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Buying a better Telescope


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6 hours ago, keora said:

Why a weight limit?

It's because I keep my telescope in a small bedroom. It's awkward to take it down a flight of stairs, through three different doors and out into the back garden. The telescope has a total weight of about 6lbs. It's top heavy, there's no handles, so I've got to rest the tube on my shoulder. And because the eyepiece tube and the red dot finder stick up, at a certain position on the stairs the scope can scrape against the low point of the ceiling. So I'm looking up at the ceiling rather than down at my feet as I descend the stairs.

I'm guessing that anything heavier than twice the current scope will make transporting it too difficult.

I've looked at most of the scopes recommended by forum members. I'm pleased with all the advice I've received, it'll take a while to understand the technical side. Then I might be able to go to the nearest retailer ( Rother Valley Telescopes in Sth Yorkshire) if it reopens next week and actually see real live telescopes.

I've seen a few scopes on the net described as Grab 'n' Go scopes, and I think that's what I'm looking for.

l appreciate all the advice I've been given.

 

RVO is easy to get to from the M1, I bought my heritage 150 from them in lockdown#1 when travel was allowed, and they offered a 'buy online, call us when you are outside and we will put your order in the car boot ' option. 

I'd get in touch with them before making a trip, not just to ensure they are open to visitors, but also to check they actually have display 'scopes to look at ,  I'd  imagine it would be tempting to sell off the 'slightly shop soiled'  stock over the past 12 months  to keep some cash coming in while astro kit has been in such exceptional demand and low supply.

Meanwhile, thinking about the practicalities of carrying it up  & down stairs, my heritage 150  with the tube closed and upright makes a reasonably compact package, with the whole thing held 2 handed by the circular base with my hands at waist level , the top of the 'scope is roughly level with my collarbone (as I said above, I'm about 1.7m /5'7" tall)  The weight is given online (not of me, of the heritage 150 ) as 7.5kg (16.5 lbs)  , while the heritage 130 is 6kg (13.2 lbs)

An st80 itself will weigh between 1 and 1.5kg (2 to 3.3 lbs) and the tube with diagonal etc is almost exactly the same length as the closed up heritage 150 (but obviously the st80  is a far smaller diameter) but you need to add in a sturdy tripod,  the one I use weighs 2kg, with  a pan tilt head that comes in at an extra 1.5kg, for a total of 5kg .

Obviously it is possible to take any 'scope off the mount,  and make two trips to get it outside, but personally I'm lazy and the fewer complications between me and observing the better, I don't  want any faff or extra effort which might make me decide to stay on the sofa instead of getting out observing. I can carry my st80 out and be observing in moments (I roamed the local streets with it over my shoulder at 2am the other week to get a vantage point where i could see the nova ) , the heritage dob is carried out in one go, extended, left to cool for a few minutes then ready to use long before my eyes are dark adapted.

Of the two 'scopes, I'd choose the dob (probably with your portability issues, the 130) because it gathers more light and has a longer focal length than the st80, so you can see fainter things, as well as getting greater magnification with the same eyepieces.

Heather

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Posted (edited)

I think if I have to partly dismantle a telescope to set it up outside, eventually I'll stop using it and go back to binoculars. I actually think Bins are more usable, no setting up needed, a panoramic vision and you can see the stars the right way up. But I'd still like to try with a good scope rather than the beginners one I have.

Canon Image Stabiliser binoculars 10X32.  Celestron Explorascope 114AZ Newtonian Reflector Telescope, Aperture 114mm, Focal Length 1000mm, Focal Ratio f/9, Star Pointer red dot finderscope. Original eyepieces replaced with 32mm and 9 mm skywatcher Plossls.

Edited by keora
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I went a good bit over my original budget to get my Celestron C5 as my first scope. Main advantage being the compact size and ability to store away easily indoors when not being used as well as the portability of a good grab and go. The other (and possibly biggest) advantage being it was one of the few scopes available to buy immediately. I’ve since discovered that astronomy is all about the “and then what” when it comes to equipment- and I thought bicycles were bad with the N+1 rule!

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On 08/04/2021 at 11:50, keora said:

I think that if I get a goto scope it will also need an equatorial mount with batteries and heavy counterbalances and it will probably be too heavy for my requirements. This is why I've not specified that I would like a goto scope.

 

A go to does not NEED to be equatorial.

The Celestron 130SLT has a motorised Alt-Az mount which can also be used as go to - runs off 8 x 1.5V AA batteries with an included battery pack.

The OTA is 130mm aperture, 650m focal length, focal ratio f5., is 25” long weighing ~9lb, mount and tripod come in at 5lb each. 

I found it easy to move, one handed at first.

Aimed primarily at visual astronomers, from experience it requires a 2x Barlow if imaging with a DSLR, but that added weight is highly detrimental :)

It does come with an RDF but finder scopes are easy to find 2nd hand.

I would definitely say that the optics are far superior to the 114 reflector that you have. I’ve had both OTAs.

This is not a recommendation in anyway :)

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9 minutes ago, AllanK said:

I went a good bit over my original budget to get my Celestron C5 as my first scope. Main advantage being the compact size and ability to store away easily indoors when not being used as well as the portability of a good grab and go. The other (and possibly biggest) advantage being it was one of the few scopes available to buy immediately. I’ve since discovered that astronomy is all about the “and then what” when it comes to equipment- and I thought bicycles were bad with the N+1 rule!

Astronomy is NxW for OTAs, NxY if imaging.

Where W >= 2, Y >=4

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45 minutes ago, keora said:

I think if I have to partly dismantle a telescope to set it up outside, eventually I'll stop using it and go back to binoculars. I actually think Bins are more usable, no setting up needed, a panoramic vision and you can see the stars the right way up. But I'd still like to try with a good scope rather than the beginners one I have.

Canon Image Stabiliser binoculars 10X32.  Celestron Explorascope 114AZ Newtonian Reflector Telescope, Aperture 114mm, Focal Length 1000mm, Focal Ratio f/9, Star Pointer red dot finderscope. Original eyepieces replaced with 32mm and 9 mm skywatcher Plossls.

Quite.

The kit you use , whatever it may be, is better than the kit that stays in the spare room because it s too much of a pain to lug outside. I've had far more use out of the cheap, colour aberration laden little ST80 in the couple of months since I bought it second hand , than the 127 mak with its superior optics, streets better mount etc etc. Just because I've noticed a brief unexpected window in the clouds and ducked out for the odd 20 minutes.

Heather

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Given that the problem appears to be finding objects and a RACI finder is wanted for the new scope to help find objects, I would suggest just buying a RACI finder and shoe for the current scope. This will give you the ability to determine whether the RACI helps or whether a go-to system is required before spending hundreds of pounds on a new set up. 

Additionally, I would suggest getting an eyepiece around the 18mm mark for observing DSOs that you do find as there is a big gap between the 9 and 32mm eyepieces already owned. 

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  • 5 months later...

Well, I first enquired in April this year about getting a better telescope. I got plenty of advice from forum members. I decided that a small refractor telescope, 80 or 100mm might be right for me. The trouble is,  5 months later  I can't find a Starwatcher Startravel anywhere.

What are forum members views on how long it will be before things get better?

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On 29/09/2021 at 19:30, keora said:

Well, I first enquired in April this year about getting a better telescope. I got plenty of advice from forum members. I decided that a small refractor telescope, 80 or 100mm might be right for me. The trouble is,  5 months later  I can't find a Starwatcher Startravel anywhere.

What are forum members views on how long it will be before things get better?

I don't think there is any firm information about when or how  much stock will  arrive, if you know for sure exactly what you want you can pre-order, but check the seller's set up, some take the money at the time you place the order, which is annoying if you have to wait months. When some do arrive there will be a rush to grab one, so pre ordering might be wise.

If you want something now, second hand is the way to go. If you can access the buy/swap section on here (and the rules about the number of posts needed to do so have changed recently, so you might need to chat a bit more first !) I can recommend the Bresser 102mm S as a really nice wide field 'scope, and there is one for sale at a good price, and with a suitable mount too https://stargazerslounge.com/topic/381609-bresser-messier-ar-102s600-az4-mount-can-sell-seperate/?tab=comments#comment-4146695

this is it new (but,naturally, out of stock ) https://www.firstlightoptics.com/bresser-telescopes/bresser-messier-ar-102s-600-refractor-ota.html

Heather

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4 hours ago, GalaticBoba said:

Just be aware that it's a GTe, not a GTi. It lacks the 'Freedom Find' feature, which is quite a big part of the AZ GTi 

The 102 OTA is now down to a 15-20 day wait: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/telescopes-in-stock/skywatcher-startravel-120t-ota.html

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By the way, now I read back to the start of the thread , OP mentioned ease of carrying the 'scope downstairs was important. The Bresser has a rather handy robust handle on top of the 'scope rings , opposite the dovetail. This makes the 'scope very easy to carry, I leave mine set up on the photo tripod and alt az head I use , and when I want to take it outside I swing the tube to a vertical position and one tripod leg gets folded in towards the centre, I pick the whole thing up, one hand on the handle, the other on the alt az, and it is easy to get the setup out through doorways and down steps.

Even easier if you split the kit into 'scope and closed down tripod/head , carry one in each hand .

Heather

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Probably not what you're looking for but it's a recommendation - small aperture, short focal length, excellent optics and focuser I don't think I'd ever part with my WO Z61 as it does what I need it to, and it's very compact.

My whole telescope setup (excluding eyepieces) fits into a largish backpack which fits my compactness needs nicely (just wish I could make it lighter). The scope fits onto an AZGTI which I can use in alt-az or EQ mode with an EQ wedge, mounted onto a 2/3ft carbon fibre photo tripod which when closed is approximately the length of an average adult forearm.

Why don't you want GOTO, makes it sooo much easier and the minute control via the phone app is excellent. You can loosen the clutches if you want to move it manually.

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Posted (edited)

Sorry I didn’t reply earlier- I didn’t expect any replies at all. I’ll look at all the recommendations.

Having bought a vary basic scope from Argos, I want to actually handle my next scope before I buy it. So although FLO is very good as a retailer, I would have to make a 500 mile round trip to look at it, which is too far.

 

Edited by keora
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I've read through all the recommendations. They've given me more ideas about what to buy when telescopes are more readily available.

Elp asked why I didn't want a Goto scope. The reasons are that I don't want to use a heavy complicated scope requiring batteries etc. I've also been put off by comments on Goto scopes in an article on the Sky and Telescope site

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-equipment/choosing-astronomy-equipment/hobby-killers-what-telescopes-not-to-buy/

I've found it awkward to manoeuvre a light telescope, stored in a bedroom, down a steep narrow staircase at home. So that's why I want a compact, simple telescope. They are hard to pick out because in general the technical info rarely mentions total weight.

I'm now considering buying a telescope and storing it permanently in a garage in the garden. This saves lugging the beast up and down the stairs. The garage is a basic prefab concrete construction, with a new roof which doesn't leak. But it's uninsulated, cold and a bit damp in winter.

Can you store a telescope in a garage without it getting rusty. What do do forum members think please?

 

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i cant advise on a telescope but as far as storage goes in a damp shed or garage, you could build a good size box with door on it , insulate it well  and jobs done. if u have the room make it big enough for the scope and tripod already set up. even a shelf for your astro gear, even set all on a trolley wheel it in and out. all depends on the room you have available. if money is tight , go to nearest place theyre building houses and recycle whats in the skips. insulation included. hope this helps.

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11 hours ago, keora said:

Elp asked why I didn't want a Goto scope. The reasons are that I don't want to use a heavy complicated scope requiring batteries etc. I've also been put off by comments on Goto scopes in an article on the Sky and Telescope site

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-equipment/choosing-astronomy-equipment/hobby-killers-what-telescopes-not-to-buy/

I've found it awkward to manoeuvre a light telescope, stored in a bedroom, down a steep narrow staircase at home. So that's why I want a compact, simple telescope. They are hard to pick out because in general the technical info rarely mentions total weight.

I have a sw 72ed ds pro on AzGti mount in EQ mode on the star adventurer tripod that comes with the Az gti. I have to carry mine down 2 flights of stairs, as I'm in a first floor flat. The tablet /phone, counterweight, battery all goes in my back pack and carry the scope already set up with one hand. The battery pack I have used before is a talentcell battery pack from amazon that runs the mount perfectly for days on end and around the size of a cigarette packet, so very pocket friendly. I know use a asiair pro with my set up which uses mains. When I was  using my scope in alt az mode before, it's so lightweight and easy to use maybe around 5kg total weight, with the z61scope even lighter or a st80 scope 

Edited by AstroNebulee
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11 hours ago, keora said:

I'm now considering buying a telescope and storing it permanently in a garage in the garden. This saves lugging the beast up and down the stairs. The garage is a basic prefab concrete construction, with a new roof which doesn't leak. But it's uninsulated, cold and a bit damp in winter

My SW 200p dob had been stored in these sort of conditions for 5 years now with no apparent ill affect. Does this change your requirement for a short tube/compact size and weight? If you get away from that, then a dob would match your other requirements superbly- great optics, lots of light grasp, superb on many targets and very straightforward and easy to use, but big and agricultural. 

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Thank you for the comments.

I think the evostar 72 ed ds and other parts may cost more than I want to pay. I'll see if I can get something similar when the shops have a wider range of stocks.

I thought the 200p Dob could be too heavy - the technical details don't mention weight but a user writes that it is heavy. Dobsons puzzle me - I'm not sure if they are placed directly on the ground or on a table or some kind of stand. Our garden is poor for stargazing because of surrounding buildings, street and security lights and worst of all an 18 ft high laurel hedge blocking views of the ecliptic.

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7 minutes ago, keora said:

Dobsons puzzle me - I'm not sure if they are placed directly on the ground or on a table or some kind of stand.

The smallest ones like the SW Heritage dobs are usually used on a stand, but larger ones like the 200p sit on the ground.

 

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43 minutes ago, keora said:

I thought the 200p Dob could be too heavy

To be honest , a 200mm dobsonian is not too heavy , but the size means its bulky . But its a simple two part movement and is ready to go in five minutes ( not including cooling time ) .

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