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Telescope Recommendations For Amateur Astronomers


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Hello all,

Sorry if this is yet another "Can you recommend" post but I thought it would best to ask the people who have spent years doing this hobby rather than trawling the review sections of telescopes! My partner and I would both like to get into astronomy/astrophotography and we have been considering getting a telescope for a while. I had an old cheap Skywatcher when I was younger but sold it, so I have some knowledge but not much. Can you help recommend a telescope and mount for us? Here are our parameters...

- We're London based (I know! awful light pollution!)

- We have a maximum budget of ~£400, I know it's not much :(

- We would like to be able to do some astrophotography with it. I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 DSLR camera which would be nice to use with it, failing that, with our mobile phones!

- Motorized mount? I know it can be more expensive but also better for long exposures and ease of use.

- Perhaps something that can be easily transported around (we drive but currently do not own a car), so we could take it to the parks or on the tube. But this is not essential. 

Any recommendations and tips you could give us would be great.

Thank you all in advance... and Happy Holidays! 🎄

Graham

 

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You have hit upon the usual issue that people come across when wanting to start up with astronomy and astrophotography, the two really are very different animals and need very different equipment.

Usually for viewing dobsonians are recommended for ease of use and getting the best value for money. Something like this is a brilliant all rounder for viewing only Sky-Watcher Classic 200P Dobsonian | First Light Optics

For photography your looking at powered EQ mounts capable of holding a good weight, a decent scope which is aimed more for photography and other various bits and bobs, (I am not a photography type, others will tell you more) but you are looking around £1000+ to get you started.

You can get eyepiece attachments to take pictures with a phone at the eyepiece of visual scopes though.

Merry Christmas to you.

 

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47 minutes ago, bomberbaz said:

You have hit upon the usual issue that people come across when wanting to start up with astronomy and astrophotography, the two really are very different animals and need very different equipment.

Usually for viewing dobsonians are recommended for ease of use and getting the best value for money. Something like this is a brilliant all rounder for viewing only Sky-Watcher Classic 200P Dobsonian | First Light Optics

For photography your looking at powered EQ mounts capable of holding a good weight, a decent scope which is aimed more for photography and other various bits and bobs, (I am not a photography type, others will tell you more) but you are looking around £1000+ to get you started.

You can get eyepiece attachments to take pictures with a phone at the eyepiece of visual scopes though.

Merry Christmas to you.

 

Not sure I fancy taking an 8" dob on the tube.. 🙄🦾   mind you, I suppose the carriages will be empty soon...

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1 minute ago, cajen2 said:

Not sure I fancy taking an 8" dob on the tube.. 🙄🦾   mind you, I suppose the carriages will be empty soon...

good point, well made. I missed the tube bit 🙄

This only comes in at 7.5KG and packs down much smaller with a still gecent 150mm aperture

Sky-Watcher Heritage-150P Flextube Dobsonian Telescope | First Light Optics

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Hi Graham,

astrophotography would go way beyond your budget as @bomberbaz suggested. 
 

I have a similar set up to what’s recommended above and personally I’m very happy taking pictures using a phone adapter as it’s purely for my own pleasure and I have done this on a 130p dob in the past and enjoyed it.

I see bomberbaz has now recommended the 150p heritage, I had the 130p version which is what I was talking about above. 
 

After a while, I wished I went for a higher aperture which is why I now own the Sky-Watcher skyliner 250p.

Again I will be taking pictures with a phone adapter and my iPhone 12 with nightcap app.

You say that going to the park is not essential? 

 My advice is get the biggest dob you can, a phone adapter and have fun.

Nathan

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Yeah bit of a cocktail of issues here, transportation, photography etc.

Another half cock idea is the virtuoso scope and mount here. Sky-Watcher Heritage-114P Virtuoso | First Light Optics

Quite a clever bit of kit although I have never used one. Will provide tracking once you find an object for the scope and it can mount cameras  so very short exposures of 10 seconds can done although not sure about compatibility for your camera. 

You would have to do further research as I am not fully up to speed as I said but it has a lot of flexibility and only you can decide if it might work for you.

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Aperture is going to open up more of the sky for you, 

With you saying going the park isn’t essential I’m guessing you have a garden?

or somewhere at your property for use. 
 

haha @cajen2 yes don’t go on the tube with a big dob!

@Dr1_veR this will be more down to your personal preference. 
 

is travelling about important to you as you said it’s not essential? 
 

or would you like to see more from your garden and maybe travel about when you eventually get a car?

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13 hours ago, Dr1_veR said:

Hello all,

Sorry if this is yet another "Can you recommend" post but I thought it would best to ask the people who have spent years doing this hobby rather than trawling the review sections of telescopes! My partner and I would both like to get into astronomy/astrophotography and we have been considering getting a telescope for a while. I had an old cheap Skywatcher when I was younger but sold it, so I have some knowledge but not much. Can you help recommend a telescope and mount for us? Here are our parameters...

- We're London based (I know! awful light pollution!)

- We have a maximum budget of ~£400, I know it's not much :(

- We would like to be able to do some astrophotography with it. I have a Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 DSLR camera which would be nice to use with it, failing that, with our mobile phones!

- Motorized mount? I know it can be more expensive but also better for long exposures and ease of use.

- Perhaps something that can be easily transported around (we drive but currently do not own a car), so we could take it to the parks or on the tube. But this is not essential. 

Any recommendations and tips you could give us would be great.

Thank you all in advance... and Happy Holidays! 🎄

Graham

 

Hope I don't sound like a Debbie Downer here but:

The G1 isn't the best camera for astro. It has a noisy sensor and its low light performance is poor. 

If you are interested in astrophotography on a budget then I suggest you start with a star tracker, which will allow wide field long exposures without star trailing and is portable.

Travel to dark sky sites. Buy a used lens that is a good match for the tracker and is known to be suitable for astrophotography (either wide angle milky way or a longer prime lens suitable for the tracker limitations, with a large aperture and good optical performance, perhaps a manual lens)      

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At the top of your budget, I would recommend the Sky-Watcher StarTravel-102 AZ GTe for visual, it is very portable and breaks down into two main parts (tripod and telescope), my wife has this one but on an AZ5 mount, which is more sturdy (we don't do electronics or smart phone stuff), but we have found it both practical and highly portable.  The views are amazing and it can be upgraded later, my wife and I upgraded to a Crayford focuser, a 2" diagonal and a RACI optical finder.  Best used without the pillar (the bit between the telescope and the tripod) as this affects the balance.   Highly recommended, found here: https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel/sky-watcher-startravel-102-az-gte.html
 

Edited by rwilkey
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi All,

 

Thanks for all the replies! Yeah does seem like I'm being overly optimistic in what I can get for my money. I think I'll cut out any major astrophotography hopes and just get something which we can take basic photos with, and one which we can enjoy the night sky! Thanks again 🙂

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 20/12/2021 at 21:45, Nathan Ray said:

Hi Graham,

astrophotography would go way beyond your budget as @bomberbaz suggested. 
 

I have a similar set up to what’s recommended above and personally I’m very happy taking pictures using a phone adapter as it’s purely for my own pleasure and I have done this on a 130p dob in the past and enjoyed it.

I see bomberbaz has now recommended the 150p heritage, I had the 130p version which is what I was talking about above. 
 

After a while, I wished I went for a higher aperture which is why I now own the Sky-Watcher skyliner 250p.

Again I will be taking pictures with a phone adapter and my iPhone 12 with nightcap app.

You say that going to the park is not essential? 

 My advice is get the biggest dob you can, a phone adapter and have fun.

Nathan

Hi mate,

Looking to get a phone adaptor for a telescope I hope to get soon. Just wondering what phone adaptor you have as I’ve got an iPhone 12 too so would rather be safer then sorry knowing I’m getting one that works well and will fit with my phone. 

Cheers.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 08/01/2022 at 20:07, Jrjc said:

Hi mate,

Looking to get a phone adaptor for a telescope I hope to get soon. Just wondering what phone adaptor you have as I’ve got an iPhone 12 too so would rather be safer then sorry knowing I’m getting one that works well and will fit with my phone. 

Cheers.

Sorry for the late reply mate, 

I’ve had covid so haven’t been feeling my best haha.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Phone-Adapter-Mount-Holder-For-Binoculars-Telescope-Scope-Microscope-Universal-/274819439185?mkcid=16&mkevt=1&_trksid=p2349624.m46890.l49286&mkrid=710-127635-2958-0
 

That’s the one I have, only cheap but does the job.

Nathan

Edited by Nathan Ray
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