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Colie

Sorry in advance! Noob here £600 ish to spend, the deeper the better.

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Ok, 43 years old, been meaning to buy for years, spend evenings just looking at the sky with my naked eye and the computer screen when I get the chance. Been in love with the stars since I was about 10, just laying in the local field for hours when I should have been home studying.... you get the picture...

Anywho..

Have decided eventually to buy something I have a budget of about £600, might be able to slide a little bit more for extras under the radar... :-)..

Love the idea of these GOTO mounts and the likes but need some real practical advice on what I should buy...... the more I read the more indecisive I become.

I want to look as deep into the sky as possible but understand my budget restricts me big time....

I will def. pay additional costs to get photos of the things i see through my scope..

So... what do you think?

Advice please...

Thanks

Paul..

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Hi Paul,

GOTO will swallow much of your budget, which will mean you can't go too "deep".

If you can do without GOTO then you can run to a 10" dobsonian (maybe even a 12" if you can "flex" the budget) which will show deep sky objects pretty well. But you do have to find them yourself.

To go "deep" you need aperture and dark skies. You also need to budget for some better eyepieces than the ones that come with the scope so perhaps a 10" dobsonian and a couple of extra eyepieces ? ( really good eyepieces can easily cost as much as the scope does ! ).

Edited by John

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Skywatcher Explorer 200P EQ5 GOTO

Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 200P EQ5 GOTO

If buying new this is probably the best you are gonna get (slight over what you wanted to pay but that astronomy for you!)

Without goto, dobs the next place to start:

Skywatcher Skyliner 250P FlexTube AUTO

Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 250P FlexTube AUTO

or this

Skywatcher Skyliner 250px FlexTube Dobsonian

Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 250px FlexTube Dobsonian

2nd hand is also an option.

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All good advice above. My opinion is that the 250P Flextube Auto would be a great buy. Reason : it's upgradeable to "goto" at a later date - just get the alt/az handset and plug it in. It will track objects - all you have to do is find them (even with goto you'd have to know what to tell it to go to). This is what I did with my 300P and it works fine. There are a few of them around on the s/h market at the moment cos people are upgrading to the new larger goto dobs. So you might get one for a bargain right now.

The only downside of buying new is that it limits your budget for ep's and if you're ever wanting to do photography you'll be limited to solar system. Otherwise they are great scopes.

Hope that helps :D

Edited by brantuk

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As a newb last year, I was tempted by goto but the regulars on this forum talked me out of it. Saw one at a local club do the other week and it kept 'gotoing' things you can't see anyway.

Go big ! You will in the end anyway ! Also be aware with your £600 notes you will need to budget for a collimation tool (assuming you go for a reflector), some better eyepieces, a telrad or RDF - the list goes on.

I just bought a 2nd hand dob for £450 which needed some minor work but I take the view I want to go deep and can't afford imaging in the foresseable future.

Welcome to the money pit :D

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a couple of points you need to be aware of before you think about buying a scope.

1. manage your expectations of what you will see and how it will appear. as an example, here's a sketch (just lifted off the web) Great Andromeda Garden | Astronomy Sketch of the Day of M31 Andromeda, the biggest and most obvious galaxy in the sky. here's a photo of it. nightviews ; no matter how big your scope or how dark your sky, you will never see it like the photo.

2. the smaller the scope, the less you will have 'access' to. most things in the night sky benefit from more aperture, i.e. a bigger scope. the exceptions are moon, planets and double stars.

3. one scope will not do everything you want. this is the reason many on the forum have two or more scopes.

4. you can get decent images of planets/moon with a webcam and many telescopes but for images like the one above you really need to spend a lot more than £600.

as indicated by others astrophotography is very expensive and it may be best to avoid this for now and concentrate on visual only. a good starter scope is the Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 200P Dobsonian or even the larger cousin Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 250PX Dobsonian. This does not track (manual tracking is easy), nor does it have goto but this is expensive.

this takes up half of your budget (new - although used is an option - you can see the used section on here after 50 posts) and leaves some money for other eyepieces, a telrad finder and a few other bits and bobs. As Earth Titan says, it's a bit of a money pit but with the 8" you'd be well in budget and could test to see if you really love the hobby - although from your comments this seems assured!

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Thanks people..

Lost my original login... this is not a reflection of of my usual compatancty (or spelling!!)... I do not mind working for my visuals if it mean much better viewing,, tkanks,,,

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Some very good points made above which will definitely help you get to obtain most enjoyment.

I would like to add one of my own which I often say to many new people and that is to take your time, the stars aren't going anywhere. Also to see if you can look through some real kit to get an idea of what you will actually see. Track down your nearest astro club or society or check to see if there are any local observing groups who meet up to observe as this will help manage your expectations. I spent around about a year (..I know it seems excessive) looking through people's scopes, going to star parties and joining my local astro club to work out what I needed to give me what I was interested in. Lastly, everything seems possible in the shop and the brochures but if you need to travel to a dark site to escape light pollution, portability is another important consideration as some of this kit isn't small or light.

Clear skies in the meantime

James

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excellent point by James

the other one alongside those points is that (especially if you buy used) there's always a ready market for the sale of good quality used gear and you can often sell for not much less than you paid; in other words, if you take a chance and feel you've made the wrong choice, there's always a way out for not a lot of loss.

50+ posts on here 'reveals' the buy/sell section.

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paul save a bit more money and give yours self a good xmas present you can all ways go to local clubs and ask them lots of questions they will be more than willing to help as all of astronomy people are very help full then you will have the best of both worlds

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Just one more to add.

People at astro clubs usually have something they are thinking of selling. Not only can you take a look through a scope or three. But maybe the chance to 'try before you buy'.

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Being in a similar position to Colie, I'd like to say thanks for all the great advice on here. The best advice, I think, was take your time the stars aren't going anywhere. Very true

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having been in your situation a couple of years ago i would advice you to firstly get a good mount, if your wanting to get into imaging then a skywatcher HEQ5, about £500 second hand, this will last you a long time and take lots of different scopes you may wish to use.

now if you live in a low light polluted area, then a 6" scope of some kind will do nicely for starters, a second hand 6" sct about £270 or a second hand 8" newtonian about £200. you can use both of these scope to take images with then later if you get further into it a smallish apo and a good quality camera will be a good purchase.

the HEQ5 mount will serve you well for all these activites and they track very well.

hope this helps alittle.

P.S.

my budget when i started this hobbie was £250, over the last 2 years the budget has grown to £1600 ! and i still need a nice apo scope for more serious imaging.

Edited by red dwalf

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... Thanks people... so much to think about..

will investigate the local groups here and try and get some more info...

Really looking forward to getting involved...

:):)

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I've been looking to buy for over two years now, I keep getting conflicting advice from the Sky At Night magazine and those on here who prefer to see as much as possible (mostly Deep Sky Objects). As someone who has only just recently discovered binocular viewing, I keep coming back to the conclusion that I'm not going to miss what I don't know, so for me it comes down to what's the highest quality scope that I can afford that's also easy to handle and store when not in use. At the moment I am seriously considering the Skywatcher Evo 80ED DS Pro which is a more traditional Refractor (uses very high quality lenses) as opposed to a Reflector (uses mirrors), it may not have the power to see as much as a cheaper reflector, but I fully expect that what it can see will be sharper and look better than those cheaper scopes. I would put this on an EQ5 mount for stability and with the thought to upgrade with motor drives later *if* I feel that I want to.. the more technology one adds, the more there is to go wrong and the longer it will take to set up each time it's used. With the EQ5 mount this scope comes to 655 quid, but for the same price you could get a very large reflector on the same mount and see deeper into the sky, at the cost of some sharpness and detail (or so I imagine, never actually tried it for myself or found a direct comparison between large Refractors and Reflectors online). Consider the size though - a Skywatcher 300P is the size of a small child, probably weighs almost as much, and that's before you put it on an HEQ6 mount. You may want to get a mount with built-in motor drives to start off with (HEQ5 or HEQ6) for those deeper sky objects as they will move across the field of view surprisingly fast.

I was also keen on astrophotography but the more I looked into it the further away it went from a reality for me. It requires a lot of dedication, hours of exposures for just one image sometimes, and to get the best images thousands of pounds worth of specialist digital camera equipment. I decided I wasn't *that* keen on it so will stick to what ever I can get out of my regular DSLR and which ever scope I end up buying, I definitely do not expect to be able to see or photograph things like galaxies or nebulae to the same quality as those images I keep seeing on the internet; I'll probably just get a thrill from photographing the stars through my regular camera lens if I got a motorised mount I could attach it to. I get the feeling a lot of people don't bother to post their amateur efforts online perhaps out of embarrassment, so it's mostly just the very good ones taken by professionals who've been at it for years that I get to see. I did find a blog that showed some photos someone had taken through a Skywatcher 200P and to be honest I wasn't that impressed - sure, the photos were nice, but they weren't sharp and lacked definition in the colours. This guy had some nice kit too, proper CCD astro camera and the like. This just confirmed for me that I would probably just be very disappointed if I tried doing it for myself. Still, this shouldn't put you off trying, just keep your expectations low. :)

Just my two pence worth!

Just another quick thought - the 80ED has been noted as making an excellent finder scope for a larger scope, so if I did want to see much deeper into the night sky I could buy a suitable second scope and still have a use for the 80ED. It's a win-win situation as far as I'm concerned!

Edited by jonathan

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I've been looking to buy for over two years now...

Well, I decided to get into astronomy about a year ago, did a research, found a suitable scope for me and you can check my sig for what I did in half the time you toke thinking about buying a scope. I hope you're not *that* undecided on other matters in your life!

Which ever scope you get is better then none!

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Reading my last post I came off a bit too strong there, but, although the stars ain't going anywhere soon, we are sooner or later. :)

What I meant is there is no perfect scope, the same way as most things in life. We make compromises between what we want and what we can get.

I won't offer advice on a specific scope, many excellent ones have been recommend already. Instead I'll post a comprehensive (I hope) description on the questions I made myself, when I was in your position, and lead me to buy a scope that suits my needs. It's not perfect, but there's little I would change. A scope (or anything else) is as good as the use you make of it.

So here is the reasoning I toke (warning, long read):

1st things 1st, Budget: around 500€

My personality: I'm a science minded person. I enjoy reading and learning science related stuff for the fun of it. I'm a bit lazy when it comes to repetitive tasks. I usually get frustrated when things go awfully off plan.

Location: I live near a fisher village in the middle of an area with vineyards and summer houses. It's quiet and, most important, dark. As in "I see the milky way naked eye and Andromeda galaxy as well" (although at naked eye andromeda is just a tiny lighter patch in the sky).

Expectations: To see a lot of everything up there. At a later time I may become more of a specialist within the hobby but starting *now* I have no idea what's that. I have a desire to learn the sky and would like to merge my other hobby, which is photography.

Now let's analyse what I learned on my research:

1) To see a bit of everything I need aperture. As aperture rises the cost of a refractor exponentially, I can say retractors are out of the picture. So it narrows down to SCT or Newtonian scope.

2) Astro Photography: Anything I seen taken with cheap equipment is well under the quality of pictures I would like to make. After reading a fair bit, it seams over complicated and well outside my budget so that is out for now, as I don't even know if I'll enjoy astronomy or not. Besides, all I read about imaging says sometimes it takes several nights of work for a single image. So any mount will do.

3) I'm a bit on the lazy side with repetitive tasks, so the low setup time for Alt-AZ mounts made rule out an EQ mount in order to save time.

With this 3 conclusions I narrowed it to:

- Celestron 5SE GOTO

My thoughts on it: Portable with object locater, limited to the messiers and a few more DSOs, sharper on planets.

- Skywatcher 250p Dobsonian

My thoughts on it: Not very portable but would allow to see the most making it the best all rounder. Lack of goto may become a problem as I have no astronomers less then a 2 hours flight away for support and I'm starting out. Although I believe I'll enjoy learning the sky and I can see lots of stars naked eye to help me star hop.

- Orion XT8i Dobsonian with GOTO (actually it's a "PushTO")

My thoughts on it: Similar to the 250p but more limited on DSOs. Haves the object locater that may in handy and avoid frustration. Unfortunately it costs almost 600€.

After some reasoning I went for the XT8i because:

- I didn't really need portability as I have dark skies in my backyard and my budget would only allow for a 5" SCT. No point paying extra for a specification that was unnecessary.

- The 250p seamed the best option for me but it was a bit heavy and lacked goto. I didn't like the idea of not having a fall back plan, to my goal of learning the sky. After all with my lack of experience finding things could be hard!

- The XT8i seamed to have a decent balance between aperture, portability and price. The version without GOTO was well within my budget but wasn't upgradable to goto later on without full base upgrade. So I went for the GOTO with the thought "Better safe then sorrow".

Would I change anything?

Yeah, I would have got the 250p as finding things become 2nd nature in a few sessions. Will I cry over it? No.

My plan was right, I played it safe, made a sound choice with some compromises and understood this could be one of the outcomes. Besides on some faint Herschel objects the pushto helped me a lot so it's not totally unused.

Edited by pvaz

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Copernicus never had a telescope - it's not all about equipment. If you like looking at the sky with naked eye then you'll like doing it with binoculars or a telescope. If you'd rather be in a warm room looking at a computer screen then that's a different road to go down. Each to his own.

I started with binoculars, then an 8-inch dob. I knew I would always want to be eyeballing DSOs, with the odd peek at planets etc, rather than doing images, hence the priority was maximum aperture at minimum cost, in a package I could easily transport to a dark site. If my priorities were different then I would have gone for a different set-up. I now use a 12-inch dob which is great but I'm very glad I didn't start with that - when I first got the 8-inch I thought it was huge. I've never used GOTO and have no need of it - I love my atlases.

Don't go for the biggest, fanciest thing you can afford. Go for something that you will enjoy using. And bear in mind that with British weather you may have long stretches when you don't get to use it at all. Herschel estimated he did a maximum of 100 hours of deep-sky viewing per year - and he was very dedicated.

You can do astronomy without a telescope, but not without warm clothing and a decent book or two, so do budget for those.

Edited by acey

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A lot of good advice... a couple of cheap things to consider before your big purchase... A pair of 10x50 binoculars will greatly enhance what you can see with just your eyes. In fact you'll be amazed at just how much more you can see. Ok, you won't be able to see the real faint fuzzies that need a monster dob, but there's still a huge amount. Also, I'd recommend Turn Left at Orion, a great book for finding targets, with sketches for what you might see.

If you're possibly interested in astrophotography then Books - Making Every Photon Count - Steve Richards is a wise investment before you even consider what kit to get.

I have a reasonable imaging setup, it works, and several pairs of bino's, and both get regular use, but nothing beats the setup time of a pair of bino's.

The books and the bino's will be a step up from where you are, and allow you to work out how best to invest your budget.

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Well, I decided to get into astronomy about a year ago, did a research, found a suitable scope for me and you can check my sig for what I did in half the time you toke thinking about buying a scope. I hope you're not *that* undecided on other matters in your life!

Which ever scope you get is better then none!

Haha, no offence taken, but it's true - I do take my time on most purchases whether it be a telescope or a pair of shoes, I spend a lot of time shopping around and looking at what's available, reading reviews where possible, trying to find out if it's right for me. I usually end up spending the extra money to get the best quality item I can reasonably afford. Perhaps it's some form of mild autism, who knows! I've rarely been disappointed with my purchases though, so for me the system works; occasionally I have gone against the advice on forums and found that what I bought was perfect for me, and that's what it's all about after all because everyone is different.

I second the comments about binoculars, and in such a relatively small piece of equipment I would echo some advice that was given to me - spend some money on binoculars as it will be worth it as you search deeper and deeper using them. I've heard that there are a few cheap 10x50s that are really good for the money, however I decided to go for the 8x42 Bushnell Legends (which actually cost £35 more than a much larger pair I bought at the same time - Celestron SkyMaster 15x70) and they're brilliant - just light enough to hold up to the face without straining my back, and sharp enough to see plenty of detail across the whole field of view. The larger pair I bought actually went back because they weren't nearly as sharp, and they required a tripod to be of any use which made them difficult to use.

Like you I am lucky in that I can see the Milky Way from my back garden. Binoculars reveal many times more stars than I can see the the naked eye, I expect a high quality refractor to initially blow me away! After that I'm sure there will be plenty to keep me interested for a long time to come, the night sky is a big place and I have my trusty Sky Scout to keep me company (great tool by the way, well worth the money). At the end of the day I'm just a casual observer, I won't be searching for new exoplanets or trying to get a new star named after me.

Edited by jonathan

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No one has mentioned (I think) that the best scope is the one you use! I have a 3 inch refractor and a 16 inch Dob. The Dob is so heavy its now on a trolley, but even so its hard to move. Before the trolley was fitted the scope spent a year in the workshop and was used about three times! The little 3" on the other hand can be wheeled in and out in a matter of minutes so got more use. Frustrating but true.

Would I get rid of the 16"? NO!!! But I would upgrade the 3" to a 8" SCT in a trice if budgets allowed. This seems to tell me that the 16" is still an encumberance...but I do love all that lovely light!

What I would DEARLY love is an observatory so the 16" is always ready to use. Not always so bad in summer, but in winter when the temperature difference between indoors and out is much greater, it takes great planning to get to use the Dob.

David

Edited by G4YVM

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I have wondered about a small SCT too, maybe a Celestron with GoTo such as the Celestron Nexstar 127 SLT, just for a very easy grab-and-go telescope. The Gadget Show reviewed a similar one and showed how quick and easy it was to set up and start using, I was suitably impressed.

http://fwd.five.tv/gadget-show/videos/jon-test/telescopes

(you have to get past the annoying advert first)

Edited by jonathan

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At the end of the day I'm just a casual observer, I won't be searching for new exoplanets or trying to get a new star named after me.

Likewise, but I want to at least see the Messiers and after reading a bit I learned 80mm is hardly enough, if not impossible on some of them. In fact I gave my sister a 90mm refractor which is pretty good (costs 130£, now around 220£ with a RDF and a couple of EPs). She was very happy seeing the rings of Saturn and Jupiter bands and moons. Also the moon was very nice and I didn't notice chromatic aberration, if it was there it was very lite.

However when I point at DSOs then I can really notice the difference to my 8". After all a 90mm captures about 20% of the light a 200mm captures (8"). If not for portability, which you will lose with an EQ, I don't see the point of buying an 80mm APO that costs more the other options that will allow for much more. You can get a nice fork mounted SCT with GOTO for the same price with much more aperture. The 80ED is excellent for photography, so if that's in the horizon it may be a good option, otherwise I think there are much better options for the visual observer regarding aperture, portability and ease of use in that price range.

Edited by pvaz

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