Author Topic: First telescope...what you wish you'd known  (Read 88 times)

raposttavers

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First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« on: December 24, 2017, 10:19:56 AM »
I've read through forums, and that I really don't think I've seen this question asked precisely this way before, so...

I am just considering purchasing my first telescope, and I am not really searching for advice about which particular one to get.  I am really wondering more what you've learned that you wish you had known before purchasing your first.  At the moment, I believe I wish to be able to see it all planets, the Moon, DSOs; however I am assuming after I've been at it a while, I might gravitate further 1 way or another and I'll get the things I believed were important, I really don't believe are important anymore.

In all your own personal experiences, what's become most important for you and how does that translate into what you appreciate more today in a particular telescope and mount layout than you believed you did when you were searching for your initial one (ex.  Do you wish you had gotten something more mobile, do you really wish you had gotten the biggest aperture for the money, do you really wish you had gone altazimuth or EQ or monitoring or GOTO, do you wish you had gotten some thing to produce moon and planets series better contrast and detail, etc.?) ?

I live in about a 4 sky and have only as low as 3 within driving distance, but not close enough that I'd realistically go into the 3 sky more than once a month.  Storage and vehicle transport are not really an issue.  I am not planning to spend more than $700 to begin.

And don't hesitate to indicate actual models if you would like.  :-)



Lesego Dowdy

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2017, 07:16:46 PM »
Pick a midrange focal ratio, say f/6 to f/10, for good general purpose performance.
A scope that is easy to transport, set up, and use will translate to more observing time.

Robert Porter

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2017, 01:10:05 AM »
I wish I had taken more time visually observing before sacrificing my wallet to the AP gods. If I were to start over, I would get a 10 inch dob with tracking (regarding GOTO I could argue for or against). Instead I bought a 120mm F/8.3 achromat on a tracking mount. I was so excited about the stuff I saw I felt compelled to take pictures with my phone, through an eyepiece. This quickly progressed into modding a webcam to capture some DSOs. Fast forward 6 months and I now have a dual refractor imaging rig with a cooled astrocam and guide camera, with over 5k invested total. I love imaging, but it borderlines on an obsession in my case.

Coco Moten

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2017, 02:08:38 PM »
(First telescope = 1970-vintage Edmund Scientific 4-1/4" Deluxe Space Conqueror reflector, with GEM mount)
(Next telescope = Celestron NexStar 127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope on Vixen Porta II alt-az mount)

I wish I had known that Altitude-Azimuth (Alt-Az) mounts were a lot friendlier to my back than German Equatorial Mounts (GEMs) are. Alt-Az mounts don't force me to contort my body all over the place to peer in a Newtonian Reflector's eyepiece. Slow-Motion control knobs are also great to move the telescope slowly, instead of just pushing the Optical Tube Assembly (OTA)haphazardly.

tradunjuwa

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2018, 05:52:50 AM »
I started with an 8" SCT on a clock drive equatorial fork mount22 years ago. To my recollection it was the first astroscope I had ever looked through and it fit my needs/plans perfectly--and I still use it at times. I researched for some time before pulling the trigger. I wouldn't have been satisfied with a smaller scope at the time--and I don't think I would have found anything as utilitarian at the time with larger aperture. Today things could be very different.

My initial purchase included planned upgrades as soon as I had verified the optics were good. These all worked out.

The main things I would have done differently would have required knowing aheadwhat eyepiece configurations I would have eventuallypreferred with the scope. Until one uses some different types it isnot really possible to know one's preferences. I thought simple Plossl's and 1.25" format would suffice, but soon realized that I wanted more field of view and brighter field for some nebulae where the 40mm Plossl really was not sufficient. Likewise, short focal length Plossl's are not a lot of fun touse. I tried a 9mm Nagler and found it excellent. I converted to 2" diagonal and a 55 Plossl. The lesson learned is to max out the low power/wide field of any scope early on. Unfortunately, that is not an inexpensive thing to do with mostscopes, so it iseasy to understand why so many of us take tentative steps that cost more in the long run.

It wasn't until recently that I have become more interested in the widest field views and acquired the gear to appreciate them. Some of this depends on thedarkness of the skies onehas available.

What is most important to me now is being able to use large aperture in dark skies to hunt the faintest and dimmest things I can reach. I am not concerned about drives, equatorial mounts, or setting circles.

David Washington

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2018, 01:12:42 PM »
I wish I knew more about mounts. Since I'm a visual observer, I've never been tempted by GEMs. I made a mistake to buy a Twilight I mount when I ordered my first 72 mm telescope. Although some CN members are ok with using it, this mount causes too much shaking whenever a focal position is adjusted. After few frustrating attempts to operate my 72 mm on the Twilight I, I found a better mount for the telescope. The Twilight I is still gathering dust.

I've learned my lesson. When I consider a telescope, the first question I ask myself is what mount would be able to carry this telescope well.

malralilin

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2018, 12:05:37 PM »
Before I bought my first scope, I did a lot of research, not really knowing where I would end up, just like you. I eventually bought an 8" Dobsionian telescope and started there. I soon realized that I wanted to see deeper into the night sky. My original scope was a little too small in aperture size for what I really needed (wanted). My next purchase was overkill!!!! Yes, the views thru this new (larger) scope were fantastic, however, it was just too large for me to transport comfortably. So as a result of this overkill in size, I rarely used this scope. I eventually sold that scope and finally found the right size for me!!!!

If you have the opportunity to visit a local astronomy club or star party, please do!!! Most amateur astronomers are more then willing to allow you to look thru their scopes and explain there equipment ..... We are very helpful. That is the best advise that I can give someone looking to enter this great hobby....

Good luck and keep us informed as to what path you decided to take.

Clear skies.

Johnny Jeep

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2018, 12:51:03 PM »
Hmmmm. I think we have seen this Q before but it's never the same, person to person. So, before I address anything else you wrote, I see that you want to limit the spending to $700. That will limit what you can get. I was thinking about an 8" SCT, which would cover ALL your needs for some time to come. But you will have to look carefully on CN Classifieds or post a wanted ad for one to get it to come in at the 700 mark. That doesn't include EP's, etc. that you'll need. You see the problem here, don't you? So, having said that, a C5 or 127MM Mak might do it for you and still leave something in your pocket for accessories. Review the Orion or Skywatcher Maks for more detail....
I started out with a Meade 8" LX200 Classic, so believe it or not, I didn't have any real regrets later on except aperture fever. But I solved that two years ago with a 12" Push-To Dob. I dove into the deep end of the pool and found I could swim. Dumb luck, I guess. So I'm afraid I can't give you any sage advice there, sorry. But you say you've got it covered from there, so I'll wish you good luck and happy hunting once you obtain what you want!

STARKID2U

Cesar Rojas

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 04:48:15 PM »
My first scope was when I was about 8 or 9 years old, it was a little scope from K-Mart(Selsi I think) about 1.5 inches and with a sliding straight through eyepiece that changed magnification from 10-50x with clicks every 10x. I would climb on the roof of the porch and look at the moon and just up into space with it, and it was with that little scope I first learned that most stars I see are not a single star  I wish I still had that one.

Next when I finally got out of college and got a job I picked up a long cheap 60mm Meade on an equatorial mount. This was at the time Hale Bopp was visible and I used it to view the comet, lunar and even Saturn. Soon after once I saved a little more I picked up a Meade ETX90 RA. Simple table top legs for Eq mode and it was the first time I saw the nebula in Orion. I then bought the tripod for it that I can easily switch from Alt Az to Eq. Almost 20 years later I learned to mod a webcam and made my first photos of the Moon, Jupiter and Saturn. Now I have the bug for AP.

The one thing I would change is I would have put my money into observing instead of several other things  (having a girlfriend wreck three of my vehicles didn't help at all).

At your price point a Dob would be good if you are into DSOs, the small 90-127mm Maks are good for Planetary/Lunar and a small Refractor would probably be good for both together. Also invest in good eyepieces, those you can carryover to any scope you have as you advance.

Matt Gibbs

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2018, 04:59:39 AM »
We're all different but: I wish that I had started with a smaller, lower-maintenance, wider-FOV, alt-az mounted refractor rather than the wedge-mounted catadioptrics that I initially bought.

Jessie Forbes

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 10:14:11 AM »
When I think about that time, less than a year ago, when I spent 3 weeks researching, what strikes me the most is how back then $200 seemed like a lot to spend on a first telescope. (In 6 months I spent a grand in 3 scopes & an EAA camera).

I had been thrifty my whole life. A saver. I have no debts and very healthy savings. After the scopes, I'm more spendy, much less thrifty in general, than before. They changed me.

What do I wish I had known?

Nature:
The sky is not a commercial service. We are used to expect service, and guarantees from our purchases, usability, User eXperience, ergonomics, pampering to the detail. The more it costs like an iPhone, the more we expect an iPhone experience. I wish I had known nature is not like that. The sky has no customer service, nor do the laws of physics.

EAA:
I wish I had known what EAA was, how I wouldn't be satisfied with the "faint wisps of smoke" that nebula appear like at visual, I wish I had known I could do EAA with an alt azimuth "not so expensive, not so heavy" tracking mount.

Mount:
I wish I had known how important tracking is. If I could wind time back I'd tell myself to get a tracking mount at the beginning.

Eyepieces:
I got a Celestron 8-24 zoom with the intention of avoiding starting a collection of eyepieces. As I purchased my 2nd (Zhumell 114) and 3rd (Orion 80mm Starblast) scopes, and got the eyepieces that came with them, I got to try different focal lengths, and grew to dislike the very narrow (40°) apparent field of view of the zoom at the 24mm end. I decided to buy a set of 66° Orion Expanse clones from my Chinese provider (for $84), and I love them. If I could go back in time I wouldn't get the zoom.

Sky:
I wish I had known how terribly light polluted my sky at home is. I failed to consider this at all during my initial research, and incorrectly interpreted opinions and advise I had read here, without understanding that a lot of it was about use under dark skies, and how much different it would wind up to be for me at home.

Scopes:
The big one. To be honest, I wish I could get my 1k back from my 3 scopes and start over. I'd get the largest aperture EAA capable, alt-az tracking telescope I could get for $1200.

* I might take my 90mm Mak on a beach trip next December (it's first birthday), but after that, I'm most likely going to sell it. That is, if I can find a local buyer (I'm not in the US).
* I'm getting rings to mount my 114mm F4 reflector on my tracking mount to accompany the 80mm refractor on EAA duty.
* I'm doing very little visual lately. Still looking for a suitable "dark site" that can serve as a weekend retreat for me and my wife. Once I do, I'll reconsider my visual equation.

kondcongrese

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 12:53:20 PM »
Quote
<...>
My original scope was a little too small in aperture size for what I really needed (wanted). My next purchase was overkill!!!! Yes, the views thru this new (larger) scope were fantastic, however, it was just too large for me to transport comfortably. So as a result of this overkill in size, I rarely used this scope. I eventually sold that scope and finally found the right size for me!!!!
<...>
Thank you very much for sharing your experience. As observers, we have different interests and lifestyles. We live in places with very different climates and amounts of light pollution. All these factors should be considered in the instrument selection. Unfortunately, some observers view the aperture size as THE factor and completely ignore other considerations.

In a recent thread in the Beginner's Forum, the OP sought opinions about two very reasonable telescope options he was considering, a 6'' SCT or an 80 mm refractor. He mentioned his interest in casual observations and emphasized his need for portability. He lives in a hot and humid climate.

Below is a sample of the responses:

- Poster #1: "All else being equal, I would vote [for a larger telescope] since aperture still and always rules."

- Poster #2: "Aperture rules. First and last word."

- Poster #3: "For visual astronomy bigger (aperture) is better."

- Poster #4: "...the 8" [SCT], within your budget used, would be even better."

- Poster #5 : "..the Explore Scientific (ES) 10" compact dob <...> would be a good option."

This kind of advice is not helpful to the beginners.

Andre Stubblefield

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2018, 02:52:03 AM »
You nailed the one that I wished I had known... I started with an EQ mount, and a year later sold that setup and replaced it with an alt/az setup. EQ mounts only cause extra effort and provide no benefit unless you are imaging. Extra setup time to polar align, having to rotate the EP every time you go to another object, and awkward viewing positions all detract from the experience IMO.

However, if not going with a goto mount, EQ mounts do make manually tracking easier since you only have to move on one axis, so there is a benefit there.

Bob

soamezquipack

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2018, 07:01:06 PM »
SCTs are good if you prefer goto scopes. Or Dobs give you aperture and reasonably wide FOV for star hopping, at a price that fits your budget. Or a grab and go scope for short, impromptu stargazing sessions. These are typically a 4" refractor or a 6" reflector on a alt az mount.

I wish i knew if I preferred goto over star hopping, visual over AP, etc. before I got my first scope. But sometimes you just have to jump in and see what works for you. $700 is a reasonable budget for first scope. Enough for a real telescope but not so much you can't afford to upgrade to the one you really want later. You know, after you figure out what you really want.

Scitt

Robert Bilbruck

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Re: First telescope...what you wish you'd known
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2018, 02:20:28 PM »
What is "EAA"?