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#1 diggitye

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 07:40 PM

Hello all, new guy here. So I've always been interested in astronomy but it's ramped up quite a bit lately. I've been doing some naked eye observations which have been great but I want to see a little more. I found a pair of forgotten cheap binoculars in my basement (8x40) but they produce a double image which makes them pretty much useless. This put me in the market for some binocs.

Well, as I researched possible binoc candidates I started reading this forum and various articles on the inter webs. Now I want a 12 inch Dob! But being a practical guy I know should start slow so I am at a decision point.

I would like to get some opinions on my first stargazing purchase. Should I go with some 10x50 binocs or one of the following:

Orion GoScope 80mm TableTop Refractor ($120)
Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector ($110)
Or...Other recommendations. I am open to going up to about $250 maybe $300 on this purchase.

This purchase will be a gauge on my overall interest and if I use whatever I get regularly I will most likely upgrade in a year or so (maybe that 12 inch Dob, haha). Also, I want my daughter who is almost 4 to be able to enjoy this hobby with me later as well.

I plan on going to a starparty later this month to try out some telescopes and binocs so I will take any suggestions I get from here and try those as well.

I know there are many knowledgeable folks on here so any advice is much appreciated. :help:

#2 SeattleScott

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 07:53 PM

Ah, so that's why the table top scopes. I would suggest the 4.5" Orion XT Dob ($240) or the 4.5" Orion table top reflector ($200). My concern with the table top is that it is so short, it really needs to be on a table of some sort for an adult to use it, and your kid could outgrow it in a couple years. The XT Dob is a little better compromise in that you can have it on the ground for stability, and it won't be as hard on your back bending over to look through it, and your kid can see through with the aid of a step stool for the next couple years. Either way could work though.

I would strongly consider getting a green laser and bracket and mounting the laser as your finderscope. Otherwise it will be very hard to aim such a short scope. Unless you want your kid to do the aiming, which could be fun too!

Refractor could be a good option too, height for kids easily dealt with since you view through the bottom of the tube, but 100mm would be better than 80mm.

#3 GOLGO13

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:00 PM

On the low end I'd look at the Orion Observer 70 alt az: Orion Observer 70 or the Zhumell Aurora 70 here: Zhummell Aurora 70 ...skip the go scope. Table top scopes can be a pain without something sturdy to put them on. I'd probably skip that one too.

On the high end 250-300 is tough. You could have a very nice capability with an 8 inch dob like the apertura 8 here: Apertura 8 That's not too far above your budget. With the Orion 6 inch going for $310 right now, I cannot suggest it since you could get the apertura 8 for $395 shipped. That's just plain a much better deal at this point.

#4 diggitye

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:01 PM

Thanks SeattleScott. One of the reasons I picked those two models is that they can be put on a camera tripod which I already have. I have seen the others you suggested while researching. I will look at them a little closer. Thanks!

#5 buddyjesus

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:30 PM

Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector ($110) this one is a good deal IMO

#6 Paco_Grande

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:34 PM

Why wait? Get the 12' dob now.

#7 Matt2893

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:50 PM

I have the little Orion FunScope, and use it on a camera tripod. It's a cheap tripod I had lying around and really too wobbly. It's nice to have the option of table-top or tripod, just be aware that you'll need a decent tripod.

#8 mogur

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Posted 08 April 2013 - 09:25 PM

A 4~4.5" scope is a great size to start with! It can show nice wide field views of star clusters because of a short focal length. With higher power eyepieces, it can show off the moon and planets fine too. It certainly will give you a good idea of what you like about astronomy and will guide you into a future upgrade. Conversely, if your interest wanes, you have very little invested and it can be sold easily or given away. I agree with the thought that a photo tripod may not be a good platform though. A smaller dob can be used seated by an adult, while a small child can stand to see in it. A table-top scope needs a very sturdy table to put it on. Perhaps if you decide to go in this direction you could put it on a short stack of cinder blocks instead. It would be very sturdy and the height would be about the same as a small Dob. Since you already have binos I would go with a small scope next. You'll be amazed what a 4" scope can show, especially if you have dark skies to view in!

#9 buddyjesus

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:54 AM

a bar stool will work great as a "tripod" for your funscope.

#10 howard929

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:18 AM

Hello and Welcome to Cloudy Nights.

Your faced with a not so simple choice. On one hand you don't wish to spend a lot just to find out how you like this hobby which is understandable. On the other hand it won't serve you well if you start out with a viewing instrument that's underwhelming or fussy to use or just plain frustrating. Being fairly new to this myself I'd recommend that you try the used market and possibly buy more of a telescope or binoculars then your considering currently and take your time. Don't rush to judgement.

#11 Gert K A

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 03:28 AM

Hi diggitye

Welcome to CN and good luck finding the exact scope you need :grin:

Why not try to fix your binos first though? they mite still be good
see this Linky

#12 Tony Flanders

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 05:00 AM

I would like to get some opinions on my first stargazing purchase. Should I go with some 10x50 binocs or one of the following:

Orion GoScope 80mm TableTop Refractor ($120)
Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector ($110)
Or...Other recommendations. I am open to going up to about $250 maybe $300 on this purchase.

This purchase will be a gauge on my overall interest and if I use whatever I get regularly I will most likely upgrade in a year or so (maybe that 12 inch Dob, haha).


It's mighty tempting to say get both 10x50 binoculars and one of those two telescopes. Here's my reasoning.

With careful shopping, you should be able to find a pretty good pair of 10x50 binoculars in the $100-$200 range. Add another $50, and the options open up even more. These would be versatile instruments that would last you a lifetime and would serve a multitude of purposes both day and night.

However, the one thing they wouldn't do is give a sense of what it's like to own a telescope. For that, you need something with variable (and potentially high) magnification.

Of the choices that you listed, I personally would take the 80-mm refractor, because it has better high-power performance. But they're both a lot of fun -- a great way to break into serious telescopic observing with a pretty tiny investment. And because of their enormous fields of view, they're a great way to learn star-hopping.

To my mind, the biggest drawback of the 80-mm refractor is its inability to reach the zenith.

#13 diggitye

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:00 PM

Wow, some great suggestions here. I'm a little star struck with a reply from Tony Flanders. I watch SkyWeek every week!

Anyway, I'll see if I can fix my binos using the techniques in that link (thanks Gert K A). There are 2 star parties later this month that I plan on attending and one of them is at a local store so I can try out some specific scopes that I'm intersted in. I haven't looked through a scope in years so that will be helpful in making my decision.

As much as I would love to get that 12" Dob now as Paco Grande suggests, I think my wife would flip if I walked in the door with something that big, haha.

I'm still open to any suggestions. I'll bump this thread when I buy something!

#14 csrlice12

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:15 PM

Noticed you are in CO. If you are in the Denver area, the Denver Astro Society has loner scope programs. They also have monthly star parties at the Chamberlin Observatory where you can go try out different scopes. They also have monthly dark sky nights at their dark site out by Deer Trail. S&S Optica in Denver is also a great telescope store (yes, we are lucky to have one). CO Springs also has an Astro Society and I believe they have a loner scope program too. They're also happy to answer all your questions there!!

#15 diggitye

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:44 PM

Those are the star parties I was planning on attending this month. I didn't know about the loner program though, I'll have to look into that. I stopped by S&S a few days ago and really liked the shop. I was a little shocked to see the prices though when compared to internet prices with free shipping. I guess they have to pay the rent but it was quite a mark-up. Thanks for the tips!

#16 csrlice12

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 12:51 PM

Depends on what you buy. I got my 102XLT for about $50 more then the internet price...but they put it together, set up the mount, collimated the scope, aligned the finder (at least till it was reboxed!), and showed me how to work it. Later, when I bought the motors from them, they installed them for free since I bought the scope there..and they do quality work. Yes, a little more expensive, but you're also getting "professional installation"....and that, plus their customer service is worth something.....great folks there. All my scopes came from them (and a lot of my eyepieces).

#17 diggitye

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 01:09 PM

I definitely would prefer to buy from the local shop. They were awesome and explained a lot to me. It sounds like the premium in price is worth it when you consider the service you get.

#18 buddyjesus

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 02:41 PM

local shops often have after purchase support and occasionally let you test drive something and return if not for you.

also check out http://www.sciencecompany.com/ as they are also local.

#19 panhard

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 03:13 PM

Why wait? Get the 12' dob now.

Come on Phil lets stay within budget.

#20 diggitye

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 09:22 PM

So I just came across an Orion XT8 Classic on craigs list for $100. It retails for @ $350. I emailed the seller to see it.

What do I need to look for to make sure this scope is in good condition?
What questions should I ask to gauge how they used/treated it?
Any relevant info would help.

Thanks!

#21 SeattleScott

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Posted 09 April 2013 - 10:36 PM

Make sure there is no rust on mirror and look for sleeks and scratches from a poor mirror cleaning job. Make sure that it moves smoothly on both axis. I believe the Classics used springs for tension - want to make sure they are still there (or some other form of applying tension so you can change eyepieces without losing the target). Look for warped wood on the base. That's pretty well it. Reflectors are fairly basic so not much mechanically to go wrong. And if it does, it can usually be fixed.

#22 buddyjesus

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 12:49 AM

check for damage on the mirrors and the focuser. anything else can be worked upon.

#23 Tony Flanders

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Posted 10 April 2013 - 05:07 AM

So I just came across an Orion XT8 Classic on craigs list for $100. It retails for @ $350. I emailed the seller to see it.


Holy smokes!

Fortunately, Dobs are incredibly simple. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but either it's totally broken or it's fine.

Make sure it moves smoothly, that the focuser works well, and that it comes to focus when viewing a distant light fixture (or anything else). Make sure nothing is loose, notably the secondary mirror.

See how dirty the primary mirror is, and decide if you're willing to undertake cleaning it. That's not a hard job, but it's a little scary.

#24 diggitye

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 08:42 PM

Thanks for all the tips! The $100 scope sold in a few hours so I didn't get a shot at it. I found another 8" Dob for $200 and went to look at it today. I just can't pull the trigger. While I was looking at it I realized I have no idea what I'm doing and I need to look through a few scopes before buying one. I think it was in decent shape, the base edging was peeling away and the sticker was peeling off but as far as I could tell the mirror was clean and scratch free. I just couldn't do it though.

I'm going to go to the star parties this month and try different scopes and talk to some people before making a purchase.

On a side note, I tinkered with my binos so they are useable now (Thanks Gert K A) and I ordered the Backyard Astronomers Guide today!

Baby steps...

#25 orion61

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Posted 11 April 2013 - 09:57 PM

I usually stay away from EbAy cause a scope will cost about 25% more. Good to sell on.
a used scope will get you the same scope for 40% less than new.
The 102mm refractors on the Celestron Go-To SLT mounts are pretty darn good for a beginner. I have been observing for 43 years and was stunned how good they are for the money.
You can always use the tube in the future as a large guide scope for Astrophotography.
The 130mm SLT Reflectors are OK too but not as impressive.
Jupiter really blew me away through the 102 refractor.
Everything else I looked at in that price range seemed like a TOY to me.
I have the 127mm Celestron SLT MAK it is dead on GO-TO
Optics are excellent! It is inexpensive but has become my
Grab & Go scope knocking my old C8 out of that job! THATS
how much I think of the SLT...
Hey its good enough for Sheldon and Leonard on the Big Bang Theory!!!LOL..
Good Luck..






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