Jump to content

SkySurveyBanner.jpg.21855908fce40597655603b6c9af720d.jpg

Best Starsense Explorer for firstimer - DX 130AZ newtonian or DX 5 SCT?


Recommended Posts

Hey everyone!

I’m new here. Been a stargazer since I was a kid but embarking on my first telescope, due to a gift and lots of research from my wife. I live in New York City and most of my stargazing will be city bound, with the occasional opportunistic family trip out of town where I can get some sky watching in. This is also going to be an activity I do with my kid, who’s almost 4. I’m super excited to join and hoping some of you might offer some perspective!

I am deciding between 2 scopes by Celestron from their their StarSense line. After reading a lot and watching video reviews, I think the app approach is good for me and my kid since it will help us learn the sky with visual aids.

Since we live in the city, and portability and storage are big concerns, we wont get a dobsonian. Even though, I know that they are the best bang for the buck out here (maybe later if we move into a house upstate!).

My wife just bought me the StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ, which seems like a great telescope. With some additional research I’m considering returning it to get the StarSense Explorer DX 5 (Popular Science model) for the following reasons:
- Much more portable, can get scope and mount onto a backpack for local park viewing
- Erect image for daytime viewing of city views and nature (we live near a great park with cliff views), especially with the kid.
- I found it for a very good price $500 w. mount

From my understanding, the main potential drawbacks to a SCT are:
- More expensive / complex.
- Narrower field of view

I’m wondering if any of you might have experience with the DX 5 or thoughts on any of the following questions!
- Given my needs, are there any major or dealbreaker reasons to avoid a SCT over a Newtonian?
- What do you think of the Celestron DX 5 mount? It seems like the same one as the DX 130AZ but I’m not sure.
- I read that SCT are less good than Newtonian for DSOs, is this for light collecting or field of view reasons? I’d love to do a mix of planetary and deep space viewing.
- Is it worth the $100 upgrade price from DX 130AZ to DX 5

It’s been cloudy here since Xmas but I’m chomping the bit to get outside!

Thanks for the guidance!

Edited by AstroCurl
Clarification
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Since you have the DX130AZ, I don't quite see what you would gain by swapping it for the DX5.  The DX5 has a more compact optical tube but is not obviously more portable.

SCTs are great scopes. They are more expensive than Newtonians because they are more difficult to manufacture.  They do have a narrower field of view, a fact which is trotted out every time SCTs or Maksutovs are mentioned, but the practical consequences of this are exaggerated.  Note that the other scope which 'everybody' tells beginners to buy, the 8" f6 Dobsonian, has roughly the same field of view as the DX5.

I should think that the DX 130 and the DX5 perform much the same on DSOs, if you set them up for the same magnification.  Which if you are observing from New York City means "not much to see".   Extended objects of low surface brightness, like galaxies cannot be seen well under light polluted urban skies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, AstroCurl said:

Hey everyone!

I’m new here. Been a stargazer since I was a kid but embarking on my first telescope, due to a gift and lots of research from my wife. I live in New York City and most of my stargazing will be city bound, with the occasional opportunistic family trip out of town where I can get some sky watching in. This is also going to be an activity I do with my kid, who’s almost 4. I’m super excited to join and hoping some of you might offer some perspective!

I am deciding between 2 scopes by Celestron from their their StarSense line. After reading a lot and watching video review, I think the app approach is good for me and my kid, since it will help us learn the sky with visual aids.

Since we live in the city and portability and storage are big concerns, we wont get a dobsonian—even though, I know that the best bang for the buck out here (maybe later if we move into a house upstate!).

My wife bought me the StarSense Explorer DX 130AZ, which seems like a great telescope. With some additional research I’m considering upgrading to the StarSense Explorer DX 5 (Popular Science model) for the following reasons:
- Much more portable, can get scope and mount onto a backpack for local park viewing
- Erect image for daytime viewing of city views and nature (we live near a great park with cliff views), especially with the kid.
- I found it for a very good price $500 w. mount

From my understanding, the main potential drawbacks to a SCT are:
- More expensive / complex.
- Narrower field of view

I’m wondering if any of you might have experience with the DX 5 or thoughts on any of the following questions!
- Given my needs, are there any major or dealbreaker reasons to avoid a SCT over a Newtonian?
- What do you think of the Celestron DX 5 mount? It seems like the same one as the DX 130AZ but I’m not sure.
- I read that SCT are less good than Newtonian for DSOs, is this for light collecting or field of view reasons? I’d love to do a mix of planetary and deep space viewing.
- Is it worth the $100 upgrade price from DX 130AZ to DX 5

It’s been cloudy here since Xmas but I’m chomping the bit to get outside!

Thanks for the guidance!

Hello AstroCurl.

It doesnt make sense to buy two different complete DX scopes.  The mount is the same for both scopes - you don't need two mounts.  Any scope with a Vixen type dovetail will work with the DX mount you already have.  This means you could  buy any new or used scope with a Viven dovetail and use it on the DX mount you already have, as long as they are within the capacity of the mount.  The phone holder is fixed on the mount of course - and it doesn't know or care what telescope you are putting on it !!

I've had a DX, and personally don't think it is as sturdy as it should be with some of the scopes supplied with it.  If you want to 'upgrade', I would consider one of the tabletop dobsonians, or if you want a larger scope, the 6-12 Starsense dob scopes are all excellent and the mounts are much better than the DX mount.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Happy New Year!

Frankly the SCT will be smaller in terms of size and more portable. With your criteria it is something to consider. The Newtonian will be easier to collimate and it will have a overall wider field of view which will be helpful on large objects but not helpful on small ones. Collimation of a SCT is done less often but is more involved. Over time with either you will get it down and can do it easily. Practice makes perfect. 

It will initially be difficult to see things. Especially from NYC and the corresponding light pollution. The secret to seeing more is to observe more. Observing is just like using any other muscle. The more you use it the stronger it will become. Same is true with your eyes. For example my city has about the same level of light pollution as NYC. When I started in the hobby I couldn't see the sword of Orion which is off his belt using my naked eye. That was in 2013. Now 10 years later I can see the sword and make out the actual Orion nebula with slightly averted vision. When I started observing I could barely detect Messier 81 and 82 galaxies using my 8" SCT from my backyard. Now I can easily see them using my 100mm refractor. My secret was using every possible opportunity I had to take my telescope outside and observe with it. My eyes, over time, got better at seeing things.

To set expectations no matter how long you do this, unless you have a unusual mutation in your eye called tetrachromaticism or a very large telescope (about 22" or bigger in diameter), you will never see color in your telescopes except for the moon and the brighter planets like Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars. Nebulae will look like puffs of smoke and galaxies will be objects with a bright center and wisps of smoke around it. But you are seeing both and that in and of itself is pretty cool! Globular clusters will be small balls of stars. Open clusters are going to be dots of light. Carbon stars are going to be orange to red dots of light. And double stars will be two dots of light. In darker skies there will be more detail to those wisps and puffs of smoke and they will be brighter.

There are many things to see out there and it really is amazing! Think about this... The light that leaves Messier 81 13 million years ago (it is 13 million and change light years from earth) and is only now hitting your eye. So you are looking at something that happened 13 million years ago! 

Something else you will want to do. Buy yourself a comfortable chair like a drummer's throne. It isn't for your rear end it is for your eyes. The more comfortable you are the more you will see.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Cosmic Geoff, paulastro, and Dr Strange! I really appreciate the perspective and encouragement!

I was in a "junior astronomer" program at the old Hayden Planetarium here in NYC when I was 4 and still have memories of the awe I felt in that planetarium. It was an old-school projector,  not the fancy video systems they have now. Owning my own scope has been a long time coming and i'm looking forward to learning the skies in a new way.

I decided to go for the SCT scope! Getting the whole setup into a large backpack will get me out under the stars much more often—double so with the family! It arrives on in a few days and I'm stoked to build and test it out (daytime first for operation)!

I went down a rabbit hole on eye pieces but decided to hold off on that for now. Ed Ting's youtube video was encouraging to simplify that. Although it will take me a while to save up enough to buy an EP that is almost the same $$ as the scope! But i agree with the philosophy of buy well once. It works for dress shoes and winter coats, so why not this?

One of the huge incentives of doing this is how generous the astronomy community online seems to be. And is a nice exception to how horrible the rest of the internet can be lol. Thanks for your replies. I'll send a report on my first outing!

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The best telescope for you is the telescope that you are going to use.  If that's the SCT, then go for it.

There aren't any real 'dealbreakers', so I think you've made the right choice in your circumstances.  It may be undermounted on that tripod but I don't have any experience with it - I just know that at 1250mm focal length, it's quite demanding on your tripod.  With bigger SCTs, the advantage you gain by having a smaller optical tube is often offset by needing a bigger mount but with the 5", this is a bit less of a concern.

I own a C5, which is the same tube (different colour as it was supplied as part of a different range) and it's a very handy little telescope.  A few years back I did a Messier Marathon with it and a C6 (slightly bigger brother) and between us we managed to clock over 90 objects from a reasonably dark-sky location, so in my experience, DSOs are not an issue.  A Messier Marathon isn't necessarily the strictest test of a scope but it demonstrates that you'll be able to see a lot with it.  Just last night I took my C5 out and pointed it at Jupiter and had some excellent views - albeit brief due to our UK weather.

Many good things have been said about the Starsense system and its accuracy, which should definitely help.

Also - props to your wife.  On paper and all else being equal the 130AZ does make more sense as a first telescope in most circumstances (portability notwithstanding) so I can absolutely see how she got there.

Edited by GrumpiusMaximus
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 04/01/2024 at 01:59, GrumpiusMaximus said:

The best telescope for you is the telescope that you are going to use.

That's exactly where I'm coming from! Thanks for the encouragement. I totally agree that the 130AZ is a great starter scope! And yes, my wife is the best. She's not a techie at ALL and when she started quoting me model names and astronomy terms...well that's love!

I'm curious to see what the setup feels like in person and in my neighborhood. I'm curious about the mount and the focal length. But I'm sure all things will reveal themselves in time. Do you use a dew shield for your C5?

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, AstroCurl said:

That's exactly where I'm coming from! Thanks for the encouragement. I totally agree that the 130AZ is a great starter scope! And yes, my wife is the best. She's not a techie at ALL and when she started quoting me model names and astronomy terms...well that's love!

I'm curious to see what the setup feels like in person and in my neighborhood. I'm curious about the mount and the focal length. But I'm sure all things will reveal themselves in time. Do you use a dew shield for your C5?

I do.  I bought some flexible foam from a local craft shop, rolled it into a tube, glued with superglue and secured with duct tape.  Then cut out for the vixen rail so that I could get it over the scope.  Minimal cost and seems to work well enough.  Took about 10 minutes to actually make.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.