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My Dad was wanting to get a Celestron 6SE some time towards the end of the year, mainly because of the GoTo function.

I just found out last night that there are cheaper scopes with the goto function.

What would you recommend would be a decent telescope with the goto function for around £250-£300?

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The skywatcher brand represents good value

Have a look at the explorer 130 (£239)

Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 130P SynScan AZ GOTO

or the skymax 127 (£349)

Maksutov - Skywatcher Skymax 127 SynScan AZ GOTO

The explorer is the obvious choice for a GOTO scope in your price bracket - and will leave you some money for some filters / eyepieces.

The skymax is a bit more expensive and is more suited to lunar and planetary viewing (planets will be BIGGER). It will take longer to cool down than the explorer but if planets/moon are your thing the skymax is better.

FLO are a well respected dealer (and cheap) but DONT FORGET TO CHECK SECOND HAND - on this website and on astrobuysell U.K. Astronomy Buy & Sell

good luck

warren

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On the other hand the Nexstars alignment software using Skyscan is better than the SkyWatchers Synscan and may be more friendly to a complete noob.

6" isn't a bad aperture for an SCT and it would be compact and less requiring of maintenance. Any reflector needs collimation sooner or later wheras an SCT its usually case of later or not at all.

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My Dad was wanting to get a Celestron 6SE some time towards the end of the year, mainly because of the GoTo function.

I just found out last night that there are cheaper scopes with the goto function.

What would you recommend would be a decent telescope with the goto function for around £250-£300?

Yes the Celestron 6SE is more expensive but you're getting what you pay for. The Celestron C6 is a superb little SCT OTA. You should also realise that the NexStar 6SE has a far better mount than the light duty ones that come with the cheaper scopes. The NexStar SE mount is £469.00 on it's own from FLO. http://www.firstlightoptics.com/proddetail.php?prod=nexstar_SE_mount

The cheaper SkyWatcher AZ scopes with GOTO are good however and are great value for money and are highly recommended for a beginner and I'd also recommend the two mentioned in previous post.

John

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just found the SE mount on astrobuysell for £225

U.K. Astronomy Buy & Sell

........now all we need to do is find a bargain 6" SCT/MAK to fit on it.......like this 6" skywatcher mak for £295 (will this fit on the SE mount??)

U.K. Astronomy Buy & Sell

or get the 5" nexstar with mount, second hand for £410 (£650 new from FLO)

U.K. Astronomy Buy & Sell

if youre buying second hand you can get a similar set-up to what your dad wanted for a lot less dosh.

happy hunting

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As an owner of a Nexstar 6SE i can highly recommend it. Its a great scope and the 6" OTA will enable you to view many objects in the night sky. As Astro_Baby has said mine has never needed to be colimated (yet!) and i transport it around to dark sites in car.

The goto is very user friendly and once you do a good allignment with stay alligned for your observation session.

Im a big fan of SCT scopes as they are compact in size and a good allrounder. When you get some spare pennies you can get a focal reducer and the scope will then be F10 and f6.3. the F6.3 will give you stunning wide field views.

Be worth popping along to an astro shop and take a look at the scopes in the flesh so you get a feel for the size etc and pick which one you are going to use the most.

Steve

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My Dad is quite impressed with this Skywatcher Startravel 102 Refractor: Startravel - Skywatcher Startravel 102 SynScan AZ GOTO

Is it true a 4" refractor = 8" Reflector?

Not really. Regarding sharpness and contrast a 4" APO refractor may compare to a bigger scope on planets and other bright objects. On faint DSOs aperture is the key. The startravel is achromatic so you should expect some color aberration on bright objects. If you wan't the best views for your money then a reflector will be a better deal as you can usually get twice the aperture of a refractor with the same money and reflectors are always APO.

Reflectors do require periodic collimation as opposed to refractors which are always collimated.

Edited by pvaz
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For aperture, do you want a lower number? (ie more light enters the scope), or vice versa?

You wan't the highest aperture possible, as in the diameter of the primary mirror or lens, not to be confused with the focal ratio (f/?) which in photography is sometimes associated with aperture.

The area of the primary lens/mirror is responsible for light gathering. So a circle with 8" diameter haves an area of 50,27 while 4" haves an area of 12,57.

Now if you get the ratio = 50,27/12,57 = 3,999 which means an 8" scope gathers 4 times more light then a 4".

Edit:

You don't need to go buy the biggest in the store. The ideal scope is one that will get used frequently, so one too heavy or cumbersome isn't recommended. I'm just pointing out, the wider the primary the more you'll see, so pick one light enough, portable enough and within you budget that may suit you/your father better. If you have to pick between a few scopes within your budget, then the consider aperture as ONE of the main factors of decision, as well as ease of use, setup time, features, weight, etc..

Edited by pvaz
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For our budget, most reflectors seem to be around 5 inches.

What about focal length? Is longer necessarily better? Or does it depend on what you intend to view?

We mainly want to view galaxies, nebulae, planets, and the moon. So will a 1300mm focal length be better than say, a 600mm one?

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For our budget, most reflectors seem to be around 5 inches.

What about focal length? Is longer necessarily better? Or does it depend on what you intend to view?

We mainly want to view galaxies, nebulae, planets, and the moon. So will a 1300mm focal length be better than say, a 600mm one?

Focal length (FL) affects 2 things primarily.

1) the magnification you obtain with any given eyepiece (EP). To get magnification divide the scope FL by the EP FL. e.g. a 25mm EP on a 1000mm FL scope gives you 40x, on a 500mm FL scope it will give you 20x. It is said long FLs are better for planets while short FLs are better for DSOs (they require less mag), but choosing the right EPs for your scope allows you to work around it. A scope around 1000mm FL can easily achieve bouth high and low wide field mags.

2) The FL affects focal ratio given by FL over aperture. The lowest the focal ratio the more demanding the scope will be on EPs. Cheap EPs usually work well on a scope with f/6 and above, lower then that you need better corrected EPs which can be very expensive.

EDIT: As you want to see a bit of everything, a reflector with around 1000mm FL an aperture in between 5" and 8" should allow you to see plenty and still be easy to handle. Bare in mind that nebula and galaxies are extremely sensitive to light pollution, so if you live near a big town you'll always have trouble with those regardless of what scope you get: Besides the scope you have the mount. It can be fully manual or have features as tracking and goto, which usually require an external portable 12v power supply and cost more then the manual ones.

Edited by pvaz
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Here are a few suggestions. They are decent all rounders and you should be able to see a bit of everything:

With GOTO:

Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 130P SynScan AZ GOTO

Advanced Series GOTO - Celestron C6-N GT (GOTO) (this one haves a mount suitable for beginner's astrophotography, but thats a massive time consuming option you shouldn't get into for a quite some time)

Without goto, don't require external power, cheaper as the mount is capable strong but fully manual:

Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian

Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 200P Dobsonian

Edited by pvaz
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Okay, what about the Skymax 102?

Maksutov - Skywatcher Skymax 102 SynScan AZ GOTO

FL is 1300mm, ratio is f12.7.

Will that allow me to see DSO's as well as planets?

Should be excellent for planets, moon, double stars and possibly globular clusters.

On the other DSOs (galaxies, nebula) you should be limited to the brightest ones. It will also be hard to fit large DSOs (pleiades, beehive cluster) on the FoV. But still it's a great scope to start with and most small galaxies and nebulas are just faint gray smudges even on big scopes, anyway. Besides the high f ratio allows for cheap EPs.

PS-> wait for some more replies and ponder the pros and cons with what you've learnt. I don't want to be the one choosing the scope for you and then you may not like it. :eek:

Bare in mind most people, after some time in the hobby, end up with a couple of scopes for different situations as there is no perfect one.

Edited by pvaz
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Should be excellent for planets, moon, double stars and possibly globular clusters.

On the other DSOs (galaxies, nebula) you should be limited to the brightest ones. It will also be hard to fit large DSOs (pleiades, beehive cluster) on the FoV. But still it's a great scope to start with and most small galaxies and nebulas are just faint gray smudges even on big scopes. Besides the high f ratio allows for cheap EPs.

How does that compare with the Skywatcher 130P and Startravel 102 refractor?

Sorry I'm asking so many questions, I really want to get the right one.

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I'd go for a 150 or 200 newt with parabolic mirror for DSO's. You'll see planets too but they'd be more contrasty in a mak/schmit cassegrain.

Go for tracking models if poss - so much easier - if you need goto I'd save up for it - but good optics and max aperture will give best light gathering for nebs, galaxies, etc.

Don't expect colours though on anything but planets.

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The startravel should be a bit sharper (slighly noticeable for a trained eye) on planets, moon and double star but will be even more limited regarding faint DSOs.

The 130p is the best all rounder as it haves more aperture. Still don't expect to see all DSOs. Should be enough for most in the Messier catalog. To see all the Herschel 400 objects, 8" is the bare minimum and 10" is recommended, under dark skies.

Edited by pvaz
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Keep in mind that you will soon want to get extra eyepieces, storage cases, table, folding chair, red light torch, books, extra thick socks and 101 other things you never even thought of.

It's a great hobby to get into but there's a little bit more than 'buy a telescope and look through it'.

Rik

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