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First Telescope Help


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I'm new to astronomy and was wondering if I could get some advice on buying my first telescope.

I have found one which seems interesting and easy to use. It's a Sky watcher, Sky Max 127 A-Z GOTO. You can see it here:

Sky Watcher SkyMax 127 SynScanTM AZ GOTO 127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain

I was just wondering what I might be able to see with it. It's a 5 inch reflecting telescope I think?

Thanks,

Adam

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A 5" maksutov is a nice portable scope. It will reveal all the major sights of the Solar System -- Saturns rings, Jupiter with it's moons & main cloud belts, phases of Venus, perhaps some detail on Mars ( not now as it is too far from Earth ) , a wealth of Lunar detail & be excellant for double stars. Get a full aperture Solar filter & you will see Sun spots. It would be a bit limiting on deep sky, you really need more aperture for galaxies but you should see the brightest ones like M31, M81/82. However you wont see all of large objects like the Pleiades or Beehive as your lowest power on this scope will give a bit over 1 degree field of view, not large enough to fit them in. But you could use binoculars to view these fine objects. A nice scope, generally free from problems like collimation (optical alignment ) Have a trawl through this forum for other opinions. Good Luck !!

Edited by NGC 1502
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I've recently bought a 90mm skymax and am really well impressed with the performance such a teeny aperture can give (Uranus at 20+ AU!!) although the limiting magnification of the 90 is around 180-200. The 127 seems to be regarded as a bit of a planet killer, and I can see why.

Added to this the 127 Maks are great for deep space stuff too, so I am lead to believe.

If I can find an outlet here in China, I'll be spending a few Yuan on a 127 for the hoose, no mistake.

If you can forgo the goto option, then you could boost your aperture to 180mm (I think), which will capture much more light.

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Hi Adam,

A warm welcome to the forum. As a neebie myself, I find the information on here invaluable, so do keep searching out the advice.

I got the Skymmax 127 auto-trak a few weeks ago and think its great. As NGC said, it easily portable and easy to use. In the few sessions I've had, I've been blown away.

Last Friday we had clear skies around Dundee. That night (11pm-4am) I saw the following. Saturn and three of its moons was a beautiful as always - I think even old hands a have a soft spot for Saturn. Mars is more of a blob - with occasional hints of features - at the moment.

Double stars are indeed fun (Castor, Mizar & Alegibra are easy from my garden).

Deep Sky Objects (DSO's) also seem good to me - but bear in mind that this is my first 'scope in nearly 40 years. Galaxies like M65 & M66 are faint but discernable. Globular clusters (e.g. M13 in Hercules) look fantastic - especially with averted gaze when you can make out lots of individual stars (M92 is also a good one). Open clusters - other than Pleidaes & Presaepe (aka Beehive) are also stunning (I really like the double cluster and for some reason that I can't piut my finger on, M29).

And don't forget the moon (not up at the moment from my garden viewing). When it was, simply looking at the craters within craters is mesmerising through the Skymax.

Others on the forum are keen on getting as much aperture as possible. I though of this, but also enjoy daytime (terrestrial) viewing: seals on the sand banks of the Tay are just fun to watch. So I went for the Skymax 127 and really haven't regretted it.

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filters can do various things

some like neutral density filters block out glare when looking at planets or the moon, some block out light pollution and some such as 0-lll narrowband filters allow for better viewing of nebula (these are really just for higher aperture scopes over 150mm)

rich

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Thanks for all the very useful, quick replies!! So Sky max 127 is a good place to start I guess! One last question would be, What about filters? What are they for, and what one's are recommended? Many thanks!

Adam

There are a wide range of filters available which are used for a variety of purposes including enhancing the contrast of features on planets, helping to reduce the effects of light pollution and making it a little easier to pick out faint deep sky objects, notably nebulae.

Some people use them a lot, many occasionally and some not at all, so they should not been seen as essential equipment to start out with.

With a maksutov scope you should budget for a dew shield though. They don't come as standard but with the UK climate dew is a common issue on this scope design and can quickly cut short an observing session if not combatted.

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A dew shield is needed - my second viewing session was cut short because I thought I could get away without the shield. There are several threads with DIY shields on the forum - camping mats evidently make good shields - but I bought one when I ordered my 127 (~£20 from FLO).

A red torch is also pretty much essential - Tesco's do a head torch for camping that has red light (or at least they used to). There's nothing more annoying than loosing all dark adaptation just to find something and then have to wait until you get back to being able to see your target.

The "best" thing I ordered was 32 & 7.5mm Plossl eyepieces (SkyWatcher). The 32mm gives about as wide a field of view as you can get with the 127 and its nice and bright - essential for finding the DSO's. The 7.5mm gives as bright an image as the supplied 10mm but with slightly higher magnification (X200). This is great for planets and seeing details on the moon. I just got a GSO 15mm Plossl that gives me a nice "in between" magnification - there's a good sticky thread on eye-pieces - what's the minimum wich I recommend reading.

I also ordered a SkyWatcher moon filter - It helped when the moon was nearly full, but I didn't notice much difference with a new moon. I haven't tried colour filters so can't say for certain, but have a suspicion that with the relatively small 127mm aperture they might dim the image as much as they increase specific contrast (i.e. not really help).

If you're tall (I'm 6'2"), think about upgrading the finder to a 90 degree right angle one (the 9X50 Skywatcher erecting finder is next on my list). While my wife and son think its funny watchiong me crawl around on the ground, I'm getting tired of muddy wet knees. This might not be such an issue with GOTO, but I reckon that you will spend some time just looking to see what's there.

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I thnk the 127 has too little light grasp to benefit from filters - other than a Neutral Density filter for the moon.

The Maksutov has a long focal length which, in a given eyepiece, produces more magnification but a smaller field of vew. As has been said, good on the planets but not for big clusters or faint deep sky objects.

Olly

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I've got a 102mm Mak and it is fine for DSO and clusters. Doesn't have quite the wide field on a newt or frac, but you get used to it (and you'll never find one scope good for everything!)

I've also used filters to good effect with mine - for example yellow brings out 'surface' detail on Saturn and Jupiter, light pollution filter has helped me find fainter DSOs etc.

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Once again many thanks for the quick replies!

So it seems I should just get a light pollution filter and a dew shield, to get me started. Anything else is just an extra to enhance images once I've got used to using it?

Adam

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Hi Adam,

Welcome to the forum. ;)

The Skymax 127 Mak seems to be a good little 'scope. It, and it's brethren, have gathered quite a following amongst forum members.

For the time being go with the kit that come with it. Spend time using and getting comfortable with your new equipment, you'll get a feel for what you need.

However, a dew shield is almost certainly a must, depending on your local climate. And a Neutral Density Moon filter is also a good idea too.

I wouldn't bother with a Light Pollution (broadband) filter for now, maybe further down the line get yourself a Ultra High Contrast (narrowband) filter if you feel that LP is a problem.

When you start thinking about getting more eyepieces (and you will! :)), your first stop should be The Warthog's guide to choosing EPs: Eyepieces - the very least you need.

Above all, enjoy your stargazing.

Edited by david o
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