Author Topic: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?  (Read 395 times)

Daniel Ferguson

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Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« on: December 29, 2017, 02:28:45 AM »
So for reasons that are not worth getting deeply into, at least for the moment I have talked myself out of a big scope mainly because its not worth the money for as little as I would be able to use it at this time in my life (1 and 2 year old kids for one thing).

SO

I have decided to try and find a decent small scope that still can see a lot. I understand that decent and small to most of you means big $$, but I am looking mainly just for something that can see enough to stay interesting long term and complement a larger scope rather than just being a throw away somewhere down the road.

I am considering going to look at a Meade ETX-80AT-BB that is used for $150. They seem to have decent reviews for a scope of that class but there seem to be several versions and several generations of them so its hard to tell exactly what this one all is and which ones people are talking about in forum posts. Long term durability of anything electronic with electric motors always makes me nervous.

What would be your opinions on this purchase (both the scope choice and the price) and if its a go what specifics would I be looking at when inspecting it and probably testing it as I may end up driving there after dark to look at it (hopefully).

My available choices are somewhat limited as I can only afford used stuff or such low quality stuff that I wouldn't want it. A full manual scope would also be an option if a good one came up cheap.



Jeremy Butler

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2017, 12:41:31 AM »
Welcome to Cloudy Nights. I trust that your time here will be well spent (aside from this post).

I'm sorry that I can't help you out as I know nothing about the particular scope that you are contemplating for purchase.

Anyways, I'm sure that some body will get around to supplying you with all that you need to know.

Good luck in your adventures in the fine world of astronomy.

napephona

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2017, 05:25:26 PM »
I'm glad that you've decided to make your kids a priority, both in time and money. I did the same thing, many years ago, and never regretted it.
So, now you still want to do some astronomy, and you're definitely in the bargain-basement as far as budget...
I've also been in that category for many years, partly by necessity and partly by choice and temperament.
I'd advise you to look at dobs as the most for the money. There are several on the market that sell for $200 brand new... I have Meade's version (the 130mm f/5) and it is a great little scope, and will show you a lot.
Or, for just a little more money, if you have the physical space, you could get a 6 or 8-inch. Consider buying used equipment... almost everything I use I bought on this website or on Craigslist. With a small budget, I always felt that electronics was too expensive, so I've worked with manual scopes and binoculars. But that's just me.
Cloudy Nights is the place to be if you want information, help, and kindred spirits... it's been a huge help to me.
I hope you have many great nights out under the stars.
--John.

dogswargersdurch

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2017, 12:01:21 AM »
My first scope was an ETX70. That's an older model than the EXT80AT-BB. I think I paid $75 for it used. I enjoyed it when I got it and used it quite often. It was a nice step up from binoculars. If you keep your expectations in check it's not a bad little scope. It only has a 400mm focal length so you won't be viewing a lot of deep sky objects but it's great for wide field views. I'm on my 3rd scope and I still have mine. It's a great little travel scope and that's what I use it for more than anything these days.

You can check out Weasners Mighty ETX site - http://www.weasner.com/etx/menu.html

There is a lot of info you may find helpful. I think $150 is a fair price if it's in good condition and working properly.

I'm sure others will chime in with advice and other options you can consider.

John

schemsucopost

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2018, 02:30:26 PM »
IF you could spend a certain amount of money, how much would it be?

A Meade ETX-80 is a very nice wide field telescope, but with a 400mm focal length, you're not really going to see too much, even planets. I know that one of our members has this telescope, or one similar to it, and he's happy with it, but he's also upgraded to larger telescopes.

Both Meade and Celestron offer bigger telescopes in the $500 price range. I'm not sure where you're located, but if you look in our Classifieds, you'll find some pretty good bargains. For instance, this:

https://www.cloudyni...ar-127-slt-mak/

Here's another one that would be a step up from the 80mm.

https://www.cloudyni...estron-4se-xlt/

Here's that same Celestron 127, only a different seller, who will ship.

https://www.cloudyni...estron-127-slt/

Here's a nice 130mm reflector. The hand controller might need to be 're-flashed', but that's not hard to do.

https://www.cloudyni...r-130-slt-5-f5/

If you want a 'refractor', which is what everyone thinks of when they think telescope, here's one that's not even been out of the box.

https://www.cloudyni...ractor-package/

https://www.optcorp....cope-21088.html

I don't think it's an XLT, I think it's the SLT that he's talking about, which is why I linked a picture and description there. But, for $225, that's a pretty good deal.

Anyway, take a good look at the classifieds, ask questions before you buy, LOTS of questions, so that you know what you're getting ahead of time.

Good luck and clear skies!

puzzweetscareg

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 03:20:26 AM »
Its not just the money really since I could technically save up enough if I wanted to, its how much dust would pile up on my scope before each use, if I get a lower cost one then I don't really feel obligated to get out and use it all the time, and one like the model I am looking at that comes with its own backpack could be taken along almost anywhere and used as a side event rather than the main affair. I could even take it on a plane to other places.

I have a Chevy Suburban and lift heavy things for a living, so size and weight is a non issue, and on the dark sky finder thing I live in a dark yellow zone with a lot of green and blue within a 1/2 hour and even the lightest of the grey colors nearby (if I can find a clear public site anywhere in it) so eventually I will make use of a big scope.

I was seriously considering the Orion XT10 as my one scope plan now that they have the plus version in that size too, but I decided it just wont get used enough right now, so instead I think I would like a little scope to start, and at least a 12 inch truss model from them later. I have used some of the bigger starter size scopes with friends in the past like the 130's and that's getting to the point where its too big and expensive for a portable toy, and too small for any serious viewing I would want to do. If I saw one with a carrying case that broke down quick and was used cheap I might reconsider.

I actually expect a lot (probably unrealistic almost) from a more serious sized and expensive telescope so 12" would probably be the minimum size for me for my big scope down the road.
At $150 used (something like $300ish new I think) and backpack portable its a fun toy and my expectations are much lower.

James Merrill

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 11:18:50 AM »
Just my opinion, but jumping in at any depth is a great start. It's your personal experience at the eyepiece that will fuel and fill the information gap between reading about the hobby and actually doing it. Compared to when I started there are far, far moreoptions, the quality as good or better, and the prices able to accommodate all budgets. So equipment is there and can be had now, the art of observing takes time and patience - learning your skies and the seasonal procession of objects of interest.

In my sigline are several scopes much smaller than the 8" SCt on 'goto' alt/az mount I used to recommend as the "ideal" starter scope. The hobby is in it's ways intricate and takes time and patience, and depending on your typical weather could be a LOT of patience. When my daughter was born it was the time component that suffered. At one point I sold all my gear except a little Meade ETX 125 (I think that was it?) and waited until she was older for more extravagant gear- you have that times two. But that little scope kept my hand in the game, and I had so many enjoyable sessions with it. I just left it out in the back yard with a cover over it like the BBQ and other things used at opportunistic intervals.

sandsibyno

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 05:30:24 PM »
I'm glad you won't have high expectations. I'm conflicted here. I understand not wanting to spend a lot of money on something that may, or may not, get used often. That's only natural. On the other hand, an 80mm by 400mm telescope is not going to show you a whole lot. If you were set up for imaging, I'd say it would be a great scope, on a proper equatorial mount, but that's not what you're doing.

There's a program called Stellarium, you can download that, and in the PlugIns, you can enable the Telescope Simulator. Put in an 80mm by 400mm telescope and then start going to different objects in space, the Messier catalog (M1-M110). I think you're going to be rather disappointed in what that telescope will see. Try the same thing on the planets.

Here's another program that will model your telescope and some objects. It's more for how bright they are, something that Stellarium does not do well. You can use eyepiece lengths of 25, 9 and 6 to have an idea of what you might see.

Look up the data on the other scopes and see how they compare. Sure, the Dob is going to be the best for viewing, as long as you don't mind dragging it in and out of the car everytime you want to go somewhere to view. But, if you don't mind that, a Zhumell Z8 Dobsonian is a great starter telescope and relatively inexpensive.

Best deal on the market in my opinion.

https://www.telescop...ector-telescope

James Bagby

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2018, 05:55:25 PM »
I started out with binoculars and an Orion ST80mm telescope...for years before I got anything else. Knowing your usage paradigms, especially with two small bundles of joy is a great starting point.

Should you start with this type of set up, you'll get a lot of mileage. Down the road when things "settle" down, add to your stable. I still use my 80mm quite often'ish (when work and hubster and clients aren't all vying for my attention LOL)...take it slow, start small, add when you can do so.

BTW, I know someone who used a 50mm telescope to find all Messier objects, found DSO's and has written extensively on the humble 50mm. (He also has some outstanding larger telescopes which are jaw droppingly beautiful).

enmumenge

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2018, 09:59:48 PM »
I have two young kids and stargazing is the one hobby that I have been able to maintain on a regular basis. Because I can do it after the kids are in bed. You could get a used 8" Dob for around $200 I suspect. 8" is sort of a minimum for serious deep space observing. Or a 4" refractor for a convenient, low maintenance quick look scope. I wouldn't go less than 4" for an only scope.

Scott

salonpeli

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2018, 04:42:09 AM »
I am going to suggest you take a look at the OneSky.,There's a looong thread about it here in the beginners forum.,It's small.,portable.,has 5" of glass.,comes with 2 usable EPs.,and is a fine instrument overall.,usable right out of the box.,Set it on a milkcrate.,have a seat.,and enjoy.,.,good luck with your choices., The one drawback is that it's a mirrored scope and not for terrestrial use.,

exvermabo

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2018, 05:37:36 AM »
I was going to suggest something like a 5" or 6" Schmidt-Cassegrain, but when I read that you live in a yellow zone with even darker skies just a short drive away, I have to think a cheap, used 6" or 8" Dobsonian would be pretty much impossible to beat.
Sent from my LG-H915 using Tapatalk

portfreqportri

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2018, 07:59:27 AM »
PPPPPP42:

First let me say hello and  to Cloudy Nights.

At one point I owned the predecessor to the ETX-80, the ETX-70. The scopes are fast achromatic refractors, at higher powers, viewing the planets, they show significant chromatic aberration, this combined with the relative small aperture, means they are not well suited to viewing the planets or concentrating on double stars. These are prime targets for the backyard amateur astronomer.

I am also reluctant to purchase entry level GOTO scopes used. There can be hidden problems and if the electronics fail, you are pretty much stuck with an unusable scope, too expensive to fix, difficult to use without the electronics. Manual mounts are much less likely to give trouble, there is not much to go wrong.

It is what it is and any scope is a good scope if one has reasonable expectations. Diving in and finding out how cold the water is has it's virtues.

But the ETX-80 is not a scope I would choose, knowing what I know, in your situation. It's something of a paradox, GOTO is most useful at high magnifications where the fields of view are small and least useful at low magnifications where the scope itself serves giant finder scope. An 80mm F/5 on an manual mount, it's a scope one uses to explore and discover the sky, the next step up from binoculars. The chromatic aberration these scopes exhibit is not an issue at low magnifications and they can be easily used during the day to just look around or study birds and wildlife. The GOTO mount of the ETX-80 makes this more difficult.

My own choice in this price range would be a used 6-8-10 inch Dob or one of the 130mm F/5 mini-dobs. I have owned a number of the 130mm F/5s though never as a mini-Dob. They are very capable and offer both reasonably wide fields of view as well as nice views at higher magnifications of the planets and double stars.

Jon

rennlispuring

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2018, 11:02:23 AM »
Welcome, I owned one, and liked it, but as Jon said, it's at a paradox, small fast scope that can't resolve a lot of stuff in it's data base.
At that price point you can pick up a 6" dob

Richard Washington

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Re: Talked myself out of a big scope, how about this little one?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2018, 06:48:10 PM »
Quote
So for reasons that are not worth getting deeply into, at least for the moment I have talked myself out of a big scope mainly because its not worth the money for as little as I would be able to use it at this time in my life (1 and 2 year old kids for one thing).

SO

I have decided to try and find a decent small scope that still can see a lot. I understand that decent and small to most of you means big $$, but I am looking mainly just for something that can see enough to stay interesting long term and complement a larger scope rather than just being a throw away somewhere down the road.

I am considering going to look at a Meade ETX-80AT-BB that is used for $150. They seem to have decent reviews for a scope of that class but there seem to be several versions and several generations of them so its hard to tell exactly what this one all is and which ones people are talking about in forum posts. Long term durability of anything electronic with electric motors always makes me nervous.

What would be your opinions on this purchase (both the scope choice and the price) and if its a go what specifics would I be looking at when inspecting it and probably testing it as I may end up driving there after dark to look at it (hopefully).

My available choices are somewhat limited as I can only afford used stuff or such low quality stuff that I wouldn't want it. A full manual scope would also be an option if a good one came up cheap.


OK, I'll buck the trend here... based on your criteria... cheap and portable, coupled with limited time due to 2 little bundles of time sucking joy (not being disrespectful, I have 3 grown kids that have provided me with 5 more bundles of time sucking joy... it never ends, but the kids are well worth it at any cost and I get the little ones involved as much as possible...), so I am going to recommend you get a decent pair of 10X50 binoculars. They check off the cheap and portable box handily, and require zero setup time... ultimate grab and go. Living as you do near darker skies, you will be able to see more than you think. Superb for wide views of star fields. However, they will not show you what a 80mm telescope will show you... but based on what you state above, I'll bet you'll use them more than a scope right now and when the kiddos are older, they will take to them like ducks to water. I have found you never outgrow binoculars.

My two pence and worth about as much...

Good luck with your choice!

CB