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Upgrade from Binoculars

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#1 Origamipigeon

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 03:08 PM

Hey all, 

 

I'm new to the forum and looking for advice / opinions on a first telescope after owning binoculars (Nikon 8x42, so 8x Mag 42mm lens). I've done a lot of research over the past few weeks but wanted some confirmation / other perspectives on what I'm looking for, as maybe I'm completely off target.

 

The requirements I have set myself are:

* I live in a reasonable light-polluted area (Bortle 5-6 / yellow) in suburbia of the US Pacific North West. I'm not sure if a goto mount would be best as a result. I do like the idea of being able to find things on my own, but this may be too difficult given viewing conditions (I do have several GPS star chart apps though, so have a rough idea of where things are). I'll not be taking the scope outside of the back yard as I don't have time to drive to a darker place (I have a very young <1 yr old daughter), or it would be a very, very rare occasion - so portability isn't too much of a concern.

* Budget is about $1000-1500

* I'd like to be able to take pictures as well as viewing, but these pictures will be taken with an iPhone. Viewing / photo desire is about 75%-25% - It would be great to capture amazing images, but I'd really like to be able to *see* amazing things in real-time, even from the backyard.

* I'd really like to be able to see Jupiter / Saturn clearly, and be able to see Uranus / Neptune look like planets instead of stars. My wife would also at a minimum want to be able to see Saturn / Jupiter clearly.

* For DSO's I'm open for suggestions as to what's possible to see with what equipment

* I like the idea of a mounted telescope vs dob because it 'looks better' and would enable an EQ mount to manually track objects. I'm not sure if this would be needed for my use case though

* Should be robust enough to last a good few years

* Open to complete kit (OTA, mount et al), or individual parts suggestions. A initial full assembly just needs to be under $1500. 

 

The brands I've been mostly looking at are Orion and Celestron. Things that I've considered as possibilities myself (again, open to discussion, people changing my mind) are the Celestron Nexstar 8SE ($1000), the Orion 8/f4.9 Newt Reflector with EQ mount ($600) or the 10 inch version for $499 and getting a different mount. I have also considered getting something like a Celestron Power seeker 127 EQ, as it's much cheaper and would enable me to try out an EQ mount and learn to collimate with something that is much better than the binoculars that I have - but isn't much investment in case I don't like it. I'm worried that something as small as a 5 inch reflector would not be enough at this point to see much from the light pollution levels near me.  Again, open to suggestions about what setups others have and appreciate any pointers / advice.

 

Thanks!



#2 kfiscus

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 03:39 PM

Welcome!  You have come to the right place for advice.  I would encourage you to consider temporarily separating your interests in stargazing and astrophotography.  Many, many beginners want to combine the two interests but their equipment requirements vary greatly.

 

Thank you for providing sufficient background info so that we can offer our advice.  I would suggest you consider a Celestron 4,5, or 6SE for a go-to scope.  This would allow plenty of room in your budget for eyepieces, power supply, dew shield, and other accessories.  I've gotten to use a 6SE and found it to have good optics and good tracking.  The 8SE is also a good scope but will leave you less money for other things you'll need.

 

Later on, astrophotography will require a very sturdy mount, camera, filters, adapters, software, computer, the list goes on and on.


Edited by kfiscus, 15 July 2020 - 03:42 PM.

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#3 ButterFly

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 03:41 PM

You are on the right track.  8-10" is the best place to start.

 

The mount is entirely personal.  A dob is just easy - roll it out and you're good.  The EQ needs to be pointed somewhat well.  If it's not, you need to use the other knob every so often.  That will help with phone shots, but consider picture taking as something entirely separate, just for your sanity's sake.  The other difference that may be relevant is the height.  A dob's mirror is low to the ground so it is more affected by nearby trees.  Crouch down to see how much sky you get from that low down.

 

From Bortle 5/6, the Milky Way is noticable overhead, but it's still not dark.  Shielding street lights from where you observe will go a long way, with the occasional drive out to see galaxies.

 

A good starting eyepiece selection is a Baader zoom, a barlow, and a low power eyepiece.  Somewhere in the 20-30mm is a good choice for the low power eyepiece.  From binos, a 68 degree field is something you are used to, but an ES 24mm with 82 degree field is a good choice and doesn't take much getting used it its quirks.  30 mm is a little too low for the sky background - the sky will still look too grey.  The 20 or 25mm 100 degree eyepieces are perfect in terms of magnification and skyglow reduction, but a 100 degree field is something you should try before you buy.

 

A good UHC filter will cost about $150-200.  They help out with hundreds of objects, but they do nothing to help galaxies.  Consider adding one as soon as you can.

 

A Telrad is great to have to point easily.

 

If it's no rush, wait to check the ads for all of these things used.



#4 LCWASTRO

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 04:05 PM

Murder and BURN the idea of the 127eq if you are talking about the powerseeker.bombdrop.gifgramps.gifforeheadslap.gifforeheadslap.gif Thats what i was told. got a 10 inch dob coming now :D i would sacrifice looks for HUGE aperatures!lol.gif      (in most cases)


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#5 kfiscus

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 05:26 PM

Murder and BURN the idea of the 127eq if you are talking about the powerseeker.bombdrop.gifgramps.gifforeheadslap.gifforeheadslap.gif Thats what i was told. got a 10 inch dob coming now laugh.gif i would sacrifice looks for HUGE aperatures!lol.gif      (in most cases)

I missed that in the OP's post.  I agree 100%.  The Powerseeker is an interest killer.



#6 Origamipigeon

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 07:16 PM

Thanks for the welcome and replies so far. Do people think a Go2 is a good investment / as I'm just starting out / given the light pollution levels? Or is manual still the way to go? I like the idea of hunting for the target, but worry that many just waypoints just won't be visible. 

 

It looks like the 127 powerseeker is out then!

 

I was looking at the 10 inch Orion reflector as that seems a great size and was only $500, but it seems mounts skyrocket at that point. The 8 inch version and mount are $600, but the mount for that won't hold the larger weight, and at that point it looks like you need a $1200 mount? I'm guessing that's why so many go with dobsonain?



#7 ButterFly

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Posted 15 July 2020 - 08:21 PM

The 8x42s are about the size of a finder scope.  Look around Sagittarius hunting for globs and brighter nebulas: M22, the lagoon, the swan.  They will be fuzzy patches at that magnification.  The dumbell nebula is another good small binocular target.  Most of starhopping is exactly this.  From brighter skies (big cities) one just needs to start from brighter stars instead of the 4th magnitude ones.  It makes starhops longer.  At Bortle 5/6, mag 3/4 and maybe 5 stars are clearly visible and identifiable.  Binoculars help plan those starhops when you have the scope and it's a new target.

 

Dobs certainly allow bigger apertures for less money.  Heavy duty EQ mounts blow up in price fairly quickly.  A dob can be loaded onto a handtruck and moved as is.  Without having to realign any goto system, you can go from one part of the yard to the other to avoid trees and heat plumes.  An EQ mount with a big scope on it can't be moved that easily (plus it needs to be re- polar aligned).  Just touch up the collimation and it's good to go again.

 

I forgot to mention, a combination cheshire with crosshairs is one of the best ways to learn collimation.  It forces you to look through the focuser at the mirrors and literally see what collimation does.  Lasers with a single beam need maintenance and can't tell you anything about the positioning of the elements - only their relative tilts.



#8 rhetfield

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 12:20 PM

It looks like the 127 powerseeker is out then!

Specifically, the powerseeker 127 is a "bird-jones" design that uses optics in front of the eyepiece to allow long focal length optics to exist in a short tube.  Bird and Jones used the design to build nice, professional custom scopes.  The mass producers tend to use poorly matched spare parts to build cheap scopes that tend to perform poorly out of the box and are hard to fix.  The advice is generally to stick with the more traditional newts which the mass producers tend to have a harder time mucking up.    



#9 Origamipigeon

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Posted 16 July 2020 - 08:52 PM

You are on the right track.  8-10" is the best place to start.

 

From Bortle 5/6, the Milky Way is noticable overhead, but it's still not dark.  Shielding street lights from where you observe will go a long way, with the occasional drive out to see galaxies.

 

A good starting eyepiece selection is a Baader zoom, a barlow, and a low power eyepiece.  Somewhere in the 20-30mm is a good choice for the low power eyepiece.  From binos, a 68 degree field is something you are used to, but an ES 24mm with 82 degree field is a good choice and doesn't take much getting used it its quirks.  30 mm is a little too low for the sky background - the sky will still look too grey.  The 20 or 25mm 100 degree eyepieces are perfect in terms of magnification and skyglow reduction, but a 100 degree field is something you should try before you buy.

 

A good UHC filter will cost about $150-200.  They help out with hundreds of objects, but they do nothing to help galaxies.  Consider adding one as soon as you can.

 

A Telrad is great to have to point easily.

 

If it's no rush, wait to check the ads for all of these things used.

 

I decided to go with the 10 inch newt for a first scope, with the Skytee 2 mount / EQ5 tripod and 'build' it all myself, rather than order a complete kit.

The mount comes with a 2x Skywatcher/Vixen type dovetail but after some research it has been suggested to upgrade this to something sturdier for the heavier scopes that is given as Lossmandy, (sp?) Which i'm guessing is a different interface / way of mounting the scope inside the mounting rings to the mount itself, versus the vixen dovetail? 

 

You mentioned a Baader Zoom, is Baader a brand or a type? Could Anyone recommend a 25mm eyepiece / Barlow lens / UHC filter (There are very few street lights near me, but lots of house lights). I have seen prices on all these items range from $30-$250 and I'm not sure which brands are reputable vs not so good vs you're paying for the brand not the product. 


Edited by Origamipigeon, 16 July 2020 - 09:01 PM.


#10 ButterFly

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 06:17 AM

Baader is a brand.  They make a nice zoom that is fairly well corrected and can handle low f/ratio scopes well.  The downside of (nearly all) zooms is that the lower power has a much smaller apparent field of view than at higher powers.  It's good to add another eyepiece to get those larger fields at the low power end.

 

A ten inch newt is heavy.  You need a serious mount for that.  That will eat up a lot of the budget.

 

Filter quality is important, especially if you want to push higher powers through them.  Some of the more reputable brands are Lumicon, Televue, Baader, Dgm.  Astro gear isn't advertised on the side of busses, so you don't end up paying for advertising too often.  But, like other brands, consistency is still important for the brands.



#11 bobhen

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Posted 17 July 2020 - 07:26 AM

Here is a “really complete kit” with a lot of what you need and are looking for…HERE is a link.

 

The scope is a Celestron C8: Nexstar 8SE marketed by OPT as the ultimate telescope kit. Cost is $1,350 With…

 

8-inch aperture with excellent light-gathering ability.
f/10 focal ratio for high magnification.
Computerized system will track objects for you.
Unique design, simple disassembly for easy transport.

 

Extra Items included are…
Includes Lithium LT PowerTank, eyepieces, barlow (magnification lens), ND filter, controller, dew shield, smartphone adapter, 2-year warranty & more.

 

The C8 in one form or another has been around for over 50 years. The scope will meet ALL of you expectations and probably more.

Give yourself some time to FULLY understand the equipment. Don’t rush it. You also need to understand collimation (optical alignment) and let the scope cool down outside for at least 3-4 hours for the best high power views of the moon and planets. For deep sky observing, you can use the scope while it cools.

 

Consider adding...

Learn the sky, get an atlas, some books on amature astronomy, get some insect repellant, get or use a nice portable observing chair, possibly a correct image right angle 50mm finder scope, take your time and have fun.

 

Bob


Edited by bobhen, 17 July 2020 - 07:28 AM.

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