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I want to buy my partner a telescope for xmas. We are both novices, but he loves stargazing and uses his phone app to wander outdoors spotting planets and stars.

I honestly know nothing about it. 

 

Whats a good beginner telescope thats not too hard to use? 

 

Thank you.

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17 minutes ago, Jassy said:

I want to buy my partner a telescope for xmas. We are both novices, but he loves stargazing and uses his phone app to wander outdoors spotting planets and stars.

I honestly know nothing about it. 

 

Whats a good beginner telescope thats not too hard to use? 

 

Thank you.

How much were you thinking of spending? There’s a wide price range so an indication would help get you more useful suggestions.

Oh, and welcome to the forum by the way :). It’s a very friendly place to be 👍

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I suggest you check the Beginner Scopes from forum sponsor FLO, and then get back to us with any further questions. How far you have to carry the scope, how bad your skies are, and whether you like fancy tech may have a bearing on your final decision.

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Another welcome to SGL.

With up to £500 to spend, you have a lot of choices.

First of all avoid the online general sellers, department stores, PC world, etc. Buy from an astronomy retailer.
That will ensure you get meaningful and relevant after sales support if you need it.

Now the questions so we can make some recommendations......

Will you be observing from your garden mainly? Off in the car to the open sapces?
Are you in a bright town or city? Lots of light pollution.
Where will you store a telescope? If you live on the 3rd floor, you want something easy to carry.
Do you have the storage space? Does it have to go in a broom cupboard?

We can recommend small refractor scopes, large reflector scopes and all sorts between.
The best scope is the one that gets used the most.

David.
 

Edited by Carbon Brush
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Hi Jassy, welcome aboard SGL. Good to have you with us.

You've made a good move asking for advice as there's lots of choice and it can be a bit bewildering for the newcomer.

I'd echo what David said - don't buy from a department store etc.

I'm sure plenty of other folks will leap in with good suggestions, but it's also worth having a read at the beginner threads already on SGL as there's lots of help and advice in there.

Hope he, and you, enjoy the journey.

 

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Hello Jassy and welcome to the site. Can I offer an alternative option, how about buying "stuff" like a book called "Turn left at orion", a planisphere, some warm gloves/hat and get a gift voucher from somewhere like First Light Optics. I am sure he would love to be involved in the decision making. All the best.

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1 hour ago, Carbon Brush said:

Another welcome to SGL.

With up to £500 to spend, you have a lot of choices.

First of all avoid the online general sellers, department stores, PC world, etc. Buy from an astronomy retailer.
That will ensure you get meaningful and relevant after sales support if you need it.

Now the questions so we can make some recommendations......

Will you be observing from your garden mainly? Off in the car to the open sapces?
Are you in a bright town or city? Lots of light pollution.
Where will you store a telescope? If you live on the 3rd floor, you want something easy to carry.
Do you have the storage space? Does it have to go in a broom cupboard?

We can recommend small refractor scopes, large reflector scopes and all sorts between.
The best scope is the one that gets used the most.

David.
 

Hi David,

I have little light pollution. Am in a small village in south wales and with the naked eye we see Venus, Jupiter Saturn.

We have a balcony off a bedroom but usually look from the garden.

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Hi and welcome to SGL.

For £500 you can get life long telescope, and my first instinct is to say this:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/stellalyra-telescopes/stellalyra-8-f6-dobsonian.html

I'm just a bit reluctant to do so as it is very large scope. There is old saying that goes - best scope is one used most often.

Not much point in having such a large scope if its going to feel like a chore to take it out every night you feel like observing.

What sort of scope will suit you best - depends on your habits, your storage space, ability and willingness to carry it outside and setup each time.

Some people prefer smaller scope that they can just take and be ready to observe in matter of minutes. These are often referred to as grab&go scopes. Other scopes need longer setup time and often time to cool down to ambient temperature if stored in warm house (optics works the best when at same temperature as ambient air).

For that, refractor telescope is best, and something like this should be considered:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/evostar/sky-watcher-evostar-90-660-az-pronto.html

This will also save you some money for better accessories - like better diagonal, better eyepieces and so on ...

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Jassy

Noting M40’s comment I would keep some of your budget for accessories- the book Turn Left at Orion is a really good purchase for most beginners in my view, and a red light  torch too- allows you to read outside without ruining your ability to see faint things though the scope. I suspect you’ll already have hats and gloves - so you may not need those- but it is surprising how cold it gets when observing so you can almost never have too much of a good thing…

I suspect the scope that has the potential to allow your partner to see the most that is within your budget is an 8 inch dobsonian like this:(https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html)

or this:(https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/stellalyra-8-f6-dobsonian.html

They’re both ‘pretty bulky’ so you’ll need to find somewhere to store them (I don’t have the exact measurements but something like say 60x60cm footprint and approx 120cm tall). They’re also pretty heavy (approx 15-20kg I expect) but can be broken down into two manageable pieces…as long as the trip between indoors and outdoors isn’t too twisty/treacherous. There are smaller versions (6 inch) in the same format, and also 5 and 6 inch in a v compact size that are lighter and easier to store/move, but need to be put on a sturdy table outside when using them.

These scopes are ‘entirely manual’ in operation…i.e you have to find the objects yourself - which is surprisingly tricky at first (although the book referred to earlier gives excellent directions).  If that’s the sort of challenge your partner likes then these would be a good choice.

If however, your partner ‘likes a gadget’ then a computerised scope might be a good option. You’ll get a smaller scope (the diameter of the lens/mirror) that won’t have the same potential for viewing faint things, but after a bit of set up- it might show you more because it’ll find it’s location in the sky ‘automagically’. Something like this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/sky-watcher-startravel-102-az-gte.html

or this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/sky-watcher-skymax-102-az-gti.html

Note whilst these telescopes themselves may be smaller than the first options, the overall package will be similar in terms of storage space required because they’re mounted on tripods.

Good luck.

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Very good advice in the earlier posts.

Touching on the point raised by @catburglar

When you buy any sort of scope as a package, your money is shared beteeen the optics, the mount, and the electronics.

If you buy the big 'dobsonian' scopes identified by others, almost all your money goes into the optics.
The mount is a simple chipboard type structure, surprisingly good and long lasting. These scopes are often 'keepers'.

If you buy the Skymax 102 your 'glass' money is shared with a much more expensive mount and electronics.
You won't be able to see dim objects the big reflectors will show you. But if you have a desire for gadgets.....
However, a goto mount takes more effort to set up and align - every time out. So does not offer the instant views the sales leaflets imply.

As you have low light pollution, a big reflector is a good way to go.
It will do everything the Skymax 102 can do, and more.
Provided you don't have to carry it down 3 flights of stairs then down a bumpy path🥴

Sorry no instant answers or easy solutions.
Maybe bringing your partner into the discussion will help you both with the choices.
A big help is to take a look at a shop, if you have an astro retailer nearby. Try to gets hands on with a couple of types.
All scopes look almost the same size on the web pages. They are very different when you see and handle them.
 

 

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1 hour ago, catburglar said:

Jassy

Noting M40’s comment I would keep some of your budget for accessories- the book Turn Left at Orion is a really good purchase for most beginners in my view, and a red light  torch too- allows you to read outside without ruining your ability to see faint things though the scope. I suspect you’ll already have hats and gloves - so you may not need those- but it is surprising how cold it gets when observing so you can almost never have too much of a good thing…

I suspect the scope that has the potential to allow your partner to see the most that is within your budget is an 8 inch dobsonian like this:(https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html)

or this:(https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/stellalyra-8-f6-dobsonian.html

They’re both ‘pretty bulky’ so you’ll need to find somewhere to store them (I don’t have the exact measurements but something like say 60x60cm footprint and approx 120cm tall). They’re also pretty heavy (approx 15-20kg I expect) but can be broken down into two manageable pieces…as long as the trip between indoors and outdoors isn’t too twisty/treacherous. There are smaller versions (6 inch) in the same format, and also 5 and 6 inch in a v compact size that are lighter and easier to store/move, but need to be put on a sturdy table outside when using them.

These scopes are ‘entirely manual’ in operation…i.e you have to find the objects yourself - which is surprisingly tricky at first (although the book referred to earlier gives excellent directions).  If that’s the sort of challenge your partner likes then these would be a good choice.

If however, your partner ‘likes a gadget’ then a computerised scope might be a good option. You’ll get a smaller scope (the diameter of the lens/mirror) that won’t have the same potential for viewing faint things, but after a bit of set up- it might show you more because it’ll find it’s location in the sky ‘automagically’. Something like this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/sky-watcher-startravel-102-az-gte.html

or this: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/beginner-telescopes/sky-watcher-skymax-102-az-gti.html

Note whilst these telescopes themselves may be smaller than the first options, the overall package will be similar in terms of storage space required because they’re mounted on tripods.

Good luck.

Thank you. Really detailed and helpful... Im learning fast what type of questions I need to be asking and considering.

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1 hour ago, vlaiv said:

 

Some people prefer smaller scope that they can just take and be ready to observe in matter of minutes. These are often referred to as grab&go scopes. Other scopes need longer setup time and often time to cool down to ambient temperature if stored in warm house (optics works the best when at same temperature as ambient air).

For that, refractor telescope is best, and something like this should be considered:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/evostar/sky-watcher-evostar-90-660-az-pronto.html

This will also save you some money for better accessories - like better diagonal, better eyepieces and so on ...

vlaiv's suggestion there is excellent. I've just written a review about that very telescope over on AstroGear Today. It's below your budget, so you could bundle it with the book Turn Left at Orion and a red LED torch, and it's a Merry Christmas all round!

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3 hours ago, Jassy said:

Hi David,

I have little light pollution. Am in a small village in south wales and with the naked eye we see Venus, Jupiter Saturn.

We have a balcony off a bedroom but usually look from the garden.

 

Hi Jassy Vlaivs points  Are very important. A scope that is a chore to use, may be a chore too much.

However saying that. This size scope (Stella lyra 8" Dobsonian)  for someone who really wants to see the best views. Especially given your location.  With a dark sky, Will really excel.

The performance of the scope will be head and tails better. Than the 90mm smaller option shown here. I can see why Vlaiv would suggest two very different options to see what you thought. One is a bit more effort to move around. The other is very easy. But the extra effort. Will be so worthwhile. When you start looking around the night sky. But of course you will know best which one is more suitable for the points already raised. And your own personal circumstances.

That 8" Stella lyra will do all things equally well. From planets to galaxies. From star clusters to the moon. I know what i would buy. 

Edited by neil phillips
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30 minutes ago, Ricochet said:

The Stellalyra is out of stock until next year, therefore the Skywatcher Skyliner 200p is the telescope to go for if it is to be a Christmas present. 

Reminds me of waiting for my first 200mm reflector to be built for Christmas delivery. It was a package with decent eyepieces on EQ5 mount.

In my impatience, I bought a (used cheap department store type) 114mm reflector with cheap eyepieces on a wobbly EQ-something mount.
It satisfied my 'sky fix' needs for a few weeks - as well as making me appreciate the views through the proper scope & mount when it finally arrived.

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Hello, good suggestions so far by others here.

Your budget is okay, what you put the scope onto (the mount/tripod) is just as important as the scope and can sometimes cost as much or more than the scope itself - do not skimp on this as it will affect the experience due to vibration/settling time for the scope to stop shaking.

If you're just starting, I might suggest some large aperture binoculars and a tripod to mount them onto, it will be quick and easy to setup and won't cost too much initially. Once you get a feel for it you will have a better understanding of what you prefer to do and will have further time to invest in researching your next purchase - you will always be looking for the next upgrade.

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Strongly recommend a dob: 8" or perhaps 10".  Fine instruments which can really open up what's visible. Huge fun and enjoyment to be had learning how to use it and learning how to find stuff- and the sense of achievement seeing a target object for the first time!

While a dob can be very convenient and manageable to lift and quick to set up, it is worth considering personal circumstances, where it would be stored, and the path to where you'd observe - eg are flights of stairs involved.  It is very important that setup is easy!

I'd suggest minimising the amount of electronics involved at this price point.  A dob puts the money in the optics - which makes a lot of sense 😉.

Honestly, I'd not recommend spending £100+ on binoculars and a tripod.  It will not deliver anything like the amazing views a 8"-10" dob can.

However, using a dob involves one important step: learning to collimate.  This involves carefully following instructions with a little patience to align the primary and secondary mirrors.  If you think your partner is not the kind of person to do this and learn the process, then a dob may not suit them!

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On 01/12/2021 at 17:33, M40 said:

Hello Jassy and welcome to the site. Can I offer an alternative option, how about buying "stuff" like a book called "Turn left at orion", a planisphere, some warm gloves/hat and get a gift voucher from somewhere like First Light Optics. I am sure he would love to be involved in the decision making. All the best.

Great suggestions - a really important point about your partner appreciating being part of the decision making!

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Your idea of buying him a telescope is really beautiful, but choosing the right one is not very easy. In addition to a telescope, you also need eyepieces, a star atlas or phone app, and some other gadgets. 

I would also get him a book like `Turn left at Orion` and let him be involved in the decision making. You could get something together and spend time observing together.

Also, it is worth considering buying second hand equipment in this website: https://www.astrobuysell.com/uk/search.php . A lot of items are in excellent conditions (like new). 

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I have found the Skywatcher Explorer 130p to have been a great beginner telescope https://www.firstlightoptics.com/telescopes-in-stock/skywatcher-explorer-130p.html as it is my first telescope.  It took a little while to get to grips with things but i love using it.  I have also upgraded my eye pieces which have enhanced the viewing experience. 

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Ignore any advice on NOT getting a pair of binoculars! These are valuable friends in finding your way around the night sky, whilst your partner is enjoying his new gift, you can spend time gazing with a pair of binos.

You’ll be amazed at what they can offer, Then when he suggests you have a look through the scope, he can continue to gaze with the binos.
There are plenty of binos to choose from too, a second hand pair will be ample if bought with care, and will last you a life time. The other benefit with binos is that you can go outside and immediately see what’s in view, your location might have very good seeing conditions so binoculars are much the grab and go.

Happy Christmas and clear skies to you and your partner.

chaz

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you everyone in this thread! I am the happy recipient of all of your research, tips, advice, teaching and ideas - much much appreciated and I will follow through and update on decisions taken on exact scope. Turn left at Orion looks wonderful and was unwrapped eagerly! Poignant name too after my father showed me where Orion was when I was 9 years old.

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