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scope recommendation for Daughter

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#1 nmanchester

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 12:58 PM

I have a 15 year old daughter who is getting into astronomy and is taking classes at school.  Shes asking for a telescope for xmas but wants one she can look at planets and deep space stuff.  I have no knowledge of telescopes other then basic understandings such as focal length, magnification, aperture.  We live in northwest colorado with not a lot of light pollution in town and a short drive into the hills to get away from town so we have great viewing opportunities here.  I can go to the store or order online whatever scope but i want to get her one that will encourage her to continue with the hobby and be able to use for years, and not discourage her do to poor optics and difficulty in using it.  plus i dont want to spend too much with the mindset that she may not stick with it with the hopes she will.  While this is for her i thought it would be great for something that the family could enjoy as well.  So I am asking you guys for your opinion on what you recommend to get to for a good scope that will allow her to get out and enjoy the night skies and as she learns and will beable to grow with the scope without needing to upgrade.  

 

Thanks



#2 Diana N

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:05 PM

It's hard to go too far wrong with the AWB OneSky.  It's light, it's portable, it's inexpensive, and it has enough aperture to offer some satisfying views.  https://shop.astrono...ector-telescope  There's a huge thread here on CN where you can learn more about the scope:  https://www.cloudyni...65#entry9768573

 

A 6" f/8 or 8" f/6 Dob would show more, but they would also cost a bit more and your daughter might find them a bit too heavy or bulky.


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#3 zakry3323

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:16 PM

Great job dad, way to support your daughter's astronomical interests! What kind of budget are you working with? Hard to go wrong with really any kind of optics these days, even small inexpensive refractors are way more serviceable than the equivalent from 20 years ago. The key, that you've righteously hit upon, is ease of use. The best telescope is the one that gets used the most! So take these factors into consideration: 

 

1. Ease of Portability 

2. Ease of setup and use

3. Desired targets - no telescope can "do it all", but there are some that do many targets fairly well. 

4. Versatility - Plenty of folks who start with visual observations find themselves sliding into astrophotography. Also plenty don't. But, if this is a possibility, it may be a good consideration to start with from the get-go. 

5. Budget

 

Check out this site. http://www.12dstring.me.uk/fovcalc.php
You can plug in lots of different focal lenghts, apertures, eyepieces, and cameras to get an idea of what your field of view will be for any setup that you're considering. Temper your expectations however, the objects are photos and not what you'll be seeing through the eyepiece. 

If you can, check and see if there are any local amateur astronomer associations near you and attend a few events before making a purchase. It'll give you and your daughter a community to share experiences with, and will also provide you with lots of different views from many different kinds of telescopes so that you can try before you buy. If you have trouble finding information, check with the AL, they have listings of many groups all over the US: https://www.astroleague.org/

 


Edited by zakry3323, 19 November 2019 - 01:24 PM.

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#4 sg6

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:17 PM

Where are you?

User name half implies UK, also questions will be how much is the budget.

 

UK and US have a slightly different range of options.

 

I would suggest an 80mm Achro, around the f/8 region. The one I know in that catagory is the ES Firstlight at 80mm 640mm focal length.

 

Just not overly available in the UK.

 

Alternatives are the assorted 90mm 900mm offerings. Pretty reasonable all round choice.

Another I have is the Bresser 102mm at 600mm FL. Nice size although displays some CA.

 

The 150P in the PL form of a Dobsonian is another. I tend to avoid suggesting the 130P that are table top scopes. In a way you need a table for one so not as portable as suggested. How often do you take a table around.

 

One aspect is that you will need eyepieces almost immediatly. Depending on the scope determine if 80x is easy and if 120x is also easy/sensible. 80x is for Jupiter, 120x for Saturn. DSO will oddly generally need less. Do not go thinking more is better. 2x diameter is usually wrong and you will not get it. Same as diameter (mm) is better and say 1.2x maybe 1.3x closer to the real max.

 

Longish focal length is easier, fast is for astrophotography, not visual.



#5 zakry3323

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:26 PM

Where are you?

User name half implies UK, also questions will be how much is the budget.

 

UK and US have a slightly different range of options.

"We live in northwest colorado with not a lot of light pollution in town..."


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#6 havasman

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:29 PM

Where are you?

The 4th sentence in the original post says he's in NW Colorado. I think we can believe that.


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#7 petert913

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:32 PM

A nice simple 6" Dob would be good for both planetary and deep sky

 

This one by Orion is a nice starter kit with accessories.  Only $279.00

 

https://tinyurl.com/t8kctum. 


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#8 havasman

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:38 PM

Hi nmanchester and welcome to the forums!

 

I have given the AWB OneSky scopes to some kids and have heard back from the parents over the years since that they still use the little scopes. That's about as good a result as I could expect. It's a nice scope with good optics for $200. It's a "tabletop Dob" that weighs 14#. When I had mine (given to an 11 year-old) it could go to a park and set up on a picnic table successfully. I built a little tripod stand for it out of scrap lumber that worked quite well anywhere. The optics are better than the price would lead you to expect. It can certainly be well used with the included eyepieces or it can reward a sensible upgrade to them. Recommended.


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#9 epee

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:43 PM

Small refractor telescopes are easy and intuitive to use, require almost zero maintenance, and are quite portable both in a vehicle and about the garden. They offer nice views of the Moon and Planets and do well on bright DSOs like open star clusters. A lot of people here use down to 80mm. I think something in the 100mm range is the sweet spot between ability and portability.

 

Dobsonains/Reflectors are great for bigger is better and will show fainter DSOs as well as more detail on on the Moon and Planets and fainter stars, However, they are harder to move around and require more maintenance (collimation) rather regularly. While these telescopes are readily available up to 16" (400mm), the smaller diameter models are generally less fussy about collimation (optical alignment).

 

SCTs offer portability and large aperture but are expensive, heavy (due to Go-To mount and tripod), and generally require several accessories before performing at their peak. They are require some maintenance,but less than a Dobsonian. For someone looking for ease of use, I'd recommend one of these in the 5"(127mm) or 6"(180mm) size.

 

Go-To computerized mounts seem great, and are, as long as you don't mind calibrating them each time you set-up or move the telescope. However, if you're moving from place to place in the garden to avoid trees blocking the view, this can be a huge fun killer. They also add weight to whichever telescope they are on.

 

"Faint Fuzzy" DSOs, like galaxies, nebula, and, to a lesser extent, Globular Star Clusters, are best observed away from city or suburban lights. All telescopes dramatically improve in dark sky locations. This is not the case for the Moon and Planets; bright "Solar System Objects". As long as there isn't artificial light intruding obliquely into the optics and the air you are looking through is relatively still, the Moon and Planets will view well. 

 

Any telescope will benefit from additional eyepieces to expand its abilities. Budget or "Beginner" scopes usually come with eyepieces that leave something to be desired. Even those that include good standard eyepieces generally provide a medium and moderately high magnification set that could use the addition of a low power for wide field objects and initially finding the target. SCTs will almost always require an additional dew/light shield to prevent dew and stray light from hitting the front glass (Corrector Plate).


Edited by epee, 19 November 2019 - 01:52 PM.

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#10 halx

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:47 PM

At 15 it might be a need to impress friends. At the school it might be a need to hone some fine science paradigms learned from astronomy lessons. For a girl it should be beautiful. Finally, in Colorado you should have plenty of nice terrestrial targets to look at day time. So I'd go with some sophisticated and highly nerdy MAC/SCT on a tripod with the tabletop option instead of a Dob or refractor here. E.g.:

61Yy5Ale8ML._SL1000_.jpg


Edited by halx, 19 November 2019 - 01:54 PM.

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#11 vtornado

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 01:53 PM

Hello and welcome to cloudy nights.

 

Another up vote for AWB or its cousin the zhumell 130 table top.

Both have the same optics, The zhummel does not collapse, it may hold collimation better because of this.

It has a better focuser.

 

A 6 inch f/8 dob is a consideration.

Views will be slightly better than the 130, no fuss collimation, but the field of view will be narrower and might make  it harder for a new bee to find things.

The scope is much larger than the 130, but I think a 15 year old, can handle moving it about.

 

Any reflector telescope taken from a warm house to a chilly outside, will have to cool down before

high power views are crisp.  This can be mitigated by storing the scope in an unheated garage, or

setting it out to cool about 30 minutes before viewing.

 

An f/6 100mm or so  refractor on an alt-az mount is also a good starter scope.

no fuss, it is always ready to go almost no cool down no collimation.  Can be used for birding.  Jupiter will not be quite as good  due to the chromatic aberration.  Pay close attention to the quality of the mount.  Many budget

refractors come with shaky mounts.

 

By the way planets are in a poor position for viewing now, and will not be getting better for a long time.

 

Remember to save some budget for accessories, you may want to buy a barlow, some other eyepieces,

etc. to start out with.


Edited by vtornado, 19 November 2019 - 01:56 PM.

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#12 bobzeq25

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 02:35 PM

I have a 15 year old daughter who is getting into astronomy and is taking classes at school.  Shes asking for a telescope for xmas but wants one she can look at planets and deep space stuff.  I have no knowledge of telescopes other then basic understandings such as focal length, magnification, aperture.  We live in northwest colorado with not a lot of light pollution in town and a short drive into the hills to get away from town so we have great viewing opportunities here.  I can go to the store or order online whatever scope but i want to get her one that will encourage her to continue with the hobby and be able to use for years, and not discourage her do to poor optics and difficulty in using it.  plus i dont want to spend too much with the mindset that she may not stick with it with the hopes she will.  While this is for her i thought it would be great for something that the family could enjoy as well.  So I am asking you guys for your opinion on what you recommend to get to for a good scope that will allow her to get out and enjoy the night skies and as she learns and will beable to grow with the scope without needing to upgrade.  

 

Thanks

Not mentioning a budget is always a problem.

 

This is a classic starter scope, versatile, designed for ease of use, portable.

 

https://www.celestro...rized-telescope

 

EDIT:  I see halx beat me to it.  <smile>


Edited by bobzeq25, 19 November 2019 - 02:38 PM.

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#13 halx

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 02:41 PM

(under my link there are under $600 options for the above)



#14 B 26354

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 02:45 PM

By the way planets are in a poor position for viewing now, and will not be getting better for a long time.

This is an extremely valid point. Jupiter and Saturn aren't going to be high enough in the sky for "great" viewing, for another three-to-five years. Living in a reasonably dark area, you may want to seriously question the types of objects that your daughter thinks she wants to visually observe, before making a purchase.

 

The Moon will be interesting in almost any scope. But given the understanding that the planets aren't really "in the picture" in the immediate future... an 8" Dobsonian will give exhilarating views of things like open and globular clusters and the brighter diffuse Messier objects like M42... and galaxies like M31 or M51 will show some shape.

 

By nature, most Dobsonians are on un-motorized Alt-Azimuth mounts, and are incapable of "tracking". As such, once an object is found, the scope has to be pushed by hand, to keep the object in the Field of View. Dobsonians equipped with digital setting circles make initial object location -- and re-location -- easier. Here's an example:

 

https://www.telescop...ByCategoryId=27


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#15 Spacefreak1974

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 02:49 PM

In my opinion with the tech savvy teens out there they will not be happy with a non computerized dobsonian. I myself am not a fan of dobs as first telescopes either, but thats another story. Table top scopes are not great at all unless you have a great platform to place it on and at least in my yard thats tough to find. Even with our patio table being wrought iron my sons table top shook like a leave and was really frustrating. I ended up remounting the OTA from my son's tabletop on a Porta II alt az mount equivalent. Kids these days can work a hand controller better than I can and they can figure stuff out more quickly too. Teens are also more apt to read instruction manuals (unlike 45 yr olds like me).lol.gif

 

With this i'd also recommend the 6SE from Celestron or the 5SE which is a little less-usually around Christmas they sell the 5SE for $599.

Instead of getting a boat anchor power tank or powering it with the alkaline batteries i'd recommend a Talentcell Lithium Iron Battery from Amazon. The $35.00 6000 mAh @ 12v one should work fine for 2-3 hr observing sessions. You'd need the female cigarette lighter attachment for the battery and you'd be in business. Velcro the sucker on the side of the scope arm.

 

Jon


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#16 OleCuss

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 02:57 PM

First take her to a star party and try some out.

 

I'm personally anything but a fan of the AWB OneSky which so many like.

 

A 6-8" Dobsonian will do great work and at that age I'd favor the 6" Dobsonian.  I'd much rather have the Sky-Watcher version (the 150P) than the Orion unit.

 

And yeah, many of them do want computerization.  If that is the case then budget is a bigger factor.  The 6SE is a nice instrument but if you have a bigger budget other options might interest.



#17 halx

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:03 PM

Everybody seems to be missing the note that the girl has selected the astronomy course. Which means she is considering to study astrophysics, not just wow at nice views. Thus a motorized scope with an advanced optical scheme, with complicated mechanics and electronics inside to study, as well as with the computer connectivity option and tabletop setup (for the looks, yes, but also to inspire) would be a much better learning aid. A 6" OTOH is also the minimal aperture capable of showing some distinct details on Mars surface besides the polar cap. Guiding is a must for planets, regardless of their visibility, and especially if they are low in the turbulent sky as you have to observe for hours to catch a couple of seconds of good seeing. The GoTo is also great for finding planets hiding in the daylight/twilight sky and to master the GoTo tech (which is based on Astrometry math). 

EDIT: The tabletop mount works great with motorized scopes. No matter how shaky the table is as soon as you learn how to look, see, and pan around safely at the EP (esp. with the tracking on). Just don't touch it! It's much easier option compared to propping the tripod in a confined space, like at the open window (yes, I know it's a no no, but totally OK for kids first personal discoveries an general learning).


Edited by halx, 19 November 2019 - 03:16 PM.


#18 vtornado

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:05 PM

Table top scopes are not great at all unless you have a great platform to place it on and at least in my yard thats tough to find. Even with our patio table being wrought iron my sons table top shook like a leave and was really frustrating

 

True, I have a wrought iron table too and it stinks.  It has four legs and one seems short, vibrations reflect instantly

from the table to the legs to the ground and back.  Because of this I found a 5 gallon paint bucket does the trick.

It is stable in an average suburban lawn.  Don't expect to sit at any table while you view.  Just about any table,

will flinch as you shift your weight.  The table just supports the scope.  I have also used a $15.00 plastic

outdoor plastic coffee table.


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#19 havasman

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:06 PM

First take her to a star party and try some out.

waytogo.gif

 

Best plan!!


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#20 nmanchester

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:14 PM

Thanks for the recommendations.  Im at work trying to research all this stuff so there are no prying eyes lol, so i wasnt able to setup my location but i got that fixed.  Some mentioned price point.  My price is strictly on recommendations based off a few criteria.  I wont spend money on cheaply made products but i also wont spend money on high end, well not yet anyways.  So many i just want to get a good quality scope that will last for a good price.  So if you think x scope for 300 is the one to get or you think Y scope for 600 is what i really need to get then so be it thats what i will get.  I dont want her to be unhappy cause its cheap and doesnt get good images but at the same token she doesnt need a 5000 dollar scope either lol.  i just want to get a good quality one that will last years even if it means i spend alittle more now and hope she enjoys and sticks with it.  I will look at all your suggestions as I see many good options that i hadnt found or considered.  I saw the meade polaris 130 online for 160 so i asked her teacher and he said it would be a good one but something seems off about it and i just dont think at that price im getting anything of quality but i could be wrong.  Based on the info so far you guys are steering me in a different direction but at least I know i wont be disappointed by any of these recommendations.  Thanks again.  if you guys have any other recommendations please let me know im all ears



#21 OleCuss

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:36 PM

That Meade Polaris 130 is on a really wimpy mount.  Expect the system to have the jitters.  The focuser likely won't be much good either.

 

It doesn't help that, like the OneSky it has fast optics which means more aberration and a collimation which is more finicky.  Collimation isn't particularly difficult after some practice but it is easier and not as demanding if you are at F/8 as with the Synta 6" Dobsonians.

 

She wants to see deep sky objects and that means more aperture.  6" is pretty good but of course more aperture can show you more.

 

As pointed out, our Norther Hemisphere views of the bright planets for the next few years won't be all that good but if she is trying for them?  We want more magnification for the planets and that means using more aperture.

 

If you get the Sky-Watcher 150P you get the 2" focuser (more flexibility in eyepiece choice) as well as a nice solid base and intuitive use.  The relatively slow optics are quite good even with relatively inexpensive Plossl eyepieces.

 

But again, if at all possible, take her to a star party and let her try out a bunch of scopes.  What she likes might surprise us all or she may discover that just one session under the stars was enough for her and she wants something different.  A good star party is like going through a bunch of car lots and test-driving the ones you think just might be the right one.  If you are polite and ask politely most astronomers will let you have a look.


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#22 zakry3323

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 03:38 PM

 I saw the meade polaris 130 online for 160 so i asked her teacher and he said it would be a good one but something seems off about it and i just dont think at that price im getting anything of quality but i could be wrong.  

Well, it's not a bird-jones optical design, so that's a big plus. Not too long in focal length, puts a bright image into your eyeball at f/5. Seems like a nice starter scope to me. 

 

Some considerations: 

 

 - It's a Newtonian, so you and your daughter will need to become proficient at collimating it. Like many things astronomy, it's not that it's a difficult thing to do, just an extra bit to learn about. 

 - It's mount/tripod looks like it's pretty close to the minimum acceptable to carry the weight of the optical tube. Certainly by far not the worst out there, but do expect to encounter longer damping time than you'd get from a more sturdy option. It's fully manual, so every time your hand is on the focuser or an adjustment knob, the target you're looking at is going to move around a little before it settles. 



#23 halx

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 04:01 PM

That Celestron is a solid choice in the longevity department. I have no doubt it will retain its price tag and the hobby value very well over decades and would provide a great optical instrument for almost any occasion. I have a very similar technically but smaller Meade ETX-125 for almost 20 years. I use it rarely lately, but still keeping it on the top of my table shelf exactly because of its versatility, good optical/mechanical qualities which lasts, as well as for modding and quick optical/electronics/robotics experimenting capabilities, and it is still a superstar at our frequent car camping parties with friends even if it just glittering blue on the table between bottles all night waiting for a curious eye :)


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#24 Anony

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 04:23 PM

 I saw the meade polaris 130 online for 160 so i asked her teacher and he said it would be a good one but something seems off about it and i just dont think at that price im getting anything of quality but i could be wrong.  Based on the info so far you guys are steering me in a different direction but at least I know i wont be disappointed by any of these recommendations.  Thanks again.  if you guys have any other recommendations please let me know im all ears

 

I can't make a recommendation, but will mention that if considering that meade and if a sears/kmart is still in business near you, it's pretty cheap (if you use sears cashback money for other items) --

https://www.sears.co...lars_Telescopes

 

Comes out basically the same price as an eyepiece... you could get her 2 scopes at that price, get a cheapo refractor as a stocking stuffer, spend more somewhere else for a better scope.  And the nexstar 6se mentioned here is about $500ish at amazon if you make use of their prime cashback and sign up for the rewards card. Could do 2 scopes and still be cheaper than buying a 6SE from other places.


Edited by Anony, 19 November 2019 - 04:25 PM.


#25 Sky Muse

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 04:30 PM

You don't want an EQ-2 mount, like the one that comes with the Meade "Polaris" 130.  I have one, and it has involved a lot of work to make it smooth in operation, like I want it to, and I'm not done yet.  The smaller, current EQ-1 mounts are constructed better, but are way too small, and for mounting just a camera or a small telescope, like this 90mm Maksutov...

 

kit5b.jpg

 

If a kit with a manual mount, I would suggest this one...

 

https://www.astronom...0.html?___SID=U

 

Even better, this...

 

https://optcorp.com/...g-ota-telescope

 

...and a Dobson mount... https://www.astrogoo....bearings.shtml


Edited by Sky Muse, 19 November 2019 - 04:37 PM.



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