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Hello everyone,

After impulse buying this 80mm refractor a year ago, being very underwhelmed and returning it, I've stepped back and done a lot of researching of scopes & astronomy (mainly online due to Covid19).  Now that I have a little better perspective on things I'm looking to get my first "real" scope and would welcome some advice.  A lot of things I read and seen seem to suggest an 8" DOB being a good beginner scope one can grow into, without breaking the bank.  Thus I'm leaning towards the Apertura AD8 with a Barlow & maybe additional lenses down the road, but again I welcome any advice or confirmation that this is a good first scope for me and my family? 

Other details worth mentioning:

  • Price - A definite factor as I have no idea how hooked I or my family will become with the hobby.  Last thing I want is an expensive dust collector sitting in the corner of the room.  Definitely under $1k, preferably closer to half.  If we end up loving it and I trade up, so be it...
  • Interests - Planets and definitely faint & DSO's for sure (so I think that rules out low cost refactors?)
  • Aperture - I know this is the most important aspect and people tend to suggest "Go bigger", 10", 12"+, and I understand the trade offs, but have no practical experience yet, so this is a difficult decision.  Price, portability & light gathering are all considered here and why I feel the 8" is probably a good first scope size?  (feel free to weigh in here)
  • Location - I mainly see this being used in our backyard, which thankfully is pretty private & dark but we do live in the suburbs and there are stairs to consider.  Maybe we'll take it camping or drive to a secluded rural spot once in a while, who knows...
  • Size - Similar to aperture giving more light, I read that 10"and above start to become heavy & unwieldy.  I'm no weakling but my wife and kids may want to use this too and the backyard is down stairs off our deck, so factoring this in....
  • Astrophotography - Probably not yet...  My wife's a photo nut and has a couple nice DSLR's already.  However, this seems like an expensive & time consuming rabbit hole, plus I would think you'd need auto-tracking mounts.  Things could change down the road but for now it's not something I'm really factoring in.  One can always google celestial pics right?
  • Manual vs. motorized - I really don't know.  I've read the pros & cons, people seem to be on one side or the other, and again astrophotography isn't a big factor at this time, so probably manual....

I was somewhat considering NexStar 6SE as it's barely under $1k, but thinking a 6" will limit DSO capabilities?  The 8SE seems nice but we're talking $1200+ for bare bones.  Also an interesting conversation I had with a rep from highpointscientific mentioned an 8" DOB would be more blurry and have less color than an equivalent 8" SCT, which got me worried about a DOB and seemed to contradicted things I've read, but again I have no practical experience here.  All I know is I bought a $200 scope off Amazon a year ago that could view the moon and bird watch.  Saturn and Jupiter were blurry, shaky, white dots, forget about DSO's.  I returned that 4.5 star hunk of junk and wanted something more.  I hear great things about DOB's far as viewing, but I'm not going to find an accurate video online of what one would really see through it for obvious reasons.  So here I am looking for advice.  Would an 8" DOB be a good first buy?  Would it genuinely be able to see the planets well along with many faint and DSO's?  I know a 10" or 12"+ would gather more light while sacrificing cost and bulk, but are they that big of difference between being able to see DSO's and not vs. an 8"?  What I would hate is to buy an 8" DOB and immediately think "I should have bought a 10" or bought a 10" and never use it as it's too much of a hassle to lug down the stairs & setup?  So C'mon experts, please bring it!  If you made it this far, thank you very much & you'll have good karma for many moons to come!!!
 

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Hi and welcome to SGL 👍 An 8” Dob is an excellent choice and could very easily become a lifetime scope.  It’s a very capable scope for all types of astronomy from solar system to deep sky. D

@Spile I think that the Telrad is the best finder on the market, so simple to use & so effective, using it combined with the Telrad reticule plug in on Stellarium made my first time navigating the

I would certainly agree that I normally use the TelRad (very similar to Rigel) more than the RACI optical finder, in a typical session, but as I’m starting to do more “star hopping”, the RACI is getti

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Hi and welcome to SGL 👍

An 8” Dob is an excellent choice and could very easily become a lifetime scope.  It’s a very capable scope for all types of astronomy from solar system to deep sky.

Dobsonian telescopes are best suited to those that are fine with learning the sky, have patience with getting used to manually finding objects and hand tracking.  If you are good with DIY that helps, many Dob owners fettle their scopes to achieve very smooth movements- a Dob with easy smooth movements is a joy to use - once you get used to it.

Having said all this manual Dobs are not good if you are strictly a hi-tech person and want to do astrophotography.

For size, regarding the views in the eyepiece- the jump from 4” to 6” is a big difference, 6” to 8” is significant, 8” to 10” a bit better, 10” to 12” subtle, after that you need to have more substantial jumps in aperture to see a worthwhile improvement, plus the hassle factor in size and weight becomes a very big factor.  This is based on owning and using scopes over many years in town and country locations.

But perhaps see what others have to say, I’m biased because to me a good Dobsonian is no hassle easy and quick to set up in my back yard.   If you get an 8” the tube fits across the back seat of most cars, mount etc in the boot (trunk) to travel to a better out of town location.  For me - what’s not to like 👍

Ed.

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As a total beginner, I bought myself an SW 8" Dob. I leave in rather dark skies (rural Wiltshire), but I have managed impressive views of Orion Nebula (do not expect the colours you see in photos), I have picked some nebulosity in Pleiades, I have seen M31 and the list goes on for DSO; I saw Mars with some details (but it is quite far now) and the conjunction but due to the weather the viewing was not the best. With patience I managed to see Neptune. It is a very capable telescope. I quite enjoy the hunting and learning of the sky so the GOTO was not a big deal for mel; I am enjoying reading and learning from 'Turn left at the Orion'. Bear in mind it is a large telescope and heavy to bring downstairs as a whole assembly; I was also contemplating the 10" but due to storage I would have regretted. I am in my 40s and I can lift the whole setup without issues to bring through my sitting room French doors to the garden. I have managed a few moon shots through the EP and plan to get an adapter for my DSLR (I am aware of the limitations of the DOB for DSO photography).

You may also want to get advise from FLO and also pricing seems much cheaper:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html

Good luck with your purchase.

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How old are the kids? With a manual scope each user will need to learn to move the telescope in order to track the object across the sky as the earth rotates. Whilst this is not a hard skill to learn, it will take some practice and younger children in particular might find it difficult. You will also have the problem that whilst one of you is spending time attempting to find an object in the sky, the rest are stood around waiting and the kids may become impatient. For these reasons a telescope with goto (and hence tracking) may be preferable. 

Any 8" scope is a big telescope, and so with steps you will have to carry it in parts from the storage to observing location. I doubt that the kids would be able to help with this unless they are near too being adults themselves. 

An 8" dob or SCT would be a good choice if you can manage the size and weight. As for the comment from the rep, I think all that we can take from that is that he's probably on commission. 

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Hello @dcobb and welcome to SGL

An 8” Dob is THE best value for money scope you can buy, great performance and not too heavy. It will be SLIGHTLY better than an 8” SCT due to it’s smaller central obstruction and will cool quicker too and will not dew up as quickly. Dobs are excellent planetary scopes and will show a lot of detail. A good choice.

A bigger Dob would be a little better but the size and weight needs considering.

 

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Hi,

I was going to buy an 8" Orion (US) dob as my first scope, when Wolfi in Telescope Service helpfully pointed out that I could get the 10" SW 250px for about the same price.

I'm so glad I went up the extra 2" in aperture: 56% more light.

The 250px is a great scope, but I have to say that nowadays the large altitude bearings on the Bresser 10" dob would be expected to be preferable.

Best of luck, 

-Niall

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An 8” dob is a very good scope but the 10” will show you more. Storage wise there isn’t any real difference between the 8” and 10” dobs. Both are about the same height and base diameters are similar. The 10” is a shorter focal length than the 8” hence the tube lengths are similar. The 10” is heavier though. As you would carry the tube seperately from the base the 10” though heavier isn’t a problem for most.

The SW classic dobs have been around for ages but the Bresser are much newer and are a better buy as you get a better built and better equipped scope for the money. The focuser alone is worth more than the price difference.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/bresser-telescopes/bresser-messier-10-dobsonian-telescope.html

Edited by johninderby
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Hi,

A great hobby to get into and it’s your comment about the family that brought me to share my experiences with mine.

I am lucky to have a 12” dob and a Skywatcher 200p on EQ5 mount and what I want to do is compare the mounts here, not the scopes.

If it’s just me then it’s the dob for visual nine times out of ten. It’s on wheels, the aperture is awesome, there’s no alignment and I don’t mind nudging. What’s not to like?

But, if it’s me and the family it’s the 200p/EQ5 every time unless they are already deeply enthusiastic.

Even with the extra aperture the  dob is far to frustrating for those more casual to the hobby or those you want to get engaged as they find nudging the scope to keep tracking the object very challenging. The object is often lost before being seen due to over nudging and the view to brief if I have to keep doing it for them. Those waiting get bored and wander off and the others make matters worse by loosing the object whilst refocusing to suit their eyes.

The EQ5 is a cost effective (though relatively cumbersome to a dob) mount. Fitting a RA motor to keep the object centred is cheap and straight forward and frankly for visual, polar alignment need not be perfect.

I often grab the 200P (fully assembled from the garage) and set it up guessing at an approx polar alignment and still for visual it’s good enough to keep objects centred for a very useful period of time.

A manual EQ5 is a lot cheaper than a Goto option and very family friendly but familiarise yourself with it before they have a go.

The RA motor drive also improves on this considerably.

With this approach some of the family will actively come round to take a look when I’m observing. Not so easy this year though.

Very best with your purchase, whatever you choose I hope you find it very enjoyable.

Steve

 

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I absolutely hate using a newt on an EQ mount for visual. Just awkward to use as the eyepiece ends up in the most uncomfortable positions. Just not for me. 

Fine for AP though.

 

Edited by johninderby
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I chose the 200mm Dobsonian after a lot of forum and review reading and am very happy with the decision. The 8" from FLO hit the sweet spot for me in terms of aperture and physical size/weight. I did want to see it's potential and succumbed to a Baader Zoom eyepiece however... 

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One other thing I meant to say, 8” is plenty aperture, I’d not worry about a 10”. Comparing my 12” to the 8” there are obvious differences but if I had to have just one scope for everything on a budget I’d go with an 8” reflector. I dreamed of one for years.

And sorry to you guys who love your dobs, and I do love mine, but it would most likely be on an EQ mount 😉. Everything in life demands a little effort and rotating the scope in its rings to reposition the eyepiece when moving between objects is, for me, no real hassle given in my mind the overall flexibility. Especially if one of the posts main points of keeping the family engaged on a budget is at stake.

I can even do a little astrophotography with mine as an added bonus. Most scopes come with an adaptor these days and Ive been very pleasantly surprised at the results I get with an old SLR and the cheap RA motor drive. Astrophotography need not be expensive but as I understand it (and please anyone correct me if I’m wrong) it is not so easy with a dob. Although I’m not sure about if it’s got goto fitted. If you can have only one scope setup then photography might be an evolutionary dead end with a dob.

I survived for decades with a 4” newt on an eq mount until I could afford to upgrade and it maintained my interest on and off for over 30yrs. I’ve still got it. I hope one day one of the grandchildren will want it as their first scope.

Dobs are great, very budget friendly but in my opinion not family friendly (read young child, casual observer) without tracking and these days that means the expense of goto.

If the family were not an issue, the scope was just for me, I was on a budget and wanted aperture then first choice would be an 8” dob no question. You’ll get excellent planetary views, good DSO performance and it’ll keep you engaged for decades.

Unfortunately life is not so simple and in my experience a dob is hard work with family.

Steve

 

 

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Some great comments above and although I’m enthusiastic about a basic Dob for my own use, I take the point about sharing the view with others who aren’t familiar with how to hand track.

Example - my local club does public outreach (of course out of the question in a pandemic).  So with my Dob I find the desired object then offer the view to whoever is next in the queue.  I usually view at modest magnification and put the object to one side of the field of view to give a longer ‘drift time’.  If the viewer wants a longer look I track for them. It’s next to impossible to teach everyone in a long queue how to track.

On rare occasions my local club has had 400+ people turn up with a long queue at each scope, that’s very hard work but rewarding 😁

The above is similar to sharing the view with family members, although there’s a better chance of teaching them tracking. In circumstances like this a scope with tracking, at least a drive on the RA, is a good idea.  Of course scopes that track don’t necessarily have go-to - a basic equatorial with RA drive is an example.

Ed.

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Thank you everyone for replying!  Wow, what a great forum 😀.  I hadn't heard of FLO, but I'm guessing based off their pricing they are UK based?  Do they ship to the US?  Their prices are good...

I probably should clarify from my OP that my daughters aren't young at 17 & 19.  I'm certainly the one with the biggest interest in astronomy at this time, however that could change if / when I get a scope, and the point was if my wife or kids ever wanted to use the scope and I happened to be busy or something, could they move it, set it up & take it down the stairs all on their own?  In that respect I think anything bigger than an 8" would be daunting to them.  If it were just me I would probably consider going for the 10" or perhaps bigger but I'd rather get something we could all setup and enjoy.  So the goal is to find something that's not a toy we'd get bored of, not break the bank, and not be too intimidating.

Obviously I keep reading "The best scope is the one you use" and as cliché as it sounds I'm sure there's a lot of truth in it.  The other thing I keep wondering is where I'd store this when not in use, which will be a significant amount of the time...  It may not take up any more space than a chair but a telescope isn't exactly a work of art, and if I kept it in it's box tucked away, then it's even more likely to not get used, which isn't the goal...

Also I certainly get what you guys are saying far as manual DOB mounts may not be conducive to us as a family vs. a mount that will track objects where we can easily take turns and not have to manually keep readjusting.  Of course if cost were not a factor I'd probably go for an 8" SCT on a goto, but at 2-3 times the cost I just can't justify that considering this will be our first scope and I really can't say how much we'll get hooked into it

 

Couple follow up questions for those who have 8" or 10" DOB's:

  1. The height of the eyepiece seems a bit low to stand and use, or it seems like one would be hunched over if standing.  Do most of you use a chair or stool when using it for long periods?  or have any of you built under mounts to boost it up a bit?  Sorry if this a silly question, again noob here
  2. I believe images from a Newtonian scope are upside down right?  Do any of you use yours for any day time nature observing?  If so is there anything that can be done to correct and upright images?

 

Thanks again everyone for chiming in with your feedback and experiences, very helpful!!!

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21 minutes ago, dcobb said:

Couple follow up questions for those who have 8" or 10" DOB's:

  1. The height of the eyepiece seems a bit low to stand and use, or it seems like one would be hunched over if standing.  Do most of you use a chair or stool when using it for long periods?  or have any of you built under mounts to boost it up a bit?  Sorry if this a silly question, again noob here
  2. I believe images from a Newtonian scope are upside down right?  Do any of you use yours for any day time nature observing?  If so is there anything that can be done to correct and upright images?


A 6”f8, 8”f6 and 10”f5 all have a tube about the same length and any of those on a normal Dob mount is not usually comfortable to use when standing for average adults.  I use a drummers stool to sit and comfortably look into the eyepiece.  If you are comfortable then you’ll likely to see more because you’re not thinking about a sore back or cricked neck.   I’ve seen others put their Dob on something solid like breeze blocks so they can stand and observe.

Yes, the regular Newtonian reflector gives a “south up” view, so bad for terrestrial use.  One awkward solution with the tube horizontal - as it would be for land viewing - is to kneel down facing away from the front of the scope.  Look into the eyepiece and the view will look the right way up.  So the tube is pointing under your arm basically. It works but as said it’s awkward.

Ed.

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15 minutes ago, NGC 1502 said:


 

Yes, the regular Newtonian reflector gives a “south up” view, so bad for terrestrial use.  One awkward solution with the tube horizontal - as it would be for land viewing - is to kneel down facing away from the front of the scope.  Look into the eyepiece and the view will look the right way up.  So the tube is pointing under your arm basically. It works but as said it’s awkward.

Ed.

 

3D3FE924-2E66-4B54-81C2-7C2CF3176634.jpeg

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4 hours ago, dcobb said:

The height of the eyepiece seems a bit low to stand and use, or it seems like one would be hunched over if standing.  Do most of you use a chair or stool when using it for long periods?  or have any of you built under mounts to boost it up a bit?  Sorry if this a silly question, again noob here

I use an observing chair (this one... https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astronomy-observing-chairs/berlebach-nix-ii-observers-chair.html), which allows sitting height to be altered quickly and increases comfort for long observing sessions. Before that I used an old guitar stool, which works well too, but wasn’t adjustable. I would think it would be uncomfortable standing and crouching over for too long.

14 hours ago, johninderby said:

The SW classic dobs have been around for ages but the Bresser are much newer and are a better buy as you get a better built and better equipped scope for the money. The focuser alone is worth more than the price difference.

I’ve got the Bresser 10” dob (after recommendations on here) and it’s very well built and smooth to operate. I would expect the 8” and 6” to be similar. 

I carry the dob out onto the patio in two parts (base then tube), which takes minutes only and I can be observing almost as quickly as my “grab and go” setup (Celestron C5 on tripod).

I would highly recommend a dob, as it provides very good light gathering capability for the price and weight, with a very easy to use mount 👍

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Both an 8" Dob and the 6SE are great scopes :)

can't go wrong with either 😉

 

The 6SE will have tracking which makes it easier to share the views of course.

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As most have already agreed, an 8" dob is a great starter scope, my first scope was an 8" newt but I only bought that instead of a dob as the newt was 2nd hand & at a good price. If your wanting your children to also use it & if that includes setting up if your away then I would say a dob will be easier for them to learn as an EQ mount isn't the most intuitive mounts to use to start with & they may lose interest fairly quickly if they struggle to use it.

One thing I always say to anyone buying their first scope when they ask about GOTO systems  (as in punch in the object you want to see into the handset & the GOTO does all the work for you) is to go for manual.
In my opinion, using a GOTO is obviously very easy & gets you to your target straight away BUT it wont teach you how to find your way around the night sky. Doing it manually will give you the satisfaction of getting there yourself & you'll also end up seeing things that you wouldn't necessarily have known were there if you were using a computerised system     

Also its a lot cheaper to buy a manual scope meaning money left over for some good eyepieces as the ones that come with scopes are usually pretty poor quality, (I recommend BST Starguiders, they are really good quality & well priced for mid range EP's), You can also buy a good finder, my favorite being a Telrad & as mentioned above, a good book such as 'Turn Left At Orion'.
I'd also download the free app ' Stellarium' available on PC'c & phones/ tablets, which will show you what's in the sky from where you are at either the correct time or you can use it to plan future viewing sessions by looking at whats coming into view in the coming weeks/ months. Stellarium also has a good feature where you can input any type of eyepiece, match it with your scope & you'll have a good idea how it'll look in real life, so a great way of deciding what size EP's you want.

Those are just my opinions so good luck with what ever you choose to buy.

On a side note, regarding the rep who imo wasn't in the least bit helpful or truthful, it sounds as if he either knew nothing about telescopes or was just wanting you to spend more money (I'd say the latter or even a bit of both), I'd stay well clear of that shop in the future if I were you.

Steve

 

Edited by nephilim
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Hi,

Sorry if I missed it already being mentioned, but a really critical topic is that a newtonian / dob requires collimating.  This can be daunting at the start, but it just requires the right tools and a little patience to learn.  Thankfully there are many great tutorials on-line!

Regarding tracking , there is always the option to purchase a tracking platform down the road - retaining the simplicity of the 'push-to' dob mount, without incurring the fuss of a full Equatorial mount.

Best of luck, 

-Niall

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The only thing I would add to the above comments are that when looking at low objects (Venus), due to obstructions, I sometimes need to raise the base of my Dobsonian a foot or two - Imagine a small child trying to look over a hedge! This then means I stand on my step/stool to do the viewing.

Also, the straight-through finder is very uncomfortable for me (age!) when trying to sight anything more than 60° alt.

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5 hours ago, Spile said:

Also, the straight-through finder is very uncomfortable for me (age!) when trying to sight anything more than 60° alt.

Oh yes, definitely get a right angle finder, otherwise it will be quite uncomfortable 👍

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26 minutes ago, HollyHound said:
27 minutes ago, HollyHound said:

Oh yes, definitely get a right angle finder, otherwise it will be quite uncomfortable 👍

Thinking about either that or a telrad...

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Just now, Spile said:

Thinking about either that or a telrad...

As others I’m sure will agree... you will likely find both useful. TelRad to get into the right area and then optical finder for star hopping.

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