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Hi from Cheshire


Maymo
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Hi,

We (my family and I) live in Frodsham, Cheshire and have a new interest in astronomy. My son Sam has a 76mm F=700 Optus telescope and we realize it's limitations. It has however allowed us to see some detail on the moon and last night we saw saturn and its rings for the first time, although very small and no detail, we all got a great buzz from this. I seem to spend a long time finding the object I'm looking for in the spotting scope and even longer to get it in the main scope. I would like to learn more about astronomy and be able to see real images of planets, stars etc..

I need help in selecting a new scope, suggestions are welcome, as you can see I'm a real newbie. I like the sound of the goto computers on some scopes, I'm sure that this will save me loads of time. Other considerations are size and weight, I would like to take my new scope on caravan holidays so it has to be reasonably manageable and as it will be travelling in the caravan not too heavy. Bigger clearer images are a must and sometime in the future I would like to explore astrophotography to compliment my photography hobby, I use a Nikon DSLR. I know this is a bit vague but a starting point for further research would be helpful.

Regards Alan (Maymo)

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Hi Orion the Hunter,

I have an old pair of 7X50 binoculars. These are good for the moon and I can see loads more stars than with the naked eye. Am I trying to run before I can walk?

Alan

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Hi Maymo, you're in the right place for help and advice, this is a really friendly forum. I found this book really useful when I was just looking into things:

Stargazing Basics: Getting Started in Recreational Astronomy: Amazon.co.uk: Paul E. Kinzer: Books

It's nice and clear and basic and does a really good job of explaining options etc. Try and get it from a library rather than buy it if you're interested, you'll grow out of it pretty quickly. Welcome aboard.

Edited by dod
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Hi, Maymo & welcome to the lounge.

Well. you MAY be trying to run before you can walk (especially with astrophotography) - but we all do it.

Browse the forum, use the search facility, and ask questions, and you'll be amazed at how fast you can at least break into a trot :):D

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Hi Alan and welcome to the forum.

When I got started and was asked what it was in particular that I wanted to focus on, I naturally said well EVERYTHING! You have quite a list of requirements which is difficult to bring together in one scope to be honest. I would start by recommending that any desires for astrophotography be put to one side for now, as the cost and technical requirements both in collecting the data to construct a picture and then to later process it will not only skew your budget but will dictate the need for certain equipment that might not be best suited for observing. However, you could get hold of a copy of Steve Richards "Making Every Photon Count" (FLO £19.95) to provide you with a detailed overview of astrophotography and the processes involved. At least after reading this you will understand how some of those fantastic pictures are produced both in time and money. There are different levels of image making and this book will help you decide at what level you may want to start.

Regarding actual scopes. Well that's a tricky one as you don't say how old your son is (toddler/junior school or teenager) and more importantly what your budget will be. The general rule is that the dobsonian type of scope will offer you the best value for money because its simply a tube with a mirror at the bottom revolving around on a simple platform. Any money spent on this will be mainly used on the size of the mirror. Now a GOTO system is great for kids (and adults!) but there are two difficulties. The first, is that this facility will have to be paid for from your budget which naturally leaves less for the scope itself which IS the important bit. Secondly, because there is now less for the scope, you may end up with a system that in theory can point your scope towards 12,000 objects but you won't have the means by which to see most of them because you could only afford a scope with a much smaller aperture. So to really help you get a great bit of kit that ticks most of your boxes, we will need to start with a budget. I would make a decision on that first and then post this question over on the 'Equipment Help and Advice Section to see what response you get.

Finally I would recommend that you avoid supermarkets, Ebay and any retail outlet that advertises scopes with 545x magnification - in the main they're selling you rubbish. Stick to the main manufacturers like for example Skywatcher, Meade and Celestron who will provide you with a good standard scope and to also buy from a retailer that only deals in this type of equipment. Things can go wrong and sometimes bits can go astray and after sales service is as big a consideration as the scope. So a decision on a budget and then we can get started on spending it for you!

Clear skies

James

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Thanks for all the warm welcomes and initial advise. My son is 10 years old and loves anything to do with science so I am trying to nurture this. I will put the photography on hold for now and concentrate on observing. To start with we would like to see the "wow" things in the sky. We were made up to see Saturn but it took about an hour fiddling about and the image was tiny, if it wasn't for the rings it would have looked like a dot of light.

My budget is going to be in the region of £500. I will move over to the equipment help forum with this next stage. Thanks again. Alan

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Alan, welcome to the forum. Some good advice here, esp from JBM. Many, me included, want to run before they can even crawl, and I am sure the frustration created drives people away. If you read through the forum you will see this message repeated many times. Chose your objectives, targets, and budget and stick to them and gain experience. My first proper scope was a 2nd hand Celestron 5SE goto purchased from a forum member, great little scope and worthy of consideration to start you off.

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Hi Alan and welcome to SGL :hello2:

You've not been vague at all - some great ambition in what you say lol. To achieve everything you mention is a steep learning curve and there will be considerable expense, but it's a teriffic hobby and I think you're going to get a lot of fun and satisfaction from it - nice to have you on board :hello2:

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Hi Alan just starting out so cant help much but to say the folk on thi site are good. Also only got me first scope last year I have a Nikon dlsr and was able to buy a mount to put it on my scope think the mount was about £30 you may be able to get one to fit your present scope???. Am just up the road in sunny Runcorn

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Hi and welcome,

You could do as I did before purchasing my Celestron 127 SLT goto scope. Have a look on youtube and flickr. There are some excellent examples of what the scopes can offer.

I too wanted a small scope that I could take back into the house at night and also with me in my caravan.

I would say I'am/was on the tightest budget available started in the price range of £50 I then wanted some features. First a EQ mount, then a simple tracking motor as I wanted to connect a webcam (great way to take pictures basically record a video and use some software to combine the best frames into one picture). Then a goto scope.I ended up paying about £360 for the scope and over the last few weeks spent £120 on bits.

Hope this helps

Andrew

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Hi Alan and welcome to the Lounge

Every Wednesday Liverpool Astronomical Society meet at Pex Hill in Cronton, Widnes. There is always a good turn out with lots of 'scopes to try and a wealth of experience, help and advice.

I know it's not exactly local for you but I think your son would love it - especially if you catch us on a clear night!

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Bellyeye, Thanks for the Pex Hill info, I've just looked at the LAS website and the observatory looks like a great asset, we will come along one Wednesday and have a look. Not this week though as I'm on nights.

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