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I'm Going To Take The Plunge - Advice On First SCT

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#1 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 04:49 PM

I know, this is a typical newbie posting, but I've been lurking long enough and I'd appreciate some advice. My wife and I have begun our astronomy hobby by stargazing with binoculors, a planisphere, some guide books, and a copy of StarryNight on our computer. But after being spoiled at an all night observation session at Kitt Peak Saturday (using their 20" and 16" CATs and Naglers) - my Christmas present - and seeing a 2 moon transit in Saturn and numerous other wondrous sights, we're getting set to take a serious plunge. I've budgeted approx. $3,000 (the price of my first car, ouch) and I'm considering purchasing the following:

Celestron Nexstar GPS 8" SCT (includes 40 Plossl)- $2,325
Celestron Power Tank - $70
Celestron Hard Lens Shade - $35
TV Nagler Type 6 13mm / 1 1/4" - $280
TV Nagler Type 6 9mm / 1 1/4" - $280
TV Barlow Powermate 2.5X 1 1/4" - $190

Total (w/o tax): $3,180.00

As newbies, while we know we would be advised to learn the night sky, the ease of the GPS system in setting up and the speed of GoTo are hard to resist. We're interested in planetary viewing as well as deep space objects so a telescope for general night time visual use is a must (we're not contemplating astrophotography at this point, but will consider it in the future). It is also important that the telescope be transportable (for star parties and to lug to Northern NM by car for viewing in the clear mountain skies). We live in the NE part of Phoenix metro, so there's light pollution (as well as other kinds), but not so much as in PX.

Given the foregoing, what do you think of our choices, do you recommend any changes, and is there anything I've forgotten? :question:

#2 Don W

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 04:56 PM

Bah, the old saw about 'learning the sky' first is really getting old. It's like using a TV without a remote or buying a car with a standard transmission. Go ahead, get a GOTO and have fun. I have the NX11GPS and am very happy with it. The 8" will be just fine.

#3 Suk Lee

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 04:59 PM

Bah, the old saw about 'learning the sky' first is really getting old.


I agree. Personal elective time is in short supply these days - make use of it as you want!

Suk

#4 jrcrilly

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 05:06 PM

Yes, the 8" Nexstar GPS is wonderful portable instrument. I'd probably redistribute the eyepiece money.

You won't need the 2.5X with the eyepieces you list so that'll save $190. A 2000mm SCT deserves an excellent 20mm EP so that's where I'd put the first premium unit. How about a 19mm or 24mm Panoptic instead of the Powermate? Only a little more and you'll probably use it more than any of the others.

The rigid plastic dewshield looks very nice but isn't a good performer; one of the soft ones you Velcro together is more trouble but works better at about the same cost.

One other thing you might consider is an observing chair.

#5 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 05:12 PM

You can get a NS 8 GPs with XLT for $2124 and $50 shipping at astronomics.com right now. They only have a few left. I just grabbed one. You can get it if you don't care about the NexRemote software. Grab it, grab it now! ;)

I got a GoTo a few years ago as a first scope. "Learn the sky first?" Heck, it's like having a little robotic astronomer pointing things out and explaining them to you - you learn that way too. My GoTo has shown me where many, many things are and I can now just look. (My wife keeps saying, "They (the stars) don't look like anything!" (constellations that is)).

#6 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 05:25 PM

Good advice John:

"I'd probably redistribute the eyepiece money." I thought that my choice of the Powermate might leave the gap you pointed out. So I'll take a look at the 19mm or 24mm Panoptic instead of the Powermate.

"The rigid plastic dewshield looks very nice but isn't a good performer; one of the soft ones you Velcro together is more trouble but works better at about the same cost." I'll check one of those out - I think Celestron makes one.

"One other thing you might consider is an observing chair." I've got a card table chair that I thought I'd start with. I need to check out several observing chairs - the snazzy one they had at Kitt Peak wasn't viewed favorably - they said it kept collapsing - so they went the card table chair route.

Thanks for the advice!!

#7 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 05:29 PM

"Bah, the old saw about 'learning the sky' first is really getting old." Don, Suk and Astromacus - I'm not surprised, I guess, to find out that the people on this board aren't Luddites. Technology such as GPS and GoTo just seems to me to make the whole experience more pleasurable, less frustrating, and efficient. Thanks.

#8 matt

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 05:38 PM

If it were me, on that budget, I'd take the Nexstar 8 "classic", non-GPS, and use the 600-ish leftover dollars on a couple panoptics.

I would also leave the Powermate aside. It has already 2000mm of focal length.

Have you experienced the eyepieces you think of buying yourself? (edit - I see you did) Have you tried 'alternative' high end styles like Orthos or Radians?

#9 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 05:44 PM

Have you experienced the eyepieces you think of buying yourself? (edit - I see you did) Have you tried 'alternative' high end styles like Orthos or Radians?


I haven't, and I guess I should try them out - I've just read reviews and become excited about the Naglers. But before I buy I'll go to a local star party and see what I can try out.

#10 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 09:26 PM

"Celestron Power Tank - $70"

This unit I saw had a 7 amp hour battery. For the same price, I got a similar type unit from Canadian Tire, but with 18 amp hours. It has no lamps, does have a circuit breaker, one cigarette lighter plug and LEDs that show battery status and for charging. You might check out an automotive supply place and see if you can get more amp hours per $.

#11 Rusty

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 10:02 PM

"Bah, the old saw about 'learning the sky' first is really getting old." Don, Suk and Astromacus - I'm not surprised, I guess, to find out that the people on this board aren't Luddites. Technology such as GPS and GoTo just seems to me to make the whole experience more pleasurable, less frustrating, and efficient. Thanks.


There's something to be said for those who insist on everyone learning the sky (translation: "I don't like GOTO, microwave ovens, CDs, or electricity for that matter" :grin:). I started with a 4" reflector that saw first light the night the Andrea Doria sank - that's over 50 years ago. The experience from that and being a ship's navigator (celestial - GPS hadn't been invented, and LORAN A wasn't accurate nor dependable enough), gave me a fairly thorough knowledge of the celestial sphere.

With age is supposed to come patience, but I find that GOTO makes the observing experience far more enjoyable, mainly because now when I set up the scope (at our club's dark sky sites - my place, while enjoying dark skies, is also overgrown with trees...), I want to see stuff not hunt for it...and I don't want to relearn everything I've forgotten over the years.

#12 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 10:47 PM

Quote:

"Bah, the old saw about 'learning the sky' first is really getting old." Don, Suk and Astromacus - I'm not surprised, I guess, to find out that the people on this board aren't Luddites. Technology such as GPS and GoTo just seems to me to make the whole experience more pleasurable, less frustrating, and efficient. Thanks."

Amen to that. I just bought my first scope. I do not think that I would have bought it if it were not for the GOTO, computerized tracking for photography and the other high tech wiz bangs that go with it.

Rusty; I was also a navigator and I to have no desire to relearn stuff I last used in 1968.

At any rate, I think that I will learn the sky faster with a Laptop, Starry Night and a GoTo scope than with a sky chart and setting circles. :bangbangbang: I'll certainly have more fun doing it.:jump:

#13 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 10:47 PM

No, no Luddite here!!

I just had to respond because I love it when people use that word. I haven't gone on rampages, railed against the how technology destroys virtue and community... and so on... for at least, oh, a week now. I have views on technology in general published and I can give links, for a sort of side-bar.

When I ordered my GPs today I got the Astrozap plastic dew shield. sounds much better - velvet lining, plastic snug against from of scope.

But I am serious about astronomics, unless I bought the last one. :) It's just dealer cost I have heard, because Meade raised prices. I would be wrong.

#14 Oldfield

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 11:00 PM

If you're not going for 2" diagonal/eyepiece, you better add a f/6.3 reducer in your list.

#15 Dennis

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 11:21 PM

Great advice above. GPS is a great tool. You'll certainly learn the skies if you construct a viewing list, in advance, for each evening from your charts. GPS simply eliminates hunting, and increased the number of targets you can see. A wide angle, as John suggests, should be your first. It will be your most used EP, as you'll start every sesion with it. Go for a PanOptic. You'll love it. For planet viewing, consider an Ortho with less elements and about 150x for starters. These two will get you started nicely.
Keep us posted!

#16 StarWars

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 02:41 AM

I know, this is a typical newbie posting, but I've been lurking long enough and I'd appreciate some advice. My wife and I have begun our astronomy hobby by stargazing with binoculors, a planisphere, some guide books, and a copy of StarryNight on our computer. But after being spoiled at an all night observation session at Kitt Peak Saturday (using their 20" and 16" CATs and Naglers) - my Christmas present - and seeing a 2 moon transit in Saturn and numerous other wondrous sights, we're getting set to take a serious plunge. I've budgeted approx. $3,000 (the price of my first car, ouch) and I'm considering purchasing the following:

Celestron Nexstar GPS 8" SCT (includes 40 Plossl)- $2,325
Celestron Power Tank - $70
Celestron Hard Lens Shade - $35
TV Nagler Type 6 13mm / 1 1/4" - $280
TV Nagler Type 6 9mm / 1 1/4" - $280
TV Barlow Powermate 2.5X 1 1/4" - $190

Total (w/o tax): $3,180.00

As newbies, while we know we would be advised to learn the night sky, the ease of the GPS system in setting up and the speed of GoTo are hard to resist. We're interested in planetary viewing as well as deep space objects so a telescope for general night time visual use is a must (we're not contemplating astrophotography at this point, but will consider it in the future). It is also important that the telescope be transportable (for star parties and to lug to Northern NM by car for viewing in the clear mountain skies). We live in the NE part of Phoenix metro, so there's light pollution (as well as other kinds), but not so much as in PX.

Given the foregoing, what do you think of our choices, do you recommend any changes, and is there anything I've forgotten? :question:




Great list the only change I would make if I had a budget of $3000 would be the scope.


http://www.astronomi...=1&sku=ASC8&op=

#17 werewolf6977

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 07:57 AM

Goto is a GREAT idea! I have a "slew and view"™no, just kidding about ™ scope. I also have my Classic N8 tht I use when I want to get some serious observing done. It's great for nailing those dim fuzzies that I CAN'T see with my 9X50 spotter, especially when I'm too frazzed to star-hop. Good choice ChrisAz. Pete

#18 Bob Pasken

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 10:21 AM

If you are going to take the plunge please return it to the where you found it. I don't want to chase after you when things get stoppped up.

#19 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 11:04 AM

For the Powertank, check out Walmart. I bought a "Powertank" there -- 19 amp-hr, two cigarette lighter outlets, built in charger (no separate charger that you can loose), and leds for charge condition -- for ~$70. No lightes, however.

#20 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 03:25 PM

If you're not going for 2" diagonal/eyepiece, you better add a f/6.3 reducer in your list.


First of all, let me compliment all of you on your quick and thoughtful responses (even the puns), it really helps a newbie like me out. :bow: I'm definitely going to follow up on the eyepiece and powertank suggestions and appreciate the advice on a good deal on the scope (I was quoting a price for an XLT, so the price suggested is terrific).

The post quoted above raises another question. I've been told by a local dealer that I can order the scope with a 2" diagonal rather than a 1 1/4" for no extra charge. Given that, and I assume a somewhat higher cost on similar quality eyepieces, do you all recommend that I go the 2" route rather than the 1 1/4"? :question: Thanks again in advance for your replies.

#21 LivingNDixie

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 05:46 PM

If you are going to take the plunge please return it to the where you found it. I don't want to chase after you when things get stoppped up.



Thats freaking too funny!!!!!!!!

#22 Oldfield

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Posted 24 March 2004 - 08:27 PM

A reducer will also flatten the field, plus giving the possibility for a faster scope when you go imaging, and it's also cheaper.

Mechanically, you will see 2" is better and stronger, say if you go for a binoviewer later, 2" would be better.

BTW, I've both the reducer plus a 2" diagonal, for different purpose.

#23 DavidY

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 12:16 PM

The post quoted above raises another question. I've been told by a local dealer that I can order the scope with a 2" diagonal rather than a 1 1/4" for no extra charge. Given that, and I assume a somewhat higher cost on similar quality eyepieces, do you all recommend that I go the 2" route rather than the 1 1/4"?


THis must be why I got the 2"diagonal instead of the 1.25 on my new Nexstar. I was suprised and thought I had a deal but they are giving them away :D I think that it is a "better" way to go because you do get to still use 1.25" eyepieces with the adapter and then get to use 2" eyepieces by removing the adapter (very easy to do). IF you get the 1.25 diagonal, WHEN you get a two inch eyepiece, you have to shower more gifts on the Nexstar.

David

#24 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 12:51 PM

This must be why I got the 2"diagonal instead of the 1.25 on my new Nexstar. I was suprised and thought I had a deal but they are giving them away :D I think that it is a "better" way to go because you do get to still use 1.25" eyepieces with the adapter and then get to use 2" eyepieces by removing the adapter (very easy to do). IF you get the 1.25 diagonal, WHEN you get a two inch eyepiece, you have to shower more gifts on the Nexstar.

David


Cool - this way I get, in essence, two for one. I was told by the dealer that these scopes were coming through with a 2" diagonal as well. :jump:

#25 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 25 March 2004 - 01:02 PM

OK, here's where the bidding stands after receiving all of your advice:

Celestron Nexstar GPS 8" SCT XLT with 2" diagonal - $2,325
Celestron Power Tank (or similar auto store version with longer battery life) - $70
Astrozap Flexible Dew Cap - $40 (Astronomics.com #1958G)
TV Panoptic 24mm / 1 1/4" - $295
TV Nagler Type 6 13mm / 1 1/4" - $280
TV Nagler Type 6 9mm / 1 1/4" - $280

Total (w/o tax): $3,290.00

I've slightly gone over my budget, but my wife did not have a grabber when I told her the total (w/out tax), so I guess I'm ok. Now I have to go to a star party, try to check out some alternatives (such as the orthos mentioned in prior posts), and dust off that credit card. Thanks to all of you for your advice.


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