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#1 FairObserver

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 04:32 PM

Hello all. I'm a newbie here. I had an avid interest in astronomy as a kid and now that I'm older (61) I'm starting to regress back to being a kid. Thus I am avidly reading articles about purchasing one's first good telescope. Can anyone give me some advice on a decent telescope in the $300-$800 range that provides good views of planets and deeper space, and can grow with you to be adaptable for photography, computer drives, upgraded eyepieces, and other upgrades, if such an instrument exists? Thanks! FairObserver

#2 SKYGZR

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 04:50 PM

That's gonna be tough with 300-800

now 3000-8000..that's doable

#3 StrangeDejavu

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 04:59 PM

Hi FairObserver, welcome to CN. :)

Check out the XLT 120, I have the 102 model and absolutely love it. It's a point-and-go scope, near maintanence-free and easily customizable. They also don't require much cooldown time compared to a reflector type which can sometimes take 1-2 hours before it can be used.

http://www.celestron...ni-xlt-120.html

#4 MikeBOKC

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 05:03 PM

Welcome . . . such an instrument exists for viewing planets and deep space objects. It is called a Dobsonian reflector, which is the most visual bang for the buck in astronomy. You should be able to find a good used 6 or even 8 inch one in your states price range. However, it is not motor driven, does not go to and is not suited for astrophotography, which generally requires a motoroized equaltorial mount, guidescopes, etc, and easily runs into the thousands in a hurry.

Does that mean you are stumped? Not at all. Visual astronomy can be done on a budget like yours to great satisfaction.

My first suggestiion would be to find a local astronomy club and attend some of their meetings and especially star parties and observing sessions, which will give you a chance to learn about the varous types of equipment available. You may also find folks there with equipment for sale at very reasonable prices, or who can steer you to the right gear. You will find a lot of gearheads there as well with pretty elaborate (and expensive) scopes, mounts, eyepiece collections etc. That does not mean you can't jump in for a lot less and have fun. A surprising number of people come to this hobby at or near retirement, and I suspect you will find a number of kindred spirits in a local club.

Don't be discouraged . . . everyone walks before running in ths=is hobby, and no one is holding a stopwatch. It ain't competitive, but it is great fun.

#5 panhard

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 05:07 PM

Read this thread It will give you a better idea of what is required for astro photography. thread
Welcome to Cloudy Nights we will help you however we can. :band: :band: :grouphug: :grouphug: :dob:

#6 MikeBOKC

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 05:18 PM

This starter kit from Orion is not a bad beginner's deal and it has go to and a 130mm reflector, plus some handy accessories:

http://www.telescope...r-Telescopes...

#7 panhard

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 05:50 PM

It would be ok for a beginner, good find mike.

#8 Ebyl

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 06:30 PM

Welcome, FairObserver. :)

How portable would you need the telescope setup to be? It can be a really big consideration, because as the telescopes get larger, they get heavier, bulkier, and less convenient to move about.

I would also like to mention that astrophotography at more than a basic level greatly benefits from very robust mounts. And of course, those are big, heavy, and expensive. My personal suggestion would be to focus on visual observing for now with a setup in the range you mentioned, and then look into something separate for astrophotography later.

For a visual, do it all scope with good light grasp for DSO's, it's hard to beat dobsonian mounted reflectors. Maybe a 6-8" depending on how easily you want to be able to move it around? If you're more interested in a refractor, then maybe an Omni XLT 102 or 120 package (comes with the CG-4 mount).

Another option at the top end of your price range would be an SCT like the Nexstar 6SE. Out of the ones I listed, that is the only one with a motorized mount. I believe the 6SE would let you take short exposure photos, with the proper adapters and all that.

#9 cavefrog

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 08:29 PM

That's gonna be tough with 300-800

now 3000-8000..that's doable


Maaaan. don't tell him that! besides being untrue, you are going to give him the idea that this is a very expensive hobby, which it CAN be, but is not necessary to spend a lot of money to enjoy this hobby.

FairObserver , your price range is very doable... especially if you look for used equipment.

ask questions (the only dumb question is the one that goes unasked!) a lot, and read a lot.

Theo

#10 Jeff2011

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 10:38 PM

Fair Observer,

You can think of a telescope as a tool. You can use a slotted screw driver on a Phillips headed screw but it is not optimal. You are probably going to buy a Phillips screw driver before too long. The same is true with telescopes. If you look at people's signature lines, you will see many with multiple scopes. Yes some have only one, but they are usually happy with what that scope was designed to do or are plotting to get a second scope.

A Dob is a great starter scope but is not suited for deep space AP. That is the scope I started with. Like many people, I was interested in taking pictures through it and took AP with it as far as it could go. I even built a tracking platform for it. I then decided to buy that Phillips screw driver, I mean refractor and equatorial mount. I just got the mount in last week, so I have a ways to go before I learn it well enough to do AP with it.

I guess what I am trying to say is, don't try to get a scope that does it all. Prioritize what you want from a scope and go in that direction. If you are like many of us, you will probably pick up one or more scopes down the road.

#11 GOLGO13

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 10:56 PM

based on your requirements I would suggest the Celestron 5SE or 6SE. Great beginner scopes which are light weight. And they have all the bells and whistles. The 5SE actually has a capability to put the scope in polar mode (little steel bar which you can slide the scope up). That would help with photography if you choose to do it.

I had a version of the 5SE (the one before it) and it was great scope. Here is a link to the scope: Celestron 5SE

#12 buddyjesus

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Posted 29 March 2013 - 11:57 PM

my concern with the starseeker scope is that it might not be able to look straight up. It is a pretty long tube for that mount and might just bump the mounting. I would second one of the maksutov cassegrain scopes or schmidt cassegrain as those would work fine with that mount or a nexstar mount from celestron.

food for thought. https://www.astronom...mak-telescop... or https://www.astronom...ct-telescope...

BTW, often buying used will save you a couple hundred bucks so check astromart or the cloudynights classifieds.

#13 Agatha

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 02:07 AM

FairObserver,

Welcome to Cloudy Nights. :)

The choices can be overwhelming. You can certainly get something that will be very satisfying and a lot of fun. You don't need to spend a fortune. I am new at this also and as much as I want a Dobsonian, I don't have room right now where I live. But, refractors...even small ones are really fun. To get something that would be easily adaptable for photography, etc. etc. might be a challenge. There are many people here who have great information.
And there are some great books to read..."Backyard Astronomers Guide" is a good one along with many others.

Have fun with your quest. This is a wonderful hobby with zillions of choices and opinions. You have come to the right place for help.

Best, Linda B.

#14 Tony Flanders

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 05:48 AM

Take a look at my article What to Know Before Buying a Telescope.

#15 Mike4242

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 08:53 AM

Since this will be your only telescope, you're going to want something with a fair amount of aperture -- I'd say at least a 6" reflector or a 120mm refractor. Though I love refractors, I don't normally recommend refractors as an only scope since they're limited in aperture compared to reflectors. If tracking is important for you, I would look at the Celestron 5SE and 6SE. If you don't care that much about tracking and motors, take a look at the Orion XT8i or XT10i Dobsonian telescopes. The XTi model telescopes have a computer to help you locate objects, but you move the scope manually. As far as photography goes, I would put that on the back burner for now until you get a little more experience.

#16 Eric63

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 09:18 AM

I agree that astro photography should be on the back burner at first. I have a 6" reflector on an Equatorial mount and I find tht it is a great all around scope to start with. It gives great views of deep space from a dark site. It also gives very good views of planets (in fact I am impressed how well it does on planets). Now the EQ mount can be a pain at times, but when I don't feel like manually tracking, I simply put the mount in Alt AZ mode (very easy to do) and scan the sky effortlessly. Now, if I do chose to try astro photography in the future, the mount can be fitted with a tracking motor. This scope was recommended to me by my local telescope shop as a great starter scope with flexibility. Below is my scope, but there are similar products from other companies.

http://ca.skywatcher...ail.php?sid=383

Eric

#17 dodomang

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 09:32 AM

+1 for the nexstar 5se. It's a nice goto Schmidt cassegrain with a built in wedge for better astrophotography

#18 coopman

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 03:03 PM

The best advice that I can offer is to delete the requirement for astrophotography and just get a decent scope for visual observing only. There are millions of photos from others on the web to look at. Starting down the A/P road at age 61 is going to be a tough task indeed - actually it's a tough road to go down at any age.

#19 GeneT

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 03:54 PM

I recommend bumping it up a little and look at a Celestron 8 inch NexStar.
https://www.astronom...scopes_c11.aspx

#20 Paco_Grande

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Posted 30 March 2013 - 10:00 PM

For sure, spec your first scope with very little, or no, emphasis on AP. You can do simple but very nice AP with a dob! It all depends on your expectations, and as a noob, you have expectations that will be revised as you learn more. Want to publish your images? I didn't think so. You're competing with the Hubble. :lol:

So, beyond this, there are so many choices, as I'm sure you're aware, and it can make your head explode.

Safe bets? 8-10" Dob ($400-$600). SE6 or SE8 ($800-$1200). Or something a bit different, like a 130mm Newt on an Alt/az mount ($400). Any of these would be a fine place to begin.

#21 Tony Flanders

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 07:24 AM

Since this will be your only telescope ...


Only if he/she decides he/she isn't interested in astronomy after all.

Most people who fall in love with stargazing end up with two or more telescope -- often in fairly short order. Part of the beginning of wisdom is that no one telescope can do everything. And it's generally much more cost-effective to get different scopes for different purposes than to try to get one scope that can do everything.

#22 Agatha

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 12:37 PM

I hope that I am wrong. But I can imagine that FairObserver may possibly have been turned off by some of the early responses in this thread. An honest and innocent question was asked of the people here and if it had been me, I would have been a bit intimidated and even disillusioned. :(

I hope that FairObsever comes back and ends up with a nice telescope and then starts another thread expressing the wonder and excitement of viewing the moon and Jupiter etc. And sharing that with everyone. :)
'Cuz that's what we love to do".

Best, Linda B.

#23 Oscar56

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 03:57 PM

This scope was recommended to me by my local telescope shop as a great starter scope with flexibility. Below is my scope, but there are similar products from other companies.

http://ca.skywatcher...ail.php?sid=383

Eric


Eric:

How is the stability of your scope and mount combo?

#24 Eric63

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 06:39 PM

Hi Grant

The mount and scope are actually quite stable with minimal vibrations. I really like using it in az mode for scanning the sky if my AZ4 is not available. Now the AZ4 is also a nice mount for the 150Newt. Very stable and easier to use.

Eric

#25 Isdaako

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Posted 31 March 2013 - 09:00 PM

I've recently had lots of experience in reading forum questions like this. Like the OP I'm interested in learning about the resolutions to this question. So, it seems, are a great many others. Thanks for taking the time to give such thoughtful responses.






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