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Newbie needs help to see the moon


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I am new to this and know nothing about telescopes; I am looking for one, with my daughter aged 11, to look at the moon in detail then the other plants. We have been reading up on NASA and Apollo and I thought we should take a closer look at the moon. We would like to take pictures but that is a secondary at this time.

Budget £200-300, would also consider second hand equipment if any for sale. Any advice gratefully received.

I have read other post and have one or two ideas what possibly to get but don't want to influence any advice I hope to receive.

Thanks Solti

Edited by solti
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Hi and welcome to SGL. A good telescope to view the moon and the planets in my opinion would be a Skywatcher Skyliner 150p (£179 from First Light Optics). This telescope may come in well under budget but it would be a great performer on the moon and planets and pretty good on many other nights sky objects such as nebula, star clusters, galaxies and double stars. It stands on a very solid and steady base/mount and is extremely simple to use. With the money saved you could then add a couple of these - extra eyepiece, a barlow lens, moon filter (the moon can be very bright when viewed through a telescope) or a Telrad finder all very handy extras.

Alternatively you could go for the Skyliner 200p (£265 from FLO) same as the above but with more aperture and therefore better light grasp, this scope will give you great views of loads of night sky objects and would also be great on the moon and planets.

Edited by Chris H
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Are manualy-guided Dobsonians the ideal for the Moon and Planets? I would have thought something with an equautorial mount would be better so you can use a bit of magnification and easily keep the moving target in view.

Steve

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Hi and welcome!!

I Have a Skywatcher 150 on an EQ and can say with conviction that the moon and planets look amazing through it (plus star clusters, the Orion nebula, etc)

I would agree totally with chris's recommendation (above) the Dob mount on these scopes is so easy to use you'll be off and running almost out of the box (EQ mounts are a little more of a pain in the bum to set up) With a 2 - 3 hundred quid budget i'd get the bigger scope that chris mentioned (the 200p) - the bigger the better in this game. I wouldn't worry too much about astrophotography for a while, It'll take you a few years to save up the funds for the required kit and maybe a little longer to figure out how to justify the expense to your wife. :D Enjoy the view first- there's alot to see. then star workin out how to photograph it.

That skyliner 200p would be my choice i reckon. stay well clear of cheap refractors at this price. compared to a Dob mounted reflector they don't cut it.

Hope this was helpful

TTFN

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Hmm maybe an EQ would be better for manual tracking. i've seen my scope - but on the standard mount for £250 so well within budget. Read up on how to set up an EQ first tho (polar alignment etc) it's not as simple to set up as a dob but as has been pointed out it will track fast moving objects such as the planets and moon better.

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Equatorial mounts have their advantages but one issue with them that, as purely a visual observer, I find a real pain is that the eyepiece and finder scopes can end up at all sorts of crazy and uncomfortable angles because of the way that the EQ mount moves. With the dobsonian mount however the eyepiece / finder scope position keeps consistent and accessable at all times. OK, with an equatorial you can rotate the tube to move the eyepiece around by loosening the tube rings but that's a pretty clumsy manouver in the dark and even more so if your scope is 8" or larger.

So I much prefer the dobsonian / alt-azimuth mount, despite the need to manually track objects. I hate being in uncomfortable postitions when I observe.

I also feel that your daughter (and possibly yourself) will find a dobsonian mount much more intuative to use - it's like a canon - up / down / left / right - point the scope where you want and observe.

A 6" or 8" dobsonian (both within your budget) would show you loads of objects, fantastic views of the moon and some planetary details as well.

Edited by John
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Well it seems Skywatcher is the make of choice,

models Skyliner 150p - 200p

Explorer 130 - 150p

If we take the mounts out of the equation which is better the skyliner or the explorer?

Back to mounts the Skyliner uses a dobsonian mount does this have to be placed on a flat surface, what do people do when they are not at home, no pictures have it on a tripod?

Thanks solti

solti's head hurts: :D dobsonian mounts, EQ mounts next it will be F stops and Barlow Lens :D

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No real differences beween the Skyliner and the Explorer - both are newtonian scopes just on different mounts. The 8" Explorer has a shorter focal length than the 8" Skyliner but that's not a huge difference.

Dobsonians work best on a flattish surface (ie: not in a tilt) but are quite happy on concrete, grass etc.

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Are manualy-guided Dobsonians the ideal for the Moon and Planets? I would have thought something with an equautorial mount would be better so you can use a bit of magnification and easily keep the moving target in view.

Steve

If you buy a scope and aim to use it for lunar or planetary viewing sooner or later your probably going to want too look for a few DSO's so why limit yourself to a 130p if you have the budget to go bigger.

A dob mount maybe be an all manual set up but I've had no problems tracking the moon or planets at x480 plus as John said you keep the eyepiece in the right place and there is no rotating the tube.

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Ha ha you're so right about the funny positions you end up in with an EQ. Sometimes i go to bed feelin like i've had a yoga work out :D

You will need a flat surface for a dob (but only a small area). The only difference between the two scopes mentioned is the mount really. The dob sits right on the floor with no need for a tripod.

Whenever i'm away from home for a couple of days my scope goes with me!! You never know when the sky might clear and the star's might come out. My family do think i'm odd because of this tho.

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Totally agree with kris - get the biggest scope you can afford!! I have a 150 and can vouch for how good it is (though right now i'm really keen to upgrade to a 250 (fingers crossed on that lottery eh) With a budget of upto £300 you should consider the 150 at the least.

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Ha ha you're so right about the funny positions you end up in with an EQ. Sometimes i go to bed feelin like i've had a yoga work out :D

You just undo the tube rings slightly and rotate the OTA until the EP is at a comfortable position. Easy fix!

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i know, i'm pretty good at the equatorial tango and i love my EQ but Dob's are easy to set up for the average beginner i think

I had a friend come over for the evening at the weekend to try my scope out as he is interested in getting started in the hobby. He was nervous of the fiddling and adjusting i had to do as i sought out different things in different area's of the sky but - He declared that he'd rather have an EQ mount cuz - and i quote "It looks more technical and scientific and cool" and to be fair he had almost got to grips with the way it worked in just one night. I think if you're keen to give it a go an EQ mount is a great way to get around the sky - however for a - straight out of the box, star hoping experience- a dob is hard to beat :D

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Having both an EQ mount and a homemade dob mount for my explorer does give a interesting perspective. Since I've had the dob I think I can count the number of times on one hand that the EQ mount has been out, it is so much easier to set up and use. Sure, the nudging can be a pain to keep a planet in view at high mag, but it's a little like getting used to changing gear when you learn to drive, it doesn't take long before you do it without thinking about it.

If I were to buy again, I would get the dob without question and the skyliner are EQ mountable at a later date if you choose.

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This has been a good debate eh? I'm gonna sit firmly on the fence here cuz i can see the sense of a dob but i love my EQ.

Oh if you are gonna be moon gazing alot get a lunar filter cuz the moon is often blinding through a scope!

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If you are around the N London area, I have a 6" skyliner dob that is 3 years old and in pretty good nick which I would sell for half list price (=£90). Pick up only as it's too big to post.

PM me if interested or want any more details.

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For me the SKYMAX scopes are much better than newts for just moon and planets...

Maksutov - Skywatcher Skymax 127 SupaTrak

is within budget - just...

It'll track the object, at F11 it's good with cheaper eyepeices, also you're already set for lunar imaging from the start (just buy a webcam).

I really rate these little Mak's for the moon / planets.

Cheers

Ant

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I started out with a home-made 6" Newtonian on a simple altazimuth fork mount I made (reminiscent of Dobs). It is really a good set up for starters, and I had loads of fun, but really wanted to go for something better (bigger, its called aperture fever).

I now have a Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope (SCT, quite like the Maksutov mentioned above) on an equatorial mount and it takes me only 5 minutes to set up for visual work. For imaging I take some 10-15 min. SCTs (and Maks) are WAY more expensive for a given aperture, so I would not go for them to start of with. They do have a HUGE plus: you can sling them in the back of a (small) car easily, so in summer you can take it with you on holidays if you like.

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Hi Solti,

To answer a different part of your question, I would certainly recommend this site "pruss.mobi/moon for when you finally decide on the scope that you want. These maps can be show inverted and reversed depending on the view that you see through the eyepiece.

Clear skies :D

James

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I woulkd seriously suggest an EQ mount with a motor for at least Right Ascension (RA) tracking the moon or planets at high magnification is a nightmare otherwise, between the wobbles induced by the movement and the wibbles introduced by the focuser plus the odd flibble introduced by other stuff you will get to see nothing.

Tracking planets at high mag without motors is like chasing a chicekn - you might get there but you'll be hit and flustered by the time you catch it.

An RA motor takes all the stress out and the scope can track while you just enjoy the views.

For moon and planets I;d be inclined to get a refractor myself - cheaper than an SCT.

With a refetactor or SCT by the way an EQ mount presents nmo problems at all as the EP is always in a decent position.

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I think most of the advice in favour of a Dobsonian mount is geared towards general stargazing, the likes of DSOs, galaxies, nebulae, clusters, that kind of thing. Dobs are ultra-cheap mounts so more of the cost can go towards aperture.

For looking at the moon (or the planets) you do not need aperture. What IS useful is magnification. Dobs can do that too but you run into a real pain with tracking which is what EQ mounts were designed for. At the higher magnifications you need to continually move the scope to keep the object in view. EQ mounts are way, WAY better for tracking.

Yes, Dobs are great - you can get a good light bucket cheap and gaze the galaxies and nebulae affordably but an EQ mount will serve better for the brighter objects for which you do NOT need a light bucket.

Do yourself a favour and contact your local astronomers. They will be delighted to have you come over and try out their gear, lots of it and lots of them! :-) Then you can make up your own mind, with the benefit of a bit of experience yourself. Try before you buy.

Steve

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I woulkd seriously suggest an EQ mount with a motor for at least Right Ascension (RA) tracking the moon or planets at high magnification is a nightmare otherwise, between the wobbles induced by the movement and the wibbles introduced by the focuser plus the odd flibble introduced by other stuff you will get to see nothing.

Tracking planets at high mag without motors is like chasing a chicekn - you might get there but you'll be hit and flustered by the time you catch it.

Absolutely a thousand times this. I've got a dobsonian and mak (on an eq mount) and for planetary work the dob is a complete nightmare. Sure, it's a doddle to set up, but once you go to the higher magnification keeping things in view is just constantly frustrating.

Significantly, if you want to look at planets with your daughter (or anyone else for that matter), by the time you've left the eyepiece and someone else has had time to put their eye to it, whatever planet or high magnification object you find will probably have moved out of view. Completely pointless for what your proposing to do. I speak from bitter experience!

A slow scope such as a SCT or a maksutov would be ideal for planetary work, but an equatorial mount that has motorised tracking in RA is essential for what you want no mater what scope you have imho.

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