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Astro_Baby

Newbies, Novices, Tyros - PLEASE READ THIS

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Hi to all you beginners to astronomy. If you have chosen a telescope, bought it and used it I'd like to know some things.

I am writing an article for use by other beginners to help them make the right choices. As a newbie yourself you'll have a fresh memory of the questions you were asking and the choices you made and most importantly WHY.

What I'd like (if any of you can spare some time away from your new toys :hello2: ) is........

a) where you went to get advice

:) how helpful (or not) was the advice

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

d) what did you buy

e) why did you buy what you bought

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

plus any overall impressions.

I dont need you to write an essay and in fact I'd much rather you didnt. Just a few lines like below

I went to xyz web board. The advice was great/terrible/confusing.

I looked at an 8" Dob, A Skymax 127 and a 150PL on an EQ3

I bought the Skymax 127 because I liked the idea of GoTo and I only want to look at planets.

I like this scope because its so portable, lobe the GoTo but I really wish I had bought a larger aperture. I will upgrade to a larger scope soon.

The advice was confusing and everyone seemed to have a different view, the dealer was great though and helped me a lot. It wa a much bigger telescope than I imagined but I am loving using it.

The article i am writing is quite long so dont expect to see the results very quickly but when ist dones I'll post it here and maybe mods woll make it a sticky. I'll also post it on my own website so beginneres have a reference with a lot of other beginners inputs and impressions.

Just send any responses to me on the main board or send me a private message if you would rather.

Wishing you all clear skies for 2010

Mel

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a) where you went to get advice

This very board

:hello2: how helpful (or not) was the advice

I stated what were the most important things for me and a scope that was perfect for me was recommended within hours. So very.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

I was initially looking at refractor types due to the difficulty I would have standing over a full size newtonian.

d) what did you buy

Skywatcher Heritage 130p, a telescope that could literally have been designed for myself and people like me (i.e. disabled) to use

e) why did you buy what you bought

The biggest advantages for me is that I can use it sitting down, can carry it with one had and it is ready to go in seconds. |These are the main reason I bought it, I doubt I would have been able to cope with a full size scope and would have just given up, if the one I bought had not been 'invented'.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

I have only used it during the day to test it on distant objects, due to cloudy skies I have not had a chance to use it at night yet. I absolutely love how I can use it sitting down ,can carry it with one hand up and down stairs with no trouble at all and that it is ready to go in seconds.

I hope this is the kind of thing you are looking for Astro Baby

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a) where you went to get advice

Online tutorials explaining scope design types and differences and some youtube videos ("How to buy a telescope" series by expertvillage).

:hello2: how helpful (or not) was the advice

Very.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

I narrowed my choices by design advantages before I picked any given scope.

d) what did you buy

A 8" dob with Push-To

e) why did you buy what you bought

- No Setup Time

- Enough aperture for galaxys while keeping some degree of portability

- Ease of use

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

- Only good things to say about it. Now I would have saved the cash of the Push-To for a good EP. But when I bought there was a risk of not learning the sky easily so it was the right choice at the time.

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a) where you went to get advice

This very board and any online owner reviews i could find. Plus a video review on youtube

:hello2: how helpful (or not) was the advice

Advice was extremely useful.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

I only looked at the one i bought because it was exactly what i wanted.

d) what did you buy

Skywatcher Heritage 130p, a telescope that could literally have been designed for myself and people like me (i.e. disabled) to use

e) why did you buy what you bought

The biggest advantages for me is that I can use it sitting down, can carry it with one had and it is ready to go in seconds. These are the main reasons I bought it. Not to mention its bigger apeture compared to my other scope.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

I love this scope. It is exactly what i wanted/need. I am yet to find fault with it worthy of complaint.

General comments:

Portability,apeture,ease of use and price all get 10/10 from me. The SkyWatcher Heritage 130P Flextube is a great all rounder. It delivers a lot of bang for your buck and for its size. If only the 400th birthday of the telescope was 2 yrs earlier then i would not have bothered buying the Celestron 90EQ scope that i did back then.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher

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a) where you went to get advice

Internet guides convinced me i wanted an EQ mounted GOTO scope because I thought I "needed" tracking for my kids. Then the local science museum astronomer showed me how easy it was to set up his 10" dob. Finally, I spoke to some club members who also recommended maximum aperture for my $$$ so I got an 11" dob.

:hello2: how helpful (or not) was the advice

The "dob advice" was very helpful. My kids ended up preferring the dob to smaller EQ mounted scopes.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

EQ and dob mounted reflectors as I wanted to get the best views possible for my budget.

d) what did you buy

Dob mounted reflector, telrad, additional 1.25" 40 mm plossl eyepiece, barlow.

e) why did you buy what you bought

Wanted the best view for my $$$ and portability requirements.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

I have become an alt-az reflector addict, but I do have computerized alt-az mounted small 4.5" reflector and a refractor for daytime use. I disliked having to star hop to find everything so later I purchased a push to dob. I also traded the 40mm plossl for a 32mm plossl (same fov, higher magnification).

Edited by jimhaleysscomet

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a) where you went to get advice

This was the first board I stumbled on, so this one.

:) how helpful (or not) was the advice

Very helpful! With all of the new users, and even more of the experienced users, all of my questions were already being asked and answered.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

Refractors, reflectors, and dobsonians.

d) what did you buy

150mm Reflector

e) why did you buy what you bought

I knew I wanted to be able to see some DSO's, and I didn't have a lot of cash to throw at it, so this fit the bill.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

Up until now, it has been mildly disappointing. That's because I didn't know what all I needed from the start. It only shipped with one 25mm EP, so all I could see was the moon and the faint glow of M31. Then I got a 9mm EP and could make out bands on Jupiter. Recently I got a set of filters that will help with the light pollution and finally reveal some DSO's. It's been cloudy since I've got them (of course), but I'm really hoping these filters are what I've been waiting for. :hello2:

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a) where you went to get advice

This board, and google search engine.

:) how helpful (or not) was the advice

google wasn't - too confusing. This board was very helpful and I wouldn't be where I am with it today. You get far more out of engaging in conversation with other people, rather than reading responses on forums that aren't tailored to your needs.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

just reflectors, but I wish I had considered a dob, because of the mount. I went for a reflector because of the mount and the ability to track (with a view of astro imaging in the future...) but, I have used the motor once and as my sessions just consist of plonking the scope down and very rarely do I polar align, I wish I'd gone for the dob for the simple mount. Such is life, I know what I'll be getting next :hello2:

d) what did you buy

5" f/5 newtonian reflector

e) why did you buy what you bought

recommendations on here, and the price. I now wish I'd waited a little longer and saved up a bit more to afford a couple more inches with a dob. Aperture fever sets in quickly, particularly if, like me, you love DSOs.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

-I like the look of the scope, aesthetically it fits the bill

-I'm not too fond of the mount, as mentioned above.

-Never use the motor, haven't got the time nor the will to set it up most times. I want to spend all my time observing so just plonk the scope down and wiggle it around til my object is in view.

-I've never had to collimate it (maybe because I'm not a perfectionist, or it could be the scope that is just great, I don't know)

-most importantly, with this forum, I know I have a hobby for life, even if I have to take a break from it from time to time when life gets in the way. I strongly believe you need a community like SGL to keep things ticking over when the clouds frustrate you or stuff gets in the way of your hobby. Invaluable resource, with wonderful people. The key to every beginner's success, I think.

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Bearing in mind this was a purchase for my father, which turned me into an enthusiast along the way.

a) where you went to get advice

Mainly here, and FLO website

:) how helpful (or not) was the advice

Excellent

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

Refractors and reflectors

d) what did you buy

Heritage 130p

e) why did you buy what you bought

The 150p dobs was out of stock, plus the 130p Heritage struck me as even more of a 'keeper' (so all turned out great). A scope that would always be ready to hand, no matter where dads interest eventually takes him. Also, standard 1.25" accessories fit it, and it's turned out the cheaper GOTO mount will drive it (so a birthday present for dad lined up too, if he can wait that long). eta: forgot to add, able to be used while seated, and dad not having to stretch or contort to look through the viewfinder, was pretty important.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

Dad loves it, me too, but it hates me. :hello2:

Edited by Ogri

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I will answer the questions in alphabetical order.

a] Much advice from books and Cloudy Nights forum, main interest Moon, this was before finding SGL.

b ] All information was very helpful.

c ] AT some expense on traveling, visited London Sky Fest in February one year to inspect first hand, scopes sold by various retailers.

d ] Eventually 100mm ED refractor, CG5 GT with additional Moonlite Focuser, quality diagonal and EP`s.

e ] Mostly for Moon obs, occasional Planets and Star Clusters, future imaging,

f ] Well pleased, but could do with more aperture, will upgrade to 120mm APO when finances permit.

Hope this is ok, Clear Dark Skies.

John.

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I bought 2 scopes in about a month,so I'll answer as 1: for the Vixen refractor & 2: for the 12" Orion reflector

a) where you went to get advice

The same answer for both scopes really. I done plenty of google seaches for reviews on the scopes..It was easier to find reviews for the Orion than the Vixen as its an old classic.

:hello2: how helpful (or not) was the advice

I didn't ask any questions but done plenty of reading & research.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

The first scope I was looking for was purely by budget,about £100 but the budget was soon forgot when I saw the Vixen advertised locally.

d) what did you buy

1: A classic Vixen 90m refractor

2: A 12" Orion Optics Dobsonian

e) why did you buy what you bought

1: I loved the classic look of the old Vixen on its wooden tripod & it had very good reviews + it was local.

2: Aperture fever..I wanted to see more & more + the fact that the Orion seems to be very highly regarded in the optics department.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

1: Its a great scope,seems very good optically & the original Vixen .926 EP's are good quality but I need to get a a converter so it will take 1.25 EP's so that I have more choice..The Custom D alt-az mount very easy to use but tripod can be a bit tricky to adjust in the dark.

2: The 12" is a stunning scope,quite large but I find it fairly easy to move it from the house to around the garden & I have had some great views from it. At first because of the upside down inverted image it was a bit strange to line-up but you soon adjust to it.

Edited by Tony.S

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a) where you went to get advice

At first nowhere! Then here.

:hello2: how helpful (or not) was the advice

Advice is always useful, even bad advice!

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

Expensive ones I couldn't afford! The main decision was between dobsonian and EQ mount. I only realised this after I bought my first scope.

d) what did you buy

Cheap tat from ebay (£50).

e) why did you buy what you bought

To test I had the patience for the hobby without wasting a lot of money if I hadn't.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

It worked well so I started saving and have bought most of my equipment second hand from people on this board.

The one thing that I find frustrating is the inaccessibility of some of the equipment and techniques in terms of knowledge needed and information provided. Simple things like finding a video/instructions showing how to adjust the play on the axes of my mount can require hours of searching to find something from which I can extrapolate an answer! I'm just trying to work my way into astrophotography and had a read of the manual for Registax and it was a classic example of a manual that was only useful if you already knew how to use the software. For people trying to make the jump between simple and more advanced astronomy there is very little in the middle to help them get there.

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Bought an old Tal years ago but never had the patience to interpret the booklet on setting up an equatorial mount so threw it all in the wardrobe and forgot about it.

Now revised interest so wanted something easier to set up, much lighter, and would point me in the right direction in the sky and keep me there - and not too expensive.

Reviewed on the web for days, agonised even longer, decided on a reflector and came across an article by an astronomer at Jodrell Bank (forget his name - sorry!) who recommended the Celestron 130SLT. This seemed just the job for me so went to local store (MC2) in Frome and got good advice and look around a number of scopes. Stayed with the Celestron and bought it next day.

MC2 recommended Salisbury Plain Observing Group, they put me in touch with stargazers lounge, asked for advice on this forum, found stacks of really good advice and other beginners with the same problems as me. Not looked back.

Now already agonizing again over eyepieces, barlows and filters.

Have phone number of one really friendly stargazer and will ask his advice asap.

Hope this helps. Any further info. needed please pm me.

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a) where you went to get advice

I did a very little bit of searching online

:hello2: how helpful (or not) was the advice

What I read I think was probably very accurate

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

Mainly reflectors in the range of £150ish

d) what did you buy

Skycatcher 130 (900m) with the EQ2 motorised RA mount.

e) why did you buy what you bought

Because it was a sky at night group test winner and that for me seemed like a good award to start with.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

So far I've barely managed to look at the moon with it, only had it a couple of days and the weather here in the SE has not been good for me and I've had a cold.

It would be better if I explain further. My wife and I agreed no spending lots of money on each other this christmas. So as a joke I asked her for a telescope - well she went and bought it for me!!! Yes I love her for it and am looking forward to using it. Will gradually looking into Astrophotography as well. Just trying to work out the best way to connect one of my digital cameras to it for the best results.

Phil

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Will gradually looking into Astrophotography as well. Just trying to work out the best way to connect one of my digital cameras to it for the best results.

By saying this, can i assume that you mean a small point and shoot compact digital camera, rather then a bigger SLR?. IF SO then a cheap and easy entry into astrophotography for your point and shoot camera would be what is called a "Universal Digital Camera Adapter". The same product is made by many companies. This is the 1st image i pulled off the web. I have a Zhumell one..........same thing....different branding.

http://www.celestron.com/c3/images/files/product/93626_digitalcameraad_mid.gif

Edited by LukeSkywatcher

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What I'd like (if any of you can spare some time away from your new toys :hello2: ) is........

a) where you went to get advice

Bought an astronomy mag that quoted this site. Asked my questions here

:p how helpful (or not) was the advice

Excellent - everyone disagreed wildly about what I should buy, and from the debate I figured out what I thought would suit me.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

SCT's and reflectors. Didn't really consider a refractor. Looked at all mounts from Dobsonians to Go-To equatorials

d) what did you buy

Celestron Nexstar 6SE

e) why did you buy what you bought

Wanted a Go-To, but quick set up as I am time poor. Needed something I could set up in a few minutes. Wanted to involve the family and a Newtonian would be counter-intuituve to most of them. Catadioptics and refractors make more sense to the inexperienced (you look where it is pointing). Wanted to be able to play at imaging so wanted a driven mount, but thought an equatorial would be fussier to set up unless I had a permanent home for it. Wanted to look mostly at deep sky so wanted the fastest scope I could get - therefore Celestron over Sky-Watcher or Meade. Nexstar 6SE as it fitted my budget.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

So far delighted. In the few sessions I have had since it arrived, I have seen many amazing sights (to me anyway). The Go-To is great because we get a lot of fast moving fractured cloud, and once it is aligned, I can point it quickly at a target that is obscured by cloud and wait for a break to arrive. This has worked very well as a strategy. Set up is quick.

No significant dislikes. I am collecting a few accessories, and have proved to myself that I can take deep-sky images with a piggy-backed camera, and with it mounted at prime focus. I have also proved that I can't focus well enough using the viewfinder :). So waiting for an oppurtunity to try out a Bhatinov mask.

plus any overall impressions.

This is as much fun as I imagined. No doubt I will want other telescopes, but right now this suits me well.

I hadn't really noticed how cloudy it is in North Wales :).

old_eyes

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wotcha!!

a) where you went to get advice

General searches round google led me to the stargazers lounge where other people had asked the same questions as me! Also asked the guy at the local club and a guy at a telescope shop and the guy at First Light Optics.

:) how helpful (or not) was the advice

All the advice was very helpful, although everyone you asked seemed to have their own favourite scopes (dobs, refractors etc). Even with all the pros and cons spelled out for you, you still have to match them carefully with your own requirements.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

Shortlist was Skywatcher explorer 150p/pl, Skymax 127, Skyliner 200 and celestron omni 120 xlt.

d) what did you buy

Celestron omni xlt 120

e) why did you buy what you bought

Although was the OMNI had the smallest apeture of all the scopes, I was told it should have almost the same light gathering as the 150mm skywatchers as its a refractor (and so has no central obstruction) - this is a highly debatable point i think. It has no mirror collimation issues and I percieved it to be more robust as its a solid, sealed tube. I was also told that views through a refractor are more contrasty.

It came with an eq mount which can be upgraded for motors. It was on special offer at FLO and so represented good value.

Although the dob would have had a larger apeture I wasnt sure Id be able to keep things in view at high mag by nudging, or get it down the stairs. The mak has a small field of view so wasnt recommended for nebulas (and it is only 127mm with a central obstruction). The omni just edged out the 150p as I percieved it as a nicer piece of kit that would last me ages.

To be honest at one point or another I had decided upon all four of the scopes mentioned, only to change my mind again.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

like - nice views of the moon, orion nebula, jupiter, clusters etc. particularly nice just to mooch about the stars with, little crystals on black velvet mmmmm. chromatic abberation only a problem on moon and jupiter - but when you put the outer lens cap on, you cant notice any purple at all.

I can just about pick the whole thing up mount and all and wrestle it to my viewing position on the veranda.

Just twist one slow motion *** to keep an object in view.

TRIPOD is heavy and solid.

no collimation issues.

scope looks awesome in my living room!

dont like - having to crouch to look up at zenith.

vibration from mount when focusing :hello2: but apparently there are tricks to minimize this.

scope is probably not big enough to resolve much detail on Mars

(didnt know about the 0.85 rule when buying scope).

having to buy loads of eyepieces

hope this is ok

w

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by the way the three stars should say knob. i spelled it n.o.b so it got censored. im such a *** when it comes to spelling. :hello2:

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a) where you went to get advice

This forum. I was lucky to find it before investing. Also spoke to the chap in the local camera shop who is a Skywatcher dealer but he knew very little so the advice I received here was brilliant.

:hello2: how helpful (or not) was the advice

Fantastic, including advice from your good self AB. Critically, it helped manage my expectations in terms of what I could expect to see. Initially I expected to see galaxies and nebulae through the scope in all their colourful glory. This forum gently made me learn that that wouldn't be the case, but that there was so much else to enjoy and it was about WHAT you are seeing.

The advice also helped me to look at bigger mirrors instead of motors - advice that I am most grateful for.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

SW 1145 SW with motor drive

SW 130P

SW 150P

d) what did you buy

SW 150PL

e) why did you buy what you bought

Longer focal length for greater mag

Good size mirror whilst maintaining portability

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

Love it! Easy to set up and operate - seen some wonderful things.

Would like decent 15mm EP to add to those EP's that came with the scope.

Like the EQ mount.

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a) where you went to get advice

I did a lot of reading intro books and took SAN/AN for 3 months - then went to a local camera shop with a telescope section - didn't start using forums till after purchase.

:) how helpful (or not) was the advice

Camera shop advice was limited and more geared to selling - but the reading kept me well informed.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

Newts mostly on equatorial mounts. Refractors and Cats were way over budget (at the time) and I wanted largest aperture available for the price.

d) what did you buy

Got a Skywatcher 6" Newtonian.

e) why did you buy what you bought

Mostly dictated by budget - I wanted a basic scope with planetary and dso capability and maximum light gathering for the money.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

I absolutely loved it untill I sold it in Dec 2009 (3yrs later). It was portable enough to take on holiday, easilly set up in the yard, and could be used through an open window in a SE facing bedroom. Will never forget first views of Saturn, Jupiter and Orion Nebula. Eventually let it go with a heavy heart (first scope attachment syndrome lol) after two upgrades to current larger scopes - the bug really bit :hello2:

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a) where you went to get advice

Mostly (overmuch?) my own 40 years of astronomical(!) reading, magazines (AN) and later sundry forums. As a sometime physicist, I'm quite good at reading between lines and interpreting data. :D

:( how helpful (or not) was the advice

A bit of "objective analysis" was helpful. I learned to concentrate on the internet reviews of folks who actually had experience AND had used specific hardware - Not merely had an opinion thereof! I found SGL better at this... :(

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

Went immediately for BOTH a short-tube (F5) refractor AND a small Maksutov. I knew roughly what to expect with the refractor. I had no experience with a MAK - or any reflector / Cat-type scope. :p

d) what did you buy

An ST102 and (initially) a MAK90! (Soon after a MAK127) :)

e) why did you buy what you bought

Form start, wanted BOTH a short tube refrator and small Mak - To maximise my own experience of a WIDE range of f-number. Wanted something that was easy to set up - cheap-ish, and required no "collimation"! :hello2:

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

For a process of flying blind, I'd have to say both scopes exceeded expectations! The MAK90 was very SHARP, but a tad small, so was rapidly replaed by a MAK127. Both scopes have been "keepers". :)

Edited by Macavity

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a) where you went to get advice

Wikipedia to research telescope types.

Then on this forum I read a review of the scope I subsequently bought.

:) how helpful (or not) was the advice

Good advice - gave me a good idea of what I would and would not be able to see through the scope and how easy/difficult the setup would be.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

Newtonian and Cassegrain

d) what did you buy

Skywatcher 130P AZ Goto

e) why did you buy what you bought

Seemed good value "aperture-per-buck" and I had read good reviews everywhere. I liked the sound of the mount, that it had motorised tracking.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

I'm very happy with the scope for observing and for its good compliment of features. I wouldn't want a much bigger scope for indoor space reasons.

The biggest disappointment (because I always had desire to astro image in the back of my mind) is that prime focus is impossible with this scope and EP projection (so far) has not proven viable - barlow on its own has been my only success. Also I now know that equatorial mount is essential for much imaging, though this would have bumped up the price a lot and I can always replace the mount in the future.

So my own lack of research is to blame for the disappointment here, but overall I'm very happy with it and have found a new hobby that I believe I will remain excited about for years to come.

Edited by Shibby

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a) where you went to get advice

Google led me to:

Beginner Astronomer Tips, First Telescope

:) how helpful (or not) was the advice

I found it very useful.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

I looked at a Goto scope before settling on the newtonian/dob which the site recommended

d) what did you buy

Skywatcher Heritage 130

e) why did you buy what you bought

I tried to get the Orion Skyquest 6" but the dollar to pound was not good so the shop I contacted recommend Skywatcher. This was a present for my daughter so I liked the idea of the special deisgn on the tube. It wasn't a huge amount of money and would allow us to try Astronomy to see if we really liked it before investing too much.

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

Will update when I can - have had some problems getting the scope!

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a) where you went to get advice

S@N magazine & books in the local library.

Lots of websites, though SGL is the one I've found most useful, interesting and friendly :mad:

Local astonomy shops (Green Witch & The Astronomy & Nature Centre)

:p how helpful (or not) was the advice

SGL - increasingly useful as I have learnt more of the astronomy 'language'.

Green Witch - a bit vague & not really helpful.

TANC - very good, friendly staff who gave lots of good advice.

c) what sort of scopes did you look at

At first 4-5inch reflectors on an EQ mount. Then I was very interested in the Celestron 130SLT, until a TANC sales advisor suggested an 8 inch Dob.

d) what did you buy

Skywatcher Skyliner 200P Dob :)

e) why did you buy what you bought

Ease of use & biggest bang for the buck!

f) how has it worked out - what do you like with it/dislike with it

Likes - Mirror size, quick to setup outside and easy to use :mad:

Dislikes - Straight through finderscope (since replaced with an RDF), not being able to find my targets (goto would be nice) and cloudy nights ;)

...plus any overall impressions.

It's such an easy telescope to own! Sitting vertically in the mount it doesn't take up much room in the house and when I want to use it, it is easy to pick up and take outside.

The views I have seen of the heavens have been truly breathtaking with the highlights so far include seeing the bands on Jupiter and finding the delicate smoke ring that is the Ring Nebula :)

The 200P is an excellent telescope which I would recommend to anyone. I hope to keep enjoying mine for many years.

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