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What telescope? Trying to get into this hobby.


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Hi, I come to you to ask for an advise on which telescope to purchase. 

Last year I was offered a Celestron AC 70/400 TravelScope AZ as my first telescope and I loved to start exploring and learning about the sky with it, but soon realized that it felt a bit lacking to what I thought the experience would be, as it can only clearly see the moon or Jupiter / Saturn with a bit of effort.

This year I was thinking on upgrading, but only if it would make a noticeable change in the experience, my budget is 300€.
I tried searching online on this price range and found recommendations for Celestron Telescope N 130/650 Astromaster EQ (or MD if it's worth it), but I can't quite understand if it'll be a good enough upgrade. I'd be open to suggestions to other models.

I understand the difference in technologies between the refractor/reflector, I don't know if the maintenance of either changes much from one another and if that could be a deterring factor.

I'm searching for your opinion on if this is a noticeable difference on the experience or if I should wait a while longer and try to invest on a bigger leap in models. I'm searching for a definite model to keep for regular use, I don't intend to buy another telescope on the foreseeable future.

Thank you very much for any input and sorry for my inexperience, stargazing is something I always found fascinating but never had the chance to explore.
 

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300 Euro's is not a large budget to get a significant upgrade, but for visual use some form of dobsonian would probably be the general advice. However, what you can see with very much on where you are located and how dark your skies are.

I think this thread would be a good starting point:

 

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The advantage of the Newtonian reflector is that it provides large aperture at low price.  And the advantage of the Dobsonian mount for Newtonian reflectors is that it provides simplicity of setup, stability and intuitive movement at a low price. On a budget, that pretty well knocks the alternatives out of court... but, of course, there are caveats. Larger aperture means larger scope and Newtionian reflectors do need collimating, but this is not normally difficult.

Can you get to an astronomical society to see these things in the flesh and possibly try them? A list of societies affiliated to the Federation of Astronomical Societies appears here:  https://fedastro.org.uk/fas/members/members-location-by-county/

Olly

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I think either of the following two scopes are great and would keep you busy for a long time, plenty of aperture for the price:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/sky-watcher-heritage-150p-flextube-dobsonian-telescope.html

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-150p-dobsonian.html

The first one is more portable and has a shorter tube so you can collimate it whilst still looking through the eyepiece which makes things easier. The second one has a closed tube (less stray light getting in) and better focuser (rack and pinion instead of helical). 

I have a 150mm Newtonian and it’s  great all rounder. 

Here are some useful videos from fellow member @Chris:

Hope that helps. 

 

 

Edited by RobertI
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We've all been on this journey, and pretty much everyone will give you differing answers on where to start. As I'm a relative newbie to the hobby too I can let you know my experience so far (I am going to assume you are starting out with visual aim in mind as opposed to imaging):

I started with 150mm Dobsonian (reflector) - Skyliner 150p which is great for general use visual, planets and galaxies etc. (be aware that deep space objects will mainly be 'fuzzy' views). However, this is a big scope for moving about and setup which I found cumbersome - many people use them though as its great for a garden. I eventually sold this. I think the current cost of them new may be out of your price range but used you may even be able to get a 200mm.

My goto scope which gets used pretty much anytime is a Startravel 80mm (refractor). Lots of people have them. You can easily setup in minutes. Travel ANYWHERE with it as its so portable and it will give you good views of planets and also galaxies etc. Again most deep space objects will be seen as 'fuzzy'. This is easily in your price range so you could use the rest for eyepieces etc.

I then got fancy and got a HEQ5 goto mount and tripod which makes finding things a doddle. This is VERY heavy for transporting about and if I'm honest, goto sort of takes the fun out of trying to find things on your own and getting to know the night sky. Goto also adds extra cost to your purchase. I would avoid GOTO when starting out and use the money to get best scope that suits your preference.

My final scope is a Skymax 150mm (commonly known as a Mak). This is also very heavy. Is FANTASTIC for planets but out of your price range - I include it here because the 90mm and 120mm versions are probably in your price range and combined with decent EP's with give you great planetary views and some DSO (again, unles its something like Orion, they will appear as fuzzys).

If I could do it all again, my advice to myself would be:

Use binoculars until you know what it is that interests you. When you decide on what is your main focus, buy something that you will find easy to setup and use. If you are even remotely thinking of imaging I would start with a camera and a lens and progress from there. Do not get distracted by gadgets like GOTO as that will eat your budget - you can always upgrade as you progress.

You will find plenty of advice here as you decide. Hope this helped a little.

Enjoy the hobby! Thats the main thing! :)

Daz

Edited by Dazzyt66
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Thanks to everyone who replied, this was a lot of good information and advise that will help me on my decision.

It seems a Dobsonian is the way to go, but as I suspected it might not be a big leap from where I am now, so I think I'll hold on and try to make a bigger upgrade sometime in the future and keep using the Celestron I have now.

 

Again, I appreciate the information everyone has given, I was not expecting for so many good replies to my question, thank you very much.

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Plenty of good advice above.  Sadly, astronomy is not a cheap hobby, and  the price of desirable kit escalates rapidly as one adds aperture and technical features.  Many objects that look great in Hubble Space Telescope pictures can be underwhelming when viewed with a small telescope from one's backyard.

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Hi @Gondalf and welcome to SGL. :hello2:

I think it depends on what you intend to view, budget, light pollution, transport, weight, etc. 

I personally enjoy viewing the Sun, Moon and planets. Below are images of my 'scopes...

post-4682-0-18335100-1394160258_thumb.jpgpost-4682-0-08081900-1394160327_thumb.jpg

...they are: TeleVue Ranger, Meade ETX105, and Celestron C6/SCT.

 

Below images of my Meade ETX105.   

small_IMG_0385.JPG..jpg.96b510aeac1ce230208486066271a09d.jpgPIC011.JPG.d44aaf7659477cb4cf6a80da07ee9215.JPGPIC012.JPG.3b3b2b4aaf9826a35f9fd23345ee7b76.JPG
note: the rear backplate replaced the rear plastic flip-mirror cell and Jubilee/hose rings attach the dovetail bar.

 

Edited by Philip R
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I think the best advice I read was along the lines of 'The night sky isn't going anywhere'. Don't rush into buying an expensive scope that might end up unused. Think what  astronomical objects interest you the most, how you will observe  them and where you will observe them. Once you start upgrading from beginner's scopes, they begin to become more specialised for observing specific objects. Another piece of good advice I picked up was your mount is as important or even more important than your scope. 

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Hi Gondalf,

I own an 80mm aperture 400mm cheap refractor , and appreciate your dissatisfaction with what it can do.  But quite a lot of folk on here own and enjoy what is often referred to as an ST80 (short tube 80mm ) as a quick and easy set up for short observing sessions or for travel, so don't dismiss your existing 'scope completely. While it is not ideal for high magnification views of the planets (when you get an intrusive coloured fringe of chromatic aberration) it's okay for wide field, low magnification views of star clusters ( the double cluster near Cassiopeia, or the Pleiades for instance )  or solar viewing with a suitable front filter . 

As you quote your price limit in euros, I assume you are not in the UK , so pointing you to the second hand listings on here is probably no use , and I've no clue of  the secondhand market outside this country. You are not going to  get a new refractor and suitably sturdy mount which would be a significant improvement over your Celestron in your price range,

If you were happy to start off by keeping your celestron for wide field use , and buying a new 'scope which is particularly good for higer magnification views of the Moon & planets, this 102mm maksutov would be within your budget https://www.firstlightoptics.com/maksutov/sky-watcher-skymax-102s-az-pronto.html , and it might be possible to put your celestron on the pronto mount to make it less shaky that I suspect the included tripod is too. There's a lot of helpful information on the 102 mak here http://www.waloszek.de/astro_sw_mak102_e.php

The mak. isn't an ideal all round telescope though, and if you want something with a bigger aperture more able to gather light and show you deep  sky objects, then a 150mm dobsonian would be a decent choice. I can say from personal experience that the 150mm heritage dob is a worthwhile telescope , portable, easily stored , good mirrors but with some compromises which make it less than perfect, but a huge bargain , and within your budget, https://www.firstlightoptics.com/heritage/sky-watcher-heritage-150p-flextube-dobsonian-telescope.html

A solid tube dob might be a better choice if you have storage space, don't need to carry it far , and can transport it easily to any locations you want to use it from, here's one, there are many similar from Bresser, skywatcher and other brands, but unlike the others ,  these are in  stock at the moment https://www.firstlightoptics.com/stellalyra-telescopes/stellalyra-6-f8-dobsonian.html

Heather

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2 hours ago, Gondalf said:

It seems a Dobsonian is the way to go, but as I suspected it might not be a big leap from where I am now, so I think I'll hold on and try to make a bigger upgrade sometime in the future and keep using the Celestron I have now.

Always a good idea to make the most of what you’ve got.  Personally upgrading from 70mm to 150mm seems like a big step up to me, and should make a huge difference - bright globulars will be resolved into stars, lovely detail will be visible on Jupiter, Mars and Saturn, you will be able to split much closer doubles and lunar will be better. Yes, most galaxies and nebulae will still be fuzzy blobs, but  you will be able to see more of them! 🙂
 

 

Edited by RobertI
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@Gondalf. I also have the Celestron Travelscope 70/400 for a few years. It is the classic travel telescope that one can safely take wherever they want. As an optic it is beautiful for panoramas, on the Sun and on the Moon I do not mind, as long as you do not exceed 80X - 100 X, with a dark sky I think it is also good for deep - sky objects as long as you do not expect too much, it is only a 70 mm. On the planets I don't see it well, it barely shows the two main bands of Jupiter, on Saturn it shows the ring at 80X, it is an optic designed for something else, certainly an achromatic 70/700 or 70/900 surpasses it greatly on Moon, Sun and planets but they are much less transportable optics than 70/400. I must say that thanks to it I had observed the transit of Mercury from school, I had meetings in the afternoon and I had an hour free. I couldn't have made it at this hour to go home and go back to school and see the transit with a better telescope. I recommend that you keep it when you switch to a better tool.

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Thanks to everyone again, the amount of useful replies and information to a new member is still astounding to me.

You are convincing me to invest and be a part of this.

 

Fortunately I think I'm able to store a Dobsonian without much hassle, so I'm looking for one on the shop that serves my country. Speaking of which, I've updated my information so it shows I'm on the outskirts of Lisbon, Portugal!

I'm looking at:

TRADICIONAL DOBSON SKYWATCHER 6 for 305€

TRADICIONAL SKYWATCHER DOBSON 8 for 407€

Is it worth the extra 100€ to go for the 8´?

 

Also thanks to the people giving me the ideia that the Celestron I already own is still worth while, it would most definitely be a easier model to have to go on the road with.

 

Edited by Gondalf
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The 8” dob is the most popular beginners dob as it isn’t too big to move about and worth the bit extra over the 6”.

You will want a few upgrades as the stock eyepieces aren’t that great although enough to get you started. Another popular upgrade is a better finder such as a right angled one instead of the straight through ona that comes with it. Much easier to look through. So keep a bit of money aside for the extras.

For the money nothing can match an 8” dob for the quality of the views. 

Ah Lisbon. Here’s a photo I took one misty morning from the harbour a few years ago. One of my favourite photos,

FD43A36E-B8F9-47C4-99A0-7E6B3C71E92F.jpeg

Edited by johninderby
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So, to give everyone an update, I did go with the choice of the Sky-Watcher Dobson 8 and did my first session tonight.

 

The setup:

IMG_20210918_011035.thumb.jpg.fb16e16a2309c3fe564df76528a0aea5.jpg

The "backyard":

IMG_20210918_004732.thumb.jpg.99e3c1a4cc7367ef029c08dfd5877ccf.jpg

 

To star slow and easy I just hopped around between the Moon, Saturn and Jupiter and got to see the moons Europa, Io, Callisto and Ganymede as well.

I was having trouble focusing on the planets, could not get the image to focus entirely. I understand that it can be a number of factors, from not so great lenses, light pollution or the telescope not being collimated from factory? Will dive in to that one tomorrow and learn how to do it.

 

And here are the really poor and amateur photos I took of Moon and Jupiter while holding my phone on the sight (things in the sky move really fast!):

IMG_20210918_005900.thumb.jpg.da556dfbe2d8beb4ba7f1b3deac154aa.jpgIMG_20210918_010815.thumb.jpg.b2da5e174bc4787e31564a1be5052b94.jpg

 

Thanks everyone!

 

Edited by Gondalf
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You are going to have a great time with the new scope. 👍🏻

With the stock eyepieces ypu are probably finding that the 25mm is OK but the 10mm is a bit blurry. That’s normal and why replacing the 10mm is the first thing most people do.

Also an 8” dob almost always needs collimating when it arrives to get the best views.

Edited by johninderby
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Another factor could be whether the scope had cooled down properly. If it went from being indoors and warm to being out in relatively cold night air then it would need time to reach ambient temperature and until that happens you get air currents inside it which disturb the light and reduce image quality significantly. Bigger scopes take longer to cool and tend to be more sensitive to temperature issues from what I understand, especially compared to a small refractor like your Celestron which will be ready to use almost immediately.

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An 8" aperture collects a considerable amount of light.  Jupiter is one of the brightest objects in the sky, regardless of planetary-opposition.  Barring a magnification of 250x and beyond to dim the planet down, a variable-polariser will otherwise allow you to see the details and subtle colouration on the surface of Jupiter; for example...

https://www.astroshop.eu/moon-filters-polarizing-filters/celestron-filters-variable-grey-filter-1-25-/p,61777

S0vwwge.jpg

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Hi, thanks again to everyone for the suggestions.
I tried today to check if the scope is collimated and it appear to be so, so that's a good news.

19 hours ago, Andrew_B said:

Another factor could be whether the scope had cooled down properly. If it went from being indoors and warm to being out in relatively cold night air then it would need time to reach ambient temperature and until that happens you get air currents inside it which disturb the light and reduce image quality significantly. Bigger scopes take longer to cool and tend to be more sensitive to temperature issues from what I understand, especially compared to a small refractor like your Celestron which will be ready to use almost immediately.

How long would you say you need for it to cooldown properly? (Here in Portugal we're at about 16º/17º at night, don't know if it matters).

 

My gf wants to gift me something to help this new hobby and I was thinking on a set of lenses, from reviews I found that Svbony makes good ones, but I see two very similar sets:

https://www.amazon.es/-/pt/gp/product/B07BFWFVNP/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?smid=A3ICDZYF91YIY1&th=1

https://www.amazon.es/-/pt/dp/B07B8KVX7G/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Is there much difference between these two?

 

I'm also getting a filter as suggested above, and stumbled upon something called a barlow lens, which I read is to magnify my view X times. Is it worth it for my setup?

 

Thanks again for all the help so far!

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8 hours ago, Gondalf said:

My gf wants to gift me something to help this new hobby and I was thinking on a set of lenses, from reviews I found that Svbony makes good ones, but I see two very similar sets

I' m using three eyepieces of the first mentioned set (66° AFoV= Apparent Field of View), the 20, 9 and 6mmf ones. They give good, sharp and neutral coloured views in my f/5 and even f/4.5 Newtonian dobs, so they should work well with your 8" f/6 (a good choice you've made - it's an allrounder and can be a lifetime scope). There is some "kidney-beaning" effect, giving sometimes a slightly "unsettled" view, therefore you have to center your eye exactly to the outcoming light bundle, but this is less annoying with the observation of DSO's.The 15 mmf eyepiece of these well-known "golden rim" line is usually considered as the weakest part of the quartet; but for the price of the set, your gf  will make no mistake when buying. The price is surprisingly low - for a single Omegon UWA 66°you pay 59 € from a German retailer. But I' m guessing it's the same make, just another brand.

I cannot comment on the second set of 68° AFOV eyepieces; but I suppose, they are a similar built and more a slightly changed clone of the 66° ones.

Hth.

Stephan

 

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