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GOTO or not to GOTO


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I am a bit like you GOTO or not. After a long deliberation I have just bought an explorer 150pds on an EQ5 mount. I thought I'd see how I get on, explore the night sky manually the get into astrophotography later and then buy the motor for my EQ5.

Edited by oreed
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If Astroimaging is where your going I'd get GoTo or at least a Syntrek equipped mount.

As much as anything you'll need the guideport on the mount I would think.

As to GoTo in the round....

GoTo Hell !!!!

GoTo is often a bone of contention among amateur astronomers. Some will argue that GoTo removes any skill and kills the excitement of finding objects for yourself. Others will argue that GoTo opens up the sky for beginners. Which solution is right is down to the individual.

I have seen beginners start the hobby determined to learn the sky and do without GoTo who have ended up giving up the hobby in frustration. The general poor weather in the UK can limit available nights for seeing and when that is coupled with other commitments ( family, work etc) it can reduce the available time to learn the sky to a bare minimum and lead to a large amount of frustration when you have a large scope but cant ever find anything to look at. Alternately I have seen others start the hobby with GoTo and find that it lacks any thrill. Simply pressing a button and letting the scope do all the work can kill the thrill for some people. Which one is right for you depends on how much time you wish to devote to the hobby.

One thing you should be very clear about though is that GoTo is absolutely NOT like using your home DVD player or other household electronics which are 'automatic'. GoTo nearly always requires a reasonable amount of skill from the user to get it set up correctly.

Don't allow any 'snob' attitudes to dictate your choice on GoTo - be realistic in your expectations of how often you will be using your telescope and budget and buy accordingly. Heaven or Hell with GoTo is a very individual choice and experience.

Edited by Astro_Baby
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If it were just me who was viewing the stars then I might have gone fully manual. However, (and i've only had the scope 5 days) my family have been fascinated by the Goto as it gets there quickly and keeps their interest at large. Had I been shifting about searching for a needle in a haystack then I reckon their interest would have been lost and I would have been frustrated.

Time to think about a second scope (dob) and start learning things for myself.

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For me finding things for myself and learning the night sky is part of the thrill. If you find that side of things boring and frustrating I would suggest a Goto mount might be a good investment.

The only time I miss Goto is when I'm trying to show DSOs to others - my slow manual approach can be a little dull for them.

EDIT: as I see the previous poster has also alluded to…

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Laughs - yes - I know the feeling with family. When I was manual only my kids just had no interest.

When I showd them the 8" running with GoTo my eldest perked up (looks like a missile launcher you see) and the youngest with his bump for science got stirred up too.

The tracking though is the biggest boon because if I am showing people stuff I can leave the eyepiece and know that they are still seeing something.

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I think a GOTO mount is great as long as the scope attached to it is capable of showing decent views of the objects that the mount finds.

When folks are on a limited budget (not the case here I think) it worries me to see them buy a small aperture scope on a GOTO mount - the scope will barely show many of the objects in the mounts database !.

As Astro_Baby says, GOTO is not without it's needs with regard to setup and operation but once mastered and under a decent aperture scope, can "unlock" the marvels of the night sky :)

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I went for GOTO because I wanted to find things quickly. In practice though I don´t use it all the time. Starhopping takes time to master and frankly I´m rubbish at it, too much light polution doesn´t help. and dodgy eyesight.

It´s a personal thing IMHO, you can always go manual as your skills improve. After all your going to get aperture fever eventually.

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so,

what would people consider to be the minimun size size app you should realistically have before getting goto. Because to me, star finding and star hoping is a little frustrating. So will purchasing a goto make all the difference to me, I hope so. So will my skywatcher 150p be of the right size. I know smaller scopes do have goto, but like it has been said is it worth it for the views you get?

Jon

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so,

what would people consider to be the minimun size size app you should realistically have before getting goto. Because to me, star finding and star hoping is a little frustrating. So will purchasing a goto make all the difference to me, I hope so. So will my skywatcher 150p be of the right size. I know smaller scopes do have goto, but like it has been said is it worth it for the views you get?

Jon

If you really can't get on with star hopping (it does take a bit of time and practice) then a GOTO may keep your interest. There is plenty to see with a 150p, but as you are probably aware most of the DSO's will be just faint smudges.

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I agree with Bish - 6" is a decent aperture. Just be aware that for the price of a 6" GOTO you could get a 12" dobsonian that will capture 400% more light. And it's light you need for DSO's !.

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If imaging is your main aim, have you thought about tweaking your options. The 200P is a great scope but imaging wise it won't offer a lot more over the 150PDS. What i am thinking is it would be better to get the better mount first off and not worry too much about the scope.

So how about this:

Skywatcher HEQ5 Syntrek with the Skywatcher Explorer 150PDS

Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 150P DS OTA

Costs the same as the 200P with the EQ5 Goto. But the HEQ5 is a far more capable mount and you can add a 200P anytime, they go for peanuts secondhand. Plus the HEQ5 Syntrek can be upgraded to Goto anytime by adding just the handset. Or better still, just run it from a PC.

Edited by russ
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One thing you should be very clear about though is that GoTo is absolutely NOT like using your home DVD player or other household electronics which are 'automatic'. GoTo nearly always requires a reasonable amount of skill from the user to get it set up correctly.

This is not the case any more. Have you seen the new Celestron Prodigy?. It aligns itself thanks to an inbuilt camera system.

Edited by LukeSkywatcher
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My only comment on Goto is to not use it as an excuse for not learning the sky. Ultimately - a) you will need to know what you want to point it at and, :) detect any positioning errors due to polar alignment or drift. So knowing the sky is essential wether goto or not :)

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I think a GOTO mount is great as long as the scope attached to it is capable of showing decent views of the objects that the mount finds.

When folks are on a limited budget (not the case here I think) it worries me to see them buy a small aperture scope on a GOTO mount - the scope will barely show many of the objects in the mounts database !.

As Astro_Baby says, GOTO is not without it's needs with regard to setup and operation but once mastered and under a decent aperture scope, can "unlock" the marvels of the night sky :)

John has described it exactly. GOTO is superb at giving you observation time and getting to view objects rather than Hrs of searching for objects that may not even be in the capabilities of the scope. I tried for 6 years to manually observe the sky and only got to see probably 10 objects 4 of which were planets. Since getting a GOTO I have seen handfuls of objects and also distinguished which ones are beyond my light polluted skies. If you get the 200p this will allow you to see plenty of DSO's and so warrants the expense of a GT mount. If you plan on some thing smaller and you have LP where you live then your money would be better saved. SW 200p are often sold on EQ5's but ideally needs to be sat on a HEQ5 so you will need to bear this in mind also. 200p on a HEQ5 would IMHO be a better investment than a 200p on a EQ5 Synscan. You could always upgrade the HEQ5 at a later date if need be.

SPACEBOY

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GoTo is Great... With Caveats? :o

I think the (top selling) MAK127 comes CLOSE to being a great beginners, Alt-Az, "GoTo" scope - *IF* you have hard-standing - And a modicum of patience! I SAW FAR more "Messiers", with this (tuned-up) setup (driven by "Stellarium"), than I ever did, via (reasonably educated?) star hopping, over the years. :)

Many "Level 2" (fainter) DSO's are visible with averted vision - IN FIELD, via accurate GoTo. The problem is wobbly mounts / tripods, close to the limit of load-bearing? And, as mentioned, 5" (and slow optics), may not be ideal for DSO hunting! :)

Sadly (5-6") is about the limit of many budget Alt-Az "GoTo" mounts... If you envisaging getting into Astro-Photography (and have the dosh!) by all means, buy a bigger scope, an EQUATORIAL Synscan HEQ5 mount etc. :(

The REAL LACK is [iMO] a half-decent (intuitive, reasonable-budget) Alt-Azimuth GoTo, with capacity to support 6, 7, 8" scopes. Of course, there is *my* IOPTRON Mini-tower, but this requires a (somewhat risky!) venture to the dark side... :)

Edited by Macavity
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Here's my thoughts on GOTO as a newbie. My wife got her new scope for Xmas and my she did the initial setups. It can take her a little while to get the 3 stars aligned as she insists on pointing at whatever stars she picks for her alignement. It takes her about 10 minutes to get the job done. I on the other hand get it 3 star aligend in under 5 minutes. It's so easy. I pick a star and point the scope at it, lets say Sirius. When the scope picks up a bright star I use that one and select it on the handset. It may not even be Sirius. The point I'm tryng to make is that the Celestron GOTO system doesn't need you to know what the stars are, or even be pointed at the object you set out to pick, as long as it's one of the ones it recognises then it works fine.

We have been so impressed with the GOTO system. It is very accurate, very easy to set up, and wonderful to use. It has made our first forays in to observing enjoyable and easy, therefore we will stick at it. We may well progress (or is it regress) to manual finding eventually but for now GOTO is wonderful. I cetainly would not have stood around for hours in the recent weather waiting for my wife to find something for me to look at.

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I think a GOTO mount is great as long as the scope attached to it is capable of showing decent views of the objects that the mount finds.

When folks are on a limited budget (not the case here I think) it worries me to see them buy a small aperture scope on a GOTO mount - the scope will barely show many of the objects in the mounts database !.

As Astro_Baby says, GOTO is not without it's needs with regard to setup and operation but once mastered and under a decent aperture scope, can "unlock" the marvels of the night sky :)

+1.

No, +10,000.

jahmanson has hit the nail right on the head here. Having a GOTO doesn't preclude one from looking at the night sky but having it certainly helps. In any case you still have to learn the names of some of the brighter stars as the scope needs aligning to at least two or three of these before you can GO TO anything.

It's hard to star hop from my back garden since I can only see the brightest stars, and hence GOTO has proven itself to be a real life saver.

And it's certainly better to have a bigger scope without GOTO than a tiny scope that can't 'see' most of the objects in the handset's database.

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You might want to consider getting a pair of binoculars - they'll help you learn the sky. They come out before the any of my scopes do as they help me get a feel for what the sky is like that night and even if I want to take out a scope. Since I chose not to go with Goto (yet :D) I also use them help as an aid to find stuff in the sky with my scopes.

Goof luck!

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One thing you should be very clear about though is that GoTo is absolutely NOT like using your home DVD player or other household electronics which are 'automatic'. GoTo nearly always requires a reasonable amount of skill from the user to get it set up correctly.

This is not the case any more. Have you seen the new Celestron Prodigy?. It aligns itself thanks to an inbuilt camera system.

As does the Meade Lightswitch but I still had to help someone set one of those up - come to think of it I had to show my sister how to set up her DVD player :D

Actually - at the risk of being controversial I have to say the 'aperture' argument is somewhat bogus. No matter what scope you buy a lot of objects will be faint fuzzies - thats whay they are called faint fuzzies. I have seen some Deep Sky stuff with far bigger telescopes than my own 8" and yes the views are better but a lot of stuff is still just a smokey patch.

At the end of the day 100 objects your GoTo can find for you is a lot better than a potential 13,400 objects you cant ever see because you have a whopping aperture and cant ever find anything.

My TAL100RS with its meagre 4" of aperture got me one of the best views I have ever had of Andromeda last year under a dark sky so it cant only be about aperture. You have to take into account other factors.

I am not diagreeing that a bigger aperture will give a better view but it does have to be balanced against other requirements.

Edited by Astro_Baby
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This is not the case any more. Have you seen the new Celestron Prodigy?. It aligns itself thanks to an inbuilt camera system

...but the Celestron Prodigy has a maximum aperture of 130mm which brings us right back to the point about these cheaper Alt-Az GOTO mounts. They can't support anything bigger than 130mm :\

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I think its fine to use GoTo, many of the points given on this thread show its benifits, technology is driving the Art of Astronomy to higher levels giving the observer and imager the chance to observe or capture many wonderful objects ever more precisely, this gives you the chance in the case of visual, to spend your time viewing subjects of your choice, spend the time to make an assumption and properly observe, thats what its really about, how you found it is almost immaterial as far as I'm concerened, and yes I can say I have learnt so very much using Go To, don't know how far I'd have come with out it. :D

Who knows what the kids of today will have at their disposal in 20 years! :evil1:

Edited by Nexus 6
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Here's another strange drawback to GOTO.

On my SynScan handset I can select a 'guided tour'. However at best only a couple of the objects are realistically available since I don't have a clear horizon to N, E, S or W. In fact I have a cone of about 20-30 degrees towards zenith with a little more to the east (but there are 20+ streetlamps in close proximity [why the hell are there so many?!]) and a gap to the NW. So, from a beginners point of view you might choose something nice in the guided tour only to find your scope pointing at a fence, your house, a bush or a tree.

A few minutes preparation before going out to get an idea of what you want to look at first is invaluable. I use a combination of Stellarium (free) and SkyGazer (good value) for this.

You also need to know common star names and/or the constellations that they're in.

So as already said, GOTO isn't as much switch-on-and-go but your mileage will vary depending on where you are, your experience level and what optics you're looking through.

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Actually I find the guided tour useless. It nearly always includes objects which are right on the horizon, doesn't slew in an ordered way so it doesnt catch them as the scope rotates it goes zipping off all over the place using the battery power up at a vast rate, often goes to objects you dont have a hope in hell of seeing even with an 8" under average skies.

What I want is a scope where when you switch it on Brian Cox pops out of the box and gives you a personal guided tour of the heavens tailored exactly to what you want and with a free complimentary Hubble photograph of anything you'd like a look at, autographs it for you and while all this is going on someone makes you a cup of hot cocoa.

Doesnt seem much of an ask to me but the lazy lot at Synta dont seem to be able to get it manufactured for the £199 plus VAT :D

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