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Newcomer second scope purchases, an expensive mistake?


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Hi Everyone,
I originally wrote a mammoth post which ended up being incredibly boring and I’m pretty sure no-one would have read it so Ive done an abbreviated version.

I'm very new to astronomy and purchased my first telescope at the beginning of the year (Sky Watcher Explorer 130PS AZ5). Ive thoroughly enjoyed using it but am already looking to get something slightly more advanced that will help me see further and with more clarity.

I’d like to get some of your thoughts on upgrades and what you experienced starting out in the hobby. To put it briefly Id like to purchase an upgrade with the intention of it lasting me a few years.  Is this a good idea or am I’m trying to run before I can walk?

Despite my brief time in the hobby I can already see there is an endless and sometimes overwhelming sea of information and technology. I’m sure many people have purchased their first telescope only to buy an upgrade soon after but wondered if this was the best approach?

I’d like to consider a more intermediate set-up such as the Celestron Nexstar 8SE and a Sky-Watcher EQ6 Pro GOTO though at the moment this is a very broad equipment list.

Without getting too specific equipment wise would anyone mind giving their personal experiences and whether or not I should continue with my current set-up or dive in with something more advanced that will see me through for a few years?

Many Thanks

Keith

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I think the first question to ask is what is wrong with the current setup, or more accurately what does it not do, that you would like.

Do you want to stay visual, or try photography?

Do you want a 'light bucket' to view faint objects? Or more lunar/planetary? Or a crisp view refractor?

Is goto a must? Goto can be quite a faff, depending on the system you buy.
But a tracking EQ mount is essential for photography.

How did you get on with the size/weight/setup of the 130 & AZ5?

Somewhere in your earlier thread (that I haven't looked up) there will have been comments/questions about your 'viewing circumstances'.
3 flights of stairs and 3 doors between storage and viewing? Lots of light pollution? etc.

HTH, David.

 

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Thanks for the reply David. Id certainly like to try astrophotography of some kind in the future, but for the moment I'm very keen to see the planets in more detail than I am currently able to. They still appear very much like faint pale dots with my equipment although do improve is the viewing conditions are good and once Ive played around with the few lenses I have.

I've been looking at the GOTO mounts with envy as I'm finding it hard to pinpoint faint planets such as Neptune which I am unable to initially see by eye. Navigating to these bodies has been hard/impossible for me so something with the ability to aim me in the right direction would be nice. If a GOTO system is mounted to an EQ style mount I'm presuming I can use the mount manually as I have been doing also?

I've found the size and weight of the 130 and AZ5 very manageable. My current situation has it in the living room of my bungalow and on the odd occasion I can get 20 minutes of planet gazing in (I have a 3 month old daughter!) Ive found it easy to maneuver outside and into position. There are three doors between where to telescope lives and the outside. I have a flat patio and a sloped grass garden where I can set-up easily.

My garden is surrounded by a park and high trees so at the moment Jupiter and Saturn are in easy view, the moon is often obscured. I'm in the country so light pollution is low (at least it seems that way to me). I do have the benefit of living near a 'castle'.....its more like an old wall. This sits on a high mound and would make good viewing if i braved the dark walk with my headtorch, its about 200 meters from my house. Hope that's enough detail......actually it might read as sarcastic but its not!😀

 

Many Thanks

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I feel your pain in searching for targets , but , look at it another way  ie as you have fairly dark skies , star hopping is a great way to learn the sky . And don't be put off when you cant find an object ... it WILL be there , and eventually you WILL find it and when you do you will be thrilled . With the winter constellations rising there are some fascinating things to see at this time of the year . A GOTO system might provoke envy but , having had GOTO systems i believe the thrill of finding a target without the use of a GOTo system is amazing . It took me ages to find one of the easier targets in the sky namely M13 . 

As for the planets , i've still to view Neptune too, but its favourable this month so stick with it . 

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31 minutes ago, sonicninja said:

Thanks for the reply David. Id certainly like to try astrophotography of some kind in the future, but for the moment I'm very keen to see the planets in more detail than I am currently able to. They still appear very much like faint pale dots with my equipment although do improve is the viewing conditions are good and once Ive played around with the few lenses I have.

I've been looking at the GOTO mounts with envy as I'm finding it hard to pinpoint faint planets such as Neptune which I am unable to initially see by eye. Navigating to these bodies has been hard/impossible for me so something with the ability to aim me in the right direction would be nice. If a GOTO system is mounted to an EQ style mount I'm presuming I can use the mount manually as I have been doing also?

I've found the size and weight of the 130 and AZ5 very manageable. My current situation has it in the living room of my bungalow and on the odd occasion I can get 20 minutes of planet gazing in (I have a 3 month old daughter!) Ive found it easy to maneuver outside and into position. There are three doors between where to telescope lives and the outside. I have a flat patio and a sloped grass garden where I can set-up easily.

My garden is surrounded by a park and high trees so at the moment Jupiter and Saturn are in easy view, the moon is often obscured. I'm in the country so light pollution is low (at least it seems that way to me). I do have the benefit of living near a 'castle'.....its more like an old wall. This sits on a high mound and would make good viewing if i braved the dark walk with my headtorch, its about 200 meters from my house. Hope that's enough detail......actually it might read as sarcastic but its not!😀

 

Many Thanks

OK, so the extra detail there means I actually might have something useful to contribute !

I started out with (and still use by preference for wide field DSO observing etc) a 150mm heritage dob, but found it's shortish focal length (750mm) and the need to 'nudge ' it frequently at high magnifications made it awkward to use for Jupiter, Saturn and Mars, which are the planets where you can reasonably expect to see detail .

So I bought a 127 mak and an AZ5 , twice the focal length (1500mm) and slo mo controls so no careful nudging at high powers. With the mak I can get 187x magnification fairly often , which shows some detail on those targets, and beautiful detail on the Moon, but pushing the magnification beyond that is almost always pointless, as the 'seeing' the atmospheric stability which goes with our famous British weather is the limiting factor. I've managed 250x maybe a handful of times (on anything apart from the Moon) in the year since I got the mak.

That said, the mak works really well on the AZ5, so if you already have that mount and a decent tripod, it may be worth considering, the only problem you may find is that the maks need time to cool down ,  mine goes outdoors at least half an hour before I am going to use it.

Targeting those planets I mention above is easy because they are naked eye objects. However, the ice giants, Neptune and Uranus, appear far dimmer and are less easy to locate, certainly in my suburban sky . I've seen both through a 'scope, but it was a struggle over many sessions to find Neptune , and when I did it was a faint unremarkable dot , as was the easier to find, somewhat brighter and distinctively coloured Uranus. I found them not with the mak, but using star patterns in stellarium to compare the actual view through the eyepiece with the computer view . Not join the dots, but identify the dot ! Features on either of those planets are out of range of reasonably priced amateur kit.

If you have a suitable smartphone there are apps which have a 'push to' capability, i.e. , you use them on the 'scope tube as a sort of electronic viewfinder,  while steering the scope normally by hand. I've not used it myself (my smartphone is too stupid) but SkEye is one for android 'phones which looks interesting. I've had some success (notably with Neptune !) tracking elusive objects down by using a cheap little AA cell powered electronic level which sits on my heritage dob tube with the handy magnet on the level's base, and helps me pion the tube up to whatever alt (altitude) angle I have got from stellarium for my target. It's then a matter of scanning horizontally using a wide eyepiece until I find whatever I'm after. The little levels are often referred to as wixys (or something similar, wixies ? ) in older posts on here, worth having a look for threads about them , they certainly help cut down the uncertainty, and mine cost around £15 last time I checked on amaz. in the DIY section.

Heather

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Thanks for the replies. I wasn't really aware that using a smartphone was a viable option. I do have and app on my iPhone 'SkyView' which has been really useful in finding out what planets are visible on what day etc but It didnt occur to me that I could mount it to the scope. As you've said Heather both Jupiter and Saturn are visible and I often pop out with my scope to quickly see what the viewing conditions are like. On a good day I can make out 4 visible moons of Jupiter (at least I think that's what they are) and some incredibly faint detail of the surface. With Saturn its a clear but tiny image, but exciting to see none the less. My one criticism of the Explorer 130PS is the focuser which seems pretty cheap and crude, is this likely to be a more precise feature on a mak telescope?

If i were to consider a mak would something like the SkyWatcher Skymax 127 Maksutov Cassegrain be a viable option?

 

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@Tiny Clanger out of interest, if you put aside the convenience of the mount and better focusing mechanism on the Mak, do you think you see more detail through the Mak vs the Heritage 150p? It’s a genuine question, not a trick one!!

I’ve had some fine views of Mars with my 150p, so it is certainly capable of decent detail.

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6 minutes ago, sonicninja said:

Thanks for the replies. I wasn't really aware that using a smartphone was a viable option. I do have and app on my iPhone 'SkyView' which has been really useful in finding out what planets are visible on what day etc but It didnt occur to me that I could mount it to the scope. As you've said Heather both Jupiter and Saturn are visible and I often pop out with my scope to quickly see what the viewing conditions are like. On a good day I can make out 4 visible moons of Jupiter (at least I think that's what they are) and some incredibly faint detail of the surface. With Saturn its a clear but tiny image, but exciting to see none the less. My one criticism of the Explorer 130PS is the focuser which seems pretty cheap and crude, is this likely to be a more precise feature on a mak telescope?

If i were to consider a mak would something like the SkyWatcher Skymax 127 Maksutov Cassegrain be a viable option?

 

The skywatcher 127 mak is what I have, Maks focus in an entirely different way to newts, in a mak the whole  inner mirror moves forward & backward within the tube,  which is closed at the front by a thick front glass plate. the focus on the 127 is a small knob you turn on the rear plate, I have a high precision focus adapter on mine, it's a plastic clothes peg 🙂 , offering fine , fingertip adjustment at the right price !

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I have the 130PS and the focuser can be vastly improved by taking it apart, cleaning the glue out that they seem to have inadvertently used instead of grease, and replacing it with actual grease! Then glue a jam jar lid to one side to "gear it down"  - far better.

I've used mine with a 4mm eyepiece (160 odd times magnification) and I've seen the Cassini division and cloud bands on Saturn, cloud bands, shadows of moons and the GRS on Jupiter, the polar ice cap and surface details on Mars (last year obviously) etc etc  - I found it VERY capable once it returned from FLO collimated. I unfortunately originally got one that was not collimated out of the box - the only one FLO had heard of at the time.  

What eyepiece are you currently using to view the planets? You may just need a different one!

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7 minutes ago, Stu said:

@Tiny Clanger out of interest, if you put aside the convenience of the mount and better focusing mechanism on the Mak, do you think you see more detail through the Mak vs the Heritage 150p? It’s a genuine question, not a trick one!!

I’ve had some fine views of Mars with my 150p, so it is certainly capable of decent detail.

Well, apart from the convenience of the slo mo,and the less agricultural focuser ( OP thinks their 130p focuser is cheap and crude :evil4:Ha ! try the heritage one ... )  I had problems with viewpoint on the dob too , with tall fences around a small garden and low planets I often found I  needed a higher viewpoint than I  could comfortably manage with a 'look in the side of the front opening' newt, so I needed something with a diagonal behind it, I couldn't just get away with putting the heritage on the  AZ5.

The quality of the view in the heritage is undoubtedly good, but I confess I've hardly ever used it on the AZ5 , for some reason it seems too unbalanced to me  , so I can't say how the two 'scopes compare without the practicalities of their different mounts intruding. 

It was the tantalising views last autumn of Mars whizzing across and out of my view with an 8mm BST at a bit under 100x that had me looking for an alternative !

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2 hours ago, cwis said:

 What eyepiece are you currently using to view the planets? You may just need a different one!

Im using the ones that came with telescope, 10 & 25mm ones. I also have a x2 and x3 barlow with the latter being fairly poor quality so ive not used it much.

I believe the 130PS is collimated at the factory so you're not able to do it yourself. At the point at which i bought it I was fine with this as I didnt really understand much about the subject anyway.

I suppose part of the problem is at the moment I dont have much to compare it to. I've not viewed any other telescopes so am unsure whether what im seeing is typical or otherwise. 🤷‍♂️

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An EQ mount is quite bulky and can be a bit awkward in practice. A typical EQ mount is much heavier than a comparable AZ mount. 

I have fallen out of love with goto, in my experience it malfunctions and misses, and adds a lot of effort to a session. There's plenty of objects to see in the vicinity of bright stars, particularly under dark skies. In my opinion a good finderscope is a better investment than a goto system.

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I am a fan of the Explore Scientific 82° and 68° lines. The optical quality is high and the prices are reasonable. 

In terms of what eyepeices to get, I always aim for a set with 1.4x difference between the focal lengths, which means extended objects (and the light pollution) double in brightness with each step longer in focal length. So with my current set I have 4.9mm, 6.7mm, 10mm, 13.4mm, 20mm and 30mm.

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All great info and tips from everyone above. A couple of things to add about eyepiece focal lengths and what to buy:

There are many different brands and models available offering different optical designs or physical onstruction and therefore different experiences, so it's certainly worth looking at the For Sale section of the forum for second hand purchases, so you can get a feel for what works for you without breaking the bank.

The BST Starguider range are also a very good, very reasonably priced step up from standard supplied eyepieces - our sponsor FLO has them for less than £50 each and cheaper if you buy more than one. 

That said, you don't need to buy a whole set at once, and they needn't be the same brand/line. You could look at just getting one initially, see how you like the eyepiece and then plan to get another focal length later on, either in the same line or a different brand altogether. 

The 1.4x step up in focal length Ags mentioned works really well - you can also skip every other step (meaning a 1.96x step up or just 2x for ease), which would give a good range to start and you can fill in the blank as you go along. To use almost the same example as Ags, my most used EPs are 4.5mm, 9mm, 17.5mm, 35mm.

Edited by badhex
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17 hours ago, sonicninja said:

Thanks everyone, this is perfect. You're all talking me out of spending my daughters future inheritance! Can anyone suggest any eyepieces that might be an advantage with my current set-up?

 

You need a compromise. In the UK you can rarely go beyond 200x magnification due to atmospheric conditions so if you buy an eyepiece that gives you 200+ magnification you're not going to be using it very much or you will be putting up with a mushy fuzzy views of the planets that will have you doubting your telescope.

Also you will be constantly chasing the planets with your manual mount as they rush across the sky due to how zoomed in your view is...

 Lower magnification views will suit the viewing conditions more often giving you lovely sharp detailed planets more often. And you won't be chasing them around the sky as much either - they will stay in view for longer. The trade off obviously is that lower magnifications give you smaller planets!  With time and practice this will cease to be an issue to you as your eye and brain get better at pulling detail out of the small (but sharp and detailed) planet, detail that wouldn't be there at all if you over magnified with the wrong eyepiece for the conditions.

Opinions on the correct eyepiece are going to be like tummy buttons (everybody has one!) so here's my choice based on experience with the same targets and 'scope:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/ovl-eyepieces/ovl-nirvana-es-uwa-82-ultrawide-eyepieces.html  The 4mm one. 

Lovely and sharp, wideangle view so things stay in frame for longer, and reasonable cost wise.  The only downside I have experienced is that it tends to mist up easily, so keep it in a pocket or somewhere warm when you're not actually using it. Out of stock though - one might come up second hand I suppose.

The BST 5mm would also be a good choice with slightly lower magnification - the  3.2mm I would say magnifies too much for the UK with your 'scope:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/bst-starguider-eyepieces/bst-starguider-60-5mm-ed-eyepiece.html

You can check your collimation cheaply with a collimation cap by the way:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/other-collimation-tools/rigel-aline-collimation-cap.html

 

Edited by cwis
Changed options for opinions, which was the word I was grasping for...
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Eyepieces , almost too much choice ....

First way to cut down the (probably thousands of) possibilities : how much money do you feel it is reasonable to spend ?Under  £100 in total ? up  to £2 or 300 ish ? More ? If you have £200 = to spend per eyepiece there are plenty of possibilities , which I'm sure the big boys can explain, but are way out of my experience, so  I'll  stick at the bargain end of the range , because that's where I (mostly) am.

Next , you do a little maths . Your 'scope has an aperture of 130mm, the general rule of thumb is double the aperture in mm is the max. magnification it is reasonable to expect an instrument to manage. So max mag = 260x, but as has been mentioned , you won't often get that in the UK, so investing in an eyepiece to give you that won't give you a lot of use for your cash, better to think n terms of 200x as an eyepiece which will give you observing time .

To calculate the mag. of a 'scope/eyepiece combo, you take the focal  length of the 'scope , 650mm in your case, and divide it by the focal length of the eyepiece. So, your stock 10mm gives you 650 divided by 10 = 65x , while your 25mm yields 26x . To get 200x, you would need a 3.2mm eyepiece, while a 4mm would give a decent 162.5x . On my setup, in slightly above average seeing   conditions I use an eyepiece which gives me 187x ,  and if less good, drop back to  125x (which for you would be a 5mm)

There are topics on here about eyepiece choice ,  do a search in the box (top right) for 'eyepieces the least you need' to see the sort of gaps between mm folk recommend , but as you are , at the moment, mainly thinking of planets, I'd suggest buying one or two in the higher magnification range I've explained above to start off with, and maybe adding a simple 32mm plossl ( £30 , https://www.firstlightoptics.com/astro-essentials-eyepieces/astro-essentials-super-plossl-eyepiece.html )  to use as a low magnification,  wide view eyepiece for scanning around, finding stuff, and admiring things like the Pleiades.

I've no experience of the 5mm and 3.2mm BST starguiders, they would be too much magnification in my setup, but I do use the 8mm and 12mm(and the 15mm and 18mm ones )  and they are great, I've not heard any complaints about the shorter focal length ones being less good. If you are happy to spend £50 per eyepiece,  they are probably your best choice  https://www.firstlightoptics.com/bst-starguider-eyepieces.html

 I'm a cautious spender, so would go for the 5mm (and a 32mm plossl) , see if  the 5mm gave me what  I wanted, maybe try it with the 2x barlow you have to see in principle if more mag is actually useful , and only if I thought I needed it, go for the 3.2mm

If your spending plans are higher, the OVL Nirvanas have a good reputation, and I love the 16mm I recently bought, they are around £80 and the small range includes a 4mm (  https://www.firstlightoptics.com/ovl-eyepieces/ovl-nirvana-es-uwa-82-ultrawide-eyepieces.html   all out of stock everywhere at the mo., believe me, I've looked ... ) the next stage up for me would be the explore scientific 82 deg, range at  around £150 each https://www.firstlightoptics.com/explore-scientific-eyepieces/explore-scientific-82-degree-series-eyepieces.html

By the way, is your 2x barlow one which lets you unscrew the bottom bit, with just the lens(es) ? I f so, you unscrew it, screw it on the bottom of the eyepiece in the filter threads, and increase the mag by not 2x, but 1.5x, which would make 5mm BST plus 1.5x Barlow cell =  a rather handy 195x ...

Heather

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On the scope....for planets you want aperture and focal length.  

On the mount...agree that GoTo can be frustrating and often stops sessions.  (I stopped using it).  Mountwise, I use a simple driven EQ mount for planets.  Simple, nothing to go wrong, tracks great.

If I were going down the driven EQ mount route, scopewise I'd have a CAT such as a C8, Mak180, Classic Cassegrain etc.

I wouldn't bother with the single arm Nexstars etc...there is too much vibration on planets at higher powers.

If I wasn't going down the EQ mount route, I'd go for aperture and get a 12" dob (provided I was happy getting it in and out, they are cumbersome and heavy).  With a scope that size you still have a lot of focal length for upping the power when it suits.  You'll lose the tracking....but the aperture will give some great detail.

 

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Thanks so much for your replies. There's a lot of information for me to go through here, especially on eye pieces. For the time being I'll look into some different eye pieces for my current set and forget about the GOTO mount. I may look into the SkyWatcher Skymax 127 as an addition to my set-up at a later date. I'll have a look on the classifieds and see what I can find, hopefully with the right conditions and equipment I can start getting the views of the bright planets I was hoping for.

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17 minutes ago, sonicninja said:

Thanks so much for your replies. There's a lot of information for me to go through here, especially on eye pieces. For the time being I'll look into some different eye pieces for my current set and forget about the GOTO mount. I may look into the SkyWatcher Skymax 127 as an addition to my set-up at a later date. I'll have a look on the classifieds and see what I can find, hopefully with the right conditions and equipment I can start getting the views of the bright planets I was hoping for.

Hi sonicninja,

My twopence, I used a 114mm f8 reflector (Celestron FirstScope 114) on a manual mount for a long time with inexpensive eyepieces from an eyepiece and filter kit. I used these eyepieces later for another length of time with my CPC 1100 (11 inch SCT) before getting some Baader Hyperions. I will just say that on the CPC 1100 I am still not sure if the more expensive eyepieces actually showed me more detail on the planets. They are on the other hand more comfortable to use (with a higher exit pupil) and have a more satisfying build quality. Just saying that the differences between eyepieces - near the center of the field of view on planets, will be very subtle. I think you can go a long time with just the eyepieces you have and the 2X Barlow. The 3X Barlow is probably not useful.

Best!

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8 minutes ago, sonicninja said:

To be honest I'll probably get some that suit my current level in the hobby i.e not utter rubbish from Aliexpress but nothing too fancy. I'll get a known brand so I know they're at least half decent.

Consider something like this from Aliexpress (the 8-24mm one as I think there are a few decent 8-24mm designs that everyone copies) 

https://www.amazon.co.uk/SVBONY-SV135-Eyepiece-7mm-21mm-Telescope/dp/B08D5XZ3KP/ref=asc_df_B07Z64NK65/?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=463026995977&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12064661647744846715&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1006798&hvtargid=pla-932117012575&th=1

It will be better than the two you have currently and you can use it with your 2x barlow to get suitable magnifications for planets.

It could be the only eyepiece you need for a while! I got a Seben branded one and didn't use anything else for nearly a year.

I still use it fairly often now and I'm looking at the next step of either spending a lot more money on a better zoom or on fixed eyepieces to cover the same range...

 

Edited by cwis
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I would suggest that if your 130 PS is of good quality, you will not see much difference for viewing planets if you change to another scope of similar aperture. Though an eyepiece upgrade might improve matters.  If you go to a bigger aperture (e.g 8", 203mm) that will give an improved view of planets  (if the seeing is good) but not an earth-shattering difference. 

Personally, I have found that going to planetary imaging (with a planetary video camera and 'lucky' imaging) gets the ultimate out of a visual telescope - a few days ago I got, after processing, clearly defined images of a moon shadow that I could barely see (or not at all) through the eyepiece.

GoTo can be of immense help, depending on what kind of observing you want to do. You don't need it to find Jupiter, but finding Neptune will be a severe pain without it.  And if you want to find and image objects on the limits of visibility, the ability to find the right area (with GoTo), plate-solve it and then at the click of a mouse reposition the scope to get the (visually invisible) object dead centre is amazing and an aid that only a diehard would want to do without.

If you want a better scope purely for visual use with GoTo, you can consider the Celestron C8 SE (a complete setup, not a scope, and one of several that mount the same OTA).

I am not clear why you were considering the EQ-6. This is an extremely heavy mount, and is mostly used by deep space imagers to rigidly mount a amall high quality refractor.  It is also capable of mounting a large, heavy newtonian (etc.)   For pure visual use an equatorial is a liability, as there is eatra effort involved for assembly and setup, for no practical gain compared with an alt-azimuth GoTo.

Deep space and planetary imaging have quite different requirements. If you want to cover visual, planetry imaging and deep space imaging, it helps to have several scopes and mounts so you can mix and match as required.

Edited by Cosmic Geoff
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1 hour ago, sonicninja said:

Thanks so much for your replies. There's a lot of information for me to go through here, especially on eye pieces. For the time being I'll look into some different eye pieces for my current set and forget about the GOTO mount. I may look into the SkyWatcher Skymax 127 as an addition to my set-up at a later date. I'll have a look on the classifieds and see what I can find, hopefully with the right conditions and equipment I can start getting the views of the bright planets I was hoping for.

On here second hand BSTs usually go for around £35 , they don't hang  around long , get in fast if any become available.  At that price they are a risk free investment, anyone buying one and wanting to upgrade in the future can sell it on again easily.

I wasn't confident that I'd see any improvement over the stock skywatcher eyepieces by spending more, so tried a skywatcher 17mm plossl , which gave far sharper views than the 10mm stock one, albeit at a lower magnification  (the 25mm stock ep is actually OK though, don't rush to replace that) . Convinced by my personal experience in my 'scope (at the time, the heritage dob) I tried a sw 12.5mm plossl, hated it, bought an 8mm BST and saw how much better , sharper and more detailed a view it gave than the stock 10mm or 12.5 plossl . The BST's eye relief and 60 degree field of view are greater than a plossl too.

Heather

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The 130PS is a fantastic little starter scope. I had one and regretted selling it. With steady seeing you should get some decent views of Jupiter's clouds and Saturn's Cassini division. 

Perservere for at least another six months. The winter season has plenty of great sights and a 130mm reflector will serve them up with all the trimmings.

If you haven't already, buy the book Turn Left at Orion. Install a planetarium app - Stellarium or Sky Safari are both very useful.

Buy a collimation cap or cheshire eyepiece to ensure the secondary mirror is aligned well. It's rare you will have to touch it after the first adjustment.

You don't need many eyepieces to get going. A high power, medium and low power will do. A 5mm BST & 15mm BST plus the Skywatcher 25mm you received with the telescope are all you need for now. Those will provide 130x, 43x and 26x. The planets won't be huge but you will see features.

There's so much more to see than planets with the 130PS. At 650mm focal length and f5 focal ratio it is an excellent wide field telescope. There are several open clusters that look great through it and if your skies are dark, globulars are worth checking out. Lunar features will stand out at 130x very well. As will many double stars.

Learn and make the most if what you have. The 130PS is perfectedly suited to the AZ5 mount. The steel tripod upgrade increases stability but the telescope is so light that isn't a necessity.

Edited by ScouseSpaceCadet
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