Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

The road to your first telescop and the stars - a newbie's perspective

beginner binoculars charts reflector refractor
This topic has been archived. This means that you cannot reply to this topic.
36 replies to this topic

#1 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 04 August 2015 - 07:09 AM

I am still new to this hobby and just now getting my first scope(s) up and running, so this is not advice from a wise old astronomer. This is advice from one who has been in and out of a variety of hobbies.  This is my newest passion and I have been immersing myself in information.  I am going to share what I have learned so far in the hope it helps others get started.


There are no beginner telescopes.   There are beginners and there are telescopes. That's it!    And there are beginner's expectations, which can sometimes be unrealistic.
 

What would be the perfect first telescope?  We all ask this question.
 

  • One that can be purchased within your budget. ( is your budget realistic?)
     
  • One that will give you the opportunity to learn about the sky. (Do you want to learn or do you want to look at things?)
     
  • One that will not frustrate you or fall so far shot of your expectations that you walk away. (what are your expectations?)
     
  • One that you can handle (these things get big and heavy)
     

Which telescope is that?   That depends on you, your budget, how willing you are to learn and how unrealistic your expectations are.   If you think you are going to spend $200 and see things that look like the Hubble photos, I suggest you take up flying model airplanes.  That is my other hobby.  Even with a $2000 scope you will never see views like the Hubble photos.  Ever!

 

Want to get into astrophotography?   Do you have the budget?  Are you prepared to learn the world of computer editing software, video, photography and astronomy all at once?  Do you have the budget?  From what I read here, this can get really expensive really fast if you are going to try and get images that look like the Hubble photos.   The cost of entry here keeps dropping so don't walk away yet, but consider your expectations.  Do you have the budget and the commitment? 

 

GoTo - Goto scopes are like GPSs for your car.  You tell them what you want to see and they point the scope at it.  Cool!   Some might say that goto scopes are beginner scopes because you don't need to know much of anything about astronomy. If you can master aligning the scope, it will find things for you.  But will you learn the skies as part of this process?  That is up to you.

 

When I started using a GPS in my car I stopped learning routes.   I would arrive at a destination and people would ask what route I took.  "I don't know, I just followed the GPS."   No need for maps, just tell the GPS where you want to go and it will take you there.   But how much do you learn about the route?  Could you get there without the GPS?  (Where are my maps?)     

 

There are goto scopes that cost $250 and there are goto scopes that cost $2500.  Are they both good first scopes because they are goto?  That depends on your budget.  

 

Mounts - You may think of them as tripods but they are so much more than that.  They can range from $50 to $5000.  Some are manual, some are motorized and some are fully computerized.  A lousy mount can ruin the viewing experience of a good scope.  Many entry level telescopes are reasonably good but the mounts are so poor that they ruin the experience, or so I am told by the wizards on this board.  My first telescope, when I was in middle school, had a mount like this.

 

Dobsonians (dobs) - A dob is not a scope type it is a mount type but people talk about them like they are a type of telescope.   Dobsonians are Newtonian reflector scopes that go in a dobsonian mount.  The mount is very inexpensive but very stable.    They look like a fancy lazy susan turntable that sits on the ground.

 

Many have advised me, as a new astronomer, to get a manual dobsonian (mount + scope) because they provide the most aperture for the $$ and telescopes are all about aperture.  The more aperture the more you can see.  

Most dobsonians, are simple manual scopes that rest on a tilt/swivel base the ground.  They are stable and simple to use but you need to learn how to star hop to find things.  This is like learning to travel with a map.  You have to read the map then read the sign posts to find your turns.   More work than a GPS but most likely, when you get there, you will be able to tell someone how you got there and you will be able to get there again.  You learn the route.

 

On a bang for the buck basis, dobsonians are a good choice.  Note that there are more expensive dobsonians that have guidance to help you find things and there are even goto dobs, but the cost goes up and up. 

 

Binoculars - Probably the best advice I received on this and other forums was to get a pair of 7X50 or 10X50 binoculars, some basic books and charts and go look at the sky. See what you can see from your location. Start to get to know the stars with the binoculars.  Learn to star hop to find things.  I was surprised how much more I could see with $25 binoculars than I could see with my naked eye, even in my heavily light polluted area. 

 

I have to say that this has been wonderful. I learned a little about the sky over my head and how much I could see from my yard.  I got a little experience with star charts and books.  And I started to learn about star hopping.  Total investment, for binoculars, books and charts, about $100.  And I will use these forever so there is no loss of investment.  And binoculars can be used for other things such as watching sports, birds, nature, architecture, vacations, camping, all sorts of stuff. So if I drop out of the hobby my binoculars will still get use.

 

I also learned about light pollution in my area.  I learned about the challenges of avoiding street lights and the like.  And I learned a little about field of view which is important to a beginner and to experienced astronomers alike. 

 

I learned about convenience.   I could grab the binoculars and go for a 30 minute observation in my side yard.   Setting up some telescopes can take longer than 30 minutes when you factor in assembly, collimation and "temperature stabilization" time.  So my 30 minute observation session would not be possible with some of the telescopes I have considered.

 

Budget:

For some, $200 is the absolute limit of what they can spend to get into this. For some $2000 seems like an easy entry point. Would we recommend the same scope to both of these beginners because they are beginners?  Likely not.
 

Portability

 

Here is something I had not considered.  If you get a BIG scope you will have great views.  But if you get a big scope, where are you going to store it and where are you going to set it up?  

 

I attended an observation night with a local astronomy club.  There must have been 20 scopes there of various sizes and types.  One fellow had a BIG Celestron 11" SCT scope that he loved.  Cost about $3000 all up.  But he said he rarely used it because he could not move it and set it up by himself.   It was too heavy and too clumsy to move by himself.   He later purchased a smaller scope, a 6" I think, that he loves and uses a lot.  No, it does not give him the views of the big scope but the smaller scope gets 10X the sky time because it is light and portable.

 

 

It is all about aperture, not magnification

 

In the end they all do the same thing, gather light!  That is what telescopes do, they gather light.   Then the eyepiece magnifies the image.  The more light you have the better the image will look as you magnify it.   There is more to it than that but for this discussion that is close enough.  I have learned that most observations are done at less than 300X magnification and the majority under 200X, even with big scopes.

 

You can take a small scope, say a 60 mm refractor or reflector, and magnify the image 300X and the image will be dark and without sharp features.  There is not enough light to allow that level of magnification.  So if you want to get to high magnifications you need a big aperture so you have enough light to magnify.  Telescopes are all about aperture.  But small aperture scopes say under 100 mm/4 inches can give you a lot to look at with a modest expenditure.

 

This is similar to having a 2 MP camera and a 20 MP camera.  Both take great snap shots that look good at 3X5".  You can make wall posters from photos from each but the wall poster from the 2 mp camera will look grainy and without detail.   The wall poster from the 20 MP camera will look much better. 

 

 

Scope Types - SCT, MCT, Newtonian, Refactor

 

I am not going to describe all of these types of scopes.  In the end it is all about gathering light and bending it to your will.   Each scope does it in a different way.  The result is that some scopes have inherently wider apparent fields of view which are better for some purposes than others, but they can be used to look at everything.  Others have inherently narrower apparent fields of view which make them better for some purposes then others but they can also be used to look at everything.   So there are compromises with all designs.  There is no one perfect scope. 

 

What I have learned from the good people on this forum is, if you stay in the hobby, you end up with three types of scopes:

 

  • binoculars - wide view, quick to grab and look.  Most people seem to have at least one and some have many
     
  • a smaller grab and go telescope.  What is small varies by person but typically this is something with an aperture of 6" or less and for some an 80 mm/3.1" refractor is the perfect scope for this purpose.  This is their travel scope, short observations window or take it on a trip or vacation scope.  Quick to set up by one person.
     
  • a big aperture scope to see dim deep sky things, usually a reflector of 8" or more.  Bigger, heavier and maybe less convenient to move around but, what views!
     

This is a broad generalization but it points out that no one tool does every job equally well.  Some have a scope for planets and a different scope for deep space objects. Some are designed for AP, astrophotography, and some for viewing.  Most can do both but it is a question of optimization and budget. 

 

And what is a grab and go to you and what is grab and go to me will differ.   Some will say their 8" dobsonian is their grab and go scope.  Others will give this distinction to an 80 mm refractor.   Your smileage will vary.

 

 

What is this Newbie doing?  (my journey)

 

I am not suggesting you follow me.  But I will share my path.  You might find it works for you.

 

First 60 days  - Reading this forum, and purchased the following.  Total of Less than $100.  This is to help me figure out if I am interested.  I also attended a local astronomy club's "observation night" and had a lot of opportunity to look through everyone's scopes and get their advice.  I have not joined the club yet, but if I get serious about this I will join the club.  I plan to visit another club soon.

 

Binoculars - In my case, Cheap 10X50 Binoculars  (there are probably better choices) , Guide to the Stars  Moon map , Sky Chart , red light , Turn left at Orion

 

 

First Scope

 

I was all over the place with this.  Big dobs, expensive SCT goto scopes and ... all over the place.   The budget was $500 to $1500 but in the end I decided to take a smaller first step.  I purchased an 80mm refractor goto scope for $250.  Mead ETX 80  If I stay in the hobby this will be my grab and go scope, my travel scope. 

 

I have so much light pollution and so many obstructions by my house, my main observation area, that I decided I needed the help of a goto.  I could not see things to the extent that I wanted, with the binoculars.  So star hopping has been a bit of a challenge.  But I was not prepared to invest in a "big scope" yet.  The new scope had not arrived at the time of this writing but I will update this when it does arrive to see if this was a good choice.  If not, well $250 is not going to break me or swamp the family in debt.

 

Gift Scope - A friend heard I was getting into this and handed me a 3", 76mm aperture, Newtonian reflector scope that had belonged to her father.  Wow!  I went from no scope to two scopes of different types in a matter of a week.  If this had happened first I would not have ordered the ETX but it had already shipped.  I can still return it but most likely I will keep both.

 

 

The Comparison - So I am presented with a great opportunity.  I will have a goto refractor and a manual reflector of similar size.  They  have eyepieces with similar magnification and they are both quick and easy to move around.   I will be able to do a comparison as to what they are like and which way I want to go for the big scope, if and only if I continue to be committed to the hobby.  I will post reports. 

 

 

Summary

 

This is a quick summary of what I have learned at 60 days into the hobby.  I put it here to help those just getting into the hobby.   I have shared the advice I have received and the little bit of knowledge I have accumulated to try and make it easier for you to travel this early, bumpy rod to getting to know the skies.

 

Feel free to comment, positive or negative, and to ask questions.  I have a ton of links saved that will gather together and post as a resource to newbies like myself.    But more importantly, there are a lot of smart people on this forum who will likely jump in to help.  You have come to the right place for help.

 

Clear skies to you.


Edited by aeajr, 04 August 2015 - 08:11 AM.

 

#2 Greyhaven

Greyhaven

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4561
  • Joined: 11 May 2004

Posted 04 August 2015 - 08:16 AM

Ed, I wish you the best of luck with your journey into a new hobby. I wish more of the neophytes in our hobby took as much care and thoughtful deliberations in preparing themselves. Keep us updated on your progress.

 

Grey


 

#3 pastortim

pastortim

    Messenger

  • *****
  • Posts: 492
  • Joined: 22 Jan 2015

Posted 04 August 2015 - 09:01 AM

Ed 

 

good post, with some good descriptions and good advise, you certainly have given a lot of thought and study in 60 days, i started last year in astronomy nov-dec got my first scope in feb this year and have been using it every chance i get, which is limited, our weather this year has been terrible, rain and clouds all the time.

 

i went a little different direction than you did and i wish i could say that i approached buying a telescope as systematically as you did, but thats me, lol

 

i bought an celestron 8 evolution, and i am very happy with it, the goto and the ability to control it with my phone or tablet is great, then shortly after i got the evolution i got a chance to buy a 12" dob at a really good price, so good i couldnt pass it up, so now i have two scopes and i like both, although the 12" does not get as much use as the 8", i have two grandkids who are very interested so, they both get used quite a bit. i have had many-many hobbies in my life and get bored with them after awhile but i feel astronomy is going to be different

 

anyway, i enjoyed your write-up, good luck with your observing, and keep us updated on your progress.............tim


 

#4 hm insulators

hm insulators

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 7454
  • Joined: 22 Jan 2007

Posted 04 August 2015 - 09:37 AM

Excellent essay! I don't own a scope myself but I do have binoculars and I've been to enough dark-site star parties and used plenty of telescopes, and if I ever were to get a scope, it would be a 6-inch Dob. Small as Dobs go and it wouldn't get me the wild views a bigger one would yield, but on the other hand, it would be easier to carry out to the car, over 100 feet away and down a flight of stairs, plus it would take up relatively little storage space in my rather small apartment.


 

#5 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 04 August 2015 - 09:44 AM

Thanks for your comments guys.  And the best of luck to all of us in our discovery of the wonders of the universe.


 

#6 gene 4181

gene 4181

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4817
  • Joined: 12 Nov 2013

Posted 04 August 2015 - 10:23 AM

 Ed , nice write up, I appreciate you took the time  to write it all up , etc.  I, myself had no expectations about astronomy.   I have used the major food group of telescopes, know what they can do and what they can't.  I'm like the Hornitos commercial on tv now, any telescope, any size and  anywhere,lol.  They're  all nice and they're all affected by seeing , and by how much, depending on the aperture going up in size.  My favorite saying about astronomy to sum it up in a few words is,  There's no free lunch ! 


Edited by gene 4181, 04 August 2015 - 08:55 PM.

 

#7 Ken Sturrock

Ken Sturrock

    Cardinal Ximénez - NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 8055
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2009

Posted 04 August 2015 - 02:34 PM

It's a very nice write-up, Ed. I think your observations are right on the mark and I wish you luck with Astronomy. Keep the big picture perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: This post doesn't really fit the question-answer purpose of the Beginner's forum, but sometimes exceptions can be made (We'll call it an "equipment report") ;) .


 

#8 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 05 August 2015 - 01:40 AM

Thanks for the encouragement guys.    My goal is to help the new guys. 


 

#9 seawolfe

seawolfe

    Gemini

  • -----
  • Posts: 3307
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2013

Posted 05 August 2015 - 08:50 AM

Great essay Ed!

 

When I started out, now over five years ago(...not that long, eh?), I had a friend who had built his own 8 inch Dob but had lost the desire to observe.  One night on my way home from a quickie road trip, my wife and I stopped at a road side rest area for a break.  We knew about the Perseid meteor shower and just happened to have her father's 10X50 binoculars.  This rest area was in a very dark zone even with the traffic, so it was fantastic to watch the meteor shower which had quite a few to see that night.  I was smitten!

 

I invested in a better pair of binoculars and then got a book on the constellations.  From there it was a tripod, then a book on binocular astronomy, then a planesphere and a red flashlight to read by.

 

A bit later, I started attending the free public night shows given by a local astronomy club.  I got my friend back into the hobby and started doing research on what type of telescope I wanted and the budget I would set for it.  This took over a year of research and money saving and in the meantime I stepped up my binocular star search with a hand built mirror mount for the binoculars (that helps eliminate the neck crane pain) and then as a birthday gift from my wife, BIG 20X80 binoculars.

 

My light pollution problem seemed to increase in just the two years I was learning with the binoculars.  From a light red zone to a full red zone, there were stars that I could no longer see.

 

Finally came the time to choose my telescope....what did I want to do with it.  Did I want a Dobsonian, a refractor, or a CAT?  Well, I certainly wanted to dabble in a small way with AP, so the Dob was out.  People recommended a refractor and it seemed to be okay but I was partial to the CAT, so I went that way.  I still have a refractor in mind, but it is a solar one for HA viewing (I'd gotten myself a glass white light filter for solar viewing with my CAT and come to want more, but that's more money at a later time).

 

But between the time of binocular viewing and the telescope purchase, I made it my challenge to learn the night sky through the seasons.  I had the small book on constellations I had first gotten, then the book on binocular viewing, but then visited my local library and checked out all of the astronomy books they had....like, Left Turn At Orion, Backyard Astronomer's Handbook, and a few others.  That brought me to purchase a couple of star charts and the Backyard Astronomer's Handbook's companion NightWatch which is very similar in many respects and has very nice star charts arranged by seasons.  I also started a small journal that I wish that I would keep regular but don't always.  Now I can find my way around the night sky with ease, although at a dark sky site, it is a little harder since there are so many more stars.

 

I love my telescope but sometimes getting it aligned can be a real pain. :(   But the 20X80's are always ready to go mounted on the mirror mount and tripod and the 16X50's are right by the back door.  All get packed when we go on vacation or just to a 2 night stay at a local dark sky site.

 

Recently we purchase a house that sits (for now) in a yellow to light green zone, and with huge backyard, I'm having a field day! :grin: On a moonless night, I can clearly see the Milky Way, so right now, who needs to travel to a dark site?  Besides, the house purchase has crimped my travel expenses anyway... ;) 

 

So, Ed....I hope that your journey continues and it's really cool that you have TWO scopes....wonder which will get the most use?  Have you considered using this website: http://www.cleardarksky.com/ ?  You can use it to find your city or nearby area and find out what the sky conditions will be for at least two days.  Also, here are two world dark sky atlases that can help you find a darker sky area than where you live:  http://djlorenz.gith...rlay/dark.html  and http://www.lightpoll...ayers=B0TFFFTTT

 

Being that you've been cruising this site for some time, you probably have already seen those sites, but I'll throw them in for the new users that read your article.

 

Thanks for the write up! :waytogo:


 

#10 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 05 August 2015 - 06:02 PM

seawolfe

 

What a wonderful post.  Thanks so much for sharing your journey.

 

My plan had been to use the binoculars till Christmas but I got itchy for a scope.  

 

I have darker sites within 15 minutes of my house but, right now, I am not ready to commit the time to go somewhere to observe.   My sessions are typically 30  to 60 minutes.  Maybe I am taking the trash out and looks up an see stars.  Run for the binoculars before the clouds show up.

 

Maybe I got a notice from Calsky that Wednesday would be good. So I plan for an hour before I go to bed.   But that is about the closest thing I have had to a planned session.  

 

I did sit outside this week and watch the international space station go over.   That was fun.  Tracked it with the 10X50s but even with them it was still just a bright light with a hint of an H shape.

 

But it is all good!


 

#11 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 08 August 2015 - 03:08 PM

Here are the scopes I am working with:

 

Tasco 76 mm/700 mm Newtonian reflector. This is an old scope that was given to me recently.

 

It uses .965 eyepieces on an altaz mount.  Has a 5X targeting scope.    I have a 12.5 mm eyepiece and a 40 mm eyepiece.  Seems to be in good working order.  Stands on a tripod which is a bit wobbly.

 

Meade ETX 80   80 mm/400 mm refractor.

 

This one I purchased.  One of the reasons I purchased this scope is there is no problem using it fully manuall or fully automatic in GoTo mode.  In fact you don't even have to put it on a mount.  You can use it as a tabletop.    Take it out of the box, drop in an eyepiece, find a place to sit it and you can start observing.  Cool!

 

On the mount you can release the alt and the az clutches and you can turn and site it manually.   So, as I get better at star hopping I can practice with either scope.   However I did put it on the mount and the tripod is quite solid.  The scope as the fork is built into the scope not the tripod.  Two quick bolts on the bottom, tightened with finger screws, and you are done.

 

The ETX 80 is much steadier and much easier to site and set to stay in position in daylight.  There is no target scope so you have to site down the barrel.  But the FOV of the ETX, at about the same magnification, is much wider so it is easier to find things.

 

The Meade ETX GoTo feature has an easy alignment process.  It took me longer to get the scope level than it did to go through alignment.   It basically picks two stars, finds them and then asked you to center and confirm.    Once it locks on a star you can hear the motors constantly making minor adjustments to track the star.

  

So, first impressions of the ETX 80 are very positive.  It is exactly what I wanted for my first scope  Might not be right for your first scope.  It is very easy to use and the mount is very solid.  Super easy to transport.  Goto is easy to set up and use.  

 

So now I have two scopes, ready to go!  I will report on them, not so much to suggest you buy them but to use them as a representation of refractor vs. reflector and GoTo vs. manual location of targets.  You may find the observations useful.  

Attached Thumbnails

  • Tasco and Meade Side by side  (640x362).jpg

Edited by aeajr, 08 August 2015 - 05:05 PM.

 

#12 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 09 August 2015 - 11:04 PM

Got the Meade ETX 80 working.  Tonight was all about learning how to align and use the GoTo features.   It took me a couple of tries to get it aligned. Now I can do it in the dark.

 

First goal was to confirm that the stars I thought I knew I did know.  Those were confirmed.  And I finally got to see Saturn.  At 15X it just looked like a star with little definition.  At 40X you could see the rings and the separation from the planet. It was small but it was definitely there.

Tracking - At one point I set it on Deneb then went in the house to get a drink.   After about 10 minutes I went back out and the scope was still tracking Deneb.  Cool!

 

It has a really neat Tour feature.  It formulates a list interesting things in tonight's sky.  It starts with bright items, like Vega and Albiero and works its way to dimmer and dimmer things.   I did not make a list of what it was showing me.  I was not really observing, I would take a look then go to the next item to see if I could see it.  In many cases it was pointing to a part of the sky that was completely blank to me.  There was no hope of star hopping to these items with my binoculars.    Several times I pulled the binoculars out to see if I could see what the scope was showing me using the binoculars, and I could not.

 

It becomes clear, very quickly, why GoTo is such a popular feature.  

 

So far the only negative I can report is that the flip barlow works great BUT you have to do a major refocus when you use it.  And this scope has a very fine adjustment focus mechanism.  That means it moves the focus very slowly.  Flip in the barlow and you will be turning that dial for a while.  Flip it out and again, a long run to get the focus back.  So far it does not seem to be a big issue, but it is worth mentioning.

 

As I use the scope more and settle down to real observations I will report more on the scope.  But, at this point, as a first scope that will help you find things in the sky, I like it.  It is light, inexpensive, and easy to align.  The tripod is very steady.   I have only used it up to about 88 power.  The specs say it will handle over 200X.   That might be great on the moon or planets.  I will see.

 

I am going to enjoy this scope!


 

#13 Ken Sturrock

Ken Sturrock

    Cardinal Ximénez - NO ONE EXPECTS THE SPANISH INQUISITION!

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 8055
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2009

Posted 09 August 2015 - 11:26 PM

The traditional "rule of thumb" is that a telescope can be expected to magnify up to about twice its diameter in millimeters. It is, however, just a rule of thumb.

I'm glad that the telescope is working well for you.
 

#14 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 09 August 2015 - 11:44 PM

Well, the highest magnification eyepiece I have seen for this is about 6 mm.  400/6 = 66X.  With the built in 2X barlow that will take me to 132X which is not bad.   If I were to add a 3X barlow that would take me to 200X. 

 

I can't imagine I would want to even try to go higher than 200X with this scope.  And that would have to be bright objects like the moon, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn.   CA will probably be quite noticeable at that magnification.  But that does not concern me.


Edited by aeajr, 10 August 2015 - 12:00 AM.

 

#15 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 10 August 2015 - 11:27 AM

One more thought.  The impulse to buy things is strong, very strong.   If I spend money good things will come of it.   But will they?

 

That Celestron NexStar 8SEcalls to me even now.  And that Orion XT8 Intelliscope is in my dreams. 

 

More eyepieces for the Meade, barlows and ..... the call is strong. 

 

But I want to try and quiet those and learn with what I have now.  Last night's little tour of the sky showed me that I can see so much with what I have now.  Use the goto to explore.  Learn to star hop. 

 

I have so much to learn and what I have today can teach me what I need to learn without spending a lot more money.  (Well maybe one more eyepiece or a 3X barlow, but that's it.  ;)  )

 

So much sky and so little time.  :)


Edited by aeajr, 10 August 2015 - 11:28 AM.

 

#16 Spacefreak1974

Spacefreak1974

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4451
  • Joined: 09 Aug 2015

Posted 10 August 2015 - 11:32 AM

I've had the bug for a really really long time and have been counselled so many times to do my homework on purchases of any kind. After looking at refractors (120mm+) I was recommended an SCT scope for the portability and light gathering ability, so i began my craigslist search and found a 1990's Meade LX10. Its going to be a project as I have no idea how to align the sucker and make it track and normally i'm pretty scared of technology I think i'll be ok with the journey of figuring everything out. At the end of the day if the drive doesn't end up working properly I still have a manual unit with a lot of light gathering ability that works very well and smooth manually. 


 

#17 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 10 August 2015 - 11:59 AM

How much does it weight? How easily can you set it  up by yourself.  Is this a 10 minute set up or an hour to move it mount it and get it ready to use?

 

Where will you store it?  Will you have to haul it up and down stairs?

 

Does it fit easily in your car for transport?

 

How solid is the mount?  A wobbly mount will ruin the experience of a good telescope.

 

Just things to ask yourself.   Only you can answer them, but be sure you know the answers.


 

#18 Spacefreak1974

Spacefreak1974

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4451
  • Joined: 09 Aug 2015

Posted 10 August 2015 - 12:10 PM

Ed

It is around 10 minutes to get it on the wedge and tighten up the screws. It is a beast by weight though but has a nice handle on the side of the fork and that seems not too bad for transport. I'll probably store it in our basement when not in use. I may keep the tripod in the garage as it doesn't have any electronics, etc. Total weight of scope and tripod is 74 lbs with the OTA and fork being 49lbs so its essentially like carrying one of my kids under my arm! If i'm camping and have a decent campsite with open skies and a picnic table I dont need the tripod as the motor and form mount sits nicely and balanced  by itself (similar to a larger version of an ETX-80 without the forks).

 

We drive a Subaru Outback so not difficult to haul. When I take it camping in our popup I will probably get a rubbermaid tote and wrap the scope and fork mount in memory foam and put inside the camper.

 

The mount is super solid with steel legs over 2" diameter

 

If camping with it becomes too cumbersome i'll find an ETX like yours and just keep in the camper. If we take any more long popup road trips I may not have room for it and may need to go that route! Thanks for setting up this thread. Hopefully we can learn this stuff together!

 

Jon


 

#19 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 10 August 2015 - 01:36 PM

If your garage is dry and is not an oven, you might consider storing the OTA there on a shelf, in a safe place.   if nothing else this would likely shorten any cool down/warm up period and get you to viewing faster.   Might also avoid dew/condensation issues from bringing a cool scope into warm air in the summer.  

 

Right now I plan to store the Meade ETX 80 in the garage.  No cool down issues but hauling even this light weight set up from the basement would represent some degree of inconvenience that I want to avoid.  And from my other hobby, model airplanes, I have learned that I do more damage to them getting them in and out of the house than from flying them.


Edited by aeajr, 10 August 2015 - 02:26 PM.

 

#20 Spacefreak1974

Spacefreak1974

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4451
  • Joined: 09 Aug 2015

Posted 10 August 2015 - 03:05 PM

God idea Ed. Maybe i'l build a good shelf for the scope. We don't have a lot of room in the garage though as its a one-car garage currently housing our popup camper. 


 

#21 Hawker

Hawker

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • Posts: 10
  • Joined: 14 Jul 2015

Posted 10 August 2015 - 08:49 PM

This has been a great thread.  As a newbie I've learned quite a bit just by reading it.

Ed, thanks for your initial post and follow ups and thanks others

for your instructive contributions.


Edited by Hawker, 13 August 2015 - 12:03 PM.

 

#22 gnowellsct

gnowellsct

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 15965
  • Joined: 24 Jun 2009

Posted 10 August 2015 - 10:16 PM

Some nice topics in this thread and in OP, which does however repeat the tired cliche that people with go-to never learn the sky.   It is also false that you never learn routes if you have a GPS.   In fact with an automated scope showing you constellations it can be easier to learn the sky, and many go-to systems require bright star modeling inputs which become the foundation for learning a bunch of star names and constellations.

 

I would add two things seldom discussed.

 

1.  It's best to think about astronomy as similar to bowling, that is, financially.  It's true that you are getting a scope but sometimes the purpose of a scope is to take you to a different scope, once you've learned the limitations of the first.  The parallel with bowling is that bowling is something that requires a monthly budget (and initial outlay if you're going to have your own shoes and bowling ball).    Astronomy is most rewarding if the expectation that there is a fist time expense and then it's all done is put to one side.  There is an initial expense and then the need for a budget as part of the hobby is planning around upgrades and new gear.   The difference is that most of the bowling budget is money gone forever whereas much of the outlay on astronomy gear can be recovered to help finance changes in direction, equipment wise.

 

2.  It's OK to think of Dobs as Newtonians.  John Dobson's schtick was making Newtonians available cheap.  He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. Alt-az mounts for SCTs are called fork mounted SCTs and sometimes they become equatorial if you tilt them by putting them on a wedge.  In any case the hobby is quite clear on what Dobs are and other alt-az telescopes and mounts get appropriate designations.  No one is going to think that a fork mounted SCT in alt-az configuration is a dob, even though when you look at them, it is clear that mechanical principle of the alt-az SCT fork is identical to a Dobsonian rocker box.  A refractor on a discmount is in altaz mode but it's not a dobson and neither is a refractor on a gibraltar mount where the dob rockerbox, so to speak, is, as with fork mounted SCTs, elevated on a tripod.  A dob is in fact a combined mount-scope type.

 

What is certainly incorrect however is to think of all Newtonians as Dobs, and making that mistake is a big one, especially given the long running historical tradition of mounting Newtonians on german equatorials.  (And not all equatorials are German).

 

In any case OP has distilled a great deal of information into a single post and I certainly hope that people get *some kind of scope* and throw themselves in and learn!  Greg N


 

#23 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 10 August 2015 - 10:31 PM

Thanks for your valuable input Greg.  Much appreciated.'

 

I do have to comment  on a couple of items to be sure that I am not confused.

 

The only type of scope I have ever seen in a Dobsonian mount is a Newtonian reflector.  Are there other types of scopes sold in Dobsonian mounts?  If so, can you provide an example?

 

I agree that you can mount Newtonian reflectors on other kinds of  mounts and never meant to suggest otherwise.  In fact I own a Newtonian scope that is not in a Dobsonian mount.

 

I also agree that having a GoTo does not mean you can't use it to learn the sky or how to star hop.  In fact it is my intention to learn both.  

 

My point was that there are those who feel having this aid will reduce your incentive to learn the sky and how to star hop.  Whether you do learn these skills is up to you. 


Edited by aeajr, 10 August 2015 - 10:39 PM.

 

#24 Spacefreak1974

Spacefreak1974

    Skylab

  • *****
  • Posts: 4451
  • Joined: 09 Aug 2015

Posted 10 August 2015 - 11:14 PM

On the subject of learning the sky I've been using Google Skymap. Unfortunately I got my expectations raised beyond actuality and while cruising the sky using Skymap I saw Saturn just above Libra I the South sky on my phone, so I thought hmm lets bring the new to me 8"SCT out on the deck to see if I could zero in to Saturn. I thought I found it, but with a light polluted sky and a cheap 12.5mm eyepiece all I could see is a blur with what I thought was a glow around it. It may have not even been Saturn? Maybe I should have used a filter or maybe a different eyepiece. What I think would go a long way for me is seeing an experienced astronomer use my scope and show me what it can do. I don't think that's taking the easy way out...I just want to see it done one time, i.e. Either Saturn or the Horsehead Nebula would do. Do you know what I mean? Kinda like if I bought a new Corvette and only drove it under 70 mph because I was scared of it and I asked Mario Andretti to drive my car and I ride along. Seeing Mario show me what the car could do would do a lot for confidence. Maybe this is what I'll find with the local Astronomical Society?


 

#25 aeajr

aeajr

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 12878
  • Joined: 26 Jun 2015

Posted 11 August 2015 - 04:06 AM

I would highly encourage you to visit the local Astronomical Society.  I am very much a club kind of guy.  There is absolutely no substitute for the experience and insight of others.  Even a GoTo scope that can find anything for me will not replace the value of the shared experience of a club.

 

I have visited with one club during a club observation night.  20+ telescopes of all shapes and sizes.  I got to look at and through 12 very different scopes and 2 different types of binoculars.  I got to speak to a variety of people both new and very experienced.   I saw GoTo demonstrated and I saw one member who could swing that 10" dobsonian around the sky and find almost anything on demand. And I got a lot of excellent advice on telescopes.   I brought my binoculars and my old Sears 60 mm telescope which I confirmed was not going to be useful during my journey to the stars.

 

It was partially on what I learned that night that I decided to go with the Meade ETX 80 rather than an 8" Dobsonian or a Celestron NexStar 8SE for my first telescope.

 

I plan to visit with another club in my area during one of their observation nights.  This time I will show up with my binoculars, my Meade ETX 80 and my Tasco 76 mm Newtonian and ask for help in using them.   

 

Should I find I am going to continue in astronomy I will definitely join at least one of these clubs.


 


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics