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Looking at a future telescope and need some insight. :)


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Greetings Stargazer community.

Right its been just over a month since I introduced myself on these forums because of moving house and what not. But in that time I’ve been studying more of the sky’s with my bino’s and car-boot purchased telescope and have begun delving deeper into amateur astronomy.

So in the month I’ve been busy, I’ve had enough ample time to sort out a small savings account and start saving up to start getting myself a decent telescope as well as the associated equipment. As of now those savings are still a work in progress, however, I’ve just ordered myself a Skywatcher Collimator for the telescope I’ve already own, but also for future use.

But the main reason for this posts is as I’ve already mentioned in the posts title, that I’m looking at several telescopes, one of which I will hopefully buy as my first ‘proper’ telescope. Needless to say the ones I’ve chosen seem to have a nice set of features, have a non-motorised sturdy equatorial mount because I want to do it the old fashioned way (plus it’ll force me to learn my way around the sky the old fashioned way), fit my budget and quite possibly be used for some very amateur astrophotography. But any-who, on to the telescopes I’m considering.

The ones I’m interesting in right now are:

Skywatcher Explorer 150P EQ3-2

Skywatcher Explorer 150PL EQ3-2

Skywatcher Explorer 200P EQ5

Skywatcher Skymax 90 EQ1

Skywatcher Skymax 102 EQ2

Skywatcher Skymax 127 EQ3-2

These telescopes are generally within my price range, although the Explorer 200P and the Skymax 127 are pushing it a bit because it means I’ll have to save a little longer. Plus I’d have to do some more saving because I’d want to buy some new len’s for them that are spectacle friendly.

But what I’d like to though from members of the community is, is what are they like to live with? Use? Maintain? Are they all good for general all round viewing of objects? Cost effectiveness? And what are the differences’ between the mounts?

Sorry for the numerous questions and long post, because I’m in no rush to buy one at the moment, I want to learn as much about what I may be purchasing and what I’ll be getting myself into with these types of telescopes and mounts. I don’t shy from challenges, but I do like to be prepared for them. :D

Thanks in advance,

Ben.

Edited by benjy85pb
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The mounts are all equatorial. The EQ1 is generally a bit wobbly the EQ5 is the toughest of the bunch you have listed. The EQ3-2 is well made and robust for a small mount. The 200P on an EQ5 will pack the biggest punch from the ones you listed and will have a reasonably stable mount in the EQ5. The 200 is quite a large scope though and when added to the weight of an EQ5 mount and its counterweights will be quite heavy.

Some questions that would help anyone guiding you would be ?

Where will you observe - back garden or do you need to travel ?

If you need to travel what will you take the scope in - small car, big car, no car etc ?

Do you ever entend to move to astro photography - if not why have an EQ mount a Dobsonian will be cheaper - there are issues with a Dob though - some people hate nudging them - only you can know whether you will like a DOb or not (I dont but dont let that put you off - everyones different).

THe 200 will be the best all rounder with the biggest light grasp so it will do wel lon almost anything. The Skymax 127 will possibly be slightly better at planets but slightly less good on deep sky.

The 150P and 150PL will also be good all rounders of the 200 pushes the budget too hard. The EQ3-2 and EQ5 can be upgraded with motors for tracking and even GoTo later on if wanted (but its expensive) the EQ2 and EQ1 can only have tracking motors.

I'd discount the 90/EQ1 and 102/EQ2 as being too small myself as the only scope (I have a 90 equivalent as a grab and go but as a sole scope it would be too tiny) unless budget is a real issue.

Bear in mind the 150 and 200 scopes are on the large side - have you considered where you will store them. Packed up they arent frighteningly big but they can be a problem if space in your house is limited. (My 200 lives in a blanket box when not in use).

HOpe thats some help and has given you some food for thought.

Mel

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My first scope was a manual 150P on EQ3-2- smashing starter scope - kept me occupied for 2yrs - you can't go wrong with it. Like yourself I wanted to learn the sky the old fashioned way and that'll stand you in good stead if you ever go for motorised or goto mounts in the future - (goto's are fine but you need to know what you want to "go to" lol) :D

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At present I’m just viewing from the back garden just for ease at the moment while I learn things. But I do intend to venture out and find quiet spots to set equipment up on, so mobility will help somewhat.

At present if I do need to travel to a spot to set up equipment then my means of transport is my car and it is a small car (Vauxhall Corsa) and I have thought about the sizes of the telescopes that I’ve mentioned. But without actually seeing them its hard to judge! Although when I did see the 150PL and the 200 I was thinking that I may encounter problems transporting them because they look quite large.

But as for storing them in the house I’ve got enough space to accommodate a telescope packed up.

As for astro-photography I don’t intend to delve into to a great extent. What I mean by that is to the extent of setting up for long exposure times and trying to get pictures like you see in books etc. My interest is just to capture what I see, especially if its the first time I’ve ever seen something with my own eyes, basically to keep an image for record. So for that I was hoping that an ‘all-rounder’ scope would be adequate. Although at the moment I don’t own a suitable camera (SLR/DSLR) but it’d be nice to know that capability to use one easily will be there. Basically to keep it all as amateurish as possible.

The Dobsonians to me seem to immobile for my liking, plus the nudging thing I’m already sort of disliking because I’ve been having similar joy with the cheap telescope I already have because its similar in design to the Skywatcher Astrolux Telescope 76mm, although mines a Bushnell.

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The Dobsonians to me seem to immobile for my liking, plus the nudging thing I’m already sort of disliking because I’ve been having similar joy with the cheap telescope I already have because its similar in design to the Skywatcher Astrolux Telescope 76mm, although mines a Bushnell.

Dobs are actually more mobile than equatorially mounted scopes IMHO and their setup and use is much easier. You get more "bang for your buck" with them than any other scope as well.

If you are dead set on astro imaging then the dob is not the way to go but for visual they can't be beaten to my mind.

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They do look quite large when set up - but both eq models will break down into three basic bits that will easily fit in a Corsa. The 200 will take up a little bit more space than the 150 - but either ota should go on the back seat bungee'd in and padded.

Then you just have the mount and the triipod to stuff in the boot, a power tank, and an accessory case when you start building an e/p collection. No probs :D

Oh - you can still fit "her indoors" in the passenger seat too lol :D

Edited by brantuk
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I would add - join a local astro soc or go to a star party where you can see lots of scopes and judge sizes. You'll find the eq mounts are no problem to set up once you know how. Personally I don't know why they say dob's are easier - both are a piece of cake :D

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Dobs are actually more mobile than equatorially mounted scopes IMHO and their setup and use is much easier. You get more "bang for your buck" with them than any other scope as well.

If you are dead set on astro imaging then the dob is not the way to go but for visual they can't be beaten to my mind.

Totally agree. So my suggestion would be a 200P Dob. You say storage aint a problem.................even more reason to get the biggest bang for your buck.

EQ mounts can be/are are tricky to set-up/use. Thats why the last issue of S@N magazine dedicated a whole section to them. I have an EQmount and never dreamed that i could get it into some of the positions it can go to. Its like a telescope doing yoga.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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Hi Ben,

This is only a suggestion but as part of your research, have you considered contacting the Worthing Astronomical Society? I believe that might not be too far away from you. According to their website, they have a group called the 'Worthing Astronomers' who I am led to believe hold regular observation sessions. The reason for suggesting this, is for you to go along and have a go on some kit, see what it feels like - actually, see what you can see! By getting up close to the kit you will be able to judge for yourself what you can and cannot manage without the need to fold it all in half :D I have been surprised at times how big some of this kit can appear but when broken down its quite manageable. Just an idea for you :D

Clear skies

James

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I'm a member of WAS and would be happy to show you a 200 on an HEQ5.

I can fit a 200P, HEQ5, power supplies, two caes of accessories and EPs all in the back of a Toyota Aygo which is pretty small. The back setas fold down and in goes the scope. Takes me about 15-20 minutes to set up.

Its bearable but of late I have started using my refractor more because then I dont have to carry so many weights for the mount and they are the real heavy bits.

A 200 on an HEQ5 gives plenty of scope for upgrades as does the EQ5 mount but to be honest a 150 on an EQ3-2 is hardly limited really. Lots you can see with that for sure.

Mel

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Another vote for the 150P EQ3-2 combo. I've only used mine in the back garden so far but am very pleased with it. It's light enough to pick up the whole thing fully assembled and move it around to find the best viewing spot. With a bit of practice I can now pack it down in a couple of minutes.

I actually started looking at much smaller portable scope but after some reading decided to buy the size of scope I would want to end up owning. So I plumped for the 150P and added GOTO rather than get a 200 without it.

It's probably not a good reason to make a buying decision, but a reflector on a equatorial mount looks proper hansom standing in a room when not in use. :D

If you want to go for a easily portable 200 though, I'd say look at a dob as the weight goes up a fair bit with the 200P EQ5, even when broken down.

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Hey guys,

Sorry for taking so long to get back, I wasn’t ignoring you. I had a crisis to attend to Wednesday and I’ve been somewhat side tracked. Sorry.

I would add - join a local astro soc or go to a star party where you can see lots of scopes and judge sizes. You'll find the eq mounts are no problem to set up once you know how. Personally I don't know why they say dob's are easier - both are a piece of cake :D

I have considered it and have spent some time having a look around for the nearest one, but so far I haven’t contacted any yet just due to me being busy trying to sort some things out.

But as for EQ mounts, as some have said they’re tricky to get used to, but actually what I’m looking forward to because of the sense of achievement when I figure it out. ;)Plus they just look good!

This is only a suggestion but as part of your research, have you considered contacting the Worthing Astronomical Society?

No I hadn’t. The nearest one too me is Horsham Astronomical Group, but I’m just yet to contact them also. Although after viewing WAS’ website it does look like an impressive society. So I will schedule a visit in the near future.

I'm a member of WAS and would be happy to show you a 200 on an HEQ5.

I can fit a 200P, HEQ5, power supplies, two caes of accessories and EPs all in the back of a Toyota Aygo which is pretty small. The back setas fold down and in goes the scope. Takes me about 15-20 minutes to set up.

Its bearable but of late I have started using my refractor more because then I dont have to carry so many weights for the mount and they are the real heavy bits.

A 200 on an HEQ5 gives plenty of scope for upgrades as does the EQ5 mount but to be honest a 150 on an EQ3-2 is hardly limited really. Lots you can see with that for sure.

Mel

That does sound rather interesting, but right now I can’t schedule anything for a couple of weeks due to just being plain busy with things here. But considering that you’ve said that you can get that stuff into an Aygo it gives me some hope on the larger telescope. I know it’ll be big, especially as a first telescope, but we will shall see!

Another vote for the 150P EQ3-2 combo. I've only used mine in the back garden so far but am very pleased with it. It's light enough to pick up the whole thing fully assembled and move it around to find the best viewing spot. With a bit of practice I can now pack it down in a couple of minutes.

I actually started looking at much smaller portable scope but after some reading decided to buy the size of scope I would want to end up owning. So I plumped for the 150P and added GOTO rather than get a 200 without it.

It's probably not a good reason to make a buying decision, but a reflector on a equatorial mount looks proper hansom standing in a room when not in use. :D

If you want to go for a easily portable 200 though, I'd say look at a dob as the weight goes up a fair bit with the 200P EQ5, even when broken down.

I must admit although the 200P is looking very tempting, so does the 150P. Granted its smaller but I’ll have money to maybe buy so other eye pieces but also it’s advertised as coming with a 1.25/2-inch Crayford focuser, however, whether that gives it an advantage of some sort I don’t know. I’m trolling the interweb to find out!

On a different note, my collimator arrived yesterday so congrats FLO for speedy delivery. But when I tried to use it on my car-boot telescope I was in for a shock. It didn’t fit! The eye piece diameter is 0.965! Oh well, at least I’ve got the collimator added to my ‘kit’ now. haha

Ben

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