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I'm New and have a Dilemma......


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Hello all

I am looking to plunge myself into the darkness and need my first scope to do so.

Well, if truth be told I have always been facinated with whats in the sky and have never done anything about it....Boo me!

My Son who is 8 (going on 17), without prompting also has a facination and I want to get our first scope that will keep the facination and enthusiasm going rather than buy something only to realise it was a waste of money and sits there collecting dust......

I have an option on a Celestron Nexstar 114 GT, it is approx 3yrs old and hardly used.....failing that I like the idea of a Dob (for my Son I mean)...Is the Nexstar a decent unit for a first scope at the right price?

I have been looking at the 6" Skywatcher, but everything I read says I should go for the 8".......Is it a worthwhile investment and will I (I mean will my Son) get the WOW factor this hobby deserves? Failing that Guidence on Reflectors ( I want to go that route be it Dob. or not) for around the £200 mark (Wife would kill me for spending more at this time.....unless it was really something special and a wow factor!

Anyhow, I know you get lots of posts like this (I have read quite a few) so all comments appreciated!

Cheers

Keith

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I'd be inlcined to skip the Nexstar 114 if your looking for pure visual WOW factor.

I'd suggest get the 8" which would create the maximum wow for the buck. There are things to consider though which include, where will you store it ? Where will you use it ? etc

Also where children are concerned there may be a real value in GoTo with the Nexstar. Finding things can be tough and children typically have small attention spans. If he is just stood there for ages while you try and find something it may kill his interest. Also even an 8" Dob can be a handful for an 8 year old.

The wow factor will be the 8" at least for viewing- the 114 would be perhaps more usable but would definitely lack wow factor for most objects. Bear in mind even an 8" wont show pictures like you see on the web or in magazines.

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Hi Keith and welcome to SGL. I am a little worried about the 'wow factor' that you hope to get for both you and your son.

There will be lots of 'WOW' moments but please don't think that you will see through your telescope what you see in the magazines and on the internet - Views of the Moon will be sensational with just about any telescope and Jupiter and Saturn will impress too. The key to the wow factor with deep sky objects is APERTURE.

Reflectors give the biggest 'bang per buck' (I hate that expression but we all know what it means!) and a Dobsonian will put more of your funds into the telescope whilst still retaining a substantial mount.

So ........... go for the biggest aperture Dobsonian you can afford.

I hope you and your son have many wow moments in the future

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i don't know about the nexstar but if it is a reflector it is really too small and you are much better off with a 6" dob. Between a 6 and an 8 - tbh you will (or won't) be wow'ed by either - the difference is going to be fairly subtle if this is your first scope. I would probably be inclined to start with the 6 and spend the savings on maybe cheap bins, a book like Turn Left at Orion and some warm socks:)

also, for a kid, a dob mount is easiest and most intuitive.

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Welcome to the forum Keith.

Great you have a small observing buddy already. All my attempts have failed with my sons.

I will say that the 114 may be more appealing at this stage, although something bigger is always nice. But the Nexstar should be cheap secondhand. Will give good views of the moon and planets. I was really surprised when i setup a friends 114 for them. The Nexstar will track the objects keeping them in the eyepiece. With the dob objects fly out of the eyepiece but a bigger problem is the scope being moved accidently. This has happened to me a lot when trying to show the kids. They don't mean to move it but instinctively reach for the scope. This gets frustrating for everyone. My kids just get fed up and run off tp play lightsabers instead. A 6 or 8 dob is obviously better but i think not suited to an 8 year old.

I think the GT114 is an ideal sized kids scope. It would be easy to get carried away and give them something they can't handle or even reach the eyepiece. The 114 should be cheap enough so you can go and buy a bigger scope for yourself.

Best of luck with it.

Edited by russ
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Hiya mate...I'm a newb also and picked up a cheap 6" reflector...unfortunately for me the weather has been very overcast and I've only been able to see the moon for a few minutes between clouds but the view was fantastic!

So whats my advice seeing as though I've been an astronomer for all of five minutes?

Depends totally what you want to do I think? I changed what scope I wanted every day for two months until I though [removed word] it...I just need a scope!

Do you want the computerised gizmo or are you going to star hop? If you want to go the computerised gizmo approach then it's up to you.....but if you are willing to star hop I don't think you can beat this at the moment and I'm sure people will agree

Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 150P EQ3-2

6" should be adaquate but then if you went for the 8"....you wouldnt be far off getting a 10" and so on and so forth before you know it you can't live without a 24" superscope! the car has to be sold and the living room converted to house it!

You have got to cart the thing around at the end of the day AND store it when not in use! I was suprised how big a 6" reflector actually is once on the stand!

If my missus would have let me buy it I would have got Skywatcher straight away!!! It's a quality piece of kit, really good mount for the price and only slightly over your budget.

Also has the crayford focuser, looks good and I do believe it increases your intelligence and makes you more attractive to the opposit sex! (These last points have not been proven in anyway may I add)

But then again....you could by a second hand scope and save cash if the old astronomy isnt for you.

Then there's budgeting for all the eyepieces you'll wqant to buy but dont really need and any other shiny gadets that you will have to carry around with you...Plus a quality thermos flask. The list goes on!

I really do feel your pain at the moment as I have gone through the same "should I or shouldn't I" scenario!

At the end of the day get the Skywatcher and if you don't like it sell it to me cheap :icon_eek:

Hope my ramblings can point you forward in some way!

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Blimey, Thank you for your replies. All of them have their own perspective and advice which is all helpful and yet confusing at the same time.

I maybe over played the Wow factor side of things, we all see 'hubble' pics and magazine pics and thnk WOW!, and then expect to see the same, reality kicks in and you don't.

Initially seeing some decent images of the key planets and then learning more about the various M class objects you can see would be a great start.

I am realistic but have to balance off what is something great for my Son and something that has been a burning desire in me for thelast 20yrs or so.....without annoying the wife too much either....possible, doubt it but give it my best shot.

Can you fit a motor to 6" Dob's to track, also throwing this into the mix, I have a decent Canon DSLR that I would clearly love to take photo's of space with, at what point does photography kick in i.e what price point can you attach camera's etc to Dob's.

I will certainly look into the scope you have recommended and see what price the Nexstar is.

The Nexstar is attractive purely for the GoTo side of things, I know aperture is king and it's only 4.5"....but it is an option.

If I could get a Dob, mount it and fit a motor......that tracks, have Megan Fox serve me hot coffee and warm me up when required I'd be very happy!!!

i know I have a limited budget and with so many options, and like a fellow newbie commented you change your mind everytime you sit down at the PC a surf for 10mins......

Anyway, thank you so far and here's to an epic journey....more comments welcome!:icon_eek:

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You can put the dob tube on an EQ mount and then track. Or there is one of the Skywatcher Flextube Auto dobs......very pricey though, even for the 8". Does sound like someone else's suggestion of the Skywatcher 150P on the EQ3 is the better solution. You'll need a step for your son, i found a milk crate worked well.

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Spending more time searcing.....I'm leaning towards the following

Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian....it states is has Direct SLR Camera Connection, anyone used this and is it as simple as that sentence makes out?

Also, Eye Pieces, are the ones that come with it any good and what would I require as additional kit EP's to really get up and running?

Cheers

Keith

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Russ & SlipperySquid, that is a fair shout on the 150P on the EQ3-2.

So which would be better, the Dob 150P or the 150P on the EQ3, is it all down to stability?

Comparing specs

You get a bigger range og magnification with the Explorer

The Focal Length on the Dob is approx 500mm more - how important is this?

What does a Duel-fit Crayford Focuser do? On the Explorer

And the Explorer comes with a Barlow lens.

Difference in Price approx £40 between the 2 units.

Thanks again people

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So which would be better, the Dob 150P or the 150P on the EQ3, is it all down to stability?

IMO the biggest differences are tracking and setup time. The EQ needs to be aligned and balanced but it tracks for you. The dob doesn't track but you just put it on the floor and observe right away.

You get a bigger range og magnification with the Explorer

The Focal Length on the Dob is approx 500mm more - how important is this?

I think the biggest difference will be on the money you'll spend later on when buying EPs. The longer one haves a higher focal ratio and won't show EP imperfections (as well as coma) so much. The shorter one is easier to carry but you need better quality EPs on it. If you want EQ mount I would say the 150PL with a longer focal length would be better. There is also a difference on the magnification you'll obtain with each EP. Some say longer scopes are better for planets and shorter for DSOs but using different EPs can make up for that. Anyway you can easily achieve low and high mags with any of these provided you use the right EPs for the mag you want.

What does a Duel-fit Crayford Focuser do? On the Explorer

And the Explorer comes with a Barlow lens.

Difference in Price approx £40 between the 2 units.

It means you can use both 2" and 1,25" diameter size EPs on it. I think the 150p dob also allows this. Good widefield low mag EPs usually come in 2" size, so it's nice to have that option.

The difference in price, is mainly in the cost difference between a Dobson (dob) mount and an Equatorial (EQ) mount.

Edited by pvaz
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Spending more time searcing.....I'm leaning towards the following

Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian....it states is has Direct SLR Camera Connection, anyone used this and is it as simple as that sentence makes out?

Also, Eye Pieces, are the ones that come with it any good and what would I require as additional kit EP's to really get up and running?

Cheers

Keith

I think if you are keen to get the Canon involved sooner rather than later, then the 150P will be the better choice. With the dob, you'll have to budget for tube rings and an EQ mount to make use of the camera. And the dob only has 1.25" focuser, not best suited to a DSLR with a large image sensor.

Me personally, i have gone the route of buying the dob, then picking up tube rings and an EQ5 to put the dob tube on for planetary imaging. My reasoning being:

1/ the dobs use a longer slower focal ratio which is kinder on the eyepieces. Quite important if you can't afford middle to upper quality eyepieces, like me.

2/ slower focal ratios mean smaller secondary mirrors and better contrast. All important to me as a mainly planetary man.

3/ slower scopes are less critical of collimation

4/ longer focal length means i don't to use silly high powered eyepieces with tiny bits of glass and no eye relief.

The downsides have been:

The dob is frustrating with the kids (and adults). But once on the EQ simply impossible for my kids to use. The eyepiece is too far in the air and usually in awkward positions to boot. This wouldn't be so bad if it was a short tube Explorer but the 1200mm long dob tubes make it hard work on the EQ. This is perhaps the single biggest drawback of an EQ based Newtonian. Things get very awkward at times.

Observing by myself, i never use the EQ5, not even for high power planetary work. Nudging the scope has become second nature and the dob is the easiest telescope type to setup and use. It's takes less time than setting up my small refractor on the photo tripod.

Purely visual, Hugh's idea of the Skymax 127 is great one. Awesome scope on the moon and planets. And so simple to use on that mount. Hopeless with the Canon but if you can put that to one side for now, the 127 would be great.

Edited by russ
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Thanks Chaps

I have contacted the Guy selling the 130SLT, I take it the fact you recommended it means it's a decent scope and £120 seems a good price given they are £340 elsewhere.

As much as I like the look of the SkyMax, it's a little too costly right now.

Thanks to Paulo for his time to explain a few things.

Too many choices...could do with triple the money and buy 3 or 4 units and then decide which one I like best.

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So Mr Squid, Having options on the following

Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dob

Skywatcher Explorer 150 P(L) EQ3-2

or Possible Nexstar 130SLT

What do you reckon, I know you are new to the game too so what made you take the plunge with the scope you have?

I think I'll end up picking one blind and being done with it, saying that though it's always cloudy or raining at the minute so I have some time to choose more carefully.

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I had the Skywatcher 130pm which is the 150P's smaller brother, and while I loved it, I did find that for my first scope the learning curve of both the scope (as i had never used a newtonian before) as well the as the EQ mount left me feeling frustrated in the beginning. Once I had learnt all the little tricks it was ok, but especially with a child the setting up, aligning, balancing etc could curb their enthusiasm.

I have been playing with an imaging set up, as I sold my 130, however have now opted to remain in the visual game for a while, as again the learning curve (and expense) for astrophotography looks vast and I think at the moment I want to just enjoy the winter nights (hmmm weather?), so I've ordered a dob to make my life as simple as possible and will reconsider the EQ and imaging set up when the summer comes along.

So perhaps as a first scope consider the Dob, so that you can quickly get out there with your son and get to grips with the sky, with the knowledge that you can upgrade later down the line with an EQ mount.

Edited by vegas
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I would say the small one, so the kid can use it and enjoy the hobby. If the second hand 114 is available buy it and save the difference for your 6" (or bigger) Dob later on. Make sure it works before buying!

Lot easier to convince the mom to let you get a big Dob latter on when she sees the smile on the kids face. (i.e.: "Honey I just want to show him more things!") :icon_eek:

Now seriously: A small scope, he can use, and a trip to some local astronomy clubs meetings/observing nights will probably be the best way to get in this hobby.

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.... saying that though it's always cloudy or raining at the minute so I have some time to choose more carefully.

Yep :icon_eek: - thats why you want a scope thats quick and simple to set up and pack away - it's going to get more use !.

The dobsonian certainly falls into that category.

John

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My undelying factor was cost.....end of.....Missus is sick of my hobbies and wasting cash (as she so effectionately puts it) and with looking at different scopes it was giving me a mighty headache.

So I finally managed to find some one selling a scope locally (A meade etx90 with electronic focus tripod lenses etc) for £200 which was a bargain and I had the cash spare! Then the clutch went on my car...good bye cash.

So still wounded from losing my scope....I moped about and sulked like a big kid.

Then a few weeks later I saw in the local paper a 6" relflector with ra motor etc for £65 and took the plunge. In hindsight ...it was an impulse buy BUT it should give me great views and I'm in the market for a couple of decentish eyepieces and a new spotter scope.

So if I where to put myself in your shoes...what would I do? I don't want to have to go down that road again :icon_eek: The nexstar is good value AND you should be able to get more for it on Ebay than what you will have paid if you decide to upgrade in the future if astronomy is your thing. I have no experience of Dob's (in fact I have no experience at all :hello2: ) I love the 150 p(or L) and proabably will upgrade to that scope in the future (If I actually need to upgrade). Like we both know we can go on for ever about which scope is best because of this or that and it's up to your own judgement at the end of the day and what you want to use it for?

Astrophotography is to me a money pit....spend ...spend and spend a bit more, but I think that's what hobbies are about? buy one thing, save for the next better thing....oooo look they'v brought out an even better thing...so on and so forth.

In a nutshell, if you really don't know wether or not you are going to love astronomy spend what you can really afford not to lose if you decide that it isnt for you?

But I'm a total nooblet so what do I know? :mad:

Edited by SlipperySquid
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Hi

I class myself as still being a beginner but as you see from my signature I have a range of scopes and mount.

I started by buying a 10" Newtonian for my wife to use.

Big mistake for first scope it is far to cumbersome to move out to set up.

Quite early on I bought a secondhand Skywatcher 150 6" Newtonian & EQ3-2 Mount. to use whilst my wife was using the 10" Newtonian. I found that it was simpler and easier to setup and could be upand observing before my wife had alligned the 10" that I had setup for her.

My 8yr old Grandson uses this scope when he visits and since I motorised it and did a Autostar GOTO conversion on it it is very easy for him to use. However I have recently convereted a ETX105 mount to take a refractor 80mm scope which he has taken a liking to.

hope this doesnot confuse you further.

Ivor

Russ & SlipperySquid, that is a fair shout on the 150P on the EQ3-2.

So which would be better, the Dob 150P or the 150P on the EQ3, is it all down to stability?

Comparing specs

You get a bigger range og magnification with the Explorer

The Focal Length on the Dob is approx 500mm more - how important is this?

What does a Duel-fit Crayford Focuser do? On the Explorer

And the Explorer comes with a Barlow lens.

Difference in Price approx £40 between the 2 units.

Thanks again people

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OK,so much help here! This really is a great place totalk and not be struck down for asking what could be seen as dumb questions.

So far, thank you all so much!!

OK, this is where I'm at.

The Skymax 127, looks perfect......but maybe a little costly, I know you only get out of it what you put into it and trust me I am thinking of twisting my own arm here!

I do like it's size of 127mm, it's not quite as big as the 150 of the Dob.....but I also like the simple tracking/GoTo feature which will be ideal for my son and myself often having limited time to to work commitements etc.

Question - will it always be useless with my DSLR or can I tweak it to compliment it?

Alternative would probably be a 150P Dob, Clearly a more appealing price at approx 1/2 the price and I can set it up quickly.....Moving forward I could add a EQ5 mount for £220 - and possibly a GoTo system?

Currently it would 'make' me learn what I'm looking at and how to find it which has it's pro's and con's.

But this Nexstar 114 GT is going for a song and is it a useful tool to gauge the interest level and will I see reasonable image of planets? As that is the key area of interest for my son as it stands?

Cheers

keith

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And then came across this.....

Skywatcher EXPLORER-130P SynScan™ AZ GOTO

why do they make so make different blumming models, can't they just have 3 or 4 and make it easy for us.

This is like going to a really nice restaurant that has one of those menus with loads of nice food and you just don't know what to choose.......

is this a slightly cut down version of the Skymax 127?

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Spec for £269....

Free 4mm Super Plossl (Worth £35) Eyepiece

Deluxe x2 Barlow Eyepiece (£30)

10mm Eyepiece

25mm Eyepiece

Skywatcher Moon Filter worth £15

Cable for computer Control

Hand Controler

Mount and Tripod

130 Parabolic Tube

Magnifications (with eyepieces supplied): x36 & x90

Highest Practical Power (Potential): x260

Diameter of Primary Mirror: 130mm

Telescope Focal Length: 650mm (f/5)

Eyepieces Supplied (1.25"): 10mm & 25mm

Parabolic Primary Mirror

0.5mm Ultra-Thin Secondary Mirror Supports

6x30 Finderscope

2” Rack & Pinion Focuser with 1.25” adaptor

SynScan™ AZ GoTo Computerised Alt-Azimuth HD Go-To Mount

Power Requirement: 12v DC 1Amp Power Supply (Tip Positive) or AA Batteries (not supplied)

Stainless Steel Tripod with Accessory Tray

30% more Light Gathering than 114mm

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