Author Topic: Beginner, Telescope.  (Read 877 times)

boysagiskest

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Beginner, Telescope.
« on: December 27, 2017, 11:00:13 PM »
Hi there. I would like to get started star gazing, could anyone give me advise on which telescope would be best, plus equipment needed? My budget is around £500. Thank you.



ramapali

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 04:37:18 AM »
Welcome! Your question requires a very long answer and several more questions for you. I would recommend you start here and review the many, many threads devoted to your questions.http://www.cloudynig...eginners-forum/

Good luck and clear skies!

Lamont Cox

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2017, 12:01:58 AM »
If I was forced to choose one, I would get an 8" Dobsonian. It was my first telescope and I can give you the following reasons.

1. It will teach you the night sky and give you a sense of accomplishment when you start finding objects. I loved this aspect.
2. You should be able to get a complete package with an eyepiece or two well inside your budget. example: http://www.tringastr...scope-454-p.asp
3. It is relatively simple to collimate the optics.
4. It will perform well both on deep sky objects in a dark sky as well as planets in either dark or urban skies. I enjoyed Saturn in the city when I couldn't get to my dark sky spot.
5. The 203mm version is about the limit for me in being able to carry easily and set up without straining my back.

Having said all of that, I noticed that there is a 250mm collapsible skywatcher that might fit the bill.

Good luck in your search.

Ralph Sonberg

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 09:17:49 PM »
Hi Freddiy, go to the sketches forum/threads so you KNOW what to expect to see.

And if you want more detail and colour and can wait 5 or 6 seconds to see it after you point at it, research VIDEO ASTRONOMY.

I was set to pull the trigger on buying a 12inch goto dobsonian, when at the last minute, someone asked me, 'have you heard about video astronomy?'

A video camera like the Revolution Imager effectively TRIPLES your scopes aperture and See's right through light pollution.

I have mobility issues due to smashing both my legs, but with video astronomy, i am seeing more detail and Real colour than people up a ladder peering into the EP of a massive dobsonian, and sitting comfortably while doing it.

Too many people it seems, do not have realistic expectations of WHAT they will see, too many photos of bright colourful nebular and detailed spiral armed galaxies have corrupted their expectations of what a telescope will show you.

And I've heard too many people come back after buying a big bulky dob and say 'something is wrong with it, all i see is a fuzzy grey smudge'. To which they then hear in response, ' thats why they are called faint fuzzies!'

They don't have to be just faint smudges or fuzzies, embrace a little cheap technology such as a modded security camera and watch the brilliant Red nebulosity and dustlanes of Triffid stack up on screen whithin seconds of your mount slewing to the target.

But do make sure to check out some sketches done at the eyepiece and set your expectations accordingly, if you want more, check out video astronomy. A 'cheap' short tube refractor is actually one of the best scopes for vidastro and a $15 dollar #8 or #12 filter will clean up a lot of the CA (chromatic abberation).

So my recommendation would be for a cheap 80mm, 100mm or 120mm achro refractor and a complete kit like the Revolution Imager 2. Both could be had for your budget with an alt az mount to start (upgrade to a goto equatorial mount later), and you will be SEEING more than a lot of folks with $2000 worth of telescope.

Best of luck, xTripodx

bankrybettdog

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2018, 12:09:11 AM »
I agree 1000 percent about a dobsonian as a great first scope. Here is an article that might interest you:

http://www.scopereviews.com/begin.html

dsepinumer

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2018, 02:47:49 AM »
Read all the articles, but be sure to LOOK at eyepiece sketches for a bar to set your expectations by. And then Look at some screen captures by people with a vidastro set up.

I don't think i have ever seen a dob-pusher suggest to anyone to look at sketches of grey smudges, i guess if they did they'd miss their chance to cheer out 'thats why they are called faint fuzzies', AFTER you'd spent you hard earned cash.

Just be aware some people are seeing good detail and great colour from little cheap refractors combined with cheap lil cameras. I once had a guy try to lecture me that video astronomy is LAZY MAN's astronomy, i think he was just jilted about the thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours he'd spent looking beside faint grey fuzzies using averted vision and was sour about others getting 10x the results with some colour thrown in, for pennies on his dollars invested in their first foray into astronomy.

Maybe others just have not researched video astronomy for themselves, or don't know about it... but colour and detail is there for you if you want it. There are many options, research will direct you towards the scope that will give you what you want from a scope, you just need to know what other options are available to research other than the 8 inch dob. Video Astronomy is but one, but one that will see through a city's light polluted sky.

Clear skies, xTripodx.

otdaebreathat

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2018, 05:28:51 PM »
I'd endeavour to pursue either a 200mm f/6 or 250mm f/5 Revelation Dobsonian...

http://www.telescope...-telecopes.html

The fact that both are out of stock at present attests to their popularity. The Revelation series, and the Zhumell series sold here in the States, are manufactured by Guan Sheng Optical(GSO), and are better equipped compared to their Sky-Watcher and Orion counterparts. This is the Zhumell Z8, for example, and practically identical to the Revelation in all respects, save the colour scheme...

https://www.telescop...A6LIaArjX8P8HAQ

The Orion and Sky-Watcher units are manufactured by Suzhou Synta Optical.

Consider the Sky-Watcher last, as it has quite the wonky primary mirror cell, which utilises rubber instead of a metal spring for the adjustment screws...

http://ca.skywatcher...01424817556.pdf

...which is why it sells for about $50 less here in the States compared to those branded Zhumell(Revelation) and Orion.

The optics, however, are comparable in quality among the three.

unoutdethea

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2018, 07:37:09 PM »
Quote
Hi there. I would like to get started star gazing, could anyone give me advise on which telescope would be best, plus equipment needed? My budget is around £500. Thank you.


Welcome to Cloudy Nights. You will find the people here friendly and helpful.

Before I recommend anything I want to know more about you, your experience and your situation. And if we were standing discussing your first telescope this is what I would tell you.

Rather than telling you what to buy I hope to help you understand the considerations. I hope you find it interesting and maybe a little bit useful.

Based on excellent advice, I did not start with a telescope, I started with binoculars. That showed me a lot! Do you own binoculars? Have you ever turned them skyward?

While I was learning the sky with binoculars, book and computer tools, I was also learning about telescopes from books, from videos, friends and the great people on this forum. This way, when I was ready I could take that next step, but only if I was sure I wanted to go deeper. I really wasn’t sure how committed I was to astronomy as a hobby.

I came to realize was that, despite the labels on the web sites, there are no beginner scopes. There are telescopes and there are beginners and there are budgets. Budget is usually the main driver as to what constitutes a beginner scope. If you read the forums, note that what is recommended as a beginner scope often changes with the stated budget.

I learned that telescopes are tools and many people have more than one. If you speak to people who have been in this hobby for a time you will find that they typically have:

Binoculars - Good for daytime use, can be taken on trips and are all around convenient for astronomy and other things.

“Grab and go” scope - Something typically in the 70 mm to 130 mm range. For some this was their starter scope. Easy to set-up and use and easy to move around, toss in the car and some can even go on the plane.

The “light bucket” This is that big scope, whatever big is to you. One person’s light bucket is another person’s grab and go but you get the general idea.
So, the message is, no matter where you start in the size and budget range, that investment can have a long life. I will say, stay away from most department store scopes or ones that talk about 400X, 500X or higher magnifications. Chances are they are junk and will likely disappoint you or the child you purchased it for. Look for the recommendations of the people on this forum.

Budget – No matter what we do in life money is always a consideration. When I got started I spent about $75 buying binoculars, a book, a red flashlight and a planisphere. Several months later I was ready for that next step, my first telescope, but I was still not sure how committed I was. So, instead of spending $1200 for a big scope I decided I wanted to take a smaller step. So let me just say that you can buy a serviceable telescope for $100 but, like most things, you can buy a much better scope for $400. As the numbers go up the quality, capability and features tend to go up too.

Aperture – I always thought astronomy was about magnification but ultimately astronomy is all about gathering light and what can be done with that light. The measure of light gathering ability is called aperture which describes the size of the big lens at the front of the scope or the big mirror at the bottom of the tube. The more light you gather the better the objects will look, or the dimmer the object that you can see. There are plenty of things you can see with a 70 mm telescope, but there are even more you can see with a 200 mm telescope.

The Mount – I thought this as just a tripod, not very interesting. What I learned was that, if you get a great telescope but the mount is poor then the scope will wobble around while you are trying to focus and view and that will ruin the experience. On many low cost scopes the optics can be pretty good but they had to cut costs somewhere and it is usually the mount. There are a variety of mounts including Dobsonian, equatorial and AltAz, which is like a camera tripod. The type of mount becomes a significant part of the evaluation. Some mounts include tracking motors so once you find the target the mount will track it to keep it in the eyepiece. And any of these mounts can be computerized, also called Goto mounts, which will find the targets and track them for you.

Taking pictures – There is picture taking and there is astrophotography. In the language of telescopes they are not the same thing. You can take a picture through the eyepiece of any telescope with your smartphone or a compact camera. They sell frames to hold the camera for you. This is not considered astrophotography. There are also systems that are based on webcam technology that are good for taking videos and pictures of planets which are not too expensive. These are also not considered astrophotography.

Astrophotography (AP) – Let’s just say that this is expensive. AP is all about the mount, not the telescope. This involves long exposures so the mount has to be rock solid and must be able to track the sky perfectly, and much better than is typically done by many GoTo mounts or even low cost tracking mounts. If you ask about scopes and mention AP, you will get a very different answer than if you say you want to take some pictures through your telescope with your smartphone.

Size, weight, storage and transport – I have spoken to people who bought big scopes that give great views, but don’t get used much. They were too big and too inconvenient to use based on that person’s physical ability or where they store the scope. If you live in a third floor walk up and will have to carry the scope up and down 3 flights I would not recommend a 10” Dobsonian for you. A 3-4” refractor, a 5” Mak or maybe a 6” SCT would be a better choice. Give this a lot of thought because if you get a telescope that is just too much hassle to use, you won’t use it, you will drop out of astronomy and you will have this thing taking up space in your house. BTW, I store my scopes in the garage so they are easy to move into position. But still size and weight were serious considerations for my first and my second scope.  Both of my scopes live in the garage at ground level and the larger scope sits on a cart that I can just roll out to the observing location.

What do you want to see? – All telescopes gather light so they can all be used to view everything. But, just like cars, there are different designs that work better for some things than others. You will hear people say that a given telescope might be better for the moon and planets. Another telescope might be better for deep space objects, DSOs. This is often related to the focal length, FL, of the telescope and the field of view, FOV. You don’t need to worry about this too much if you have a focus, just let people know. In the end, all telescopes can see everything and they are all a compromise. I have three telescopes but there are some things that just look better with my binoculars or that look better in one telescope than the other.

Computer Assistance – This was a big factor for me so I am going to spend some time on it. You will have to decide if this is important to you.
Once you know where to look, planets are pretty easy to spot. But if you want to see deep space objects like star clusters, galaxies, nebulae and the like you have to find them as most can’t be seen with the naked eye. If you have a manual scope you find things via a process called star hopping. If you have dark skies and can see lots of stars this can work well. If you can’t see the guide stars, due to light pollution, this could be tricky. My problem is I have very few stars visible stars in my sky and some areas have no stars at all. So I felt I did not want to rely on star hopping alone, I wanted a computer assisted scope that could help me find the things I wanted to see.

Basically there are two kinds of computer assisted telescopes, GoTo and PushTo systems. You tell them what you want to see and they will either point the scope there, (GoTo) or tell you how to point the scope (PushTo). I have one of each and I love this feature although I do use mine manually about 50% of the time.
Naturally there is a cost to having computer assistance in your telescope. So, for a given budget you can get more aperture in a manual scope, but will you be able to find the things you want to see? I decided to give up some aperture to get computer assistance within my budget. In the end I am very happy I did. There were people who told me that having the computer would prevent me from learning the sky. I consider that nonsense but, again, you will have to decide for yourself.

Light pollution – This not about the telescope but about where it is being used. The given telescope, used at a dark site, will show you a lot more objects and a lot more detail than if it is used at a light polluted site, like a city or a brightly lit suburb. There is not much you can do about this other than to take this into consideration when you are viewing the sky. What you can expect to see in the eyepiece will depend a LOT on how dark your site is. I have experienced this myself. When I look at the Andromeda Galaxy at a darker site I can see a LOT more detail than when I look at it by my house where there is a lot of light pollution. Same telescope, different site. There is no getting around this.

What are the light pollution conditions where you live? Tell us based on the Dark Site Finder: I am in a dark white zone, the second worst.
http://darksitefinde...maps/world.htmlI know I have put a lot on the table but these are things I think people need to know before I suggest a scope.

tranardefa

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2018, 11:29:17 AM »
Depending on European taxes and shipping an Intelliscope may blow his budget.

He should be able to afford a smaller regular dob and binoculars. Or he may want a refractor or mak. We don't know.

unoutdethea

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2018, 04:53:09 PM »
I too would recommend an Orion Intelliscope for consideration. I have the XT8 Intelliscope (XT8i).

However I don't know enough about the OP, his experience and situation to know if that is the best recommendation.

The Orion Skyquest XT8 Intelliscope is £656 from this distributor.
http://www.scsastro....rm=Intelliscope

Here is how it works. The beauty of this design is that you can leave the computer turned off and use it manually or you can turn it on and let the object locator help you find targets. I use mine manually about 50% of the time.  Comes with an excellent Right Angle Correct Image 9X50 finder as compared to the typical red dot finder that comes with lower priced packages. It is also lighter than many others. Mine is a good 10 pounds lighter than the comparable Zhumell Z8 for example.

Using the Intelliscope Computer Object Locator
http://s7d5.scene7.c...niversal_Video1If a tabletop 6" would be a better fit there is a Starblast 6i Intelliscope also. £498
http://www.scsastro....g-telescope.htm

Jeremy Gambel

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2018, 02:47:25 AM »
Here I go again. Dobs are not for everyone. About ten years ago a friend and I decided to buy a telescope. We figured that pooling our resources would get us a bigger scope. I wanted a refractor, having had both a relector and a refractor as a kid. My friend, who had never owned a scope, read extensively on this forum and with that he was sold on a Dob. Yes, they do have the biggest bang for the buck, but that's about it. Our 10" Dob was not fun to use. It ended up in my garage for years before I sold it in disgust. I can go on at length about everything I dislike about a Dob and have several times on this forum. I will spare you my rant. Suffice it to say that they are bulky, unwieldy monsters on a lazy Susan that's as stable as a rocking chair in an earthquake.

That said, good luck with whatever you choose.

Cesar Lawhorn

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 02:27:34 AM »
Quote
My advice: buy some good binoculars and a planisphere and learn the night sky. At the same time, attendnearby star gatherings and look through as many instruments as you can. After a few months, if you're still interested, you should have a good idea about what telescope you'd like to own.

Quote

Suffice it to say that they [dobsonians] are bulky, unwieldy monsters on a lazy Susan that's as stable as a rocking chair in an earthquake.

Not true.

Jerry Dunn

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 05:28:29 AM »
Quote
My advice: buy some good binoculars and a planisphere and learn the night sky. At the same time, attendnearby star gatherings and look through as many instruments as you can. After a few months, if you're still interested, you should have a good idea about what telescope you'd like to own.

Quote

Suffice it to say that they [dobsonians] are bulky, unwieldy monsters on a lazy Susan that's as stable as a rocking chair in an earthquake.

Not true.


Not true for you, but though I've obviously exaggerated, it's very true to me. This is a case of perspective and it's foolish to argue. However, I can say without argument, that I've gotten much more enjoyment out of my little 4" go-to than I ever got out of the 10" Dob. I don't miss the old monster one bit.

Yes, I agree about the binoculars. Sometimes less is better than more.

Michael Zamora

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 01:06:17 PM »
I would have bought an 8" DOB (preferably GoTo) and gradually buying good eyepieces. The telescope will change in the future, the eyepieces will remain.

tialegofi

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Re: Beginner, Telescope.
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2018, 03:33:04 AM »
MOst "telescope packages" come with all is required to work them (even if most of us is a bit "whimsical", including myself, and in the end hoards eyepieces and other stuff), usually they lack of a high-power eyepiece but IMHO this is not entirely a bad thing becasue there are few things to learn before pushing the telescope at very high magnification (e.g. twice the aperture in mm).

There are also good advices here, I add only a few thoughts:

-do not underestimate the importance of the mount: better a sometimes smaller optical tube on a good mount than vice versa (with autotracking mount the ratio mount/optical tube can be pushed a bit more toward the tube). You will see more, and better, if your telescope is weel matched to its mount, and will find the telescope far easier to use.

-do not let you to be fooled by the fact that some optical tubes seems to be light (and therefore easy to carry around): a 100/1000 refractor may weight 3-4 kg, but the whole telescope will be in the 15-20kg range

-aperture is the most useful parameter, every time you go for the smaller telescope you should have a good reason to do it (and no, the "mythical" optical quality can not replace aperture. Still, is nice to get the telescope with best optical and mechanical accuracy because it will be easier and more pleasant to use)

-however, larger the telescope, harder it will be to master (a C8 is more complex to master than a small apochromatic refractor because you have to learn how to take advantage of its stronger resolving power).

-if you look at the websites of renown "brands" like Celestron, Skywatcher, Vixen, etc...will see who is the official importer, and the licensed dealers. I do not known UK based shops, but there is a number of pretty large ones in Europe, from which can get almost anything you want (and sometimes is cheaper to purchase from other countries*)

-Dobsonians are very powerful yet cheap and user-friendly, and are the best compromise between weight to lift and aperture (LARGE telescopes are bulky, refractors most of all; and since there are very few 6-7cm Dobsonians, some started to equate Dobsonian=huge).

*but take care that likely this will entail sending back to that country the defective product (IMHO not a real issue unless get a computerized telescope)