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Which Skywatcher?


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Hi folks

I am very new to this but keen to get started with a quality telescope. Currently looking at the Skywatcher explorer 130PM which has 5.1" mirror and is motorised or the explorer 150P which has 6" mirror but doesn't appear to be motor driven.

Would it be better to go for the bigger mirror, or the motor?!! :D

I am wanting to attach an SLR and take good clear pics of deep space. If I won't be able to do this with either please tell me and I'll keep saving!

Thanks

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For deep space pictures the mount is of key importance. The motor on the 150p will allow you to take deep sky pictures but only basic ones. If you want to produce quality pictures you need a more professional mount such as an EQ5/6 etc.

However if you are only interested in visual work then go for the biggest mirror you can afford.

Regards

Mark

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If your just interested in imaging then large aperture isn't as important as getting a good solid mount. Invest your money on an eq5/6, doesn't need goto just basic good tracking is all that's required.

For some deep space objects you can always use a lens on an SLR instead of an OTA.

Planetary objects are best captured with a webcam attached at prime focus of an OTA, their small sensors and pixel count is an advantage as is the higher capture rate.

As I understand it, for imaging if you are lacking aperture you just need to take longer exposures to get the same data.

Cheers

John

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To be honest, both are good scopes. I had the 130pm and rue the day I sold it. It is a good, all round beginners scope, but with enough to keep you going for a long time.

The motor means that you can keep an object in the field of view (subject to polar aligning) without having to toush the scope and so observe for longer.

I'd go for the 130 myself, get a moon filter, Turn Left at Orion, Sky and Telescopes pocket sky atlas, a couple more EPs and a wooly hat! You wont regret it.

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Hmm, thanks for the advice so far. Seems to me that to achieve quality photos I need a sturdy mount. The EQ5 retails at over 200 notes(!) so perhaps my expectations are too high as this just about blows the budget without sitting a scope on it (LOL)

If I was to prioritise, I would have to say that I would love to see quality views of galaxies through the eye piece. Is this achievable with a 5" scope such as the EXPLORER-130PM 130mm (5.1") or the and the EXPLORER-150P (EQ3-2) 150MM (6") or are these scopes really limited to the solar system?

The 130PM is motorised for £200. Do I need the motor purely for imaging or am I better with a motor just for viewing?

The 150P comes with the EQ3 mount which seems like it might be ok for imaging but no motor aaarggh!!!

I could add a motor to the 150P at a later date for £80.

So, in summary, does the one 150P give me a better scope for viewing (even without the motor initially) but also provide the better bet for imaging later with a motor added?

Too many questions - sorry!:D

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I would love to see quality views of galaxies through the eye piece. Is this achievable with a 5" scope such as the EXPLORER-130PM 130mm (5.1") or the and the EXPLORER-150P (EQ3-2) 150MM (6") or are these scopes really limited to the solar system?

Hmm - the fact is that any scope is somewhat limited as far as seeing galaxies and deep space objects is concerned. These things are known to amateur astronomers as 'faint fuzzies' which just about sums it up. Most deep space objects do appear as faint grey smoke patches. There are exceptions to this but the majority of stuff in deep space is pretty vague. If your expecting to see colored galaxies and nebula you will be disappointed.

Even a really large scope wont resolve color.

This isnt a council of despair - I'm just being honest because I'd hate to see anyone disappointed.

Thats not to say what you do see isn't often amazing but the amazement comes more from what you are looking at rather than the actual view.

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Thanks for your honest response. Astro Baby (great name!) Now I am even more confused! How come the images you see across the net are of such high quality and full of colour, is this more to do with photoshop than scopes and mounts? Does anyone have any images of "faint fuzzies" that would give a reasonable interpretation of what I could expect to see through a £200 scope?

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The net is full of pics taken with very long exposures and often very expensive astro-imaging kit which has taken someone a long time to master.

You wont see color in galaxies or nebula with the naked eye - to get that you need long exposure times. In reality the exposure is multiple exposures that are 'stacked' together to create the final picture.

To give you an idea of what you'd see with your eyeballs I have bodged up some pics - these have been sort of messed about with to approximate visual of the objects - you could also look in the observing and sketches section to see work done by some great sketch artists.

You have to remember as well that seeing with a scope takes practice. I know it sounds silly but you have to learn to 'see'.

Anyway - heres some very rough approximations of a view through an 8" scope.

ps - it might be worth your while to check out a local astro society - see if they have an observing evening and go along. Most of us dont mind giving a beginner a look through our scopes so you can get an idea of what the view is like. Where are you based ?

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Great post there Mel. Really clarifies the difference between naked eye and photos.

Having said that, the 130 will let you see DSO, albeit they will be faint fuzzies as mentioned above. I had great fun looking at M42 and the usual suspects with mine. Quite capable of showing them in all their fuzzy glory!

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I bought a 130pm and still use my EQ2 mount to take images. I can get up to 60s exposure on a good, still night. I may have to take a few images, but sometimes the cogs just seem to line up well enough to track for that long!

HOWEVER, I had to upgrade to a Celestron 80ed scope because there isn't enough inward focus on the skywatcher 130 to get an image with an SLR. I use a Canon 350d, which I bought second hand for £150, but you can use an old 35mm SLR too. I bought one for a tenner to give it a go.

Anyway, I have tried to attach an image of M42 that I took with the EQ2 mount (with RA motor) (dont know whether it uploaded OK or not). It is five 20 second exposures stacked with free software (Deep Sky Stacker) and then the contrast increased in more free software (The Gimp). A very easy procedure.

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Thanks folks, these posts have been really useful in managing my expectations! I am based in Beverley in the UK. There is a local club so I think I'll pop along and see what they're up to too. Seems like the way to go is to buy a scope with the biggest mirror and best mount I can afford then take it from there...

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Yes, If you get a larger dob say 10 to 12 inch for say £200 (second hand) you will then be able to find hundreds of faint fuzzies as Astro Baby calls them...

But they will all be grey and fuzzy some brighter than others and in my view still amazing.

BUT with a dob no tracking usually so no long exposure deep sky photos....

Mark

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Hi,

You've had some really high quality answers here. The photo impressions post is very true to life.

To defend the imagers on the forum, the colour does not come from Photoshop but from the camera. The diifference is simply that the eye receives a light photon and discards it, receives another and discards it, while the camera and software can recieve one, then another, then another, and accumulate them over maybe thirteen hours, or even much longer, over many nights.

While Beardy Bob did brilliantly to capture the heart of M42 with his shot, be aware that that's one of the brightest nebulae in the sky. I'd go for the biggest aperture you can and that means Dob and forget the imaging. The EQ5 you need is more like £700, it's the Pro version.

From Beverley (I have friends there) you should get to a dark site easily - maybe even just on the Westwood - and you have very low horizons!

Cheers,

Olly

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On colors with the eye and a 6" scope you would see (under a good sky) a slight blue hint to M42 and also to M45 the rest of the deep sky stuff will be smokey grey.

You can (with a large enough scope and an OIII filter) get the The RIng and the Dumbell nebulas to exhibit a kind of ghostly green bu8t its VERY subtle.

Obviously you can see star colors - doubles like Albireo show a very definite shift between the large blue star and the small golden coloured star which is its companion.

On the whole though you dont see much color.

You could take a look at this page Review of the Sky-Watcher 130PM where I reviewed my own Sky-Watcher 130 for a review - it also has some sketches which have been arted up to approximate the views of planets plus a pic of the moon taken with a cheap happy snappy digital cam through the eyepiece.

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One point I often do not see when a person asks: Which scope should I get as a first scope? is get one that you will and can use without too much bother.

If you purchase a dob, yes they have a big mirror for the cost, but can you easily move it, can you collimate it, can you wait for the nice big mirror to get to thermal stability? The bigger the mirror the longer it takes.

Can you transport it in a car if your garden hasn't good views and isn't dark? A dob has a learning curve that is as big as any other scope and greater then many.

For a first scope please get one that you will find OK to use or else you will get fed up and forget it all.

There seem to be 2 saying on Astro forums:

Aperture is king, and, the best scope you have is the one you use the most. The 2 are not necessarily the same.

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Brilliant advice from everyone, really appreciate the time people have taken. Currently thinking that the Skywatcher explorer 150P best suits my needs at the mo, and will no doubt look at adding a motor at some point. Next step is to convince the wife that I need it NOW, and can't possibly wait for the guy in the red suit to bring it by reindeer. Anyone got any advice on convincing wifes- LOL! Ps I live 5 mins from the Westwood Olly, and reckon you could be right about its potential for stargazing.

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One point I often do not see when a person asks: Which scope should I get as a first scope? is get one that you will and can use without too much bother.

If you purchase a dob, yes they have a big mirror for the cost, but can you easily move it, can you collimate it, can you wait for the nice big mirror to get to thermal stability? The bigger the mirror the longer it takes.

Can you transport it in a car if your garden hasn't good views and isn't dark? A dob has a learning curve that is as big as any other scope and greater then many.

For a first scope please get one that you will find OK to use or else you will get fed up and forget it all.

There seem to be 2 saying on Astro forums:

Aperture is king, and, the best scope you have is the one you use the most. The 2 are not necessarily the same.

Couldn't agree more!!

I got a Celestron Nexstar 102 SLT, which certain doesn't have the biggest apeture for a telescope in that price range but I do use it...alot!

It's size, weight, functions(being able to connect to the laptop for slewing) transportability, ease of use all suit me down to the ground.

At the end of the day, do your research (which it certainly sounds like your doing) and enjoy one of the best hobbies ever!!

Gavin

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Well, all things considered I decided to go for the Skywatcher Explorer 150PL in the end. The longer version seems to get the better reviews so I plumped for that. I should get it on Tuesday (can't wait) but have to go walking in the French alps for a few days on Wednesday (life's tough - LOL) so it might be a while before I get to point it towards a night sky aaarrrghh! The wife is just about talking to me (!) - I think she's secretly looking forward to the piece and quiet!

Thanks again to everyone who gave me advice. I will keep you posted on how I get on and will no doubt be back for more advice!

Cheers!

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Hmm - the fact is that any scope is somewhat limited as far as seeing galaxies and deep space objects is concerned. These things are known to amateur astronomers as 'faint fuzzies' which just about sums it up. Most deep space objects do appear as faint grey smoke patches. There are exceptions to this but the majority of stuff in deep space is pretty vague. If your expecting to see colored galaxies and nebula you will be disappointed.

Even a really large scope wont resolve color.

This isnt a council of despair - I'm just being honest because I'd hate to see anyone disappointed.

Thats not to say what you do see isn't often amazing but the amazement comes more from what you are looking at rather than the actual view.

So as a beginner what things in the sky will i see that are not feint fuzzies ?

Regards

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So as a beginner what things in the sky will i see that are not feint fuzzies ?

Regards

The Moon is stunning, time after time after time. A Moon atlas can help with systematic exploration.

Planets: the phases of Venus and Mercury; features on Mars when Mars is near opposition (though Mars is still very small and in Jan. will only be 56% of its 2003 opposition apparent diameter); the bands of the atmosphere of Jupiter; Jupiter's moon action (shadows on Jupiter's atmosphere, moons disappearing into Jupiter's shadow, etc.); the rings of Saturn (watch them open up over the next few years); Uranus and Neptune as small colored disks.

Some of the individual stars in globular clusters (e.g., M13 is very beautiful when resolved).

The different shapes of planetary nebulae that when star like the Sun die. The Ring and Dumbell Nebula (M57 and M27) are usuall two of the first observed.

Etc.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi Newbie

Let me know how the sky-watcher 150 goes, I was looking at getting this for my first scope. Where did you buy it from?

I live just down the road in Hull so I would most probably pop to the westwood to view the skys

shep

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Hi Newbie

not a lot to add to whats been said already, as its all sound advice, but as a Sw150PL owner i know you'll get some good views with it, especially if you upgrade the eyepieces. i find it easy to setup and move about and have a lot of fun using the scope.

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