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New to all this space stuff

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Hi chaps. (& chappetts)

I'm thinking of getting a telescope for the family for christmas. Got two young girls & thought it would be good for us all to learn about our solar system & milky-way together. I know next to nothing about scopes, so advice on what I should get, good makes, what to look for on telescopes.

Haven't got loads of money to spend, needs to be transportable.

That's enough to be going on with. :D

Cheers Karl.

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Karl, welcome to SGL.

I don't know exactly what scope was used for the POTW, but you can get good results with quite reasonably priced kit (reasonably priced for astrophotography is actually expensive... easily over £1000).. You won't ever see the colours visually though.

For the family viewing, to be honest, you want a simple to use mounting and an easy to use scope. Something like the Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian would fit the bill. Easy to use, the directions make sense, the scope, I've heard, provides good views of most objects without being overly large and cumbersome. And it's not very expensive.

I'm sure someone with experience of that and other similar scopes will be along shortly with some specific advice about it. In the meantime, if you have a pair of binoculars with 40mm aperture objectives or bigger, you'll be amazed at how many stars you can see through them. There's some guides in the binocular observing section if you're interested.

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Hello Karl T and welcome to our Lounge, the POW is Olly's I think from Provance and was taken in a small refractor (85mm) with long exposures and you would not see that in any scope even a big one through an eyepiece. Visuals show grey fuzzy objects looking pretty faint and Orions Nebula in the POW is very bright but you would only see the small central part in grey tones but averted vision will show some of the brigher outer parts but no colour - you get colour with long exposure and processing.


Edited by johnh
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Hi Karl, I'm pretty new to this too... been doing it for a year starting with binoculars, then camera and tripod, then a tracking mount and only recently a very small telescope.

Even though I'm no expert, I know enough to let you know that the view through a scope will never look like that wonderful picture of the week of the Orion nebula. What you see though the scope is some tiny stars sitting in a wispy cloud with not much colour.

Now, the first time I saw that (in binoculars) I was blown away, It's a question of expectations... those pictures are the result of hours of imaging and more hours of careful processing. I felt rewarded just having located it and seeing much more than with the naked eye!

Hopefully someone more experienced will come along with some advice... I reckon it should be possible to get something for a reasonable price that could give you views of the brighter planets that look more than just coloured dots. Seeing the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn and the crescent of Venus should be good. Such a scope will also show you craters on the moon.

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Sure is Karl... if you have them, 40mm will get you going. 50mm aperture is better.. so if you're going to get a set, aim for 50mm

Binoc numbers are MagnificationxObjective. The Magnification doesn't really make a lot of different with Binoc's (best to avoid variable though)... the objective is more important as the size determines light gathering. My 10x50's get regular outings as they are light enough to easily hand hold yet gather plenty more light than my eyes alone can.

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Binos are usually described as for example in 10x 50 where the 10 is the magnification (ie they magnify x10) and 50 is the diameter of the objective lens (the big ones at the front of the binos).

So a 10x50 pair will magnify things to 10 times as big and the objective lenses will be 50mm across each lens.

Binos vary widely in price and quality - for general use including astronomy 10x50 is about the maximum and generally considered to be a good size. Larger sizes start to get heavy very quickly (and expensive) and will require a tripod to mount them on. Even light binoculars will need a tripod for prolonged viewing and I would suggest if its a family thing its easier to have them on a tripod so you can find stuff and let others look - otherwise you'll spend the evening trying to point to stuff in the sky and wonder why others in the family just cant seem to see it.

I never used binos much to start with as by and large I found them uncomfortable years ago. New binos can be superb though and my current pair is very good (albeit not cheap - but not so bad either).

While binos can be good I wonder if a smallish scope might not be better. Scopes have a certain 'gee whiz' factor which may make all the difference. As a kid binos would have been a bit 'ho-hum' wheres my first scope, even though it was teensy, had a more 'ooohh wow' factor. Thats a tough call to make. Have you considered maybe taking the family along to a club thats doing an observing evening. It might give you some ideas.

Whatever you do - dont do it too cheap. Poor quality optics are a recipe for disappointment and giving up a hobby with some wonderful potential to fascinate your girls - and you.

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