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Hi! Telescope advice needed for complete newbie!

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I haven't got a massive budget, so unfortunately a telescope good enough to see deep into the universe is out of the question! However I'd LOVE to be able to take a look at Jupiter or Staurn! That would be amazing :)

Trouble is I have no idea where to start. I found a website selling them but it assumes the buyer knows what everything means!

So what I'm hoping for is a recommendation or two (please!) I'm not familiar with star gazing so would most likely need one of the "goto"'s that I've heard of?

Oh and if by any chance that telescope is around £200 that would also be awesome.

Many thanks for reading!


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There are a few good scopes out there that would fit your budget such as the Homepage - Skywatcher Explorer 130

However this is not GOTO but...Hunting targets down is part of the fun for me :)

Also the next model up although just a tad over your budget, would be a better scope.

Homepage - Skywatcher Explorer 150P EQ3-2 (bigger apature + much better mount)

These two usualy come highly recomended. They would also give you fairly good views of deep space objects! :)

Although this next one has GOTO, I would prefer one of the first two I mentioned, as to me they would be better value for money.

Startravel - Skywatcher Startravel 102 SynScan AZ GOTO

Feel free to ask as many questions as you like! :)

Thats what we are here for.


Edited by msinclairinork
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If you want an honest reply, I would say you are going to be hard pressed to get a scope that will show you objects and have GOTO. That's not such a bad thing really because there is no point in spending money on a system that positions the scope in a certain part of the sky, if your remaining budget can only provide for a small scope that can't show you what its pointing at.

If your heart is set on having GOTO then for a total budget of £250 you could get the Skywatcher Explorer 130P Synscan AZ Goto. That's 5" of aperture that will show you Jupiter/Saturn and other objects besides. The best value for money from purely a scope perspective is going to be a Dobsonian, where most of the money is in the mirror which means that when you point it at an object, it will be able to resolve more detail/structure and therefore provide you with something worthwhile to look at.

It is very easy to find Jupiter/Saturn, you certainly don't need GOTO for that but at your current budget, there isn't enough to have all the toys I afraid.

I hope that helps but if you have further questions or want to know what certain terms or jargon means please come back and ask.

Clear skies


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welcome to the forum,

Although I am a big fan of the goto scope it should never really be considered as the only option for beginners. In fact the non goto gives you a far better chance to learn the sky. Both my mounts are goto, but I mainly use them because I have a very limited view of the sky which makes star hopping very hard and time to find each object very limited before it goes behind a building.

If your interested in a long term hobby and to really get the best out of the sky you will probably want to learn your way around anyway. The sky watcher scopes do seem to offer good quality for the money, I have a 130 and 150 myself. Happy to post pics if you want to compare size.

msinclairinork's advice is excellent so I wont repeat it :) but do consider size and bulkiness. The skywatcher 150 although only slightly longer is larger in diameter (obviously) and significantly heavier than the 130p.

I almost didnt keep up with the hobby when I first started, specifically because my first scope was too large, and the mount too bulky. Do you have a clear route to where you will be observing and a nice place to store it ? If not, go for the smaller options, possibly a refractor.

You will certainly be able to identify saturn and jupiter with the options mentioned above. As long as your expectations are realistic you will certainly be able to know your looking at the right planet :)

Edited by kentronix
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Hey Lozzy. I'm new myself but I'd strongly suggest downloading an excellent free program called Stellarium. The main book suggested to beginners like myself is "Turn Left at Orion" which I have on order. Also, decent binoculars are a great way to start. I was a little snobbish about this suggestion at the start but have had some awesome views. For example, yesterday I saw the Andromeda Galaxy really clearly for the first time with binoculars. Good luck!

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hello welcome to sgl as michael says learning the sky can be funso i'll give you a couple of choices and try and give pro's and cons. any scope you buy is made up of 3 parts that is optics, mount and electronics. if you want all three to be good you need to spend a fair bit more at the lower end of the price range there is a compromise between the 3. consequently if you have electronics you don't get the optics and if you don't get the electronics you get better optics. this one is the best optics for under £200 it has a basic mount (thats the bit the scope sits on and no electronics) The advantage of this is that you will be able to see more its quite good on planets and quite good on deep space.Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian this one is not as good to look through but does have go to it will be ok on brighter clusters and nebulas you should be able to see jupiter and saturn and the moon. the moon will be fine planets just ok. Reflectors - Skywatcher Skyhawk 1145P SynScan AZ GOTO and this one is over your budget at nearly £250 it has goto not quite as good optics as the first but not bad but the optics will be better than the 1145p Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 130P SynScan AZ GOTO

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Don't limit yourself to goto. It's really not that important and you'll learn your way around the sky without too much difficulty--it's part of the fun. I've been involved in astronomy on and off since age 8 or so (now I'm 32) and I've never had (or even used) a goto scope. If a 12 year old can find stuff up in the sky, I'm sure you can!

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If you're interested in the planets, you'll need an extra £40 or so for an eyepiece like the TMB Planetary from Sky's The Limit, as the ones that come with a new scope are not really good enough for top-class moon and planetary views.

However you'll not need Go-To for the planets - they're easy to spot - even for a newbie.

£200 is pushing it. One to consider is the 127 SupaTrak with an 8mm TMB Designed Planetary eyepiece at about £325 all in.

Some people (typically those who've not looked through one) might disagree - but the fact is the moon and planetary views that you'll get, are substantially better than an equivalent-sized Newtonian or Dobsonian scope. Also, the easy-to-use SupaTrak mount - being electrically operated - avoids the "shakes" you'll get with the flimsy mounts on Newtonians at this price.

It's another suggestion anyhow - the main downside being that it won't give you the bright, super-wide views that the Newtonian / Dobsonians give you. If that bothers you, then the 130P SupaTrak with a 4mm TMB Designed Planetary eyepiece together at £229 is a good choice - and is many people's first "proper" telescope. I've got one of those too and won't be selling it, although the moon and planetary views aren't a patch on the 127 SupaTrak.

In either case I recommend the SupaTrak mounted scopes for frustration-free, relatively shake-free views compared to the "equatorial" mounts at this price.

Nonetheless, as you'll discover, there is no single scope that's good at everything, so many (most?) enthusiasts end up with two (or more!).

One final point, although you don't need Go-To, the notion that it somehow "inhibits learning" is elitist nonsense (again, spoken by those who don't have it).

Edited by great_bear
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As others have said, getting a telescope with GOTO (along with a power supply etc) for £200 will be difficult - it doesn't leave much money for the scope itself.

The good news is that you don't need GOTO to find things, especially Jupiter and Saturn.

A small Dob is within budget and will give great views of the planets: SW150p Dob

You need to think about how you're going to use and store your scope - Does size matter? Have a look at AB's telescope size thread, there's a picture of one on there.


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£200 will get you a very reasonable starter setup. As others have said though, when you spend money on electronics and goto you loose a lot in aperture and/or optical quality. So I'd advise forget goto and learn the sky - it's a lot easier than you think once you get into it. Also forget refractors - glass is way more expensive than mirrors.

Generally the bigger the aperture the deeper you can go, and you can allways add tracking or goto later as budget allows. So two scopes I'd suggest - SW150P on EQ3-2 (slightly over budget), or SW130P on EQ3-2 (well within budget). Also just under your budget SW150P on dobsonian mount.

The 150mm will show most everything you'll want to see for a good few years. The 130mm is a little more limited but, that said, there's millions of stuff up there and you could spend a lifetime only seeing a tiny proportion of it. With your budget you could also just squeeze in a right ascension (RA) tracking motor to make viewing more convenient with the 130. With tracking you would also have the ability to strap on a £20 webcam to shoot some video of planets and moon.

If you're not bothered with imaging, and "push to" is no problem, then a 150P on dobsonian mount could be order of the day. But I recommend EQ mostly cos they track the natural movement of the stars and you learn more quickly about how the heavens rotate around the Earth.

Hope that helps :)

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hi Lozzy

Keep us informed about what you eventually buy. I am in the same position but trying to resist buying anything until I am a little more knowledgable. I want to buy something that also suitable for imaging in the future

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Hi Lozzy,

If you go to the next meeting of your local astronomical society I'm sure everybody there will be falling over each other to offer good advice. No doubt there will be examples of telescopes ranging from basic to advanced and lots of experts to steer you on the right path. It's a good way to sample before you buy,and to avoid spending your hard earned cash on the wrong piece of kit for your needs. Good luck.

Cheers, John.

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With your budget you could also just squeeze in a right ascension (RA) tracking motor to make viewing more convenient with the 130.

- or alternatively get the auto-tracking version for £189

The only downside to the auto tracking version is that you can navigate your way around only using the motor - you can't move the telescope by hand - and this can feel a bit etch-a-sketch sometimes, compared to having total freedom of movement with an EQ mount.

You should also budget for a good high-power eyepiece such as (for an F5 Newtonian Telescope like the 130P) a 4mm TMB Designed Planetary from Sky's The Limit at £40.

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WOW, what a lovely welcome and lots of brilliant replies! Thanks so much for taking the time to help a newbie out! :)

After the comments made about the GOTO it does make more sense to not have it and spend more money on the more important parts! I'm saving up and trying to learn fast so I can get myself one next month. I'm just so fascinated by the universe that the books/programs aren't enough and I'd love to see things through the telescope!

In the meantime I'll get myself some binoculars like mentioned! Until I saw the comments on them I didn't even think of getting a pair before.

Thanks again for all the help and advice, I'm looking forward to learning a load!

Oh and meeting up with a group sounds great, how do I find one in my local area? I'm in-between Stoke and Stafford!

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Federation of Astronomical Societies - Member Societies

thanks for this link, I have been trying to find out the name of the group who organise the ruislip lido event each year, and what do you know, they meet under a mile from my door !!!

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