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Scope help please

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Hey SGL members,

Was just wondering if you all could lend me your opinions to try and decide on what scope to get to replace my first scope. I currently have a 80mm Helios refractor on a skywatcher eq2 mount along with a x2 barlow and a 25mm and 9mm EP's. I picked this set up a year ago on astro b+s for £60 and its served me very well for the past year as i got to grips with basic viewing skills haha. Its been my birthday over the weekend so ive decided to treat myself to a new scope. ill still be using my 80mm but would like to step up from this to a more serious telescope.

My budget is £280 £300 at a push.

My main interest is observing the moon, then the planets and lastly then dso's

I live in wales, so im very lucky that i am only a 15 minute drive to a very dark spot for viewing, and conditions are decent in my back garden.

If possible id like to get a scope that can really get up close and personal to the moons surface to really get into detail with the moons craters, so is this viable in my budget? also size and portability is not really an issue for me. The main thing is that I can get a scope that will get as close as possible to the moons surface, after much searching and scouring FLO Ive come up with the following scopes:

Skywatcher Explorer 150PL EQ3-2:

Reflectors - Skywatcher Explorer 150PL EQ3-2

does anyone have any experience with this scope? also is it a big difference not having a 11/2 2inch crayford focuser like the normal 150p?


Skywatcher Skyliner 200P Dobsonian:

Dobsonians - Skywatcher Skyliner 200P Dobsonian

would the extra 2" provide more detail?


could anyone suggest a good maksutov scope, as i do like the look and idea of a compact (but as i mentioned earlier size isnt an issue, but would be cool to transport on camping trips) I do realise that compounds have a narrower field of view but thats not a problem for me.


would a bigger refractor than mine be the best candidate?

Then one last question, would the above scopes show a big visual difference compared to the views I can currently see through my 80mm? as this is the main requirement, to be able to get as close as possible to detial of the moons craters.

sorry for the essay guys, go easy on me I am new to all this still and its so baffeling to try and figure out which scope would suit my budget and needs:confused::icon_eek:. many thanks in advance guys :rolleyes:


Edited by Ashley Morgan
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Hi Ashley.

Welcome to SGL.

I'm amazed that after 12+ hours mine is the first response. Usually this sort of enquiry produces loads of response.

On scope advice, we all have our own opinions on what we like, and what we think others will like. These often differ. I'm sure everyone will though agree that no one scope does everything. Which is why there are so many different types and some of us own more than one scope.

Looking at your wish to view the moon at high power, that is relatively easy. Because the moon is so bright you don't need a huge lens/mirror to gather the light. You just need 'quality' optics that will work at high power. You will have found your ST80 gives false colour at high magnification. You need to spend a lot in the refractor dept to avoid this. Though filters can help. This may put you towards a reflector or compund scope.

If you are happy to carry a largish reflector or compund out to a dark site, then why not take advantage of the sky to view the faint objects? As the scope size goes up, you need a good mount to go with it. Your EQ2 would wobble with a 6" reflector and collapse with an 8" reflector!

Reflectors give you most aperture for your ££ spent. But compounds are better for planetary. Many compund scopes won't really let you see a wide view though.

I have never got on with dob mounts. Though many others love them so they must be good!

I would recommend looking at 2nd hand kit (but not ebay) to help you keep in your budget. Any local SGL members to let you have peek through their eyepieces?

For high magnification, an equatorial will make chasing tiny objects a lot easier, in my opinion. But then some don't get on with EQ mounts.

Given time and money. In your shoes I would buy an EQ5 size mount. This will carry up to an 8" reflector, or a decent compund. Maybe save for now by only buying a 6" reflector? It depends what comes up for sale.

Compound scopes can range from indifferent to excellent. And there are a lot to choose from. If new, they can be a bit expensive.

Time for everyone to put in their bit....

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Hey thanks for the reply! yes im sure there are many different opinions and views on scope types, and i welcome all opinions as ive only ever used my 80mm frac. are there any scopes in my price range you would suggest for my interests? so i can get an idea of what to look for? or do you know if any of the scopes I have suggested would be worth investing in? again thanks for the advice!

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The usual recommendation for lunar and planetary work is either a refractor or a Maksutov Cassegrain. Refractors are expensive judged by inches of aperture per pound, and bigger ones suffer from false colour unless you spend shedfuls of money on an apo. That tends to suggest that Mak-Cass is the preferred option. And if you are determined to buy new then that is probably the way to go.

But there is an alternative, if you are prepared to bide your time, and buy second hand. Have a look for a 'planetary' newtonian. Characteristically these are 8 inch f/8 instruments. I have seen a couple mounted as dobs. A planetary newtonian has a small secondary mirror, and therefore a 1.25" focuser. Such an f/8 newt is going to have better contrast, better resolution and less coma than an f/5 type. Its relatively long focal length means that you can use longer (better eye relief) eyepieces, without a barlow.

Something else to think about!

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Hi Ashley, welcome to SGL :icon_eek:

It's a little over your budget, but another to consider would be the Skymax 127 SupaTrak..

Maksutov - Skywatcher Skymax 127 SupaTrak

These little Mak's pack a high quality punch for the money, and with the tracking mount it would be easier to get along with when you've got the mag up!

The down side is, deep sky stuff is pretty much a no-no. Binary stars and globular clusters are fine, but you want as big a scope as possible for most deep sky objects. This is where a Dob would be great, but I think tracking would be more beneficial than aperture if the Moon/planets are your main target.

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f5's need better quality EPs, thats their only "down point"

f5's are more "generic" than slower telescopes, i say this, "a fast scope can do anything a slow one can, the same cannot be said in return"

an f5


a decent barlow

decent EPs

you cant get better than that

Edited by nicnac
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hey guys thanks for the reply's

Revs would the 127 mak produce noticeable improvement in visuals over my current 80mm? or would it not be much difference? also which would be better for the visuals an 127 mak or the 150pl reflector f8?

nicnac does your post relate to reflectors? or any type of scope with an f5?

thanks guys :icon_eek:

Edited by Ashley Morgan
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I would have thought so, yes, but I've not used your scope. Have a look through the imaging section of the forum. There are quite a few of us here use them and some of the results are as good as scopes far more expensive. I've a couple of pics in my profile, too.

Another benefit of Mak's is you get little or no colour fringing and no diffraction spikes. Also the focal length is better suited to lunar/planetary use.

EDIT: Don't forget that as they say; the eyepiece is half the scope, so some good EP's would greatly benefit you over the supplied EP's, especially the 9/10mm.

Edited by Revs
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