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tadsbud
journeyman


Reged: 04/02/13

$15-20k first system
      #5773875 - 04/02/13 08:02 PM

As this is my first post I just want to start by saying thank you to everyone who makes this website the awesome resource it is.

Everyone's situation is slightly different when it comes to purchasing equipment, so even though I have read what others have done, I am hoping I can get some advice for my own situation.

A little about me, I will be moving to either Albuquerque NM, or Maui HI in about a year. I currently live in Ohio. I do not know exactly where I will be moving (in the Air Force), but it will be one of those two locations. I only relate this as it might impact what optics to consider.

Stargazing has always been a somewhat spiritual experience for me whenever I get out and actually see the stars. I am currently working on a thesis in Electro Optics relative to deep space detection. My studies have caused an almost obsession with stargazing--only one problem...

I have ZERO equipment. I just go out and look at stars and admire what I see. The desire to get a telescope has been strong for almost a year now--I have waited this long so as to make sure this isn't just a fleeting attraction.

I am one of those who believes in "buy once cry once" when it comes to important purchases--which is another reason I have yet to buy anything.

I do have a limit to what I can spend of around $15-20k (depending on how much I purchase at once).

So my requirements in list form...
1. Observe celestial splendor from the moon to deep space objects.
2. Flexible enough to add AP equipment (DSLR and/or CCD) for deep space imaging (although I plan on just observing for a while I want to budget for this gear now).
3. Portable--I know this is relative--a 20-30 pound scope that can be put in some kind of hard case is what I am thinking.(20-30 lbs for the scope alone, I understand the total weight will be more)
4. $15-20k for everything down to photoshop.
5. GoTo feature
6. I could care less about name brand--more impressed with measured quality (sometimes correlated sometimes not).

I have no bias or prejudice of one system or another. What I am looking for is to generate a solid list of everything I need to purchase (some now some later perhaps).

Also I understand that for $15-20k I will be making trade-offs on performance, portability, versatility, etc--not looking to get it all, just best bang for buck.

Thank you !


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Haas
sage


Reged: 11/22/12

Loc: Wis., USA
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5773890 - 04/02/13 08:06 PM

Not much help here, but wow, what a nice budget for a start. That's way more than most who are looking for their first purchase. You should have lot's of fun shopping.

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lamplight
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 09/18/12

Loc: western MA, U.S.
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Haas]
      #5773927 - 04/02/13 08:18 PM

We got another one.. Welcome to CN. I wouldn't even begin to start on this one.. Have you looked at the different scope types available, pros and cons of each? I might start with the book "nightwatch" if you haven't been through something like that first? It would address some of those basics. You can probably include a couple scope types in this budget to cover everything from huge aperture deep sky grasping, to widefield small scopes such as a little refractor for wide field photos. There are so many options one scope recommendation might be doing a disservice to you until you can possibly try a couple at a astronomy club(?) and or get some more info on scope types first.

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MikeBOKC
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 05/10/10

Loc: Oklahoma City, OK
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5773966 - 04/02/13 08:43 PM

Since you envision some level of astrophotography at some point, you will likely need a fairly high capacity equatorial mount, which of course can also be used to carry one or more scopes for visual observing. I would second the motion of finding and enrolling in a local astronomy club at either of your destinations. Try out some of the equipment members are using for both AP and visual, ask for their input and advice.

Then, you might focus on a system something like the 9.25 Edge on a CGEM or CGEM-DX mount, which would be quite good for both uses. Or, look at fork mounted SCT like the CPC line for visual use and a second kit for AP, perhaps a mid-sized APO refractor in the CGEM. There are quite a lot of options out there . . . but your post indicates you have given considerable thought to this, and sampling choices via a local club would fit that approach. Bottom line, you can acquire some excellent equipment for both uses with your stated budget.


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rdandrea
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/13/10

Loc: Colorado, USA DM59ra
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5774007 - 04/02/13 08:55 PM

Coming back from several years off, I spent $450 for a Craigslist 8" Newt on a CG-5. Congratulations on your budget.

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Pharquart
sage
*****

Reged: 11/11/09

Loc: Southwest Minneapolis Metro
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: lamplight]
      #5774036 - 04/02/13 09:02 PM

As you learn more, you'll find that each type/model of telescope has its strengths and weaknesses. The best scope for observing faint fuzzies visually is far from the best scope for astrophotography. Even viewing different objects visually can call for different telescope. Many deep space objects like nebula benefit from a large aperture and wide field of view (like a Dobsonian) while splitting binaries and getting sharp views of the planets/moon calls for an APO refractor. And astrophotography is all about the mount, not the optics (and a HUGE learning curve!)

So if I were you, even with a big budget, I'd plan to own a few different telescopes eventually. My advice is to start much smaller in budget. Around here, you'll get tons of recommendations for an 8" Dob, and it's a good recommendation. You'll spend 5-10% of your budget and get a great scope to try out and see if you like it. You really won't know what type of astronomy turns you on (Galaxies? Planets? Binary stars? Open clusters? Globulars?) until you try for a while. So if you only want to cry once, don't spend all your budget now as a newbie, or you run the risk of crying very hard when you discover you spend $15k on something that isn't right for you. Learn what's right, THEN spend the big bucks.

Brian


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hfjacinto
I think he's got it!
*****

Reged: 01/12/09

Loc: Land of clouds and LP
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Pharquart]
      #5774057 - 04/02/13 09:07 PM

That's a nice budget, I'm probably that much into the hobby with all the gear I have. Honestly since you have such a nice budget, the first thing you should get is the backyards astronomers guide after reading that I think you will know what to get. The issue with the request is that I can make a shopping list but that's my list not yours. You really need to narrow down a specific scope type, what type of camera you want, is a 100lb mount ok, etc...

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tadsbud
journeyman


Reged: 04/02/13

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: lamplight]
      #5774098 - 04/02/13 09:15 PM

I have done a lot of random reading over the past year. However I haven't been able to lock myself down to a specific setup.

Right now I am eyeing some kind of triplet apo refractor (like TMB-130). Last month I have had the Celestron CGEM DX 11 Edge HD in my cart--although that is probably pushing my "portability" comfort level.

I have also thought about getting a 8-9" SCT and then a decent 3-4" refractor or something?

I feel like step one for me is deciding on what scope(s) to buy.

Also perhaps a rough estimate on what % of my budget I should spend on what would be helpful to keep certain things within a range.

For instance,
30% telescope(s) $4,500-6,000
20% mount/tracking $3,000-4,000
20% CCD/DSLR $3,000-4,000
20% accessories $3,000-4,000
10% misc $1,500-2,000

So I suppose a more focused question is, what amount should I be looking to spend on a telescope(s) with a budget of 15-20k (given my portability and AP friendly requirements)?


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psandelle
professor emeritus


Reged: 06/18/08

Loc: Los Angeles
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774139 - 04/02/13 09:26 PM

My big suggestion would be to reverse (or even more) the scope and mount numbers. Especially if you're going to go for AP later. Mount is half the battle in AP.

My gear (coming back in to the fray after 35 years) came to around $12,000 - but I knew I really wanted to do wide-angle AP (and then had a fun 6" achro for visual). I think a couple of scopes might get you closer to a "full-service" experience.

Paul


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Paco_Grande
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/14/12

Loc: Banana Republic of California
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: hfjacinto]
      #5774140 - 04/02/13 09:26 PM

Welcome to the asylum.

That is a very silly budget for your very first telescope. It would be as if a motorcyclist came to me and asked which bike he should buy for his first year doing track days. He's thinking $15k for a liter bike. I'm thinking $3,000 for a used 600 class sport bike.

So, forget AP for now. Buy an ED80 and an alt/az mount, like an Orion ED80 and a Vixen Porta II. Add a few good eyepieces, an observation chair, a book or two, red flashlight, and you're all set to go for around $1,200. Or, buy a Celestron 8SE and the same list of other bits. Now you're around $2,000. The former would be manual scope, the latter a GOTO, both with nice views.

Stick the rest of the cash under the mattress until you understand if an expensive rig is really what you want. At this point, you won't be able to tell the difference between an Orion ED80 and a 150mm Astro Physics refractor.


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WarmWeatherGuy
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/27/11

Loc: Orlando, FL 28° N, 81° W
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774148 - 04/02/13 09:30 PM

I would start by choosing the mount. If you're going to want to do astrophotography (AP) then look at the different EQ mounts. For your scope I would consider getting several OTAs. No one scope will do everything. For AP you may want a nice 5" APO and something bigger that has a big mirror. For visual you may want a 14" or larger Dob.

I think you'll find that you underestimate the weight and size of your gear. I put my gear in Pelican cases and it won't all fit into my car. So a larger car might run you over your budget. My mount (CGEM) in the case weighs 63 pounds.

For your budget, and wanting to be portable, I would look for a mount in the $1,500 to $4,000 range.


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Jeff2011
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 01/01/13

Loc: Sugar Land, TX
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: MikeBOKC]
      #5774160 - 04/02/13 09:32 PM

If it were me, I would be nervous making a purchase of that amount, especially without any hands on experience. You can read up on this stuff and study until you turn blue, but until you experience it, you may not know what you like. It is very easy to buy a setup that you later discover is too big and bulky and therefore does not get used. Also as time passes your interests may change. For example you may decide that video AP is more interesting than DSLR/CCD AP. Joining a club is very good advice. Wish I had done that sooner. My club has loaner scopes and they provide training on how to use them.

Best of luck in your Astronomy pursuit.

Jeff


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hfjacinto
I think he's got it!
*****

Reged: 01/12/09

Loc: Land of clouds and LP
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774161 - 04/02/13 09:33 PM

Your estimates are pretty good, but you have 2 goals that can use different gear. For example AP needs a fast light scope, an 80-120 mm APO can capture lots (see my gallery) but they aren't the best for deep sky objects. So you also need a larger scope like a c11 or c9.25.

I honestly would say hold off for a few months before jumping into ap, for no other reason that's its frustrating at times. There are days I rushed to set up and I either had computer issues or guiding issues or forgot something stupid like an extension tube that I couldn't image.

Also an ap quality mount isn't too portable.

When I want grab and go I use an older LXD 75 mount and my 120 mm APO, other times I take out the 9.25.

And accessories there are so many, even eyepiece if you want a set of Ethos your $4000 budget may get blown and then you find out you don't like 100° eyepieces.

I would again tell you to take it easy, I understand the want to spend money, but look through a few scopes before going all in. You might decide you want a dob or a 14" sct or a 150mm APO.


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tadsbud
journeyman


Reged: 04/02/13

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774202 - 04/02/13 09:43 PM

I should note that I finally plan on attending a local astronomy club meeting. I am not very social when it comes to going out and attending clubs--kind of a recluse.

I have read a small book on AP which caused me to contemplate a 2 scope setup--one for viewing and one for AP.

I really like the idea of a Dobson for viewing, but I am not sure about portability. My living space is such that I will most likely need to travel somewhere to view most nights (busy street with street lamp in front and lots of very tall trees in backyard). Also I have a small car and might be moving overseas next year.


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Paco_Grande
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/14/12

Loc: Banana Republic of California
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774249 - 04/02/13 09:55 PM

Quote:

I should note that I finally plan on attending a local astronomy club meeting. I am not very social when it comes to going out and attending clubs--kind of a recluse.
.




The zen master asked his student, who was frustrated because he felt angry all the time, "Were you born angry?"

Well yeah, good on you! Break out of the recluse mode. Crash out of your comfort zone and engage with the astro folks. So much to learn about equipment, methods, techniques, the simply amazing sky, and maybe even a little about yourself.


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Dennis_S253
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 11/22/11

Loc: West Central Florida
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5774261 - 04/02/13 09:57 PM

Well, your well over my budget at this time. What part of Ohio are you in? Do you have some clear skies or can you get to some clear dark sites? I see this will be your first scope? Did I read that right? Why not get your feet wet and get a Orion ST 80? It's cheap and won't effect your budget. I'm sure you'll use it now and down the road. Just my 2 cents... clear skies

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stevenf
sage


Reged: 10/11/09

Loc: Vancouver, BC
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5774282 - 04/02/13 10:06 PM

No matter what your budget is you can't spend your way around the inherent limitations there are to every scope type. Large heavy scopes and mounts suitable for AP will show you more, but portability becomes seriously limited.

Honestly the best advice I could give you would be to spend some money on a good 100-120mm wide field ED or APO plus a solid alt-az mount, and a decent set of eyepieces. If you love the experience of just looking around the skies with eyes only you may love the experience of cruising around with a widefield refractor. The refractor can also be used for AP later on, once you get the right mount (heavy, not portable). A short tube refractor and an alt-az mount can make for a very portable and easy to set up/take down package.


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Ian Robinson
Post Laureate


Reged: 01/29/09

Loc: 33S , 151E
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5774286 - 04/02/13 10:08 PM

Spending that much on YOUR FIRST SYSTEM is silly IMO.

My advice is use $12k as a deposit on a house or appartment (as an investment to rent out if you have free airforce housing).

Then buy a good 2nd hand newt and an oversized (for the newt) equatorial on a very solid tripod and good barlow and good offaxis guider and a coma corrector and a gaggle of nice eyepieces and astro filters and naybe an autoguider and 10" notebook to drive the guider.


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David PavlichAdministrator
Transmographied
*****

Reged: 05/18/05

Loc: Mandeville, LA USA
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774301 - 04/02/13 10:15 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights! I'm going to hold my recommendations to just the mount. I'd look at the used market and find a Tak EM400 or Tak NJP, an AP900 or a Losmandy Titan. Any of these will give you plenty of capacity to build a very nice visual and/or imaging platform.

David


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wz2
Most Boring Astronomer...


Reged: 07/30/10

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5774335 - 04/02/13 10:37 PM

Budget:

$7000 Mach 1 mount and accessories
$4200 TeleVue NP101is
$2000 tripod of your choice
$4200 one of the SBIG 8300 packages
$2800 accessories/software
$20,000 TOTAL

The above package should be light weight and easy to travel. Plus the scope is fast and a good way to enter AP if you ever decide to go that route. The mount and the scope are a solid core and could keep you busy for a lifetime. Let's let some of the other members tweak the package.

Chris


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Escher
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 08/30/07

Loc: Fenton, MI
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: David Pavlich]
      #5774410 - 04/02/13 11:16 PM

This is rather tongue in cheek...

But - If I had $20k to play with... and knowing what I know *now*...

Meade 14" LX850 = $10K
POD XL3 w/ PZT = $4k-$5k depending on shipping
Which leaves $5k for the camera of your choice.

That would get you into a very serious setup... Not as portable as some would like, but doable if yo are serious.

Or, Go the Celestron route:
Celestron CGEPro Edge HD 1400 = $10K
Starizona Hyperstar III for 14" Edge = $1k
Cam of choice = $4K
POD XL3 + PZT = $4-5K

Thats assuming you want to shoot the moon and go max aperture and max flexibility... Not sure but I'd lean toward the Celestron version... the Edge scopes are sweet.


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WarmWeatherGuy
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/27/11

Loc: Orlando, FL 28° N, 81° W
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Escher]
      #5774436 - 04/02/13 11:30 PM

There are a few recent posts that are problematic. They list a few items (scope, mount, camera...) that total the upper limit. This is not good advice. There are MANY things that you also need - Photoshop, Maxim DL, cases, eyepieces, guide scope, guide camera, powertanks, dew shields, heating strips, dew controller, mount upgrades, side-by-side mounting hardware, books, focusing masks, focus upgrades, camping gear, diagonals, Powermates, focal reducers, filters, etc., etc.

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Escher
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 08/30/07

Loc: Fenton, MI
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: WarmWeatherGuy]
      #5774449 - 04/02/13 11:37 PM

Note my tongue in cheek comment...

WarmWeatherGuy is right though...

Truth be told - I'd second the recommendation (third, fourth??) to wait on AP for a while.

You can easily get into a very fun setup for a couple of grand that will keep you very busy visually for a long time while you learn.

If you take the other route and lower either of the two setups I mention by one aperture size, that would save you enough to get the software, and any accessories you need...

Personally - its all about how you work and what you want to do.

I dont have a dew shield. I dont have a dew heater. I dont go out for more than an hour or two at a time..., but I do have a POD so I can sneak out at a moments notice.

If you want to go out for long sessions - then a dew heater system is a must...

If you plan to have everything setup in your back yard, and want momentary access for quick sessions under an hour - then I'd set aside a few grand for a POD or other dome...


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tadsbud
journeyman


Reged: 04/02/13

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774454 - 04/02/13 11:41 PM

This community is awesome. Great advice.

I want to clear something up here. I plan on spending $15-20k total--definitely not buying a full AP setup right now--I just wanted you all to understand what my upper limit is based on long term goals.

Would investing in something like the Celestron NexStar 8 SE be a scope that I could eventually attach to a solid GEM and use for AP? Or would an 9.25" Edge HD be a better option? Or another brand altogether?

I know a good AP mount is expensive. Would you drop $8k on a AP Mach1GTO (with tripod etc) or look at something in the $5k range given my budget ceiling.

I know some of you are cringing at a newbie asking about $8k mounts--please understand I am not an impulsive buyer (ask my wife--I sometimes take years to actually pull the trigger on a major purchase).

I am going to do AP--in fact I already do a bit of the processing side in Grad school--just using data others have collected and/or simulating data--I want to collect my own data! Also next year I will be working at an observatory--so I see this as a great time to get familiar with field imaging and not just lab simulations.


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Jon Isaacs
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 06/16/04

Loc: San Diego and Boulevard, CA
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774477 - 04/02/13 11:57 PM

First let me say hello and welcome to Cloudy Nights...

I could recommend some equipment but rather I want to share my concern. At this point, you have no real experience, you can only imagine what looking through a telescope might be like, what owning and setting up a telescope might be like, what astrophotography might be like.

There is a time when it is appropriate to spend $20,000 on equipment but the time to do that is when you know what you really want, when you have enough experience to know what it is that attracts you so you can choose the right equipment.

The actual observing experience is governed by factors that may well seem obscure, your position when viewing for example is probably one of the most important and very individual. Figuring out what it is you really enjoy doing is the most important discovery any amateur astronomer can make... once you know that, that is the time to spend real money.

Before that, take it slow, get your feet wet, invest in some decent equipment, learn how to use it, find how what you enjoy, what you dislike...


Jon


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wz2
Most Boring Astronomer...


Reged: 07/30/10

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: WarmWeatherGuy]
      #5774485 - 04/03/13 12:03 AM

Quote:

There are a few recent posts that are problematic. They list a few items (scope, mount, camera...) that total the upper limit. This is not good advice. There are MANY things that you also need - Photoshop, Maxim DL, cases, eyepieces, guide scope, guide camera, powertanks, dew shields, heating strips, dew controller, mount upgrades, side-by-side mounting hardware, books, focusing masks, focus upgrades, camping gear, diagonals, Powermates, focal reducers, filters, etc., etc.




I don't know if your comments are directed at my suggested budget or not. But, unless, I'm mistaken, what I suggested would not need the addition of:
guide scope
guide camera
mount upgrades
side by side hardware
focal reducers
filters
camping equipment ??
And there was $2800 left over for the other stuff. Too low?
Your suggested budget?

Chris


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WarmWeatherGuy
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/27/11

Loc: Orlando, FL 28° N, 81° W
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774487 - 04/03/13 12:04 AM

For AP you will probably want two or three different OTAs. The Edge HD C8 might be one of them. The NexStar 8SE is a great scope for getting your feet wet, and may be a good idea, but you would most likely be selling it rather than using parts of it. The 8SE mount is wobbly when the wind blows. These short videos demonstrate:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxp39TcyuH4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WLpmuRQNmUU

I would start out with the CGEM 800 HD (or possibly the DX version) and get the NexImage 5 web cam (lots of fun). Once you get that it will soon become clear what you want to get next. Later on you might want a better planetary camera but you will be able to use the mount, tripod, and OTA that you bought.

Notice my bias as this is very close to what I already have.


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CharlesW
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 11/02/12

Loc: Chula Vista & Indio, CA
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Escher]
      #5774492 - 04/03/13 12:06 AM

Congratulations, you will get a fine system for that investment amount. If you are not in a hurry, wait just a little and see how the Meade LX850s pan out, that they don't have any legacy mechanical issues left over from the 800 line. The nice thing about the Meade is you get the autoguider built-in. That could save $1000.  Like Escher wrote, you can get the 14" for about 10k, which will leave another 10 for cameras. There are always huge debates in this forum over cameras and since I'm just working off a Canon 50D I can't help there.

Again, if you want to wait a little, and you read my post in the Equipment forum about how to work the Celestron EQ sales, you could get a C14 Edge for about $4800. Software Bisque puts their mounts on sale every once in a while and you could get an MX for $8000. Now you are at $13,800. Get a Meade Field Giant tripod, $600, which is strong enough to support a building, and you still have over $5k for cameras and eyepieces. Buy about four carefully chosen eyepieces, a barlow, and a diagonal for $1000. I don't think you need a dozen eyepieces.

As far as Photoshop is concerned, rent a kid for a day and get the student discount, which is gigantic. Most of the other camera related apps are free or inexpensive.

I know you said weight is an issue, but don't let it be. The C14 is 50 lbs and I can load it on the PMX with no problems.

BTW, I was a B52 Crew Chief in the 320th Bomb Wing out of Mather AFB from 79-83. I loved the Air Force. Be safe and clear skies.


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WarmWeatherGuy
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 08/27/11

Loc: Orlando, FL 28° N, 81° W
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: wz2]
      #5774537 - 04/03/13 12:32 AM

Quote:

Quote:

There are a few recent posts that are problematic. They list a few items (scope, mount, camera...) that total the upper limit. This is not good advice. There are MANY things that you also need - Photoshop, Maxim DL, cases, eyepieces, guide scope, guide camera, powertanks, dew shields, heating strips, dew controller, mount upgrades, side-by-side mounting hardware, books, focusing masks, focus upgrades, camping gear, diagonals, Powermates, focal reducers, filters, etc., etc.




I don't know if your comments are directed at my suggested budget or not. But, unless, I'm mistaken, what I suggested would not need the addition of:
guide scope
guide camera
mount upgrades
side by side hardware
focal reducers
filters
camping equipment ??
And there was $2800 left over for the other stuff. Too low?
Your suggested budget?

Chris




Lol, it is fun deciding how to spend someone else's money

Yes, your post was one I saw and yes I missed the $2,800 miscellaneous you included (sorry).

I have CBS (cheap *BLEEP* syndrome) so I would aim for $10,000 assuming that unforeseen things would come and eat up another $5,000. That way I would hope to end up at the low end of the budget. My CBS kicked in when I saw a couple posts with proposed $20,000 budgets.

Your budget shows how important the mount is to you and I agree that the biggest consideration should be the mount. In my first post I suggested only worrying about deciding which mount to get, to start with. I only have experience with the CGEM and I am very happy with it. I am not familiar with the Mach 1 mount but I have seen the MX (mini-ME). It is an awesome mount but it would not be something I would want to haul around much. Thanks to Cloudy Nights we can get advice from people with experience with all the equipment out there.


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Pinbout
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: WarmWeatherGuy]
      #5774556 - 04/03/13 12:45 AM Attachment (22 downloads)

I would add another $40k and get this...

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Escher
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Pinbout]
      #5774783 - 04/03/13 07:17 AM

The Edge 9.25 would be a great first scope...

My only recommendation along those lines is to get into the 11" just because then you can move into DSLR Hyperstar easily. The 9.25 will be a bit too small to accomodate a DSLR...

Not an issue is you jump right into a higher end CCD cam though... in that case you could get away with the 8" EdgeHD.

The 8" Edge and a high end mount would be sweet - then you have plenty left over if you wanted to get a second scope like an APO...

I had the 8" Edge - its an amazing scope and if I had it to do over again I would start there.. I'm just enjoying playing with monopoly money...

Ohh and I did forget my manners - welcome!!!


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tezster
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5774806 - 04/03/13 07:51 AM

Welcome to CN

As many others have already pointed out - use a small portion of your total budget to buy one or two scopes and accessories, then use the experience you gain from using that equipment to guide your decision for your more significant purchases.

You don't need a mountain of dough to get a functional, well-performing scope. This 'beginner' setup will always be useful and compliment any future bigger/better/heavier scope you might get.

Enjoy the journey!


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Jarrod
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tezster]
      #5774885 - 04/03/13 08:43 AM

Quote:

I have done a lot of random reading over the past year. However I haven't been able to lock myself down to a specific setup.





You just said it yourself. Reading about it isn't going to get you where you need to be before you can wisely lay down $15k on equipment that meets your needs. You will need some experience first.

I'm about 10 weeks ahead of where you are right now. I started with a $150 refractor on a GEQ mount to get my feet wet. From that experience I learned that for my viewing "style", I needed to have a scope that tracks. So I narrowed the choice for my first "real" scope down to an Orion XTg or a Celestron C8 Edge HD. I decided to go with the XTg because ultimately I want to have an AP setup *and* a visual scope, and the XTg can stand in as my visual scope for a good while. I've currently got about $2k in my scope and eye pieces and after just a few uses (darned clouds) I now realize that this modest setup could keep me busy for years. I couldn't even make use of more than I have right now.

AP is still on my horizon but that horizon has moved much further out than I originally thought - I now realize that I need to learn the sky, learn the best viewing locations near me, learn the size of different objects that I'd be interested in photographing, and probably learn bunch more stuff that I don't even know I need to learn, before I can wisely spend more dough on AP equipment.

So my advice is to stop reading and agonizing about telescopes and just pull the trigger on one. If you really can't decide (my situation), then buy a "throwaway" one with the idea that you won't keep it. That takes all the pressure off, and gets you logging observing hours and learning what your preferences are. That's the most important thing.

Edited by Jarrod (04/03/13 08:47 AM)


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Paco_Grande
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Jarrod]
      #5775457 - 04/03/13 12:34 PM

Quote:

... gets you logging observing hours and learning what your preferences are. That's the most important thing.




Yeah, as Jon pointed out, too.

Consider this. You're thinking about spending 20k and you have no experience sitting outdoors, in the damp and cold night air, looking at the sky for several hours, hunched over an eyepiece that might very well be in an odd position, thereby stressing your neck and back. Do this a few times and you might discover to stick with post processing and let some other fool suffer the cold and sore neck.

BTW, what are you going to do with the pictures you shoot? Want to publish? If you're thinking of competing against the Hubble, might wanna rethink that one.


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kenrenard
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5775492 - 04/03/13 12:47 PM

Paco,
I love my stargazing. But, last night it was so biting cold with the wind of 35mPH I had to head home. Our whole Astronomy club group decided it just wasn't worth the seeing with the wind.

I certainly agree standing out in the cold and dark isn't for everyone. Even hard core folks get cold after a while and head in.

I was glad I had my little scope to pack up in 5 minutes.


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ken svp120
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5775609 - 04/03/13 01:41 PM

Quote:

As this is my first post I just want to start by saying thank you to everyone who makes this website the awesome resource it is.

Everyone's situation is slightly different when it comes to purchasing equipment, so even though I have read what others have done, I am hoping I can get some advice for my own situation.

A little about me, I will be moving to either Albuquerque NM, or Maui HI in about a year. I currently live in Ohio. I do not know exactly where I will be moving (in the Air Force), but it will be one of those two locations. I only relate this as it might impact what optics to consider.

Stargazing has always been a somewhat spiritual experience for me whenever I get out and actually see the stars. I am currently working on a thesis in Electro Optics relative to deep space detection. My studies have caused an almost obsession with stargazing--only one problem...

I have ZERO equipment. I just go out and look at stars and admire what I see. The desire to get a telescope has been strong for almost a year now--I have waited this long so as to make sure this isn't just a fleeting attraction.

I am one of those who believes in "buy once cry once" when it comes to important purchases--which is another reason I have yet to buy anything.

I do have a limit to what I can spend of around $15-20k (depending on how much I purchase at once).

So my requirements in list form...
1. Observe celestial splendor from the moon to deep space objects.
2. Flexible enough to add AP equipment (DSLR and/or CCD) for deep space imaging (although I plan on just observing for a while I want to budget for this gear now).
3. Portable--I know this is relative--a 20-30 pound scope that can be put in some kind of hard case is what I am thinking.(20-30 lbs for the scope alone, I understand the total weight will be more)
4. $15-20k for everything down to photoshop.
5. GoTo feature
6. I could care less about name brand--more impressed with measured quality (sometimes correlated sometimes not).

I have no bias or prejudice of one system or another. What I am looking for is to generate a solid list of everything I need to purchase (some now some later perhaps).

Also I understand that for $15-20k I will be making trade-offs on performance, portability, versatility, etc--not looking to get it all, just best bang for buck.

Thank you !




Sent you a PM


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Madratter
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: ken svp120]
      #5775618 - 04/03/13 01:45 PM

I have an idea of what I would do for such a system. However, I really think the best advice here is that spending all that money on one system is not a good idea. Every system has compromises and I think you would be better off with several systems with fewer compromises for each one. And I am with those who think it is better to ease into this.

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Kevdog
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Madratter]
      #5775942 - 04/03/13 04:31 PM

I would start with a used C11 or LX200 10 or 12" with a wedge. You can easily do visual or AP (with the focal reducer and wedge) to get your feet wet. Use a simple DSLR or cheaper CCD camera to "get your feet wet". My C11 + wedge was $1800. I saw a complete AP setup with a Meade LX200 8" go for $1500. Or a C8 on a CGEM.

Why do that? Well you can figure out what you like and don't like before you spend the big $$$$. And you can either keep them for a 2nd scope or upgrade the mount or sell them back for about what you paid to then get what you really want. If you buy new, then you'll probably at least take a 30% hit when you go to sell, even if the scope is less than a year old.

I've been in the hobby for 8 months now and am on my 3rd scope. I'm sticking with the C11 for now and need to get it up on the wedge to expand my AP skills, but so far haven't had the time. But my first 2 choices were wrong for me for various reasons (even though they're good for other people).

You need to figure out what you like to look at/image as your preference can change what type of scope you get. And it'll be much harder to change after investing $10k+ vs $2k.


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Thomas Karpf
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #5775951 - 04/03/13 04:37 PM

Quote:


Consider this. You're thinking about spending 20k and you have no experience sitting outdoors, in the damp and cold night air, looking at the sky for several hours, hunched over an eyepiece that might very well be in an odd position, thereby stressing your neck and back. Do this a few times and you might discover to stick with post processing and let some other fool suffer the cold and sore neck.

BTW, what are you going to do with the pictures you shoot? Want to publish? If you're thinking of competing against the Hubble, might wanna rethink that one.




Funny, but that's exactly what Rob Gendler is doing nowadays. Most of his raw data is from Hubble and similar sources.


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SteveNH
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Madratter]
      #5775969 - 04/03/13 04:48 PM

Congratulations! Knowing you have a budget of $15-20k for beginner's equipment simply means that you can potentially get the ideal system appropriate for a beginner without cost being a factor. That would have been a dream come true for many of us who started only on our life savings of dimes and quarters scrounged from our allowance monies. It doesn't change, however, the fact that you need to get appropriate equipment to allow you to acclimate to the hobby without being overwhelmed, and test out your likes and dislikes, as Jon points out, without going overboard. As you mentioned, there is always time to add equipment later as the need arises.

Based on your listed requirements, if I were to recommend a telescope I would say it's the Celestron CPC800 to start. This has the GOTO feature you want, is easy enough to transport as you change locations, and will serve as a great visual scope large enough for planetary detail and for viewing many of the brighter deep sky objects without having to cart around a formidable instrument. You can get a T-adapter and a field flattener to use with a DSLR such as a Canon T3i for short exposure astrophotography on small, bright nebula and star clusters. You can also add a ZWO ASI120MC planetary camera along with a 3x Televue Barlow to specialize in shooting the moon and planets, if desired. Later on, for photographing wider field deep sky objects with longer exposures, I would get a nice APO refractor on a massive, quality equatorial mount, and a dedicated deep sky imaging camera body. I would highly recommend reading the book, "The Backyard Astronomer's Guide" by Dickinson and Dyer, along with some viewing experience with the CPC telescope, to get some perspective first. The book gives a very well-balanced presentation, with important details that you'll want to know on all aspects of this hobby.


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cadfour
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: SteveNH]
      #5776265 - 04/03/13 07:32 PM

First, I completely agree with Jon Isaacs concerns and recommendations.

Second, I just went out and joined the Air Force.


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rdandrea
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: cadfour]
      #5776581 - 04/03/13 09:57 PM

Congratulations, cadfour. And thank you for being willing to serve our country.

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tadsbud
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: cadfour]
      #5776714 - 04/03/13 11:00 PM

I hope I haven't ruffled any feathers. In hindsight I should have not made the thread "15-20k first system"

I have some basic requirements for equipment based on what I know about myself, and my current situation. I need gear that is portable, durable, and high quality. Otherwise I know I will be dissatisfied with my purchase.

I have narrowed down what I think I will buy--and it will most likely be an 8-9.25" EdgeHD on a CGEM with a ScopeGuard case. This system offers many of the features I am looking for.

Again I apologize for the poor choice in thread title and would change it if I could.

Thank you.

Edited by tadsbud (04/03/13 11:02 PM)


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tadsbud
journeyman


Reged: 04/02/13

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: cadfour]
      #5776725 - 04/03/13 11:08 PM

Quote:



Second, I just went out and joined the Air Force.




Awesome! I hope you get into a specialty you enjoy. It's been good to me so far.


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Gert K A
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5777090 - 04/04/13 07:12 AM

Don’t apologize the budget is not wrong at all, the title is good as it provoked replies heck you could go out and buy just a mount in that price range.
My guess is what’s stirring up the house, is more of a worry that a good budget like that would buy you the wrong equipment. No advice can tell you what you like.

Getting a sct and a cgem for starters is not a bad idea it will show you a lot, also you might want to compliment that with a 80/100mm refractor and you will have a very nice allround “starter” kit


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hfjacinto
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Gert K A]
      #5777229 - 04/04/13 09:36 AM

My second scope was a 9.25 and I have a gcem and both are great. The edge model is even better. That's a great start.

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Metalmanstan
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: hfjacinto]
      #5777690 - 04/04/13 01:15 PM

I'm not a professional at astronomy but I would say save a good amount of that money and go buy a house with a dark sky. Then get a decent scope and a decent AP system so you wouldn't have to travel to get to a dark site. You can get some good used items and the results will be just as good as a brand new one. This Site is fill of knowledge about astronomy and everyone will try to help you in anyway possible!! Good luck!!

Stash


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michael hester
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Metalmanstan]
      #5777800 - 04/04/13 01:56 PM

Yeah 20k is a good down payment towards a dark site for your astronomy.

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Seldom
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Metalmanstan]
      #5777811 - 04/04/13 02:01 PM

Quote:

I would say save a good amount of that money and go buy a house with a dark sky. Then get a decent scope and a decent AP system so you wouldn't have to travel to get to a dark site.



+1 if it's feasible, but the OP's equipment budget will only cover the earnest money and a down payment. That said, I didn't think about resuming this hobby 'til I went outside my new house on a moonless night and looked up. And it's really nice to be able to look out the window at sunset and decide if it's worth setting up the scope.

Edited by Seldom (04/04/13 02:06 PM)


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tadsbud
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Seldom]
      #5778325 - 04/04/13 06:43 PM

Are people joking when they are suggesting purchasing a new home?

Please do not take this the wrong way but I didn't make this thread to ask how you would spend $20k...I am not asking IF I should purchase high quality equipment. I am asking WHAT quality equipment would you recommend given my requirements.

again...
1. portability/durability
2. GoTo
3. Usable with AP
4. One buy one cry

Thank you for the constructive information.


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psandelle
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5778393 - 04/04/13 07:15 PM

I think your choice of an 8-9.25" EdgeHD on a CGEM is an excellent, versatile choice. For visual, both are wonderful starters. For AP, you have the option to start off with Hyperstar--one of the easiest ways to take pics--or a reducer and then work into longer FL's. Also very good if you go the planetary route (I've seen excellent shots from both on planets).

I'd probably go with the CGEM DX if I got the 9.25; just a little sturdier. For the 8", probably no need.

I almost went this route...but ended up with two scopes, one for visual (don't really use much except to show people special events like transits, or lunar eclipses, or something) and my wide-field AP scope. But I was SERIOUSLY looking at an 8" with Hyperstar and for visual.

Good luck.

Oh, and either NM or Maui have GREAT dark skies all over the place.

Paul


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Pinbout
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5778457 - 04/04/13 08:03 PM

Quote:

I am asking WHAT quality equipment would you recommend given my requirements.





just to start, a used kit [80/914 on eq1]for around $150 to see if you like staying out in the cold by yourself looking for faint fuzzy things, if you can even find them, while your fingers are frozen.



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molniyabeer
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5778498 - 04/04/13 08:18 PM

tadsbud,

Welcome to CN. I currently live in ABQ and am also active duty. I am on the BOD for The Albuquerque Astronomical Society (www.TAAS.org). If you happen to get Kirtland, we'd love for you to join up with the club. We have an extensive loaner program with everything from small refractors up to 13" dobs. We also have an observatory south of ABQ where we have a 16" Newt in a dome plus smaller instruments for astrophotography and concrete pads for personal scopes.

Drop me a line if your orders send you this way and I'd be happy to help you out however I can.

Steve


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Brent Campbell
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: psandelle]
      #5778500 - 04/04/13 08:19 PM

I have to chime in. My resources are a bit less than yours so I went a different route but I would consider this to be darn nice equipment. Disclaimer I am catalog shopping and have not had personal experience with this. I used our sponsor for pricing wherever possible.

Mount-$800: Celstron VX: https://www.astronomics.com/celestron-advanced-vx-german-equatorial-telescope...

Scope-$2,400 TV-85: https://www.astronomics.com/televue-tv-85-3-35-inch-85mm-ivory-black-apo-refr...

I think you will need a dovetail adapter (it looks like the TV-85 has a camera thread): http://www.telescope.com/14-20-Adapter-for-Orion-Telescope-Mounts/p/7388.uts?...

Alt-Atz Mount for non photo use $300.00: https://www.astronomics.com/astro-tech-voyager-altazimuth-mount_p15058.aspx


Eyepieces: Lets go with Naglers. I'm more of a budget for explore scientific. But no one would say that you would be needing to replace a nice set of ethos eyepieces. maybe the 21 mm for $900 ? I would look at explore scientific eyepieces, for cost reasons, but no doubt Televue is the top of the line. Figure 3 Televue eyepieces plus a barlow for a total expenditure of appox $3000.00.

A canon camera-$1500.00 or so.

Total cost: $8,020.00 Take the rest of the money and save it for 6-9 months. Use the rest of the money to purchase one of the following:

1) A large SCT
2) A large reflector
3) An even bigger refractor.

The televue scope was chosen out of the astronomics web page. There are many choices out there that are just as good. I chose this for the following reasons:

1) reputation
2) It came with a carrying case and a diagonal
3) It was from our sponsor.


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Mike7Mak
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Brent Campbell]
      #5778505 - 04/04/13 08:24 PM

I'd say the idea of actually doing some observing BEFORE throwing the whole wad at gear is probably the best advice. Unless you live in a year round temperate climate the novelty of spending dusk to dawn outside will wear off quick. And speaking from experience, so does setup/breakdown and go-to-ing the limited amount of stuff that presents a satisfying visual image. Enter the obs and AP.

Take about $5k and build a backyard roll off roof obs.

Take about $10k and buy a nice mount.

Divide up the last $5k on OTA, camera, guide solution, software, etc.

And then be prepared to spend at least $1k per year for the next 5 years as you refine the setup to match your evolving goals and proficiency. IMO it's well nigh impossible to purchase the 'perfect' setup in one shot, with no prior experience, regardless of what Meade/Celestron advertising says to the contrary.


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rdandrea
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5778570 - 04/04/13 09:05 PM

Quote:

Are people joking when they are suggesting purchasing a new home?

Please do not take this the wrong way but I didn't make this thread to ask how you would spend $20k...I am not asking IF I should purchase high quality equipment. I am asking WHAT quality equipment would you recommend given my requirements.




Thanks for your follow-up comment and reminder of the original question. There are times when this forum answers different questions than what has actually been asked.

That said, I have to concede that I can't help you because I have never had $20K to spend on astronomy. That's not snark, just my excuse for bowing out of the discussion.


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Footbag
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Mike7Mak]
      #5778586 - 04/04/13 09:16 PM

The Edge is a nice scope. SCT's are a great mix of aperture and portability. Also the CGEM's hand control is very intuitive. If I were you, I'd order it and use it.

Then...

You are going to point to Jupiter or Saturn and jump up and down cheering. You'll point to a galaxy and be amazed. At any point you could throw a simple DSLR on it and just see if it's your thing.

At that point, you are only in about $3k. Everything you learn in your setup/breakdown and use of the gear will lead you to your upgrades. And upgrades allow you to learn one piece of equipment at a time. With AP, there is a learning curve.

Either way, whether you prefer imaging or visual, you'll quickly know what you want to spend your money on. I'm not sure if $20k will be enough.


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Whichwayisnorth
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Reged: 07/04/11

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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Footbag]
      #5778659 - 04/04/13 09:41 PM

I'd go Mach1GTO, 11" EdgeHD with hyperstar and .7x focal reducer, The Sky X Pro, Pixinsight, Photoshop CS6, Atik 490ex camera. If the 11" Edge is to big to be portable then I'd suggest a Takahashi TSA 120 refractor and your choice of Kodak 8300 chip cameras. I like the QSI 683WSG-8 with 8 filters runs about 6400 though. I spent 10K on my first ever telescope and mount. Then I ended up spending another 5k on cameras and accessories. I wish someone would have smacked me upside the head before I did that.

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pjensen
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Pinbout]
      #5778786 - 04/04/13 11:21 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I am asking WHAT quality equipment would you recommend given my requirements.





just to start, a used kit [80/914 on eq1]for around $150 to see if you like staying out in the cold by yourself looking for faint fuzzy things, if you can even find them, while your fingers are frozen.





And mosquitoes are buzzing around you.

Or you just spent 30 minutes trying to align your goto scope and the power cord gets pulled out by the scope slewing around....

Or a neighbor turns on the back light.

Or the clouds rolling in on a perfectly clear night just as you've set up the scope and aligned it.

Looking at the stars is a labor of love - and can be hugely frustrating at first. So start simple and see if you like it.


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dr.who
professor emeritus
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Whichwayisnorth]
      #5778792 - 04/04/13 11:26 PM

Look mate all the other comments aside it's your bloody money do with it as you wish! It is yours after all!

That said I would suggest you start with the following:

Celestron Edge HD 8" on an AVX.
3 ADM Accessories Vixen Dovetail Plate Adapters
ADM Accessories Laser Pointer holder
ADM Accessories Vixen dovetail bar for Celestron 8" (mount on top)
Stellarvue 60mm right angle fingerscope
Stellarvue 60mm finderscope rings
30-50mw green laser pointer
2" 98% reflective diagonal for SCT's
30mm Explore Scientific 82* Eyepiece
24mm Explore Scientific 82* Eyepiece
18mm Explore Scientific 82* Eyepiece
14mm Explore Scientific 82* Eyepiece
11mm Explore Scientific 82* Eyepiece
8.8mm Explore Scientific 82* Eyepiece
Noton's Star Atlas 4th Ed. or similar

Alternative's:
Replace the Edge 8" with an Edge 9.25"

Replace the 82* EP's with 9mm, 14mm, and 24mm Explore Scientific 100* Eyepieces

Get a Televue binoviewer with a set of 32mm Televue Plossls plus a set of 24mm and 16mm 68* Explore Scientific EP's and a set of 11mm and 8.8mm 82* Explore Scientific EP's

That will set you back about $5,000 which is about 25% of your budget and get you a fine OTA as well as a fine EQ mount that is shaping up into a nice light scope AP platform. I would then take the next 6-9 months and just learn+enjoy your equipment and the night sky.

After that take a look at picking up a Explore Scientific, Stellarvue, Takahashi, or Televue (listed in order of cost from least to most) 102-130 mm Apochromatic refractor, 0.8x Televue Focal Reducer, Celestron Edge 8" focal reducer, as well as your choice of CCD DSO camera and CCD planetary as well as Hyperstar. Also pick up either a CGEM or the expected replacement to the CGEM using the AVX components as well as the various software packages you will need.

That will set you back another $10,000-$15,000 and at that point you will have a very good AP setup giving you a very wide range of field of view in the APO and Hyperstar with the Hyperstar sitting on the Edge 8" SCT (from memory) at about 480mm FOV, the 115-127mm APO at (aproximate depending on size of APO between 115-130mm) 760mm with the Televue 0.8x Focal Reducer, 952 mm (approximate depending on size of APO between 115-130) at native, 1,400mm on the SCT with focal reducer, and 2032mm for going super deep with the SCT.

With that combination of telescopes, photography equipment, and assorted kit you are going to be able to do all you want to do and then some. Both visually and photographically.


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N. Ham
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5779448 - 04/05/13 11:40 AM

I hear what you are saying about thinking about purchase for a long time, buying once and buying quality, and not wanting to be disapointed. I started way too cheap, then went with a CG-11 which disapointed me because it was so difficult to focus well with inherent mirror flop. I went with a fairly large definitely high quality APO which is great visually and is also a great AP scope. (I am currently leaving the dock on my astrophotography adventures.) My Losmandy mount was no slouch but the Mach 1 is light years better. SCTs are great visually until you look thru a quality mirror-less scope the first time. I ended up giving away my C-11 scope because I never used it after my number came up on the AP waiting list.

I would suggest a top quality refractor in the 4-6 inch range and an AP mount. These will keep you satisfied visually for years and will be all the basic setup for AP that you will need unless you wind up somewhere permanently where you can build an observatory. The Astro Physics mounts are very easy to set up and use. you can star hop if you wish, but if you are more into observing than hunting, these mounts are deadly accurate and pretty much plug and play simple. I think you can get an AP mount with little or no wait now. These scopes come up fairly frequently in the classifieds these days. Wait times for new non Astro Physics don't seem to be prohibitive. Never looked thru one, but the prices on Taks seem to be past premium.

All that being said, such a set up is fairly portable and is very easy to use. At some point, if you feel the need to see visually something that is "closer" to being photographic, get a large Dobsonian. But you will not be doing much astrophotography thru that. They are special when we'll collimated under good seeing conditions.

Sorry for the ramble, but I thought you sounded a lot like me some 17 years ago. Hope I've lead you to a short cut.


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RandyC
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: dr.who]
      #5779472 - 04/05/13 11:55 AM

Before spending your dough, decide what you are interested in, ie astrophotography or visual observing. If you choose visual, much more can be spent on the aperture portion of your investment. I am purely a visual observer. I like to go out and look at 50 to 100 galaxies in a night. I have no interest in photographing and guiding to one galaxy for a week straight..all the pictures are online anyway.

I started with a CPC-100, standard alt-az mount, Celestron 2" XLT diag, Bader Maxbright Binoviewer and Televue Nagler 11mm eyepieces. The scope was decent for observing. The drive was bumpy and made sounds. It also didn't have the aperture to get deep sky objects very well. While the binoviewer made the viewing experience more enjoyable, it did not increase light gathering capability. Hence, the night was spent imagining what the galaxies looked like based on recent comparison with online Hubble, et. al. shots.

In my opinion, the single most important quality in visual observing is being flatfooted or at least close to the ground. I considered buying a 22" scope but was concerned about eyepiece height and the wooden mirror boxes. I did not want to go high on a ladder and the ultra-fast scopes were pricey. I also didn't want the wood box to become warped or damaged. I also heard stories the electronics had to be replaced on many large dobs.

After much research and price comparisons, I decided on the JMI RB-16 binoscope. It is a twin 16" all metal scope which has been well designed. The scope is guided by the Argo Navis and required some initial setup as something with the mount was off slightly. There are motorized focusers and tube alignment motors. As the scope moves further from zenith, the tubes have to be adjusted so the image aligns. Using low power eyepieces, this is easy. As you increase magnification as I have to Nager 7mm 261X, converging is more difficult. Once you get the hang of it though, adjustment is required only on every 5th galaxy or so.

The price is less than fast 22" scopes and about the same as slower scopes which require a larger ladder. At zenith, I am 3 steps up a 3-ladder stepstool. All my observing observing is between 0 and 3 steps, mostly 1 to 2.

Initially, I dug a hole and put it in there, as the scope's design allows this. All I had to do was put a board across the hole to stand on. You have to be careful though that hole does not fill with water. If I had a wooden mirror box, this scope would have been ruined.

In the "Some random thoughts regarding binoviewers..." thread there is debate about the effective aperture. Basically, you just add the aperture of the two 16" mirrors together. The effective aperture is 200 sq in * 2 = 400 sq inches compared to 380 sq inches for a 22" scope. So the RB-16 and a 22" have about the same aperture.

The binoscope seems to have better brightness and contrast than a single mirror scope. This makes the viewing experience more enjoyable and easier to see objects at higher magnification. You lose a little when you can't quite perfectly converge an object.

I woudn't reccommend it for real high power viewing, although it's decent on planets and the moon.

It has no value whatsoever for astrophotography but that's what I wanted. No high priced mounts, drives or cameras in the total.

Edited by RandyC (04/05/13 11:56 AM)


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tadsbud
journeyman


Reged: 04/02/13

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: pjensen]
      #5779599 - 04/05/13 12:59 PM

Quote:

Quote:

Quote:

I am asking WHAT quality equipment would you recommend given my requirements.





just to start, a used kit [80/914 on eq1]for around $150 to see if you like staying out in the cold by yourself looking for faint fuzzy things, if you can even find them, while your fingers are frozen.





And mosquitoes are buzzing around you.

Or you just spent 30 minutes trying to align your goto scope and the power cord gets pulled out by the scope slewing around....

Or a neighbor turns on the back light.

Or the clouds rolling in on a perfectly clear night just as you've set up the scope and aligned it.

Looking at the stars is a labor of love - and can be hugely frustrating at first. So start simple and see if you like it.




I understand where you are coming from.

I have spent time working/sleeping in extremely poor conditions setting up ISR systems in Afghanistan--but it was OK because I really enjoyed what I was doing.

I have got some really great responses (and PMs--thank you!) as well as made some phone calls to a few vendors. I will be attending a club meeting and continue doing research.


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tadsbud
journeyman


Reged: 04/02/13

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: RandyC]
      #5779640 - 04/05/13 01:33 PM

Quote:

Before spending your dough, decide what you are interested in, ie astrophotography or visual observing. If you choose visual, much more can be spent on the aperture portion of your investment. I am purely a visual observer. I like to go out and look at 50 to 100 galaxies in a night. I have no interest in photographing and guiding to one galaxy for a week straight..all the pictures are online anyway.

I started with a CPC-100, standard alt-az mount, Celestron 2" XLT diag, Bader Maxbright Binoviewer and Televue Nagler 11mm eyepieces. The scope was decent for observing. The drive was bumpy and made sounds. It also didn't have the aperture to get deep sky objects very well. While the binoviewer made the viewing experience more enjoyable, it did not increase light gathering capability. Hence, the night was spent imagining what the galaxies looked like based on recent comparison with online Hubble, et. al. shots.

In my opinion, the single most important quality in visual observing is being flatfooted or at least close to the ground. I considered buying a 22" scope but was concerned about eyepiece height and the wooden mirror boxes. I did not want to go high on a ladder and the ultra-fast scopes were pricey. I also didn't want the wood box to become warped or damaged. I also heard stories the electronics had to be replaced on many large dobs.

After much research and price comparisons, I decided on the JMI RB-16 binoscope. It is a twin 16" all metal scope which has been well designed. The scope is guided by the Argo Navis and required some initial setup as something with the mount was off slightly. There are motorized focusers and tube alignment motors. As the scope moves further from zenith, the tubes have to be adjusted so the image aligns. Using low power eyepieces, this is easy. As you increase magnification as I have to Nager 7mm 261X, converging is more difficult. Once you get the hang of it though, adjustment is required only on every 5th galaxy or so.

The price is less than fast 22" scopes and about the same as slower scopes which require a larger ladder. At zenith, I am 3 steps up a 3-ladder stepstool. All my observing observing is between 0 and 3 steps, mostly 1 to 2.

Initially, I dug a hole and put it in there, as the scope's design allows this. All I had to do was put a board across the hole to stand on. You have to be careful though that hole does not fill with water. If I had a wooden mirror box, this scope would have been ruined.

In the "Some random thoughts regarding binoviewers..." thread there is debate about the effective aperture. Basically, you just add the aperture of the two 16" mirrors together. The effective aperture is 200 sq in * 2 = 400 sq inches compared to 380 sq inches for a 22" scope. So the RB-16 and a 22" have about the same aperture.

The binoscope seems to have better brightness and contrast than a single mirror scope. This makes the viewing experience more enjoyable and easier to see objects at higher magnification. You lose a little when you can't quite perfectly converge an object.

I woudn't reccommend it for real high power viewing, although it's decent on planets and the moon.

It has no value whatsoever for astrophotography but that's what I wanted. No high priced mounts, drives or cameras in the total.




Thanks. After calling AP and talking with a few folks and a little more research I am leaning towards getting a nice APO and a Mach1. Still more research to do. AP's 4" Refractor has a waiting list going back to 2002! He said even employees cannot get one and end up trying to buy one second hand (which is how the person I was talking to got his). I am REALLY looking at the TeleVue101NPis as suggested by a few as a no-regret solid APO. I was going to go for a EdgeHD (and still might) but I am now leaning more towards a solid 80"-130" APO with a few eyepieces.

As far as AP equipment, I will probably just use my DSLR camera for now and get some applications to learn. I honestly don't need anything fancy in terms of CCD to assist in my Grad school research as it focuses on binary detection beyond visual and blind de-convolution methods--so all I need is images of blury binaries.

Again thanks.


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Seldom
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Reged: 08/05/12

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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5779641 - 04/05/13 01:35 PM

When you get to a club meeting or star party, be sure to check out a few objects that interest you. Jupiter isn't terribly large at 150x, and 350x is the highest magnification Televue recommends for any scope, probably because of seeing limitations. Saturn will be smaller. DSOs will vary widely from M31, which will barely fit at 60x to M104, which won't fill 350x, although M104's got to be one of the prettiest galaxies out there. What you see may influence where you want to put your money.

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michael hester
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/28/08

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5779760 - 04/05/13 02:33 PM

Quote:

Are people joking when they are suggesting purchasing a new home?

Please do not take this the wrong way but I didn't make this thread to ask how you would spend $20k...I am not asking IF I should purchase high quality equipment. I am asking WHAT quality equipment would you recommend given my requirements.

again...
1. portability/durability
2. GoTo
3. Usable with AP
4. One buy one cry

Thank you for the constructive information.




We're (hopefully) not joking about that. You're coming into a scientific hobby with what you described as no knowledge about it and you listed a budget that is way beyond what anyone here actually spends on astronomy equipment save for observatory operators.

The truth is if any of us had 20k floating around we would use it to buy a property in a dark sky area (like West Virginia or anywhere in the Mojave) to observe from. That's our ultimate piece of astronomy gear: not a scope or mount but a place to go where we can be free of neighbor's halogen security lights and the parking lot down the street. A place were we don't have to worry about a club or trespassing or bylaws and that maybe we can construct an observatory on without getting bothered by the HOA.

The other truth is that it is very difficult to give a "first system" because the beginner system and the system the beginner wants to use is way different in difficulty to operate and to buy. That is why the advice we give is the way it is. We want you to enjoy your astronomy without putting you out too much or giving you a telescope that might as well have Russian writing all over it for how to operate it.


OK that said I will try to fill your requirements and give you an easy to use scope at the same time.
Portable, goto, astrophotography and 1 shot buy all. Such a rig will come in parts sourced separately.

Mount- Celestron CGEM DX https://www.astronomics.com/celestron-cgem-dx-computerized-equatorial-mount-5...

I recommend this for durability and portability. It also has the capacity for your astrophotography desire. It has been out for a while so the bugs are worked out mostly and it is based off a previous Celestron CGEM model. I would recommend the Orion Atlas 2 but that hasn't been out for long yet. As a rule of thumb don't buy new releases of astronomy gear. The manufacturers like to beta test on you.

Mount accessories:

- 7 pound losmandy G11 counterweight: https://www.astronomics.com/losmandy-7-pound-counterweight-gm-8-g-9-g-11-moun...
This is for when you do astrophotography. The CGEM DX is compatible with the Losmandy G11 counterweights. The weight it comes with is too heavy for use with lighter scopes. Adding this weight in is necessary for imaging with the C11 since the stock CGEMDX counterweight isn't heavy enough.

Optical tubes:
1. Celestron 11 inch Schmidt Cassegrain. https://www.astronomics.com/celestron-11-inch-sct-optical-tube_p5472.aspx
This beast of a scope is on the borderline edge of being portable and is a perfect companion for a CGEM DX for Visual use. I don't recommend this for astrophotography unless you want to hunt the tiny NGC galaxies.

2. Skywatcher ED 80 apo: https://www.astronomics.com/sky-watcher-pro-80ed-80mm-apo-refractor-telescope...
This ED refractor will be your workhorse for astrophotography. At 600mm focal length you can get a good image of the entire Messier catalog and the better know NGC and photographic objects.

3. Autoguider scope: http://www.highpointscientific.com/product/ORI-08891/Orion-Mini-50mm-Guide-Sc...

In days of old (2009) I would have recommended you bolt the above refractor to another scope to use as a guide scope. Now I recommend this. It attaches to the finder scope shoe built into that ED 80 and serves as an autoguider scope. Note that I don't recommend it with the Starshoot guider. This is because those guiders don't survive in my closed observatory. You don't want any of that. I'll list guide cameras for you later.

Eyepieces:
Your C11 should come with a 2 inch diagonal... if it doesn't use the one from the ED 80. This will require a 2 inch visual back. You can look for one in the Accessories section of Astronomics.

https://www.astronomics.com/explore-scientific-82-degree-wide-field-eyepieces...

Your budget demands quality and there it is. You can find other eyepiece brands if you want. You'll want:
6.7mm eyepiece for planets
15 mm eyepiece for small Deep sky objects (DSOs)
20, 25, or 30 mm eyepiece for general observing.

Filters:
1x Neutral density filter (for the moon).
1x color filter set (for planets).

Cameras:
For your astrophotography if you have a DSLR you can use that. Otherwise..

Celestron nightscape
https://www.astronomics.com/celestron-neximage-ccd-cameras_c249.aspx

I've heard good things about this camera. It is basically what happens when you take a DSLR and repackage it for astronomy.


Orion Starshoot 3 monochrome
I can't find a link... seriously Orion needs to stop cancelling camera lines. Anyway the starshoot pro 3 is what I shoot with now. It is one of the better camera's I've ever used. Monochrome cameras don't suffer from the Bayer filter matrix that goes on color cameras (its how they make them "color"). To get color out of such cameras color filters are used. Monochrome cameras can make use of Narrow band filters that allow us to see what elements are glowing in a nebula (like Hydrogen, Oxygen, and Sulfur)


Guiders:
Lodestar http://www.sxccd.com/lodestar-autoguider

If you can find a used Meade DSI then go with that. Otherwise this is that camera but from Lodestar with guiding capabilities and better manufacturing (but at a higher price too). This camera is sensitive enough that you can use it to frame your target before you shoot. This makes finding a guide star easy too.


Computers:
Windows 7 netbook (any netbook with windows 7 on it)
As far as computers in the field a netbook is the best thing. A netbook will consume little to no power from batteries and has enough horsepower to run your astronomy gear.

Software:
Maxim DL: If you're determined to spend money on an capture software this is it. It will run the SBIG cameras if you buy the research quality version.

Nebulosity: This is a cheaper but as powerful astrophoto capture software.

PHD Guiding: This software controls your autoguider.

Ascom + Stellarium + stellarium scope: The first is the a unified driver set for every telescope and camera out there. The second is an open source planetarium software that is excellent even on netbooks. The third is a means for stellarium to control an ascom scope (like your CGEM DX).


Extra hardware:
Batteries: For $100 you can get a deep cycle marine battery that will power your whole equipment set. Add $20 for the charger for it. I recommend charging it in a garage if you have one but you can also charge it in a house. The issue is it may outgas Hydrogen gas when you charge it. The area it's charged in should be well ventilated since this is an explosion hazard.

2x Telrad finders
The Telrad super imposes a reticule on the sky and makes aligning any goto scope much easier than using a finder scope.

Books:
Nightwatch - An excellent book with "plates" in the back highlighting the better DSOs to go after first.
Planisphere- While nightwatch has charts in it a planisphere shows exactly what's up at night. You'll need one until you're good at identifying the bright stars.


Above I constructed 2 sets of gear for you. One is an astrophotography setup using an 80mm APO as the main scope and a finder-guider as the guide scope. When aligned the finder-guider is also a digital finder scope. The second set of gear is a visual setup that uses a large but portable light bucket to show you the heavens. The scope and mount are heavy but will show you much details.

I think all together you have 9k left in your budget. You'll notice I didn't include any of the super expensive CGE Pro mounts or Meade LX850s. The reason for this is that the complexity of the mount goes up with price... as does the weight. The CGE pro weighs 100 pounds. The Meade MAX is too much and leaves out a lot of what you wanted to do. Another note is that the gear I listed is also fairly complex to operate and requires a deal of knowledge in astronomy.

Before you drop a dime on any of it I suggest you go to your local astronomy club's outreaches and see what they have there. Poke around, ask questions, look through scopes. Chances are you'll see a scope there in a similar setup to what I described and you can experience it before you buy it. This advice prevents you from blowing 20 grand on something you'll just stick in a closet and forget about.


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Mantis707
member


Reged: 08/14/12

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: wz2]
      #5779780 - 04/05/13 02:41 PM

join a local astronomy club , take a look in person at what they have....and take a while before making a decision....look through a lot of scopes......you will pretty much have your pick with that budget

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Tony Flanders
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5779837 - 04/05/13 03:05 PM

Quote:

After calling AP and talking with a few folks and a little more research I am leaning towards getting a nice APO and a Mach1.




That's a superb rig for wide-field astrophotography, and also fine for certain kinds of visual observing. But if you want really impressive views of deep-sky objects -- or for that matter, of planets -- you would do far better with a much cheaper and bigger telescope.

Don't believe me? Ask Roland; he will say the same.

There is no one telescope that does all jobs well. That's why essentially all serious stargazers own anywhere from two to two dozen different telescopes. In addition to binoculars, of course.


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hawk
sage


Reged: 03/12/13

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: michael hester]
      #5779995 - 04/05/13 04:04 PM

Quick note: According to the specs on their web page, none of the standard Celestron SCT's come with 2" diagonals. The EdgeHD ones that are 9.25" and larger do come with 2", though; in the EdgeHD line, only the 8" has a 1.25. (I suspect that's one reason for the disproportionate jump in cost from the 8" EdgeHD to the 9.25" EdgeHD.)

(I suspect if you don't care about the price difference, the EdgeHD is a no-brainer.)


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Mark Costello
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: michael hester]
      #5780212 - 04/05/13 05:30 PM

"We're (hopefully) not joking about that. You're coming into a scientific hobby with what you described as no knowledge about it and you listed a budget that is way beyond what anyone here actually spends on astronomy equipment save for observatory operators."

Weeeeeeeell, I'm not so sure about this. If someone gave me $20,000 and told me to spend it only on astronomy, I could see myself getting a couple of scopes and mounts that could send me banging close to that stash of cash.



Hi tadsbud, you mentioned that you're leaning towards an 8" or 9.25" Celestron Edge HD but might go for an 80mm-130mm apo refractor. With a $20,000 budget, you might be able to get both, an 8" or 9.25" HD, a 4" or 4.5" apo, a really good mount for photography, an OK mount for visual use only. That being said, you'll want to consider the advice of Jon and others (although it seems that you have).

All success in picking a winner (or two).


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Whichwayisnorth
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
      #5780225 - 04/05/13 05:37 PM

Quote:

...

Thanks. After calling AP and talking with a few folks and a little more research I am leaning towards getting a nice APO and a Mach1. Still more research to do. ..






This is why I mentioned Takahashi. Very often when someone does a shoot-out style review of an AP refractor they seem to put it up against a Tak. There is a reason for this. 99.9% of us can't see a difference. Taks are available and AP's are not. Taks are also less expensive. APMach1GTO mount and a nice Tak refractor would be great.


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N. Ham
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Whichwayisnorth]
      #5780244 - 04/05/13 05:47 PM

One thing that has been left out. If you buy quality and decide this is not for you, you will be able to get most of your money back. AP scopes made since the late 90s have only appreciated in price. The 5" Televue appears to be a really nice scope for the money. You will find many that recommend the stellarvue APOs as well.

Good luck.


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michael hester
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/28/08

Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Mark Costello]
      #5785007 - 04/07/13 11:05 PM

Quote:

"We're (hopefully) not joking about that. You're coming into a scientific hobby with what you described as no knowledge about it and you listed a budget that is way beyond what anyone here actually spends on astronomy equipment save for observatory operators."

Weeeeeeeell, I'm not so sure about this. If someone gave me $20,000 and told me to spend it only on astronomy, I could see myself getting a couple of scopes and mounts that could send me banging close to that stash of cash.



Hi tadsbud, you mentioned that you're leaning towards an 8" or 9.25" Celestron Edge HD but might go for an 80mm-130mm apo refractor. With a $20,000 budget, you might be able to get both, an 8" or 9.25" HD, a 4" or 4.5" apo, a really good mount for photography, an OK mount for visual use only. That being said, you'll want to consider the advice of Jon and others (although it seems that you have).

All success in picking a winner (or two).




Well... I've seen some plots of land in western Loudoun County in Virginia selling for $16-40k. I could convince someone that a dark site is a piece of astronomy equipment.

Otherwise I'd probably go for one of the Meade LX 850s and an SBIG camera to shoot with.


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JoeM101
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Reged: 04/09/12

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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: michael hester]
      #5791560 - 04/10/13 11:22 PM

I've got an AT72ED i can let you have for 5k

wish i had 10% of that to spend.. err maybe 20%...hmmm 25% ?

but in all seriousness, get to the local astro club and do so at least 4 or 5 times and post your thoughts then.

clear skies


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csrlice12
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: JoeM101]
      #5792080 - 04/11/13 10:39 AM

First thing would be to select Albuquerque. KAFB is a nice base, and NM probably has some of the best dark skies in the world. You can be in black skies in less than an hour grey skies in half an hour. The cost of living is good there.. HI is nice to visit....

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UncleMossy
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5792601 - 04/11/13 03:21 PM

If I were you I would make sure that a solar scope was included somewhere in your "system".
It more than doubles the time you can observe plus the Sun is amazing to look at and the views change every day.
Have fun spending that money.

Cheers
Jim


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rdandrea
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: UncleMossy]
      #5792642 - 04/11/13 03:46 PM

Quote:

If I were you I would make sure that a solar scope was included somewhere in your "system".
It more than doubles the time you can observe plus the Sun is amazing to look at and the views change every day.
Have fun spending that money.

Cheers
Jim






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JohnMurphyRN
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Escher]
      #5800918 - 04/15/13 04:15 PM

Quote:

The Edge 9.25 would be a great first scope...






+1 !!!

According to OP portability comes into play. Even if costs were the same for the 9.25" and the 14", the 9.25" is probably the better choice. It's way way more than entry level performance. It has all the GOTO and tracking and AP capability that the OP wants, and it'll keep him busy for decades from just a purely visual standpoint. It's a lifetime keeper scope, and he could even take it on TDY assignments.

Alternately get a Nexstar6 or 8 used for $500-700 and get your feet wet. Sell it later and upgrade (probably to something like the above) or lose interest and sell it for very little loss.

I was in the position the OP off and on for years before finally doing something last fall: wanted high end high perfromance and not able to choose which one. Then took the plunge. I don't think the OP would regret the 9.25" Edge.

Now to daydream of what my toy list would look like with a $20k budget: one enormous F4 reflector.


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WarmWeatherGuy
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: JohnMurphyRN]
      #5800921 - 04/15/13 04:18 PM

For those who are unfamiliar, TDY stands for Temporary Duty Yonder.



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faltered
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: WarmWeatherGuy]
      #5800941 - 04/15/13 04:25 PM

well, sounds like this person has money and is willing to buy the best. Or, its possible that this person does not realize you can get a FANTASTIC rig for substantially less money.

I dont see the need to spend the budget dollars, but rather recommend based on what he is asking for.


I would suggest something as easy as a CGE PRO 11 EdgeHD. Its Goto, rather portable, and great for visual and AP. That scope would set you back 8k.


Or, listen to all of this great advice and spend 25k and get something that may be overkill for someones first rig.


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Classic8
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: faltered]
      #5801125 - 04/15/13 05:55 PM

You could probably get a nice APO, and a nice big dob, and see which one you like the best. Or keep both. Heck, maybe the APO could be used as the "finder" on the dob!

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mich_al
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: faltered]
      #5801147 - 04/15/13 06:05 PM

First off, don't let your CFO read this post. I've got another point of view on this subject. I've been in the hobby officially for about 4 years and I don't think the OP's $15-20k is too far off for a realistic system.
How many here have actually kept track of every penny spent on any astro equipment since day one? I don't mean what you want the CFO to believe OR a backlooking thumbnail sketch of the highlights you remember OR what you think one can get into the hobby for OR what you estimate for newcomers OR the bare minimum that it's POSSIBLE to spend. I mean hard numbers. I know there is gonna be a lot of poo poo'ers but by my third year I was within the OP's range and I'm not an extravagant buyer and I bought alot used. For instance, my biggest single expence was my Mallincam ($1200) but when I had all the stuff I needed to adequately use my Mallincam I was around $2000 and I already had a laptop. My scope, in this total, is a C9.25 on a CGEM ($2700) and I also have a DS60mm Lunt, add eyepieces, filters, a mount for the Lunt, a pier, dew control, adapters, pow er supplies, chair, cases cords, atlas's etc., etc. It adds up! Really I'm not extravagant but there are extras that ya need/want/get besides a scope to actually observe. My point is lets be realistic here.


(flame suit on)


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Tony Flanders
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: mich_al]
      #5802016 - 04/16/13 05:40 AM

Quote:

I've been in the hobby officially for about 4 years and I don't think the OP's $15-20k is too far off for a realistic system.




It's certainly not a crazy amount of money to spend. However, expecting to spend it wisely all on a first shot, without any trial and error, is totally unrealistic.


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Jeff Struve
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Tony Flanders]
      #6326714 - 01/21/14 06:24 PM

I kinda got into it the same way the author did.,.. no experience.... large purchase.... I am not disappo7nted, however, to do it again, I would start portable and reuseable.... an 80mm triplet on an Atlas mount, 3 nice eyepieces and a few nice filters.... easy to manage, great views.... the 80 can be used as a grab and go or a guide scope... the mount can do really well until you get very serious into AP.... I have 2 atlas mounts, the one caries my edge hd11, sbig ccd, and hyperstar.... welcome to the jungle!

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crixt
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Jeff Struve]
      #6326920 - 01/21/14 08:02 PM

I am relatively new at this (few years), but I would recommend that whatever you decide on...carve out 3k for a portable system. 4-5" refractor, alt/az with encoders and a sturdy, lightweight tripod. That way, when you don't feel like lugging out your gear (which will be often), you can learn and explore your new hobby. Also, you can do some basic solar with that.

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Khyron
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: crixt]
      #6326930 - 01/21/14 08:08 PM

Wow... 15k? I spent about 60 bucks and I'm having a blast! I think I would be paralyzed with indecision if I was going to spend that much.

Also, FWIW, this post is nearly a year old, guys.


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crixt
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Khyron]
      #6326949 - 01/21/14 08:15 PM

Lol. Didn't notice that.

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rdandrea
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: crixt]
      #6327097 - 01/21/14 09:26 PM

$15-$20K? Anything you want. I started with an Edmund Space Conqueror for $29.95.

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mich_al
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: crixt]
      #6327101 - 01/21/14 09:27 PM

A point I would add is, be careful how deep you jump in on the first plunge. A whole lot of people loose interest in this hobby after a year or two no matter how much enthusiasm there was initially. $15-$20k sitting in the closet is not a good thing on anyones budget.

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mfromb
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Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: wz2]
      #6327232 - 01/21/14 10:19 PM

Somewhere inside of me I'm thinking:

  • $14k to shop conservatively and still match all stated requirements
  • $1k for 'starter kit' of an oft overlooked accessory: Beer

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  • SpooPoker
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    Reged: 06/04/13

    Loc: North Bay CA
    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: mfromb]
          #6327409 - 01/22/14 12:07 AM

    Get a couple of cheaper first scopes, learn to use them, enjoy them for a year, and then sell them. Replace them down the pipeline with the best your $20K can buy.

    Reason? While you may be enthusiastic and consider this hobby the best thing since sliced bread, I think it is totally impulsive to blow a stack on supporting a hobby that has not established itself as part of your life. It is impossible to predict where you could go 6 months down the line. Many folks start off with good intentions and then dump the hobby a little way down the line for something else. It seems wonderful and interesting now and your mind will convince you it will be forever, but reality suggest most things come and go in phases. It would be a shame to be $20K in on something that could feasibly be dumped. Sure top of the line scopes always have a resale value, but outside of a rare eyepiece or telescope, a loss margin is nearly always assured.

    Way I see it:

    Rework your budget to around $1K. Keep the rest of the money back for a year or so, it could fund two absolute premium instruments and all the bells and whistles that go with them.

    With your reworked $1K budget, go to a good telescope site or purchase used off eBay / Classified. Get a smallish EQ mounted refractor (i.e. 80 or 90mm) and a middle sized DOB (i.e. 10" or so). You could get both for around $1K. The EQ refractor you can experiment with Astrophotography (including how to learn to track, polar allign etc). Its small size will allow easy transportation to a dark site and will be comfortable to use. The DOB - you can learn to observe through the eyepiece. Use both, get experience finding stuff, when you think the hobby is here to stay, list both scopes on CN/eBay, sell them, and then go for the ultra premium high end gear. You could probably get a 150mm APO and a 16" Premium DOB with the funds you have. You pretty much would be set.


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    patg43
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: SpooPoker]
          #6327449 - 01/22/14 12:27 AM

    I wonder if he found his dream scope? I chose one that would serve me well if I decided to ap anything, ever. I have a short focal length 10"sct from meade. was cheap compared to most scopes these days, and what a view. I would love to have this rig on an eq, but im not ready for that yet. Getting lost in the sky is my main goal. FWIW my mommas new pentax can do a bit of ap with its gps astrotrace function. I hope to review it for the good folks of CN soon.

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    Vondragonnoggin
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: patg43]
          #6327494 - 01/22/14 12:58 AM

    Since his last post was April 2013, I'm guessing he didn't spend $15,000-$20,000 and instead maybe got a first scope, was disappointed, then quit altogether.

    I was fully expecting this one to end with "I went ahead and rethought this and I'm going with an 8" dob and a few eyepieces + barlow".



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    christheman200
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: patg43]
          #6327506 - 01/22/14 01:06 AM

    As someone who only got into astronomy in the last year, and made a "large" purchase to start off with ($1500+ a bit), I suggest making a purchase of under $2000 first. With that you can get a nice sized dob, or a tricked out refractor or SCT set up. When I got my dob, it was great in the summer, but in the winter it's cooldown times take most of the night and it's too clunky to take outside. My 4" refractor is nice but still clunky to take out, so I ordered a C90 which I am using very often in minus 30 to 40 with wind chill. There is no perfect set up.

    I've also found that my favourite part of the hobby is it's DIY aspect, and I'm working on plans for multiple large projects. If I had invested $20 000 dollars in equipment at the start, I would not be having as much fun as I am now because I would have no money left over to continue in a new direction. As well, I always feel like I know everything, but I don't. My opinions vary by the week, or by the day, and I know for certain that any purchase I make should be after lots of personal experience and time to comprehend the purchase. I know you want to spend a lot of money at this time, but I suggest that it should not be so.


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    csrlice12
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: christheman200]
          #6327769 - 01/22/14 08:13 AM

    Its only money...there's a universe to explore......$30 or $30,000 and we both have acess to the original data......

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    Paco_Grande
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Vondragonnoggin]
          #6328342 - 01/22/14 01:01 PM

    Quote:


    I was fully expecting this one to end with "I went ahead and rethought this and I'm going with an 8" dob and a few eyepieces + barlow".






    Which would have been a fine ending.

    Besides, $20k is a nice down payment on a late model 911.



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    SteveThal
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
          #6329304 - 01/22/14 08:24 PM

    Good on you for wanting to commit to that degree. Period. Thinking there's lots of advice to sift through. Sounds like you know your way.

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    TenBears
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
          #6332631 - 01/24/14 01:18 PM

    $15-20 worth of telescope gear... is going to be "heavy".

    No two ways around that.

    So be prepared.

    Myself, with that kind of budget... I'd be looking at a sky-watcher quantum 150. Just saying.


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    TenBears
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Jeff Struve]
          #6332646 - 01/24/14 01:22 PM

    Quote:

    I kinda got into it the same way the author did.,.. no experience.... large purchase....



    I could not find a thread necro graemlin... so, here ya go. lol



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    Mxplx2
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: TenBears]
          #6333165 - 01/24/14 04:43 PM

    Before you spend, look online at Craig's and others and you will often find some high end equipment for sale with tags like "like new" & "hardly used." Just sayin'.

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    csrlice12
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Mxplx2]
          #6333185 - 01/24/14 04:53 PM

    I'd use most of it to purchase some land out in the middle of nowhere........

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    mark8888
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: Mxplx2]
          #6333696 - 01/24/14 09:43 PM

    A few people have posted in this thread recently without noticing the date or reading the posts in it that indicate its almost a year old. The OP stopped writing entirely on CN 3 days after it was posted.

    That said, if the OP is out there, it would be interesting to hear what he or she decided to do and how it worked out.


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    GeneT
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: tadsbud]
          #6333798 - 01/24/14 10:57 PM

    I recommend that you join your local astronomy club and carefully check out a variety of telescopes. Then, determine what percentage do you think you will view visually vs. imaging. That is a very important determination for you to make. If you are going to go 80 percent visual observing, you would buy equipment quite different than if you were going to image 80 percent. You have plenty of money since you have $15-20K to spend.

    Let me point out one issue regarding imaging. A few years ago, I had two friends who were mostly into imaging. One owned a TeleVue, four inch refractor on a mount costing $6,000. He felt he was limited in what he could image with that particular mount. Another friend upgraded his mount to one costing more than $10,000. What I am getting at here is that you don't need to spend $6K or $10K for a mount to image. However, many of us in this hobby never are satisfied with the eyepieces we own, or the mount, or the telescope and so on. If you are going to mostly do visual astronomy, you have any number of great options, to include buying more than one telescope--a larger 12-20 inch Dob and a 4 inch refractor, or 4-6 inch SCT, as a grab and go telescope.

    Again, check with your local astronomy club and look over the equipment of the members, look through a variety of telescopes, check in with the imagers--and ask a lot of questions.

    One option might be to buy an 8 inch Dob until you sort things out. I don't recommend that you blow $15-20 until you are sure of what direction you are going in pursuit of our hobby.

    Keep us posted on how you sort all this out.


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    choran
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    Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: mark8888]
          #6334456 - 01/25/14 10:12 AM

    Wonder how this old thread got resurrected? I was merrily reading along without realizing it was almost a year old! Was merrily spending that money in my own mind. Well, back to reality.

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