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My first telescope?

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#1 Scrumpymanjack

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 10:04 PM

Hi all, 

 

Thanks again for THE most amazing forum. 

 

This is a real rookie question - and please forgive me for the lack of understanding of even basic stuff...but I guess you have to start somewhere.

 

My wife and I are just about to complete our home in Santa Monica, it has a roof deck very near the beach and I want to buy an astronomical telescope on it for star gazing. To be able to see the moon in some detail/planets fairly clearly is my goal. What should I buy?  

 

My budget is between $1,000 and $2,000, probably more towards the lower end of that window. I have no prior knowledge or experience BUT I do know that I will be using it quite a bit. I am semi-obsessive about the things I get into...and I'm going to get into this. 

 

I guess because of my super lack of knowledge, I would prefer good optics over gizmos - I don't want all of this computer-assisted tracking etc. I just want an old-school manual telescope I can learn on. I am also extremely open to used (read classic) equipment. In fact, I actually prefer old equipment over new - as long as the quality is there. I love vintage binoculars, and have a few pairs that I absolutely adore. I take them everywhere. So definitely classic over super-modern, wifi/bluetooth/-linked equipment. 

 

What else is there to know? I guess I don't want something that is going to require a huge amount of knowledge and experience to operate from the get go - I can get into that later on. 

 

Finally, and not sure if this is important, light pollution where I live is not nearly as bad as you would think for a big city. Again, it's a city but it can get surprisingly dark along LA's coastal strip. 

 

Anyway, if anyone has any good ideas as a starting point, I'd be very grateful. 

 

Thanks. 



#2 Barlowbill

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 10:20 PM

Get a Dob!  A Dobsonian Newtonian telescope.  From 6 inch aperture to the sky is the limit.  Ok, realistically, 8", 10" 12".  They go larger but let's not get carried away...just yet.  If you could store the scope right inside your roof deck, it could be easy to move it out onto your deck.  Best "bang for the buck" in telescopes.  Easy to operate and you can spend a lifetime looking at new "things" in the sky.  Start by reviewing the different forums here on CN.  This place is like an encyclopedia for telescopes and the necessary accessories.  Have fun and good luck



#3 M57Guy

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 10:20 PM

Semi-obsessive beginner looking to view moon and planets from Santa Monica, budget around $1,000 and prefer good optics over gizmos...

 

This:https://www.astronom...ractor-ota.html

 

with this:https://www.highpoin...ount-41-7100-00

 

Plus some decent eye pieces such as these: https://www.astronom...iece_series=478



#4 Littlegreenman

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 10:56 PM

Check out this Beginners forum here on Cloudynights if you have done so already:

 

https://www.cloudyni...um-description/

 

You already have ideas, such as:

 

"I don't want all of this computer-assisted tracking etc. I just want an old-school manual telescope I can learn on. I am also extremely open to used (read classic) equipment."

That's what I like too! Nothing wrong with computer driven scopes, though.

 

Starting considerations:

There are 3 types of telescopes. Read up on them

 

Refractors:  they use lenses

Reflectors or Newtonians: they use mirrors. Sir Isaac Newt improved early reflectors, which is why the are also called newtonians

Catadioptic:  they use a combination of mirrors and lenses.

 

You will also need a mount/tripod. Something to hold the telescope steady, allow it to be moved at aimed, and probably allow it to be slow moved to track objects as they appear to move in the sky. It's the earth that is rotating, though.

Mounts are of a few types:

Alt/AZ

Equitorial

 

The Dobsonian is a reflector that is kinda "surrounded" by the mount. This type does not have a tripod.

A Dob is a good value, "bang for buck."

 

Eyepieces

You will need/want 2 or 3 for different magnifications. A Barlow (look it up) can be the third one.  Some eyepieces work better with some telescopes.

 

Eventually you will just have to buy something. If you buy used you can often get more bang for buck.

I've left you with some thoughts that need more research to understand. That's part of the fun!

LGM



#5 vtornado

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 11:22 PM

Hi Jack and welcome to the forum.

 

Get a Six or Eight inch dob. 

 

Powerful enough to show stuff, easy on eyepieces, easy to collimate, and not to big as to be a pain to take out and move,

minimal thermal issues.

 

If you buy used, you can learn the craft and sell it later for about what you paid, to get something bigger, or you may decide to keep it.

I still have my 6 inch dob.  Just the right blend of power, and size.

 

Dobs lend themselves to tinkering too.  It will work out of the box, but can be enhanced in many ways with simple mods and

tools to work better for you.



#6 sunnyday

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 11:28 PM

Semi-obsessive beginner looking to view moon and planets from Santa Monica, budget around $1,000 and prefer good optics over gizmos...

 

This:https://www.astronom...ractor-ota.html

 

with this:https://www.highpoin...ount-41-7100-00

 

Plus some decent eye pieces such as these: https://www.astronom...iece_series=478

+1



#7 2696

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 11:40 PM

I'd say get a Dob. You don't have to spend money on a star diagonal so that's a plus.. With your budget you can get a fairly large one, but you have to keep in mind the portability. I'd look at some Sky-Watcher collapsible Dobs, they seem pretty quality and since they collapse it'll be easier to store and bring outside.

#8 Astro-Master

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Posted 16 January 2020 - 11:42 PM

I would go with a Dobsonian either a 6" or 8" simply because living close to the salt air from the ocean will coat the optics on a Schmidt Cass or Refractor faster than a Dobsonian.  You might get a little more protection observing from your back yard, if you have one, and don't leave the scope outside overnight.  Cleaning optics often or a Refractor is not something I would like doing.



#9 Scrumpymanjack

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 12:09 AM

You guys are all ridiculous....Cloudynights confirmed as my Number One forum. Thank you so much. So much knowledge - so much willingness to share. Thanks!



#10 epee

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 09:00 AM

A dobsonian is my favorite scope for astro use, but they require regular optical alignment, and are all but useless for terrestrial use; especially if a railing is involved.

Here's my suggestion for your deck. Smaller, sure, but classic, easy to use, easy to move from inside to outside, low maintenance, versatile, with good accessories that you can use on other scopes if the bug bites deep.

 

One of these https://www.highpoin...-ar1021000maz01

 

One of these https://www.highpoin...with-hyp-barlow

 

One of these if you can swing it https://www.highpoin...ece-epwp8230-01

 

One of these if you can't https://www.highpoin...-eyepiece-08829

 

One of these for non-astro viewing https://www.highpoin...oint-scientific

 

One of these for planetary viewing https://agenaastro.c...ter-filter.html


Edited by epee, 17 January 2020 - 09:07 AM.


#11 sickfish

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 09:14 AM

8 inch dob. 400

35 Pan       400

ES 68* 24mm 160

Delos 14mm  350

ES 82* 8.8mm 200

 

1500 bucks

 

Just saying



#12 Jeff Struve

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 09:31 AM

I wouldn't buy anything until you hang out with these folks and get a feel for the type of astronomy that you like... get a feel for what gear is available, what it takes to set up, tear down, store... many clubs have loaner scopes and many club members have gear for sale at a great price that you can then get one on one training with the actual gear you are purchasing...

 

Santa Monica Amateur Astronomy Club: SMAAC – SMAAC


  • epee, Astro-Master and greenstars3 like this

#13 rhetfield

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Posted 17 January 2020 - 01:27 PM

I would not max out the budget on the scope.  If you get the above mentioned skywatcher in 12" for $1200-1300, plan on spending the rest of the $2K budget on eyepieces, filters, and other accessories.  Alternatively, you can get the 10" for under $700.

 

Find the forum posts on degree circles.  These are homemade circles that show the position of the scope so you can line it up on targets that are invisible to the naked eye.  A phone or computer app is used to tell the coordinates of your targets.  You will be able to find a lot more stuff that way.

 

Also think about whether you will want to travel with it.  If you go big at home, it will be harder to travel with it, but you can pick up a 4.5-6" travel dob for $200-300




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