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New Telescope Recommendation Request

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#1 PharmrJohn

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 12:25 AM

Greetings one and all.  I am looking to reintroduce myself to the hobby.  And I need the basics.  I'll start with the telescope and a few basic eyepieces......But the scope is the key for this discussion.  To give a history, I started with a very old 6" reflector when I was 8.  Then a borrowed 8" SC when I was 10.  Then a 10.1" Coulter when I was just out of high school back in the early eighties.  That is what I am accustomed to....and what I know.  The 10.1 didn't even come with a finder scope.  Did it the old fashioned way.....looking up the tube and finding an object using The Force. 

 

I have about 2K to spend.  In time, I will look into photography, but I can't have everything for only 2K.  I understand this is a loaded query, as there are many favorites for many gazers.  I am not interested in photography at the present time.  Perhaps later, but I can't have it all for only 2K.  I am especially interested in imaging planets and nebulae.  The Meade 12 inch collapsible looks halfway decent, but I am unclear as to its quality and capabilities as compared to, say, an 8 or 10" SC.  Weight is an issue, as my spine is old(ish) and my lifting capabilities are a lot less compared to others my age.  I can do it, handle 50 pounds, but it'll hurt.  So less is better.  I have a good brain, so feel free to hurl numbers and data at me.  What I don't immediately understand I will look up and learn.  And thank you, all, for your time in answering this post.  I've been saving for about two years and will be able to do this in a couple of months, just in time for winter viewing.  From what I remember, that is primetime.  :)



#2 havasman

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 12:36 AM

If it's going to hurt you won't like it so much over time. Look at the Celestron SCT's. The 9.25" is a sweet spot for lots of folks. As you know, a strength of the design is their compact size.

And welcome to the forums!



#3 sg6

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 02:19 AM

Well you mention astrophotography at least twice, so ignoring the denials it seems an intended action.

If you intend to do any AP then get the right equipment and a CPC925 is the wrong equipment, It is slow, it is big and the mount is Alt/Az.

 

Nice scope for visual, wrong scope for AP. It will do planets, and you will get good images of all 3 planets. When the time of year is right - how many images of Jupiter do you want?

 

If the idea is something for both then you need a mount that will cover both. Then you get a scope for one and a scope for the other. The common point being the mount. And for AP that is equitorial.

 

Visual I would suggest something like the Skywatcher 100ED and for AP an 80mm triplet, maybe ES 80 maybe WO GT73 (is it 73 or 71?). Also offerings from AT and Stellarvue that are not available here.

 

In the scope side there are reflectors, the Skywatcher 150PDS is for AP and should do visual also - add an extension tube to the focuser to move the eyepiece outwards. A 200PDS is going to act like a sail to any wind and that means lost exposures. The 130PDS is popular here not so the 150 and less so the 200.

 

AP scopes tend to be fast, and fast means you then have to compensate for assorted aberrations caused by the scope being fast - coma correctors, flatteners, reducers. Reducers make a fast scope faster - I would flatten but not reduce.

 

Mount? Skywatcher HEQ5, EQ6 better, maybe iOptron CEM40.

 

Have you seen a CPC 925? Not small. Takes 3 people here to safely get an 8" SCT on it's mount - 2 carry and one instructs about getting scope aligned on the mount and secured.



#4 macdonjh

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 07:00 AM

PharmrJohn,

 

It is often said that visual observing and astrophotography are two different hobbies.  Some conventional wisdom that will explain my next thoughts:

  • for visual observing, aperture is the single most important property of your gear that influences what you see.  To see those faint, distant objects, your eye needs help collecting and magnifying the light of those objects and that's what aperture provides.  
  • for photography, a steady mount that tracks well is the single most important thing that affects the quality of your photos.  Aperture isn't as important in photography, your camera can stare at an object for a long time to collect as many photons as you want.  But if your mount shakes you'll get blurt images, if your mount doesn't track accurately you'll get streaky stars.

For beginning (again) with visual observing it's hard to beat an 8" Dobsonian-mounted Newtonian.  They are relatively inexpensive, fairly light-weight, quick to set-up, collimation is pretty simple, have enough aperture to be able to see lots of objects, and come stock in important configurations (100% manual, digital setting circles, full go-to).  Orion (www.telescopes.com) has a good selection and is a convenient place to start researching features and costs.  There are several other vendors for scopes like this, too.

 

For beginning astrophotography a good mount and small, short focal length scope is a good recommendation.  Something like the Sirius/ HEQ-5 mount with a refractor of 80mm aperture and/or 600mm (or so) focal length are recommendations I see.

 

It is possible to buy beginning kit that can help you start with visual and transition to be able to do photography.  An 8" SCT on a Sirius/ HEQ-5 would make a good visual combination, and if you later bought that 80mm refractor you could use the same mount for photography.

 

Another property of German equatorial mounts that might be of benefit in your case is they come apart into several pieces, so you can carry several small pieces rather than having to lug a couple of big pieces.  Of course, since nothing is free, you have to put all those pieces together before you can use your mount.

 

Lots of observers like alt-az mounts.  With these the eye piece doesn't change elevation very much as your mount moves around the sky, and it doesn't change orientation.  I agree with sg6 in that I don't like the CPC and LX-200 type mounts because they are so bulky.  Of course, if you have a permanent set-up, who cares?  But I was 100% mobile for a long time.  If you think an alt-az mount is for you, but want something more compact the Celestron SE or Evolution single-arm mounts are a good compromise for smallish scopes (9.25" and smaller).  I know Meade has an equivalent single arm mount, but I don't remember what it's called.

 

By the way, I find it simple enough to simply rotate my diagonal to reorient my eye piece that I don't think a GEM is hard or uncomfortable to observe with.


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#5 Usquebae

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 07:26 AM

For beginning (again) with visual observing it's hard to beat an 8" Dobsonian-mounted Newtonian.  They are relatively inexpensive, fairly light-weight, quick to set-up, collimation is pretty simple, have enough aperture to be able to see lots of objects, and come stock in important configurations (100% manual, digital setting circles, full go-to).  Orion (www.telescopes.com) has a good selection and is a convenient place to start researching features and costs.  There are several other vendors for scopes like this, too.

+1

 

My first scope was an 8" F/5.9 dob from Zhumell, which I believe is the same as Orion's and Apertura, maybe other also.  I still consider it my easiest / simplest scope to use, and my most versatile.  It's inherently quite dew resistant, can be comfortably used without an adjustable observing chair, holds collimation well, is easy to balance, etc. etc.  The tube is 30ish pounds and the base is under 20, I think, so moving it in two pieces will be no problem for you.  Tube fits across the seat, or in the trunk, of a Corolla.  Three accessories I would recommend to make life under the stars even easier:  felted magnetic weights for balancing (ScopeStuff sells these); a good laser for collimation (Glatter and Hotech are well-regarded); and, most importantly, a Telrad.

 

As macdonjh mentioned, these 8" dobs are quite affordable telescopes.  This is crucial, because when you ask for EP recommendations in the eyepiece forum that crowd will devour the rest of you budget in no time. lol.gif

 

Welcome back to the hobby!  Have fun!



#6 WadeH237

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 07:31 AM

Welcome back to the hobby and welcome to Cloudy Nights!

 

Given your goals, here is what I would do:

 

Put off astrophotography for now.  The priorities are different enough between visual and imaging, that it's better (and actually cheaper) to build two different systems - one for each activity - than it is to try and build one do-it-all system.

 

In the short term, I would strongly consider an 8" to 10" dob.  You can buy one new for a small portion of your 2k, leaving you plenty left over to get a couple of nice eyepieces.  And if you add a Telrad, you don't even need to use The Force.  Pointing a dob with a Telrad is a piece of cake.

 

When you decide that you want to do imaging, approach that separately from visual.  The most important thing for imaging will be the mount, and it will take most of the 2k budget that you have now, unless you get a barely-capable mount that will leave you no room to grow.  By the time that you add a scope, camera, guiding solution, connecting hardware, processing software, etc.  It's easy for a basic imaging system to be around 3k.



#7 Usquebae

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Posted 18 July 2019 - 08:07 AM

In the short term, I would strongly consider an 8" to 10" dob.  You can buy one new for a small portion of your 2k, leaving you plenty left over to get a couple of nice eyepieces.

The EP forum budget buzzards are already circling!  grin.gif



#8 PharmrJohn

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 08:23 AM

Great.  Thank you.  I'll take a look at all recommendations.  It makes sense to do visual now and AP later.  Admittedly, I didn't consider, seriously, separating my efforts with basic visual and AP endeavors.  Thank you all for the great advise along those lines.  What is hard for me not to do is to drop everything into a lightbucket and call it good.  I'm now leaning toward the EQ6 and an SCT to start. 

 

Here is a question though. 

 

Comparing a visual supplied by a 8 to 10 inch SCT vs a 12 inch Dob…….Is there a huge difference?  I am aware of the differences in light collection abilities with the primary mirrors, but what other factors are inherent in the design difference that would affect the final product?



#9 WadeH237

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Posted 21 July 2019 - 11:48 AM

What is hard for me not to do is to drop everything into a lightbucket and call it good.

You are thinking like a visual astronomer.  An imager would say "...drop everything into a high end mound and call it good"  :)

 

Regarding your question about an 8" to 10" SCT vs. a 12" dob, the difference between an 8" SCT and a 12" dob is dramatic.  It is significant, but less dramatic vs. a 10" SCT.  Do note that SCTs and Newtonians (the dob) are very different telescopes.  The SCTs on the market are around F/10 and provide a somewhat narrow field of view.  Most newer Newtonians are F/6 or faster.  They can provide a much wider field of view than an SCT of the same aperture.  Also, Newtonians (due to their shorter focal length) can use shorter (ie. cheaper) eyepieces for the same magnification.




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