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my daughter's first scope - and my first real one

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#1 CJK

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 06:43 PM

My little daughter, who's been interested in the stars and the sky for several years (she got her first pair of binoculars at age 3 and promptly located the moon and Venus), will be receiving her first telescope from Santa in a couple of weeks. Although I haven't had a scope myself since a little Tasco I got for Christmas myself almost 40 years ago, I've always wanted a "real telescope" and have looked longingly at the ads in the various astronomy magazines for years. My little telescope was a refractor, and in researching my first scope purchase, I decided to stick with that particular variety of scope. I've been reading these forums like crazy, and I ended up choosing what seemed to me to be a good fit: the Orion ED80 on their Sirius EQ-G mount.

Here's what Orion includes with the kit I purchased:
Orion ED80 Refractor optical tube assembly
Sirius EQ-G mount with GoTo Controller
Orion Sirius 25 mm Plossl telescope eyepiece (1.25")
Prism Star Diagonal (1.25")
2" - 1.25" telescope eyepiece adapter
Tripod
Computerized hand controller
8x40 finder scope
Tube Rings
Tube ring mounting plate
11 lb counterweight
Tripod accessory tray
Dust cap
12V DC Power cable
GoTo hand controller cable for Sirius EQ-G
GoTo hand controller bracket
Computer interface cable (RS-232)
Wire clip
Starry Night special edition software
I added an erecting prism diagonal for daytime use as well as the wifi module to connect to our iPad/iPhone to teach us about the things we're looking at.

Does anyone have any suggestions for anything else I might want to order for use with this beautiful instrument? I thought maybe an eyepiece or two, but I have no idea what might be a good choice for beginners like us.

Thanks in advance for any advice: I want to be sure Santa doesn't need to bring anything else to make this a magical Christmas morning for my little girl.

-- Chris

#2 wky46

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 06:50 PM

Welcome, Chris! Looks like ya'll are pretty much set. Only thing I see that you may want to consider purchasing later is a x2 Barlow lens. And I'll add that SE TN. is most certainly scenic :) Oh yes, a planishere!

#3 mjs

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:00 PM

Nice kit! It's surprising how much one can see with a good 80mm refractor. You might want to consider subscriptions to Astronomy and/or Sky and Telescope magazines: they'll introduce you to new things to visit, give background on dozens of topics over the course of a year, and otherwise help you scratch the astronomy bug during the day or in inclement weather.

You could consider an additional eyepiece for higher magnification viewing of the Moon and planets. A 2x barlow lens will turn your 25mm eyepiece into a 12.5mm eyepiece, so avoid that focal length. Consider something in the range of perhaps 6mm or so. Subsequent purchase of a barlow lens will effectively double the number of focal lengths available to you but in all truth, you don't need all that many to be happy. Most people have more eyepieces than they need because they're replaced eyepieces they've grown unhappy with. Two eyepieces with a 2x or 2.4x barlow will give you four choices, and that's plenty for a good while.

Mike

#4 csrlice12

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:00 PM

and a ladder to view anything not at the zeinith......this is for your daughter, right?

....I'm also available for adoption

you might want to also get some nice mid and high power plossels for Nebula, clusters, planetary, and splitting doubles viewing

#5 wky46

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:12 PM

Ok, scratch the x2 Barlow. As you can see, anything technical I'm not the best around here :lol: I still stand by my Planisphere recommendation though (and the part about SE TN.) :)

#6 lamplight

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:21 PM

Welcome Chris. I

Don't worry there's always another Christmas whenever you want :)

#7 mjs

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:32 PM

There's a lively thread in the eyepieces forum on the best eyepiece for lunar and planetary observing with an 80mm apo refractor (much similar to yours.) You would likely find it helpful.

Mike

#8 CJK

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 07:50 PM

Wow! So many replies so quickly!

@wky46 - good call on the planisphere!
@mjs - I will try to find that thread: it sounds perfect
@csrlice12 - I was thinking about one of those observing chairs, actually, so excellent suggestion; re: adoption - LOL!
@lamplight - I'm pretty sure no one will ever wonder what to get me for Christmas (or my birthday or ...) ever again

-- Chris

#9 Achernar

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 08:38 PM

You'll need an eyepiece that gives low, medium and high magnification, so eyepieces that have focal lengths of around 25, 15 and 9mm will serve you well, plus a good 2 or 2.5X Barlow lens will be great starter eyepieces. As for the type, aside from cost, you'll have to consider the need to wear eyeglasses or not, what sort of observing you want to do, what apparent field of view you want and how much you want to spend on eyepieces. Plossls will work fine with this telescope, but there are many others to choose from. The best thing you can do to see which eyepieces are best for you and your child is to try some at starparties held by a local club. The next best thing is to spend time perusing the eypiece forum here, and reading the reviews here too before you buy additional eyepieces.

Taras

#10 S.Boerner

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 09:15 PM

One of the problems many new viewers I talk to have is they don't know what is available to view. That's true even if they have a GOTO. There might be fifty thousand items in the database, but which ones are worthwhile? What will they be able to see with their scope? I'd suggest a monthly visit to SkyMaps to get their monthly suggestions and map. Visit skymaps.com for the monthly pdf. Use your hand controller to find all the binocular & telescope objects and the stars listed to find your alignment stars.

You might also take a look at the Astronomical League's various observing programs starting with the simpler ones like SkyPuppy and Universe Sampler and then move to the Messier list. Go to http://www.astroleague.org/ and look under the Observe tab. You don't have to be a member to work on the program. You would have to join if you were interested in the pin and certificate.

Good Luck

#11 CJK

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 09:54 PM

@Achernar - the more I read about eyepieces, the more confused I get! Your advice about star parties is excellent -- there's one next week in town here, and I'm going for sure!

@S.Boerner - I've tried a couple of programs (AstroPlanner is my favorite) to help me with my binocular stargazing with exactly that issue. Thank you for the pointer to the Astronomical League -- headed there now!

-- Chris

#12 tezster

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 10:17 PM

Welcome, Chris :)

In order to 'hit the ground running', I would recommend a good book or two. Ones such as Nightwatch or Turn Left at Orion are good introductory books.

You'll need a battery/power supply to power your mount.

Download the instruction manual for the mount now and scan through it so you have a good idea of what you need to do to assemble it, as well as setting it up for use i.e. polar alignment, etc.

If you do go to a star party, see if you can get your feet wet and get a taste of how an EQ mount works if someone there has one setup.

And most importantly, have fun!

#13 frito

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 10:44 PM

buy sky safari plus for that ipad of yours rather than a planisphere or maps, later you can get their wifi module and control that mount with the program. it will give you a "best of" list of objects to get your feet wet with and you can totally adjust what objects it shows on the map by magnitude etc. so it can quickly filter out ones that are likely too dim for your seeing conditions etc. its an incredibly powerful app and at 15 dollars any tech-centric person will love it. its easily one of the best and most useful purchases i've made besides the telescope it self.

#14 frito

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 10:46 PM

here are links for more info

http://www.southerns...fari/index.html

http://www.southerns...kyfi/index.html

#15 lamplight

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 11:25 PM

Just got sky safari plus myself, I will be immensely useful for planning! (personally when I'm out I like to use the printed pocket sky Atlas with a red light and raci finder scope.


Oh.. And a subscription to an astronomy magazine I find great, with seasonal highlights, d etc (and you get that here)

#16 CJK

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 06:45 AM

@tezster - those are great book recommendations! Re: power supply - I am considering building one, as I wasn't too impressed with the reviews on the commercially-available ones (Celestron and Orion seem to use the same supplier)

@frito - thanks for the links, have heard about SkySafari but haven't really looked into it in detail yet - I did order the wifi module with the kit, so it looks like I ought to!

@lamplight - I used to subscribe to a magazine called "Night Sky" which was aimed at beginners; it was wonderful, but it was discontinued. Is there anything similar nowadays?

Thanks again to all -- this is a really wonderful community here!!!!

-- Chris

#17 Maverick199

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 08:04 AM

Welcome to CN! That's a good package and hope both of you enjoy many clear nights.

#18 newtoskies

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 09:40 AM

Welcome to CN. That is one heck of a first scope.

Can only suggest what the others have. As far as magazines I get Astronomy and Sky&Scope. S&S have issued SkyWatch and it's in most nnews and mag stores. It's an issue for the year 2013 and has monthly planispheres for the year, and great articles for us beginners.

#19 CJK

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 11:16 AM

@Maverick199 - thanks very much!
@newtoskies - I know it's not the average "starter scope" but I wanted something that my daughter could enjoy right away (GoTo functions, iPad link) and for years to come :) I've been a subscriber to both S&T and Astronomy in the past -- I read most of my magazines on my iPad nowadays, but the reviews for the iPad versions of those mags scared me off. Guess it will have to be dead trees for now.

-- Chris

#20 SkipW

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 12:33 PM

I second the nomination for a battery pack. A cheap 7-Ah jump-start pack from WalMart has worked great for hours at a time over almost two years powering a CG-5GT. It's compact and fairly light - the only problem it's developed is that the built-in recharge plug is touchy, so you have to make sure you get a light indicating it's charging after plugging it in. It's never run out of power in 4-5 hr sessions with a lot of slewing the CG-5 (and it's occasionally come in handy for starting a car).

The Celestron 12V AC Adapter has also worked for two years with no issues whatsoever; if it's the same as Orion's, I wouldn't worry about it too much, and it'll probably be cheaper and more satisfactory to buy than build. I use the AC adapter indoors a lot (I'm writing software) and the battery pack almost exclusively when outdoors.

#21 CJK

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:24 PM

@SkipW - as suggested above, I downloaded the manual for the telescope mount, and I was trying to figure out how much battery capacity I'll need based on Orion's stated current draw of 2A. (I knew it couldn't possibly draw anywhere near that most of the time.) Your real-life experience is very helpful! I found a decent pack at Sears which also has a couple of USB ports, which I thought might come in really handy for charging my iPad or iPhone in the field: http://www.sears.com...rter-dc-usb/...

Its weak link is supposedly the built-in charger, so I think I'll use a real Battery Tender to charge it instead.

-- Chris

#22 SkipW

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:59 PM

18 Ah seems like a pretty popular size for these things; I took a chance on the 7 Ah one I got for portability (it weighs only about 8 lb) and it worked out for me. I think that when just tracking, you're in the couple-hundred mA range. Slewing takes more.

I'd think that one would last all night unless you also use it for dew heaters and such, and even then, maybe so. Best of luck!

[edit] And the built-in charger in even the el cheapo one I got seems to do a good enough job keeping the battery in good shape (except for the quibble already mentioned about the plug). As far as I can tell, it hasn't dropped a lot of capacity in nearly two years, although I've never really pushed it, either. I just top it off after an evening of use and unplug it after it says it's charged. This isn't exactly difficult duty for these, but I'm the one who usually has terrible luck with rechargeable batteries!

#23 CJK

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 05:09 PM

I can guarantee I'll end up building my own power box eventually (and maybe sooner rather than later -- I'm a bit of an electronics nut) but it sounds like this will work great for our needs now. Thanks again for your advice!

-- Chris

#24 cliffy54

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 05:32 PM

Did you read the reviews? IMO I'd look for something else beside the Sears power pack 950.

#25 CJK

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 05:56 PM

@cliffy54 - yes, I did, but they all seem to have to do with the battery failing to hold a charge, suggesting that it's not being charged properly by the built-in charger. I'll use a good external charger (Battery Tender or similar) to avoid that problem. (One of my mottos is "I void warranties") :)

I had another thought (prompted by a photo someone posted in the equipment forum -- can't find it at the moment): why not use a lithium polymer battery pack to power the scope & accessories?

-- Chris






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