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A tracking allround telescope

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#1 MacAver


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 01:52 AM

Hi there! Total noob when it comes to stargazing.

I have spent 2 weeks telescope gazing with help of Google. I'm lost.


My basic thought was a 130-150 mm aperture with motor so I could piggyback a small DSLR (Nikon 3200) on it while the kids could look at the planets and some deep space attractions. Budget is 200-300 Euro (220-325 USD) so not a super telescope this time.

Listing some telescopes I found with the drawbacks.

  • Celestron Astromaster 130EQ EQ3 130/650 -180 EUR - (Spherical mirror & motor version not sold in Sweden and needs to be added.)
  • Sky-Watcher Explorer-130M EQ2 130/900 - 285 EUR - (Correction lens, EQ2 moun.t)
  • Bresser Pollux EQ3 150/1400 - 251 EUR - (Carbon fiber tube, corrector lens & no motor.)
  • Meade Polaris 130 EQ2 130/650 - 212 EUR - (Spherical mirror, EQ2 mount. thick spider & no motor.)
  • Sky-Watcher Heritage 114P 114/500 - 230 EUR - (Correction lens?, spherical mirror? no piggyback mount* & need a good table or a sturdy camera tripod.)

I have no idea how these drawbacks will effect me or my family members as users (spherical mirror, correction lens and carbon tube) in reality. What will I suffer less from as user? I'm in desperate need of help to sort these things out. I'm aware that I need to replace/add some stuff from get go like better eye pieces and barlows etc. I do not really care if exchangeable stuff is lesser good. It is mostly the things I will be stuck with that bothers me.

I have a small favorite among these. The last one, Sky-Watcher Heritage, seams really interesting. The tracking system features are simple and brilliant (quality I do not know) and thinking of our youngest one, who is the reason for this telescope hunt and love the moon and planets, could easily manage it. I could do long shoots with a DSLR mounted on the included camera arm* instead of the scope attached.

I would love to get some input on this? Any advice would be appreciate.


Edited by MacAver, 22 February 2020 - 02:03 AM.

#2 SeattleScott


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 02:15 AM

The Skywatcher Heritage Virtuoso is an alt az scope, so it has tracking, but not useful for photography. You would be limited to about 20 second exposures, which isn’t much for DSLR.

In general these entry level mounts are not going to be sturdy enough to hang a camera on for long exposure photography. I think you will either need to focus on visual or increase your budget.


#3 db2005



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Posted 22 February 2020 - 02:24 AM

Welcome to the Hobby!

If you are intent on piggybacking your camera to the telescope, it's worth considering that most telescopes are bundled with mounts and tripods which are IMO too flimsy for the telescope alone for visual use. The camera will add additional weight, and photography requires an even sturdier mount than visual use alone.

If I were in your shoes, I would consider my priorities: photography or visual use. For visual use, any one of the above choices would work. For photographic use, consider raising your budget and getting just a tracking mount alone, maybe an EQ5-class mount with a tracking motor. The mount will also be able to hold a larger OTA for visual use later.


The main thing you are "stuck with", as you say, is the mount and tripod, so it's worth getting a decent quality mount and tripod to start with; a sturdy mount and tripod will not only make AP easier but it will also make visual views through a telescope much more enjoyable.

#4 MacAver


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 02:28 AM

Thank you for your input Scott!

I see your point on the Heritage telescope. I guess none of the others with motor or with retro fitted motor could do any better. I might let go of my astrographic expectations this time. Actually the telescope mainly is meant for the kids (6 of them). That was the main reason for adding it to the list. NO complicated EQ handling.

#5 MacAver


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 02:38 AM

Thanks Apollo!

You and Scott got me out of the astrographic thoughts. Still there is some things I need to figure out. With the camera thing out of the way it is the other drawbacks that I read a lot about that I need to understand. I know my budget for this telescope will render me with a less than perfect telescope. So what is less bad. A spherical mirror, a correction lens, a carbon tube instead of a metallic or a EQ2 instead of EQ2 now when the camera use is not an option?

#6 sg6


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 03:09 AM

I would drop the photography aspect - AP is more complicated and in reality has different requirements to visual, and planetary AP is a bit different again. It is no problem to end up with 3 rigs - visual, AP and Planatery AP. And of course 1 visual scope is not enough 2 at least = Grab and Go and another for deeper/fainter objects.


The simply "see" I revert to a small refractor - few reasons, compact, easy, decent views. No refractor will have the aperture of a reflector, just the construction and in a way you do not need high quality glass and just 1 surface to figure.


One plus of a refractor is you can look at the stars at night, then add a simple solar filter to the front and look at the sun in the day. Presently a rather boring sun, but you can do it.


Another reason for a refractor are the small dobsonians - one I dont like them and two if one person never gets the idea of using them then they never see anything and end up slightly excluded. As you mention children that has to be thought of. No-one mentions negatives but having been at outreach for 8-10 years we abandoned the big dobsonian - no casual member of the public ever managed to use it and see anything.


Was said that the best all round do most things decently well is an 80mm refractor. So I suggest one of them.

Bresser sell them and the spec is 80mm aperture 640mm focal length (80/640).

They are achros, some CA on bright things, but acceptable.

The Bresser ones come on a nano mount - manual not tracking.

None on their ex-display offerings - although there is a small 80/400 goto at €250 that looks a lot like a variant on the ETX 80 - may be worth a rapid decision.


Bresser Ex-Display


Mounts: For a tracking you are looking at over €200.

I use a small ETX 70 and have use it for 20 years, nearest now is the ETX 80 (or that Bresser above).

My other tracking is a Skywatcher AZ Gti, cost will be €300-€400. Limited to around 5Kg and I would say 4Kg is safer.


Bigger scopes - I have a Bresser 102mm 600mm focal length and that is nice, but adding a mount means bigger and more cost. Throw in that the scope costs more it all increases fast.


So I suggest the 80/640, easy scope, doesn't need expensive eyepieces, will do night and day. The mount is the problem - the AZ GTi is capable of the 80/640, but you are at 2x budget ultimately.


Could you get by with the Nano mount that the 80/640 package will be available with ?


Also would suggest the stay away from the small Mak's. Smal ,compact, long focal length and the focal length means a narrow field of view and that is a problem.

#7 MacAver


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 03:57 AM

Thank you sg6 for good advice!

I took a quick look at the Messier 80/650. It looks good and the mount is good to so the younger ones might handle it easier. This will be on the list.

#8 MacAver


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 06:00 AM

Even if I got good reply on my topic and it has made me rethink my options I am still curious about what can i live with and what should I avoid if possible? For a new to the hobby it is impossible to make a choice without cramps in the face musculature.


If we put it this hypothetical way.
An super astronomer have only the telescopes I listed above to chose from when put on a deserted island for 30 years. What would his choice be? A Spherical mirror one but no correction lens? A carbon fiber telescope but not with a EQ2?. I guess some supergazers would feed them self to the sharks before even touch any of them. But why would the ones that picked one of the telescopes pic that one particularly?

One get what is payed fore. It is still a generic truth. We all know that. But are there things for the same money that might be slightly better than the other? Why? It is totally impossible to sort this out by Google. I spent two weeks by my computer almost day and night and still I can not find out anything that makes any sense. I'm a engineer and used to rely on my own experience. This time there is zipp zero experience to draw from.

I got a tip from an professional astronomer with a blog I contacted via mail. His reply was long (but he did not answer my question).
He advised me to buy any of them or some other. With some trickery they all work. Not more or less. To get some thing better demands at least double or triple the green. The newbie adjust to the telescope and eventually begins to adjust the it. When the limit is reached and the skills from trial and error makes him less clueless he buy a new better one. This with the money saved while living an anti social life since he bought his first telescope.

Funny guy!

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#9 Ulmer Spatz

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 09:24 AM

I agree with the professional astronomer you contacted. Just buy something, anything that fits your budget. The purchase would end your state of paralysis by analysis and bring a scope to you sooner rather than later. If you and the kids like stargazing, the scope you chose will teach you and the kids what to watch for when buying the second and presumably bigger scope. If you don't like to have to multiples around the house, give the first scope away to a deserving person.

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#10 SeattleScott


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 09:49 AM

My kids are six, and they seem more interested in just driving a scope manually than having the patience to do a GoTo alignment and what not. My son is more patient but my daughter gets bored fast if she isn’t hands on. Last time out with them I brought out a GoTo refractor. We saw a couple things but I was having some issues with GoTo alignment since I set the scope up without extending the tripod, since I forgot to bring a stool for them. Since I didn’t bring my refractor with a RACI finderscope, it was really hard to align on anything remotely close to zenith. So while I was trying to add another alignment star they started running around in the dark, had a head on collision that knocked her tooth out and brought our session to an abrupt end. I should have followed my sons advice and just brought out their little telescope and focus on letting them play around with it, rather than bringing out a bigger, more complicated one and them getting bored while I am trying to fine tune the GoTo. It is funny that I have six telescopes from 4” aperture to 10” aperture, most of them higher end Japanese or European models. But the kids seem just as happy with the 90mm Mak that I got them off CL. Maybe they will get more particular about the views as they get older?

If my kids are any indication, rather than spending $1,000+ on a really nice GoTo scope that can do piggyback AP, you might be better off with six $200-325 scopes so they each have their own...

Edited by SeattleScott, 22 February 2020 - 09:51 AM.

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#11 rhetfield


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 10:04 AM

The skywatcher heritage is the same as the AWB OneSky sold in the us. There is a sizable beginners forum thread that discussed many things about the scope. This includes upgrades - both cheap/simple and more complex/expensive. It has good optics and is popular with experienced astronomers as a general purpose grab and go travel scope. The person who started the thread did put it on a good mount and use it for astrophotography - he posted pictures of his profession from zero to hero. It is well worth the price die to the compact form factor, versatility, and optics.

In general, your budget won't get both a good scope and good mount. Figure on double or triple to get into doing long exposures. Keep in mind that stacking software is getting better and that it can help mitigate some hardware deficiencies.
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#12 vtornado



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Posted 22 February 2020 - 12:26 PM

Hello MacAver and weclome to the forum.



For Short  focal length reflectors you definitely want a parabolic mirror.

The bresser can not be 1400mm.  If it is it has a built in corrector lens

which is best avoided.


I would strongly consider the heritage 130 dob, the 114's bigger brother.


For kids obviously you want something, lower cost, easy to set up, and they can drive it.

Long focal lengths are harder to use, because of the narrower field of view.


Don't worry about tables.  I use an upside down paint bucket.  A plastic small patio table works too.

The paint bucket doubles to hold accessories.   You can make a home made push to system

to help you find things with a table top dob for about $30.00


If you want to consider a refractor, an 80mm f/5 or 100 f/6 is a good choice. 

It is not good on planets, but it has a nice wide field of view, and is rugged.

No collimation necessary and is easy to mount.


You may be able to find a scope that can handle a smart phone for some simple pics

of bright objects.   A DSLR is just so heavy most starter mounts will not be able to

handle it.  The gears and drives of starter mounts are no where near accurate enough

for long exposure photography.

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#13 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 22 February 2020 - 12:36 PM

The Sky-Watcher Heritage 114P has a parabolic mirror.




The Bresser Pollux EQ3 appears to be a Bird-Jones catadioptric Newtonian and should be avoided.

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#14 hcf


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 01:21 PM

If you have given up on the astrophotography I would recommend a 6" Dobsonian. Not motorized but very stable.  Finding planets using a finder is not very difficult. It is going to be  heavy, so you will have to set it up for now. And kids grow up really fast smile.gif




Most goto-tracking mounts, need careful alignment to be accurate, and bumping the mount even a little bit, will need realignment. And the heavier reflectors on light EQ mounts, have stability problems.


If you still are interested in some kind of astrophotography , for a EQ2 class mount, you need a very light scope. A 80mm F/5 refractor works well even with a DSLR attached to it (not piggybacked) and a RA motor drive for short 15-20 second wide field shots with good polar alignment. Not the best scope for visual, but will still show you the rings of saturn and the moons of jupiter. Also good for visual of  certain classes of deep sky objects like open clusters and brighter globulars from light polluted skies.


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#15 MikiSJ



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Posted 22 February 2020 - 01:40 PM

I still remember, from when I was 12 (1958), the view of the Andromeda galaxy through a well made 6" Newtonian. The scope was stable and while it was on an equatorial mount, it wasn't a GOTO mount with only a simple motor on the RA axis.


The first look through a telescope will either sour the looker on astronomy, or hook for one life. 

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#16 lonn


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 04:31 PM

spend your money on the biggest scope in your budget. forget AP and goto for now. It doesn't do any good to have goto if the scope is to small to see anything. For dobs the cutoff is 6" IMO. I started with a 114MM with goto. It didnt take long for the goto to get old. Then I got a 8in dob. Night and day difference what you can see.
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#17 BobW55


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Posted 22 February 2020 - 10:42 PM

I agree that the mount/tripod will be your biggest issue.  I had a Celestron Nexstar C8 SE. (8"SCT on a single arm Alt/AZ mount).

Very easy to set up and move, not too hard to align,  goto with the hand controller was great. 

Terrific views as long as you did not touch the scope.  It would vibrate so bad breathing on it would make it shake.  Now have the scope on a AVX mount, no more shakes, makes doing visual fun again.

Since you said small kids would be using this, will take time for them to learn to view with out touching.

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#18 JoshUrban


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Posted 24 February 2020 - 12:55 PM

For piggybacking stuff, you might try building a "barn door mount" for a camera instead.  Oh, I saw plans for one somewhere on the internet...That way, you could have a little photography rig you built yourself, and then a nice visual scope for the kids!

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#19 Myk Rian

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Posted 24 February 2020 - 02:36 PM

Even if I got good reply on my topic and it has made me rethink my options I am still curious about what can i live with and what should I avoid if possible? For a new to the hobby it is impossible to make a choice without cramps in the face musculature.

It's been mentioned a few times: Meade ETX scopes are a well regarded instrument. I have an 80 and a 90mm. They are available in 80 - 90 - and 125mm. They might have discontinued the 105. You can buy a camera adapter to connect a light weight DSLR to them. The 80 is a refractor and focus is done by moving the tube in and out. I prefer the 90. It and the 125 are Mak/Cass scopes that you move the mirror to focus.

The field of view is a bit narrow, but with the long focal length they are planet killers.


Easy to use. Set it on a picnic table, point it north, a couple calibrations and fun for all.


Look for used. Try a search on FB Mrktplace. I got my ETX-90 on an EQ tripod for $100.





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#20 theropod



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Posted 24 February 2020 - 06:09 PM

For piggybacking stuff, you might try building a "barn door mount" for a camera instead.  Oh, I saw plans for one somewhere on the internet...That way, you could have a little photography rig you built yourself, and then a nice visual scope for the kids!

I agree with the barn door tracker approach completely. While uber simple in their most basic forms, they can be made that are both robust and accurate. If one is built with drift alignment in mind from the start, and quality materials are used, there is no reason a home built barn door cannot compare to some $400 camera platform trackers on the market. If the drive system is well designed, and uses an Arduino or Raspberry Pi with an external real time clock and encoder, one can make tracking better than those $400 trackers. There’s no reason a guide scope/camera could not be mounted to a barn door tracker, and using the proper ASCOM drivers, achieve silly accurate rotational rates with the feedback from both encoders and camera input. Or, one could build one out of junk laying around the shop/garage with best guess alignment, turn the drive nut/gear by hand, and still get nice minute plus wide field shots.


I’ve built 3, and the last one is permanently setup outside on a makeshift pier (a plastic 55 gallon drum 1/2 buried and filled with sand having a 6 x 6 sunk into the middle). I’ve mounted my C-90 Mak on it via a ball head on that one and watched as Saturn stayed centered in the eyepiece until the drive rod reached its end of travel (2 hours 20 minutes). Sure, I spent a ton of time messing around with those first two prototype barn doors, but it has paid off. I try to capture meteor falls. Wide field work is all I really concentrate on as far as cameras go, and mine gives me 10 minute crisp photos repeatedly. Mine doesn’t have an encoder, or guiding system, but adjusting drift alignment via an alt and az set of curved 3/8” all thread rods, and using an Arduino to drive a small stepping motor I get pretty good results. I adjusted my step pulse speed at least a dozen times in the software until it’s spot on. Version 4 will include some, if not all, of the mentioned features.

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#21 Ranger Tim

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Posted 24 February 2020 - 08:34 PM

The best scope for kids is one they will touch and get familiar with. Otherwise they will not forge a connection with the hobby. I vote small dob. Indestructible, simple, and promotes hands-on.

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#22 MacAver


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Posted 26 February 2020 - 12:45 AM

Thank you all and nice advice!

Fortune smiled at me and I got a Sky-Watcher Explorer 130M EQ 2 with tracking motor new and with extra stuff at a price I could not refuse. That meant I got a set of really good eye pieces (used ones), better barlow and a non laser collimator within my budget an some change still in my pocket.

Astro photography was not a high ranked reason to buy the telescope. It is mainly because my youngest stepson talks about space and astronomy 24/7 (yes in his sleep even) since couple of months. But as a photo geek I want to try to take some pictures any how. If it works I'm happy. If not... well I find out some thing else to do.
First reaction to the EQ2 tripod and the motor was bit surprisingly positive. I'm a tech hardware  and electronics product designer and yes, it is not 5 star stuff but way better than I could imagine from reviews.
Adapter for my Hasselblad DSLR is in production. Even if the tracking motor won't allow longer exposures it will be better than a ordinary tripod for photography. I have managed to get really nice night sky and moon images over the years without tracking so I hope this might get me a we bit further.

When weather and time allow it I will post a review of the Sky-Watcher Explorer 130/900M from a n00b point of view.


Edited by MacAver, 26 February 2020 - 12:47 AM.

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