Author Topic: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations  (Read 297 times)

boysagiskest

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*ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« on: December 28, 2017, 11:07:36 AM »
Hello all,

I had posted awhile ago about getting a new telescope. I received some great honest help even though that question seems to be asked every other day! Hats off to the veterans of the forum for being so nice - even when answering the same question the 1000th time!

I did do a search and I probably did not do a correct keyword search because I couldn't find my answer.

I am curious what the ideal purchase program for getting into astro viewing would be. Most people seem to jump right for a telescope and I am curious if that is the best route?

Is the ideal purchase order:

binoculars (7x50 or 10x50 - 300$ budget) ------> Dob (~1000$) -------> specialized planetary or DSO viewer (~3000$)?

Moreover after getting a telescope how much should I expect to spend on EP's and upgrading sec. mirrors, etc.? Would another ~1000$ be reasonable? Not looking to have the best of everything and show off. Just want to have fun.

I really like this hobby and I want to be able to enjoy this hobby without becoming frustrated with equipment or techniques.

I can already hear someone saying "just join an amateur astronomer group....."



bijstentetal

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2017, 02:49:48 AM »
Common to all hobbies is that they exist to absorb all that extra time and money you otherwise would not know you had. So stick to your budgetary guns.
I like your order with an important exception. I think a $1000 Dob with an upgrade or two and a working eyepiece kit IS a fine planetary and DSO viewer. There, that saved you a quick $3k! But seriously a 10" Dob gives excellent planetary views when conditions allow and is just about ideal for viewing many ten thousands of DSO's.
I started with an XT10i and added binoculars much later. Binoculars are very nice. Which you should start with depends on your viewing location and preferences. I still like that scope.
Resources are critical. Get a Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas. Somebody described it as so cheap and valuable as to be absolutely unavoidable & I agree. A planisphere is too. I like the KenPress 16" Guide to the Stars. There are others. The NGC/IC Project website is absolute, and free -http://www.ngcicproj...dss/dss_ngc.asp Wikisky is cool, but sometimes the site is unavailable - http://server3.wikis...org/?locale=EN
Accessories - variable brightness red led light like the Rigel Starlight mini, variable height observing chair (build or buy), a coma corrector (GSO/Astro-Tech is very good and not too $$$)
Eyepieces - ES82 series are really nice and can be found on Astromart and the forum S&S at good prices. 30mm's a peach! 18mm too. Add 4.7mm for high power and splurge a little for a ES100 9mm and you're very good to go.

But the absolutely critical best-by-far accessory for any scope is more time spent observing from a darker site - GO OBSERVE. You'll get lots of advice, most good or very good. That 1st statement in this paragraph is the only thing I've written for which I would argue. It is THE critical piece.

Eric Castro

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2017, 05:19:04 AM »
I think you're overestimating your budget, but it's probably better to do so than to underestimate.

You can get some pretty nice binoculars for about USD $200. A basic 8" Dob will run about $500, but if you are under light-polluted skies you may want to add some kind of computerized assistance, such as push-to. That would increase the price by about USD $200.

A Dob will do nicely for both visual DSO and planetary, so no extra expenditure there except maybe for some filters and an observing chair.

I really wouldn't worry about anything more specialized for about a year. It's hard to say how your interests will evolve. USD $2000 is probably reasonable if you want to try video astronomy and is a minimum for astrophotography. But if your interests remain with visual, a Dob'll do ya.

As for eyepieces, the sky's the limit. You can spend a fortune on a complete line of high-end TeleVues, perhaps more than a car costs. Or you can get eyepieces that are 90% as good as TeleVues*, such as the Explore Scientific eyepieces--and you really don't need more than three or four to do both planetary and DSO.* opinions vary widely

Scott Bentley

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 07:40:43 PM »
The last comment you made is probably the first I would make. Getting out with others who share your hobby is a great thing, and it gives you an opportunity to see different telescopes, try them out, and experiment. Some clubs will even have telescopes for their members to borrow and take home to try out.

I don't see any issue with using binoculars, if you like to do wide field viewing, but I think a dedicated telescope is probably a better first choice, and then the binocs, if you want to go that way.

An 8" telescope and a set of entry level eyepieces can be had for $500 or so. It's a Dob, and no computer, no electronics at all, but it'll get the job done. Purchase Sky Safari Plus for your smartphone for $15 or so, and have the night sky before you in your hand.

The Zhumell Z8 Dob with a 9mm and 30mm eyepiece for $400.
https://www.telescop...e?view=cro-test

A set of Zhumell 1.25" Plossls for $90, including filters and a Barlow.
https://www.telescop...t?view=cro-test

If you want the binoculars to go with it, it's only another $160.
https://www.telescop...e?view=cro-test

You can't really go wrong for under $700.

Gary

Mayur Wilson

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 08:31:30 AM »
It's a good project to learn the sky, via its constellations. It's enjoyable, and it provides a skeleton for all the details to hang on later (and now). It may take a few cycles of the seasons to become very familiar and friendly with all that's up there.

Naked-eye astronomy is what I am suggesting.

A simple, small scale star atlas is a good guide. I like Norton's.

Our most important and precious optics are the ones given at birth.

Then, there's no end to what we'd like to do with binoculars and telescopes. One just follows one's nose, I suppose.

--Joe

vieproltesro

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2018, 10:30:29 AM »
I got 20x50 porro prism binocular made in China from GearBest.com that performs quite well.
The brand name is Bijia. The binocular has multi-coated optics and the pivot shaft is threaded for a tripod mount too.
Including shipping from China I paid $24.13 for it.

Unfortunately, the price for the Bijia 20x50 has gone up - to $27.13.

massgisttesci

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2018, 04:32:36 PM »
Quote

I think there's is really no best route, we are unique individuals and have different interests, different priorities, different amount of time and money available. Somehow we each find a path that works for us..

The most important thing: Finding the magic, what is that magical experience that is so captivating, so intriguing, so exciting that you are driven to spend sleepless, cold windy nights, nights spent battling mosquitoes, all in pursuit of a glimpse of something faint and fleeting in an eyepiece...

I think our hobbies are reflections of ourselves, I think just following ones instincts, what seems interesting, going where your curiosity takes you...

What is it that attracts you to amateur astronomy? What are your hopes and dreams? What are your concerns?

Jon

Tommy Evans

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 12:38:20 AM »
There is a lot of good advice here. The one purchase that I was glad I made when I got back into this hobby 14 years ago was a 4" APO and an Alt/AZ mount.

1.An ED or APO 80mm-120mm refractor will give wide field of views, light weight, fast cool down, low maintenance, and still be used years latter when you purchase more aperture.
2. Star Maps, Planispheres, and planetarium software like SkySafari.
3. A quality zoom like a Baader Mark III 8-24 Zoom to help you decide on ep focal lengths.
4. Purchase slowly, used if possible.
5. go to star parties.
CS
Jonathan

Matthew Calhoun

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 02:25:13 AM »
Quote
I have responded to all posts. The first one's I quoted and added my material in bold and larger print - this is not to come across as 'shouting' but to add contrast. The last two posts I simply have reply to by addressing their account name.
Quote

Common to all hobbies is that they exist to absorb all that extra time and money you otherwise would not know you had. So stick to your budgetary guns.

The outline I purposed is a multi-year plan and I quite agree with you that we must stick to our budget

I like your order with an important exception. I think a $1000 Dob with an upgrade or two and a working eyepiece kit IS a fine planetary and DSO viewer. There, that saved you a quick $3k! But seriously a 10" Dob gives excellent planetary views when conditions allow and is just about ideal for viewing many ten thousands of DSO's.
I started with an XT10i and added binoculars much later. Binoculars are very nice. Which you should start with depends on your viewing location and preferences. I still like that scope.

I am looking at getting a used XT10i - as suggested by aeajr in my previous thread. I am concerned however that since I am learning how to see out of a EP that adjusting every minute would become tedious.

Resources are critical. Get a Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas. Somebody described it as so cheap and valuable as to be absolutely unavoidable & I agree. A planisphere is too. I like the KenPress 16" Guide to the Stars. There are others. The NGC/IC Project website is absolute, and free -http://www.ngcicproj...dss/dss_ngc.asp Wikisky is cool, but sometimes the site is unavailable - http://server3.wikis...org/?locale=EN
Accessories - variable brightness red led light like the Rigel Starlight mini, variable height observing chair (build or buy), a coma corrector (GSO/Astro-Tech is very good and not too $$$)
Eyepieces - ES82 series are really nice and can be found on Astromart and the forum S&S at good prices. 30mm's a peach! 18mm too. Add 4.7mm for high power and splurge a little for a ES100 9mm and you're very good to go.
But the absolutely critical best-by-far accessory for any scope is more time spent observing from a darker site - GO OBSERVE. You'll get lots of advice, most good or very good. That 1st statement in this paragraph is the only thing I've written for which I would argue. It is THE critical piece.

I live in a red zone but I live about an hour away from a green zone. The pocket atlas should be a great help! EP's is something I haven't considered much because I really do not have a good scope yet.

<p class="citation">BarryBrown, on 26 Jun 2016 - 11:56 PM, said:<a href="https://www.cloudynights.com/index.php?app=forums&amp;module=forums&amp;section=findpost&amp;pid=7294995" rel="citation">[/url]<blockquote class="ipsBlockquote built" data-author="BarryBrown" data-cid="7294995" data-time="1466978187">

MyI think you're overestimating your budget, but it's probably better to do so than to underestimate.

My thoughts exactly. Easier to say to my wife I thought it was going to be 3000$ but I got it for 2000$.

You can get some pretty nice binoculars for about USD $200. A basic 8" Dob will run about $500, but if you are under light-polluted skies you may want to add some kind of computerized assistance, such as push-to. That would increase the price by about USD $200.

I am in CAD and because Canada is so remote everything is much more expense here. Add about 30% off the top.

A Dob will do nicely for both visual DSO and planetary, so no extra expenditure there except maybe for some filters and an observing chair.

A chair is not something I thought of! Thank you!

I really wouldn't worry about anything more specialized for about a year. It's hard to say how your interests will evolve. USD $2000 is probably reasonable if you want to try video astronomy and is a minimum for astrophotography. But if your interests remain with visual, a Dob'll do ya.

I do not want to get into astrophotography because I do not want to become 'hooked.'

As for eyepieces, the sky's the limit. You can spend a fortune on a complete line of high-end TeleVues, perhaps more than a car costs. Or you can get eyepieces that are 90% as good as TeleVues*, such as the Explore Scientific eyepieces--and you really don't need more than three or four to do both planetary and DSO.

I would prefer to buy three R.G.S. EP's than 10 okay ones. TV's seem to have a following but as you said it is all relative to one's tastes. * opinions vary widely

<p class="citation">GaryCurran, on 27 Jun 2016 - 12:14 AM, said:<a href="https://www.cloudynights.com/index.php?app=forums&amp;module=forums&amp;section=findpost&amp;pid=7295036" rel="citation">[/url]<blockquote class="ipsBlockquote built" data-author="GaryCurran" data-cid="7295036" data-time="1466979241">

The last comment you made is probably the first I would make. Getting out with others who share your hobby is a great thing, and it gives you an opportunity to see different telescopes, try them out, and experiment. Some clubs will even have telescopes for their members to borrow and take home to try out.

I cant agree with you more. I am waiting to see how my new job works out both attempting to reach out to a club.

I don't see any issue with using binoculars, if you like to do wide field viewing, but I think a dedicated telescope is probably a better first choice, and then the binocs, if you want to go that way.

I thought Binoc's would be first as it allows one to see what is really out there without having to first do calibrations and alignments.

An 8" telescope and a set of entry level eyepieces can be had for $500 or so. It's a Dob, and no computer, no electronics at all, but it'll get the job done. Purchase Sky Safari Plus for your smartphone for $15 or so, and have the night sky before you in your hand.

The Zhumell Z8 Dob with a 9mm and 30mm eyepiece for $400.
https://www.telescop...e?view=cro-test

A set of Zhumell 1.25" Plossls for $90, including filters and a Barlow.
https://www.telescop...t?view=cro-test

If you want the binoculars to go with it, it's only another $160.
https://www.telescop...e?view=cro-test

You can't really go wrong for under $700.

Accounting for USD to CAD conversion I am totally with you.

Gary

[/quote]<p class="citation">desert_woodworker, on 27 Jun 2016 - 12:23 AM, said:<a href="https://www.cloudynights.com/index.php?app=forums&amp;module=forums&amp;section=findpost&amp;pid=7295058" rel="citation">[/url]<blockquote class="ipsBlockquote built" data-author="desert_woodworker" data-cid="7295058" data-time="1466979788">

It's a good project to learn the sky, via its constellations. It's enjoyable, and it provides a skeleton for all the details to hang on later (and now). It may take a few cycles of the seasons to become very familiar and friendly with all that's up there.

Naked-eye astronomy is what I am suggesting.

For sure!

A simple, small scale star atlas is a good guide. I like Norton's.

I will defiantly be getting an atlas.

Our most important and precious optics are the ones given at birth.

Can't beat that statement.

Then, there's no end to what we'd like to do with binoculars and telescopes. One just follows one's nose, I suppose.

--Joe

[/quote]<p class="citation">CP Kuiper, on 27 Jun 2016 - 12:42 AM, said:<a href="https://www.cloudynights.com/index.php?app=forums&amp;module=forums&amp;section=findpost&amp;pid=7295091" rel="citation">[/url]<blockquote class="ipsBlockquote built" data-author="CP Kuiper" data-cid="7295091" data-time="1466980944">

I got 20x50 porro prism binocular made in China from GearBest.com that performs quite well.
The brand name is Bijia. The binocular has multi-coated optics and the pivot shaft is threaded for a tripod mount too.
Including shipping from China I paid $24.13 for it.

Unfortunately, the price for the Bijia 20x50 has gone up - to $27.13.

Do you have a stand to accompany your binocular? 20x would seem quite difficult to get a good image out of - maybe I move to much.

[/quote]<p class="citation">Jon Isaacs, on 27 Jun 2016 - 01:03 AM, said:<a href="https://www.cloudynights.com/index.php?app=forums&amp;module=forums&amp;section=findpost&amp;pid=7295114" rel="citation">[/url]<blockquote class="ipsBlockquote built" data-author="Jon Isaacs" data-cid="7295114" data-time="1466982192"><p class="citation">QuoteI am curious what the ideal purchase program for getting into astro viewing would be. Most people seem to jump right for a telescope and I am curious if that is the best route?

[/quote]

I think there's is really no best route, we are unique individuals and have different interests, different priorities, different amount of time and money available. Somehow we each find a path that works for us..

I thought maybe there was a tried and truth method. I wanted to ask instead of reinventing the wheel.

The most important thing: Finding the magic, what is that magical experience that is so captivating, so intriguing, so exciting that you are driven to spend sleepless, cold windy nights, nights spent battling mosquitoes, all in pursuit of a glimpse of something faint and fleeting in an eyepiece...

I think our hobbies are reflections of ourselves, I think just following ones instincts, what seems interesting, going where your curiosity takes you...

What is it that attracts you to amateur astronomy? What are your hopes and dreams? What are your concerns?

Worthy thoughts and considerations. This is the one thing that my wife and I have a genuine interest in (besides each other!)

Jon[/quote]Crimguy, I honestly checking out the local classifieds and I do not have the same luck as you with finding that many dobs for sale. It does raise an interesting question though.... why are there so many 8" dobs for sale??? Are they too big or hard to use for the average person.

doctordub, I have been thinking about just getting a 80mm+ APO or ED as you suggested. I sure like the minimal up keep of a refractor. I know I will hear but the cost per aperture is so much better with a Dob. That is an advantage to Dobs but I am just stuck on the fact that from my understandingthat most entry level Dobs have mid to low quality optics and I would rather buy something that has good to great optics the first time. Alt/AZ seem to be much more beginner friendly then EQ's. My time-line for purchasing is years - I want to have a plan before embarking.

Travis Kuhlman

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 06:54:35 AM »
Oh and stop debating with yourself and go spend a bit of money. It'll make you feel good lol.

fronenfiten

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 11:45:05 PM »
Quote
I think the tried and true method is exactly what you are doing, asking questions, learning as much as you can before diving in. Coming here to Cloudy Nights is wise thing to do. You will have a good idea of what to buy, what constitutes a decent scope, what to avoid, hopefully you will pick some general principles, strategies and the basic optical concepts.

I think the suggestion to hook with a local club or local astronomer is a good one, you get to see what its about, seethe equipment in action, you can have reasonable expectations,how big an 8 inch Dob is, that a globular cluster looks like in a 4 inch, in a 10 inch. And many clubs have loaner scopes for you to borrow. Some amateurs also have scopes and binoculars they loan out, I have a few. If you are close to San Diego, I would be happy to get together..

The main thing though, just get out there and look up at the night sky, scope or no scope... Just look around, maybe with a simple chart or a planetarium app on your phone or tablet.. That's where the magic is, up there.

Jon

Louis Sullivan

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2018, 01:37:39 AM »
Quote
Bit of an odd thread.
You have this in bold in the "reply" as one of your original points.
<p class="citation">QuoteI do not want to get into astrophotography because I do not want to become 'hooked.'
However that is not in the original post.

One aspect that is generally 70-80% true is that within a few months of getting a scope people want to get images, I suspect people they talk with ask what is it you can see and expect an image to be presented. So there is likley a tendancy to want to get some sort of image.

Me being sort of pedantic you say:
<p class="citation">QuoteI wanted to ask instead of reinventing the wheel. [/quote]
You in a way have to reinvent the wheel. The alternative is to visit and join your nearest astronomy club, as much as possible try out the assorted setups, decide which you like and just go and purchase a copy. The alternative is to buy, see what you think and then replace the items that do not suit, which is I offer as the reinventing the wheel aspect.

Is the scope for you (singular) or for you and others in the family? If the second then get a goto that will track.

So far I see:
Get an 80-100mm ED/APO
Get 20x50 binoculars
Get 8" Dobsonian
Get 14" dobsonian
Only see one mention of goto but a scope that follows objects is very useful, much more then many appreciate.
Where are the SCT people ???

What is it that you want to look at?
Do not give the standard answer of "everything". That often means "Haven't actually thought about it, no idea".

If the final answer still comes out as "a bit of everything." "bit" being the relevant aspect, then get a 70-72mm refractor on a small goto, something like the iOptron SmartEQ (not sure about the iOptron Cube mounts) or whatever is the equivalent for you.

Aoptimus Berhane

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 09:35:21 AM »
A salesperson at a brick-and-mortar location might suggest...

"With the light pollution at home, and an ergonomic sitting position preferred, especially with others joining in...

http://maisonastrono...e-nexstar-6-se/ "

Would that be too terribly far off the mark? An 8" Dobsonian is routinely recommended for beginners, but that doesn't mean that it's always the best choice.Personally, I don't invest in plastic and silicon, nor particle-board. I overwhelmingly prefer mounts of durable, long-lasting metal, and telescopes of just-as-durable metal and glass, whether mirrors or lenses, hence...

https://www.kwtelesc...e-assembly.html ...or... http://www.canadiant...er-30155-3.html
http://www.canadiant...-kit-27175.html

Either telescope would connect to the mount in seconds, and with automatic tracking, but without go-to capability. Stellarium can be of great assistance in the choosing among the pickings of the evening's celestial buffet...

http://www.stellarium.org/

The 6" Schmidt offers a more ergonomic seated position when observing...

...whilst the Newtonian would be sharper and more contrasty in image quality, and at f/5, more versatile in observing the gamut, from within the solar system and without into deep space, but at the price of requiring the most maintenance in the form of routine collimation, albeit not as often as that would seem to suggest. The design is the most delicate, the most demanding, but also only a close-second to refractors in providing the finest images per inch of aperture, and at the lowest cost per inch of same. Maksutovs also lay claim to second-place, insofar as image quality...

http://www.canadiant...00-40130-3.html

Then we have the gold-standard by which all other telescopic designs are judged, albeit debatedly... http://www.canadiant...3.html?___SID=U

For long-term planning, a more robust go-to equatorial might be preferred instead, and from the outset... http://www.canadiant...1.html?___SID=U

http://www.canadiant...6.html?___SID=U

...and all for examples.

labulichar

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2018, 03:13:28 AM »
Bando,

You said you didn't want to get hooked on astrophotography. I say it's hard not to.

The problem with imaging is this. You're going to see all these sights, and some of them will be absolutely stunning, and others are going to be mottled grey. You're going to wonder where all the color is, and the beauty that you see in magazines and online. It's there, but your eye isn't designed or capable of seeing it. That's where long duration photography comes in. Studies are inconclusive, but show that the human eye can perceive anything from 60 frames per second upwards towards 1000 frames per second. For astronomy, you want the slowest you can get, actually, since that allows more light to hit the rods and cones of the eye. Since each 'frame' transmit data to the brain, it refreshes each frame. So, in essence, you're starting from the beginning again 60 to 200 times per second, or more. That is not enough time to build up the colors that a camera can record if each frame is 300 seconds long!

So, a lot of people getting into astronomy, after a while, want to see what they see in the magazines and on the internet. The only way to do that is to hook up a camera to their telescope and start imaging. At that point, it becomes expensive . . . very expensive.

So, say, just for S&amp;G, that you bought that $700 worth of gear I pointed out earlier. You can easily spend four times that amount to do entry level imaging. You can also spend ten times that amount and still not have the best, or even near to the best. But, for $3,000 (USD), you can at least get started.

The question then becomes do you want to consider that you will end up doing AP at some point down the road, and invest in the basics of it now, or realize that you can spend significantly less for a pure visual setup for now, and at some point, you're probably going to say to yourself 'Yeah, I really DO want to do AP.'

That, my friend, is not an easy decision.

Gary

risodachest

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Re: *ideal* getting into this hobby order of operations
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2018, 03:48:58 AM »
Considering what Sky Muse had to say, and suggest, let me give you my take on that. The NexStar 6SE would be a great visual scope, with it's GoTo capability, and Alt/Az mount, it'll track well, will be easy to align and will give you some great views of solar system objects and some Deep Space Objects, although larger DSOs may actually overflow the eyepiece.

The other telescopes he recommends all would be great for visual use. However, the EQ-3 mount that he suggests, I'm going to give that a thumbs down. I had one, configured just like is shown there, and it was too light and too fragile. The last mount he recommends would be a great choice, but for actually less money, you can purchase a Celestron AVX and a 6" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Same views as the NexStar 6SE, but the mount is a German Equatorial Mount, and takes a bit more to set up.

http://maisonastrono...idt-cassegrain/

The nice thing about the AVX is that you CAN do AP with it later on. If you have a relatively recent DSLR, you can use that for your camera, instead of buying a dedicated AP imaging camera. You can also pick up a short refractor later on, like this:
http://www.canadiant...p.html?___SID=U

I have one of these, and I really like it, a lot. You even might be able to find something used in our own Classifieds that is either as nice, or even better than this.

A lot of capability in what I showed you for less than $3,000. You'll need to buy some extras, a few hundred more dollars, but we can pretty well keep it inexpensive (relatively speaking).

Gary