Telescope choices

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by sheriffwoody, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. sheriffwoody

    sheriffwoody
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    I know there are quite a few people on here who are "into" space and stars and the like (myself included), and my Dad wants to get a telescope to have a bit of a closer look as to what is out there.

    Only problem is, they range in price from about £15 into the thousands - and unsure of which to go for.

    He said he only wants it to stick in the garden and look at the moon, or to take ontop of the cliffs and peer at France, or look across the county etc.

    With that in mind, he doesn't want to spend a fortune (although in his own words he said "i know to do it properly you want to spent a minimum of £500").

    he emailed me this link, what do you guys think?
    Celestron Astromaster 70AZ Telescope: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics
    it looks quite cheap and cheerfull and only has a 2.76" aperture (a friend of mine has recommended this should be 5" minimum for good results).

    however, at the bottom of that page I found this one
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Celestron-Astromaster-130EQ-MD-Motor-Drive/dp/B0013Z42AK/

    now this looks like a nice bit of kit, has a motor so looking at objects in the sky is easier and wouldn't cost the earth (no pun intended).

    Any other suggestions? I know you "get what you pay for" with most things, but he doesn't want to spend upwards of £500 - what else is there to consider?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. logiciel

    logiciel
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    Patrick Moore and his colleagues would say get a really good pair of binoculars instead.
     
  3. Philly112

    Philly112
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    I'd be inclined to get a decent S/H scope from ebay. £500 will get something decent S/H, say a 5in Celestron Nexstar.
    You will get good views of Jupiter, Moon, Saturns rings etc. And it's fully motorised with a computer for showing galaxies etc. I have the Nexstar 6SE which is great for all of those.
    Bear in mind that eyepieces are fairly expensive, so you will need to make sure you get a decent selection, or a good zoom.
    You will get better advice on Stargazers Lounge than here.

    Phil
     
  4. tonyrees687

    tonyrees687
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    +1 for above binoculars and more portable as well if hes taking out and about
     
  5. Iccz

    Iccz
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    My #1 choice would be the Celestron's NexStar 130SLT but you're looking at ~£350 for one - which is a lot but for what you get it's one of the best <£500 scopes about in my view.

    As for the aperture, 5" minimum... not too sure I agree there, 70mm should be your bare minimum - which is what the 70AZ falls in at, but yes the bigger the aperture the more sharp and brighter your image will be.

    Going for a 5"+ then you could consider the Skywatcher Explorer 130P, I've recommended this before in other threads and a friend of mine has this scope, it's a lovely scope for <£200.

    Over at Stargazerslounge if you ask for advice on a <£200 scope they'll point you to a Skywatcher Skyliner 150P Dobsonian, but I think most places sell it for slightly over £200.
     
  6. bobflunkit

    bobflunkit
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    +1

    I've tried both and I agree.

    I get more out of using a decent pair of 15x70 bino's than I do a 200mm dobsonian telescope. But you must use a good tripod a well,as large binoculars can be quite heavy. Binoculars are just more practical for a beginner, easy to transport(to get to somewhere with low light pollution) easier to learn how to use(it can be difficult to find things manoeuvring a telescope).

    You can also get a damn good goto/motorised telescope for less than £500. As always in these things, you generally get what you pay for.


    Stargazers lounge is a good site for lots more details. Not a bad bunch either.
     
  7. Philly112

    Philly112
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    Bear in mind that binoculars are great for casual astronomy use. You will be able to see Jupiter and it's moons (barely), and possibly Saturns rings. But you won't see any detail at all, and above 15x magnification you will probably need a tripod. I have both telescope and binoculars. A £500 telescope will enable you to use 200x magnification. The moons craters will just leap out at you. You'll never get that with any binoculars. It all depends on what he really wants to see.
    There is nothing worse than having great kit, but finding it so heavy and cumbersome that you never use it.

    Phil
     
  8. Philly112

    Philly112
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    Note I didn't say 5in minimum, just that £500 S/H would get a decent 5in scope.

    Oh, edit - I just saw the 5in minimum was the OP, not me...

    Yes, I agree, most decent 3 in scopes should show decent planetary images.

    Cheers
    Phil
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  9. Iccz

    Iccz
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    Sorry I was addressing the OP on this:

    No issues with your post(s) at all :thumbsup:

    Edit: we're getting tangled up in our edits here :D
     
  10. sheriffwoody

    sheriffwoody
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    Thanks for the advice all.

    Are there any opinions on the goto telescope i linked from Amazon (good or bad) ?
     
  11. sheriffwoody

    sheriffwoody
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  12. Philly112

    Philly112
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    To the OP.

    Having looked again at what you want, maybe a few more questions for you...


    Astronomy is 'mainly' a winter hobby. I mean, in the Summer it never gets completely dark. Check with your dad, and find out what he REALLY wants to do. I am completely happy sitting in a field on my own with a flask of coffee and dressed like an antarctic explorer.
    It's really not a hobby for people to go out in shorts on a summer evening with a can of beer.
    Is there much light pollution where you are? Not a problem for the moon and planets, but you'll never see any galaxies.
    Do you have trees around your house? Saturn will be low in the sky for the next few years. Nothing worse than knowing what you want to see is visible from across the street, but obscured by the tree in the back garden...
    And remember that he will need to be patient. You can see Saturn now, but only until October. Jupiter is not really good until end August, unless he wants to get up at 3am.

    Anyway, just a few thoughts. There are a few decent books around that will help him.

    Cheers
    Phil
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  13. Iccz

    Iccz
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    That's the one, I was going to link to First Light:
    First Light Optics - Skywatcher Explorer 130P

    Slight price difference, but I don't know anything about microglobe... I can however confirm that First Light are wonderful to deal with.
     
  14. Philly112

    Philly112
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    Yes, I can second that First Light Optics are a great company to deal with.
    That would be a great beginners scope. It's a Newtonian, so a bit bigger that the Nexstar 4SE or 5SE scopes (they are a different design).
    But I would suggest he would be very happy with this one.


    Phil
     
  15. sheriffwoody

    sheriffwoody
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    Thanks - that isn't a goto one is it? (or is it? no idea).

    Philly - well it's going to probably be a birthday present for him from my brother and i, which isn't until the end of August. I don't think he would have any issue going out on his own ontop of the cliffs or hills and having a look etc. Where they live (little village in middle of no where) there isn't that much light pollution - i am amazed how much more you can see when i go back there compared to the city i live in.
     
  16. 961

    961
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    One problem is the time it takes for many telescopes to adjust to temperature when setting up outside in the winter. Some can take well over an hour. I've had well reviewed go-to scopes and they do work but after many freezing nights outside came to the conclusion that binoculars with a tripod did the business unless you are a hardened enthusiast

    One idea worth considering is to join a club or go on one of these week long astronomical holidays which will either cure him of the desire or point him to which scope is the one for him
     
  17. Philly112

    Philly112
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    No, it's not a GOTO scope. For planets and the moon, you really don't need GOTO. It's only really useful if you want to find stuff that you can't see with the naked eye. Of course, they will track the object, but you can do that manually. At 200x magnification, any object is going to move out of the eyepiece view in a minute or so. But once you have it in sight it's no great deal to do this manually.
    From what you're telling me, I'd be inclined to go for something like the 130P. I mean, if he falls in love with the hobby, he can always sell on and upgrade.
    It really is one of those hobbies where you either 'get it' or don't. A bit like playing the guitar. a £3000 guitar won't really inspire you any more than a £100 one if you you can't be bothered to learn how to play it. Same with astronomy.
    Oh - and forget 'Hubble like' views. Saturn will be small pea sized or smaller. Jupiter likewise. Forget Mars - it will be a tiny red dot with maybe a small white blob at the ice caps. But for me, it's absolutely magic!

    Phil
     
  18. Iccz

    Iccz
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    Phil beat me to it again, pretty much agree with everything he has said. The only thing I would say about binoculars is that they're just not the same... For many people starting out the scope adds the excitement that binos just don't offer.

    On the 130p, you will be able to see Jupiter's stripes, you will be able to make out Saturn's rings, but as Phil says you will never get the 'Hubble like' views - but that's not what it's about :)
     
  19. Ultima

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    I've never got into the observing side but I love taking images of galaxies and nebula. I have a 70mm refractor and its cracking for observing the moon, planets, double stars, star clusters and the easier deep sky objects.....but it just doesn't grasp enough light to see the faint fuzzies. Saying that, once you have seen one grey fuzzy blob you've seen them all (IMO).

    The 130p as recommended is a superb beginners scope but I'd go for the 150p for the extra few quid.
     
  20. Philly112

    Philly112
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    Quite. Before I set up my scope to show friends, I always do some background. And find out just how far some of these things are away. When people realise that Saturn is around 1.4 billion kilometres from earth...
    That's quite a long way.
    And then tell them how far the nearest star is. They then start to realise why stars will never be more than a dot in ANY telescope.

    Anyway, to the OP. YOU MUST DOWNLOAD STELLARIUM. It's free. No if's and buts. Just download it. Even if you never get a scope, it's still amazing.

    Stellarium

    Phil
     
  21. Philly112

    Philly112
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    That's right of course visually. But context is everything in astronomy. Just knowing that the light from the fuzzy blob has taken all of humanities lifetime to reach me makes me tingle.
    For me, it's a bit like the Hubble Deep Field View. It looks rubbish. Until you realise what you're look at...!!!!

    Cheers
    Phil
     
  22. davepuma

    davepuma
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    I have one of these which is a great scope. The mount can be a bit wobbly. I got it at the tail end of the star gazing season (winter) so never really got the hang of the GoTo bit but will try again in the autumn. I just used it in manual mode. I had to get a battery pack (jump starter from maplins), dew shield and a few eyepieces which probably took it over £500. The most often recommended scope is a dobsonian. If I had room, I would have probably got one of these instead. A copy of 'Turn Left At Orion' and a pair of binos would be a great way to start though. Stellarium is a great piece of software. Definitely go to stargazerslounge and also sites such as heavens-above.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  23. oakie

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  24. sheriffwoody

    sheriffwoody
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    can any telescope had a digital SLR attached to it via attachments and add ons etc, or is it only certain telescopes that offer this option?
     
  25. nheather

    nheather
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    If the aim is to look at the moon and france then I would be suggesting a refractor rather than a reflector (binoculars would also be a good choice as others have mentioned).

    A refractor is what most people would draw if asked to sketch a telescope. It is basically two glass lenses set in a tube. Your first link is a refractor.

    A reflector uses mirrors rather than glass lenses. It also bounces the light back and forth to get a bigger effective focal length form a shorter tube. Your second link is a reflector.

    Refractors give the purer image as the light doesn't get bounced around, but because big glass lenses are expensive they tend to be more narrow so don't collect as much light.

    The view from a refractor is a narrow cone so they are very good for seeing bright objects like the moon, planets and some stars - also for seeing terrestial things like building, boats etc.

    The view from a reflector is much wider and because they collect more light they do a better job of seeing deep space objects like nebulae.

    Two things you have to be aware of

    (i) With the money a mere mortal can spend, you won't see the sort of images that we see in books. These have been taken with massive telescopes (or even the Hubble) using multiple exposures with different coloured filters to get the effect. With the sort of money you have in mind, the moon will look fantasic, you will be able to find planets but they will look tiny.

    (ii) Astronomical telescopes give an inverted image. This does matter much for space as there isn't really and up or down. But if you look at terrestial objects like France, buildings, boats it may be quite unexpected to see them upside down. You can get extra prisms that sort this out - binoculars and terrestial scops already have this built in.

    You are at your £500+ end now. Attaching a DSLR isn't too big a deal. Basically, you get an adaptor that clips onto the camera instead of the lense. This has a tube which goes into the telescope in place of the eyepiece. There are a number of extra issues though

    You need a telescope\tripod that are man enough to have a heavy camera attached to the end of it.

    The autofocus won't work. You have to focus manually which can be quite difficult when you don't have a well defined image to judge focus.

    You need a motorised tracking mount to follow the path of the stars as they 'move' across the sky.

    Ideally you also need a mount that will handle the rotation of the earth aswell.



    Cheers,

    Nigel
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2012
  26. sheriffwoody

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  27. nheather

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    Well there are three things.

    (i) Would it physically fit. You need to know the diameter of the eyepiece. They are mostly either 1.25" or 2" with the cheaper ones being 1.25". You then need to find if you can get an adaptor that diameter to fit the camera you have in mind. Then whether the camera will fit on without being obstructed by another piece of the telescope.

    (ii) Will it be stable. Putting a hefty DSLR on the end of the scope may cause it to tip over or cause the mount to move. This is particularly true of the cheaper models that have lightweight tripods and have a non-adustable fitting between tripod mount and scope so you can't play with the balance.

    (iii) The mount isn't motorised. You would be really surprised if you look at some stars just how quick they move in the eyepiece. Telescopes don't collect a lot of light (in photographic terms) so you have to set the camera on long exposure - several seconds. Whilst it is exposing the stars are moving and the earth is rotating. Because the tripod mount does not track you will end up with a smear of stars. You could probably get away with some moon shots as it is much brighter and so faster exposures are possible.


    For cheaper astrophotography setups people tend to opt for a webcam because it is small and light and you can see and save the results direct to a laptop. Exposure times are much less of a problem too.


    Even though I might buy decent equipment myself, I'm never inclined to discourage anyone from buying something that they can afford and meets their needs, by pushing them to spend 4x more than they originally intended.

    As long as you know what you are buying that scope is fine. It will let you see the moon in detail. You should be able to pick up the bigger nearer planets. You can also use it for terrestial but remember the image will be inverted.

    But I would disuade you from astrophotography for now. It is complicated enough even when you have the right equipment. It isn't really a goer on the scope you have linked - I'm sure you could do something with it but it would be hard work and the results won't be great.


    Cheers,

    Nigel
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2012
  28. 961

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    I think the most important of nheather's three things is the lack of a motorised mount

    Impossible to photograph without it

    Even looking through a telescope eyepiece at the moon it's gone before you can blink

    Planets and stars move slower. But you won't take a photo without locking on one way or another
     
  29. Iccz

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    If you want a scope for photography that changes everything :p

    It will depend on what you want to shoot as well (Deep Sky / Planets), a Dobsonian will not really work for anything other than the moon or planets.

    Also if you're going down this route then a high quality EQ mount is the only real option if you're serious about your shots, to go proper serious/pro then you're looking at an autoguider - can end up spending way over £1k on gear, although that would give you a really good set up, probably way more than what you want :p

    You probably don't want to get in to the photography side of things until well established with a scope as to get decent shots it's going to be pricey. That said, getting your DSLR on your first scope isn't a bad idea just to get the feel of things. But don't expect too much...
     
  30. 961

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    This is the problem

    So many become dispirited and give up
     

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