Jump to content

stargazine_ep46_banner.thumb.jpg.34e6cdd5a0856b006a0b47c6373eb9b1.jpg

Recommended Posts

Hi,

We have a lodge on a lake and want to encourage our grandchildren to enjoy astronomy.

what suggestions for a telescope that ideally I can leave outside throughout the summer so that they can go to whenever rather than having to set up every night.

Reflection Vs Reflaction? GOTO or not?

Budget around £1500

any advise welcome

Edited by gary19
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 27
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

During our outreach sessions at the obsy, by far the easiest option for us is a small refractor on an iPhone controlled Az-Gti mount.  We just pick the whole thing up and walk outside with families an

OK, so are both grandkids likely to be around at the same time ?  I'm thinking about the age difference, the height difference, and the squabbles I'd have has with my sister (7 years my junior) if we

@Tiny Clanger Left field. Out the box. Call it what you will. It is a great idea. Usually when people ask about first scopes, the budget is much smaller and they don't want to risk too much, and the

Posted Images

You'll want to budget for an all weather cover if you're going to leave it outside.  I would just get an 8" Dob and have the kids download SkEye app or similar to their phone(s) to help them learn the night sky in real-time.  If the 8" Dob blows over in a gale, it's not likely to be damaged like a scope up high on a tripod.  That, and they're so bottom heavy they're less likely to get blown over.  With eyepieces that you'd want to bring inside when not in use, you should be able to come in well under £1000.  The problem is lack of astro stock right now.  It's been dribbling in from China, so get on several waiting lists to hedge your bets.

Also, make sure to put some sort of paver blocks under the scope.  The Dob base's MDF board warps when in contact with wet ground or grass.

Edited by Louis D
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

How old are the children? Are they the sort of kids with 5 minutes attention span? Or do they get engrossed for hours?
These is are important considerations when choosing a scope.

If the children are small, the eyepiece position on an 8" dob is going to be mean step stool time with the associated arguments and push off!

I think leaving an MDF/chipboard base dob outside permanently, even in summer, and the UK climate are contra-indicated.

Tell us a bit more about the users, and location and then you can get a more complete recommendation.

A couple of years back I bought a smaller version of this https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-heritage-130p-flextube.html

Easy to store indoors. Good for a grandchild who could put it on a patio table, say yes thats the moon, then get bored.

David.
 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The children are 5 and 10, so 5 year old has the attention span of a grasshopper but the 10 year old I think would be amazed.

We have a summer lodge out in the countryside on the edge of a lake so not much light pollution. A large patio area and lawn. 
I was asking about a scope I could leave outside as we don’t have much storage space inside. Also thought that leaving a scope set up would encourage use.

The 8” dob is huge! Her indoor wouldn’t go for that. Is what I think of a traditional telescope, refraction, going to be of use if it’s more portable I could perhaps store it under the bed?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes dobs, and the base are big.

I think you might be better thinking of a scope that can be packed away into a small space.
Also not necessarily buying the scope and mount together.

I don't know how much you know about scopes, so apologies in advance if I'm pitching at the wrong level.

In terms of a stand, you can go two ways. Tripod or pier.
A tripod is height adjustable for 5yr/10yr/adult height. A pier is fixed height. So for you a tripod is better.

Think about using a traditional long tube refractor scope. Looking near the horizon, the eyepiece is near the tripod height. Then look near overhead and you have to almost lay on the floor.
Children will be wanting to look in all the different places every few minutes so you need something that keeps the eyepiece more or less in the same place.

Given you have a large budget, there is enough in there to buy a good compound scope.
That being something that reflects the light back and forth internally. In effect shortening a long tube.

This is an example of the sort of construction the might suit you.
https://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/sky-watcher-skymax-127-az-gti.html

A height adjustable tripod, compound scope and goto.
I'm not saying this model, or these exact options. But this sort of approach.

A disadvantage of this particular scope type is they have a narrow view. Great for craters on the moon, great for planets.
But they don't have the same performance on large well spread star clusters.
Having said that. No scope does everything.

You can go for bigger optics to gather more light on dim objects. It just means more ££ and more storage space.

You can have a 'basic' goto that relies on you levelling the tripod and pointing the scope in the right direction (north), then entering time and date into the keypad.
Then you can align the scope - check it goes to the correct alignment stars. Then you can actually use the goto.

If you buy a goto lots of extra bells and whistles it can get easier. Plant the tripod and scope, switch on, then a get a cuppa.
The elctronics includes GPS for location and date/time. It sets the mount level, finds alignment stars and tells you when it is ready.
It also talks to your phone or tablet (with sky charts installed) so can search for objects of interest.

With your budget, you can buy quite a well featured package.

Most of my kit is quite old so I'm not up to date with the latest model features and pitfalls. Only generic considerations.
I'm sure some of the 65000 or thereabouts SGL members will be able to contribute.
Actually I'm quite surprised your post has not produced more replies already.

Keep asking the questions and enjoy the journey.

David.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi David,

Thank you for the info, you have pitched it just right. 
I understand what you say about a long refractor eyepiece being all over the place now.

Your suggested compound scope looks like it fits the bill nicely. Kiddies and adults would be able to use it with just a hight adjustment on the tripod.

Let’s go shopping again😀

thanks again for the patience with a newbie 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect the lack of replies is down to you asking about something you  can leave outside permanently ... in (I assume) the English Midlands ? There is no telescope you could safely leave set up outside through the great British Summer short of something like this .

I'm not being unnecessarily negative here, honest.   I've gone geocaching (finding hidden boxes) around Rutland water, Graffham Water Pitsford Water, Welford Reservoir Thornton Reservoir , the lakes of Newstead Abbey, and plenty more bodies of water around the Midlands,  those are just the ones I can think of offhand . It is very common to find the wildlife has made a mess of the geocache containers, even good, theoretically well sealed 'lock and lock' branded boxes can get damp inside when left outdoors for a few weeks , and it is commonplace to find such containers with holes which rodents have chewed in the corners or edges, or where they have gnawed the lid tabs off entirely . Less well sealed , cheap boxes get all manner of creepy crawlies squeezing in through tiny gaps, you evict whole colonies of spiders woodlice or earwigs sometimes ....

Anyway, a telescope is a precision instrument, and leaving it outdoors , even with a rain cover over it, is really not a good idea. Carbon Brush has given you a good start  on some practicalities to consider, I hope you manage to narrow down what will work  for you and come back with more questions !

Heather

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Heather

yes, I appreciate that now. Nothing is going to survive outside. 
I’m now going down the route of something fairly portable to move inside and out. Even considering astronomy binoculars to get the kids started.

I know it’s a very general question but how long does it take to set up a compound scope. I mean bringing it outside from in and there must be some acclimatisation of temperature etc?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi.  I'm chipping in here with what I hope is a helpful comment, so you can see one decent but fairly cheap option. Below is my 6 inch Dobsonian telescope - cost me 200 quid, although the prices have gone up. It collapses down to half its length (shown collapsed), weighs only about 7kg, and will give superb views of loads of stuff.  Wine for scale.

Some caveats - ideally would require adult supervision to avoid sticky finger prints on mirrors, and would occasionally require tweaking to align mirrors (not difficult).  Ideally you'd give it time to cool before use - what I do is take mine out as it is shown above as night falls, just to give it 10-15 minutes to cool.  When you're ready, you loosen two bolts and slide it out.  Easy!

Oh and you'd need to place it on a table or something to be at the right height.

You'll probably be realising that there are several schools of thought regarding what constitutes a good telescope.  This is merely one option, but I think a good one that will give you a fair start for not a huge investment.  I should add that this is not automated or motorised in any way - you have to learn where stuff is and find it yourself.  But that is half the fun.

Pete

Edited to say that this is a slightly larger version of what David suggested.

20210228_085148.thumb.jpg.8c8f841d076eeb35fb5e3c0eb945af95.jpg

Edited by Orange Smartie
Link to post
Share on other sites

And shown extended. You can see that the secondary mirror is exposed. It would also be possible to drop things into the tube, which would be a Bad Thing. Hence some supervision required.  Most people make some kind of light shield to fit inside the open section, which would also help protect the optics. I haven't made mine yet.

Pete

20210228_090913.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Also one other thing to add (sorry, not wanting to monopolise the thread or state the obvious). If you go for binoculars, you'd want a tripod as well or it's very hard to show someone what you were just looking at.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

During our outreach sessions at the obsy, by far the easiest option for us is a small refractor on an iPhone controlled Az-Gti mount.  We just pick the whole thing up and walk outside with families and set it up in minutes.  It requires a 12V supply, either mains or battery.  I use a cordless drill battery (USB output) through a 5V to 12V converter lead.  It will last many evenings between charges.  I personally wouldn't use the MAK we also have because its a bit like looking down a tunnel (narrow field) and focussing a MAK is not for little hands.  Your budget is more than enough to cover this even with an upgraded tripod.  This package is perfect for the children (supervised). https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/sky-watcher-startravel-102-az-gte.html

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, Owmuchonomy said:

During our outreach sessions at the obsy, by far the easiest option for us is a small refractor on an iPhone controlled Az-Gti mount.  We just pick the whole thing up and walk outside with families and set it up in minutes.  It requires a 12V supply, either mains or battery.  I use a cordless drill battery (USB output) through a 5V to 12V converter lead.  It will last many evenings between charges.  I personally wouldn't use the MAK we also have because its a bit like looking down a tunnel (narrow field) and focussing a MAK is not for little hands.  Your budget is more than enough to cover this even with an upgraded tripod.  This package is perfect for the children (supervised). https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/sky-watcher-startravel-102-az-gte.html

Absolutely second this opinion - as a Dad of teenagers I can say that anything phone controlled is going to hold their attention! This can be run from any android or iPhone/iPad and what’s more it works. 
A short tube refractor like this has a number of advantages - especially when teamed with an easy GoTo mount.  The main one being that you can see a wider section of sky to begin with so it’s easier to find things which is a big issue when starting to use a telescope - failure can be very off putting.  Also portability means that this could go on camping trips etc.  
 

I use mine with a zoom eyepiece so you can locate an object at its widest session following a GoTo move then pile on magnification to get the best view.  
 

The set-up described here would be very capable - lucky children!  

Whatever you end up with, getting them out under clear skies will be a great thing to do for them. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Excellent contributions from the above. I hope the number of options is helping you more than confusing.

My example of a long tube refractor was to show an extreme.
However, when your budget extends to buying 'decent glass' you can get a short tube refractor that won't have 'rainbows' on the edge of the moon. Chromatic aberration is the proper name.
When I suggest spending ££ gives no chromatic aberration, I mean so little you won't notice.
A short refractor has the benefit that the eyepiece doesn't move around too much when you have a tripod mount.
An 80mm short tube refractor can cost £100 to more than £1000. Better focusser and accessories on the expensive stuff. But better glass is the big factor in the cost.
As with all things, you don't get a linear improvement in performance for £ spent. Somewhere between you find your 'good enough' point.

A good quality short tube refractor will allow you to see the wider star clusters, etc. Better than the compound scope I mentioned in an earlier post.
However, it lacks the light gathering of a bigger scope. In round figures a scope with 80mm glass gathers 1/4 the light of 160mm glass.
But do your intended users have the patience to hunt down faint targets? Or is it the 'quick fix'?
The light gathering  equation does get a bit complicated a newtonian reflector or compound scope losing some gathering due to secondary mirror obstruction.
A lesser effect is light lost on every reflection.
For your purposes, just think of the area of a circle for light gather. It is near enough.

Going back to a compound scope. Cool down time depends on the temperature difference indoors to outdoors.
If your home is a balmy 25C and it is -5C outside, it takes a long time. If in summer your home is at 25C, but outside is 15C, much less time.
Then consider the effect on the view. A 'still cooling' scope won't give pin sharp stars at really high magnification. But it will usually deliver acceptable views at moderate magnification.
Quite often, early evening, the air is quite turbulent as roads, buildings, etc heated in the day lose their heat by convection. This can restrict magnification. By midnight things are stable.

Another factor affecting cooling time is scope size.
Taking extremes. You can see that a 10" scope has 4x the area of glass of a 5". You might expect 4x the mass of glass.
However, larger mirrors/lenses are also thicker. Which means they have more than 4x the mass to cool.
Further, glass is a very poor conductor of heat, so a thick lens/mirror......
In practice, a scope does work immediately, but may take an hour to give best performance.
Some larger compound scopes have a fan, or fans, to assist cool down.

But you can help by putting the scope outside before using it. Provided you are somewhere it won't wander off😁

More to think about.

David.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

A couple of questions-

The dob like Nebula suggests - does that just sit on a table top?

David, I’m intrigued by  ‘decent glass’ smal tube refractor. Do you mean something like this, (I just googled small tube refractor) - https://www.harrisontelescopes.co.uk/acatalog/vixen-fluorite-55ss.html?gclid=CjwKCAiAm-2BBhANEiwAe7eyFIHLwqlVdxhePTg-i7kNONkJtJW1zaqYyZkZZAUM_FIJJFP7-b-A5xoCbQEQAvD_BwE

Any other examples? Or specs that  I can look for e.g. lens size, focal length, f ?

appreciate every bodies advice

Link to post
Share on other sites

The little dobs like the heritage 130 or 150 only stand about 2 feet tall, so you do need to stand them on something. I have a little triangular table my son made, but a patio table would be fine I think.

I would stress that buying a dobsonian requires you to learn the sky. As others have suggested, a goto mount may be preferred, but it does depend on individual preference I think. I've only ever used the dobsonian, so my opinion is based solely on that.

Pete

Link to post
Share on other sites

So...if I went for a small tube refractor like the Vixen or this - https://uk.telescope.com/Telescopes/Refractor-Telescopes/Refractor-Telescopes-for-Astrophotography/Orion-ED80T-CF-Triplet-Apochromatic-Refractor-Telescope/pc/1306/c/1314/sc/1342/p/109925.uts?refineByCategoryId=1342#tabs

I’ll need an eyepiece and a sturdy tripod? 
regarding the tripod/mount, start off with a manual one and hence learn about the sky and then upgrade to GOTO or go straight for  GOTO?

what eyepieces?

sorry for all the questions but at least defining what to go for now.

Edited by gary19
Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, so are both grandkids likely to be around at the same time ?  I'm thinking about the age difference, the height difference, and the squabbles I'd have has with my sister (7 years my junior) if we had been obliged to share a 'scope  ... sometimes sharing a house was bad enough ...

A bit of a left field suggestion ... two 'scopes !

For the little 'un, a relatively cheap, small, lightweight short tube wide field refractor on a tripod which can be adjusted down to a suitable height , possibly a photo tripod rather than an astro one, many photo tripods close down shorter. Such a 'scope may come with a prism not a star diagonal, not ideal for astronomy, but would extend the use into bird watching, laughing at windsurfers falling over etc in the daytime You wouldn't feel it a total disaster if jammy fingers got on the front lens or the trippod got used to build a tent for the teddy bears ...

For the older child (and the younger one when they grow into it,  and the adults who will need to be involved at least at the start to set it up, because t will be more complicated ) a more expensive , substantial  and precision instrument .

I love my heritage dob, and my 127 mak, but for under 14's left to their own devices I don't think either would be a good option, for similar reasons to those already ably given above.

Heather

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

@Tiny Clanger Left field. Out the box. Call it what you will. It is a great idea.
Usually when people ask about first scopes, the budget is much smaller and they don't want to risk too much, and they want one scope.
But this time....

For the younger.
Take a look here at small dobs....      https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes.html
For a small refractor consider Startravel 80, either table top, or AZ3 mount..... https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel.html
The ST80 is good for all round use. Land or sky. I used to own the slightly larger ST102 with alt-az mount and tripod. The performance for ££ spent was very good.
The dobs are 'sky only' scopes.

For the older child, and the adults. Certainly the Vixen scope you found will be a lifetime keeper. Though there are many others.
Take a glance here for the (well thought of Skywatcher 80mm ED range......https://www.firstlightoptics.com/pro-series.html

As for the tripod and mount. The 'EQ' mount shown on the page above is necessary for astrophotography.
An 'EQ' mount involves a bit of effort with the counterweight and positioning the scope to obtain balance
But for visual you don't need it to be rock steady so can drop a size/robustness on the mount..
Also for visual you can use an alt-az mount. This is far more intuitive for a new user.

However, a tripod does still need to be rigid. Consider that a 0.5 degree swing takes you from one side of the full moon to the other.
The normal everyday camera tripods are like jelly compared to the rigidy of astronomy tripods.
If you spend on professional photo tripods, that is a different thing altogether.

If you keep the scope weight down, you can use something like this...https://www.firstlightoptics.com/computerised-goto-astronomy-mounts/sky-watcher-az-gti-wifi-alt-az-mount-tripod.html
This mount is quoted for loads to 4Kg, so appears to the on the limit for an ED80. I use a variant of this (the Solarquest) for my rather heavy solar scope setup and it runs fine.
Comments from other users of this mount would be useful.

I won't say more on mounts at present as comments from users of some of the recently introduced goto mounts would be good.

Hope this is useful.

David.

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is 10 minute video I use when recommending folk in the same place as you. It is well presented, covers all the essential information and gives great unbiased advice (in my opinion) ...

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sorry for all the meandering but it’s been a journey to get to what I think I want. Started out as what to get for kids and ends up what to get for adults but with kids in mind.

David, your suggested short tube refractor is the way to go for me, (I think), as it is light and portable. But as I’ll never be photographing I’ll be looking for an equally portable tripod/mount. I’ve used photographic tripods for years and understand the need for rigidity but in the photographic world you could also keep things light with carbon fibre etc.

Thinking of getting this - https://uk.telescope.com/Telescopes/Refractor-Telescopes/Refractor-Telescopes-for-Astrophotography/Orion-ED80T-CF-Triplet-Apochromatic-Refractor-Telescope/pc/1306/c/1314/sc/1342/p/109925.uts?refineByCategoryId=1342

with perhaps this mount/tripod - https://uk.telescope.com/Telescopes/Orion-StarSeeker-IV-GoTo-Altazimuth-Mount-and-Tripod/rc/1306/p/132351.uts

Any other suggestions welcome.

I appreciate all the info from you all. 
I still need info on eyepieces. Should I now start another thread on this?

Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, so the 2 scope idea seems more popular than I anticipated ...😀

I'm not qualified to speak on the suitability of expensive refractors or go to mounts, I'm strictly a low budget , simple 'scope fan.

But, last week I bought a second hand Orion ST80 , which is effectively the same as the skywatcher one (they all come out of the same factory) to dabble my toes cheaply in the small, lightweight , packable, fast set up refractor world. And it is a lot of fun. Wide field rather than high magnification, so the Moon doesn't fill the view , but the low magnification makes it easy to aim at a target , and very forgiving of the mount.

The short 80 is also very light weight . I have mine on a manfrotto 190 tripod , which is very sturdy and can go to adult eye height, no problem, and the combination works well. I have tried the 'scope on my manfrotto travel tripod, which is comparatively very light weight and flimsy, with a weight carrying capacity of 3kg max , It trembles a bit when the 'scope is moved, but settles after a few seconds . Remember this is a weedy lightweight tripod used fully extended for adult use. I bet if I closed the lowest thinnest leg section(s) , lowered the centre column , and tried kneeling at 5/6/7 year old height (which I'm not going to try , the grass is too muddy and my patio is gravel ... )it would be plenty solid enough. A photo tripod will pack away small,  and the st80 is about 40cm long and 12 cm diameter, f you pull the dew shield and diagonal off, it all fits easily in a 9l 'really useful' box (altho' I'd want to add some sort of cap on the front to keep the lens from getting scratched )

As far as I know, the short tube 80s commonly have photo tripod sockets as well as dovetails fro astro mounts. So, I reckon a little refractor on a middling sort of photo tripod would be great for your little one, make it special with a few stickers on the dew shield at the front of whatever the current rage is and they will think it superior to the ;big kid's toy; one !

Don't forget to stress the 'don't EVER point the 'scope at the Sun message though, or maybe keep the eyepieces/diagonal out of reach in the daytime unless supervised ...

Heather

Edited by Tiny Clanger
flims ? FLIMSY ! doh !
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, gary19 said:

Sorry for all the meandering but it’s been a journey to get to what I think I want. Started out as what to get for kids and ends up what to get for adults but with kids in mind.

David, your suggested short tube refractor is the way to go for me, (I think), as it is light and portable. But as I’ll never be photographing I’ll be looking for an equally portable tripod/mount. I’ve used photographic tripods for years and understand the need for rigidity but in the photographic world you could also keep things light with carbon fibre etc.

Thinking of getting this - https://uk.telescope.com/Telescopes/Refractor-Telescopes/Refractor-Telescopes-for-Astrophotography/Orion-ED80T-CF-Triplet-Apochromatic-Refractor-Telescope/pc/1306/c/1314/sc/1342/p/109925.uts?refineByCategoryId=1342

with perhaps this mount/tripod - https://uk.telescope.com/Telescopes/Orion-StarSeeker-IV-GoTo-Altazimuth-Mount-and-Tripod/rc/1306/p/132351.uts

Any other suggestions welcome.

I appreciate all the info from you all. 
I still need info on eyepieces. Should I now start another thread on this?

Ah, if you know photo triopds, it may be relevant to mention that my 7kg + maksotov telescope and mount combo is very comfortable on my manfrotto 55 tripod . Many astro mounts (but by no means all) use the 3/8" photo tripod base to photo head standard screw fitting.

Eyepieces : personaly I'd decide on the telescopes first, some 'scopes are more forgiving to eyepieces than others. If you go down the little 'frac for the little 'un route, it will probably come with a couple of eyepieces which will do fine in it .

Heather

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.