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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
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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
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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
Pooh-Bah


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
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 02/22/10

Loc: nj
Re: $15-20k first system new [Re: WarmWeatherGuy]
      #5774556 - 04/03/13 12:45 AM Attachment (23 downloads)

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

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Escher
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 08/30/07

Loc: Fenton, MI
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
scholastic sledgehammer
*****

Reged: 07/14/09

Loc: Missisauga, Canada
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
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 01/20/13

Loc: SE USA
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
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 07/14/12

Loc: Banana Republic of California
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
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/13/12

Loc: Dunmore, PA
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
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 12/19/04

Loc: Ohio
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
Postmaster


Reged: 01/14/13

Re: $15-20k first system [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
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 07/11/12

Loc: Desert Hills, AZ
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
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 02/09/09

Loc: Newington, CT
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
professor emeritus
*****

Reged: 07/10/11

Loc: Millbrae, CA
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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