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Really struggling to decide


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Hi all

I have spent the last week or so looking on various websites (mostly this one) trying to decide which telescope I want. The Newtonian (200p I think) has been mentioned to me several times but I just think it is far too big for where I live (2 bed flat in London with only a balcony for outside space). Therefore I have kind of ruled out Newt's (see told you I have been looking all week - getting up with the lingo)!

My real priority is the planets. This therefore made me sway toward the Mak type telescope and for a time this was my choice. However having looked at the imaging section at the DSO's I kind of like the idea of being able to see all that too and with a Mak i've read that it isn't going to be easy!

Therefore? Refractor? Well I have also had a look in the planet imaging section and can't find one image that was taken with a refractor and not a Mak or Newt.

What to do?

My budget is around £400 but am quite happy to buy second hand.

I suppose my question is can I see DSO's with any real quality with a Mak? Or, can I see the planets well with a refractor?

Any help much appreciated.

Thanks

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Smeech - am I correct that you are talking about visual observing not undertaking astro imaging.

If you are talking about visual astronomy you might consider a 5" SCT which is good general purpose scope. Here is a link to an Omni 5" SCT from FLO which is just above the £400. Omni XLT Series - Celestron Omni XLT 127

Mark

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Personally I think your viewing location (assuming it's the London balcony) steers strongly towards a maksutov-cassegrain (mak) or schmidt-cassegrain (SCT) and mostly observing planets, the moon, double stars and the brighter deep sky objects.

If you get a scope which is optimised for DSO's (eg: a medium size newtonian either equatorially mounted or dobsonian mounted) you might find that your viewing opportunites are much more limited, unless you can regularly get yourself and scope to dark skies.

If you have the budget an 8" SCT might be a good choice - you can always add a focal reducer to get wider, lower power views of the larger deep sky objects, observing conditions allowing, although the standard 8" SCT does pretty well on the tighter DSO's as it is. I had my best ever views of Saturn through an 8" SCT :eek:

Your viewing location (if my assumptions ar correct) will steer your choice of both viewing and scope I feel.

Edited by John
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Spot on (London Balcony) - although it faces away from any roads so not so bad with street lighting just the general London lighting.

I presume an 8" SCT or Mak are incredibly expensive so should (for my budget) I be looking at 5-6"?

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Spot on (London Balcony) - although it faces away from any roads so not so bad with street lighting just the general London lighting.

I presume an 8" SCT or Mak are incredibly expensive so should (for my budget) I be looking at 5-6"?

Depends whether you want a GOTO mount or not. GOTO swallows a lot of your budget as you might expect. The 6" Celestron GOTO SCT's are very popular:

SE Series - Celestron NexStar 6SE

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Depends whether you want a GOTO mount or not. GOTO swallows a lot of your budget as you might expect. The 6" Celestron GOTO SCT's are very popular:

SE Series - Celestron NexStar 6SE

No. I consider goto as cheating. Want to learn first and then would get goto if I find it to be handy. Anyway Google Sky Maps will sort that problem!!!!

Can SCT's do photography like a Mak can?

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Although I am a big fan of GOTO, i'm not sure a balcony site would do it justice.

Tracking might still be worthwhile though but even then a few pounds saved could get the bigger scope...

For astrophotography, look at a budget of around £3000 at the bottom end......

Edited by Rossco72
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There is the SkyWatcher Skymax 150 Pro Mak to consider as well.

I think GOTO is not a good idea from a restricted location - you nee to bne able to see a lot of the sky in order to give good orientation points to the mount.

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I would forget about astrophotography from a London balcony. The only realistic targets you will be able to image would be the moon, Jupiter, and Saturn, and a simple (modified) web cam would be all you would need for that.

As suggested a SCT would be my advice as a good all rounder and you would be able to use it with a web cam to image the moon and planets.

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Thanks all.

Am reading that article as we speak!

One thing I am a little confused over is what I should expect to see? For example if I actually get to see Jupiter through a refractor is it going to fill the eyepiece or is it going to look like a dot? And the same question as to an SCT or Mak? I get the impression that the SCT / Mak style will create a much better 'in your face' visual?

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Thanks all.

Am reading that article as we speak!

One thing I am a little confused over is what I should expect to see? For example if I actually get to see Jupiter through a refractor is it going to fill the eyepiece or is it going to look like a dot? And the same question as to an SCT or Mak? I get the impression that the SCT / Mak style will create a much better 'in your face' visual?

Scopes of this size can't "fill your eyepiece" with Jupiter - they just don't have the aperture to support that sort of magnification. Even with my 10" scope Jupiter appears the size of a pea, albeit a well defined pea with nice details of the belts, great red spot etc showing.

Don't get misled by the photos you see taken with similar scopes - for visual use things are much more subtle - still impresssive in their own way, but subtle. The moon will more than completely fill the field of view though.

Hope you don't mind a bit of "expectation management" there :eek:

Edited by John
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No mate, that's exactly what I need. I know the physics of the universe in my own limited way but extrememly little about astronomy!

Those type of answers are exactly what I need. We see all these great photos taken from many different types of telescope, camera and ccd but you never know how much they have been blown up reduced or whatever has been done to create a good picture.

Having never used a telescope (well not a good one anyway) I just have no expectation of what I will be able to see.

'Jupiter the Pea' sounds just as good as 'Jupiter the football' though!

So sounds like my choices are Mak or SCT. Which one for planets and a little planetary photography down the line would be best. I would probably stretch to 6" but no more as my budget won't allow.

How about this:

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Skywatcher-SKYMAX-180-/260687176117?pt=UK_Telescopes&hash=item3cb22aa1b5

Thanks

Edited by smeech
Found a scope
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Looks like a good scope to me. But buying off auction sites you do need to know what you're doing. If you win it - take an astronomer buddy along with you to check it out before parting with your cash. But otherwise - it looks like a nice example but check the new price on FLO first so you don't over bid :eek:

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Hi Smeech

In a light polluted area I recommend you avoid at all cost fast telescopes as they suck in light. Even if to the naked eye the sky is dark the moment you look through the EP it will look like someones turned the moon on. Try as best you can to get the happy medium between aperture and focal length. I know the best I had was 8" F/10 but this combo costs lots of £££ new so if possible look for similar second hand. If you are looking to buy new? I would say in an ideal world a 120 frac around F/6-8 would be a good investment but like all telescopes they will only excel at either planets or DSO's not both. I'm sure you have seen that most peoples signatures include more than one scope and this is why.

I read some where if you live in light polluted skies it's pointless buying anything over 5" but I have had some good views of DSO's from an 8" F/10 scope. My advice is when you consider buying a telescope the numbers matter "A LOT"!!!

This CCD image is roughly what I see in my 10mm EP. I have a 200mm F/5 reflector and due to light pollution the most I can see by eye are 3.0 magnitude stars. You can tweak CCD images but the eye has it's limits. What looks OK in a CCD image can be a washed out image to my eye.

This is only from my experience other people may agree or disagree but I hope it help you either way.

Edited by spaceboy
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Yes, don't really like eBay. Have never bought off there either.

That's a fabulous picture space boy. Is that the third moon in the top left? Thanks for advice. Will try and work out what you mean by speed.

Thanks all for help.

Much more research still needed I think?

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FLO are really well priced with their refractors. I think you would be happy with this scope given where your viewing from should come in near on budget aswell. The only down side with refractors is they give false colour. I don't see why this is of any major concern but some find it really irritating. As I said before there is no one telescope that will give you everything. It may also pay to order a LPR filter, you can get these for £20 and are handy to have on particularly Washed out nights.

Look forward to hearing what you think to it.

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I agree with all the advice above but when you say, "...I have no expectation of what I will be able to see" I would ask you to take some time out from the "research" and contact your local astro club, local observer club to at least have a look through some kit first. This time of year is the start of the observing season and so many clubs have timetables published for public viewing nights. The choices of scope that forum members have presented to you are very popular, so there is a good chance that you will be able to look through the very scope you are thinking of purchasing.

There is no rush (..but I know how exciting it gets :eek::D) and there's no harm in 'looking through' first - the stars aren't going anywhere!

Clear skies

James

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I agree with all the advice above but when you say, "...I have no expectation of what I will be able to see" I would ask you to take some time out from the "research" and contact your local astro club, local observer club to at least have a look through some kit first. This time of year is the start of the observing season and so many clubs have timetables published for public viewing nights. The choices of scope that forum members have presented to you are very popular, so there is a good chance that you will be able to look through the very scope you are thinking of purchasing.

There is no rush (..but I know how exciting it gets :eek::D) and there's no harm in 'looking through' first - the stars aren't going anywhere!

Clear skies

James

Yes had thought about doing that. Wonder if there is anything around London?

Thanks all.

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Try the Baker Street Irregular Astronomers Society. It's run by the Widescreen Center and they have a facebook page you can look up for their next get together. They meet monthly in one of the big parks (Regents I think) and they take gear along with them too for the public to use. There's a link on their shop webpage with full info :eek:

Edited by brantuk
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