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Still trying to understand good or bad scopes

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#1 Haas

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 07:33 PM

Ok, for a beginner, I'm wondering what the thougths are on this scope.
Aperture is king, so with this being a 5" aperture, wouldn't this be a real nice starting scope? This seems kinda cheap, yet the 5" aperture seems pretty attractive. So, if this is one to stay away from what would be the reasons?
Thanks for the wealth of information, you guys are helping me a lot!!

http://www.bestbuy.c...ian Reflecto...

#2 frito

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 07:48 PM

as a general rule of thumb if you can buy it at a department or electronics store its usually not a great scope. i would say the exception i've seen is fry's electronics sometimes has the celestron nexstar SCT's but they will carry hefty price tags.

what is your experience with astronomy and telescopes? that cheap newt will work ok but i would fear the mount alone will not be very good considering the cost of the scope and if you don't know/want to setup an EQ mount the right way (polar aligining it) it will be a real pain to maneuver around to objects.

just last night actually at our local club's star party in the city we had someone bring a bushnell refractor on an EQ mount out because they could not figure out how to use it and get the finder aligned with the scope. a number of us did our best to try and figure out the mount for a while and gave up on that because its cheap fortunately it was adjustable to alt az so we set it up that way. then we tried to get it to focus on something to align the finder and found that it needed and extension tube or something they were missing to get anything to focus in the thing. now i'm not saying that celestron newt will be that bad but i would not expect it to be a great telescope and you'll end up replacing it or giving up on the hobby if it does give you problems.

my suggestion would be to get a dob, even a small tabletop dob if you want to get really cheap. the advantages of them are no complicated setups just align the red dot sight with the scope then start pointing it at stuff and your off and running no fuss. the larger dobs like 6" and 8" ones are just as simple but require more space and money but will easily outperform anything in their price range.

#3 oldtimer

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 07:51 PM

With a focal length of 1000mm (40") and a tube length of 26" this must be one of those designs with a built in barlow in the focuser. I would NOT recommend it.

#4 Ed D

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 07:58 PM

The primary reason to stay away from this one is that it's a Jones-Bird design. Without getting into the technical details, it is an instrument which will give less than stellar performance. There are much better scopes available. Check out these low cost beginner offerings: Orion Beginner Scopes They are having sales right now, as well as offering free shipping. This 70mm refractor is on sale, as well as free shipping.

If aperture is king we would all have a Hubble-size telescope in our back yard. Without good observing conditions the best scope on earth is useless. Also, a scope that is too much for you to handle and ends up gathering dust in a corner is equally useless. True, get the most aperture you can handle and can afford, but don't let that be your primary or only criteria. A tight budget will limit your choices, but you can get a nice little scope that will show you quite a bit and will get you started.

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#5 Haas

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:17 PM

as a general rule of thumb if you can buy it at a department or electronics store its usually not a great scope. i would say the exception i've seen is fry's electronics sometimes has the celestron nexstar SCT's but they will carry hefty price tags.

what is your experience with astronomy and telescopes? that cheap newt will work ok but i would fear the mount alone will not be very good considering the cost of the scope and if you don't know/want to setup an EQ mount the right way (polar aligining it) it will be a real pain to maneuver around to objects.

just last night actually at our local club's star party in the city we had someone bring a bushnell refractor on an EQ mount out because they could not figure out how to use it and get the finder aligned with the scope. a number of us did our best to try and figure out the mount for a while and gave up on that because its cheap fortunately it was adjustable to alt az so we set it up that way. then we tried to get it to focus on something to align the finder and found that it needed and extension tube or something they were missing to get anything to focus in the thing. now i'm not saying that celestron newt will be that bad but i would not expect it to be a great telescope and you'll end up replacing it or giving up on the hobby if it does give you problems.

my suggestion would be to get a dob, even a small tabletop dob if you want to get really cheap. the advantages of them are no complicated setups just align the red dot sight with the scope then start pointing it at stuff and your off and running no fuss. the larger dobs like 6" and 8" ones are just as simple but require more space and money but will easily outperform anything in their price range.


Well, as I mentioned in the original post, I am definitely beginner. As for being in a department store, I can certain understand the sentiment there, but I thought since the brand name was one of a good reputation, it might be alright.

#6 Haas

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:18 PM

With a focal length of 1000mm (40") and a tube length of 26" this must be one of those designs with a built in barlow in the focuser. I would NOT recommend it.


I'm really not considering the purchase of this, as much as I'm just on a fact finding mission. Can you explain why that focal length is concerning to you?

#7 Warren914

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:24 PM

Look for a used telescope nearby. There's a 8-inch SkyWatcher for $200 not far from me. You will often get better value getting used equipment or eyepieces.

#8 frito

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:25 PM

With a focal length of 1000mm (40") and a tube length of 26" this must be one of those designs with a built in barlow in the focuser. I would NOT recommend it.


I'm really not considering the purchase of this, as much as I'm just on a fact finding mission. Can you explain why that focal length is concerning to you?


its not the focal length that is the problem. its the fact that it has that long of a focal length yet the tube is only 26" long (660mm) what this tells us is that its using a barlow to increase the focal length of the telescope and that sort of design is common with small cheap reflectors and it performs horribly.

if it truly was a 1000mm FL newtonian then the length of the tube would be in the area of 42-46" long.

Celestron's bottom of the line scopes you often find in stores are often not the greatest telescope you can buy for your money. some people will sware by certain models though YMMV.

#9 Haas

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:36 PM

With a focal length of 1000mm (40") and a tube length of 26" this must be one of those designs with a built in barlow in the focuser. I would NOT recommend it.


I'm really not considering the purchase of this, as much as I'm just on a fact finding mission. Can you explain why that focal length is concerning to you?


its not the focal length that is the problem. its the fact that it has that long of a focal length yet the tube is only 26" long (660mm) what this tells us is that its using a barlow to increase the focal length of the telescope and that sort of design is common with small cheap reflectors and it performs horribly.

if it truly was a 1000mm FL newtonian then the length of the tube would be in the area of 42-46" long.

Celestron's bottom of the line scopes you often find in stores are often not the greatest telescope you can buy for your money. some people will sware by certain models though YMMV.


Ok, thanks for the explanation. I gotta say, for a beginner to find a decent starter scope, this is one overwhelming task to get educated on it.

#10 Haas

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:39 PM

Look for a used telescope nearby. There's a 8-inch SkyWatcher for $200 not far from me. You will often get better value getting used equipment or eyepieces.


Yeah, I've been looking real hard. So far, I'm not finding much to excite me a whole lot. So far what I've found is a Meade EXT 70 AT, but they want $125.00 for it. Seems a lot for that used. I've also found a skywatcher dob, but it's only a 4.5 and they want $250 for it.

#11 JohnMurphyRN

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 08:50 PM

If cost comes into it, then used is the only way to go. A used orion/zhumel/apertura/GSO or whatever(possibly Discovery or even someone's ATM), in the 6-12" range, costing somewhere from $150-600, is the most bang for the buck. Lots of GSO 12"s around for less than $500.

#12 MikeBOKC

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 09:14 PM

Are you within range of a local astronomy club? If so, drop in on them and try out some scopes. Many clubs also have loaner scopes for newcomers, and all of them can offer good advice. Plus you might find a good used scope deal among the members as well.

#13 Haas

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 09:28 PM

Are you within range of a local astronomy club? If so, drop in on them and try out some scopes. Many clubs also have loaner scopes for newcomers, and all of them can offer good advice. Plus you might find a good used scope deal among the members as well.


Yeah, I think I found one just about 10 minutes from my house. I'll be checking them out soon. What do you do, just find out when they meet, and then just show up?

#14 izar187

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:01 PM

Exactly.
Most clubs do public outreach, and a good part of their purpose is to meet new folks.

#15 Haas

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:19 PM

Exactly.
Most clubs do public outreach, and a good part of their purpose is to meet new folks.


Ha ha, well, I'm a little bit on the shy side with new people, but I'll get through it.

#16 panhard

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:23 PM

Don't worry we all gather for the same purpose. I promise no one will bite you they are well fed before going out for the nightly viewing sessions. :grin:

#17 TahoeNoob

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:42 PM

That's just great! It's hard enough to break into this hobby! Now I find out that the noobs have to feed the oldtimers too? That just ain't right!

#18 panhard

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 10:56 PM

Now I find out that the noobs have to feed the oldtimers too? That just ain't right!

Don't worry they are fed before going out. :grin:

#19 Haas

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Posted 24 November 2012 - 11:09 PM

I'll throw some snacks in my pocket.......just in case.

#20 Tony Flanders

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 06:52 AM

Ok, for a beginner, I'm wondering what the thougths are on this scope.
Aperture is king, so with this being a 5" aperture, wouldn't this be a real nice starting scope? This seems kinda cheap, yet the 5" aperture seems pretty attractive. So, if this is one to stay away from what would be the reasons?
Thanks for the wealth of information, you guys are helping me a lot!!

http://www.bestbuy.c...ian Reflecto...


In addition to the problematic Bird-Jones design, the mount for this scope seems distinctly anemic. Compare it to one of Celestron's high-end German equatorial mounts. See how much thicker the shafts and bearings are?

Having said all that, the scope you mention undoubtedly would work for you, and deliver very impressive views. But it would take a lot more patience and fiddling than a similar scope costing 50% more.

The most important thing that money buys you at the bottom end of the market is ease of use.

#21 Haas

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 02:17 PM

Still considering strongly a dob, since most suggest these for beginners, and the most aperture for the buck. But I just read another thread about a fellow heading to the dark skies of Wyoming, and most people are suggesting to him to get a dob because the dobs work best for black skies. If I'm mostly in a city, would a dob still be ok, or will it disappoint because of all the city lights?

If dob is still ok in city lights, what's your thoughts on the pricing for this one?

http://milwaukee.cra...3423152346.html

#22 panhard

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 02:55 PM

Whoever posted that doesn't know squat about telescopes ( lenses are eyepieces) be careful. I would want to see it first.
Here is the price of a new one. Look for the xt4.5 in the listing.link

#23 Haas

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 03:19 PM

Ok, so according to the craigslist ad, it comes with a barlow, so the one in your link with a barlow is $299. If they are willing to sell for $230, is this considered decent? I don't know the depreciation of these things.

#24 SteveG

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 03:34 PM

Haas, that's too much for that scope. Keep looking - i see much better deals all the time. Hold out for a 6" or 8" dob. I typically see 4.5 " dob's go for less than $100, and 6" & 8" dob's going between $150 - $250.

#25 csrlice12

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Posted 25 November 2012 - 03:48 PM

Ok, for a beginner, I'm wondering what the thougths are on this scope.
Aperture is king, so with this being a 5" aperture, wouldn't this be a real nice starting scope? This seems kinda cheap, yet the 5" aperture seems pretty attractive. So, if this is one to stay away from what would be the reasons?
Thanks for the wealth of information, you guys are helping me a lot!!

http://www.bestbuy.c...ian Reflecto...


It's a Bird Jones design; run, run fast in the opposite direction. This thing screams buy something else......You'd be better off with a 6" Dob--a much higher quality scope and you can get it used for about the same price (maybe even new on sale). And that dob's optics will be much,much better.

Like others have said, department store scopes just aren't worth the money.






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