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MICROCUT5

Help chosing first scope

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Hi All,

I have been keen to get my first scope for a while now and have been doing some research during which I stumbled across this forum a number of times so thought I should join up.

I have posted in the new members bit (where Doc and others have been great at helping me out with my newbie questions -----> 'http://stargazerslounge.com/welcome/100486-hi.html') but thought I should bring the questions over this way where they belong :-)

I am after something under £400 ideally that will give me some longevity and that might get me started or at least be a stepping stone into knowing how to get into astrophotograpy. I currently have a Canon 50D, a doubler and a 500mm lense which I use for some lunar photography.

I don't intend to use it for terestrial observation and if it's somewhat portable then that would be a cheeky bonus!

After reading into the different kind of scopes out there I came across this one;

http://www.telescopeplanet.co.uk/ViewProdDetails.asp?name=Skywatcher SKYMAX-127 SynScan™ AZ GOTO Black Telescope&prod_code=PON08J000122

It seemed to get good reviews as a starter scope and from what I can tell comes with a good amound of accessories (eye pieces, lunar filter etc). You guys may be able to say if they are likely to be worth anything?!

Doc has recommended;

Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 250PX Dobsonian

I trust everyones opinion in these forums way more than my own but my only concern whith this is the potability as I am struggling to get an idea of weight and size. However, apart from that it looks to be an amazing telescope.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Also is anyone able to suggest key accessories. I assume things like a map of the sky and a red light?

I also assume that the list of accessories is dependant on the scope you but as GoTo may require something like a 7AHr battery for the mount etc... Stop me if I'm making this up :(

Cheers

MC

Edited by MICROCUT5

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The goto is the better option if you want to get into astrophotography as it can track the object that you want to photography over a long period.

whether the goto mount is sturdy enough to cope with photographing DSO's is a question for the experts on here.

I have just got myself a 250px flextube dob and its outstanding for viewing both planets and DSO's unfortunatly the dob does not track so you are limited to what you can photograph (Luna and Planets really)

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depends on your budget but mine at the time was limited so i went for the skywatcher 130p az goto and it hasnt let me down yet, but if u can spend more a 150 or 200 is obviously better all depends on your budget

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Hi,

I will send you a PM regarding one of those suppliers.

Astrophotographic setups are expensive and, at any kind of mid level, use small apertures not much good in visual astronomy. They do, though, need very accurate mounts which are not necessary in visual use. In a nutshell the photography is a separate issue and has little overlap with visual. By the way, the Maksutov's mount is not suitable for photography because it is an alt-azimuth device and photography requires equatorial. You can get tilted wedges to transform them but my advice would be, Don't go there!

The Maksutov would be good on the planets but not so rewarding on the deep sky.

Many things will remain just faint smudges. The Dob would be excellent on both but you would need to track the sky by hand. When looking at planets you use high maginifacation meaning the hand tracking is more demanding, though perfectly possible. At low magnification on deep sky it is insignificant as a problem because the view changes slowly.

A ten inch scope gathers four times as much light as a five inch. With the Dob you pay for the optics, not the mount. How portable are they? Well, they are not very heavy and should sit across the back seat of a car. You would need some device for collimating the mirrors (aligning them corrrectly) but this is just a tweak of a few screws and takes a minute or two after the scope has been shaken around in a car.

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice

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if you are looking to get into imaging quite quick and want to include that in your budget i would recommend a skywatcher explorer 150p from firstlightoptics which will leave you spare money for extra eyepieces and even a decent imaging camera

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Thanks all for the info.

I'm very torn about which road to go down (newt dobsonian / GoTo Cassegrain) but I think I'm leaning toward the Dob. I also think that learning the sky by hand rather than having a 'Guided GoTo Tour' must be more rewarding no?!

I agree that I should probably learn just through observation initially but out of interest, are there adapters that will allow me to SAFELY plug in a Canon 50D (I say safely becuase surely it adds weight and strains the motorised mount?!) into where the eyepiece would usually fit or do you have to buy special cameras. If both are applicable then is there a preferred option for you guys?

Also, is a Maksutov Cassegrain the same as a Schmidt Cassegrain?

Excuse my ignorance!

Thanks again.

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dobs are popular because you get more scope for your money, but i like having a mount, i like being able to take it out and set it up in a dark field. Its really a personal choice though on which you feel benefits you more, i went for a goto on my scope and i like to find things manually but if i cant and get frustrated then i have to goto as backup, but getting a goto will mean to stay within your budget you would have to get a smaller aperture scope

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A 10" scope will show so much more then a 5" scope, the adage that aperture rules is very true.

A goto will point you at it, but with 10" you will see it.

Edited by Doc

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The camera adapter usually is designed so that the nosepiece of the adapter cannot be removed from the focussing tube without having to loosen the locking screw on the focuser. Maksutov Cassegrains and Schmidt Cassegrains look similar at first glance but use different front elements in their design Cassegrain reflector telescopes

Peter

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....A goto will point you at it, but with 10" you will see it.

Great line Mick - agree 100% :(

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Thanks guys. Very informative.

I truely am leaning towards the 10" dobsonian. In fact I think from what you guys have said that I'm 90% of the way there.

Space is the one thing that's getting me at the moment but I'm sure I'll be able to sort something out. Storing it in a garage isn't liekly to cause damage to it is it?

Assuming I go for this scope, what would be the key accessories. I have found the following;

Moon & Neutral Density Filters - Variable Polarizing Moon Filter

Torches - Skywatcher Dual LED

I was also wondering if you guys think it would be worth getting a high end eyepiece or if the ones supplied are likely to be of good enough quality. Also would you recommend a right angle eyepiece for the spotter scope and is the main eyepiece on the tube at a right angle by default? It looks like it is.

Finally, would a good Barlow be a wise purchase and are there any other things that you think I should get?

Thanks

Edited by MICROCUT5

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I also think that learning the sky by hand rather than having a 'Guided GoTo Tour' must be more rewarding no?!

You think right, IMHO. I have yet to try goto, but do struggled to understand what satesfaction it brings, when compared to hunting down and locating a faint, fuzzy, DSO from star hopping.

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A 10" scope will show so much more then a 5" scope, the adage that aperture rules is very true.

A goto will point you at it, but with 10" you will see it.

Great line Mick - agree 100% :(

Seconded

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I'd beg to differ on GoTo. What satisfaction does it give - well the quick answer is I actually get to see stuff. When I am going somewhere I dont know in the car I dont tend to buy an OS map and a compass I use a satnav. Same thing for GoTo.

I have never yet felt that my driving experience was ruined by being able to find where I am going using satnav - and to date neither have I noticed a lack of satisfaction of the view of M42 from the fact the scope pointed itself there rather than me :(

I think the GoTo argument iss much more involved. Much depends on the time you have available. When I started again I was sure I could do without GoTO - 6 months of clouds and other things eating my time put paid to that. The firts clear night we had I couldnt find anything I wanted to see at all. Yes I could find Jupiter, Saturn, M32, M42 etc manually - I have seen plenty of people on here without GoTo still trying to find M57 :D

GoTo is a convenience - I grant you on a small scope you will get to see fewer of them but a big scope without GoTO might mean you never get to see any of them at all.

So far this year I have used my scopes precisely 5 times - the large newt hasnt even left the flat since last October I think. That equates to once/twice a month. One of those was testing the TAL out on the moon and even then conditions were atrocious. On two other nights the target was Mars and guess what - was I using an 8" nope - I was out there with a Nexstar 4SE because againts a planet thats in and out of clouds an 8" wasnt going to do a thing for me.

DSO viewing this year so far has been nil - zero, nada,zip - so wheteher I had a 4" Mak or a 20" Dob would have made no difference - the sky just hasnt been clear. How much sky learning will you do under those conditions. Last year was about the same and the year before that the same again.

I think you need to factor that in to the equation as well.

As to scopes - well astro imaging is a topic in itself but if you wanted to go tthat way I guess the best thing to go for would be a Skywatcher 150 DS on an EQ3-2. That would give you the basics for imaging and still be usable for visual. It would be maybe the best compromise. The EQ3-2 could be motorised later for tracking and the DS is geared for imaging as well as visual.

Edited by Astro_Baby

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As I say, I have yet to use goto, or indeed satnav. My image, be it wrong or no, of goto is one not dissimilar to McDonalds/KFC. It may fill a gap, but does it really satesfy?

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Mel your go-to might send you to say Ngc7331 but through your 5" scope it will be invisible, while with your 10" scope with a little effort you will be able to find it and see it.

In the last 18 months I have seen over 220 objects working my way through the Messier, caldwell and herschel catalogues, all of these except 5 were seen from my light polluted back garden, how many of these would I have seen with 5" of aperture.

IMO if you are into astrophotography then a go-to is essential to place that unseen object into your field of view so you can capture in on your CCD.

You can always add a wixey guage and maybe manual setting circles to get you within a degree of your target and go from there.

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Short answer - yes :(

Its ok to find stuff if you have time to mess around and decent skies. When I am limited to maybe 2-3 hours a month I dont want to waste them looking at nothing much.

Doc I dont disagree with the big aperture view of things but you say 'with a little effort' its not a little effort its VERY hard and assumes you have stacks and stacks of spare time to mess about. I started with high hopes of doing without GoTo - as I pointed out 6 months of no viewing due to bad weather and other commitments changed that view very fast. I was of the view initially that GoTo was a toy, was like fast food etc etc - I am pretty familiar with the arguments having voiced them myself at one time (would rather be a traveller than a tourist etc) . Practical experience taught me otherwise and I had to climb down and accept that without GoTo I would most likley just pack up and take up some other hobby. Or at least buy a lo

ng tube refractor and just concentrate on planets.

If I had a garden somewhere dark, lots of spare time etc then yes I'd buy a 30" obsession and do it myself and doubtless it would be fun BUT I dont. I live next to Gatwick airport and if I am to see anything at all I need to drive to a dark sky site. Weather for the last two years has been atrocious which cuts down the viewing opportunites - ie it may be clear where I live at 2am but I'd still have to drive for 40 minutes to get to a dark site. All of that reduces hugely the available viewing time. If I had my own obs then I could nip outside and get some eyetime in.

I dont know how much a 6" scope will see compared to a 10" in terms of numbers of objects but however many it is I'd doubt even with GoTo I'd get to see many of them. You say in 18 months you have seen 220 objects - I doubt I have seen 10 in a year - thats not down to limiting magnitudes of the scope thats down to time and weather issues. If I were doing it manually that number would be half that. Even with a 4" scope I doubt I would have run out of objects.

Thats was my intent - I dont disagree with aperture but it has to be balanced against other requirements.

Edited by Astro_Baby

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Fair point Mel, I do wonder, however, when I see people who have listed maybe 20 or more Messiers in an evenings "observing", have they just punched in coordinates, said "there it is", then punched in some coordinates and said "there it is", then punched in some coordinates and said "there it is", then...... well, you get the picture!

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Mel you are correct in all you say and it really boils down to the individual and how much time he/she has to give to this hobby.

When I started I had a 4" refractor which was near on impssible to view anything but the major objects. I knew I was in the right vicinity but alas no object came into my view.

Ok I've progressed to a 16" scope but now all I have to do in most cases is sweep pass that area and all except the dimmest and smallest of objects come into view and thats in a heavily polluted backgarden. Under dark skies it's completely another level.

This is a great thread and it shows any new observer the pro's and con's of both avenues of observing.

At the end of the day we can only guide it's up to them to decide.

Edited by Doc

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Of course Doc - sorry if I sounded a bit strident there - ooops :D wasnt meant to come over as bolshy or anything but rereading it it does sound a bit stroppy :(

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I have clearly overlooked the BIG issue that a lot of people have to face, the need to travel with their scopes to find a dark site. I've been fortunate enough to live on a farm on a hill with not too much LP, and most of that is stray light which I can shield against, rather than the orange blanket skies of a large town. Which allows me to look out of the window, see that there are stars and step out of the front door and start observing, even the 10" Dob I can cart out, set up and virtually start right away (cooling down as I warm up, so to speak).

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I wish I lived where you live YM - I live in light pollution hell. I did post some pics up of my immediate surroundings a few months ago and it looks much like the pic below. Thats a westerly view but its the same all round.

On a clear night I can look up and see - errrrr - nothing. At the very best I can see a few stars in the summer triangle or the square of Pegasus - I can seldom see more than half a dozen stars close to the zenith. Away from the zenith - nothing at all.

Bright objects like Jupiter, Saturn are visible but even Mars was screened off by sky glow recently. yes it really is THAT bad.

A 40 minute drive (which is actually 90 minutes by the time the gear is packed) will take me to the nearest reasonable site - that is susceptible to yobs in cars doing handbrake turns in the car park or amorous couples. I have to come home again at the end of it so a total of 1 hours observing is actually 3 hours of time.

To go to a better site is a 60 minute drive but its still a minimum of 40 minutes to pack the kit and get it in the car so now I am up to 2 hours to get to the site - allow 20 minutes to set the kit up. Now break its down and pack and come home thats 4 hours just to get there and back. Assuming a work day I cant stay out too late so I have to commit maybe 4 hours to get maybe an hours observing in (and all that assumes the sky stays clear and the kit behaves itself). It also assumes that the sky is clear when I get there - I have on plenty of occasions packed all the gear up, set off for the site, set the gear up only to have the sky cloud over.

Imagine trying to observe if you when you looked out of your window and saw it was clear you then had to wait 2 hours before you could observe. And at the end of your observing session you had to sit in your car for 2 hours awake before you could go back indoors. That gives you an idea of the issues.

All of that doesnt even begin to cover the sheer effort involved in lugging a scope up and down 6 flights of stairs along with its power, eyepiece cases and all the other gubbins.

Its easy when you have a garden or a close by dark sky site, easier still with your own obs but for us urban astronomers life is a lot tougher. Its often stated that the solution is aperture, aperture, aperture but the truth is its about location, location, location,

Heres a pic looking west to give you an idea what its like round these parts.....its hard to ever learn the sky when you cant see more than 3-4 stars.

post-14805-133877436747_thumb.jpg

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ps - that pic was taken VERY late in the evening - the factory with its lights on has them on 24/7 just like that. The factory to the other side has just put some new lights on their exterior which (believe it or not) are even MORE dazzling than the one in that pic.

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Great line Mick - agree 100% :(

Just what I thought; the perfect one liner and as true as you like!!

Astro Baby also hits the nail on the head. I'm lucky; I have an astro dedicated location but it's a long way to go to the chip shop...

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice

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You're right, this really is a good thread! I could have never imagined the complexity in just choosing a suitable scope.

Ahhhh so torn! :(

The town I live in is, I would say, is moderately light poluted being just off of the M11. As Astro-Baby says, in these conditions it sounds like having the GoTo mount would be advantageous to maximise viewing time however, we do have a small place in a seaside town which I can get to maybe once a month at most. This town has some of the clearest nights I've ever seen and no light pollution where by the sounds of it the dobsonian would really come into it's own. The problem with that is that it's a 2 hour drive and by the sounds of it the dob isn't the most portable little device in the world.

I guess I could obsess about this too long and should maybe just bite the bullet. From your descriptions, I should be impressed nomatter which one I go for... right?! :D

...Oh yeah. And I just realised the user descriptions and am highly amused at being descibed as vacuous! Haha.

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