Author Topic: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations  (Read 1833 times)

Stephen Moritz

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Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« on: December 27, 2017, 12:20:57 AM »
Hi, name is Andy.  I'll say that I am new but I have been trying to get into star gazing for about 15 years now.  I bought a cheap scope in the first of those 15 years and it was terrible.  Obviously that was before I knew there were online forums relating to this stuff.  I live around 25 miles out from Tulsa, OK.  So I've pretty dark skies from what I can not tell.
I've a pair of 25x100 celestron binos I use today and can watch M45 well tonight with them.  Tonight was the first chance I have had to get out and look around but it had been cut short with the children.

1).  My principal objective is finally AP so any extent I purchase today it'd be fine if I could use it for if I decide to begin AP.  I am interested in viewing it all.  DSO and dinosaurs, dinosaurs, etc..

2).  What I've been looking in are refractors and SCTs.  I would love to have both but want recommendations for a few scopes and mounts or bundles in each course.

3).  Refractor I have a budget of about $750-$1,500 just for mount and scope.  Would like a 5 or 6" refractor and mount which can work with AP someday so tracking or goto is essential.

4).  SCT I have a budget of about say $1000 and can proceed upwards to $2500 for the scope, mount, goto.

I guess what I am saying is I would rather purchase nice and large things and not have worry about upgrading in the future.  Remember ultimate goal is AP so that I really don't think fork mounted stoves will work?  I may be totally wrong there though.

Thanks for advise, I'll go on reading this site as its a wealth of wisdom.



Jerry Gilbert

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2017, 04:34:36 PM »
Well as a fellow Okie let me weigh in. First AP and visual are very different pursuits. In AP the mount is vital and needs to be equatorial and of good quality and able to EASILY carry the scope and accessories. I won't flatly state that $1,500 won't cut it, but it Is a stretch. In fact it is fairly safe to say that no scope/mount combination is optimized for both visual and AP. In visual aperture is crucial (hence the predominance of Dobs and SCTs among visual folks) while in AP aperture is secondary to the quality of the optics and mount (which is why many AP folks opt for small to mid-sized APO refractors).

If I was going to suggest a setup that could be quite adequate for both visual and AP it might be the Celestron Edge HD 8n inch SCT on the VX mount. But that is still more in the visual realm, even though a lot of people who have used the edge SCTs for AP are quite happy.

My suggestion is to defer any purchase for now and find and join the Tulsa Astronomy Club. There is at least one member there who is one of the most advanced and expert astrophotographers in the state, and they have fairly regular observing sessions and other events. Attend some of those and check out the various scopes and mounts to see what works best for you, and then make your investment.

Cesar Norris

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2018, 09:33:32 PM »
I have a Celestron AVX, on which I mount my 1990's era C8 SCT. The mount is a goto, and you will save yourself a lot of money with this mount, and yet still get all the features you need. I use the C8 for visual, video (Mallincam), and I have used a DSLR a little. I have been considering an Edge also, but I am concerned by the difficulty of adding a reducer to it. My current old C8 is very versatile. This combination could save you a lot of money, which you will need once you start adding the eyepieces, gadgets and adapters you will discover are necessary.

Duane Berhane

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2018, 11:23:00 PM »
If you plan to get 2 telescope, then maybe you may look at a Dobsonian for the visual work, and a small APO/ED refractor for rich field, travel,long exposure AP.

A 10" can be purchased for less than 600€ and a 8" for less than 500€, so you can employ all your remaining budget for the small refractor, a computerized Mount, a guiding device, a good battery, etc...

Tarence Allen

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2018, 02:43:24 AM »
Ok, so how about this.

seems like the option is getting small apo refractor for AP.

then do I even need a SCT that's capable of AP???

can the small apo refractor do everything for AP?

I plan on getting to the Tulsa club but I have been wanting to get a "good" scope for years now!

will the Celestron Nexstar in 8" be good enough for visual? Should I go ahead and get a CPC or the Edge, or say a Meade LX model?

im perfectly fine just getting a SCT to use for visual only and then down the road getting a nice smaller apo refractor for photos?

does that sound right?

unexaric

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2018, 07:00:41 PM »
Hi.

I agree with the above. Why buy two complete packages? One good mount is sufficient, add however many OTAs you might want. My suggestion: for now, get something like an AVX or HEQ5 or whetever version you want, used if you can: Celestron, Orion and Sky-Watcher are all the same. This will hold a C8 with a standard dovetail steady enough for visual and for planetary imaging using a video camera like a Neximage 5. Then the same mount can hold a refractor 70 - 80 mm aperture with field flattener steady enough for imaging many DSOs unguided with a DSLR.

This is enough to keep you busy for many years. You can get one such mount used, if it works it works. You can buy a Nexstar 8SE at the ridiculous low price these days, and sell the GoTo Alt-Az mount to recoup a few $$, it will hold anything with a standard dovetail. Then a Sky-Watcher ED80 since it has really good optics for not a whole lot of $$. Then spend the rest on a field flattener and camera(s), although whichever DSLR you may already own will be just fine, no need to buy a dedicated camera for this--til you have enough experience to know what you want!

For astrophotography, you will find that the biggest investment is time. Second is the mount and the rest comes last. You can fit all of M31 in the camera field of view using a 70 mm f/6 telescope, but not using a 127 mm telescope. Keep that in mind, and enjoy! Cheers...

--Christian

Todd Vann

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2018, 03:50:44 AM »
It's different tools for different targets.

The APO visually is for wide field open clusters, asterisms, double stars, nights when seeing isn't that great. It can also be used (with a different mount perhaps unless you are able to easily move the CGEM in one piece) as a grab and go scope. For AP you use it for wide field and large target imaging. It is also for the beginning of AP because it is easier to work with than a long focal length scope like the SCT.

The SCT visually is for small DSO (of which most that are not open clusters or asterisms are), going deep on sections of large targets, and for going big and deep on planets. For AP you use it when you have gotten comfortable with the basics and even intermediate level imaging. You will be going for the smaller fainter DSO with it or for regions of the larger DSO. You will likely be guiding at this point because it's long focal length means longer exposures to gather the data you need.

You want the EdgeHD over the standard HD for two reasons. First you can (and should) get the Deep Space Products TEMPest fans for it. These fans mount in the vent ports on the scope and dramatically accelerate the cooling of the scope. They also allow you to keep running them while observing so the scope keeps close to thermal equilibrium. The closer to thermal equilibrium the better the views will be because there are no tube heat currents. The second reason is that the scope provides near refractor like views which means pinpoint stars to the edge of the field. This is important for AP as well because you don't want elongated stars in your images.

You want the CGEM over the AVX because it is a higher capacity mount. I recommended it because it is a package deal with the EdgeHD. Ideally if you can afford it I would suggest the Skywatcher AZ-EQ6. The AZ because it works in alt/az as well as EQ mode and has belt drives. Alt/az mode is better for visual and you are able to mount both scopes at the same time. The belt drives make it quieter and a bit easier to guide out any PE. I find it a lot more ergonomically friendly to move around than the CGEM which can make a difference. It also means you can use EQMOD for AP which is a very very nice program to use. However the Celestron hand controller software is just about the best in the business at this level of mount so you do loose that. The Skywatcher isn't hard to use it's just not as good as the CGEM.

postbypopect

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2018, 07:45:04 PM »
Single scope? $1,500 ballpark? Base price $1,500. With eyepeices $2,180. With with all the trimmings $2,700:

Celestron 8" SCT on the AVX $1,299
Celestron .63x focal reducer $150
2" Meade 5000 diagonal SCT kit $240
Explore Scientific 82 degree eyepieces in the 18mm, 14 or 11mm, and 6.7mm sizes $631 sale price
Lumicon UHC & OIII 2" filters. $400ish

With the included 40mm cheap eyepiece as well as the others, the focal reducer, and the filters you can now go after just about everything out there visually. When you decide to get your feet wet with AP the AVX paired with a 60-80mm refractor will be a great mount to start with then later you can use the SCT with focal reducer if you so choose.

By base price I mean the scope, mount, and 2" diagonal. The eyepieces are nice to haves by the way. They make you feel like you fell into the telescope and are swimming in space.

Theodore Inlaw

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2018, 04:52:28 AM »
I would also look at the 8 or 9.25 Celestron Evolution scopes. The built in rechargeable battery is very handy and you get a considerably sturdier mount that the Nexstars.

Greg Fleming

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 07:51:21 PM »
Uncle Rod's Astro Blog. Look it up, and he will cover most any topic you can imagine with very good and practical advice. He favors (as do I) a German equatorial amount with an SCT as the best all round system - you will have years of enjoyment growing into this hobby with just those 2 items and the accessories you will have to add. The GEM mount (AVX by Celestron) is better for astrophotography because it only turns on one axis versus 2 for the alt az computerized mounts.

linghetade

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2018, 11:17:06 AM »
Quote
Yes Dr. Who. That's the kind of recommendations I want! Your rec is also what I'm thinking. Didn't know if it would be a waste to get like the CPC model...
If you were going to be visual only and never even thinking about the remote possibility of doing AP sometime in the future then yes the CPC would be a good choice. Since you may do AP in the future then no it would not. You will be paying for a scope you will need to take off the fork if you want to image with it or needing a wedge which is its own special set of complexities above and beyond the complexities of AP in general.The above recommendation gives you what you need for visual now as someone starting out since an 8" SCT is considered the best all around scope after a Dobsonian for visual because of its large aperture and low weight. And it will grow with you into a intermediate to advanced AP scope down the road.I should also point out that Explore Scientific has their 80mm and 102mm APO's on sale right now for a very good price if you wanted to skip the 2" diagonal, focal reducer, and filters. The ES scopes come with a 2" diagonal so all you would need to use it on the SCT would be a SCT to 2" compression adapter. With the savings on the filters, focal reducer, and diagonal you would pretty much pay for the 80mm and pay for most of the 102. Both are great compliments to the SCT and I would highly highly recommend them if you were going all in on the above.I would recommend the 102 Essentials over the 80mm because it comes with a real rail and rings not the bloody foot all the 80mm scopes seem to have. And going from a 3" to a 4" APO refractor is a big jump in terms of what you can see brightness, contrast, and details wise. It will also be much better on large or wide field objects like open clusters and asterisms.Lastly either refractor will be the perfect starting scope for DSLR or CCD AP when you are ready and will work very nicely on the AVX.With the sale and if you can go all in this will be a fantastic and flexible setup that will keep you going visually and AP wise for a long time.

Elroy Stockton

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2018, 04:46:15 AM »
Let me expand a bit on the visual versus AP thing a bit. It's important for the long haul. Your title is correct, you need two scopes.

Your eyes are inherently very short exposures. So, they need a lot of aperture to gather photons fast enough. They compensate well for small wiggles, so the mount just has to be decent.

Astrophotography is _completely_ different. You are now gathering photons, not with aperture, but long exposures. The scope is far less important, and small is fine, actually preferred. But the long exposures are very unforgiving (just as they are in terrestrial photography) and the mount has to be extremely precise in tracking. Totally different ballgame. That big scope is now a liability, it makes everything in AP very hard.

Many people start out visually, and then think they can stick a camera on their visual setup, down the road. That almost always doesn't work. Nor does compromising. It would be like a pro photographer who has two assignments, a soccer game and an indoor wedding. For the soccer game he needs a long telephoto, for the indoor wedding, a wide angle. Compromising on a short telephoto would simply mean doing a lousy job on both.

Here's how, with a somewhat larger budget, you could do both. For visual get something like a 6 or 8 inch Dobsonian. The most cost effective scope for visual (and you're going to need the money, AP is expensive).

For AP, a Sirius mount, $1200. A nice step up from the AVX, for not a lot more money, it will make things easier and more fun. The mount is the most important thing in AP, if you're spending more on the scope, it's a red flag. On it, you put a small refractor, 65-80mm. Nothing longer than 600mm. You needn't spend much money, this would work great:

http://agenaastro.co...-telescope.html

Eventually you'd want a field flattener, you needn't get it at first.

The total cost would be about $2500, assuming you have a DSLR. It's not sexy to spend so much of your money on the mount, rather than on a big flashy scope, but it's absolutely the right thing to do. Visual people have aperture envy, imagers, mount envy.

Read this carefully, a saga of someone's first year. He did mediocre images with an 8 inch SCT, than switched to a 71mm refractor and started cranking out much higher quality images, immediately. It's a common story.

http://imgur.com/a/E6sy3

Good book to come to an understanding of what AP is all about, that will serve you well as a reference for quite some time.

http://www.amazon.co...n/dp/148180491X

Lamar Davies

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #12 on: January 13, 2018, 08:12:41 AM »
Quote
Don't want a dob or reflector...


Well, SCTs are basically reflectors.If you do not like reflectors at all, then you should go for a refractor.
There are plenty of used Synta 120ED (a pretty good "apo" refractor 120/900), if you pair it to an AtlasAZ (Skywatcher AzEq6) you will get a rather good setup.
To start AP you will have to add only the camera and the guide (camera+guidescope; 9x50 fiderscope may be suitable with such fast focals); to observe with, only 3 decent eyepiece (even inexpensive one like Vixen Plossl, or the Baader Classic Orthos), a stardiagonal* and maybe a 2x Barlow lens (get a 3x instead if you want to do planetary AP**); if you have money, feel free to get some fancy super/ultrawide, but imho every € spared on the mount is an € deeply regretted while imaging.

You will absolutely need a battery (as large as required by your setup, including mount, camera/-s, laptop, dew-heater, etc...; some prefer to employ multiple batteries instead of a single, powerful unit).
If you plan to observe/shot from a very damp area, dew-heaters may be useful too.

*if not included. I advice against using the refractor without stardiagonal when mounted on light field mounts (are too low)

**the same camera can be employed for guide and for planetary AP

smarhurtfranoth

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2018, 03:34:27 PM »
Quote
I guess what I'm saying is I'd rather buy nice and big things first and not have worry about upgrading down the road.

Were life so simple..

There are plenty of nice scopes out there that one can buy.. Just as there are plenty of nice cars and trucks out there, plenty of nice shoes...

The challenge facing you is discovering what it about spending time under the night sky with a telescope that really excites you, that makes the sleepless nights, the cold and the wind, the mosquitoes and clouds all worthwhile. The telescope you choose, the telescope you use, they're like the car you choose or the shoes you choose, if they are not a good fit for your needs and desires, no matter how well made they are, you will be happier in the long run with something else.

In the case of telescopes, in many ways the telescope and mount determines the objects you will be observing and the way you will be observing them.. An 8 or 11 inch SCT with it's GOTO mount will allow you to view many objects in detail but the field of view will be small so that it not well suited for observing larger structures and objects and the slow focal ratio will mean that achieving a bright image for faint nebulae will be a challenge. There will be other issues like dealing with dewing and the time it takes for the scope to cool down.

My intent here is not to run down the SCT, all scopes have their limitations. Rather, it's just that buying nice equipment is only part of the equation, without knowing what you enjoy about observing the night sky, without know how you enjoy observing the night sky, it's difficult to choose the right scope for your long term needs and interests.. Most of us figure this out by trial and error, to know these things, it takes experience and experience with the different types of scopes and what they can do and cannot do to know what the right scope type is..

This is why the recommendation to slow down a bit a join your local astronomy club and spend sometime getting some experience with the different scopes is probably the wisest single thing you can do. This way, you can get some sense of what amateur astronomy is really all about without investing in your equipment until you have a better understanding of both yourself and the available equipment..

As I said, most of us don't do it this way, it's trial and error, we learn about ourselves, we learn about the equipment on a very personal level. It is this path of discovery towards the right equipment for our particular set of individual needs and preferences that guides the purchase of future telescopes and mounts, it's no so much whether the shoes are of good quality, it's whether they are a good fit for your foot and a good fit for your needs..

Jon

Chris Mancia

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Re: Beginner looking for two scope recommendations
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2018, 01:10:56 AM »
Quote
It's different tools for different targets.

The APO visually is for wide field open clusters, asterisms, double stars, nights when seeing isn't that great. It can also be used (with a different mount perhaps unless you are able to easily move the CGEM in one piece) as a grab and go scope. For AP you use it for wide field and large target imaging. It is also for the beginning of AP because it is easier to work with than a long focal length scope like the SCT.

The SCT visually is for small DSO (of which most that are not open clusters or asterisms are), going deep on sections of large targets, and for going big and deep on planets. For AP you use it when you have gotten comfortable with the basics and even intermediate level imaging. You will be going for the smaller fainter DSO with it or for regions of the larger DSO. You will likely be guiding at this point because it's long focal length means longer exposures to gather the data you need.

You want the EdgeHD over the standard HD for two reasons. First you can (and should) get the Deep Space Products TEMPest fans for it. These fans mount in the vent ports on the scope and dramatically accelerate the cooling of the scope. They also allow you to keep running them while observing so the scope keeps close to thermal equilibrium. The closer to thermal equilibrium the better the views will be because there are no tube heat currents. The second reason is that the scope provides near refractor like views which means pinpoint stars to the edge of the field. This is important for AP as well because you don't want elongated stars in your images.

You want the CGEM over the AVX because it is a higher capacity mount. I recommended it because it is a package deal with the EdgeHD. Ideally if you can afford it I would suggest the Skywatcher AZ-EQ6. The AZ because it works in alt/az as well as EQ mode and has belt drives. Alt/az mode is better for visual and you are able to mount both scopes at the same time. The belt drives make it quieter and a bit easier to guide out any PE. I find it a lot more ergonomically friendly to move around than the CGEM which can make a difference. It also means you can use EQMOD for AP which is a very very nice program to use. However the Celestron hand controller software is just about the best in the business at this level of mount so you do loose that. The Skywatcher isn't hard to use it's just not as good as the CGEM.

Why is Alt/Az better for visual? Is it just faster for getting to targets? I would assume that once an EQ mount is aligned its just as easy to do visual with an EQ? Can you explain? I was assuming that Alt/Az is easier because you dont have to wait on meridian flips to locate objects? Is that somewhat accurate?