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New astronomer, have questions.


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Hello all!

I am trying to introduce my daughters to sciences and I have had my eye out for a nice telescope. I always liked the idea of astronomy when I was a kid but was terribly frustrated by the lousy quality of stuff which really should be classified as toys.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I drove by a garage sale around the corner and out on the driveway was a meade 8" newtonian. I tried to talk the guy down, but he wouldnt budge. I did get him to thrown in a 2nd eyepeice. The scope is mounted on a heavy stand (not a tripod) and it has an electric drive.

So, this is what I have:

Meade 8" newtonian

heavy (and stable) stand with motor drive

2" focuser with fine focus and 1.25" reducer

25mm meade ma 25mm multicoated

12.5mm plossl

here are my questions:

Are the plossl objectives listed on ebay good value?

Does a barlow reduce the image quality?

The motor drive plugs into a wall AC socket, is there a way to use battery power? (I want to take it camping).

Can I see nebulas with this scope? The pics I see of them are fantastic, but perhaps they are only visible with long exposures.

I found a website that will show me skymaps, so I can know what will be out on a given night. Is there a calendar of events somewhere so that I can plan outings? (meteor showers, close planets, comets, other??)

Can I connect a digicam to the scope or does it require special optics, or a cam with no optics?

Sorry to ask so many questions at once, but its a big sky out there.

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Hi and welcome to the forum.

1. The rule with ebay is 'caveat emptor' (let the buyer beware). You can get bargains, you can get rubbish. Personally, I would have a look through the 'for sale' section here, or the astro buy and sell site first.

2. Any additional piece of glass added to the optical train will reduce quality, that is inevitable, but what you get with a good quality barlow will outweigh that. The celstron ultima (aka Orion shorty) is good quality at a reasonable price (£87 new from FLO - considerably cheaper if you can find one second hand).

3. It really depends on whether there is a battery compartment or a socket to attach a DC cable from an external (battery) power source. Worst case scenario, get a battery with a power invertor so you can plug the mains lead into that?

4. The pictures you see of nebulae on this site and others are the results of hours of exposure time. You will be able to see some, depending on your level of light pollution, and the use of appropriate filters helps, but they will be nothing like as impressive as the photos. That said, your first 'live' view of the Orion Nebula through your scope is likely to blow you away.

5. Tonight's Sky Main Page

6. You will need an adaptor (1.25" nosepiece) to connect your camera. No eyepiece, plug it in instead of an eyepiece and record.

Keep the questions coming ... there is plenty of good advice to be obtained from the guys (and gals) on this site.

Edited by Demonperformer
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Thank you for the info dp!

I will take some time to process it.

I finally found some info about my scope (it had no name plate)

It is a "Stargazer 8" Newtonian" or at least very similar to one.

Meade Newtonian 8" f/4.5 1140mm Telescope

It's much longer than the short catadioptic scopes that are common these days. It looks ancient. Maybe I overpaid?

The mount has no other connector besides the AC cord.

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I think the scope you have bought is the Meade Starfinder 8 Equatorial. They were decent scopes when marketed - I have a catalogue listing them in 1992 so that's the sort of vintage it is.

Here is a link to a scan of the original instruction manual for the scope (there was a range of sizes available):

http://www.astronomics.com/main/documents/new_scan_docs/6_8_10_starfinder.pdf

If the mirrors are in good condition and you can manage the weight / bulk of the scope (they were heavy old things as I recall !) you should get some great views with it. You will need to learn how to collimate the scope (align the mirrors with each other) because it's a "fast" scope (F/4.5) and they will need adjusting reasonably often.

You can of course take it camping (if you have the muscle / space) but I think the drives are mains only so bear that in mind. It will show galaxies, nebulae and a whole range of other astro objects - an 8" scope has a lot of potential.

EDIT: But don't expect views like the photos - visual astronomy can't compete with CCD imaging unfortunately.

Edited by John
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Scopes don't generally deterioratee with age, except for getting dirty. Your scope is probably an f/6, which will be a little more forgiving that the f/5s that are the usual today. You should find it a very good scope once you get used to it.

Buy branded plossls, and you can't really go wrong, but consider saving a lttle more and getting wide angle eps with better eye relief. They will give you a better view.

You should have lots of fun with that scope.

Oh, buy a copy of a current astronomy magazine, as they all have decent star maps and articles on what is visible at the present time. Get a red flashlight to read it by, and you and your daughter can learn the sky together. A decent pair of binocs isn't a bad idea to have beside you just to take quick looks at whatever looks interesting.

Edited by The Warthog
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Download "Stellarium" - it's free planetarium software and you'll love it. Some of the cheaper barlows can make the view a bit blury - a decent one though (e.g. Tal) should be fine if you stay below 80% of your scopes max magnification. You might want to get a collimator which will be very useful. Try Maplins for inverters they're usually very reasonably priced. But if you go camping get electrical hookup and there won't be a problem.

Be nice to see a pic of the scope on here - it might stimulate more advice.

Welcome to the group ;)

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