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Help deciding between 3 beginner telescopes?

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#1 gosox2525

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:26 PM

would you recommend the Orion SpaceProbe 3
Link

the Orion Observer 70mm
Link

or the Celestron AstroMaster 114
Link

All of these are under $200, which is my budget. I live very near chicago, and on the clearest nights see around magnitude 3 or 4 stars. Which telescope do you think would be the best? I do want to view the moon and planets but also am interested in the Pleiades, and other DSO's. Thanks so much! :)

#2 kfiscus

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:28 PM

None of the above. I'd get a good-as-new 6" dob for $150 on the interweb from a well-rated seller.

#3 JohnMurphyRN

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:33 PM

None of the above. I'd get a good-as-new 6" dob for $150 on the interweb from a well-rated seller.


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#4 frito

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:35 PM

+1 Check craigs list and the classifieds here regularly. the cheap Chinese 6" and 8" dobs go up for sale at and under 200 dollars pretty regularly. a dob is probably one of the best beginner scopes because they are simple, easy to use, have more aperture for your money and are great to learn on because they force you to learn the night sky :) all those scopes listed are much worse in quality and performance and ones with EQ mount like the Celestron will require you to polar align them before use otherwise your going to hate life trying to navigate the skies with one. the only positive thing about manual EQ mounts is once you do find an object tracking it by hand is much easier than a dob, but manual tracking on a dob is a skill that is learned with time and can be done quite effectively as long as your not trying to track something at the zenith.

#5 gosox2525

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:36 PM

I like these 3 though, I want something more portable that a 6" dob. Which out of the three do you think is the best, which is most worth it?

#6 frito

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:37 PM

you planning on taking a hike with the thing? if thats the case forget about telescopes get some decent binoculars and a tripod for them or something.

#7 gosox2525

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:39 PM

Haha no i just mean in the car and such. I dont know I didnt look into 6" dobs, I didnt know they were available for that cheap. Can anyone give me some links? or where should I look?

#8 frito

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 08:43 PM

get an 8" dob if you can. buy used. i bought my XT8 for 200 locally. i sold my XT6 it replaced for 160 locally both via Craigslist. the 8's have more room to grow because of the 2" focuser and have a bit more light grasp but 6" is no slouch either. portability of either one is about the same. they both weigh under 50 lbs assembled and can be carried as a single unit. for transport just take the OTA off the base and stick it across the back seat or like i do in my pickup cab in the passenger seat. and throw the base in the bed of the truck/trunk of the car.

it takes less than 5 min to unpack and setup a solid tube dob at a viewing site.

#9 KWB

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:04 PM

would you recommend the Orion SpaceProbe 3
Link

the Orion Observer 70mm
Link

or the Celestron AstroMaster 114
Link

All of these are under $200, which is my budget. I live very near chicago, and on the clearest nights see around magnitude 3 or 4 stars. Which telescope do you think would be the best? I do want to view the moon and planets but also am interested in the Pleiades, and other DSO's. Thanks so much! :)

Hello and welcome to CN! :)

I think you should have what you like,especially if money is short and $200 is all you have to spend. With a few exceptions,a number newly purchased budget telescopes in 2012 are better than no telescope. Purchased new,one gets a warranty. Of the 3 telescopes you linked to,I like the 70mm F/10 refractor by far the best. It's mount can be manipulated to be used in the Alt/Az mode for the very simple operation of moving the scope up and down,or right to left. This refractor can show Lunar and planetary detail,plus the ability to split quite a number of double stars that no regular pair of comparable priced binoculars can hope to match.

The 76mm reflector will provide no optical advantage and requires collimation,which isn't a huge task at a focal ratio of F/9. It will also require some time when taken outdoor to acclimate to the outside observing temperatures(the refractor will require practically none).

The 114mm reflector also will have the same requirements as the smaller reflector plus IMO it is of a design that compromises it's optical quality being of a Bird/Jones design. IMO it is best avoided,as in one of the exception I noted above. The design also doesn't make isn't easy to accurately collimate, for even an experienced user.

#10 drewp

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:05 PM

those 3 with tripods will take up almost as much space as a 6" dob. i dont think your going to find anyone on here thats willing to recommend any of those for you.

#11 gosox2525

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:42 PM

Yea I'm in an Astronomy class and i can navigate the sky pretty well, and could easily line up to Polaris. I prefer and EQ

#12 GOLGO13

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:45 PM

Personally I would go with the 70mm refractor, but I would use the alt/az design vice the equatorial mount. That will be more grab and go.

I have looked through that 70mm and it's not too bad. But you may want to explain what you want to do with the scope. If you are just looking for some nice views of the moon and OK views of planets, then this scope will work OK. If your wanting views of deep space objects beyond the really bright ones, this won't do too well.

I agree with a used 6 inch dob if you can find one. Those are great grab and go scopes with a ton of capability.

$100 or even $200 scopes are little hard to recommend, but they do work. Just make sure you check here on each one, because some are just plain not good. However, you may also find it hard to find people here who have tried them ;) ... and that's not to say they are bad...

#13 frito

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:55 PM

well its a trade off really.

cheaper Dobs sacrifice fancy mounts and/or tracking for more Aperture and thus resolution and performance

cheaper EQ mounted telescopes sacrifice Aperture and thus resolution and performance.

i honestly don't see what the point of a manual drive EQ mount is. my first decent telescope i had back when i was a teenager was a 4.5" newt on a EQ mount. its cool once you find an object to be able to reliably follow and re find said object. the process of finding said object was truly much more difficult than it needed to be in the first place however and between that and my lack of knowing what else to look for besides major planets and the moon i stopped using it and have only recently got back into astronomy and love dobs. all i'm saying and anyone else on here will likely agree with me on this is best bang for you buck is a cheaper dob new or used. but to each his own and if your set on getting a scope with an EQ mount under 200 dollars it would likely be best to go with a small refractor then as someone else mentioned above a few posts. either way have fun its your choice not mine :)

#14 jerwin

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 09:57 PM

I agree that you should check craigslist . I see a Meade version of the Astromaster for 100 in Joliet

http://chicago.craig...3404372015.html

Aperture is king, so of the 3 I'd go for the 114mm newt, however I've seen some pretty shaky mounts before whereas the dobs are pretty sturdy. Probably a little harder to transport a smaller dob but not much.

Not sure where in the Chicago area you live, but if your close to Naperville the Naperville Astronomical Association has an astronomy fundamentals program tomorrow night at 7:30

http://www.stargazin.../current.htm#af

The guy teaching it is the club president and just a super smart guy in astronomy. If you can make it out we'd love you have you. You could probably get your next 50 astronomy questions answered in one night

Jim

#15 KWB

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:05 PM

As to finding anyone here on CN that has tried all 3 of the linked scope types,I'm the one. :shocked:

I regularly use and enjoy my 70mm Powerseeker and it has a less desireable mount than the Orion EQ 70mm. I think of it in terms of not what it can't do,but rather what can it do. A nice and easy to use change of pace to my 90mm refractor and 10 inch Dob.

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#16 GOLGO13

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:08 PM

Do your homework on the Craigslist ones though. I see A LOT of them way over priced. Such as, used scopes which were $130 new listed at $200. So check each one using Google.

I will say there is something special about long small refractors. I think most people who are a bit older grew up on them. There could be some quality control issues on the cheaper ones. Vixen makes a few which look OK...optcorp.com has them. Those may only come with one eyepiece. Check the classifieds here for a some cheap plossls...should be $20 or less.

#17 Mike4242

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:09 PM

Of the three you have listed, I'd say go with the 70mm refractor. However, a 6" dob as others suggested, will show much much more and is still pretty portable.

#18 lamplight

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Posted 19 November 2012 - 10:14 PM

i honestly don't see what the point of a manual drive EQ mount is


I agree... I'm waiting for the EQ mount for my 10" reflector to come in (for tracking, not goto use) and my "goto" scope has been my 8" SCT on alt-az mount. it's just easier to setup...

#19 CosmoSat

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 03:02 AM

If u really really want to choose among the three u hve mentioned...I would rather suggest this one..MEADE NG70-SM ALTAZIMUTH REFRACTOR.

But as many as advised above..better go for a dobsonian...any size that u can lay ur hands on in the used market for the budget u hve..

Or saving up for a new one like this Apertura AD8 Dob will be money well invested..

Clear Skies!

#20 howard929

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 06:30 AM

Hello and Welcome to Cloudy Nights.

You'd benefit from getting to a star party or joining a astro club. Then you'll be able to view through different types of telescopes even if none of them are among your 3 choices, you'd get a fair idea about what best suits your needs.

#21 cliffy54

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 06:35 AM

Out of the three I would agree with KWB the Orion 70mm if you are dead set against a dob. If your not dead set against a dob checkout Orion's clearance center they have an XT 4.5 inch dob for less than $200.00. Anyway good luck with your purchase. :)

#22 Tony Flanders

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:20 AM

would you recommend the Orion SpaceProbe 3
Link

the Orion Observer 70mm
Link

or the Celestron AstroMaster 114
Link

All of these are under $200, which is my budget. I live very near chicago, and on the clearest nights see around magnitude 3 or 4 stars. Which telescope do you think would be the best? I do want to view the moon and planets but also am interested in the Pleiades, and other DSO's. Thanks so much! :)


Personally, I think that in this price class it makes a lot more sense to buy a telescope on an alt-az mount than an equatorial mount. I have reviewed the alt-az version of the Space Probe 3, and think that it's a superb choice for the money.

However, 3 inches is still 3 inches. You would get much better views from a bigger scope.

As for portability -- the alt-az Space Probe is far more portable than a 6-inch Dob. You can pick it up easily in one hand, and it fits handily in a small corner of a car trunk.

On the other hand, it's not clear that this matters. A 6-inch Dob is still very easy to carry in one trip, and fits handily into any normal car, unless you also need to carry several passengers plus extra luggage.

As for views, the difference between 3 and 6 inches is staggering.

#23 Tony Flanders

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 07:26 AM

Yea I'm in an Astronomy class and i can navigate the sky pretty well, and could easily line up to Polaris. I prefer and EQ


I like both EQ mounts and alt-az mounts. Each has its advantages, and they have very different feels.

However, EQ mounts only work well when they're made well. I would be very leery of any EQ mount costing less than $100 for the mount alone. If you're going to get an EQ-mounted telescope, get a good one.

#24 csrlice12

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 08:25 AM

While I'm also a fan of the 6" Dob, they don't come much more portable and easy to use. That being said, you are leaning towards refractors. If you have a Costco around, they have a Celestron 90mm 1000mm f/l on an EQ2 mount for $199. This is on-line only and not in the store. In the store, they have the Nexstar 102GT for $199. This is a 4" f9.8 acromat refractor. Because of its length, "coloring" will be mininimal. This is on a somewhat shakey GoTo mount/tripod (the scope OTA is pretty good though). (Warning: The 4" scope requires you use the motor drives, it is not a manual scope).

#25 Matt2893

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Posted 20 November 2012 - 09:12 AM

Yea I'm in an Astronomy class and i can navigate the sky pretty well, and could easily line up to Polaris. I prefer and EQ

Which one would your professor suggest? Maybe see if you can get this to be a class participation discussion?
The group here on CN is pretty dob-centric, for good reasons, but it sounds like you've done some research and have your reasons for these three choices. Between the SpaceProbe 3 and the 70mm Refractor, I'd pick the refractor. They have similar aperture and focal length, but with a refractor you don't have to worry about collimation. The Celestron has greater aperture and focal length, so on paper it should be better. But, an adaquate refractor is nice to have, and aside from it's length, it and it's tripod can fold up into a pretty tidy bundle for storage and transport.






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