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Beginner Setup... What's missing?

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#1 OutThere

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:26 AM

Hello "Nightonians",

 

Where to Start... Ok, as some already know I am new to this hobby. I have tried to set myself up with a quality "Starter Kit", one that I can also grow with. So far my setup includes: Zhumell Z8, Baader Hyperion Mark IV Zoom, Zhumell 2x Barlow, Telrad, accessory case, planisphere, Turn Left at Orion (book), and small red flashlight.

 

...I just recently received (previously back ordered) what I thought would complete my entry package, an 8" solar filter made by Orion. Unfortunately, I have discovered it is not compatible with my Z8 (will not fit).

 

...Now the question is do I return the filter for another useful item, or can someone recommend a filter that will actually fit the Z8?...

 

Any suggestions?... Is a solar filter worth the investment early on?... Is there a more usual item I should be considering when starting out?...

 

I am simply trying to make the most out of this mishap and turn it around for the positive.

 

Thank you!



#2 Diana N

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:38 AM

I don't see any mention of an adjustable stool/observer's chair, star charts (either old-fashioned paper such as Sky Atlas 2000 or electronic tablet/laptop versions) or a small fold-up table to put accessories on.  I'd get those before buying a solar filter.  (And if you can't get a premodern filter for your Z8, making one yourself is an easy project.)


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#3 Spockk

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 01:44 AM

First when you say "I am simply trying to make the most out of this mishap and turn it around for the positive." What are you referring to?

I dont see any laser colimator? I am assuming you have this?

Also I would highly consider some quality binoculars, made for astronomy. I have some cheaper Celestron 15x70s I enjoy. I find the wide field of view very helpful for finding objects, and its also nice to have if the conditions arent that great, or its pretty cloudy and you just want a quick look. I use my 15x70s for birdwatching and while heavy, I think they are pretty good for this even.

I find binoculars also helpful, for when I am trying to find a object and may not see some stars near by a object with the naked eye, but the binoculars can give me a better idea if im looking at a specific arrangement of brighter stars that may be "near" a object.



#4 DLuders

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 03:46 AM

Which Orion solar filter on http://www.telescope...63/p/101909.uts did you order exactly?  What is the Item Number?  When you say it "doesn't fit", is it too small, too big, can't provide a tight "snap fit", or what?

 

I have a slightly-oversized (6") solar filter that I just tape onto my 5" Maksutov-Cassegrain Telescope (MCT) -- it works fine even though it "doesn't fit".


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#5 Jeff Struve

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 06:18 AM

Yep...

  • an adjustable astronomy chair
  • laser columator
  • some sort of dew control... mirror fan... hair dryer...
  • send the zhumel barlow back... if you MUST have a barlow, get the one dedicated to the Baader zoom 
  • red head lamp
  • agreed... if the solar filter is slightly too big, it should work... ask the vednor of the scope what solar filter to get
  • variable polarizer filter (for moon)
  • I use a laptop ALL of the time... planetarium program and other electronics for other mounts... if you do too, a tent for the laptop, red LED goose neck lights if the keyboard is not lighted 
  • Pocket Sky Atlas is nice even if you use a laptop
  • Small table
  • ThermaCell for bugs


#6 Mike W.

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 06:21 AM

thermos for coffee?


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#7 leveye

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 06:22 AM

Always a good Idea to ask questions first and then buy. A laser collimator is a great suggestion here. Hotech 2" works the best for me.



#8 hollandj

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 06:27 AM

The Zhumell Z8 was my first scope.  Paired with an Explore Scientific 24mm, 82 degree eyepiece, it offered some fantastic views.  You are going to have some serious fun!


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#9 Jim Nelson

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:00 AM

Hello "Nightonians",

 

Where to Start... Ok, as some already know I am new to this hobby. I have tried to set myself up with a quality "Starter Kit", one that I can also grow with. So far my setup includes: Zhumell Z8, Baader Hyperion Mark IV Zoom, Zhumell 2x Barlow, Telrad, accessory case, planisphere, Turn Left at Orion (book), and small red flashlight.

 

...I just recently received (previously back ordered) what I thought would complete my entry package, an 8" solar filter made by Orion. Unfortunately, I have discovered it is not compatible with my Z8 (will not fit).

 

...Now the question is do I return the filter for another useful item, or can someone recommend a filter that will actually fit the Z8?...

 

Any suggestions?... Is a solar filter worth the investment early on?... Is there a more usual item I should be considering when starting out?...

 

I am simply trying to make the most out of this mishap and turn it around for the positive.

 

Thank you!

The best thing is to just get under the stars. You'll figure out what you're missing soon enough. I'll guess a chair and something like the Pocket Sky Atlas will be the first things. The chair/stool needn't be an "observing chair",  maybe start with something you have around already, but adjustable height is a good thing. 


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#10 Jim Nelson

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:05 AM

And, oh yeah - as long as the solar filter isn't too small to fit the tube diameter, you can make it work. If it's too small, well...measure the outer diameter and get thee to Kendrick Solar Filters; their "Visual Solar Filters with Solar Finder" are what I would recommend. You can also save money by just getting the sheets of Baader solar film and rigging something up (this isn't a precise operation at all), but I do really like my pre-made filter with attached solar finder.



#11 macdonjh

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:21 AM

If you are really interested in seeing the Sun, then you should get a solar filter that fits.  That said, the others are correct, there is nothing dangerous about having a solar filter that's too big as long as you secure it well.  Orion tells you on their website what the ID of each of their solar filters is, so take a measurement of your scope and return the filter you have for a different one if you want.

 

I agree with the other posters who have recommended a chair or stool and a laser collimator.  The stool will make you much more comfortable while you're engrossed with the universe.  The laser collimator will make the necessary task of keeping your optics aligned a two minute process.

 

My guess is you have pretty good skies in Oregon.  If so, I'd recommend a shorter focal length eye piece.  You zoom will give you 150x at the 8mm setting, which is great for deep sky on good nights.  However, for double stars, lunar, planetary, and small deep sky objects, you may find you want more magnification.  I would consider a 4mm eye piece for 300x, which is a magnification I find useful several times a year.  I personally don't like Barlows, so I'd trade the Barlow you have for a short focal length eye piece.  Of course, this purchase should wait awhile until you've decided whether or not you like the magnification range offered by the zoom you already have. 



#12 wrvond

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:52 AM

Hello "Nightonians",

 

Where to Start... Ok, as some already know I am new to this hobby. I have tried to set myself up with a quality "Starter Kit", one that I can also grow with. So far my setup includes: Zhumell Z8, Baader Hyperion Mark IV Zoom, Zhumell 2x Barlow, Telrad, accessory case, planisphere, Turn Left at Orion (book), and small red flashlight.

 

...I just recently received (previously back ordered) what I thought would complete my entry package, an 8" solar filter made by Orion. Unfortunately, I have discovered it is not compatible with my Z8 (will not fit).

 

...Now the question is do I return the filter for another useful item, or can someone recommend a filter that will actually fit the Z8?...

 

Any suggestions?... Is a solar filter worth the investment early on?... Is there a more usual item I should be considering when starting out?...

 

I am simply trying to make the most out of this mishap and turn it around for the positive.

 

Thank you!

My personal opinion is that a white light filter for reflectors is only useful for observing solar eclipses. With this scope and filter you are only going to see sun spots. You won't be able to see any surface texture at all, and you are not going to see any ejecta such as flares or coronal mass ejections. Honestly, you can only look at small black dots on a big orange disc while getting one side of your face sunburned for so long before it gets really boring. Much better to save your money and buy a refractor specially designed for solar observing. Again, just my opinion based on my own experiences.

A good observing chair is going to improve your views more than any other accessory. You can build a very simple and effective Denver chair using a couple 2x4's, some plywood, and some hardware.

You could install a cooling fan, especially if you get one out of a computer. However, your mirror is small enough that a fan is going to be of limited value. There's something to be said for not having to worry about electricity or batteries.

A laser collimator is a handy tool. I'll admit that I can't collimate my scope worth a darn without one. But for most folks it is not necessary. A Cheshire collimating eyepiece from Agena Astro is an inexpensive alternative.

A right angle correct image illuminated reticle finder, coupled with Sky Safari Plus will go a very long way in enhancing your enjoyment of the night skies. I can't recommend that combination enough.



#13 Phil Sherman

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 07:54 AM

The solution I adopted to secure loose items to the front of a scope is to use "decorator velcro". This product has one side with a sticky back, the other intended to be sewn to something. Three pieces spaced around the tube will secure anything without fears of it coming off.



#14 Mike W.

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 09:59 AM

I agree with wrvond, no need for the solar filter at all, big orange/white ball and a few black spots.

Laser collimator is next on your list.



#15 Jeff Struve

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 10:07 AM

I dunno... for as inexpensive as the white light filters are... especially if you make one... I think it's cool to periodically check out sun spots... gives you some astro time during the day... handy for outreach while the sun is up... probably not the highest of priority...


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#16 OutThere

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 10:49 AM

Thank for the replies Everyone!

Sorry I did not make this clear earlier, the Zhumell Z8 comes already packaged with a laser collimator, 8x50 right angle finder scope,  attached cooling fan, and moon filter (non-variable). Zhumell also throws in a couple EP's: A 30mm 2" and 9mm 1.25" (plossl's I believe). These along with my Baa

der Hyperion zoom and Barlow should satisfy my viewing experience for sometime.

So the above takes care of some of the recommendations... and yes, a laser collimator is well worth having in my opinion!

On to some of the other comments:

As for why I mentioned turning a mishap into a positive, for 1) as Leveye mentioned I failed to ask about the solar filter prior to purchasing, which in my opinion is sound advice, and 2) I want to try to recoup some of the money in exchange for an item that would actually be usual to me (perhaps the solar filter is not ideal at this time?)..

What is making the filter not fit are the 8 individual compression locking tabs on the Orion filter (Safety Solar Filter for 8" - Order# 07749), I can pinch them in enough to get the filter started but where it rests still leaves a good 1/4" or more protruding from telescope's end. Not being secured and the fact that the filter is made of compression tabs, even a slight bump (I will usually grab near the top to reposition Dobsonian) could cause the filter to "Jump", not just fall off.... I do like Phil Sherman's idea of using Velcro (will keep this in mind), however, not sure I am willing to go this route for such a new item...

Other suggestions I am certainly considering: Observation chair, Star Charts... Any specific suggestions?... Pocket Sky Atlas?... Star Safari Plus, is this a type of star chart?..

Also, would it really be worth upgrading to the Baader zoom specific Barlow, rather than keep and use the one I already have (2" Zhumell 2x Barlow w/1.25" adapter)?..

Other items occupying my mind:

- What about "Flocking" a Newtonian (Dobsonian)?... worth it, not worth it?...

- "Bob's Knobs" or similar type thumb screws for secondary mirror?... (primary already has this type feature).

Oh, and I think I already have the small table covered, actually a small collapsible step stool that should work for now.

Anything else someone can think of for a beginner?...

Again, thank you!



#17 Jeff Struve

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 11:21 AM

  • To me... a solar filter... even just a white light one effectively doubles the amount of viewing time you have... even if just to better learn your scope... there is no concern as to light pollution, so no driving time to a dark site... to me there seems to be more clear skies during the day than at night... gives you something to do during the day at star parties, and when you get to the dark site early... cool for outreach as everyone knows, you don't look at the sun, so they don't get the safe opportunity to do so... solar filters are inexpensive. 
  • Pocket Sky Atlas is a standard... must have... I have one, never used it, will never get rid of it... I like Stellarium much better than Sky Safari... especially for the Ocular functionality, the GUI, and the scope control via EQMOD and ASCOM 
  • I don't like Barlows, especially inexpensive ones, and more so for a Dob... they add extra weight to a gravity balanced mount... they end up making a long optical chain... If you must have one, the one made for your Baader zoom (I don't like zooms either, but you've got the best one IMO (I use one for outreach), the Baader Barlow is the same quality as your eyepiece... and it is small, does not add much weight or length... 
  • I can't say much about flocking as my Dob is a truss
  • Bob's knobs... I want them, but they seem too pricey for 3 bolts...


#18 Diana N

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 11:47 AM

Other suggestions I am certainly considering: Observation chair, Star Charts... Any specific suggestions?... Pocket Sky Atlas?... Star Safari Plus, is this a type of star chart?..

Sky Safari Plus is a computerized star chart; you run it on your laptop or your tablet device.  There's a Great Divide between amateur astronomers these days:  those who prefer computerized star charts (up to and including computerized control of the scope), and those who prefer the old-fashioned paper sort.  I'm on the old-fashioned side of the divide, so I can't help you much with astronomical computer/tablet program suggestions.  But if you like paper, I'll second the recommendation for the Sky Publishing Company's Pocket Sky Atlas.  (Honestly, I think everyone should have one of those; it's small, lightweight, provides plenty of detail for star-hopping, and unlike a computer it never, ever crashes.)  My workhouse atlas, though, is the laminated edition of Sky Atlas 2000.0.  It provides more than enough detail for a smaller scope like an 8" Dob, and the laminated pages render it impervious to dew (or spilled beverages). It's big, though, so you'll want a table to place it on.

 

Oh, and another suggestion:  get a Telrad to complement your 8 x 50 finderscope.  You won't regret it!  A Telrad makes starhopping much easier.


Edited by Diana N, 14 September 2017 - 11:49 AM.

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#19 OutThere

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:28 PM

Thanks Jeff and Diana,

 

Looks like I will be ordering the Pocket Sky Atlas, though the full sized Sky Atlas 2000 sounds attempting too.... are they both laminated/weather proof?... I'll do some searching on this.

 

Thanks again!



#20 OutThere

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 12:31 PM

Also, I do have a Telrad... made sure to get one in the beginning since so many recommend.



#21 NiteGuy

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 01:06 PM

I second many of the great suggestions here...Telrad (you already have that!)...Pocket Sky Atlas or any good paper atlas (easier to protect your night vision...unless you have "go-to", only use your smart phone or tablet for "info" or transit times, etc.), Binoculars (yes!)...Observing table and chair (yes!).

 

Some of my suggestions...make sure your laser collimater is "collimated" so you can trust it (lots of info here on CN)...a barlow that does not degrade the image (any TeleVue visual barlow, 2" 2x or 1.25" 2.5x or Antares 2" 1.6x), a good, fun, wide-field low power eyepiece (ES 24 68deg for 1.25" focusers and ES 28 68deg or ES 24 82deg for 2" focusers), a good nebular filter (DGM Optics NPB or Lumicon UHC are excellent choices). Save $$$ and buy used from reliable sources.

 

And your solar filter? Useful and great fun for letting friends view something during the day at those summer BBQ's but summer's almost over. Yes, you can spend money like a drunken sailor on all this stuff but, hey, that's part of what makes this hobby so much fun!


Edited by NiteGuy, 14 September 2017 - 01:07 PM.

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#22 paul m schofield

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 02:59 PM

Flocking the tube interior on the other side of the focuser helps as well as the bottom third of the tube in front of the mirror. If you're really ambitious you can do the whole inside of the tube.

Make or buy a light/dew shield for the front of the tube and flock it, too. It should stick out the front the same distance as the tube diameter. This really helps extraneous light from leaking in the edges.

When you're done look down the tube in the daytime with the bottom cap on. Look through the focuser. If you see anything shiny at all paint it flat black or flock it. You should only see the mirror at the bottom surrounded by blackness.

These are all incremental steps but added together they will give you measurably better contrast. Finally, when you are observing, wear a hood or cape over your head (if it's not too hot) to block out any side lights. It is amazing how much more you will see.

Above all else, get your scope out and use it. Learn to "see". It takes time and effort.
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#23 SteveG

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 04:16 PM

I've purchased a couple of solar filters over the years, but they are my least used accessories.

 

I too recommend an adjustable height observing chair. Look up either Starbound, or Stardust chairs ( both very popular).

 

Your Barlow is just fine. Get some viewing experience and decide later on new, better eyepieces and barlows.

 

The Pocket Sky Atlas is excellent. I use mine exclusively even though I have much more expensive, large format charts. The Pocket atlas does not fit in your pocket BTW. Each page is about 6" wide by 10" tall. It is very easy to use this hand held chart in the field. I'm guessing it is the most popular atlas used.



#24 Spockk

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 05:29 PM

When I asked about a solar filter before the eclipse for my dob, I had enough "not really worth it" to convince me. I would like to solar observe but I have heard, could be wrong, that quality solar observing is in the morning or evening. I think someone said something about the suns heat causing big atmospheric disturbance? I also heard I would need to reduce the aperture.
The Lunt solar telescopes look pretty sweet but they are gonna cost you.

#25 vtornado

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 09:48 PM

As others have mentioned, you will have to collimate this.  The Zhummel comes with a laser collimator.

Check the collimation of the collimator. If it needs it, adjust it the best you can.   it does not have to be perfect.

I think the zhumell has adjustment screws.  If you can't see them they are underneath a label that you can peel off.

 

Low cost laser collimators work best with the barlowed laser technique.  Search for that here.

 

You have a really nice starter setup.   Just get it out and see what it can do.  After observing a while you

will find a few holes in your equipment, and you can fill those in as time goes on.

 

Enjoy!


Edited by vtornado, 15 September 2017 - 10:50 AM.

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