Author Topic: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment  (Read 343 times)

behelphyri

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Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« on: December 24, 2017, 10:43:28 AM »
Greetings all....yes it's another help the newb begin post.

After twenty years of talking about acquiring a telescope my spouse has given my go ahead to eventually get you.  So knowing I am not smart enough to know what to get I have come here expecting to get some good advice.   Below are answers to the questions I had been advised to have answers for in the Intro Thread.

~What is your budget?  $500 for extent, the next $200 for accessories
~Where are you going to keep it?   Walkout basement in my house, so no stairs to depart house
~Do you have some experience with visual, binoculars or telescopes?  No
~Are you currently a part of a club?  Not yet but I will be attending the club meeting following month
~Have you attended celebrity parties or outreach events at which you could see and attempt telescopes?  Not yet
~are you going to be celebrating at your home or are you going to need to transfer by car to get to observation sites?  I have 38 acres of land although most of it is wooded.  There is a large power line easement along one edge of my property.  It seems like I will have a good field of view at that location.  This location can be in a rural area with apparently low pollution.  To get to the site I will need to load the range into my truck and drive about a 1/2 mile to the area.

I am planning on focusing on just observing but using a wide assortment of objects at least since I begin.

Depending on the advice I have seen about here and in the several books I got from the library I am now looking at the Orion XT reflector line of scopes.  Specifically the Orion XT8 Plus

http://www.telescope...ByCategoryId=13

Is this a good extent for me based on my above details?  Is there some reason to go another way?

Second question - When I got the preceding scope (and already have the red light and skies atlases covered) what additional accessories would you recommend I get to get the very best start in this hobby?   Better eyepieces?  A better finder?  Something else?

Thank you for your help.



tricapenup

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2017, 10:31:07 PM »
Welcome. What a refreshing change- a beginner who knows what they don't know and asks the right questions!
Consider the Zhumell 8 instead. Better altitude bearings and accessories.

bijstentetal

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2017, 08:40:19 PM »
Welcome. The scope you have listed is about as good as it gets for a beginner with your budget and situations. I wouldreplace the included finder with a Telrad finder; the 10mm eyepiece may be a pain to use, soI recommenda 15mm Plossl from Orion (or others), it'll give a more comfortable view and a more useable magnification in most viewing situations. Not totally necessary but helpful would be a 9x50 RACI (right-angle correct-image) finder scope to complement the Telrad.Withmany of the Messier objects in your skies, you'll see your target in the 9x50,and will be able to center it in the eyepiece before you look through it. It looks like you've done your research, and know what to expect, so you're on a great track.Eventually you may want to build a tracking wedge,which can be had with some scrape wood and ingenuity. Good viewing!

David Pee

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2018, 02:17:17 AM »
Welcome to the forums!
Excellent questions, well considered and formatted.
XT8 or Z8 should make fine scopes for you. The gear you receive with either is a good package to begin observing with. Add a variable height chair. It makes a big difference. To buy Google: Starbound Chair. To build Google: Denver Chair. A Telrad is a superior finder and a great buy at @ $40.
Your best accessory is your favorably dark skies! If you're lucky, the easement runs N-S and the sky will parade through as the night passes and you will be able to see everything that's available.

middbankrecra

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2018, 10:03:42 AM »
The other question you need to ask is, manual or goto/tracking. The xt8 plus is manual, I believe. Goto v manual is a personal choice, with goto you do an initial align then just type the object you want into the hand controller. With manual you star hop to the object, there is a learning curve.

Tracking means the scope rotates to follow the object so it does not walk out of view. Tracking is always provided with goto, virtually never with manual.

David Washington

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 02:24:25 AM »
Quote
Welcome. What a refreshing change- a beginner who knows what they don't know and asks the right questions!
Consider the Zhumell 8 instead. Better altitude bearings and accessories.

The Z8 is $100 cheaper than the XT8and better outfitted: 8x50 finder (costs more to buy separately than an RDF), collimation laser, fan and battery pack.

The only real upgrade it needs is some sort of RDF to speed up star hops. A simple Celestron Starpointer (same basic finder as the EZ Finder II) runs $13 from B&H Photo.

caheadhilldea

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2018, 07:10:10 AM »
a suggested accessory is a cheshire collimator. Cost is somewhere around $30 - $40 as I recall. It's an essential gizmo when it comes time to collimate (which for many of us is "often"). Some of us with more spare loot opt for laser collimators, but a cheshire is a good start.

manreistilles

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2018, 07:26:36 AM »
How about a good pair of binoculars??? You will probably need a chair, and a small table.

Louis Sullivan

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 11:51:07 AM »
Nice intro post, welcome
An 8" DOB is a good choice, I do feel your pain, your property sounds like mine. I did the truck thing for awhile, but moved into something I could carry.
A dob can also be moved by a hand truck, but not a 1/2 mile.
Welcome Aboard!

David Washington

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2018, 11:56:47 AM »
I think the last question is: do you need glasses to observe (for either comfort reasons, or because you have astigmatism)? If you do, you will want new eyepieces designed for long eye relief. If not, you're in decent shape.

I would really get the Zhumell Z8. That is my telescope, and it is a real bargain compared to other 8" dobs in that price range. Do not underestimate how nice it can be to have the 8x50 RACI (right angle correct image) finder compared to a red dot. The laser collimator is great and can be pretty much your only collimation tool if you work around its shortcomings. The mechanicals on the scope are also quite nice: good two speed focuser and a really nice adjustable and balanceable set of altitude bearings / clutches. After I replace everything else on my scope (spider, secondary, primary, knobs, springs ....) I will still be enjoying the finder and the altitude bearings / clutches.

If you do get the Z8 and don't need eyeglasses, these are the must haves I would get:
1) Some kind of eyepiece in the 17-14mm range. Choose anything you want here, but this will be a workhorse eyepiece for you.
2) The GSO barlow. This is super cheap ($33) and turns your 14mm eyepiece into a 7mm, which will generally max out the useful magnification depending on seeing, thermals, collimation and mirror quality. (http://agenaastro.co...arlow-lens.html).
The barlow will also let you collimate your primary even if you don't get your laser collimator fully aligned.

I would also probably get a sight tube to ensure your secondary is positioned correctly and double check gross collimation. (http://agenaastro.co...flectors.html).

You'll want to learn how to align the laser, because it comes badly out of alignment. Whatever the smallest hex key in a metric set is can adjust the laser.

Eyepieces I would try at your club before investing in. There's so many variables and it's a matter of preference. I would get SOMETHING though between 20 and 14 mm, and maybe a nice sub 10mm as well if you really want more, the 9mm plossl is functional but frustrating.

redsmicsiti

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2018, 01:25:14 PM »
Oh, if you get a Z8: take the mirror cell out and release the mirror clips! Mine was pinched quite badly (triangular stars), and from what I've read it seems common. Loosen the mirror clips until a business card could fit between them and the mirror.

risodachest

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2018, 01:30:31 PM »
Welcome FarmerWhite to a most enjoyable pastime.

Your choice of scope is perfect. Although the Z8 is also a great scope the included laser collimator will probably need to be collimated itself and the fan isn't really a necessity with an 8" mirror. Buy the Orion.

As for accessories:

-Get a book called Nightwatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe
-Get a chair or stool. An adjustable drummer's stool is perfect.
-Get a right angle correct image finder scope in addition to the red dot finder included with the Orion scope.
-Get a small table.
-Make yourself comfortable while observing so as to enjoy the experience. (Clothes, food, bugspray, etc.)
-There's lots more stuff you could get, but your best bet is to go to a club and see what's working for others. Join a club and ask questions!

Remember that a telescope is like a musical instrument, the more you practice the better your results will be.

(And that's a beautiful dog you've got there)

elunmolunch

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2018, 11:48:09 PM »
Quote
Your choice of scope is perfect. Although the Z8 is also a great scope the included straight through finder is not and will not add joy to your evening. The included laser collimator will probably need to be collimated itself and the fan isn't really a necessity with an 8" mirror. Buy the Orion.

A few corrections to the above:
1. The Z8 finder is 8x50 RACI in the images I have seen, not straight through. This is the same finder as is on our Z10 purchased less than a year ago. It is great value compared to the Orion package.
2. While collimators vary, the one that came with our Z10 is literally spot on. It has been a value compared to the Orion package.
3. Fans are only a "necessity" if you want good images in a reasonable period of time. You don't have to use a fan if you don't want to, butit is nice to have when the outdoor temp is 20 to 40degrees less thanyour scope starting out. This is particularly true when interested in viewing planets, which are often earlyactivities. Again, a value compared to the Orion package.

I put the difference in the two packages at least $100 in Zhumell's favor (even adding in a few dollars for an RDF)...then you add in the $100 lower asking price. These are things I put value on based on experience with Dobs. I don't doubt the Orion is a good scope, but if I was starting out I would be looking at $100 worth of upgrades from the start after having spent and extra $100 up front. Others will have different priorities.

Unfortunately, there are some minor errors in the Zhumell catalog listing. The total weight is probably not right and is likely for the whole shipping package (two separate packages) as it was in the listing for my Z10. The Z10 fully assembled weighed 53 lbs. The page says right angle finder, but image is of an RACI (as on the Z10.) Actual mirror is 200mm from what I recall of prior discussionsand ratio is a full f/6 as a result.

reilpipohen

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2018, 03:22:14 PM »
https://www.telescop...ector-telescope

The Z8 kit has a superior trunnion system, where the telescope's tube joins the mount, and over the Orion XT8. You get so much more besides with the Z8.

For the very lowest power, 29x, to augment the finderscope in finding things to observe ...

http://agenaastro.co...w-eyepiece.html

There's a 50mm(24x), too, and for binocular-like views...

http://agenaastro.co...w-eyepiece.html

The kit comes with a 2" 30mm, and for a power of 40x, and similar to this one, if the not the exact same...

http://agenaastro.co...w-eyepiece.html

The 9mm that also comes with the kit will provide a power of 133x, and similar to this one as well...

http://agenaastro.co...l-eyepiece.html

GSO manufactures the Zhumell products.

The included 9mm will have a relatively narrow view, with a manual mount, therefore you may want to consider an eyepiece with a wider view, and for more viewing time before having to bump and nudge the telescope to reacquire the object...

http://agenaastro.co...epiece-8mm.html
http://agenaastro.co...0-eyepiece.html
https://www.astronom...ice_p19428.aspx
https://www.astronom...ece_p20169.aspx

You get a discount at Astronomics if you mention your used id, "FarmerWhite", when ordering.

The planets will look pretty good at 133x to 150x with those eyepieces. 200x and up would be even better...

http://agenaastro.co...a-eyepiece.html
http://agenaastro.co...0-eyepiece.html
https://www.astronom...ice_p19567.aspx
https://www.astronom...ece_p20167.aspx

An 8" aperture can, theoretically, reach a power of 400x.

These eyepieces offer wide fields-of-view...

http://agenaastro.co...w-eyepiece.html (60x)
http://agenaastro.co...w-eyepiece.html (80x)

There's also the option of just getting several Plossls and a 2x barlow...

http://agenaastro.co...plossl/gso.html
http://agenaastro.co...xen_optics.html
http://agenaastro.co...ead-ub2stl.html
http://agenaastro.co...arlow-lens.html
http://agenaastro.co...qb-2956185.html

To find the power of an eyepiece with a Z8, simply divide the telescope's focal-length by that of the eyepiece; a 5mm for example...

1200mm รท 5mm = 240x

A 2x barlow will convert a 9mm(133x) eyepiece to a 4.5mm(267x); a 12mm(100x) into a 6mm(200x), and so on. That way, you can have just three eyepieces and a barlow, and for six different magnifications. But you have to plan it out carefully so that there are no duplicate powers.

Plossls shorter than 10mm will have tight-eye-relief, and where your eye would almost touch the eye-lens of the eyepiece in order to see the full view, like this 6mm...

http://agenaastro.co...l-eyepiece.html

I have that one, and it's pretty tight, but the view is like......
Here are some high-power eyepieces to consider, and without a barlow...

http://agenaastro.co..._under/bst.html

Newtonians must be collimated, aligned, often upon arrival after a bumpy shipment, and occasionally thereafter as it's owned and operated...

http://www.forumskyl...Collimation.pdf
http://www.schlatter...y/collimate.htm

The kit will come with a laser collimator. Make certain to check it for alignment before using it on the telescope, else misalignment of the mirrors can occur...

https://www.youtube....h?v=bE09_X43UUQ
https://www.youtube....h?v=A6R2InWjFbQ

Or, you can use the passive tools to collimate the telescope, as mentioned within the instructions above...

http://agenaastro.co...t-eyepiece.html
http://www.telescope...c/54/p/3640.uts

I expect you'll want to use the included laser collimator instead, therefore make certain it's aligned before using.

The higher the powers you attempt to achieve, the more critical, more precise, the collimation must be, and for best image quality. Feel free to obsess over the process, and for best performance.

Under relatively dark skies, the Z8 will shine, and beyond your expectations even.

Danny Rodriguez

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Re: Getting started with a Scope and Equipment
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 02:56:10 AM »
Thank you all for the great advice and please keep it coming. After reading everything y'all had to say and staying up way too late (2am) last night telescope shopping I think I have a few ideas for a starting package. I'll list my ideas below and please feel free to comment, critique, and point out better option I might have missed in my sleep deprived state. I am not locked in on any of this yet, these are just my thoughts.

Telescope - Zhumell Z8 price: $399.00
~Extra goodies
Barlow Lens - GSO 1.25" 2x "Shorty" Achromatic price: $36.00 (is there a comparable barlow on Astronomics?)
Non-Magnifying Finder - Telrad Finder price: $39.95
Eye Piece - Explore Scientific 14mm 82<sup>0</sup> 1.25" price: $149.95 (worth it? too much to start with?)
Chair - I think I will build one of the "Denver Chairs", they seem easy enough to put together
Red Light - I have a LED head lamp with a flip down red light filter (will that work?)
Star Atlas - Sky and Telescope's Pocket Sky Atlas price: $12.72
Collimator - I think I will stick with the included Laser collimator that comes with the Z8
I still have about $75.00 in my budget to spend (now I don't HAVE to spend it but....). So anything I am missing or anything else that would be a nice grab to start with? Maybe another EP? (I know buying EP's are like eating Potato chips, you just can't have one)

btw, I do not wear glasses so this is not an issue for me.