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Newbie - best scope for my buck?


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Hello,

I am new to this site and new to astronomy - so much so that I am trying to figure out which telescope best suits my potential needs.

As well as observing the planets and the night sky in general, I'd like the option of being able to take photographs with my DSLR.

These are the scopes on my potential purchase list -

Pentaflex 130 AZ GOTO

Skywatcher Explorer 130p Synscan (same as above?)

Skymax 127 GOTO.

Are there any other recommendations I should look at?

The Skymax is actually beyond my present budget but if it's REALLY, REALLY worth it, I could stretch.

Ideally it would be great to actually 'see' the target planets rather than a very faint, fuzzy dot.

Am I expecting too much from these scopes or will I be satisfied with results?

I thought it best to ask you guys who are in the know and have the benefit of experience rather then salesperson chat.......

Thank you very much in anticipation of your replies.

Regards,

Cineriz.

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Hi Nick,

Yes, have read good things about these. My budget was originally £200 but have found that a little more gets you much better so I'm in the £300 zone. Would be great to keep below this but have just seen the Skymax 127 SynScan AZ TOGO at £356 on FirstLight Optics. I believe that's a very good price??

Regards,

Cineriz

Edited by Cineriz
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hi mate i no its just abit more but i was looking at the 127 from flo and then looked at the 200p eq5 from flo it was £377 but was alot bigger mirror and better mount as money was not going in to the sync mount which i have heard alot of problems with the mount not setting up so u spend more time getting it working the learning ur way around the sky so its abit more again but i think its worth it, but bear in mind its abig scope but it has to be as its 8" and not 5" what do u want to look at in the sky.

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Hi, want to look at planets and galaxies etc. As much as possible, really, with a view (pardon pun) to astrophotography. Completely new to all this so need to be sure of the route I take into the hobby.

Edited by Cineriz
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Hi there.

It sounds like ive done a similar thing to you in that i too started with a budget of 200, which soon got turned into 300. I eventually settled on a Skymax 127 on a alt azimuth mount with has the autotrack ability.

Not sure how photography is going to be for it but for views of jupiter, the moon and orion nebula (ive only had it 3 days and its been cloudy) Ive been absolutely thrilled.

I wrote a review/report on it in the equipment review section.

I would advise to think really carefully about how much time you'll have to set up the scope, and how much weight yoou can lift comfortably.

I originally ordered a skywatcher 150pl, but had to send it back becuase it was way to heavy for me.

As I say im really pleased with the skymax so far.

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Hi Geoff and Tom and thanks for advice. Looks like I've narrowed down to two choices - the 130p or the 127. I must admit, I do like the idea of the GOTO system so will research that a little more before making a final choice.

Regards,

Cineriz

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As a "starter" scope which has a reasonable aperture and minimal hassles (collimation) easy to handle....consider a ST102.

These "spotter scopes" are under rated for what they can do. Bang per buck they're a good deal.

After some practise and experience you can always sell and upgrade...

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Hi Cineriz - with a budget of £300 I wouldn't be looking at goto scopes for two reasons. 1) stuffs easy enough to find with an elementary knowledge of the sky and 2) at this level investing in goto will cost valuable aperture.

I would be looking at something like a SW 150P on EQ3-2 for £239:

Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 150P EQ3-2

And consider putting an RA tracking motor on to keep objects in the ep for £79:

Skywatcher - Single-Axis D.C. Motor Drive for EQ3-2

This will show you a lot more than a 130P because of it's extra light gathering power for the bigger diameter tube, has a direct dslr attachment, and is a suitable focal ratio (f5) for dso photography.

The sky, and where objects are, is best learned over a year so you can follow the seasons and star movements with a few objects each month. I used the center page pull out in "Sky at Night" magazine which has an account of "what's up", how to find it, and most suitable gear to use.

Join a local observing group and you'll have the added expertise of regular astronomers to help you find things - makes it a much more pleasant and sociable learning experience.

Hope that helps :)

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Hi,

I'd say be careful with the 130P if you want to take photo's with a DSLR, or at least a Canon 300d camera. I just couldn't focus with it (something to do with the back focus or something). Not sure about the other scope, but i've seen in another thread that the 150P doesn't have the same problem...... bit late for me really though ;-(

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Hi,

I'd say be careful with the 130P if you want to take photo's with a DSLR, or at least a Canon 300d camera. I just couldn't focus with it (something to do with the back focus or something). Not sure about the other scope, but i've seen in another thread that the 150P doesn't have the same problem...... bit late for me really though ;-(

Much appreciated,

Kind regards,

Cineriz

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Hi Cineriz - with a budget of £300 I wouldn't be looking at goto scopes for two reasons. 1) stuffs easy enough to find with an elementary knowledge of the sky and 2) at this level investing in goto will cost valuable aperture.

I would be looking at something like a SW 150P on EQ3-2 for £239:

Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 150P EQ3-2

And consider putting an RA tracking motor on to keep objects in the ep for £79:

Skywatcher - Single-Axis D.C. Motor Drive for EQ3-2

This will show you a lot more than a 130P because of it's extra light gathering power for the bigger diameter tube, has a direct dslr attachment, and is a suitable focal ratio (f5) for dso photography.

The sky, and where objects are, is best learned over a year so you can follow the seasons and star movements with a few objects each month. I used the center page pull out in "Sky at Night" magazine which has an account of "what's up", how to find it, and most suitable gear to use.

Join a local observing group and you'll have the added expertise of regular astronomers to help you find things - makes it a much more pleasant and sociable learning experience.

Hope that helps :)

Would the 150PL EQ3-2 be worth looking at as well?

Kind regards,

Cineriz

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The only thing to be aware if with a newtonian and dslr photography is the amount of "in-focus". This is why they provide direct dslr connection (with a t-adaptor) to get as close as possible to the focus point.

A bhatinov mask will help, and a coma corrector made be required too. Read this thread for a very good account of how to handle the problem:

http://stargazerslounge.com/beginners-help-advice/95080-dslr-achieving-focus.html

Edited by brantuk
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The 150 PL gives you a slightly longer focal length (1200mm) and slower f-ratio (f8) for sharper and more contrasty imaging of planets. But the regular 150P is superior for dso imaging and still very capable with planets.

Do bear in mind that exposures will be limited due to tracking limitations. Some people have had very reasonable results with 30 secs - 1 min stacked and processed. :)

(the 150p eq3-2 was my first scope btw - and I currently have a 130P for a "play thing" lol)

Edited by brantuk
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As a complete newbie I'm starting to freak out with the choices! :-)

I suspect I should stick to the 150 P eq3-2. Am I mistaken in thinking greater focal length will give you a 'bigger' image to see/photograph?

My main concern is only being able to see faint, fuzzy blobs, etc. Am I expecting too much?

Regards,

Cineriz

Edited by Cineriz
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Most scopes see faint fuzzy's as exactly that - it's only when you move up and past 16" apertures that you start to see vague structure in things like galaxies. Even then they are still very faint.

Also don't expect colour when observing except for planets and one or two double stars. Everything else will be in balck/white/grey. The whole point of imaging is that you can see it, but can't define any detail when observing, whereas the camera can pick up more definition with longer exposure and appropriate filtering.

Adding in photography makes a first scope a huge challenge - more than you'd think :)

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A longer focal length will bring the light to focus more efficiently in the focal plane. Particularly useful when snapping planets. You get more contrast and sharper images - to check image size have a look at this page for a great comparison of image size for different scope/camera combinations fov:

http://www.12dstring.me.uk/fov.htm

Edited by brantuk
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Hi, Some DLSR "snaps" on a 150P, hand guided, no motors, with a canon. Not fantastic but cheap!

moon | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

jupiter | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

moon_2 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Jupiter | Flickr - Photo Sharing!

Wow, I'd be VERY happy with these results! Thanks for advice.

Kind regards,

Cineriz

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Most scopes see faint fuzzy's as exactly that - it's only when you move up and past 16" apertures that you start to see vague structure in things like galaxies. Even then they are still very faint.

Also don't expect colour when observing except for planets and one or two double stars. Everything else will be in balck/white/grey. The whole point of imaging is that you can see it, but can't define any detail when observing, whereas the camera can pick up more definition with longer exposure and appropriate filtering.

Adding in photography makes a first scope a huge challenge - more than you'd think :)

Again, much appreciated.

Kind regards,

Cineriz

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