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Which telescope is best value?


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I've been interested in astronomy all my life. When I was young I had a cheap toy store telescope and a while back I found a used reflector with a large focal ratio, which is able to spot the brown line on Venus.

It's time to get a good telescope, and there are so many choices within my budget (around $1200 max):

1) Celestron NexStar 8SE - portable and brilliant, but more expensive

2) Celestron C8-NGT - much cheaper than the previous with reduced focal length(it's certainly not worth saving about $200)

3) Orion SkyQuest XT12i - this one has a higher aperture (10 in.) than the other two, which is very important to me. Not sure about the size/portability.

I was wondering if anyone possibly knew of a telescope with a higher aperture such as 10-12" that is portable like the first one I linked, and still a good price.

This is for observing, I may get into astrophotography at some point down the road.

Just throwing this out there to see what kind of advice I can get :eek:

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First off, they're all going to be good scopes which will give you good views. The smallest aperture there is 8 inches which is a really respectable size. They just differ a little in surrounding factors.

The simplest issue is whether you see yourself wanting to do any astrophotography, or just visual viewing? If you can see yourself wanting to take photos, particularly of deep space objects (i.e., of things other than the moon and planets), then the C8 is the only real option as it has an equatorial mount, which you need for good long-exposure photos.

If, however, you see yourself only doing visual astronomy then it's simple - the big dobsonian will give you better, richer views than the other two as it's got more aperture. The only downside is its portability, so it would depend how easily you can store it and get it outside. There's a saying that the best scope is one that gets used, and if you did get a scope that's too difficult for you to set up, then no matter how good it is, you'll see nothing because you won't use it. I wonder if the 10" model might be a better choice? 10" dobs are manageable for the average person, but 12" just gets a whole step bigger and bulkier (but who knows - perhaps your a big strapping fella who lifts weights in his spare time?)

I'm not sure how useful I've been here, but to reiterate: they're all good scopes.

C8 is the winner if you see yourself wanting to take photos

Skyquest is the winner if you want the best views

8SE is the winner in terms of portability and convenience. This scope might also be a bit stronger on the moon and planets than the C8.

Whatever you pick, I hope you enjoy it!

EDIT: D'oh! I've just read your post again and noticed you were asking a different question to the one I thought you were asking. Hey ho. I'll put the coffee on.

Edited by Breakintheclouds
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Welcome to SGL :eek:.

The Orion is a 12" scope so it has the aperture to make a considerable difference in your views compared to the other two. I owned a C8NGT for a while and ended up selling it on to get into astrophotography as neither the mount nor the scope are really suitable to that purpose. Both the Celestrons have GOTO so you do have that luxury that's not available on the Orion.

I guess it depends on what you want to do. You have the aperture of the Orion but you'd have to learn your way around the sky with it while the Celestrons have GOTO so that's not necessary. In terms of alternatives, there's not a great deal of them. Only different makes that'll basically offer similar performance for similar prices.

Tony..

Edited by Whippy
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I have to agree with the comments made above. In fact I've just answered another thread on this same question about comparing different kit with then having to add into the mix the possible future desire for astrophotography. Astrophotography has its own set of requirements which can distort straightforward comparisons. I'm also new to this subject and it is natural to want to future proof your kit (none of it is cheap) but there are very few setups that can come close to doing it all at a reasonable price, if there was, we would all have it :eek: It is frustrating trying to juggle all the combinations in your head and that's why I just concentrate on one (observing) as it makes it simpler.

Clear skies

James

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Put my two cents worth in pick text below..........

1) Celestron NexStar 8SE - portable and brilliant, but more expensive.

Lots more expensive because SCTs are usually the most expensive telescope per inch of aperture. The mount wont be suitable for astro imaging (but before you assume you will do imaging you should read up a lot - its a big ticket part of the hobby) dont buy assuming you will do imaging - lots of people once they realise whats involved never do it.

Long focal length means its easier going on eyepieces. You will eventually if you stay in this hobby spend more on eyepieces than you ever will on telescopes. THis one will be the easiet to lug about.

2) Celestron C8-NGT - much cheaper than the previous with reduced focal length(it's certainly not worth saving about $200)

Might be smaller focal length but it has a wider field of view, probably better at Deep sky work and most likley the best suited for astro imaging (assuming you overcome the hurdles) a better scope than this though would be the SKywatcher 200/HEQ5 Pro combination which would give you a marginally better scope with more bells and whistels and a better mount.

Bear in mind this is an F5 scope so it will be harder on eyepieces but not so much you should worry at the start.

Probably the toughest one of the three to lug around with you.

3) Orion SkyQuest XT12i - this one has a higher aperture (10 in.) than the other two, which is very important to me. Not sure about the size/portability.

Biggest aperture so the best views, not suitable for astroimaging and it will be one very big and heavy bit of kit. Also its F4.9 so like the C8 will be tougher on eyepieces. SImpler to use but may be a problem lugging it around. The tube weighs 50lbs.

Whatever you buy you will need to budget for accessories - battery packs (for the firts two) eyepieces, moon filter, red light torch, dewshield, for the SCT scope you may need a dew heater depending on where you live/observe from.

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Thanks everyone for the detailed advice, everyone here is so helpful:hello2:

I've decided I will definitely get a Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. The portability is essential, because I am afraid I will not use a bigger one like the 12" that much. I actually own an old 10" Newtonian Reflector from the late 70's or early 80's. I've gotten some use out of it, but it's really just a hassle to use most of the time. I got it at a garage sale used anyways for a cheap price, it lacks instructions and many pieces of equipment.

So I'm leaning 99% toward the Celestron NexStar 8SE, it looks like the most logical scope. Astroimaging is not in my best interest at the moment, maybe several years down the road after I learn my way around the universe.

I've got one more question for this thread(or a few small ones) about the Celestron NexStar 8SE.

-This feels like a silly question, but I'm just making sure: You can manually move the 8SE instead of using the motors right? I don't want to just do it the easy way the whole time with the Goto software.

-As far as a power adapter, anyone know what kind it uses, I've heard that it doesn't come with an AC adapter. In my backyard I have a power socket close by, so it would be handy.

-I plan to be viewing many deep space objects, especially the Messier objects and anything else I can find. I was wondering if anyone had some experience with this scope or a similar scope in viewing galaxies and nebulas. They are the most interesting objects to me, as well as the planets, of course. I'm aware it's able to view M31 and M42 very well, I guess this is more of a subject on eyepieces.

If anyone needs any computer related help I'd be happy to return the favor.:eek:

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YOu cant move the 8SE without its motors - you can manually slew (ie dont use the GoTo but just manually press the up/down/left/right buttons to make the scope move around but you cany physically push it. You'd bust its gears.

POwerwise the Nexstars use a 12v dc power. Not sure how much amperage they suck up but probably only 1amp or so so any supply that can kick out a reliable 12v DC at 1amp or above would be ok. The power cable with my Nexstar 4SE was deeply duff so you may want to replace that with something a bit more beefy.

Obviously outdoors you need to take electrical safety into consideration. I almost alway use a battery supply so no real experience on that one. I also have a mains supply for camping with the scope but the supply is overspecced somewhat - its this one Rapid Electronics - Electrical & Power > Power Supplies > Bench PSUs

Deep Sky with the 8SE - no idea - sorry.

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As far as manually moving the 8SE, I was wondering if there was a way I could slew it without the use of electricity.

Maybe there's a non-mechanized mount that is compatible with it?

It's not really that big of a deal, it seems most of the SCTs are computerized anyway.

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"I plan to be viewing many deep space objects, especially the Messier objects"

If you really are into this and want to nudge the scope around you should also consider the Skywatcher Flextubes and Solid tube dobs - I'd suggest 10" and upwards. You'll get a lot more aperture for your buck and be able to see a lot more than an 8" Mak or Schmitt would yield. If like me you're old and unfit - the 12" with tracking would be the point at which you might need a hand stuffing it in the boot. If you're young and fit however - not a problem. The 10" is a good compromise.

The auto's are superb cos you get to nudge to your object and it tracks like a dream for a good 25-30 mins. I think you'd be a lot happier bearing in mind your stated objectives :eek:

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There's just a slight problem with getting a large reflector. Portability has become very important, I may be moving around a bit soon, so I'd want to have something that could go anywhere.

As I mentioned above, I have a 10" Newtonian Reflector, it's rather old however, the one paper I have for it has been devoured by silverfish. Last night I could find M31 with it, but it was very hazy and basically a gray spot with an old 2X Barlow and 9mm eyepiece(the scope has a 1200mm focal length). I realize M31 appears this way, so I'll try to find M42 tonight. The scope is really bothersome to move around, and I have no equipment for the equatorial mount, and no instructions.

The entire SCT design is very appealing to my conditions. Having something portable like that which I could bring to dark sky areas easily and often than a large 12" which would stay at home would be ideal. Plus the light pollution in my area would restrict the capabilities of a larger aperture.

Maybe a larger reflector many years down the road such as a 14" to 16" fit for astrophotography could happen, but many years from now.

Thanks for your suggestions, as it's all still in consideration. I think I'm going to go crazy trying to decide. :eek:

I'm thinking the 8SE will provide enough satisfaction with planets and DSOs for a while, until the aperture fever kicks in.

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Fair comment Unix :eek:

The sct's are a tad more portable and you sound like you know what you want - we take ours to a dark site 15 miles down the road regularly with no trouble (as well as star parties).

Btw - your newt sounds like it could do with a makeover - is it collimated? That could make a big difference to your home setup. And the mirrors might want cleaning at that age - Baader optical wonder fluid is good. Modern ep's will make a big difference too. Just a few ideas :)

Edited by brantuk
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Last night I could find M31 with it, but it was very hazy and basically a gray spot with an old 2X Barlow and 9mm eyepiece(the scope has a 1200mm focal length).

That sounds like too much magnification for M31 (266x) - you would be zoomed in so much you would have no chance of catching any hint of the extended structure. Wouldn't it look better at lower powers?

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That sounds like too much magnification for M31 (266x) - you would be zoomed in so much you would have no chance of catching any hint of the extended structure. Wouldn't it look better at lower powers?

Agreed - M31 is a huge object - 8x the diameter of the full moon in total. Your lowest power eyepiece is the one to go for.

Look out for the nearby M32 and M110 as well at low power :eek:

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That sounds like too much magnification for M31 (266x) - you would be zoomed in so much you would have no chance of catching any hint of the extended structure. Wouldn't it look better at lower powers?

Yes it looked much better with a 25mm eyepiece, I really didn't expect much out of 266x. I guess I have this disorder where I want to get as close as possible to the object I'm viewing :eek:

Thanks for all the advice everyone, I'll most likely be ordering an 8SE within the week along with some accessories.

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If you can see yourself wanting to take photos, particularly of deep space objects (i.e., of things other than the moon and planets), then the C8 is the only real option as it has an equatorial mount, which you need for good long-exposure photos.

A C8 is more than a bit undermounted for long-exposure photography on the EQ5-class mount (you really want a HEQ5 with recent Syntrak drives as a minimum). And its long focal length don't make it a very beginner-friendly photographic scope either, even with a 0.63x reducer.

It's a fine planetary webcam platform, though.

As for the original question: perhaps a 12" scope is too big -- 6", 8" and 10" Dobs all have the same tube length, but the 12" scopes are a lot longer.

The Skywatcher collapsible (also available with GoTo and tracking, though not with "just" the PushTo Intelliscope) is a lot shorter because it collapses, but the 12" is still quite a beast.

Then you have the 12" Meade Lightbridge, which disassembles in (smallish) pieces, even though the rocker box is still clumsy. Not heavy but clumsy. The price you pay is much more time lost when setting it up.

You really need to see these different scopes eye to eye to appreciate the differences. The SCT on a sturfy mount isn't necessarily a lot lighter, but it breaks into much smaller pieces.

Three things to watch out as far as SCTs are concerned:

-you must *also* collimate them. Better buy Bob's knobs...

-to get good views early (or when temperatures drop like a brick), you need a Lymax cooler. Ensuring the mirror cools is even harder than on a Newtonian, and you really need forced ventilation even on those.

-you need dew prevention systems much more badly than on your Newtonian.

Edited by sixela
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