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What can I see with a Meade 395???

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#1 PmCimini

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 09:06 PM

Hello,
This is my first post here, and forgive me if these questions are already answered elsewhere, but I have been lurking the forums for a few days now and this is still on my mind.
My name is Pedro, I'm an undergrad student from Brazil, and I recently inherited an old Meade 395 Refractor from my father... It's rain season here, but in the end of last year I went out a couple times to watch the sky. I live in a large city, so there is lots of light pollution around me and I have had only a few opportunities to do this.
Anyhow, I started this thread because I wanted to know what are the real capabilities and what can I really see with this scope. My father bought it in the 90's and never really got much use out of it. I have seen great views of Jupiter and Saturn these months, but I have grown an interest in DSO's and astrophotography. I know that astrophotography equipment tends to be really expensive, and this f/11 scope is not really suited for it (does not even have a motorized mount), but this is a future interest.
However, Jupiter and Saturn show up somewhat a bit blurry, but I guess that's how it is. I also saw M42, but it was very dim. Are there any other cool DSO's that I can see with this slow scope???

Thank you :smirk:

#2 Stephen S

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 09:59 PM

Pedro,

Greetings and welcome to CloudyNights! I just recently got back from Brazil (Rio and São Paulo). Beautiful cities but not the greatest for astronomy. :)

I believe your scope is 90mm. As an f/11 scope, it should do well with planets. If you have not looked at the moon as well, I encourage you to do so. Lots to see if you take the time. 90mm is OK for DSO. Bigger aperature is better but you should be able to locate and observe quite a bit with the 90mm scope. The narrow field if view might make it difficult to find things but it will be quite rewarding when you do. I personally find it more enjoyable to view star clusters with smaller telescopes (versus nebula). That's a personal preference and I suspect others would have a different opinion. The Omega Centauri star cluster in the souther hemisphere is supposedly quite nice.

Light pollution is a big problem with DSOs. If you are from a big city, DSOs are going to be tough, even with a larger scope. The other thing that might be causing some challenges is the eyepiece being used. You can get good quality and inexpensive eyepieces. That said, even a minor upgrade in eyepieces can make a big difference.

Knowing the level of light polution and the eyepiece being used might make it easier for some folks to provide better advice.

I'm delighted to know that the scope is getting used. Best of luck and, again, welcome to CloudyNights!

Thanks! Steve S

#3 timps

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 10:13 PM

Your telescope is a 90mm achromatic refractor. This really is too smaller aperture for DSO. M42 is considered a bright nebula so if a telescope shows it dimly, it won't really be able to see other DSO very well, especially with light pollution. The moon, bright planets and open clusters should be OK. However, being an achromatic refractor, the moon and planets will be sharp at low power but become dimmer, less sharp and show colour fringing (CA) at higher powers. The best refractors are apochromatic as they show sharp detailed images with little or no CA. As far as DSO go,the larger the aperture, the more you can see.
Astrophotography is a whole different ball game.

#4 PmCimini

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 10:30 PM

Thanks for the answers!
I am not really doing observations close to the city, but whenever I get the opportunity to go to the countryside, I take the scope with me! The good thing about my state is that the countryside is very dark and I don't really have to go too far to see things. I am moving to Europe late this year and I got a bit upset that there is a lot harder to find darker skies over there (hey, at least I can get a new scope cheaper!)...
I got three different eyepieces with the scope. A Meade MA25mm, which I read that has somewhat a bad quality for a wide eyepiece, and two Series 3000 Plossls, 9.5mm and 6.7mm. They give me about 105x and 150x magnification, so I guess both are prone to chromatic aberration. It really bothers me that the eye relief for the 6.7mm is too short. Makes it very hard to see things without them wobbling or moving around... Anyhow, I asked about the DSO's because I guess the M42 has a lot of contrast, so I can see it somewhat well... But how does apparent magnitude play a role in DSO's??? I mean, there are some objects listed as bright as M42, but they are harder to see because they don't have much constrast. For example, I couldn't really see any detail on the Magellanic Clouds more than what I see with my eyes... Are there any other nice DSO's (or nebulae or clusters) that are better to see with a slow scope???

Thank you again!

#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 20 March 2013 - 11:59 PM

Hi and welcome to Cloudy Nights... :quote:

Myself, I have a variety of telescopes, some quite large, some smaller than your 90mm. I am not so pessimistic as some here. There is a lot that can be seen in an 90mm F/10 achromatic refractor. The main thing is to get out there and look. Observing the night sky is like anything else, the more you do it, the better you get. I have seen 12th magnitude galaxies in my 80mm scope.

At F/10, the MA-25 is a good eyepiece. I have several, they were pretty standard in the old Meade scopes. Hopefully it's the older model with the brass barrel. The field of view is somewhat narrow but otherwise it's a good one.

M-42 is like no other, it's big and bright. But there is still plenty to see in a 90mm. The Magellanic clouds are just too large to see in a scope. Not living in the southern hemisphere, I have little knowledge of the DSOs you might look at. I do know that Omega Centauri, barely visible from the southern United States is quite wonderful.

Just get out and look around and see what you can see. And make sure you are having fun.

Jon

#6 PmCimini

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 12:36 AM

Thanks for your insight, Jon!

I have a couple random questions, don't really know if they fit here, but just so I won't make another thread (I couldn't really find the answers in a small search...)

I would like to get a better scope in the future, probably one with a faster aperture so I can see dimmer things better... However I am looking for the best bang for the buck. Dobsonians seem to be very cost-effective, but they have alt-azimuth mounts. Can these be used for astrophotography??? When I think about it, I guess the object being imaged would rotate if a base like this is used, so I don't really know...

Also, do Barlow Lenses affect the quality of images? I see a lot of people using them in various places, but noone seems to address a negative point to them...

Thank you again! :)

#7 Rich

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 12:37 AM

If you are going out to semi-dark sites, you should be able to see a lot with the 395. Yes it will be limited on faint objects, but there are many that it will show quite nicely if the site is reasonably dark.

The F/11 scope will have a narrow field of view compared with small short focal length scopes, but at 1000mm FL you still can get decently wide fields pretty easily. A low cost option I'd suggest for eyepiece is a 32mm Plossl. It will give about 25% wider field than you're 25mm, and give over 1.5 degrees apparent FOV which will show a lot of objects.

Open clusters, bright nebula, and star fields should look great. Globulars and faint nebula not so much. Should work well for planets, double stars and as Jon said the moon.

Enjoy!

Rich

#8 timps

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 12:45 AM

I live in the Southern Hemisphere so am familiar with the magelenic clouds and Omega Centauri. There is also the globular cluster Tuc47 near the small magelenic cloud. I have a 120mm achro which will resolve the individual stars in the Omega Centauri cluster, even in the suburbs, However Tuc47 looks like a fuzzy ball in the suburbs but if I go to the country my scope will even resolve the individual stars in Tuc47. Dark skies really make the difference to what you can see. Even though you won't see all of the LMC with your scope, it does contain the Tarantula nebula. It is fainter than M42. There are some nice open clusters between the Southern Cross and False Cross and also don't forget the famous Eta Carina Nebula.

#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 05:37 AM

I would like to get a better scope in the future, probably one with a faster aperture so I can see dimmer things better... However I am looking for the best bang for the buck. Dobsonians seem to be very cost-effective, but they have alt-azimuth mounts. Can these be used for astrophotography??? When I think about it, I guess the object being imaged would rotate if a base like this is used, so I don't really know...

Also, do Barlow Lenses affect the quality of images? I see a lot of people using them in various places, but noone seems to address a negative point to them...



Hi again.

A couple of comments:

In general, a faster scope is not able to see dimmer objects than a slower scope. A fast scope is capable of a wider field of view for a given aperture as well as possibly a brighter image.

This is because telescopes are "afocal", that is, since they use an eyepiece, they can be described by the aperture and magnification, any 90mm scope at 90x provides, except for aberrations etc, provides an equally bright, equally detailed view. Since faint objects are generally small, most faint objects are seen at magnifications possible with a slower focal ratio.

As far as Dob goes, from a visual standpoint, they are certainly well suited for viewing the deep sky, the fast focal ratios allow for wide field views and their comparatively larger apertures are great for hunting down small, faint objects.

Photography is possible with an equatorial platform but in general photography is about the quality of the mount. Taking reasonable photographs of the deep sky is time consuming and expensive. The dream of a scope and mount that is affordable and capable of both astrophotography and visual compromises both aspects. It's better consider astrophotography and visual observation as two rather separate hobbies, particularly when one is first starting out.

Jon

#10 beanerds

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 06:23 AM

I grew up fantasing about owning one of these , (a 102mm was way out of the question) when I was younger .
Just seeing the glossy photos in Sky and Telescope , and Astronomy mag's sent my young and broke astronomy into over drive .
Since then Pm Cinimi I have looked thru a few of these and they are a very good luna , planetary and to some degree deep sky scopes . Especially the moon and planets , very good .
Skywatcher still sell these 90mm f10-11 refractors today so they must be doing sonething right .
Hope you get to use your and enjoy mate .
Brian.

#11 beanerds

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 06:32 AM

Me to , Timps , my 90mm SKY90 hints at resoulition of 47 Tuc and Omega Centarui , but my 127mm Istar f8 achro resolves them nicely . ;)
But M22 is resolved in the 90mm when over head .
Brian.

I live in the Southern Hemisphere so am familiar with the magelenic clouds and Omega Centauri. There is also the globular cluster Tuc47 near the small magelenic cloud. I have a 120mm achro which will resolve the individual stars in the Omega Centauri cluster, even in the suburbs, However Tuc47 looks like a fuzzy ball in the suburbs but if I go to the country my scope will even resolve the individual stars in Tuc47. Dark skies really make the difference to what you can see. Even though you won't see all of the LMC with your scope, it does contain the Tarantula nebula. It is fainter than M42. There are some nice open clusters between the Southern Cross and False Cross and also don't forget the famous Eta Carina Nebula.



#12 Stephen S

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 06:50 AM

It's better consider astrophotography and visual observation as two rather separate hobbies, particularly when one is first starting out.


I know the dream is to find the scope that can do both but I tend to agree with John on this one. I bought a nice 80mm APO thinking it would be good for both but was a bit disappointed visually, especially given the price. If you are interested in visually going after DSOs, then a dob is definitely the price per aperature winner. I've seen some pretty awesome photography with a 65mm refractor. A 65mm refractor can also be great for planet and moon observing but it would not do much for DSOs. If I were trying to do both, I would probably look for totally different systems. If I HAD to do both with the same equipment, I'd probably try to find something like a 10-12" SCT. My two cents.

#13 hottr6

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 09:57 AM

The Meade 90mm f/11 that came with the #395 and #390 models is an extremely competent telescope, despite what some may think. 90mm aperture captures many more photons than smaller 80mm refractors so beloved by many, and the f/11 focal ratio keeps stray color to a minimum, and allows some high-powered views. My Meade #395 delivers fabulous views and is especially good at splitting tough doubles. You will enjoy the optics on this 'scope.

The optical tube assembly (OTA) is also extremely well-made and solid. The focuser can be made very smooth with a little work. My one criticism of the #395 is the German equatorial mount (GEM). The 90mm is too heavy and overpowers the GEM, which translates to wobbly views at the eyepiece. This problem is not unique to the #395, and is a common problem with most mass-produced telescopes. Mounting the OTA on a more stable mount is an easy solution, but not at zero-cost. Below are 2 images of my 90mm on a CG5-clone and Vixen Polaris mounts, both carry the OTA with elan and confidence.
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#14 t.r.

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 10:04 AM

I would simply stick that mount on heavier wooden legs, solid if necessary and relatively cheap. I did this with an EQ-2 and was amazed at the difference compared to the telescoping lightweight legs. I doubled the scope weight it could carry at high power. The 90mm is fully capable, it is my personal minimum aperture to have a satisfying experience on planetary/lunar/double star observing. 80mm doesn't quite get me there, but the 90 shows detail almost as well as a 100mm. ;)

#15 hottr6

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Posted 21 March 2013 - 10:15 AM

Yes, wooden legs on the #395 would help with vibration, but the #395 suffers from a profound design flaw that the CG* models do not share: On the #395, the DEC axis slo-mo control is fixed relative to the GEM, and not the OTA! This makes the GEM awkward to operate (especially in the dark), and the OTA will tangle with the DEC slo-mo in some positions.

Having said that, the #395 GEM in alt-azimuth mode has the slo-mo controls perfectly positioned for the seated observer, and IMHO, is a way better alt-az than most of the more expensive alt-az mounts on the market.

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#16 PmCimini

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 09:23 PM

Thanks for all your answers! I did not respond due to a quick travel to the countryside... Took the scope with me but unfortunately it was cloudy.

Anyhow, I've read a lot of complaints about the GEM and its instability, and I am still learning to align it correctly. Indeed if you use it solely as an alt-azimuth mount, it is easier to operate. Whenever I want to switch observations from one hemisphere to the other, the declination control gets tangled with some other parts of the mount and I have to take it apart and put it back again on the other direction. This is a bit weird.

Anyway, I asked about the scope for astrophotography is that I tend to try out a bunch of different hobbies, and I rather have a more versatile equipment (even if its expensive), because this way I guess I can get a better scope for both photography and observing. But this is for a future...

In general, a faster scope is not able to see dimmer objects than a slower scope. A fast scope is capable of a wider field of view for a given aperture as well as possibly a brighter image.


This makes total sense, I didn't really think about it this way, it was just a misconception because I always see people with reflectors for DSO observations, but it makes sense now. I guess I'll end up getting a SCT with a good mount that would be great for everything I intend to do eventually, even though I could get a better Dob, but it wouldn't be able to take good pictures... I often see a bunch of different people using Celestrons C14... They are a bit expensive but not much out of my price range. Are there any other good options? Thank you once more!

#17 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 08:18 AM

This makes total sense, I didn't really think about it this way, it was just a misconception because I always see people with reflectors for DSO observations, but it makes sense now.



Field of view and image brightness are important factors in viewing DSOs. If one is hunting down small, faint fuzzies, small exit pupils and higher magnifications are optimal and so most any focal ratio and focal length is acceptable. But if one is looking for larger, faint objects, using filters that increase contrast but take away light, then fast telescopes do have advantages.

The C-14 has a very long focal length, is relatively slow, that translates to a narrow maximum field of view and difficulty achieving the brightest views.

Jon

#18 Javier1978

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Posted 26 March 2013 - 08:54 AM

Hi Pedro,

There is a lot to see with your scope. Just seek for open cluster in Crux, Quilla and Vela, there are a lot and they are beautiful. Don´t miss NGC 4755 (el joyero), NGC3532, NGC2516, NGC3766, all beautiful. Also, near Mimosa you will see a very red carbon star. It´s beatitul to observe this intense blue-red pair. Also near Crux (but in Centauro) you have the "Planetaria azul", a very bright green colored planetary nebula, it´s amazing with any aperture.

You can also stop in Carina nebula. There is plenty to see in this bright nebula. The keyhole is fantastic, and if you push the magnification I bet you will have a view of the homunculus surrounding Carina. I have quite nice views from the city with an 8" dob.

And if you get to dark skies, don´t miss (with naked eye) the dark nebula "Saco de Carbon" just besides the Cross, and of course the mentioned "Nubes de Magallanes" and the beautiful and rich southern milky way.

Regarding a scope that do all, a lot of people here is using 6" f5 reflectors. With the right mount they are fantastic for AP and I can tell they give pretty nices views too, although for dedicated observing might be rather small.

Check out this site, you will find a lot of examples of the mentioned scope:

http://www.baskies.com.ar/IMAGES_1.htm

Good luck!

#19 hottr6

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Posted 27 March 2013 - 08:33 AM

Anyway, I asked about the scope for astrophotography is that I tend to try out a bunch of different hobbies, and I rather have a more versatile equipment (even if its expensive), because this way I guess I can get a better scope for both photography and observing. But this is for a future...

I guess I'll end up getting a SCT with a good mount that would be great for everything I intend to do eventually, even though I could get a better Dob, but it wouldn't be able to take good pictures... I often see a bunch of different people using Celestrons C14... They are a bit expensive but not much out of my price range. Are there any other good options? Thank you once more!

While any telescope can be used for astrophotography (AP), the Meade 395 is not a good choice. It's simple optics, lightweight mount and 1.25" focuser suggest that any AP with it would be an exercise in frustration.

AP gear that mitigates the frustration is fearsomely expensive compared with visual. The learning curve in AP is also astoundingly steep, and the knowledge required is a whole 'nother level deeper than visual. I would recommend that you spend a lot of time hanging out with the AP crowd here at CN before deciding to abandon the 395 and pour a whole lot of money into the AP black hole.

The C14 is a large telescope, and not recommended for one starting out in AP. Really, this is a 'scope for experienced observers only who know what they need for their observing program.

If you really want recommendations this early in the game, for AP only, I would consider a fast 80mm ED/APO refractor on a well-tuned CG5 mount. If you want to try both visual and AP, then a fast 6-8" Newt on a GEM that is at least 1-2 classes above the CG5.

I don't do AP, but if I wanted to try it, this is the path I would take. But first, I'd have to rob a bank. :tonofbricks:

#20 fede67

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Posted 08 October 2013 - 06:44 PM

Hi! With a 90/1000 achro you can really see a lot of DSO, under a dark sky.
You can see all Messier Object, and much more. You can turn your mount into altaz, to reduce vibration.
I have an old Meade395 on an old Vixen Polaris, and it is really funny.
90mm is a good size for enjoying astronomy.
"Slow" is only a photographic concept, the light you have is the same of any other 90mm refractor, and it's not so bad, indeed.
This is mine:
Posted Image
Sorry for my hugly english... i'm not analphabet, i'm only italian... hahahaha :)

#21 ErikB

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 12:39 AM

"I would like to get a better scope in the future..."

As has already been pointed out, if you want to do both visual and AP, you may be best off with separate equipment. However, since you asked, let's consider the possibility of using one mount and scope for both purposes, starting with what you have. For AP you need a good quality motor driven equatorial mount. (You could use a fork mount on a wedge, but for multiple reasons I wouldn't recommend it.) You can find some mounts for under $1,000 (in the U.S.) that are usable, provided your scope focal length is modest. You can expect to have some issues to resolve with a new mount, so you would want to have the dealer nearby. You would probably be better off getting a used mount that originally cost $1500 or more. If the previous owner did AP successfully, that means he probably got any problems originating at the factory already taken care of. Your current scope's focal ratio is not good for DSO AP, so what scope should you get? Let's first consider the focal length. In order to get by without a very expensive mount, you should probably stay at no more than 700-800 mm.

So, I would avoid SCT's, since their focal length is so long as to make AP difficult, especially if you are not going to spend $5,000 or more on the mount. Also, most conventional SCT's are somewhat lacking in sharpness when used with a camera. What about Newtonians? I love my 8" f/4 Newt for AP. These truly provide great bang for the buck. However, there is good reason why I don't use that scope for visual. The location of the focuser means that the eyepiece height changes a lot depending on what you point at. Dob users live with that, and it is OK. But when you put the Newtonian on a GEM, the focuser also changes its pointing direction more as you change the scope pointing. You start thinking that you want the scope mounted in rings that allow the scope tube to be rotated inside the rings. The middle of the scope moves up and down quite a bit. All in all, I feel that, unless you are an acrobat, you won't like visual use of a newt on a GEM, unless perhaps, the Newt is a very small one. So we are back to refractors. They too move the eyepiece up and down a lot, especially if they are long. You already have a long refractor, so you know this. For this reason you may want a refractor that is a bit shorter than the one you have. That fits with a focal length of 700-800 mm which fits with a mount that is somewhat affordable. For viewing of DSO's you would want the aperture to be as large as possible, say 120mm. To keep the focal length reasonable, the focal ratio would then have to be faster than 6.5 or so. With such a fast refractor you need a very good objective lens design to get good imaging results. I would think you would need it to be an apo triplet, which means it would be quite expensive. A 110 mm or 100 mm refractor could still be quite usable for DSO's given dark skies. For a 110 mm scope, a focal ratio of 7 would keep the focal length reasonable. At that focal ratio you could go for an ED doublet design, which would be much more affordable than the 120 mm triplet. However, the 110 mm ED doublet would still be expensive. A 100 mm f/7 ED doublet would be more affordable, and you would still have more aperture for visual use than your current scope. With this choice (assuming a new refractor with a good focuser) you will have spent at least a couple of thousand dollars. What could be gained if you were to have separate equipment for visual and ap? For AP the GEM and refractor just discussed would still be a good choice. The mount for AP would not be any cheaper. The refractor could be a bit smaller, and you would save a few hundred dollars, but you are losing some ap performance if you go to a smaller refractor, depending on the kind of DSO images you want to make. You would have to spend significant money on a separate setup for visual. A dob gives you the best bang for the buck, and depending on how small a refractor you get for ap, you might be able to pay for the dob with the saving on the refractor. Your visual scope would not have motor drive, but it would show DSO's much better than the small refractor. Of course if you are satisfied with the visual DSO performance of your old scope, then you wouldn't have to buy a new visual setup at all.






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