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New telescope help please.....Crazy complex!


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Hello everyone!

 

First time poster here, so please go easy!  Am looking to purchase my first telescope, so I am a complete beginner and although there are loads of similar posts, all are slightly different and it's quite confusing!  Although I did study Astronomy and Astrophysics as part of my first degree (although that mainly concerned the calculation of the speed and mass of galaxies and such like!), but we did have access to the university's telescopes which included their 37" SCT!  Link here if you are interested:  

 

http://observatory.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/files/2018/06/JGT_manual.pdf

 

I would therefore consider myself very technically minded and certainly like a challenge.  I am always go big or go home and that will certainly apply to me taking up this awesome hobby (although I value your expert advice).  I am fascinated with space and spend hours reading science journals and books. 

 

So for my first foray into the hobby I would like to get proficient in visual astronomy - no astrophotography at all.  But I don't want to start small, I want to start large(ish)!  But I don't want to go bigger than necessary considering my sky conditions.  So:

 

  • My skies are bortle 5 - although it's fairly decent to the North, East and South - not as good to the west due to a town;
  • I do have nearby access to Bortle 4 and 3 and my wife's parents live in a Bortle 3, which is a three hour drive away.  There is a local club about 5 miles away in Bortle 4/5.  However, I will not get into this if I can't spend the majority of my time at my home.  So consider 90% of my time will be in my own garden.  So I do not need the scope to be particularly easy to transport.  I am a fit and relatively strong individual anyway.  I am 6'1";
  • I don't want to limit my viewing to one object or another, although my interest is definitely more on the DSO rather than planets.  So my interest probably in this order: Galaxies, nebulae (not so much planetary), globular clusters, planets, sun;
  • I'm not settled on a budget yet....depends if stretching it gets me some tangible benefits.....perhaps £5,000 for scope + mount - or lower!;
  • I'd like a premium quality scope;
  • I know that one scope doesn't do everything and that a good visual scope will not make a good astrophotography scope, but I would like the OTA to be capable of at least getting me into astrophotography at later date (subject to purchasing a relevant mount and other goodies) as I believe that is where I will go (although this scope is purely for visual for the purpose of this post as I may just not use it enough and feel the expense of moving into astrophotography is not worth it);
  • I think that star hopping and the hunt for DSOs will be part of the fun - so not looking for GEM or tracking - unless you feel I will struggle to spot enough stars and not end of finding anything.  I have purchased Turn Left at Orion and a variety of other books.

 

So having searched this site I believe what would be best would be a dobsonian.  I want stunning views so I was thinking a 12 inch or even 14 inch.  But only if I am going to get a tangible benefit considering my Bortle 5 skies (although I may fall in love with the hobby and travel to better sites - my cousin is also into astronomy and has a scope and has suggested the Northumberland dark sky park which is close to him - largest gold rated dark star park in Europe).

 

So I was thinking of the Orion Optics UK CT14 (or the CT12) with a dobsonian mount.  This is an f4.6 carbon fibre tube with 1/10 pv mirror.  This is a local company (I am based in the UK) and like the idea of using British, rather than SE Asia.

 

https://www.orionoptics.co.uk/our-telescopes/ct-series/

 

  • Would this be a great beginner dobsonian?  Any draw backs?  Any better alternatives?
  • What benefits would a 14 inch have over a 12 inch in Bortle 5?  The 14" is considerably more expensive;
  • Could this be used for astrophotography with a suitable mount?
  • The 12 inch weighs 15kg and the 14 inch 29kg - when upgrading to a GEM at a later date for photography, what would be suitable - CEM120 or EQ8 enough? - only want to know if at some point it can start me off in photography - no intention of doing so for 12-36 months;
  • If I don't go dobsonian, what else is out there for visual?  I'm impressed with the large SCTs - 11HD edge for example.  Would this be too complex to start with?  Poor choice for DSO's / photography?

Will have loads more queries and can provide any more info I may have missed......just want to make sure I am on the right track and start planning that first scope.

 

Thanks everyone!  and great to meet you all!

 

Nic 

 

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With visual and Bortle 5 skies you are probably going to find galaxies etc a disappointment.

Where I live is nominally Bortle 6 and looking at galaxies with an 8" SCT is mostly a waste of time.  But I got nice results with a much smaller 102mm f5 refractor + ASI224MC camera +GoTo mount.

With galaxies, dark skies rule.

For deep space imaging, most people find it far easier to begin with a small refractor rather than a large SCT etc.

Trying to make one scope suit everything is a really bad idea.  With a £5000 budget you can afford a scope and mount for each task (within reason).

I suggest that you try, borrow or hire a scope before spending thousands of pounds on a large Dob.

Edited by Cosmic Geoff
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Hello Astro_Nic and welcome to the site. I don't know if you have found it yet, but there is a forum on here that is Observing - Deep sky. It would probably be very worthwhile having a good look around in there to see what people are using and what can be achieved. It's an interesting hobby this, with all wanting to look at something and achieved by taking different paths to get there. So if I can suggest, take your time and have a good look around and plan your route, I find that part of the fun anyway. Personally, I have started down the visual planetary and EAA for DSO road. 

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Thanks everyone.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy!

Now thinking I should probably just focus on visual as that will get me more excited….I can get another scope if I get the imaging bug!

so would you go large light bucket dob? 14 or 16 inch? Or would you go 11 inch SCT?

how would both differ for say planets and for DSOs?

is it worth it for the premium of a UK carbon Newtonian over say a skywatcher version?

thanks!

nic

ps anyone know n the Midlands? Am in burton on trent.  Cheers

 

 

 

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Hi Nic, I've got a David Lukehurst dobsonian you could have a go with of you like - might help you decide. I'm about an hour from Burton on Trent. Bortle 5 here too. Message me if you're interested.

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3 hours ago, Astro_Nic said:

Thanks everyone.  I knew this wasn’t going to be easy!

Now thinking I should probably just focus on visual as that will get me more excited….I can get another scope if I get the imaging bug!

so would you go large light bucket dob? 14 or 16 inch? Or would you go 11 inch SCT?

how would both differ for say planets and for DSOs?

is it worth it for the premium of a UK carbon Newtonian over say a skywatcher version?

thanks!

nic

ps anyone know n the Midlands? Am in burton on trent.  Cheers

 

 

 

Your budget is enough that you can easily set some of it aside to get into imaging or buy accessories later on while still being able to afford a very decent scope to get you going.

The nature of an SCT means that they're inevitably much more prone to dew than a Newtonian design and they take a lot longer to cool which isn't ideal in this country when you might be wanting to do a quick bit of observing during a break in the clouds. You can also get Newtonians with smaller secondary mirrors than those in an equivalent SCT and keeping the secondary obstruction to a minimum is apparently better for planetary observing and gives a better image when seeing isn't great.

For imaging, the last thing you want is a big telescope because it's hard enough to get it right with a small one. Even a 60mm refractor is capable of taking breathtaking images in the hands of the right user, and I've often seen it said that the most common regret for beginners getting into astrophotography is that they bought a scope that was too big.

As an example, check out this shot of the California Nebula taken with a William Optics Zenithstar 61mm refractor

Here's a pretty good image of the Horsehead Nebula in H-alpha captured with a Takahashi 60mm refractor

Neither shot was taken by me unfortunately, but they illustrate what is possible with even the smallest telescopes, especially if you've invested in a quality mount and autoguider.

Edited by Andrew_B
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Hi Astro_Nic, 

  I can only speak from my own experiences but it should hopefully be useful nonetheless. My first serious scope was an 8 inch newtonian on an eq mount (fully manual) back when I was in my late teens. At that time I was living in the centre of Derby and it was before things like the stellarium app etc. were available.

 Maybe it was my age at the time but I found the whole deep sky thing pretty difficult under the light polluted skies and after a few years the scope was seldom used and then sold. Now, 15 or so years later I find myself under bortle 4/5 skies and I've now owned a 10" dob (goto) for just over a year and I tell you what, I wish I'd purchased a dobsonian all those years ago (even a non- goto) as it's the cheapest way to get a large aperture and it's just so simple to use.   If you are only interested in visual observing and if deep sky is your primary interest, then I think it's the way to go (and by the way, it still gives me stunning views of the moon and planets when conditions allow). 

 What I like about it is that as mine is a truss tube, it's easy to move in and out of the garage and take out in the car if I want to go somewhere darker( that's why I chose the 10 inch over the 12 in the end- I would have loved the 12 but I did have to consider moving it about).   You literally plonk it down on the ground and away you go- perfect for those short breaks in the clouds! ( ok there's collimation to consider and star alignment with the goto but that's nothing too bad once you get the hang of it). I don't think goto is essential- it's a nice to have but star hopping is certainly more rewarding, I think if anything it's the tracking aspect I like the most.

But goto or not, owning a dob has really opened up the hobby for me and ultimately, a telescope that is easier to use is the one you will use more often, that much I do know.

Clear skies,

Rob.

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11 hours ago, Andrew_B said:

The nature of an SCT means that they're inevitably much more prone to dew than a Newtonian design

True, but a dew shield should be considered an integral part of a SCT, just as it is on a refractor. Manufacturers don't like to include a dew shield on their SCTs as it makes them look big and clumsy in the promotional photos. 🙁

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3 hours ago, Cosmic Geoff said:

True, but a dew shield should be considered an integral part of a SCT, just as it is on a refractor. Manufacturers don't like to include a dew shield on their SCTs as it makes them look big and clumsy in the promotional photos. 🙁

Very true. I was just looking at some of the Celestron models and I couldn't see any mention of a dew shield being included, which seems a bit much given how essential they are.

A refractor that didn't have a dew shield as standard would be quite an oddity.

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My 2 pence worth, I know you have a decent budget, but I'd be looking at the used market first for a large dob as you seem most interested in visual at the moment

The used market contains many, and the bigger ones are generally fairly reasonable in regards to price as the sheer size puts people off, my 8 inch reflector makes non astronomers gasp at the size

Plenty of examples on the for sale board here and also https://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.php?typechoice[]=Telescope-Reflector&titlechoice[]=For+Sale&minprice=&maxprice=

50cm mirror but half you budget - https://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.php?view=176246

12 inch mirror https://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/propview.php?view=175571

The list goes on

Save some room in your budget for some nice eyepieces, then with a cheap large dob as your first purchase you'll have money to spare for a nice mount, apochromat and relevant cameras and electronics later down the line if you decide to go that route

I wouldn't recommend trying to mount a massive reflector on a GEM though, it's possible but because of sheer surface area it's going to act like a sail and make things move around, most people into astrophotography seem to use small expensive refractors or cassegrains depending on their intended targets

 

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So it looks like I might ditch imaging with this first scope - seems to be that a large scope will just be too difficult.....so maybe a 6 inch refractor down the line  , so I really want a light bucket just to survey the heavens!  Looks like the options are an 11 inch SCT - I like it's compact form, I also like the goto functionality - not because I don't want to star hop but because I am worried I won't see enough stars to find anything in my Bortle 5 skies - bordering 6.  Or a 14 inch dob - like the extra  aperture, smaller obstruction and better at DSOs which I am interested in - although I do want to see some great planetary views, especially when friends and family visit - they will hardly be impressed with the £4k I've spent to see a faint smudge!  The 14 inch size doesn't bother me at all.  Tempted by 16 inch - it will only ever be moved about 20 feet.

Thanks guys!

Edited by Cornelius Varley
formatting corrected for colour
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I think a smaller Dob will be easier to use and transport.  Even my 8" one is an effort to get out and shift and set-up.  However, when I've needed to it and it's base (don't forget you also have to transport the base) fit nicely across the back seat and into the boot of my Estate car.   Although I note the OP is technically knowledgeable, what it took a while to dawn on me was that it was actually the eye piece that was the major part of the magnification issue.  Yes, the bigger mirror does equal more light received and therefore more distant objects visible and yes it does mean that you will be able to go a bit bigger on magnification, but I was surprised at how much I could actually see through a 8" Dob, and given its relative ease of movement and setup vs. any other alternatives I would choose an 8" Dobsonian again over any other options just because I know that I can handle the movement of said telescope, by myself and relatively quickly and it is also not a problem to store being about the size and footprint of a dining chair.

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Not wanting to rain on your parade at all but just a word of caution dropping £5k into something you've not done before. 

Again, not to be patronising, but the DSO views you will see even through a large scope will be closer to the common phrase of 'faint and fuzzy' than the astro images we all secretly hope to see in the eyepiece!

Might it be worth picking up a second hand 8-10" Dob (very capable, plenty around) and actually find some objects from Turn Left at Orion? 

You'll learn a hell of a lot about the hobby in general but also how much or what parts you enjoy. 

I'm sure you'll be hooked and if you then decide to drop serious money into the hobby you'll be making an informed choice. 

All the best

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I would caution spending 5k out on this initially. Get a cheaper scope and mount that is easy to get in and out of your home and get to know the sky, planets and the moon first, then extend out to looking for some brighter galaxies, globular clusters, open clusters etc. If you still have the passion for it after this then you can look into spending the vast amounts of money us astronomers splurge out on this wonderful hobby! :) 

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As with Gus above, I would caution against spending so much on your first scope. I can say this from first hand experience from 4 people I have known through local clubs. The last one spent close to £6K. Used it all 4 times, decided astro wasn't for him after all. Put the lot on Ebay and lost close to £3K in 6 weeks. You can put together something half decent for a fraction of £5K, just to get a taster. Buy used to limit the loses to a minimum. Everyone chops and changes their setup, I don't think anyone has stumbled on the perfect setup first time of asking. So buying used allows you to chop and change with minimal loss. Just a thought. 

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1 hour ago, Knighty2112 said:

I would caution spending 5k out on this initially. Get a cheaper scope and mount that is easy to get in and out of your home and get to know the sky, planets and the moon first, then extend out to looking for some brighter galaxies, globular clusters, open clusters etc. If you still have the passion for it after this then you can look into spending the vast amounts of money us astronomers splurge out on this wonderful hobby! :) 

Very wise!

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Star hopping with larger scopes is going to be quite difficult under Bortle 5/6 skies due to their relatively narrower fov. The views of DSOs in a 14" dob are still far from what you see in astro images. The larger aperture does yield more details on the planets theoretically but here in the UK we're often limited by seeing rather than the aperture once we go beyond 8" - 10".

I agree with all the previous comments that you'd be better off with a 8 - 10" dob initially plus a few decent eyepieces. Keep the majority of your fund later for an imaging setup if you decide to venture into ap (this is the true rabbit hole for your money).

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From my experiences doing public outreach sessions with my local astro society, you can impress people with the views through most scopes, if you pick the right targets to showcase.

 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Firstly thanks for all your helpful comments.  I think I'm going to go for a relatively large dob - looking at the Orion Optics VX range as a compromise.  Size undecided at moment - I'd really like the 14 inch though!  Good suggestion looking out for used scopes, but not sure how often a used OO VX would come up so might have to go down the new route.

Assuming I go with an OO VX, which eyepieces and other equipment would you recommend?  I actually like the idea of a binoviewer as well, so if someone could also suggest a binoviewer and suitable eyepieces as well that would be great.  The OO VX 14 inch is f4.6, FL 1,600.

If I'm getting a decent scope I really want eyepieces that will do it justice, but I also don't want to spend a fortune that I might not appreciate as a beginner.

Thanks again!

Nic

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A 14” dob is a fairly large lump to move about. Had an OO 14” but often couldn’t be bothered setting it up. A 12” just seems a lot smaller and easier to manage.

Televue Ethos eyepieces work reall well bur Explore Scientific are pretty good though and cheaper. Lot of new eent eyepieces available although with a dob prefer wide angle ones. My OO dob was psinted a custom colour by OO. Think you can still have them paint any colour you want instead of the standard white Not expensive.

 

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Edited by johninderby
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Like Mutley earlier on in the thread, I would look into a David Lukehurst Dob.  He has a solid reputation. It can be very instructive to put a maker's name into Google followed by 'customer service...'

You're right to uncouple visual observing from astrophotography because the requirements have astonishingly little in common.

Olly

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17 hours ago, ollypenrice said:

Like Mutley earlier on in the thread, I would look into a David Lukehurst Dob.  He has a solid reputation. It can be very instructive to put a maker's name into Google followed by 'customer service...'

You're right to uncouple visual observing from astrophotography because the requirements have astonishingly little in common.

Olly

Thanks, I will take a look.

Now trying to get an idea of eyepieces and binoviewers / barlows / comma correction etc....seems a mine field for a beginner!  Cheers

 

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