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Saturn and Jupiter


Yubnub
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Hi all,

I'm just trying to get started and looking for equipment for Visual astronomy only at the moment.

My biggest fascination is with finding Saturn and seeing the ring/s clearly and seeing some cloud bands on Jupiter. Is this likely with a sub £1k budget or should I adjust my expectations to, just about make out some colour detail and hmmm...is that the ring? 😆

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Hi,

I think you can certainly expect that for <£1k!

I have one of these:

https://scopethegalaxy.com/meade-lightbridge-mini-130-review/

...and it cost me approx £250, about 18 months ago. That exact model isn't available any more (not new anyway), but there are plenty of others with similar specs. On a good night (and a clear sky/good seeing is *everything*) I have been able to make out the rings of Saturn and juuuust about make out bands on Jupiter (and also the Galilean moons).

I think, in retrospect, I'd have gone with a SkyWatcher, such as:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians/skywatcher-skyliner-200p-dobsonian.html

...and I still might. But to answer your question, yes, you can definitely get a decent scope for <£1k powerful enough for you to see what you're after.

 

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With that budget, it's easily possible to view those targets and get great images, providing the seeing is good. Investigate Dobsonians - anything between 150 and 250mm aperture are possible and also be wonderful for deep-sky targets. Maks, SCs, etc are planetary specialists but are much more expensive for the same aperture. Longer focal-length quality refractors ok too.

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 A Skywatcher 200P dobsonian mentioned above will fall well within your budget and with room to spare for some nice eyepieces too! not only will it show you more than what you bargained for in the planetary

department but will also be great for deep sky objects. If you can find one in stock or even used you will be well on your way.

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wow a lot of love for the Dobsonian options! I must admit, it was my first thought too from the initial research a few weeks ago. I then saw the size of the thing and couldn't possibly go down that route sadly. 

Could you see a cassegrain option doing well for under £1k? 

I'm looking at the Skymax 127 Maksutov and wondering if I should just be brave and go 8'' SCT instead... seems a big first step though. 

Edited by Yubnub
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I think the received wisdom about dobsonians is that most of your hard earned cash money goes on the 'scope rather than the tripod/mount. Depending on what you go for, you *may* be able to mount it on a tripod at a later date if you feel the need.

My 130mm Meade can be stored pointing upwards and takes up about the same amount of space as a waist-high pedal bin, so it's not too hard to store. If you're really concerned about space then maybe look at a flex tube option. I can't advise you on these really - no experience of them. But there are some options here:

https://www.firstlightoptics.com/dobsonians.html

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I bought my first scope only last year. I have a Skymax 127 on a SynScan AZ GOTO mount and it is quite capable of showing me the cloud belts of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and the moons of both planets. In fact it is great for observing many objects, just not the feinter ones (5" is not enough aperture) or the larger ones (it can only show me 1° of sky). I bought a second scope, a shorter focal length refractor, to let me see more sky (up to 3.6°), but have yet to find an economical way to get more aperture.

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Ok this is really helping! The 127 Mak on a GOTO is really jumping out as the best option.

 

thanks so much for your input guys! really appreciate it 😃

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Worth pointing out that Saturn & Jupiter are getting harder to observe this time of year. Plenty else to see but you'll need to wait until next year to see them at their best. Don't let this put you off though!

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A dob may appear large but has a surprisingly small floor space when stored ( having said that i had a 300mm dob "living" with my wife and i in our small living room!!!! )

Value for money they cant really be touched , get the 200mm version if you can . But , and i am alluding to your other post , the Mak sitting on the GTi is a brilliant combo and you have the advantage of a compact scope that excels on planets and has the advantage of a  GOTO system that is so portable. 

Choice is sometimes a wicked thing :) 

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On 26/01/2022 at 17:58, wulfrun said:

Worth pointing out that Saturn & Jupiter are getting harder to observe this time of year. Plenty else to see but you'll need to wait until next year to see them at their best. Don't let this put you off though!

Yeah I just saw a chart and saw this. Shame. But at least it gives me time to build a rig 😁

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I think some of these companies have very clever product managers that know exactly what to include and not include to get the budget growing. If only that OTA came on that mount..etc! 

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There is a lot of lovely kit out there and it's easy to start thinking "I might see a bit more if I just bought that upgrade / eyepiece / filter / second scope". I think many of us fall victim to this. I know I have. So far I've spent around six times what I spent on the initial scope and mount! Way more than I'd ever anticipated. It's hard to know when to stop!!

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On 26/01/2022 at 15:33, Yubnub said:

wow a lot of love for the Dobsonian options! I must admit, it was my first thought too from the initial research a few weeks ago. I then saw the size of the thing and couldn't possibly go down that route sadly. 

Could you see a cassegrain option doing well for under £1k? 

I'm looking at the Skymax 127 Maksutov and wondering if I should just be brave and go 8'' SCT instead... seems a big first step though. 

I seem to be following three or four threads at the moment that are discussing the Skymax 127 or similar as a starter scope, and I'm losing track.

I would add here that for me, the 127 is at a sweet spot because (a) it can be used on a more lightweight mount/tripod of 5kg capacity; you won't get away with that for an 8" SCT or Mak, and you'll find the next step up is expensive (and the shorter Mak will settle better than a reflector or refractor of the same weight); (b) larger versions will take significantly longer to cool to external temperature; I find that 30 mins is usually enough for my 127, and never more than an hour; in the UK we often get evenings where there are clear skies for a limited period (and these are often unforecast), so if you have only one scope, you don't want to be missing out on those clear windows.

In other threads I've said that I would prefer a fastish Newtonian over a Mak if it were my only scope, as they're a bit more versatile on targets and you'll get a bit more aperture for your money (and more still if it's a dob). Last night I took my 150mm Newt out as it was moonless and I wanted the aperture for galaxy hunting. This followed several sessions this month with the Skymax. I did also look at some open clusters and doubles, but I was surprised that the Newt at best only matched the views I'd been getting in the Mak. For example, in spite of decent seeing, I really struggled to split the third component of Beta Monocerotis, which the Mak has aced more than once. So I'm coming to the opinion that there's not so much in it.

 

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55 minutes ago, PeterC65 said:

There is a lot of lovely kit out there and it's easy to start thinking "I might see a bit more if I just bought that upgrade / eyepiece / filter / second scope"

My problem is trying to get it right first time to avoid added cost with a compromised setup ...I forget sometimes that I just need to buy something and get the experience! 

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16 minutes ago, Zermelo said:

I would add here that for me, the 127 is at a sweet spot because

Wow, that's some useful knowledge thank you. 

Do you work for Sky Watcher? 😆

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4 minutes ago, Yubnub said:

Wow, that's some useful knowledge thank you. 

Do you work for Sky Watcher? 😆

I didn't realize I came across quite so enthusiastic, I'm certainly not on commission!

I should perhaps add that the Skymax is the only Mak that I've used. Others have said good things about the Bresser models, for example. I believe (can't find a thread) that the Skywatcher version has a slightly shorter focal length than most, which makes it a bit more of an all-rounder at the expense of a slightly larger central obstruction.

 

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13 minutes ago, Yubnub said:

My problem is trying to get it right first time to avoid added cost with a compromised setup ...I forget sometimes that I just need to buy something and get the experience! 

... which is true of many on the forum, myself included.

You'll be very lucky not to make any decisions that are sub-optimal (not true for me) but if your definition of "right" is that you roughly go along the path that's best for your circumstances, then I think there's enough on this forum to achieve that. And yes, at some point you do just need to go with what you know and buy something.

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So true! ...but by my man maths, my 1year old son can have this setup in a few (4?) years and I can get the roof converted to take the observatory 😆

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Just now, johninderby said:

The old saying you learn from your mistakes certainly applies to buying astro kit. 😁😁😁

and fly-fishing, shooting, golf, mountain biking, DIY, car maintenance... the list goes on for me 😱

 

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