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Star Discovery 150 vs Skywatcher 200 Reflector


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Was looking to plumb the wisdom of this community on this one and see what advice is there for someone dipping his toe in.

I'm just getting started and been using a 90mm Skywatcher Refractor on a EQ3-2 Mount for the last few months. I also have experimented with a basic second hand Celestron LCM Mount to get a taste for GoTo - Alt/AZ style.

It's definitely a hobby i'd like to keep pursuing, so have set myself a rough £400-500 budget to get myself a new telescope that will last another year or two until I get a bit more experience, before investing anything else.

 

My requirements/situation

I'm fortunate enough to live in the Lake District and have good skies, with only a little light pollution. And proper dark skies are only a half hour drive away.

I'm looking for something that will get good planetary views, allow me to see plenty of deep sky objects and maybe dabble a little with short exposure astrophotography with an old Nikon D5000 I have. 

Definitely leaning towards a Reflector Newtonian. My background is as an Optician, so I'm pretty familiar with collimation and the optical theories behind telescopes, so I don't mind a little increased complexity.

In the long run I'm definitely interested in astrophotography, but it's not my priority (saving towards a new house means spending anymore on a hobby is a no-go currently). I'm quite happy dabbling with short exposure times and learning the basics as I go for now, and I'm aware of limitations with Alt-Az mounts in this area. If I wanted to pursue photography fully, I'd be looking for a dedicated scope towards that goal.

Ease of use on the night is definitely preferred as is portability on trips away. On the GoTo side I'm getting the hang of Celestron's CWI software and the Handset with 3 Star/Manual alignment. Main priority is for nights of star gazing alone or with friends and partner. 

 

So things that have caught me eye:

Skywatcher Star Discovery 150i Wifi 

Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P EQ5

 

The Skywatcher Star Discovery is very tempting. No collimation, GoTo functionality, Wifi control from a Phone or Tablet and I understand it's relatively easy to move manually as well. And it's a lot of scope for what looks a decent price. But for a little more I could go for a 200p with a EQ5 Mount.

Having never used anything beyond a 90mm refractor I'd be interested what people's experiences are with a 150 vs 200 reflector and what a difference it makes for what I'm looking to do with it. 

At first I considered just going for a 200 Reflector OTA, but I did some digging and the EQ3-2 Mount I currently have wouldn't support the weight of such a scope?

 

If anyone has some pearls of wisdom or experience to share it would be well appreciated.

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36 minutes ago, akarmicanomaly said:

Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P EQ5

I used to have an identical combination and I hated it.  With the tripod legs retracted, it would not see low objects over the garden fence. With the tripod legs extended when aiming at the zenith the eyepiece was about 7ft off the ground. The eyepiece could get into some awkward positions.  The straight-thru finder was hard to use and a red dot finder was not more helpful - it really needed a coarse finder or gunsight and a right-angle finder.  I wanted to try it on M81 and M82 - easy galaxies, but never managed to get it aimed at them.  Within months I bought a used 8 inch Goto SCT which ticked all my boxes.

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I have had my 200P Dobsonian for about 2years and it has been an excellent choice IMO. It is very versatile and easy to use giving great views. As I only observe I can’t offer any advice on AP.

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Hi, and welcome to SGL.

OK, so you have already addressed some of the decision factors.

On the photography aspect, I think you're right to defer that if it's not an immediate priority and you want to get started for a modest outlay (which I'm afraid it is, in astrophotography circles). You correctly mention that alt-az is not good for most imaging, but it's also the case that you would be looking at more than your budget for a decent EQ mount, if you wanted to image deep-sky objects well with a larger scope (consensus seems to be that the regular EQ5 won't cut it, you need at least an HEQ5). You could of course always dabble with an alt-az mount while being mostly visual, and use a DSLR with a regular lens instead of a scope.

With imaging not a requirement then yes, alt-az is probably simper than EQ. You mention GoTo as a requirement, but no reasons. A common one is having to observe from light-polluted skies, but not the case for you. You will realise that the inclusion of GoTo (and hence drives on both axes) adds expense that must be trimmed off elsewhere to stay within a budget - hence converging on something like the Star Discovery. Compared with a manual alternative, the 150i makes compromises elsewhere to maintain its price point. In particular, the focuser is quite basic and the primary mirror is fixed. You point out that this is actually an advantage as no collimation is required (not quite true - the secondary does have adjustment if needed). Well, I thought just the same when I bought one back in June, but I was concerned that there was no collimation possible if it were needed (well, not easily). The advice I got on this forum was split between those who would always want the option available to them, and those who pointed out that Skywatcher had been using the same system for several years so it was well tried. So far, I've not had any issues with the collimation (i.e. it hasn't shifted at all). I'm not trying to put you off GoTo, just be sure you want it. I definitely did, in my case because I usually share observing sessions with family and I want to minimise time spent finding targets.

On the GoTo functionality itself, I'm not familiar with the Celestron version so I'm not qualified to compare. For SW I'm using the Synscan Pro app version that also supports their EQ mounts, only because it also gives you the option of 3-star alignment for alt-az. I use that in conjunction with SkySafari, which I would definitely recommend. Synscan controls the wifi connection and manual movements, but I use observing lists in SkySafari to drive the goto operations, and they communicate very well (I'm on Android). I did find it a bit of a learning curve, not helped by some poor instructions (there are better ones now online). For example, my phone kept losing connection until I realised I needed to change the power saving settings for the apps I was using so they didn't sleep.

The accuracy I've found to be more than acceptable for my needs (i.e. targets placed comfortably within a 26mm eyepiece), provided I've successfully aligned first. If something goes wrong in a session (e.g. someone kicks a tripod leg) you'll need to re-align. The dual encoding functionality ("Freedom Find" in SW) seems to divide opinion. It is said that it degrades the pointing accuracy, though I always have it on and I have managed. I like it because (a) it saves my battery if I can rough-point the scope manually before doing a GoTo, and (b) when I was observing at 2 a.m. in the summer, I could eliminate almost all the noise by doing this.

The mirror in the 150i is the same as you would get in the other SW 150 versions. Of course if you did without the computer you could get more scope for your budget - yes a 200P/EQ5 is fine for visual, but I wouldn't try it on your EQ3/2, it's too much. You will no doubt get some responses suggesting dobs, which give you the most diameter for your money.  And being an optician, you will of course know that the light-gathering capacity increases with the square of the diameter.

The really hard bit is going to be finding any stock at the moment, when you've decided. Good luck.

[EDIT]

PS I forgot to address your comment on preferred targets - both planets and DSOs.

In some respects they are different beasts. DSOs are usually feinter but often not especially small, and some require quite a wide field to see in their entirety. Which (for visual observing especially) would push you towards a larger aperture and faster (shorter focal ratio) device. Planets are brighter but always small, so you usually want to magnify them as much as you can. That would suggest a longer focal ratio, which will give you greater magnification for any particular eyepiece you have. The 150i is a relatively fast F/5, so you have to push it, eyepiece wise, to get larger magnifications for planets. You can get a SW version of the 150 that is slower. However, in the UK you will very often find that the limiting factor in a session is not the scope, but rather the atmospheric conditions or else the position of the planet in the sky (e.g. Jupiter and Saturn are poor at the moment).
I decided that an F/5 150mm was a reasonable compromise for DSOs and planets.

Edited by Zermelo
reworded ambiguity in first alignment sentence, added PS
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I got the skywatcher 150P on an eq3 pro mount. I've been impressed so far. It's the 750 f5 . I also looked at the 200p but for me it appeared a little unwieldy for transport and storage ( interesting to see comments above). My dslr attaches easily and there's no problem focussing. The weakest link for me is the tripod so I'd say the eq5 would cope admirably. I'd also budget for eyepiece. I picked up 2 bst starguider that make a huge difference. They are very well built and have retractable eye cups that I imagine would be good with glasses. 

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The 200P OTA on an EQ5 is at the limits, if not beyond it, for imaging and is more suitable for visual. However equatorial mounts and Newtonians end up with eyepieces at all sorts of odd angles necessitating rotating the tube within its rings. Also you end up needing stepladders in some orientations so not that comfortable. Imaging with a big boat sail like the 200P is frustrating to say the least.

As you have decent skies the 200P Dobsonian would be good as it is simple to setup. Not so easy to cart about in a car but it is doable as you can remove the OTA from the mount. The mount is very bulky though. Skywatcher make goto versions of the Dob BTW. Get a catsperch type chair for comfort.

 

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I second Terrys comments

I live in Carlisle and am a stones throw from decent dark skies in the lakes- I decided to plum for a wide arpeture Flexitube dob to take advantage of our darker skies up here in not so sunny Cumbria-Im happy to develop my skills through DSO before considering imagery.  Its a big beast at 300  but a 200 would give the best bang per buck and more manageable unless you drive a small car.

For your budget any goto system would restrict your arpeture -Yes goto is nice to have  but you may need to decide now on wether to pursue planetary and DSO or imaging.  For the former a dob would seem to meet those needs, the later a Newtonian. Ease of set up definitely the dob, as mentioned the 200 Newtonian can be somewhat of a sail and a in my opinion overkill on the mount is necessary, and more money Kerching!!

Let us know which way you decide to go and how you get on

 

J

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On 25/11/2020 at 09:44, akarmicanomaly said:

Was looking to plumb the wisdom of this community on this one and see what advice is there for someone dipping his toe in.

I'm just getting started and been using a 90mm Skywatcher Refractor on a EQ3-2 Mount for the last few months. I also have experimented with a basic second hand Celestron LCM Mount to get a taste for GoTo - Alt/AZ style.

It's definitely a hobby i'd like to keep pursuing, so have set myself a rough £400-500 budget to get myself a new telescope that will last another year or two until I get a bit more experience, before investing anything else.

 

My requirements/situation

I'm fortunate enough to live in the Lake District and have good skies, with only a little light pollution. And proper dark skies are only a half hour drive away.

I'm looking for something that will get good planetary views, allow me to see plenty of deep sky objects and maybe dabble a little with short exposure astrophotography with an old Nikon D5000 I have. 

Definitely leaning towards a Reflector Newtonian. My background is as an Optician, so I'm pretty familiar with collimation and the optical theories behind telescopes, so I don't mind a little increased complexity.

In the long run I'm definitely interested in astrophotography, but it's not my priority (saving towards a new house means spending anymore on a hobby is a no-go currently). I'm quite happy dabbling with short exposure times and learning the basics as I go for now, and I'm aware of limitations with Alt-Az mounts in this area. If I wanted to pursue photography fully, I'd be looking for a dedicated scope towards that goal.

Ease of use on the night is definitely preferred as is portability on trips away. On the GoTo side I'm getting the hang of Celestron's CWI software and the Handset with 3 Star/Manual alignment. Main priority is for nights of star gazing alone or with friends and partner. 

 

So things that have caught me eye:

Skywatcher Star Discovery 150i Wifi 

Sky-Watcher Explorer 200P EQ5

 

The Skywatcher Star Discovery is very tempting. No collimation, GoTo functionality, Wifi control from a Phone or Tablet and I understand it's relatively easy to move manually as well. And it's a lot of scope for what looks a decent price. But for a little more I could go for a 200p with a EQ5 Mount.

Having never used anything beyond a 90mm refractor I'd be interested what people's experiences are with a 150 vs 200 reflector and what a difference it makes for what I'm looking to do with it. 

At first I considered just going for a 200 Reflector OTA, but I did some digging and the EQ3-2 Mount I currently have wouldn't support the weight of such a scope?

 

If anyone has some pearls of wisdom or experience to share it would be well appreciated.

If you did want the 150i, there's one on sale now: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/offers/offer_sky-watcher-star-discovery-150i_157340.html

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  • Cornelius Varley changed the title to Star Discovery 150 vs Skywatcher 200 Reflector

Thanks for all the advice, definitely makes for some interesting thinking and reading from everyone's experiences!

Thanks Zermelo, I did check FLO over the Black Friday period, but never saw that! Alas was snapped up quick by some lucky soul. 

jacobingonzo - Always nice to see a fellow from Carlisle! It's a small world, even online! Will definitely let you know which road I end up going down

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