the heritage dobsonian scopes would be a great starter , the main delicate bit (the primary mirror) is away from sticky finger accidents, and it wouldn't be hard to use an eyepiece with a fairly wide view ( the 25mm one that comes with the package is OK ) , find a target like the Pleiades, and tighten the big knob on the side to lock the vertical movement,  then get junior to look through the eyepiece without touching anything (which would either move the view entirely, or cause the setup to wobble and blur the stars for a few seconds).

Two more adavtages to the 150 or 130 : first they don't take up too much space to store, and second, they both have enough of a good reputation as a 'grab and go' or holiday 'scope that should you ever want to get rid of it, there's plenty of interest in a second hand one.

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10 minutes ago, Storm77 said:

Thanks for your replies. I will probably get the heritage 150p. My son will love looking through it, he has been watching The Planets on repeat. Am I right in saying that a tracking scope costs a lot more and takes time to set up?

My last reply took a lot of (slow, 2 finger) typing, this time all I need to  say is ...

Yes.

🙂

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In choosing either a short-tube refractor or Newtonian, in this case the latter, optical performance is sacrificed for ergonomics(easier to store, carry, travel with).  The planets, to see them well and up-close requires either a telescope with a long focal-length, or that shorter combined with 2x and even 3x barlows(or comfortable, somewhat costly eyepieces of very short focal-lengths).  In addition, the collimation of the Newtonian must be spot-on for sharp images at the higher powers, the powers necessary to bring the planets closer.

Both a 130mm f/5 and 150mm f/5 Newtonian are quite versatile, and for observing most everything in the  sky, from a low 20x to 200x and beyond.

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17 minutes ago, Storm77 said:

My son will love looking through it, he has been watching The Planets on repeat.

Here's a very interesting (and long, hundreds of pages !) discussion on the 130 version of the heritage , which is sold under a different name (in support of a charity) in the USA. Skimming through you can see modifications and improvements people have made as well as some photos taken with the scope.

https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/463109-onesky-newtonian-astronomers-without-borders/

You might need to take some time to manage junior's expectations about what they will see through the 'scope, compared with TV and images online/in books. This is an interesting read, and accurately reflects what I've managed to see with the 150:

https://medium.com/@phpdevster/help-i-cant-see-detail-on-the-planets-ac27ee82800

With the included eyepieces, the day I got the scope home, I was able to see the rings of Saturn, some banding on Jupiter and the 4 Galilean moons. That's nothing special for the experienced telescope owners here, but for me, that was already worth the £200 I'd spent on the scope.

Boggle your child's mind*, explain that the light your 'scope has just collected and focused for you set out from the object (or bounced off it after going there from the Sun ... ) traveled (however) far for (however) long (look it up in advance !) and just accidentally happened to zap through the Earth's  blanket of air , hit your 'scope mirror, bounce off it, hit another mirror and finally your eye and brain made an image from it, no-one else has ever seen that particular little packet of light .

 

 

* and your own if you are anything like me !

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Tracking is possible with Dobsonians with either a goto drive or an equatorial platform.  Both options are outside of your budget, and neither is ideal for imaging.

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Guys, may I suggest keeping your answers concise!  XD

As mentioned a dob isn't a photography platform, visual only or dslr m48 adaptor and moon pics. 

Planets imaging consider a celestron c9.25 and eq6 minimum! 

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17 minutes ago, Shaun_Astro said:

Guys, may I suggest keeping your answers concise!  XD

As mentioned a dob isn't a photography platform, visual only or dslr m48 adaptor and moon pics. 

Planets imaging consider a celestron c9.25 and eq6 minimum! 

Are answers addressing the OPs concerns  limited in length here ?

If so, I may be in the wrong place ...

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Thanks again for the replies very helpful. I suppose "eyeball" observing will be our primary concern here. I was thinking about attaching a phone as well, are there any recommendations for mounts?

Also any thoughts on the skywatcher skyliner 150?

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20 minutes ago, Storm77 said:

Also any thoughts on the skywatcher skyliner 150?

That's a great scope too, a longer focal length so in general higher magnifications than the Heritage but in other aspects quite similar. A lot less portable though.

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33 minutes ago, Storm77 said:

 

Also any thoughts on the skywatcher skyliner 150?

Great scopes although between the 2 the heritage is possible more child friendly. You also need to worry less about collimation

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5 minutes ago, popeye85 said:

Great scopes although between the 2 the heritage is possible more child friendly. You also need to worry less about collimation

Heritage 150 it is then.

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You might need a couple more accessors to make the experience complete.

I suggest you get a planishere for learning your way around the constellations.

A red light torch to help preserve your night vision

A book about targets for a small telescope.

High quality hat and gloves!!!!

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Welcome to SGL, I haven't read all the above replies so sorry if I am repeating.

Both the 130 and 150 dobs are great starter scopes. There is a slightly better light grab with the 150 of course but either will suit you and your son initially and maybe for very many years.

With the right attachment you could attach your camera and do very short exposures  of the night sky but I would say no more than a few seconds at most.

As others will have said dedicated astrophography is both more complicated and much more expensive. 

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2 hours ago, popeye85 said:

Great scopes although between the 2 the heritage is possible more child friendly. You also need to worry less about collimation

Actually, the "Heritage" 150P is at f/5, which is more difficult to collimate than the "Skyliner" 150P at f/8.  In addition, the "Heritage" is a collapsible, which further complicates collimation.  Then, there's the helical-focusser of the "Heritage", which isn't quite up to snuff compared to the far superior focusser of the "Skyliner".

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