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#1 Rhy052

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:12 PM

Hello!

I am new to Cloudy Nights, but I have been doing research on telescopes. I want a telescope that is good for deep space viewing, compatible with multiple lenses, and also with my phone to take pictures. (I know I will have to buy that add on) Overall, my current budget is $250. From what it seems, it doesn’t look like getting all that for my price is possible. My birthday is coming up in a couple months and so is Christmas, so if I have to I can go higher up in price and wait. I just want to find the exact telescope that I want so I can possibly save up if needed. I would be able to save probably up to $400 something for the telescope, but less if I want everything else.


I have been looking at the following telescopes: Orion StarBlast 4.5 Equatorial Reflector, Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Newtonian, Celestron NexStar 127SLT Mak, Celestron NexStar 90SL Mak, and the Celestron NexStar 4SE. For the first two, I would buy it now, but for the Celestron NexStars I would have to wait. (I know, it’s a lot)

Overall, I just need help figuring this out because my mind keeps changing, and I want to be certain on one.

#2 DLuders

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:34 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights!  I own both the Orion StarBlast 4.5 Reflector and the Celestron Nexstar 127SLT Mak.  The StarBlast a low-magnification, wide-field telescope while the 127mm Mak is good for high-magnification views of planets and the Moon.  

 

You could see the Cloudy Nights Classifieds section  https://www.cloudyni...om/classifieds/  to get some gently-used equipment within your budget.   smile.gif 



#3 gnowellsct

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:35 PM

1.  You can use the phone to take pictures of the moon, maybe Jupiter and its satellites.  Keep expectations ultra low.

2.  At this price level there is no equatorial mount worth having.  They are designed to hook you by looking kinda cool but they will jitter all over the place.

3.  I would suggest an Orion XT 6 or XT 8.  

 

When you save up money to buy a telescope, save twice as much as the one you have your eye on.  The accessories will make the need for themselves known.

 

In my view equatorial mounts are not for beginners.  The entry level ones are flimsy and shake a lot.   The machining is poor, which means you have a hard time getting it to stay on the target you worked hard to acquire.  Once you are in a place in life where you can spend one or two grand, equatorials can be great tools and great investments.

 

The Celestron Nexstar SEs can give you some good service.  

 

A real mount will last decades but cost much more.  A $2k mount (such as the Losmandy G11)  that lasts twenty years costs only $100 a year.  And it works.  The $300 mount/scope combo, the mount is not going to deliver much satisfaction.  A cheap mount that frustrates you and works for a year or two costs just as much.  It may, however, drive you out of the hobby.

 

GN

 

 

 

 

 

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#4 havasman

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:56 PM

Hello Rhy052 and welcome to the forums!

 

Consider the AWB OneSky tabletop Dob. It has both larger aperture and a more stable mount than the Starblast and is a very fine widefield instrument with quite nice optics that support good planetary and lunar observing. At $200 it is one of the best values anywhere. The Celestron scope offers go-to/track capability and that can add value, especially in urban observing. But the optics will not likely match those of the AWB scope.

 

Folks criticize the focuser. It's not the best. But it does work and work well. I think it better to have really good optics and have to take care when focusing. I very much enjoyed the OneSky I had a few years ago and recommend it. I particularly remember a night at the club dark site during an event that drew a number of inexperienced observers. I asked a group if they'd like to see 3 large bright galaxies in one field and they enthusiastically started over to my 16" premium Dob to check that out. I redirected them over to the OneSky I'd set up nearby, telling them that the big scope could not do that and the little one was the one that knew that trick and showed them a great view of M31/32/110.


Edited by havasman, 18 June 2019 - 07:03 PM.

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#5 Migwan

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:57 PM

Ditto on staying away from cheap GEM mounted scopes.    A small Mak would be good, but a used 8" dob would be better.  Good luck and welcome to XN

 

jd



#6 Taosmath

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 06:59 PM

+1 on what gnowellsct said.

 

I like the Nexstar series but in my experience (and I've owned 4",5",6",8" & 10" SCT's) the 6" is the smallest I would get if I wanted to look at Deep Sky objects and an 8" is much better.  A 6SE is at least $500 used, so is probably outside your budget.  I enjoyed some views through a 5" SCT on an SLT mount which you can probably get used for your 'later in the year' budget, but I am not sure that it would be robust enough to hang a cell phone on without wobbling horribly.

 

For $250 you could get a used XT6 or XT 8 now, learn some stuff and ask for extra eyepieces, observing chair, Telrad etc. for birthday and Christmas.  You would be able together pics of the moon, Jupiter & Saturn with a cell phone on an XT6 or XT8, but not more than that. This would be my suggestion and then in a year or two, if you decide you really want to take astrophotographs , then you can sell the dob and buy an AP setup based on a small (80mm??)  refractor - but then you will see  very few deep sky objects unless you live in EXTREMELY dark skies.

 

Try looking at this link from Ed Ting's site - https://scopereviews.com/begin.html. I think it's really right on the money in just about everything.  And I especially point you towards the end of the article where he says:

 

" What about Astrophotography?

 

Don't. 

Just don't."

 

It's a bit brutal, but again he's totally correct in my opinion.  Read it and see for yourself.


Edited by Taosmath, 18 June 2019 - 07:00 PM.


#7 Mitrovarr

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 07:08 PM

With that budget a 6" dobsonian is almost certainly the best idea.


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#8 SeattleScott

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 09:00 PM

For an entry level scope, $50-100 is a waste of money because you won’t get something capable of getting the real stargazing experience. It would is akin to getting a tricycle to gauge one’s interest in mountain biking. For $200 you can get a scope that will give you a decent taste of stargazing, but likely still money wasted. Either stargazing won’t be your thing or it will be, and in six months you will want to upgrade to something more usable. A 4” Meade infinity is fairly usable at $200 but still quite entry level. Or a OneSky is maybe a bit nicer build quality, but it needs a mount or something to set it on so that is always going to be a drawback of using it. Plus you will get glare from nearby lights because of the truss design. So you get a feel for stargazing but if I had the means to do better, I wouldn’t stick with a Meade Infinity for long. And I wouldn’t tolerate the limitations of the OneSky for long, other than as a highly portable camping scope.

So to get a scope that will do justice to stargazing, and be nice enough that you will want to keep using it for years, you are really looking at $300-400, or buying used. 6” Dob, 8” Dob, 90mm refractor, etc. Personally I disagree a little with some others here in that the mounts that come with some $300 scopes are rather usable to me. Different level than the $100-200 scopes. But if you get a $300 GoTo scope, the mount will likely suck. They have to cut corners somewhere to make a GoTo scope that cheap.

Scott

#9 SeaBee1

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 09:52 PM

Hello!

I am new to Cloudy Nights, but I have been doing research on telescopes. I want a telescope that is good for deep space viewing, compatible with multiple lenses, and also with my phone to take pictures. (I know I will have to buy that add on) Overall, my current budget is $250. From what it seems, it doesn’t look like getting all that for my price is possible. My birthday is coming up in a couple months and so is Christmas, so if I have to I can go higher up in price and wait. I just want to find the exact telescope that I want so I can possibly save up if needed. I would be able to save probably up to $400 something for the telescope, but less if I want everything else.


I have been looking at the following telescopes: Orion StarBlast 4.5 Equatorial Reflector, Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ Newtonian, Celestron NexStar 127SLT Mak, Celestron NexStar 90SL Mak, and the Celestron NexStar 4SE. For the first two, I would buy it now, but for the Celestron NexStars I would have to wait. (I know, it’s a lot)

Overall, I just need help figuring this out because my mind keeps changing, and I want to be certain on one.

 

OK, what do you consider as "deep space viewing"? Nebula? Galaxies? Globular clusters? Etc...? (the answer is yes...) OK, now we are in the realm of expectations. When viewing these objects, what are you expecting to see? Because what you are expecting to see is probably going to be different from the reality. And if you are viewing from light polluted skies, you might not see them at all, or at best, a very faint, dim image of them. There are only two things I know of that can overcome that... a dark, non light polluted site and aperture... observing skill can also be factored in as a third thing...

 

I could not recommend any instrument until I know what you are expecting to see... and where you would be observing from...



#10 cuzimthedad

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 09:53 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights RHY052. The advice you are being given is sound and in my case from experience. It was an inexpensive rickety mount and reflector which propelled me to buy a good scope. I had better views through my binoculars than that first small scope! A 6" or 8" dob will take you a long way in this hobby and bring you many years of enjoyment...as long as the weather cooperates!!



#11 Bowlerhat

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Posted 18 June 2019 - 11:36 PM

is this 250$ is for OTA? for bigger SCTs you'll need a more expensive/stabler mount. Go with a reflector or a dob, save some money and spend it on eyepieces later on.



#12 Bambham

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 12:17 AM

 

Try looking at this link from Ed Ting's site - https://scopereviews.com/begin.html. I think it's really right on the money in just about everything.  And I especially point you towards the end of the article where he says:

 

" What about Astrophotography?

 

Don't. 

Just don't."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just read this and it was brutally awesome!


Edited by Bambham, 19 June 2019 - 12:17 AM.

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#13 Ulmer Spatz

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:34 AM

" What about Astrophotography?

 

Don't. 

Just don't."

I sometimes wonder if this advice is helpful to a beginner. Most of them probably don't know that there's a difference between so-called astrophotography and taking some cell phone snapshots with their new $250 telescope. To be told that they shouldn't do astrophotography might have them scratching their heads in puzzlement.

 

I think that nowadays, it's important for an entry-level telescope to hold out the promise of giving its owner the ability to share the view with others on social media. I'm still satisfied with seeing something wonderful and keeping it to myself or sharing my experience in writing. But I'm old and, as they say in German, "live behind the moon."


Edited by Ulmer Spatz, 19 June 2019 - 01:34 AM.

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#14 DLuders

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 06:16 AM

You can check the Sky&Telescope website  https://www.skyandte...-organizations/  to see if there are Astronomy Clubs near you.  Many of them have "loaner" telescopes which you can try as part of membership ("Try before you buy").  Once you find one that you like, you can buy one just like it.  You can get lots of advice from experienced astronomers who can show you how to use the equipment, hands-on.  Sometimes you can get a nice, used telescope by checking the Craigslist.com listings in your area.   smile.gif 


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#15 SteveG

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:16 PM

I will 2nd the recommendation for the astronomers without borders (AWB) OneSky. I have one and use it for travel. It delivers excellent images at its $200 price point.   


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#16 BobW55

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 01:29 PM

Some 20 years ago I was in the same boat.  I stumbled across a mead DS114 newtonian mounted in a Alt/Az mount with computerized hand controller for $250.00 (they were closing the store)  I bought it.   It could not hold a target in the FOV for more than 5 minutes (crappy drive system) the larger deep sky objects that I could line up were nothing more than fuzzy dots in the view finder,  Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and the moon were awe inspiring.  The goto abilities of the scope did help me learn the night sky, but life and all took it's toll on the hobby.  Now that I am retired, I have the time/money and I am relearning the hobby.

Being a beginner, I would ask yourself, "What do I want to look at / image, or is this just a Id like to try it thing"?

I have now gone out and bought a decent (expensive) mount that I can put on just about anything I want.  I have an 11" Celestron SCT, used mostly for visual observation,  and I just bought a refractor because I want to lean AstroPhotography.  I have a starter camera (bought used), and a autoguider (bought used). 

 

Everyone will offer an opinion, some may be gruff towards you, don't take it personal or bad.  The folks on here are only trying to help you understand, and really enjoy the hobby.

In my opinion, until you get into the $400-$500 range, you will just be disappointed and walk away from it.


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#17 SeattleScott

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 04:26 PM

Buying used can be a great way to try it out. You might get a $400 scope for $150 on Craigslist. If stargazing isn’t your thing you can sell it for about what you paid for it. There can be some risks. I wouldn’t buy a used GoTo scope and expect the GoTo to work right. But for a manual scope there is less that the previous owner could have screwed up. I just sold a $300 scope on Craigslist for $60. (I bought it from Goodwill for $65). Probably priced it too low, had people lining up for it. But you can get some great deals if you are patient and know what to look for.

Scott

#18 SgtSluggo

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 05:22 PM

 

 

Try looking at this link from Ed Ting's site - https://scopereviews.com/begin.html. I think it's really right on the money in just about everything.  And I especially point you towards the end of the article where he says:

 

" What about Astrophotography?

 

Don't. 

Just don't."

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just read this and it was brutally awesome!

 

 

 

I sometimes wonder if this advice is helpful to a beginner. Most of them probably don't know that there's a difference between so-called astrophotography and taking some cell phone snapshots with their new $250 telescope. To be told that they shouldn't do astrophotography might have them scratching their heads in puzzlement.

 

I think that nowadays, it's important for an entry-level telescope to hold out the promise of giving its owner the ability to share the view with others on social media. I'm still satisfied with seeing something wonderful and keeping it to myself or sharing my experience in writing. But I'm old and, as they say in German, "live behind the moon."

I get where Ed Ting is coming from (and I don't want to take this into an AP topic), but I still thing there is a big difference between "I want to take photos that can be printed large and hung on a wall" and "I want to share some of the cool things I see on social media." For the first - go see the B&II forum and understand that it is a lot different, for the second many here seem to get good results (within reasonable expectations) with a variety of scopes and the NexYZ mount from Celestron. 

 

Ulmer - As a beginner it is super unhelpful advice.  I have had a lot of fun holding my phone to the eyepiece and showing my kids and friends the moon or Jupiter the next day.  They aren't printable, they won't be anyone's computer background, but they do help share the cool thing I have starting doing in the middle of the night. 



#19 Bowlerhat

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 05:59 PM

I sometimes wonder if this advice is helpful to a beginner. Most of them probably don't know that there's a difference between so-called astrophotography and taking some cell phone snapshots with their new $250 telescope. To be told that they shouldn't do astrophotography might have them scratching their heads in puzzlement.

 

I think that nowadays, it's important for an entry-level telescope to hold out the promise of giving its owner the ability to share the view with others on social media. I'm still satisfied with seeing something wonderful and keeping it to myself or sharing my experience in writing. But I'm old and, as they say in German, "live behind the moon."

I think that advice is sound. Astrophotography requires expensive scope and mount. It requires way more effort. If they want to share pictures I believe even just planets would attract the 'likes'. I don't think grey blob of m42 would have such attraction.

 

But I'm also aware it's totally possible to do so with cheap setup.



#20 Ulmer Spatz

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 06:09 PM

I have had a lot of fun holding my phone to the eyepiece and showing my kids and friends the moon or Jupiter the next day.  They aren't printable, they won't be anyone's computer background, but they do help share the cool thing I have starting doing in the middle of the night. 

So if a beginner would ask about taking smart phone pictures (astrosmartography?), what would be good advice? I came into the possession of one of those clamp-on phone holders. But I never took it out of the box because I'm not interested in taking pictures through my scope. Do those devices really work, or is it better just to hold the phone to the eyepiece?

 

I noticed the Meade StarPro scopes all come with a smart phone holder, and that fact is hyped in the ads for the StarPros. Someone thinks these holders help to sell scopes, and perhaps they actually do.

 

@Bowlerhat: I agree, the advice is sound if it's read by someone who knows how amateur astronomers define astrophotography. But I was trying to say that many beginners believe taking smart phone pictures through a scope is astrophotography.


Edited by Ulmer Spatz, 19 June 2019 - 06:18 PM.


#21 Bowlerhat

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 06:14 PM

There's a review of one of them here. The more expensive one works, but the cheap ones are rubbish.



#22 Ulmer Spatz

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 06:21 PM

Thanks, good find! I was looking for something like this, but must have used the wrong search terms.



#23 SeattleScott

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 06:58 PM

Of course there is also the happy medium of EAA. You can take your Astro photos of deep space targets with a mere $500 scope and $300 in camera equipment. And it is not much harder or different than visual astronomy. True the resolution isn’t good enough to print a poster or get published on CNN. But on CN it seems like there is a wall. You either do visual or you do AP, spending the entire evening imaging a single object with $20k of Astro gear located in your remote observatory in New Mexico. Realistically people do imaging at all levels, from near real-time “video” astronomy to short 2-3 minute exposures, to 10-20 minute exposures, and so on. The longer the exposure time, the greater the demands on polar alignment, auto guiding etc. You can do “casual” imaging with rather modest equipment and time commitment.

Scott

#24 SgtSluggo

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 07:01 PM

So if a beginner would ask about taking smart phone pictures (astrosmartography?), what would be good advice? I came into the possession of one of those clamp-on phone holders. But I never took it out of the box because I'm not interested in taking pictures through my scope. Do those devices really work, or is it better just to hold the phone to the eyepiece?

 

I noticed the Meade StarPro scopes all come with a smart phone holder, and that fact is hyped in the ads for the StarPros. Someone thinks these holders help to sell scopes, and perhaps they actually do.

 

@Bowlerhat: I agree, the advice is sound if it's read by someone who knows how amateur astronomers define astrophotography. But I was trying to say that many beginners believe taking smart phone pictures through a scope is astrophotography.

 

 

This review is exactly what I have read as well.  I can only hold my phone up to my 25mm eyepiece.  My hands are not steady enough to hold it for any smaller.  The NexYZ does what I expect and is on my purchase list.  I also bought a barlow that has M42 threads and I already own an EOS to M42 connecter. I have no expectations on what will happen if I put my DSLR on my telescope but I plan on trying.  I still don't think what I plan on is really AP.  

 

I am not sure what the recommendations for someone who just wants to share pictures would be the NexYZ is about $60 so it is on the high side for an impulse purchase.  There are also mounts that will hold a small digital camera up to your eyepiece.  Someone might be interested in that.  I just had a really hard time finding the recommendations of "you can use your phone" and "stick a point and shoot up to the eyepiece"  since searching "astrophotography" gets a lot of recommendations of "don't" and "spend a lot of money"

 

For OP's question: If you aren't interested in serious AP then don't make it a consideration when purchasing your scope.  There are options for "taking pictures" through almost any scope that won't be amazing but will be shareable. 


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#25 Bowlerhat

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Posted 19 June 2019 - 07:46 PM

I mean, even if you share them the quality will be reduced anyway. Taking a picture from a smartphone is enough.

 

There are two ways to connect the DSLR to a scope, the one where you just connect it with T-ring and t-ring adapter (prime focus method), and the one where you put the eyepiece in between (eyepiece projection method). They give hugely different results.

 

Prime focus photography doesn't mean a lot of magnifications. If you want to read more about it you can head over here




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