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First post - Telescope question


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Hello all, I've been sent in this direction to get some advice on a telescope as I've been told you are a friendly bunch :eek:

Anyway, like many others who post in this forum I'm looking for advice on a telescope for a beginner. What I would like to do is the following:

1) Look at the moon and planets (I understand different 'scopes are good for different things)

2) Connect my camera for basic astro-photography. I have a Canon 5d at the moment and it would be nice to have a system that I can use this with. I understand that I will have to start off with lunar photography unless I get a tracked head of some kind. However, it's with details like these where my hastily scrambled together knowledge starts to run out.

Given the above I've done some reading around and have come across the SkyWatcher 130 series with it various letters at the end. A call to FLO in the morning is in order for that one.

So, in short, am I barking up the wrong tree with that choice of scope?

At the moment I would be happy to spend in the region of £150 for something that teaches me about stargazing and if it's something that I really want to get in to. I would be happy to go higher if the upgrade is worth it given what I've said.

I'm not that concerned about the upgrade path as that's something I can come to with time, knowledge and money...

Thanks in advance :)

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its certainly an excellent starter scope the 130p has the best optics p standing for parabolic mirror although i think this is a little above your limit, but whichever 1 you get i hope you enjoy it. by the way welcome to the site

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You seem to have done your research. The scope you mention looks good.

It's true that without tracking you won't be doing much astrophotography. Serious AP requires a lot of expensive kit and experience whereas you can get going with visual observing right away with a scope much like the one you mention.

Dobsonian mounted reflectors are also popular because you'll get more aperture for your money.

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Thanks for the replies everybody. I'm going to speak to FLO and see what they suggest.

Out of interest, does the Skywatcher Explorer 130P come up used all that often? I know I have to wait to access the used forum in here, but I can't find many used on eBay...

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I think you would be better off avoiding a 2nd hand (or other) scope from ebay. If you buy new from a 'proper' shop, you have the chance to talk (or visit) and there is the backup. FLO are recommended here. If you buy 2nd hand from someone at a local astro soc, you have a good chance to talk to people about your plans and you can get help. With ebay there is very little to help you.

The Skywatcher 130P is a good all rounder and not too much money. It is a good choice to get you started on this hobby. Just how long you keep it depends on how your interest goes. But it will be saleable when you decide to move on.

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The Skywatcher 130P is a good all rounder and not too much money. It is a good choice to get you started on this hobby. Just how long you keep it depends on how your interest goes. But it will be saleable when you decide to move on.

That's what I'm thinking. I've had issues with buying a camera lens from eBay before and I've been able to find one completed listing on there for a Skywatcher...

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I bought a 130p on ebay last year, and have been very pleased with it, though I would suggest changing from the supplied EQ2 to an EQ3-2 or EQ5 for astro-photography esp with a DSLR.

I upgraded to an EQ3-2 and have been very pleased with the difference

I'm sure FLO will be more than helpful ,

Oh and welcome to the Forum

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130s do come up on eBay but quite often muppets bid them up to almost the new price. I'd be wary about eBay cos s many people end up listing on here cos their eBay bargain is missing bits or the seller wasn't entirely honest.

Given that newbies often do dumb things like clean the optics with mr sheen (not good) I'd always advise a beginner not to go to eBay.

I'd also suggest a 130 is not a great scope for imaging except with a webcam, I taking pics with a telescope is not at all like taking pics of other things and for those reasons I'd suggest you forget about imaging initially, lots of pele leave this hobby citing imaging as one of the reasons, weather is the other one.

On the upside an eq mounted 130 will teach you all the basics you will need for astronomy and astro imaging

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If you can stretch to a 150P it will open up a fair bit more of the sky to you. An eq-5 mount would be ideal with a Right Ascension motor. A T-thread on the focuser would facilitate some elementary photography with your 5D. Or go for the nearest mount to the eq-5 within budget - check with FLO.

But there's nothing wrong with the 130P - very nice starter scope :eek:

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I think what you need to do is decide what you want from the first scope.....it's very easy in this game to keep upping the ante when you start and then find you have something that's way too complicated, doesn't offer what you really wanted etc or even worse you spend a ton of cash and then find the hobby isn't for you....happens a lot judging by how many people show up on forums as beginners and very quickly just fade away.

For me I wasn't sure when I came back to it what was good and also whether I'd still have the interest. I went round in circles for about 2 months and then decided to buy the Skywatcher 130PM which sadly isn't around anymore. The 130P is the closest to it still in the shops, my reasons were it would give me a test run and allow me to decide if 1) I still had the interest and 2) what I really wanted as a scope. I was prepared to accept that it might be throwing £150 down the toilet.

The 130 proved to be a very good telescope and allowed me to better refine what it was I wanted as well as ease me back into all of the technicalities. As a beginner scope it was near perfect giving me the chance to relearn stuff. For a lot of beginners its a perfect instrument allowing you to master stuff like collimation, eyepieces, equatorial mounts and polar aligning and give ytou a rough idea of what you can expect to see. I very much doubt most 130s are ever truly used to their max because people either realise the hobby isnt for them or they upgrade to something much larger.

I actually upgraded very quickly to a much larger more sophisticated scope and sold the 130 on for £100.........so a £50 loss which I considered worth it to test the water and I kind of consider it the price of admission to a whole new hobby and a bigger universe.

Edited by Astro_Baby
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The 130p said to be a good beginner scope. While some scopes are better than others with certain objects, I think the 130p will be hard to beat at £150.

As for photography, I would abandon the 5D and get a compact point and shoot. Newtonian designs suffers from off axis coma and vignetting, which will become more apparent as the chip grows larger. 5D has a 35mm chip, so it will be worse than most DSLR with APS-C sensors.

DSLR will be needed for whole disk image of the moon with the 130p which has a focal length of 900mm. However, you will need a camera with greater pixel density for planets and more detailed views of lunar surface, e.g. a point and shoot or a webcam. Video capture will allow you to acquire multiple images for stacking, which can correct for atmospheric disturbance and minor tracking error.

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i had a 130p autotrak scope as my first scope and loved it but it really is only good for visual or imaging with a webcam, the focuser is not sturdy enough to take the weight of a camera hanging on it but it might be possiable to piggy back the camera and take wide field images, as for taking images of the moon and planets using a webcam this scope works very well, i had some very good images of the moon with it

Edited by red dwalf
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Wow, thanks for the replies all.

I'll cross off most of the points below, but I will have to be quick as both the laptop and I are running out of power!

1) Re the 5D, I'm certainly not going to be getting rid of it. I adore the camera and it's lenses. (shamless Flickr plug! http://www.flickr.com/photos/cloud34 ) I have a nice point and shoot (Lumix TZ10) or the Canon 350D of the wife. So I have options.

2) I'm tempted by the 150 as it offers (so FLO told me) a better route into lunar photography (I'm well aware of the limitations with astro photography). So I think it's the better option as it will help serve one of my needs (desires) more. If the 130 is less capable with a camera, then I'm more likely to be 'let down' by it.

3) I fully agree with the logic of buying the cheaper one to see how I get on and sell it if I want to, however, I can also apply this logic to the 150.

Thanks so far, I'm going to have to cut this short as I'm 7 minutes from shutting down! Keep the advice coming, it's a straight shoot out between the 130 and 150 at the moment, which isn't a bad position to be in for a beginner! :eek:

Edited by theboyfold
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