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Beginner Telescope Confusion


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Hiya,

I'm looking a bit of advice / opinions on a telescopes for a beginner, but useful, telescope. 

 

I've gone through tonnes websites and now seem to find my self going round in circles.......

I've read that an 8inch dobsonian type will do pretty much everything I want without breaking the bank too much / me outgrowing it very quickly. 

Main issue is that I'd like to be able to take imagery, whether thats with phone or camera to start I don't know. I understand tracking can be easier with something motorised rather than by hand..... 

Budget wise, I don't want to spend a small fortune, or, get something I'll need to replace too soon. I'm based South in Manchester, UK, not sure if that has any bearing on choices. 

It probably needs to be something with low maintenance requirements too. 

My budget is low at around £300...... Not my decision on this one 😂

 

Cheers in advance 

Edited by Humb1e
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With a budget of £300 and an interest in imagery you are going to have to make some serious compromises.  £300 may not even buy you a new 8" Dobsonian these days.  The Dobsonian design is not intended for imaging. Yes, some people have taken images with Dobs, but some people have also rowed across the Channel.

If you are interested in imaging, getting the 'right kit' could easily cost you £1500 or more.  Planetary imaging requires quite different kit, but not necessarily any cheaper.  I recommend you buy the book "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards, available from forum sponsor FLO, £20 and a few hours reading could save you disappointment and a lot of wasted time and money.

Rather than worrying about 'replacing soon' you should note that many amateur astronomers have several scopes and mounts, each suoitable for a different task.  I suggest you buy either a basic manual scope to get you into visual astronomy, try hanging a camera on it and see what happens 😕, OR get a basic tracking mount and mount your camera & camera lens directly on it for widefield images.

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1 hour ago, Humb1e said:

Hiya,

I'm looking a bit of advice / opinions on a telescopes for a beginner, but useful, telescope. 

 

I've gone through tonnes websites and now seem to find my self going round in circles.......

I've read that an 8inch dobsonian type will do pretty much everything I want without breaking the bank too much / me outgrowing it very quickly. 

Main issue is that I'd like to be able to take imagery, whether thats with phone or camera to start I don't know. I understand tracking can be easier with something motorised rather than by hand..... 

Budget wise, I don't want to spend a small fortune, or, get something I'll need to replace too soon. I'm based South in Manchester, UK, not sure if that has any bearing on choices. 

It probably needs to be something with low maintenance requirements too. 

My budget is low at around £300...... Not my decision on this one 😂

 

Cheers in advance 

A dob is the simplest, cheapest way to get a decent aperture telescope, last year I spent £200 (at current prices , add £50 to that) on a Skywatcher 150 heritage  dob, my first 'proper' 'scope and it is a great all round tool, compact, portable, easily stored , lots of easy cheap simple DIY upgrades (just search for 'heritage 150' on here,  and you'll find plenty of info)

It's not perfect by any means, but for the price I'm confident you couldn't beat it. Other 'scopes on tripods and mounts in this price range typically economise on the non-glamorous bit under the telescope, so you might get  a decent 'OTA' (optical tube assembly, the bit you look through) but on a wobbly jerky rubbish platform which you will want to upgrade asap. The dobs get around that with their simple, sturdy , wood/mdf bases.

However ... dob.s are not ideal for photography. Snaps of the Moon, yep, much more than that and to do it properly you need a motorised tracking mount, which on its own , no telescope involved, would already be many times your budget. That small fortune you don't want to spend would  probably not be enough  , by my standards good astrophoto kit costs a big fortune, which is why I stick to observing . The cheapest way in would be a DSLR and suitable photo lens on a small battery powered tracker like a star adventurer https://www.firstlightoptics.com/star-tracker-astronomy-mounts/skywatcher-star-adventurer.html

which alone would be £280, then a suitable tripod , say  £70 , a DSLR & lens , and probably an intervalometer... you could pick up second hand gear , but I doubt even second hand a DSLR based setup would come in at less than £600 .

Read a few threads about kit choices in the photo section on here , and check the prices of what is suggested , it is a very effective form of aversion therapy !

I'm not trying to put you off, honest, I just think your budget will not get you a photographic set up that will give you anything but frustration and disappointment . However, £300 could give you a chance to observe for yourself some fantastic sights , my little dob, from my suburban back garden , has shown me detail on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, the (no detail) sight of Uranus and Vesta, not to mention many star clusters, galaxies , and nebulae. If you buy  a basic decent 'scope, put the time in to find how to use it and to see through it (not as easy as you'd imagine ! ) some fantastic sights are there waiting for you.

Heather

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Thank you both for your replies. I think my expectations are too high and budget too low. 

Ill focus on a dob as mentioned and try and learn to take photos of the moon using that. Then I can move on from there once I'm a bit more clued up and know where I want to focus going forward. Thank you for your candour, it's much appreciated!

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Best course of action would be to get decent 6" dob for your budget.

I'm tempted to say: "forget photography" - but no, let's not do that.

If you have DSLR or even compact camera and a bit of DIY skill - you can get your self started in AP with very low budget.

There is something called Barn Door tracker - that is easy to make (couple pieces of plywood, hinge, screws and a DC motor). That will track the sky good enough to start you in long exposure imaging with camera and lens.

Start there - learn stacking and processing part - and if you find that you've been bitten by AP bug - then look into further spending.

https://nightskypix.com/how-to-build-a-barn-door-tracker/

https://www.instructables.com/Build-a-Motorized-Barn-Door-Tracker/

https://www.diyphotography.net/how-to-make-a-30-diy-star-tracker-for-astrophotography/

 

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A 130mm to 150mm Newtonian or Newtonian-Dobson will be the best bang per pound, aperture-wise.  The more aperture, the brighter an object, and the greater the resolution(or detail).  But as with all things in life, there's a caveat: a Newtonian must be collimated regularly, on occasion, in order to maintain sharp images at the eyepiece, particularly at the higher powers where the accuracy of the collimation becomes critical.

Refractors require virtually no collimation, no maintenance, but the aperture decreases per pound spent.  For example, with the price paid for a 150mm Newtonian, you might get a 102mm or 80mm refractor, an achromat.

Your budget will not accommodate a Schmidt-Cassegrain of any size, yet the only Maksutov with a mount may be limited up to 90mm only.

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1 hour ago, Alan64 said:

A 130mm to 150mm Newtonian or Newtonian-Dobson will be the best bang per pound, aperture-wise.  The more aperture, the brighter an object, and the greater the resolution(or detail).  But as with all things in life, there's a caveat: a Newtonian must be collimated regularly, on occasion, in order to maintain sharp images at the eyepiece, particularly at the higher powers where the accuracy of the collimation becomes critical.

Refractors require virtually no collimation, no maintenance, but the aperture decreases per pound spent.  For example, with the price paid for a 150mm Newtonian, you might get a 102mm or 80mm refractor, an achromat.

Your budget will not accommodate a Schmidt-Cassegrain of any size, yet the only Maksutov with a mount may be limited up to 90mm only.

I had originally considered a refractor off the back of little maintenance. But the results achieved weren't really what could be had elsewhere for the money. I think Newtonian is the way, even with collimation. Cheers!

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1 hour ago, vlaiv said:

Best course of action would be to get decent 6" dob for your budget.

I'm tempted to say: "forget photography" - but no, let's not do that.

If you have DSLR or even compact camera and a bit of DIY skill - you can get your self started in AP with very low budget.

There is something called Barn Door tracker - that is easy to make (couple pieces of plywood, hinge, screws and a DC motor). That will track the sky good enough to start you in long exposure imaging with camera and lens.

Start there - learn stacking and processing part - and if you find that you've been bitten by AP bug - then look into further spending.

https://nightskypix.com/how-to-build-a-barn-door-tracker/

https://www.instructables.com/Build-a-Motorized-Barn-Door-Tracker/

https://www.diyphotography.net/how-to-make-a-30-diy-star-tracker-for-astrophotography/

 

That looks good, and like it may be a bit of fun too. I shall look further in to these, thank you!

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Will need compromises, or sometimes called a heavy dose of reality. For imaging of almost all varieties you will need a motor driven mount, and for the best described as classic DSO imaging that also means a reasonable equitorial mount. They do not have to be the largest construction known to mankind which is often implied.

A Dobsonian was and to a great extent is a visual only setup. So to make your life easy accept that.  Another factor is they seem to need each user to learn how to use them. Basically if you find a target then say "Have a look at this" the chances are that the scope will move fractionally and so the target is no longer in view.

A small table top reflector, often also termed a "dobsonian" will often be fast, and to a fair extent "fast" is best avoided. They need good, maybe very good eyepieces, and they need a greater amount of simple maintenance time. Basically collimation moves more or is more critical. And a table top scope needs (well) a table. So suddenly not so small.

A refractor will be smaller, they need better glass and they have 4 surfaces to be accurately ground. However they are very often a lot easier to use. As to size, I suggest you do not fall into the idea that a scope must be the biggest. I have had a 70mm refractor now for just on or over 20 years. Strangely still my most used scope. So far I have little reason for even an 8" Newtonian, never mind anything bigger.

Bessier or ES do an 80mm f/8 achro refractor. Think it is called "Firstlight". At f/8 the CA should be minimal and the size is a good general start.

On another site as someone points out it comes on a manual Nano mount, however later down the line you could buy a Skywatcher Az GTi mount, put the scope on that and you have a small goto. The scope is also ideal for adding a solar filter to and doing solar observing, would be white light only. Unsure of the real capabilities of the Az GTi for imaging. Seems to fall into the criteria of it can operate equitorially, would need other bits that cost, and was never really intended for imaging by Skywatcher. Your decision if you go that far. I would suggest that you consider visual and imaging as 2 separate occupations.

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On 09/06/2021 at 11:34, Cosmic Geoff said:

I recommend you buy the book "Making Every Photon Count" by Steve Richards, available from forum sponsor FLO, £20 and a few hours reading could save you disappointment and a lot of wasted time and money.

 

I just saw a 3rd edition listed in Sale/swap

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