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beginer scope advice

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hey guys,

complete beginner here looking at starting in astronomy and have been searching through different types of scopes, please forgive me if I have any conflicting Ideas hear as im new to all this so please be gentle lol. Im Not looking to spend a Fortune or anything no more than £200 maximum on scope optics tripod etc I know that i wont get the most amazing equipment for that budget as tripods can cost anything up from £200 lol but I thought id start of with basics then if I really get into it then ill save up in future for better kit. im not looking at observing deep space objects as i now light buckets are best for that, im more drawn to viewing the moon and star clusters. but i would like to keep the size of telescope on the small side as I do not have much room for storage in my apartment

I was looking at either of the following, so if anyone could give me advice or any experience with these id be grateful.

Skymax 90 EQ1 MC

Sky-Watcher SKYMAX-90 (EQ1) 90mm (3.5") f/1250 MAKSUTOV-CASSEGRAIN

Sky-watcher Star travel 80T

Sky-Watcher STARTRAVEL-80T (Tube Assembly) 80mm (3.1") f/400 REFRACTOR

If you could suggest any equipment to go with or replace, or any other scopes that would be good for a beginner scope id be very appreciative. just bare in mind I dont have a major amount of space for storage lol many thanks


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Hi Ash

Welcome to the slippery slope:D

First off I have no experience of either scope, but I'll tell you what I believe. The Mak will be an excellent scope on the moon, but when it comes to star clusters it will be a disappointment, it is f/13, that means that the field of view will be very small. As an example make a ring out of your thumb and index finger, close the circle up tight until there is only a small hole, that would be the equivilent of f/13, widen it out until your fingertips touch, that would be the equivilent of f/5. Star clusters are usually big and wide and at f/13 you would only see a small amount, missing the whole show.

The Startravel 80 would be the reverse, as it is f/5, it will give you great views of star clusters, but I believe that it will also give pleasing views of the moon, there might be some false colour around the rim from the lens, but you will learn to ignore this.

If you want to stay with Skywatcher why not consider the Explorer 130? It's a bigger scope, in astronomy bigger is definitely better:p, it will give very good views of deep sky and nice images of the moon, and it's only £139. It's not a huge scope and will not take up much room.

That's just my two cents worth.

Edited by pbyrne
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hey thanks for the very welcoming and helpful reply and thanks for the explanation of thumbs lol really simple way of explaining it :) and it made sense haha cool thank you ill take that on board, if i could id be saving for a light bucket haha but unfortunately that will be out of the question until I eventually get my own house haha thanks again and if anyone has their own two cents that'd be great too haha


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Also budget for a decent eyepiece and x2 barlow.


My Skywatcher 1145P has a focal length of 500mm, with included (lower quality) eyepieces of 25mm, 10mm, and rubbish x2 barlow. They give me x20, x40, x50, x100 magnifications.

They are quite good for general aiming and honing in before using higher magnification.

A 6.4mm decent eyepiece gives x80, and a decent x2 barlow gives x160

So depending on what you eventually buy, budget for an eyepiece or two to replace the supplied ones.

Edited by cootuk
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hey cootuk, thanks for the reply, I was hoping someone would mention good eye pieces as if i get the SWST-80T id have roughly £80 left with which I would like to get good eyepiece or two, is it worth getting the all in one case eye kits that are available or is it worth just getting individuals like you mentioned as I guessed that any eyepieces that came with the scope wouldnt probably be the best lol many thanks and more advice would be welcomed! much thanks

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Given your limitations of both physical space and budget you might be better off starting out with the following kit:

a) One plastic inflatible beach raft/float. They are typically the shape and size of a single mattress and cost less than $25.

:) One star planisphere for your viewing latitude. These typically cost less than $15 but you can get them cheaper by going to your local library each month and photocopying the ones inside various astronomy magazines for the current month.

c) A beat-up old flashlight you have laying around or some cheap (i.e. less than $5) one from a discount store that you can paint the front lense with red nail polish or cover with red mylar repair tape used on auto tail lights.

d) A pair of binoculars that are at least 15 x 70. I would recommend 20 x 80. Mfg doesn't matter. Just make sure they are water resistent (not necessarily water proof). The cost of these bino's will vary greatly but you will most likely spend somewhere around $90 - $150 for them.

Now, why binoculars?

Because given your budget constraints the telescope optics you will purchase won't be all that much better than a pair of low-end astronomy binoculars. Second, you can easily store a pair of bino's whereas a telescope will require quite a bit more room.

Why the beach float?

Because laying flat on your back looking up is far easier than sitting and leaning back. Second, the beach float is plastic and inflatible which means while laying on the ground you will be cushioned, dry and have a pocket of air between you and the cold ground. Finally, bino's are heavy. It's far more enjoyable to lay they bino's on your chest and let your arms go slack at your sides than having then strap from the bino's cutting into your neck (already sore from craining up at the sky) and your arms hanging off your shoulders where your muscles are tensed up from sitting upright and looking up. In fact, buy two beach floats and pass the bino's back and forth between yourself and a significant other.

Now, with all that being written... If you're still wanting the telescope then I would recommend the refractor over the Maksutov-Cassegrain. At some point you will be in a bigger place, have a bigger budget and desiring a bigger telescope. You can use the refractor as a finder scope for that new telescope. :-)

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Try looking at Telescope Simulator and Telescope Comparison home page to give you an idea of what telescopes of different sizes and focal lengths / magnifications can do.

For a smaller scope don't expect a lot from Mars, but you should see Saturn with its ring and moons, then later on Jupiter should be showing herself.

Maybe have a chat with FLO to discuss what you hope to achieve as they seem competitively priced and are highly regarded.

Rather than buying a kit of eyepieces and filters I personally would buy to match the scope - a decent barlow should last a lifetime, and eyepieces you choose on magnification and usefulness.

Also get something like Stellarium on your PC to see what's out.

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Welcome to SGL mate!

I currently own a ST80 and IMHO, it is absolutely unbeatable at such a price as a quick grab and go type of scope (you could find used OTA's at anything from £70 to even £50!! that's cheaper than dirt). It's true it suffers from some fringe while gazing at the moon, but you can reduce that not only with filters, but also by only partially removing the front cap. That's a simple yet effective gizmo. However, I must admit, viewing planets is a real pain :) It's just not made for that purpose. But I have spent hours and hours wandering through milky way, with some great views of double cluster, Andromeda and thingys alike :(

A bit of fine-tuning the OTA is usually needed, and some people have really pushed these scopes to their max.. (see the link)

If you're after a grab and go (as it is well known you can see more with a small scope you can grab anytime/anywhere you want/need, than with a "light bucket" gathering dust in your attic) and a budget is tight, you can ditch the EQ mount option (the LEAST I would consider as worth having for this scope is EQ3-2, and, well, to be honest, it is nowhere grab and go, although some people may refer to their lightbuckets as GnG :eek: ) and buy a half-decent photo-video tripod. I've bought a Velbon Sherpa 250 photo tripod (fluid head and a single handle control meant i could keep the ST on the target while holding my beer in my other hand. And that, my friends, is awesome :eek: ). Sturdy enough for what i need, lightweight, cost me £40 and absolutely no hassle in setting up. 30 seconds, literally (5 minutes, if beer is in the other, though..).

I also threw out a finder scope, as I have a 32mm Celestron EP which gives me wide enough a view to be useble, again, for what i need. (BTW, great widefields with that one! ) The other EP I have is Televue 25mm, trully amazing as well, and the moon fits just right in the FOV. And you HAVE to have at least half decent optics at every level up to your eye, in order to get the most out of this "pup". That also means getting a new diagonal, as well as EP's for your new obsession, as the standard SW eyepieces, well, honestly, I think they should be banned (at least the ones I've had a (un)fortune to try). Getting the eyepiece-filter sets, however, was never my choice for this set up as a)you usually don't need half of the stuff in there, b)buying separately means greater customization freedom, c)you can often find quality EP's for a real bargain prices d) for ST80 3 EP's is enough, IMHO, as there is not much "further" with e.g. magnification you can, or should go. Or 2 EP's and a Barlow. Any way you go, £80 at least for starters, I think, is enough.

Hope this helped a bit, may be completely useless as I am absolutely knackered and can barely think, but somehow thought I'd throw in my two cents, as they say;)



Edited by zhgutas
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I'm going to take a different view.

A Dobsonian telescope is simply a Newtonian reflector mounted an a small but super-effective mount which moves in altitude (up and down) and Azimuth (side to side) when pushed. It moves smoothly but stays put.

Now the point of a 'Dob' is that you spend as much as possible on the optics and as little as possible on the mount. And while the mount will not be motorized to track the sky (though some can be) it is stable and vibration free. It requires no aligning, you just plonk it on level ground. It is an excellent mount. I have a very big one here.

The payback is that within your budget you can get real light grasp. For just under your budget you could get a 6 inch (150mm) scope and for just over it a full 8 inch. (200mm)

The amount of light pulled in by the scope goes as Pi times the radius of the mirror or lens squared. Double the radius, quadruple the light grasp. That matters. Think of it - 80mm versus 150. Absolutely no contest. None whatever.

Now for another point. The hardest and most expensive optics to make use lenses. The cheapest use mirrors. For a given spend, therefore, you get more from a mirror than from a lens. This too argues against a small refractor and in favour of a Dobsonian reflector.

Now someone may say that the Dob will be awkward in your apartment. I don't think it will. It will stand in a corner pointing straight up and be very handy indeed. Just don't let people put umbrellas down it.

First Light Optics do a range of Dobs. Have a look here and search on 'Dobsonian.'

First Light Optics - Suppliers of Skywatcher, Celestron, William Optics, Meade, Coronado Solar, Tal, Burgess Optical, Baader Planetarium, Astrozap and Kendrick

I do agree with the post inviting you to consider binoculars but I can't see myself hand holding 70 mm ones. I have a pair but they go on a tripod and do my neck in! I'm surprized that I'm the first to advocate a Dob because the advice I'm offering now is very much the norm in response to enquiries like yours.


Edited by ollypenrice
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I agree with Olly, the Dob will give a big chunk of aperature for your money and it will give you a great taste for what you want to look at. Alos they aren't too heavy to handle - if you don't go above 8".


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  • 2 weeks later...

Sorry guys, I may have been misunderstood here a bit ;) By no means am I underestimating the Dob (or any reflector, for that matter). Heck, I am looking for one myself now as my second, more serious scope! There is absolutely no argument (IMHO) about dobs being the best money/aperture ratio. My rather lengthy blabbering about the ST80 was only because a) SA mentioned this scope as one of his possible choices, and :) again, IMHO, this is one of the best LOW BUDGET choices for the TAKE ANYWHERE type of scope.

Then again, as I said, that's probably ONLY considering the need of ultra-high portability. When this is not the case - there is no doubt a this tiny thing would not stand a chance against the Dob :)



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