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Considering a Sky-Watcher Heritage-150P Flextube Dobsonian for first telescope....what are the views really like?


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Trying to figure out whether I should get a Sky-Watcher Heritage-150P Flextube Dobsonian for my first telescope.  Mostly for me and the kids to use in the garden, with the possibility of carting off to darker locations.  We'd be wanting to view the moon and other planets.

What I can't quite work out is exactly how good are the views of planets like Jupiter?  Images I've found online seem to show the planets looking pretty blurry.  Is that just bad photos, or are they really that blurry?  I'm probably expecting waaay to much from a £250 telescope!

Also, is this telescope any good for viewing DSOs?

Here's an example I found online from a 150p flex tube:

⭐🪐Zastro🪐⭐ on Twitter: "Got my best saturn footage last night so far!  This is the stacked and edited image. Shot with iPhone 7 nightcap app  through Skywatcher 150p Flextube Dobsonian telescope. #astronomy #

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A Skywatcher 150P is a respectable starter scope - Views of the moon should be good. I have a 150pds and its good for visual use   I think you will be impressed by the amount of stars you can see..

But its not really a great planetary scope as an F5 does not give a massive amount of maginification. But for many object in the sky it will work well.

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The thing with the pictures is they are probably taken with a phone or one shot camera because the 150P is not designed for astrophotography, so that snap is pretty reasonable.

It will easily work for planetary viewing and the moon.

It will also be OK on many of the other objects available such as nebula and some galaxies but your comment re: taking it to a dark sky site is what you should be aiming for DSO work. 

You cannot underestimate the difference a dark sky makes to what you see when you are viewing a faint object. 

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The planets will look small. Even in a powerful scope with a long focal length, they are never as big as you would imagine from the pictures you see. You should see it clearer and sharper but much smaller than that picture (atmosphere permitting).

Have a read of this sticky thread:

 

 

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A lot depends on the quality of a "seeing"; that is the stability of the atmosphere on the nights you are using it, but on a good day, you'll easily see the 4 Gallilean moons of jupiter, saturn's rings etc. You should be able to make out some banding patterns on Jupiter.  The images will not be anything like as good as a properly processed photograph, but to me, seeing something in real time out in space, is thrill enough. 

The moon will look amazing - especially at the terminator, where the shadow begins.  In a dark place, you'll be able to see distant galaxies too, although they will appear as a faint smudge in the night sky - but when you think what you're actually looking at, that's the "wow" moment.  

A 150p was my first "proper" telescope and I've seen a lot of stuff with it.  As Steve says above, being in a dark place helps enormously in terms of the objects you'll be able to see.  You might want to read the "what can I expect to see" thread elsewhere on this forum before pushing the button....

Pete

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Using a Heritage 150P, I've been viewing Saturn and Jupiter (amongst other things) when conditions permit over the last few months. I have seen far better clarity than the photo in the OP at times (but certainly a lot smaller!). Jupiter has shown all the Galileans and banding on the planet. With Saturn I have seen the Cassini division at times and several moons. I've not yet had the chance to take it to dark skies.

I've used the Heritage due to how quickly I can set it up and it is surprisingly capable. I have a better scope for planetary but it takes longer to set up and put away, so the Heritage beats it when the weather is changeable.

Yes, it's strength is lower power views but it holds its own impressively well at higher power. 150x is no problem (conditions permitting) and I'm sure it could go higher. As a portable "all-rounder" it's probably very hard to beat at the price.

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Thanks for the replies all :)

All good information.  And that other thread was an interesting read too.  

I'd be a little disappointed if the kids responded with a "meh, can't see anything but blobs"....but at the same time, you never can tell what will inspire them, so I'm happy to try things out with them.  I guess also I'd be happy enough doing it alone if it doesn't take their fancy.

I couldn't quite decide whether to spend the cash or not....but having read the replies, I think I will.

 

I'm on the edge of an urban town, so dark skies will probably be an issue at home.  Plus, lots of tall trees around the garden, so the views can be obstructed a little.  But, my parents are moving to a nice dark spot in Norfolk, so some good opportunities no doubt there.

29 minutes ago, wulfrun said:

I have seen far better clarity than the photo in the OP at times (but certainly a lot smaller!).

That's good to know.  I'm guessing the 150P Flextube will be very close/same quality as the 150P?

 

Whilst I'm here, are there any "must have" additions/accessories I really should think about from the word go?  I've already seen a couple of cheap simple mods (shroud + PTFE tape on the viewer) for the Flextube that look like they're worth doing.  

 

Thanks

Patrick

 

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It’s a highly regarded scope but you’ll probably be waiting awhile to get it. Ordered mine in April, still not arrived, called vendor today and they have no idea “maybe February”.   If I’m lucky it’ll arrive before humans make it to Mars 😂

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In stock here :

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/language/en/info/p12279_Skywatcher-Dobson-Teleskop-Heritage-150P-Flextube---150-mm-Oeffnung.html

A very reliable German retailer. I'm using the scope's smaller brother, the 130 P,  and am very pleased. Easy to use,  crisp images, can go up to 200x mag without problems, holds collimation well. Very recommendable.

Stephan

Edited by Nyctimene
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It’s a good choice @Teledope. I’ve got one and it shows surprisingly good views for what is supposed to be an entry level scope.

Planetary observing can be challenging, and even with the most expensive equipment can be humbled by poor seeing, leaving you wondering why you bothered!

The opposite side of this though is that many scopes can give good view of the seeing is very good. Others have covered all this before, planets are small and detail can take time to see. Getting scope cooling and collimation right really helps. Observing when planets are at their highest (when they transit the meridian) and making sure you try to avoid convection currents off houses, central heating flumes, large expanses of concrete etc also makes a big difference.

More than anything, spending time at the eyepiece allows you to catch the moments of best seeing as it changes by second, minute and hour! That’s not necessarily going to happen with young children but at least make sure they have more than a quick look.

Have realistic expectations and don’t be put off if you have poor views on the first few occasions. The planets won’t be sharp all the time, but they will be some of the time. These are a couple of images I took using a smartphone through a Heritage 150p of Mars when at opposition. It is larger than you see at the eyepiece but shows less detail and is more blurry than in the moments of good seeing.

6626BBE3-5441-4B59-B32B-019D877F9577.jpeg

F1A12B21-CE6D-4E8F-A1BA-4F9C7DA26EA5.jpeg

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10 hours ago, Teledope said:

That's good to know.  I'm guessing the 150P Flextube will be very close/same quality as the 150P?

 

Whilst I'm here, are there any "must have" additions/accessories I really should think about from the word go?  I've already seen a couple of cheap simple mods (shroud + PTFE tape on the viewer) for the Flextube that look like they're worth doing.

It's the same mirror as the 150P, just in a different "package" - so it's the same scope...optically speaking!

The PTFE mod takes the wobble out of the helical focuser. Despite its simplicity, the focuser is quite robust and it'll cope with hefty eyepieces, I often use a 16mm EP together with a 2x focal extender, between them they weigh 460g and it copes.

The shroud is well worth the effort and small cost, it keeps stray light off the secondary mirror and also helps stop it dewing up. At a dark site in the UK I'd say you still need it for the latter, most of the time anyway. In a suburban back garden you'll need it for both reasons.

One thing you'll probably find lacking is the supplied 10mm eyepiece, few people have good things to say about it. I'd suggest something like the 8mm BST Starguider as a replacement BUT see how you get on before rushing into anything. You may find it adequate (and expendable) with kids in the mix!

Edited by wulfrun
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Excellent advice from all the above posts.

Whatever you buy, where you buy. A simple rule.....

Buy from a specialist astronomy retailer. FLO (site sponsor) Rother Valley Optics, 365 Astronomy, Widescreen Centre, to name a few.

Do not buy from ebay, used on Gumtree, amazon, etc.

Enjoy the journey, David.

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16 hours ago, Teledope said:

Trying to figure out whether I should get a Sky-Watcher Heritage-150P Flextube Dobsonian for my first telescope.  Mostly for me and the kids to use in the garden, with the possibility of carting off to darker locations.  We'd be wanting to view the moon and other planets.

What I can't quite work out is exactly how good are the views of planets like Jupiter?  Images I've found online seem to show the planets looking pretty blurry.  Is that just bad photos, or are they really that blurry?  I'm probably expecting waaay to much from a £250 telescope!

Also, is this telescope any good for viewing DSOs?

I really enjoy using my heritage 150, it was my first 'proper'  telescope. It has limitations, but every telescope does, and for the price you will not get anything better , simpler or easier to store with a similar light gathering ability. Fast setup, just extend the front, tighten the two locking knobs , use the red dot to aim the 'scope where you want, focus, and you are observing.

Not ideal for planetary viewing , but it will work (I later added a 127 mak on an AZ5 at roughly double the dob's price to supplement, not replace, the heritage for high magnification on the Moon and planets.) The dob showed me Mars, Jupiter and Saturn at a respectable 94x magnification, as well as the ice giants Neptune and Uranus (as featureless dots, but nonetheless...  ) and gets used in preference to the mak for DSOs. From my suburban, light polluted, building obstructed view back garden I've managed to see a surprising number of objects , including galaxies, open and globular clusters , and nebulae, including (to my surprise to be honest) a couple of planetary nebulae .

Negatives : as with all beginner /medium price 'scopes, the heritage comes with 'get you started' type, poor eyepieces , to keep the package price low. The focuser isn't fabulous,  but as shown above, there is a cheap easy way to improve it, and making a light shroud is an easy cheap bit of DIY. Apart from a very small child, most observers will need that tabletop dob base to be raised on ... a table top or similar. Something sturdy and not at all wobbly. I used a small cast iron garden table, until the hassle of shifting the heavy thing round my garden made me make the dob a little wooden table of it's own.

Positives : unlike a cheap refractor, you will not get chromatic aberration (coloured fringes  round bright things) unlike any telescope on a cheap mount (under £300 ish for just the mount and tripod ) you won't get a flimsy, vibrating wobbling mount that makes the view quiver for several seconds at every touch of the tube or focuser.  You won't get a top heavy set up , including a tripod with feet which may be tripped over easily in the dark by an eager small person. 

Here's a useful  web page which explains about aperture and resolving power and choosing a first telescope https://www.popastro.com/main_spa1/help-advice/choosing-a-telescope/

Heather

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3 hours ago, wulfrun said:

It's the same mirror as the 150P, just in a different "package" - so it's the same scope...optically speaking!

The PTFE mod takes the wobble out of the helical focuser. Despite its simplicity, the focuser is quite robust and it'll cope with hefty eyepieces, I often use a 16mm EP together with a 2x focal extender, between them they weigh 460g and it copes.

The shroud is well worth the effort and small cost, it keeps stray light off the secondary mirror and also helps stop it dewing up. At a dark site in the UK I'd say you still need it for the latter, most of the time anyway. In a suburban back garden you'll need it for both reasons.

One thing you'll probably find lacking is the supplied 10mm eyepiece, few people have good things to say about it. I'd suggest something like the 8mm BST Starguider as a replacement BUT see how you get on before rushing into anything. You may find it adequate (and expendable) with kids in the mix!

The classic 150p dob had a focal length of 1200 so it's a near F8 mirror so actually better for planetary.

Agreed about the shroud, that is a cracking and fairly simple mod, the ptfe also a worthwhile upgrade. I just watched the video and was impressed with how sleek the shroud mod looked.

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14 hours ago, Teledope said:

Thanks for the replies all :)

All good information.  And that other thread was an interesting read too.  

I'd be a little disappointed if the kids responded with a "meh, can't see anything but blobs"....but at the same time, you never can tell what will inspire them, so I'm happy to try things out with them.  I guess also I'd be happy enough doing it alone if it doesn't take their fancy.

I couldn't quite decide whether to spend the cash or not....but having read the replies, I think I will.

 

I'm on the edge of an urban town, so dark skies will probably be an issue at home.  Plus, lots of tall trees around the garden, so the views can be obstructed a little.  But, my parents are moving to a nice dark spot in Norfolk, so some good opportunities no doubt there.

That's good to know.  I'm guessing the 150P Flextube will be very close/same quality as the 150P?

 

Whilst I'm here, are there any "must have" additions/accessories I really should think about from the word go?  I've already seen a couple of cheap simple mods (shroud + PTFE tape on the viewer) for the Flextube that look like they're worth doing.  

 

Thanks

Patrick

 

Ah, I see you are UK based (well, probably, altho' I believe other 'Norfolks' are available 🙂 ) so UK skies will be your limiting factor as far as magnification goes, the ability to see steady views at more than 200x mag. is an unusually good night (for me in Leicestershire anyway )

The 'Astronomers without borders'  'scope is a USA only edition of the Heritage 130, the slightly smaller & cheaper version of the heritage 150. There is an absolutely vast topic thread on the AWB/130 on the US Cloudy Nights  site here https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/463109-onesky-newtonian-astronomers-without-borders/ which can be a rewarding few hundred pages to skim 🙂 to see what is possible , even with that smaller 'scope.

Accessories from the word go ? No,  wait and see. If you find the Moon too dazzling in the 150, a simple Moon filter might be needed ( they cost around £10)  , a bit like sunglasses for the telescope. Not everyone finds the Moon dazzling through a 150 aperture 'scope (I do  ) so you might not need one. The included 25mm eyepiece you will get with any skywatcher 'scope is OK,  but you will probably find (if you end up using the 'scope a lot) that the 10mm is unsatisfactory. A good upgrade would be a BST starguider 8mm  For £50, but don't spend that until you know it the 'scope will get used enough to justify it. If you want to go low tech, a planisphere is a plastic disc , rotating star map  you can set to date/time, orient north, and identify star patterns. Those things are robust, I have a Phillip's one which I regularly left out in a classroom for the winter term for KS2 children to handle and examine unsupervised , and it shows no ill effects. They cost around £10 (not the KS2 kids, the planisphere)

High tech , but my favourite price (free) accessories include stellarium for a laptop or similar, or any number of astronomy apps for 'phones etc. as well as the Loughton list, a free PDF of easily observed from UK skies targets, the Moore Winter Marathon ( ditto for winter, natch.) , do a search for those terms in the box top left on here and you'll find pages where I give the links

Heather

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10 minutes ago, bomberbaz said:

The classic 150p dob had a focal length of 1200 so it's a near F8 mirror so actually better for planetary.

Agreed about the shroud, that is a cracking and fairly simple mod, the ptfe also a worthwhile upgrade. I just watched the video and was impressed with how sleek the shroud mod looked.

It's the same mirror as the 150p explorer, i.e. the newtonian https://www.firstlightoptics.com/reflectors/skywatcher-explorer-150p-ds-ota.html

I guess the dob might be the same as the explorer 150p L ?

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1 minute ago, Tiny Clanger said:

I guess the dob might be the same as the explorer 150p L ?

Yep, both 150mm f8. Nice scopes, good for planetary and quite a lot else besides. The Skyliner 150p Dobsonian is a fair amount bigger and a bit more expensive that the Heritage so the Heritage is likely a better place to start. Better wide field views obviously too.

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Or maybe the Bresser 6” tabletop f/5 dob as an alternative to a Heritage or skyliner.  Uses tube fings and a vixen type dovetail. Includes a solar filter. And actually in stock.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/bresser-messier-6-tabletop-dobsonian.html

36FAEA6A-E684-4A14-8396-F432AB34CAE0.jpeg

Edited by johninderby
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That Bresser looks quite nice. The rack and pinion focuser would be a plus for me.  Also its a solid tube, which is both good and bad; good because the secondary is better protected (from user contact and stray light), worse because it would require most storage space. 

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3 minutes ago, Orange Smartie said:

That Bresser looks quite nice. The rack and pinion focuser would be a plus for me.  Also its a solid tube, which is both good and bad; good because the secondary is better protected (from user contact and stray light), worse because it would require most storage space. 

For storage  remove the tube and it would fit in a closet or maybe bottom of a wardrobe? 🤔

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1 hour ago, bomberbaz said:

The classic 150p dob had a focal length of 1200 so it's a near F8 mirror so actually better for planetary.

Agreed and the confusion is due to there being Explorer 150P, 150P-DS and 150PL, the former two being f/5 and the latter being f/8. They call the dob a Classic 150P, which is confusing because it's a "PL" tube! Yes, the PL is better for planetary, I can attest to that since I have a PL. It's surprising how little difference there is in actual real-world use though.

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1 hour ago, johninderby said:

Or maybe the Bresser 6” tabletop f/5 dob as an alternative to a Heritage or skyliner.  Uses tube fings and a vixen type dovetail. Includes a solar filter. And actually in stock.

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/bresser-messier-6-tabletop-dobsonian.html

36FAEA6A-E684-4A14-8396-F432AB34CAE0.jpeg

If storage isn't a huge consideration, this would be my choice. 

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I have the Skywatcher 150P which has the same mirror as the Heritage 150P. Had a good view of Jupiter last night with a lot of surface banding visible. Also viewed Saturn and could see the Cassini Division. So the Heritage 150P should be equal in performance.

I also have the smaller Heritage 130P and the amount of DSOs that I have observed with this scope is quite amazing.

You don't need to rely on the Dob base going into the future and I currently sit my Heritage on a Pronto mount. Also, I can store the OTA in a case for transporting. Here are a few photos to give you an idea.

1625728816_heritagetravelcase.thumb.jpg.00634c009d1c198a88e60ababf6ad2c4.jpg

1356349378_heritage130P.thumb.jpg.e21ea5baebc5a4c3728fa32939fee60a.jpg

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