Author Topic: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope  (Read 302 times)

behelphyri

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Following some wonderful advice I've decided to focus on planetary and lunar observing and remain off for astrophotography for awhile.
Which kinds of telescopes do you advocate?
I want to see planets and the moon obviously-

I am Considering a Celestron C9.25 on CGX bracket-
Can I get away with a CGEM bracket or only go with the CGX?
Can you recommend the CST or CST Edge HD at a 9.25 size?
Can I notice a difference in planetary or lunar viewing with either of these?

Am I on the right track?



knucareaslo

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2017, 08:47:31 PM »
The C9.25 on a CGX will be quite a lot of scope to handle. Will you have a permanent, semi-permanent site you can observe from, or will you be taking your scope in and out of the house/garage/etc.?

Brenton Crosby

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2017, 12:31:06 AM »
Heya,

Automated, tracking & GoTo:

C9.25" (not the Edge) on an Atlas or CGEM would be nice and effective. Heavy and requires setup and ok alignment.

If you want to keep it small, light, etc, consider a C8 SCT (used, these are only $400!) and an HEQ5/Sirius or even an AVX. Still heavy, at 45lbs to carry around, plus the scope.

That's assuming you want to do this on a heavy automated tracking mount.

I will say, when viewing at high magnification (100x to start), its nice having a tracking mount to keep things in place for you so you can just observe away. But, it requires a high price, lots of weight, setup time, etc. So there's always a price & compromise.

Manual:

If you don't mind nudging a scope manually now and then, you could do it simply with a big 8"~10" dobsonian reflector. There are GoTo dobs as well. You get a ton of scope for the money this way. No mount to set up or align. But mostly manual to use and track things. The moon isn't so hard. Planets can be tough at high magnification. A Zhumel Z8 would be a great start. If you are feeling like living dangerously, go for a 12 incher and never look back!

Then again, you can also just use a long achromat refractor on a manual mount. A big 5 inch F8 Achromat comes to mind. Wonderful views of planets & lunar surface. The Celestron Omni XLT 120mm F8 for example would be pretty awesome, mount it on a GSO SkyView Deluxe or PortaMount II and you're good to go with slow motion controls. A little heavy, but inexpensive and still quite portable, with no piece weighing more than 12 lbs on its own.

Another option would be the Celestron C6 SCT or even, as mentioned, its slightly bigger brother the C8. The C6 is really great, lots of scope in a small package, and its very light weight and very portable.

I bought my Celestron 120mm here for $150 used. I gave it a new focuser and its sitting on a Twilight I mount. I love the views it provides on planets & the lunar surface. Handles bright stuff fine because its F8. Saved hordes of money, great contrast, not too heavy to carry around, so its still "portable" to me. I don't wait for it to cool down either.



Here's my C6 on the same Twilight I. Great little scope. It's so small, but it has a big 6 inch aperture for its size, and 1500mm of focal length. Handles lunar surface and planets great! Cools down fast. My only complaint is that its a dew magnet. Light weight and portable.



Depends on how much effort you want to put into it.

+++++++++++++++

A really, really sweet setup would be a dual-saddle mount with two different scopes together. One for planets/lunar surface. One for wide field and full lunar disc. Side by side.

Like a C6 and a ST80 together on a Twilight II.

I really want to do this soon, and get a Twilight II to do just this.

+++++++++++++++

Eyepieces:

All the above still requires some eyepieces. It's so easy to get lost on these, as there's literally so many. I will say, you do not need 2 inch eyepieces for this job. 2 inch eyepieces are great for low power wide views. But when you're going straight to 100x magnification as a start (which is the starting point for planets & lunar detail), there's really no benefit to a 2 incher, so you can save some money and weight and go with the 1.25" eyepieces. The 68 degree ones are excellent, like ExploreScientific 68 degree series. Something like 20~25mm, 8~10mm, maybe even a 6~5mm to start. I really enjoy the inexpensive but high quality Paradigm Dual ED 1.25" eyepieces, they're 60 degree FOV, very sharp and contrasty, and not too spendy at $60 new, $40 used. I use a 25mm to line things up, then swap to my 5mm to go straight to high magnification and keep it bright. My 5mm on my 120mm scope produces crazy views on the lunar surface, where with ok seeing, I'm looking at craterlets and surface detail on the inside edges of craters. Love it.

Very best,




Chris Ingram

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2017, 10:17:28 PM »
The CGEM is a good match for the 9.25 for visual and planetary imaging. The 9.25" SCT will give great lunar and planetary views, and so will the Edge HD version, and you probably wouldn't notice a difference between the two when viewing the other planets; the moon, taking up a larger field of view will appear sharper across the whole field in the Edge HD compared to the SCT. If you eventually aspire to astrophotography and have a permanent observatory, or at least a semi-permanent pier for the mount, I'd recommend getting the 9.25 Edge HD on the CGX over the SCT 9.25 on a CGEM. If you'll be taking your scope in and out of a garage/house/shed, you may want to look into a 4-5" apochromatic refractor on a medium mount like the LosmandyGM-8.

longpetdowntown

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2018, 02:25:38 AM »
Like Justin stated, unless this is a permanent setup meaning you will mount the CGX on a pier, it is a lot of weight to handle. If you are going to go with a mount more robust, consider an IOPTRON at least as they are much lighter to lift and carry around. Visually, that IEQ45 will handle the 9.25 nicely. If you can, yes I would strongly recommend the 9.25 edge.

Another note about the IOPTRON option. You can get the mount via its tri pier or other piers that they carry.
They also sell a eq-alt AZ combo where you will need an additional alt-az attachment. This arrangement allows you to mount two telescopes in alt AZ mode. Don't get me wrong....there's some weight to all this, but still much lighter than the CGEM, or CGX.

A member of our astronomy club brought her cpc 9.25 (heavy setup) but when looking at Mars, I was blown away at the detail. You won't be disappointed with the 9.25 whether with the EDGE or regular 9.25.

You're bound to get some awesome responses to this question. Will certainly prove to be an interesting thread.

Clear Skies,

Gary

Michael Thompson

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 02:27:11 AM »
I see you're listed as being in upstate NY. If you can wait three weeks and can take a drive down to Suffern, NY (near where I-287 and I-87 part ways), I *strongly* recommend investing in a visit to NEAF. There you can talk with dozens of experts and come face-to-face with a huge variety of scopes and accessories first-hand:
http://www.rocklanda...y.com/neaf.html

loasandkosem

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 09:46:51 AM »
Quote
I see you're listed as being in upstate NY. If you can wait three weeks and can take a drive down to Suffern, NY (near where I-287 and I-87 part ways), I *strongly* recommend investing in a visit to NEAF. There you can talk with dozens of experts and come face-to-face with a huge variety of scopes and accessories first-hand:http://www.rocklanda...y.com/neaf.html

^^^^^Great advice.^^^^^

grafpievimel

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2018, 04:43:29 PM »
Quote
I see you're listed as being in upstate NY. If you can wait three weeks and can take a drive down to Suffern, NY (near where I-287 and I-87 part ways), I *strongly* recommend investing in a visit to NEAF. There you can talk with dozens of experts and come face-to-face with a huge variety of scopes and accessories first-hand:http://www.rocklanda...y.com/neaf.html

I recall reading in a post of yours that you were planning on attending NEAF. I think it's a great idea. There will be show specials - even if you don't buy anything the talks are worth the price of admission.

selusmiystag

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 01:11:19 AM »
Thank you everyone for your advice-it does make me rethink the scope. I do want to be able to take it to star parties so am still continue to explore. I may do a pier in the future-I guess 20 pounds is heavier than I think it is!

I want to be able to see something beyond a small dot but also want the telescope to be usable! Maybe an 8" vs. the 9.25? Or Celestron 120 mm as mentioned by Apollo?

I looked through a 10" Dobsonian-didn't seem to be super sharp.

I went to a meeting tonight at our astronomy club-I can borrow a 6" Newtonian which we will do soon!

I am going to NEAF and hoping to learn as much as I can before then so I even know what to even look at and ask about.

I want to learn (and you are all a great help) before buying anything.

Eric Hayes

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2018, 05:50:08 AM »
Clchev,

Cloudy Nights is awesome! There are a lot of different folks here with tons of experience and knowledge. That being said, there are also a lot ofdifferent folks, with different preferences and who've been down different paths to get here.

Sometimes the advice we get here can seem contradictory. Some suggest this, some suggest that. It can send you in circles. Mostly none of them are wrong, though. It's no coincidence there's so many options out there.

Different scopes for different folks.

You are being wise to wait and get hands-on experience, decide what's best for you, before taking that plunge for the first scope. Not all of us have that patience.

You're tackling this exciting first step very well. Best of luck.

bamrocorna

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2018, 07:40:25 PM »
For observing the planets seeing and transparency of the atmosphere matter a lot, regardless the telescope used.
Seeing and transparency also determine how much magnification can or can't be used at any given time.

Seeing and transparency can change in short time frames so it often pays to spend a few minutes looking through the eyepiece for possible fleeting moments when the atmosphere settles down and detail pops into view.

The best views of Jupiter I've had in years were last year, all on 1 April night, that I was using my 12" f/4.9 Dob. The local seeing and transparency were uncommonly good.

In other words don't be hasty with your judgement of the views in the 10 Dob.
Do you know if the Dob's optics were collimated with the main mirror at temperature equilibrium with the air?

ringnasingsimb

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2018, 04:20:19 PM »
Quote
Thank you everyone for your advice-it does make me rethink the scope. I do want to be able to take it to star parties so am still continue to explore. I may do a pier in the future-I guess 20 pounds is heavier than I think it is!

I want to be able to see something beyond a small dot but also want the telescope to be usable! Maybe an 8" vs. the 9.25? Or Celestron 120 mm as mentioned by Apollo?

I looked through a 10" Dobsonian-didn't seem to be super sharp.

I went to a meeting tonight at our astronomy club-I can borrow a 6" Newtonian which we will do soon!

I am going to NEAF and hoping to learn as much as I can before then so I even know what to even look at and ask about.

I want to learn (and you are all a great help) before buying anything.


One of the first things a beginner must overcome is their expectations... there is a vast amount of difference between what one sees through an eyepiece and what you have seen in a book or on the internet. What is seen in a photo is the result of HOURS of careful imaging AND processing... when looking through an eyepiece, it is immediate, like RIGHT NOW, no processing, and ALL the variables that can affect the view come into play... what you saw in that ten inch scope may or may not be common, but it isn't rare... it is those special moments when everything comes together and the view though the eyepiece delivers that spectacular image that keeps us coming back for more...

Patience, Grasshopper...

Clear DARK skies!

CB

Paul Hunt

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2018, 07:29:19 PM »
Quote
I want to be able to see something beyond a small dot but also want the telescope to be usable! Maybe an 8" vs. the 9.25? Or Celestron 120 mm as mentioned by Apollo?

I looked through a 10" Dobsonian-didn't seem to be super sharp.
It's very hard to judge a scope's optics in isolation. At the magnifications typically used for planetary observing, the sharpness of the image is almost always limited by atmospheric conditions for any scope with 6 inches or more of aperture -- at least in the U.S. Northeast. So on a typical night, the 8-inch SCT, 9.25-inch SCT, and 10-inch Dob will probably all show the planets almost exactly the same. The only way to judge that clearly is to use them side by side.
On a really good night, the 10-inch Dob should show the sharpest planetary images, assuming that all of the scopes are properly cooled and collimated. Also assuming that they all have good optics, which is normally the case with all three of these.
The biggest benefit of an SCT is that it's likely to come on a tracking mount. That's a serious benefit at 200X and higher. It's also essential for photography. And whereas it's a very big jump from deep-sky visual observing to deep-sky photography, it's a relatively easy move from visual planetary observing to planetary photography.
Also, if you get an SCT on an equatorial mount, you can piggyback a DSLR on top of it, which is a great way to get started in deep-sky astrophotography.

Kyle Johnson

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2018, 11:01:31 PM »
Good to keep asking questions. There are a lot of great scopes to get started with. My suggestion is to keep things fairly simple at first and learn how to use the tools. Get out to a star party and enjoy the views but also talk to owners about the pros and cons of each type.

The big issues most don't consider are:

1. Portability. Can I get this out under dark steady skies easily? My primary scope is a 30 yr old fork mount C8 that I can take out to the desert for dark skies and be observing in about 1.5 hrs. The best planetary viewing I have ever done was a quiet night at 10,000' on Maui with a small 4" travel scope. I could use ALL the magnification I had in my bag and got great views of Saturn and Jupiter. Great sky > great optics.

2. Push-to, GOTO, or EQ w RA drive? For planetary I prefer EQ w drive. No need for GOTO because planets are easy to find. It is extremely nice to center your target in the scope and engage the drive, tracking it for hours as you change out eyepieces or perhaps shoot some pics. A GEM mount for a 9.5" is marvelous but can get heavy. Sometimes a fork mount or AZ mount is a better choice for your planned use.

3. Budget. Everyone has a $$ amount in mind at first but once you get your first instrument, you will find a lot of cool accessories only a few clicks away on Amazon. And like potato chips, you can never have just one scope. I own 2 plus a nice pair of binos. Some here have a dozen scopes and use them all.

Welcome to the asylum.

noneanoncrag

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Re: Beginner looking for help with planetary and lunar observing telescope
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2018, 02:57:27 PM »
Quote
I went to a meeting tonight at our astronomy club-I can borrow a 6" Newtonian which we will do soon!
A 6in f/8 1200mm newtonian is excellent as a lunar/planetary/general purpose scope. The ota requires a eq5 class mount for a gem. A 6in f/5 750mm is more widefield, nice for dso etc., but, capable of lunar/planetary use.

A 6in f/8 dob can be somewhat jerky, due to the light weight base, and alt/az two axis nudges at high power, imo. However, the scope is a good grab and go in general. A eq5 german equatorial mount is more stable, and you only have to worry about one axis (ra) to track at high power, imo. However, the gem/ota is heavier.

Enjoy the 6in newt.

Good viewing,

Dave