I would like to purchase my first telescope but I don't know which one to choose. I know there is a whole bunch of them, different types for different purposes. I'm not planning to do astrophotography (at least for now), mostly for observing deep-sky objects (planest also sounds neat but DSO sounds more excited)
My budget is $600 - $700 for the entire set (telescope, mount, eyepieces) and I don't want to get 100 dollars telescope and change it after 3 months. I would like to get a telescope which would be with me for years.
I made my research and comes with two completely different models:
- Celestron Nexstar 5SE
- ES AR102 + mount + eyepiece
I know it is an absolutely different type of telescopes but anyway price wise they both feet my budget and both capable to do what I want (at least I think both capable to do DSO) and base on feedback on forum both awesome telescopes. Maybe later I would like to try making some simple photos of galaxies or nebulas but not right now but I would like to my future telescope would be capable to do it as well.
Any opinions or suggestions?
And thank you so much, everyone!
Welcome to Cloudy Nights and to the world of telescopes.
From a light pollution point of view, you are in better shape then I am.
Despite the aperture numbers, these two telescope garther a simlar amount of light. The 5SE is an SCT which has a central obstruction which blocks some of the light. So a 125 mm aperture SCT and a 102 mm aperture refractor would be comparable in what they would show and how bright the objects would be.
The big decision is do you want a computerized mount?
The 5SE is on a GoTo mount. I presume this is the package you are considering.
Once you do a quick alignment, 5 minute task or less, the 5SE will find and track anything you want to see, within the capability of its aperture. This is a very popular scope. Think of GPS in your car. You put in the address and the GPS tells you how to get there. In the case of a GoTo scope, there is a little to do, but it is easy once you get the hang of it, then the computer points the scope at the target, tracks it and you observe it.
For many the GoTo capability is really helpful in getting started in astronomy because you spend less time hunting and more time observing. But that assumes you get along with computerized things and can follow instructions. Just like the computer on your desk, you have to follow the alignment procedure correctly or it won't work. My first two scopes were computerized. Wonderful! But over a period of years I learned other ways of finding targets too. I still have two GoTo scopes. I wanted that computerization for my light polluted sky.
I presume the ES 102 is this package
This is a nice scope on a manual mount. That means you have to find the targets yourself and you have to track them yourself. You will have to learn how to star hop or how ot use AltAz coordinates and charts or apps to help you locate your targets. This is like plotting out a trip on a paper road map and then looking for signs along the road so you know where to turn. You plot the path from star to star in order to find those DSOs.
For some, this is great fun. For others it is a source of frustration, especially in a light polluted area. It is a skill you need to develop over time. I use AltAz coordinates with my biggest scope which is a manual 12" Dobsonian/Newtonian scope. Works well but I had to learn the process. Because of the very light polluted nature of my area and sky, I do very little star hopping.
Either scope will be able to reach about 200X if conditions are good. So no real difference there.
Field of View
This is a major difference between the two. For reference, the Moon is about 1/2 a degree wide.
The 5SE has a 1250 mm FL and uses a 1.25" diagonal. It will achieve its widest fielf of view with a 32 or 40 mm Plossl eyepiece. Assuming a 32 mm Plossl, which is what I would recommend, that will be about 39X and 1.3 degrees field of view. That is wide enough to see probably 90% of what is up there. But there will be some large DSOs that will not fit in that field of view. You can view them but you woudl view them a piece at a time.
The ES has a shorter focal length and comes with a 2" focuser/diagonal so it can use 2" and 1.25" eyepieces. This will allow you to use 2" eyepieces and to get to lower magnification levels and wider views. Assuming a 2" 38 mm 70 degree AFOV eyepiece you would have 26X and about a 2.5 degree field of view. That will allow you to view all but the few really big DSOs in one field of view.
Both will be very portable so that should not be an issue.
So it comes down to computerized or not and your preferences around field of view.
There are all sorts of other techincal differences between them but these are the key decision factors when buying a first telescope. If you find you like astronomy you will likely get a second scope somewhere along the way, most likely a larger one. It will be less portable but will let you probe deeper and show you more detail on the brighter targets. It will have its own considerations. But at that point you can optimize one scope for portability and the other one for aperture.
I have 5 scopes. I don't need 5 scopes but they just keep appearing. Two is plenty. One "grab and go" which both of these would fit, and one "light bucket".
That is how I see it. I can't tell you which one to buy. But as a first scope in a light polluted area, I would lean toward a computerized GoTo mount, if you get along well with computers. It doesn't have to be the 5SE as there are lots of choices.
Another option, in your price range, that provides computer assit but which does not track is the Orion Intelliscope series.
These are Dobsonian type mounts with large Newtonian optical tubes. The Intelliscope is a "pushto" system. You do an alignment, just like the GoTo scopes, and the hand set guides you to the location of the target. Once you have it, you do the tracking manually.
My first scope was a Meade GoTo scope. My second was an Orion XT8 Intelliscope. So I speak from experience. Loved the Intelliscope and over time I learned how to find things myself and so I used the Intelliscope feature less and less.
Now a friend has it and it is helping him enjoy the sky as I upgraded to a 12" scope. This one is not computerized. I now know how to find things using AltAz coordinates and that works just fine for me. I still don't use star hopping very much. And I still have two Meade ETX computerized scopes.