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What telescope and how far can you see?


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Hi there,

Well it may sound odd after having a keen interest and fascination in astronomy for 20 years (I am now 26) but I am finally about to purchase my very first telescope!

I am of course very excited and have decided now is the ideal time to get one as firstly I have just had a baby and so working part time allows me the time to concentrate on my hobby nad secondly I would love nothing more than to share my hobby and interest with my baby son as he grows up.

The problem is I have no idea what kind of telescope I should buy, obviously having a baby I am on a budget and therefore can not afford to spend a small fortune, nor do I want to spend so little I can't see a lot. I would love a scope that can give me a good view of the main planets and some satellites and such like. Also how far can you expect to see with some of the cheaper telescopes (dont get me wrong I am not expecting clear vision of Kuiper Belt objects but a decent view of the planets and starts is viable, right?) I am so excited to be able to see the planets and stars in a closer and clearer image for myself. Hope you can help.

Thanks

Gem :-)

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Hi there, welcome to SGL. A few points to get in before the more experienced hands come give you better advice:

Don't buy a cheap scope. Don't do it. Spend a bit of money, and get something decent. Listen to the advice people will no doubt be giving you, and do NOT buy a cheap scope. I reckon you gotta spend at least 140 quid before you will not be bitterly disapointed. I've had a fair few "Toys-R-Us" scopes, and they are absolutely rubbish.

With an good "entry level" scope, you should get great views of a few of the planets (Saturn, Jupiter, Venus, really) and fantastic views of the moon. If you haven't seen the moon through a decent scope, you will be blown away! As far as deep space objects (DSO's), there are a fair few nebula, clusters, and a couple galaxies that turn up really nice. Do NOT expect to see things as shown on the telescope box, though. Galaxies and nebula are really just smudges, but still quite cool. Stars, no matter how magnified, are just stars, still just points of light.

But yeah, get yourself a nice little scope, and you will have a blast!

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Wow so you could see the edge of our solar system and a lot further! Whats the furthest planet you ahve seen and was it really clear?

So that sounds really reasonably priced, where can I buy such scopes from?

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thanks for the advice I was thinking of spending around £250 for now until I know what I am looking at and then I would be willing to get a better scope for a bit more, I have heard of people buying scopes from toy stores and being very disappointed!

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I am new to astronomy and i first of all made the mistake of going on ebay and buying what i thought was a good telescope but really just ended up with rubbish ( not saying all telescopes sold on ebay are rubbish ) but i was just unlucky. I went for a 8" Dobsonian telescope and the cheapest place i found it was here ...S-W Skyliner-200 COM

I have had very close views of the moon and i have also seen jupiters belts plus m15 , m31 and i am very pleased with my telescope.

Good luck and happy viewing Daren

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Is there an Astronomy Society near where you are? Look in Federation of Astronomical Societies - Home to find out. If there is, your best bet is to go to one of their meetings (mine has a Beginners' Meeting every month) and ask for advice. You will also get the chance to look through some scopes and confirm (or adjust!) your expectations.

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Not a dumb question at all. It's basically an automated telescope where you type in what you want to see and it points at it. Depends whether you are prepared to hunt for things yourself, or whether you want to let the scope do the work. You'll get more scope for your money if you don't get goto.

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"GoTo" is a facility that motorised, computer-controlled telescope mounts have that allows the user to say "please point the telescope at such-and-such object in the sky". The computer has a database of objects and their locations in the sky, it uses the clock time and the geographical location of the mount to turn this into a sky direction. Such systems need to be "aligned" first, that is, told that THIS position of the internal gears corresponds to THAT sky direction. Then they can turn the gears of the mount until the scope points to any desired sky direction.

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GOTO is a computer that will move the telescope to the object you tell it to.

There are a couple of things to be aware of:

1. Stars will always appear as a point of light. They are just too far away to be anything else

2. You will NOT see anything like the full colour photos you see posted on here or in any magazine.

3. Bear in mind you have a young family and you may not have much time to actually observe with

4. Uranus and Neptune will only ever be blue/green dots

A dobsonian is a good way to get started and with a planetarium program, or chart, you will soon find your way round the skies.

If time is something you don't have, go for the GOTO option

£250 can easily be spent on something unsuitable, so PLEASE keep asking questions!

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Skywatcher Skyliner 200p Dobsonian - £269 new. A great scope, simple to use and no complicated set up procedure. The 8" mirror will let you see absolutely loads of stuff including Nebulas, galaxies, planets.

I wholeheatedly agree :D

Quite possibly the best value for visual astronomy available - will be enough scope to last a lifetime's observing for many - I really miss mine :D

John

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I am going to break with standard SGL conventions, and disagree with the idea of buying binoculars. I have owned several sets of binoculars, and have used them to "look up" on many occasions. But nothing FEELS as good as pointing a honing great telescope to the heavens. Galileo, Newton, Copernicus, Brahe, they used telescopes. Sure, it is cheaper to use bino's, easier, and all that, but it just doesn't feel as special. If you're outside with friends, nobody's particularly interested in looking through your 10x50's, but everyone wants to have a look through your scope.

So there. bo**ocks to the Bino's, get yourself a Massive Glorious Telescope. (Preferably on a really complicated looking mount.)

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Even 10x50 bino's need a very steady hand or a mount of some sort..In astronomy aperture rules, and you get the most aperture for money with a Dobsonian. No money wasted on expensive mounts and electronics. A dobsonian will also help you learn the sky. My wife has only been doing astronomy for a few months, I thought I would treat her to a pressie so asked what she wanted out of a dobsonian or an eq mounted telescope with goto (like mine), she said " I can't be doing with all that complicated mount and electronic stuff you faff about with instead of stargazing, get me a dobsonian" She was able to fortunately look at and through various dobsonians at the Salisbury Star Party, she is now the proud owner of a 12" dobsonian and learning the sky instead of as she puts it, wasting time setting up, polar aligning and then setting up the goto.

Another point to bear in mind is if you go the goto route you will need a decent power source, which invariably means more expense that could be used for aperture or eye pieces.

Carl

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I couldn't resist this

"On a clear night... you can see forever.."

:D

There's some really good advice on this thread but for me the best bang for the bucks has to be the entirely manual (note) 8" Dob as mentioned by Dark knight. Of course, if you are stretched for finding stars you could opt for the automatic scopes and I'm entirely sure they will also be great - and perhaps a little more portable.

At a few hundred pounds, you have a great choice.

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