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Best scope? Beginner family with unknown interest

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#26 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 02:46 PM

What do folks think of the Starblast 6 inch? I see that is just under $300 and pretty portable. Even kid height. Just curious!


Ken


Ken:

I am not a big fan of Table top mounts, they seem like they would be cool but a solid table that also allows one to view comfortably is represents an investment all by itself.

An 80mm F/6 or F/7 achromat on a reasonable alt-az mount is pretty sweet, it's got a wide enough field of view for terrestrial viewing and for finding one's away around the sky. It provides decent views of many easy objects. "It looks like a Telescope." John Kuroaka's 90mm Mak is nice and handy too, the field of view is pretty narrow which can be frustrating. In any case, the mount is at least as important as the scope.

It's a difficult problem. When I donate equipment, it's equipment I already own.

Jon

#27 BigC

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 02:56 PM

Nice idea.

I doubt anyone will bid the actual worth(price) of whatever you donate.

As great as Dobs are ,I think a refractor is more familiar to the public and likely to be accepted.

Like another poster I think a goto alt-az is great considering you are gooing to show the winner how to use it.

A 102GT ,like the Costco model, or the Meade Starnavigator is in your budget.

#28 kenrenard

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 03:08 PM

What do folks think of the Starblast 6 inch? I see that is just under $300 and pretty portable. Even kid height. Just curious!


Ken


Ken:

I am not a big fan of Table top mounts, they seem like they would be cool but a solid table that also allows one to view comfortably is represents an investment all by itself.

An 80mm F/6 or F/7 achromat on a reasonable alt-az mount is pretty sweet, it's got a wide enough field of view for terrestrial viewing and for finding one's away around the sky. It provides decent views of many easy objects. "It looks like a Telescope." John Kuroaka's 90mm Mak is nice and handy too, the field of view is pretty narrow which can be frustrating. In any case, the mount is at least as important as the scope.

It's a difficult problem. When I donate equipment, it's equipment I already own.

Jon


I understand. We have a Sky Scanner 100 for my daughter. It was a family starter scope which is now mounted to a wide book shelf type case. Its kid height. On occasion I mount it to my UA dwarf star and it works pretty good. I know Tony Flanders has mentioned in his articles about the 4.5 starblast which I believe he owns. I was curious if the 6 would be a good starter since it is not that much more than the 4.5 with some good light gathering power. I can see the benefit if someone is looking for a cheap scope to bring on a family trip and they want something like this. I see f/5 so it may have collimation challenges for a beginner?

I think the full size 6 inch is the way to go. But bringing something large on a family camping trip may be the difference between not bringing anything at all. So I see where the starblast is perfect in that respect.

Ken

#29 davidpitre

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 03:27 PM


I doubt anyone will bid the actual worth(price) of whatever you donate.

I've done this before and gotten more than the true value.
I will be spending an long evening with the family out on my farm which sweetens the deal.
Agreed that a good book would be appropriate.
I'm leaning towards either an 8" simple dob or an ST80.
I'd agree more could be had used, but this needs to be new.

#30 csrlice12

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 03:41 PM

An 8" Dob, Including Training on How to Use It?

That's priceless.........forget the SST80...If you're going to provide a night of training (and there's truely not much to train on for a dob, and once you show them collimation, it won't be the monster everyone makes it out to be; If you can walk and think at the same time, you can collimate a scope). The 8" with even a night of trainig will give them years of use, the ST80 will just wet their appitite and leave them wanting more.....

#31 Tony Flanders

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 03:51 PM

What do folks think of the Starblast 6 inch? I see that is just under $300 and pretty portable. Even kid height.


The 6-inch Starblast is too low for anybody older than a toddler. On the other hand, it's a bit too high -- and probably too heavy -- to use on a standard folding table.

The 4-inch SkyScanner works great on a card table -- as well as mounting to a standard photo tripod. And the 4.5-inch StarBlast isn't so bad on a card table, either, as long as you don't want to use high power.

But the 6-inch StarBlast is enough of a scope so that it really seems to want a custom-built support. Either that or use it sitting on the ground.

#32 kenrenard

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 04:05 PM

What do folks think of the Starblast 6 inch? I see that is just under $300 and pretty portable. Even kid height.


The 6-inch Starblast is too low for anybody older than a toddler. On the other hand, it's a bit too high -- and probably too heavy -- to use on a standard folding table.

The 4-inch SkyScanner works great on a card table -- as well as mounting to a standard photo tripod. And the 4.5-inch StarBlast isn't so bad on a card table, either, as long as you don't want to use high power.

But the 6-inch StarBlast is enough of a scope so that it really seems to want a custom-built support. Either that or use it sitting on the ground.


With a Alt-Alz mount tripod could make a nice grab and go for someone not wanting a full size dob.

Thanks Tony

#33 Matt2893

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Posted 07 February 2013 - 04:29 PM

What do folks think of the Starblast 6 inch? I see that is just under $300 and pretty portable. Even kid height.


The 6-inch Starblast is too low for anybody older than a toddler. On the other hand, it's a bit too high -- and probably too heavy -- to use on a standard folding table.

The 4-inch SkyScanner works great on a card table -- as well as mounting to a standard photo tripod. And the 4.5-inch StarBlast isn't so bad on a card table, either, as long as you don't want to use high power.

But the 6-inch StarBlast is enough of a scope so that it really seems to want a custom-built support. Either that or use it sitting on the ground.


I was seriously looking at the 6" StarBlast Intelliscope, but ended up getting the 6" Intelliscope Dob (XT6i). What sold me was the additional focal length, and not having to deal with the additional support issue. Unfortunately, I seem to have gotten one of the last XT6i in December under the 'build-a-scope' option as they don't offer it anymore.

Back on topic, it sounds like the school families in Central Texas have a better understanding and appreciation for astronomy than in my neck of the woods. Good luck with the auction, hope the school raises all the money it needs.

#34 mman22

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 05:22 PM

Although I am a beginner at astonomy, I have some experience with fundraisers including auctions. Here is my advice in that regard.
1. Define your main goal, are you wanting to raise the most money possible or help spark an interest in astronomy?
2. Know your audience. Are there some amateur astronomers among the parents (and possibly the faculty). If so, getting a scope that would spark their interest and be something that many wouldn't have would help raise interest.
3. Is this a silent auction, where people will write down bids or is it the more known English Auction (Ascending Price Auction) where people are openly bidding against one another. If you have the English auction with multiple people who have an interest, the price can go higher than the original cost. Otherwise, you probably won't get more than what you paid for it. If you have a silent auction where your scope will have its own spot for people to look at, place some literature (sales description, reviews and possibly some photos that are representative of the views possible) with it.
4.If your goal is wanting to get kids interested in astronomy, it might be nice to donate it to the science class. Either way, speaking with school's science
teacher(s) would probably help in determining what level of interest there would be.
Ultimately it's a great idea and a generous donation!

#35 dpwoos

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 09:35 PM

In my experience, giving a scope to a science teacher/school is not a good idea. Unless a teacher already has a strong interest in doing observing the scope will end up in a closet, and if a teacher does have a strong interest they probably already have one. When folks ask me if they should donate a scope to a school, I always recommend that they provide something else that can be used during the school day, and leave the observing to us (the local club).

#36 palmer570

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 10:23 PM

Would be nice if the auction was in the evening when its dark and you could set it up so they could take a look through it on their way into the auction.

#37 drbyyz

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Posted 08 February 2013 - 10:58 PM

I have no personal experience with these scopes but maybe someone else can chime in...what about the Meade ETX series??

They are GoTo which could be a plus, don't require collimation, small and portable, and have decent optics from what I've heard. I think new they are probably right at the top of your budget, but possibly find a gently used one on here or elsewhere if you have time?

#38 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:19 AM

With a Alt-Alz mount tripod could make a nice grab and go for someone not wanting a full size dob.

Thanks Tony



A tripod capable of handling a 6 inch F/5 Starblast represents a significant investment and in the end will require more effort to setup than a full sized Dob.

Jon

#39 davidpitre

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:32 AM

Looking around, I don't see any 80mm refractors in the f/6 to f/8 range other than ED versions that are out of my budget. It also appears that most in this class are on EQ rather than Alt/Az mounts.

#40 davidpitre

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:48 AM

What do ya'll think of the 90mm Celestron alt/az refractor paired with a "SkyScout" mounted to it?
I don't know anything about the SkyScout, but it might help with the complete novice family.
http://www.opticspla...cout-scope.html

#41 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:52 AM

Looking around, I don't see any 80mm refractors in the f/6 to f/8 range other than ED versions that are out of my budget. It also appears that most in this class are on EQ rather than Alt/Az mounts.


That is the unfortunate truth, it would be great if someone made an ST-80 type scope that was F/6 or F/7. If you are looking for ST-80 robustness, I don't know of anything out there though I hear rumors that Antares makes something.

An old style 80mm F/11 or a 90mm F/10 has some virtues but generally today's mounts are on the flimsy side...

Jon

#42 davidpitre

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 11:24 AM

Yeah. I'm concerned with the poor mounts that accompany most of the less expensive slow refractors. Some of these scopes are really not too bad, but are very frustrating to the uninitiated.
I noticed Vixen offers an 80mm f/11 on their PortaMount.
http://www.vixenopti...a II Mount.html
I'm wondering if a 6" or 8" dob is a better bet.
That or one of the 130mm reflectors on an EQ. The EQ seems a little dicey for the newbie though.

#43 Jarrod

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 03:45 PM

I don't know anything about the SkyScout, but it might help with the complete novice family

My version of that is the Orion Smartphone holder ($32) mounted to the rear scope ring via a mini ball head ($12). Pop your smartphone or iPod in, fire up skysafari, point the scope at a known object, center that object in skysafari, and hit the gyro button. From then on, skysafari can tell you where to point the scope, and/or what you are pointing at.

Posted Image

The EQ seems a little dicey for the newbie though.

I don't think so, because you are going to show them how to use it. That is VERY different than reading through the manual...I'm a noob and figured it out on my own from the Orion manual (which is very well-written I must admit).

What's frustrating to me is keeping things in the FOV, but the EQ makes that a breeze even with a really basic, 2-minute eyeballed polar alignment. And I just added the RA motor ($70) so next time I go out even using the slow motion is a thing of the past.

#44 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 06:08 PM

From then on, skysafari can tell you where to point the scope, and/or what you are pointing at.



I don't know what device you are using but so far, I have not seen evidence that the phones and tablets are accurate enough to put an object in the field of view of anything but a very widefield scope. Maybe yours is better.

As far as equatorial mounts go... in a situation like this, simplicity is the key and there are several gotchas with an EQ mount.

Jon

#45 Jarrod

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 09:44 PM

SkySafari3 on the iPhone4 in gyro mode (i.e. not using the compass) is good to about 3*.

#46 pftarch

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Posted 09 February 2013 - 10:34 PM

I think if you stretch your budget a smidgeon, a Televue NP101 with a Meade LX 80 would provide someone with years of enjoyment. (Just add a 0.........).

My real vote is either the ST80 on a vixen mini porta mount (and I like the erect image diagonal with an inexpensive zoom), perhaps have it include a cheap red dot finder and a cheap barlow, or, a GSO 8"dob package. (The dob would certainly catch bidders eyes.......)

#47 psi_chemie

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 09:53 AM

Too bad you can't buy both a dob and a short refractor and report back to us which one works out better ;)

#48 Whichwayisnorth

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 01:20 PM

This

#49 kenrenard

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 06:14 PM

With a Alt-Alz mount tripod could make a nice grab and go for someone not wanting a full size dob.

Thanks Tony



A tripod capable of handling a 6 inch F/5 Starblast represents a significant investment and in the end will require more effort to setup than a full sized Dob.

Jon


I see what you mean Jon

It's larger than I thought. I was thinking not much bigger than my sky scanner until I actually look at the specs.


Anyway hope your auction goes well. I see many kids interested when they come to our astronomy club . It's a great idea for an auction


Ken

#50 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 10 February 2013 - 07:05 PM

This


Among my collection of telescopes and mounts, I happen to have an iOptron R-80 Optical Tube Assembly. It has the poorest plastic focuser I have ever seen, worse than a $40 department scope. I replaced it with the focuser from an ST-80, the mount may be good but the scope itself is a deal killer.

Jon






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