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General Astronomy >> Beginners Forum

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C_Moon
Pooh-Bah
*****

Reged: 10/23/09

Loc: Beneath the arms of Cassiopeia
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: BigJustice]
      #6226255 - 12/01/13 01:15 AM

If you like to do research, get yourself a copy of The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (quite possibly from the library, although it is a good one to invest in). I'm an engineer who also "likes to do research" and I think it gives an excellent introduction to what the hobby is all about as well as how to navigate the numerous options when it comes to equipment. Plus, the authors are professionals who do not have an agenda.

That book was indispensable to me when I got started. Especially for setting my expectations and helping me get a plan.

Now is a good time to get going as Mars will soon be well placed for viewing (something that happens only every ~2 years). I had similar timing when I started and Mars was one of the early joys!

Good Luck!


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TexasRed
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 05/17/11

Loc: East Texas
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: C_Moon]
      #6226282 - 12/01/13 01:35 AM

Consider adding a decent pair of 10x50 binoculars to your shopping list. They'll deliver nice wide-field views a telescope won't have and be very helpful in finding things as you learn your way around the sky. You won't stop using them either. It's also fun to compare the views with your bare eyes, the binoculars and a telescope.

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gene 4181
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 11/12/13

Loc: n.e. ohio
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: C_Moon]
      #6226289 - 12/01/13 01:42 AM

they did have a close-out, clearance on an xt8 plus for 424. check out the clearance section. they do come up for sale often. the xt8 is a more refined model, it might have what you need right away. 2 speed focuser for sure. check out whats included on page. good luck making your choice.

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penguinx64
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/12/13

Loc: Holland
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer [Re: BigJustice]
      #6226365 - 12/01/13 03:36 AM

Something that helps me is the FREE Stellarium program. You can download it at Stellarium.org. I get better star charts using this program than any book. The charts are real time too, once you put in your current location. It also lets you adjust the time and date to see star and planet positions in the future. For example, you can use it during the daytime to see where stars will be that night or on the weekend.

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kirscovitch
member


Reged: 11/29/13

Loc: Antigo WI
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: BigJustice]
      #6226395 - 12/01/13 04:35 AM

I just bought my first scope as well. Celestron Nexsta130SLT. Kinda on the small side but I have had some pretty good views so far of the moon and Jupiter. Still getting used to it but the only issues I've had so far is with the finder.

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Northern Viewer
member


Reged: 08/11/13

Loc: Eastern Canada
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: kirscovitch]
      #6226429 - 12/01/13 05:36 AM

If you or your kids have smart phones, ipads, tablets etc, you might think consider a great app called SkySafari. I am a really big fan. It is easy to use, has LOTS of information and is a great way to learn the sky. Books are also very helpful of course, but I think this app was the most useful thing I purchased for astronomy so far. There are plenty of threads on CN about Skysafari so I will leave it at that.

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coopman
Post Laureate
*****

Reged: 04/23/06

Loc: South Louisiana
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: Northern Viewer]
      #6226531 - 12/01/13 08:42 AM

You might want to check out the 8" Apertura Dob from Opticsmart. It comes with better accessories than the Orion, IMO.
http://www.opticsmart.com/apertura-ad8-dobsonian-reflector-telescope.html


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eolian
member


Reged: 08/30/05

Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: coopman]
      #6226553 - 12/01/13 09:01 AM

Dont forget to join your local astronomy club and attend the club viewing sessions every time you have the free time. You can try out different scopes and eyepieces other members set up.

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ZeusB
super member
*****

Reged: 01/25/13

Loc: Chicago
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: BigJustice]
      #6226596 - 12/01/13 09:43 AM

Quote:

David, I have to tell you. The first time I saw Saturn through a scope I was transfixed. I was in college and the local astronomy club set up outside the local observatory's 20". The line to the 20" was long so I stopped off at the local guys' set ups first. Then I went in for the 20".

I want to share Saturn with my girls. That's my dad vision anyway. Fortunately they are pretty early risers.

Alright, right now the group is saying the 8" dob for the most part. A barlow lens, a number of books ( I will get them all). Perhaps a mid power eyepiece. (Size suggestions?)

What do you think of this:http://www.telescope.com/Orion-XT8-Classic-Dobsonian-Telescope-amp-Beginner-Barlow-Kit/p/102029.uts

That comes with the barlow and some other things as well.

If anyone feels passionately about another 8 dob please let me know. Or any other suggestions. I am not sworn to the dob.




I think that is a great deal. I have an 8" dob (Zhumell) and I love it. It was the first one I bought when I got back into the hobby. It's very easy to use. Down the road, you might want to invest in a Telrad finder to make star hopping that much easier (http://telescopes.net/store/telrad-telrad.html)

Great choice, and best of luck to you and your family.


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: BigJustice]
      #6226656 - 12/01/13 10:21 AM

Any of the Zhummel, Aptura, or Orion 8" f6 dobs are pretty equal optics wise. The Aptura/Zhummel does come with some nicer extras though like a mirror fan and a better tensioning system. If you want some "finding" capability, there is the Orion 8XTi (Intelliscope). This has digital encoders built in to "guide" you to the various objects (you supply the movement). While a bit more expensive then the base model, it it a nice feature...and the Intelliscopes do come with a better tensioning system. What's also nice about a dob is that they'll work out of the box, but are also easily modified/upgraded as you go on in the hobby (better focuser, telrads, balance weights, even a new base/mount can be built. Or, down the road, add an EQ platform for tracking.....

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BigJustice
journeyman


Reged: 11/30/13

Loc: Fayetteville, NC
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: csrlice12]
      #6226661 - 12/01/13 10:24 AM

Do i need to go ahead and purchase a collimation tool?

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drago
sage


Reged: 01/11/08

Loc: Latvia
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: csrlice12]
      #6226676 - 12/01/13 10:31 AM

i too very recommend a "Backyard astronomers guide"
http://www.amazon.com/Backyard-Astronomers-Guide-Terence-Dickinson/dp/1554073448 -a very good and relatively cheap book. Also "turn left at Orion" is very good.
about scopes - id recommend an 8" dob and / or small 70 - 80 mm refractor - skywatcher 707az2 fits very good - it is an extremely cheap, and extremely portable, but good telescope. very portable telescope never be surplus - look around, most of AA, even if haves a whole collection of mid and large telescopes, also have a small, portable, grab-and-go scope for fast session and travels.


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penguinx64
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/12/13

Loc: Holland
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: drago]
      #6226796 - 12/01/13 11:27 AM

My telescope came with a Collumation Cap. Basically, it's a metal disc with a small hole, built into a lens cap that fits where eyepieces go. This looks like a very inexpensive collumation tool. With that, a philips screwdriver and an allen wrench, I was able to align the hole in the cap with a the mirror center. It's not a fancy high end collumation tool with lasers, but I guess it got got the job done. I'll find out tonight, if the clouds ever clear.

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Paco_Grande
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 07/14/12

Loc: Banana Republic of California
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: BigJustice]
      #6226832 - 12/01/13 11:39 AM

Quote:

Do i need to go ahead and purchase a collimation tool?




If you buy the Orion, it will likely come with a collimation cap. However, a Cheshire/sight tube is something you'll probably want to have on hand.

http://agenaastro.com/agena-1-25-collimating-eyepiece-newtonian-reflectors.html

If you choose the Apertura (the basic unit without upgrades, which is what I'd recommend) it comes with a laser collimation tool so you don't need the Cheshire.

http://www.opticsmart.com/telescopes/dobsonian-telescopes/apertura-ad8-dobson...


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gene 4181
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 11/12/13

Loc: n.e. ohio
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: Paco_Grande]
      #6226901 - 12/01/13 12:10 PM

a sight tube to center your secondary under your focuser would be nice. then your collimation cap provided to center your primary. some of the xt 8 s come pretty well collimated, some have been loose .you won't know till you get it. i never really use a laser. i have the older tectron tools. there's plenty of resources on this site for collimation in reflector forum at top.

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GeneT
Ely Kid
*****

Reged: 11/07/08

Loc: South Texas
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: BigJustice]
      #6227068 - 12/01/13 01:23 PM

Quote:

The girls (15 and 8)




I had to sort out a similar situation for three sets of grandchildren. I bought one a Wi game console so spent a little less on the telescope. I got her an Orion 8 inch Dob. For the other two sets of grandchildren, I bought them an 8 inch Celestron NexStar. These telescope options served all my grandchildren well. At first it was a little difficult for them to haul them outside, so their parents (my kids) did that for them. However, they learned to make all the adjustments for viewing, and plotted out the objects they wanted to see. Over the past three years, they got a little bigger, and now can take their telescopes out, and bring back in when finished.


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rdandrea
Carpal Tunnel
*****

Reged: 06/13/10

Loc: Colorado, USA DM59ra
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: BigJustice]
      #6227088 - 12/01/13 01:34 PM

Quote:

Would there be any value in going with a Goto package. Something like a Nexstar 5SE or something along those lines?




You'll get a lot of advice that tells you to make them "learn the sky" by starhopping. I'm a bit of a contrarian on this approach. I think a GoTo scope will help hold their interest and avoid frustration. Learning the sky will come as long as they keep looking up. To do that, they have to stay interested.


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Kraus
Pooh-Bah


Reged: 03/10/12

Loc: Georgia.
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: rdandrea]
      #6227284 - 12/01/13 03:01 PM

I recommend the Meade 14 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. It's the finest in the world. Match it with TeleVue Nagler eyepieces.

I'm pretty sure the Hale and Hubble telescopes contruction were under the auspices of Meade's engineering team. And Al Nagler directed the efforts of both design teams.


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csrlice12
Postmaster
*****

Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: Kraus]
      #6227403 - 12/01/13 04:16 PM

Uh, the Hubble optics were a mess.......we had to go back up and install corrective lenses.....

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penguinx64
professor emeritus


Reged: 11/12/13

Loc: Holland
Re: Advice for a novice dad and astronomer new [Re: BigJustice]
      #6227431 - 12/01/13 04:30 PM

Hey Dad, your 15 year old daughter should be careful who she looks at Venus with. Some of the older teenage guys at star parties might get a little frisky. Maybe you should get her some pepper spray?

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