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Cheapest observer

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#1 boyd

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 08:36 AM

So I’m on a quest to rebuild astronomy into my life after a decade away. So far so good. This time, however, I don’t have much money to devote. I am taking the road most traveled and least completed to fruition...cheap street.

I began by buying the cheapest workable scope, an ST80. I am replacing the kelner ep with Plössl 25, 10, and 6.5mm and getting a x2 Barlow. I will replace the red dot with a 6x30 right angle finder. I will add weight to the shaky eq1. Then that is it.

My goal is complete portable astronomy up to mag 10 in good seeing under $200.

Thus far I have everything used except the 10 and 6.5 Plössls. I am at $173 right now.

First, who else takes this sort of approach to a he hobby? No aperture fever, no high end components, no computer assist, no stacking images.

Second, what additional components, upgrades, considerations should I consider to slowly grow capacity in a year for less than another $200?

#2 Wire

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 08:57 AM

You can get a Meade 102mm for less than $200. A very good scope



#3 NYJohn S

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 08:57 AM

With that scope I'd skip the 6x30 finder and put the money towards a 32mm plossl. It will be more useful and then you can use the scope itself as a finder.


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#4 Auburn80

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 09:04 AM

So I’m on a quest to rebuild astronomy into my life after a decade away. So far so good. This time, however, I don’t have much money to devote. I am taking the road most traveled and least completed to fruition...cheap street.

I began by buying the cheapest workable scope, an ST80. I am replacing the kelner ep with Plössl 25, 10, and 6.5mm and getting a x2 Barlow. I will replace the red dot with a 6x30 right angle finder. I will add weight to the shaky eq1. Then that is it.

My goal is complete portable astronomy up to mag 10 in good seeing under $200.

Thus far I have everything used except the 10 and 6.5 Plössls. I am at $173 right now.

First, who else takes this sort of approach to a he hobby? No aperture fever, no high end components, no computer assist, no stacking images.

Second, what additional components, upgrades, considerations should I consider to slowly grow capacity in a year for less than another $200?


I would reconsider the 6.5mm Pl. It will have very short eye relief and could be a real pain to use. A used Paradigm 5mm might fit your budget and would definitely be more comfortable to use. The ST80 is a very fast achro so is best suited for low to medium powers.

Good Luck!
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#5 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 09:06 AM

 

 

First, who else takes this sort of approach to a he hobby? No aperture fever, no high end components, no computer assist, no stacking images.Second, what additional components, upgrades, considerations should I consider to slowly grow capacity in a year for less than another $200?

boyd:

 

I can appreciate your approach and have used a similar approach in the past. And these days, sometimes I will just setup in the backyard with my ST-80 and a set of Plossls and enjoy the simple life.  There's a lot to see... 

 

As far as considerations and suggestions:

 

With an ST-80, I'd be reluctant to switch to a RACI finder.  The ST-80 with a 32mm Plossl or 24mm SWA is a potent finder capable of nearly 4 degrees so with the red dot, you should be set..  I would be looking at a 32mm Plossl or a ~24mm Widefield rather than the RACI.  

 

As far as your shaky mount, you might try using it in the ALT-AZ mode, you can do this by simply pointing the Polar axis at the zenith.  And probably the weakest point of the mount is the tripod.  If you have some tools and are have basic (and I mean basic) wood working skills, you can replace the current tripod with a set of wooden legs made from either 2x2s or 2x3s depending on the size of the tabs. Probaly 2x3s.  For about $10, you can stiffen things up quite nicely.  It won't be pretty but it will be effective.

 

4956262-Celestron Powerseeker 70 with the $6 tripod.jpg
 
Beyond that.. if you haven't cleaned and adjusted the focuser, that helps.  Some more eyepieces, probably something in the 15mm-17mm range.  
 
Jon

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#6 Auburn80

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 09:07 AM

You can get a Meade 102mm for less than $200. A very good scope


I think the OP already has the ST80.

#7 MalVeauX

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 09:08 AM

Heya,

 

Get dew management, either a battery and heat strip, or rubber bands and chemical hand warmers. A 32mm plossl and the ST80 will keep you busy for a very long time if you're patient and under a dark sky.

 

Very best,



#8 t.r.

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 09:42 AM

Don’t think that you can’t use the ST80 for planets...put a cheap yellow filter on and you can magnify over 100x for detail. You will see quite a lot in fact.
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#9 Lazaroff

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:07 AM

I'm a bit puzzled by the recommendation to get a 32mm plössl instead of a RACI finder.

 

Don't most people find a 6X30 RACI finder difficult to use alone because it's hard to tell what part of the sky you're looking at? I do. Wouldn't a 32mm plössl be even worse in that respect? It would turn the scope into a 12.5X finder, with a much narrower field of view, and, with Boyd's star diagonal, a mirror-reversed image.  


Edited by Lazaroff, 17 March 2020 - 10:07 AM.


#10 jaraxx

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:11 AM

Using the ST-80 as a finder in itself works very well. If you use the red dot to get close the 4 degrees should get you there without too much difficulty.


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#11 LDW47

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:19 AM

I'm a bit puzzled by the recommendation to get a 32mm plössl instead of a RACI finder.

 

Don't most people find a 6X30 RACI finder difficult to use alone because it's hard to tell what part of the sky you're looking at? I do. Wouldn't a 32mm plössl be even worse in that respect? It would turn the scope into a 12.5X finder, with a much narrower field of view, and, with Boyd's star diagonal, a mirror-reversed image.  

Just read the post below you and one of Jon’s posts, you’ll get the idea about the need to spend limited $’s on a rafinder !  Clear Skys !



#12 Lazaroff

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:29 AM

Just read the post below you and one of Jon’s posts, you’ll get the idea about the need to spend limited $’s on a rafinder !  Clear Skys !

I've read them both, but they don't apply to Boyd's situation. He wants to dump the RDF entirely because it's uncomfortable to use. That's why he used the word "replace" in his first post.

 

For confirmation, check the first post in this earlier forum:

 

https://www.cloudyni...rst-light-st80/


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#13 boyd

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:29 AM

Red dot finder outshines much that I am trying to target. I in fact, hate it. The 32mm wide angle sounds plausible. I got the ra finder because kneeling down to work any other would be a nonstarter.

Thanks for alt/az mode suggestion. I’ve already taken that advice.

Also, I use the 80 for planets in open and stopped down mode. Love it!




Also forgot I will flock the tube.

#14 LDW47

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:32 AM

The recommended ep’s for that scope are 20-10mm so spending your $ on something that gives you higher powers than that might be a bit of a waste, with limited use / performance under only the best conditions. An ep less than 20mm ie 30-32mm would give you a great finder in its own right ! Clear Skies !  PS:  When things really get rolling, in the future, you could start thinking higher power ep’s for those special nites !



#15 LDW47

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:36 AM

I've read them both, but they don't apply to Boyd's situation. He wants to dump the RDF entirely because it's uncomfortable to use. That's why he used the word "replace" in his first post.

 

For confirmation, check the first post in this earlier forum:

 

https://www.cloudyni...rst-light-st80/

As was stated, if you read it, the low power, wide field views of the scope effectively makes it the finder for all intents and purposes ! Have you ever tried one to see, I have several of them of various brands and all my finders incl. 2 right angle are in their boxes ! So why spend his limited funds on one right now unless he just wants one right now, he could easily get away without one ! Its all part of peoples experiences being applied to a situation as part of the learning curve of the poster and any others that truly want to learn, if you know what I mean ! Clear Skys !


Edited by LDW47, 17 March 2020 - 10:47 AM.


#16 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:36 AM

Another thought:

 

A better diagonal. Very often these scopes ship with a RACI diagonal that has a limited clear aperture and causes vignetting of wider field eyepieces.  It also affects the quality of the views at higher powers.

 

A $30 mirror diagonal would be a significant improvement.

 

Jon


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#17 Lazaroff

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:46 AM

LDW47, I'm glad a low-power eyepiece in an ST80 works as a finder for you. It would not work for me. For me, using even a 6x30 RACI finder by itself is hit and miss. People differ in their experience of the utility of these finders.

 

Jon, Boyd's scope comes with a star diagonal, not a RACI diagonal.

 

Boyd, you might consider a green laser pointer for a finder, if there would be no problems using one in your neighborhood.


Edited by Lazaroff, 17 March 2020 - 10:53 AM.


#18 hcf

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:48 AM

You could add a Sun Funnel for Eclipse/Sunspots/Transits

 

https://eclipse2017....make-sun-funnel

 

I know you said no computer assist but it is not very difficult to add a DIY computer assisted PushTo or even GoTo to your setup and still keep it portable.

 

https://www.cloudyni...sual-astronomy/

https://www.cloudyni...-project-ps-g2/



#19 sg6

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 10:55 AM

First, who else takes this sort of approach to a he hobby? No aperture fever, no high end components, no computer assist, no stacking images.

 

Part way as I do not got for large apertures, but I do like quality.

Tend to agree that you do not need a finder, get the 32 plossl, the whole scope would be the finder. With a 32 you have a field of around 3.75 degrees.

 

If the ST80 has rings then if they have pointy bits sticking up use those to aim. Works well on one of mine had Saturn and Jupiter in view easily. Few bits of dowel and a flat top platform and you cold make your own sight.

 

As stacking images is free not sure if it should be excluded or not, I would say not. To get a single image takes the same bits as to get 50. And the stacking is free.

 

So much of astronomy seems to end up as how much is a person willing to spend. Does get a little depressing. Think that is why I like outreach with kids, they don't care. As one girls mother said to me - her daughter didn't care, she just wants to see stars. Shame that lots of adults have lost that.


Edited by sg6, 17 March 2020 - 11:00 AM.

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#20 Lazaroff

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 11:06 AM

I quote from Boyd's earlier forum: "A grown man should not have to get on his knees to find objects 30° above the horizon."

 

Any kind of direct-view finder--a red-dot finder, a sighting tube, an improvised sight, or a straight-through optical finder--would put Boyd's knees on the ground. If the scope did not work by itself as a finder for him, he would find himself in the same awkward position (with the mount he has). 


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#21 LDW47

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 11:24 AM

I quote from Boyd's earlier forum: "A grown man should not have to get on his knees to find objects 30° above the horizon."

 

Any kind of direct-view finder--a red-dot finder, a sighting tube, an improvised sight, or a straight-through optical finder--would put Boyd's knees on the ground. If the scope did not work by itself as a finder for him, he would find himself in the same awkward position (with the mount he has). 

If they have to get on their knees with an ST80 at 30° I think something is wrong with their mount or they are over 6’6” tall ? Clear Skies !  PS: Its like I said we are missing something from the big, overall picture !


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#22 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 11:26 AM

I quote from Boyd's earlier forum: "A grown man should not have to get on his knees to find objects 30° above the horizon."

 

Any kind of direct-view finder--a red-dot finder, a sighting tube, an improvised sight, or a straight-through optical finder--would put Boyd's knees on the ground. If the scope did not work by itself as a finder for him, he would find himself in the same awkward position (with the mount he has). 

 

Somehow I manage to use a red dot finder on a similar scope without getting to my knees.  

 

Tripod height and an adjustable observing chair go a long way.. 

 

An adjustable observing chair is a big part of comfort. It's something I highly recommend to Boyd. Denver chairs can be built for about $30 or so.

 

http://davetrott.com...bserving-chair/

 

 

Jon


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#23 boyd

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 12:01 PM

Observing chair sounds like a good plan.

Red dot finder has a number of problems.
1. If I want to sit comfortably to use my scope above 30*, I have to take a knee to get behind it.
2. If the object is near the zenith I have to get on both knees and scrunch under the scope to see.
3. While in those positions I have to guess at objects below mag 4, as the red dot outshines the star in question.
4. Looking to point at an area, not a bright object, a finder gives some star pattern that can help locate fainter objects. Red dot points at an area with no referencing star patterns to confirm.
5. It is flimsy.

I have upgraded from my Cambridge star atlas for real-time gazing to the Celestron app. However, I often preview in the CSA prior to observing to locate benchmark star patterns in the area I’m going to hunt things in.

The ra scope will keep me in my seat, locating those benchmarks. So while I will look at getting a 32mm WA ep (don’t know why I didn’t think of it...used to have a WA 52mm in a 2” back in the day for just that reason).

Btw, great comments so far, thanks

Edited by boyd, 17 March 2020 - 12:13 PM.

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#24 Lazaroff

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 12:03 PM

Boyd, it sounds like you already have a 25mm plössl. The diameter of its true field is nearly 80% that of a 32mm plössl. I suggest you try using your scope as its own finder with the 25mm eyepiece. That would give you some idea about how it would work with a 32mm eyepiece. If it seems OK, great! You'll have your answer.

 

If you decide on the RACI finder, you could consider remounting the red-dot finder at the far upper end of the scope, on the dew shield. Then you might be able to use the RDF more comfortably to get in the right neighborhood before switching to the RACI. (An improvised sight of some kind might work as well for this purpose, if mounted on the dew shield.)

 

If you were interested in trying a laser finder, you could do that for less than $30.


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#25 boyd

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Posted 17 March 2020 - 01:59 PM

Lazaroff,
I have done so, but I find it doesn’t work for general pointing. For example, looking for comet 289P in Leo last weekend, the red dot obscured the guide star, but the 25mm picked it up easily. But the 25mm fov was too narrow and magnified to look for the star pattern I was looking for. In other words, it pulled too many background stars obscuring where to look. So perhaps a wa 32mm will help, but I still got the ra spotter anyway.


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