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Looking for advice on 8" Dob

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#1 Lunacies

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 08:27 AM

Hey guys, I am new to astronomy and looking to upgrade my telescope to something a bit better that will last me a while and give me good quality views of the moon, planets, and hopefully be able to see some DSOs as I learn the sky better.

 

I currently have a 60mm Celestron Firstscope 60Az  that was gifted to my by a friend. I recently started using it and getting into astronomy more and wanted something better. I had been looking around and the general consensus seemed to be to get a dob for the most cost effective best views. I started looking into an 8" dob, the Apertura AD8 in particular is what I see recommended a lot of a good deal with accessories, however everything appears to be out of stock everywhere. I found a OrionXT4.5 over the weekend for $50 that I picked up as it seemed cheap and would be a step up over my current scope, however I still would like to eventually get something bigger once I get a little better at using it and finding things in the sky.

 

Basically my question is, is there much of a difference between different models? I saw an Orion XT8 for sale on the classifieds that is in my state for a decent price and would save me $200 or so from buying one used. Is buying a used telescope typically a decent idea or do you run the risk of things being wrong with it etc? Is that XT8 and AD8 essentially the same scope minus the extras the AD8 might come with such as the fan etc? Would it be overall better for me as a beginner to just try and buy the cheaper used one and start with that vs buying a brand new one?

 

Spending $50 on a used XT4.5 didn't seem like too big of a deal as if it had issues, it was not a lot of money but if I am investing in an 8" I want to make sure it will last me and do what I need/want it to as they start getting more expensive and significantly bigger as well.

 

In addition to eventually getting a better/bigger scope I am also interested in what accessories I may be interested in, both to use with my current 4.5 and eventually down the line with an 8" when I finally pull the trigger. I saw this Eyepiece set recommended on reddit https://www.amazon.c...ZAR6D53CV9VPTHQ which I was thinking about picking up. Looking at the sun is also something I am very interested in and was wondering what my best options would be for that? Try to buy a solar lense for my 60mm and use that for sun gazing? Or get a filter for the 4.5 and use that one if/when I get a bigger scope? Interested in any recommendations as I am still very new to this.

 

Hope this is the right place to post this and ask these questions. I have always had a love of space, had a cheap dinky telescope when I was a kid that I never learned how to use and now I want to invest in something to really learn how to use and enjoy the night sky. I also live in a fairly light polluted area. When I look at the light polution maps, my town is right on the edge of Red/Orange sections. Unfortunately my state does not seem to have a lot of dark areas and it seems the best I could get without driving quite far would be a "yellow section" on one of the maps. Any advice and recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

 

 



#2 Couder

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 08:59 AM

This is a personal opinion. I set up in my backyard when we lived in town, now we live in the country and I set up in my front yard. You can worry about your skies, your location, your equipment to the point where you don't go out and enjoy the sky. Use what you have, later you can upgrade. I know it depends what you're interested in that dictates your viewing criteria, but there are many things to look at even if you can't see a faint whisp.


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#3 Lunacies

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 09:04 AM

Oh I entirely plan to try and make the best of what I have available, and there is a field on the other side of town that is in more of an orange area on the map and is noticeably darker that I plan to go to soon on a clear night, just mentioning it for whatever relevance it has. I guess I don't know what most people are typically working with and assume most people doing this are in very dark areas.



#4 Lunacies

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 09:43 AM

  This is an astronomy forum , OF COURSE you should get the 8inch,  .   I always try to answer in the affirmitive , yes ,  nothing tried , nothing gained . Never said NO to the missus or  the chilins   We all don't live in dark locations , but we do what we can with the hobby ...   IMO, if you learn the sky thats the greatest thing you will take  away with you .... on any  night you can enjoy the view without  a telescope even ..  An 8inch dob is very special scope ,  a lifetime scope , a scope that  won't hinder you from taking it out , light enough , not TOO cumbersome and it provides the resolution and light gathering a new person needs too  see the stuff enough too identify it .. of course these are just my opinions ,  

I know I definitely want to go with an 8", do you have any advice or recommendation, or experience with an Orion XT8 vs an Apertura AD8, and buying one used vs new? That's kind of where I am at right now with seeing one on the classifieds and most websites being out of stock right now of what I have seen considered the "better option".



#5 gene 4181

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 10:11 AM

 I always had Orion dobs  , looked thru a couple of GSOs  , not much difference other than the end trim rings and bearings on the side , the focuser was different too , some like it better / more (GSO)  but never had a problem with my Syntas  , easy too service . IF they slip you re-file the flat on the focuser tube ,  clean/ lube the bearing wheels  put it back together . I only used 1 bearing / spring  hooked up, didn't need both unless i used the ES 24-82 . IF the Orion is in good shape and a significant discount  get it , IF not use what you have till spring unless you live in an area that gets   clear nights frequently .  JMO here 



#6 zleonis

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 10:27 AM

I think the used XT8 could be a good first scope. I have an 8” dob that’s essentially identical to the AD8 in terms of optics and accessories, and while the AD8 definitely has an edge over the XT8 in accessories, you can always upgrade piecemeal (especially when the AD8 isn’t available anywhere now).

 

Depending on what accessories come with the XT8, a few things you might consider are
- Sky Safari plus (or pro): an extremely useful electronic chart (for tablet / smartphone) that will show you where to find basically any celestial object you can see, along with data about each object and useful utilities for planning and logging observing sessions. It takes a bit of doing to use
- Right-angle correct-image finder scope: a magnified finder is very useful for finding targets that aren’t visible to the naked eye and that aren’t close to other naked eye objects. The right-angle diagonal in the finderscope makes it much more comfortable to use on a dobsonian-mounted telescope, and the view matches your charts.
- Eyepieces: I haven’t used that line of Svbony eyepeices, but I was pretty happy with their Ploessl design eyepieces. The 6mm and 9mm would certainly be useful focal lengths, but I might skip either/both the 15mm and 20mm and instead get a 32mm Ploessl or maybe a 30mm GSO Superview. None of these eyepieces would show stars as perfect points near the edge of the field of view, but they should certainly get you started as you think about what might come next.
- Collimation tool: I’ve found an inexpensive sight-tube/Cheshire tool (similar to this one) to be helpful in aligning mirrors (my 8” dob holds alignment well and maybe needs a few small adjustments after a car trip or every few weeks). The laser collimator that comes with the AD8 is a nice idea, but I’ve never been able to keep it aligned (the laser beam itself, that is. Others have had better luck).

 

In terms of viewing sites, I also live in a red zone on a map, and while the light pollution is unfortunate, there’s a lot to see, including the moon and planets, plus lots of star clusters and planetary nebulae. Galaxies and most bright nebulae are disappointing in heavily light polluted skies, but there are still some that you can see. If the yellow zone near you has good observing spots, it’s definitely worth a short drive to take advantage of the darker skies. The naked-eye sky will be much more rewarding, and most all the Messier galaxies should be fairly easy to find in an 8” telescope.

Whatever you choose, good luck!



#7 gene 4181

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 10:30 AM

 Lunacies , you could always start a thread in Reflectors  and get some personal insight  into whether the GSO was better than the Syntas models,   having a new one with a warranty   might be important  to you. 



#8 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 10:35 AM

If the choice was between a new Apertura AD8 and a new Orion SkyQuest XT8, I would choose the former.  However, for the large difference in price, the used XT8 seems like a great deal, if it's in good shape.  I've used an older model XT6 as a "quick-look scope" for casual observing from my red-zone front yard for many years.

As far as accessories, an observing chair comes in handy.  The Astro-Tech Paradigm Dual ED eyepieces are very good buys.  A 2" wide-field eyepiece in the 30 to 38mm range would make locating objects much easier and would allow viewing of some of the larger extended objects.  The Sky & Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas is well worth having.

 

You may some of the information on astronomy, amateur astronomy, and observing in my post (#22) at https://www.cloudyni...mers/?p=5184287 useful.

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#9 Lunacies

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 10:39 AM

I think the used XT8 could be a good first scope. I have an 8” dob that’s essentially identical to the AD8 in terms of optics and accessories, and while the AD8 definitely has an edge over the XT8 in accessories, you can always upgrade piecemeal (especially when the AD8 isn’t available anywhere now).

 

Depending on what accessories come with the XT8, a few things you might consider are
- Sky Safari plus (or pro): an extremely useful electronic chart (for tablet / smartphone) that will show you where to find basically any celestial object you can see, along with data about each object and useful utilities for planning and logging observing sessions. It takes a bit of doing to use
- Right-angle correct-image finder scope: a magnified finder is very useful for finding targets that aren’t visible to the naked eye and that aren’t close to other naked eye objects. The right-angle diagonal in the finderscope makes it much more comfortable to use on a dobsonian-mounted telescope, and the view matches your charts.
- Eyepieces: I haven’t used that line of Svbony eyepeices, but I was pretty happy with their Ploessl design eyepieces. The 6mm and 9mm would certainly be useful focal lengths, but I might skip either/both the 15mm and 20mm and instead get a 32mm Ploessl or maybe a 30mm GSO Superview. None of these eyepieces would show stars as perfect points near the edge of the field of view, but they should certainly get you started as you think about what might come next.
- Collimation tool: I’ve found an inexpensive sight-tube/Cheshire tool (similar to this one) to be helpful in aligning mirrors (my 8” dob holds alignment well and maybe needs a few small adjustments after a car trip or every few weeks). The laser collimator that comes with the AD8 is a nice idea, but I’ve never been able to keep it aligned (the laser beam itself, that is. Others have had better luck).

 

In terms of viewing sites, I also live in a red zone on a map, and while the light pollution is unfortunate, there’s a lot to see, including the moon and planets, plus lots of star clusters and planetary nebulae. Galaxies and most bright nebulae are disappointing in heavily light polluted skies, but there are still some that you can see. If the yellow zone near you has good observing spots, it’s definitely worth a short drive to take advantage of the darker skies. The naked-eye sky will be much more rewarding, and most all the Messier galaxies should be fairly easy to find in an 8” telescope.

Whatever you choose, good luck!

Thanks for the reply. I downloaded SkySafari yesterday and have been looking into getting one of the upgraded versions as they appear to be on sale right now on Android. I don't really know much about what I can do with it yet, was just messing around with it last night to verify what I was looking at or get an idea when I might be able to see something but it was cloudy and did not get to do much last night aside from look at the moon.

 

I know a good finder scope is probably a good thing to have. I have a finder scope on my xt4.5 I was trying to use last night but it did not seem very accurate or to match up that great with what I was trying to look at. I would put the center of the moon in the center of the crosshairs and then look through the scope and be looking at a corner of the moon. Maybe this is normal and it will never be super accurate and is just a good reference, or learn that the scope will actually be down to the left of the finder etc, but I know I need to practice and get better with it.

 

I suppose I can always buy the 2 eyepieces individually and look for others if half the set may not be worth it, I will have to keep my eyes out.

 

 Lunacies , you could always start a thread in Reflectors  and get some personal insight  into whether the GSO was better than the Syntas models,   having a new one with a warranty   might be important  to you. 

Thanks I may do so, figured this was the right place to start and some forums/subreddits are strict about double posting or where you post something so I figured this was the safest bet to start off.

 

In addition to most likely upgrading the app on my phone, I also purchased Turn Left at Orion over the weekend which I see recommended most places so I also need to start reading through that and understanding how to use it to help me.


Edited by Lunacies, 29 September 2020 - 10:40 AM.

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#10 Frugal Astronomer

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 12:04 PM

I have the AD8, which I would also recommend over the XT8 if you were buying new because it comes with better accessories.  BUT, if you can get a used XT8 for much less than either of them new, I would do it.  The scope itself is likely just as good if it's been well cared for, and you'll have money to buy the other stuff.  I really like the 8 x 50 RACI finder that came with the AD8.  I have two of the goldline SvBony eyepieces (15 and 6) which were very serviceable but I've since switched to the Paradigm/Starguiders and they are better.  For $60 a piece, they are really good performing eyepieces and I know I'll be very happily using them for years to come.  The 25mm and the 12mm are the two I use the most, along with a GSO 2.5x Barlow.  I'd caution against buying a set of eyepieces.  You'll probably find with some experience that you only use 2 or 3 of them and then you're not really saving anything by getting a set.  The GSO super view 30mm that came with mine is also very good and can be purchased separately.


Edited by Frugal Astronomer, 29 September 2020 - 12:05 PM.

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#11 Lunacies

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 02:11 PM

Thanks everyone for you advice and replies. I think I am going to go with the used XT8 from someone on here, get some additional accessories with it and save some money. Looking forward to getting to try it out.



#12 rowdy388

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Posted 29 September 2020 - 03:16 PM

An 8" dob is a wonderful scope. I use one as my travel/outreach scope. It shows a ton of stuff

and is easy to manhandle for both transporting and operating. Have fun!



#13 magconrpes

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 01:59 AM

I just got a new Orion XT8i.  If I could have gotten a used 8" Dob, either and Orion or GSO as a first scope, I would have.  But all the used ones I found were only about $100 less than new and still sold within a day.  So I went new and upgraded to the Intelliscope, which I don't feel is necessarily needed in a first scope.  I haven't bothered using it yet and am just enjoying scanning the sky.

 

I did consider a 10", but am glad I didn't go that big.  The 8" is enough to deal with given I don't have a permanent spot for it.



#14 zleonis

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Posted 30 September 2020 - 02:11 PM

...

I know a good finder scope is probably a good thing to have. I have a finder scope on my xt4.5 I was trying to use last night but it did not seem very accurate or to match up that great with what I was trying to look at. I would put the center of the moon in the center of the crosshairs and then look through the scope and be looking at a corner of the moon. Maybe this is normal and it will never be super accurate and is just a good reference, or learn that the scope will actually be down to the left of the finder etc, but I know I need to practice and get better with it.

...

You should be able to align the finder so that the center of the crosshairs aligns with the center of your eyepiece. If it’s a magnified finder, there should be 2-3 thumb screws somewhere along the body of the finder that will adjust the tilt. Red dot finders should have a couple dials/knobs that adjust the tilt of the reticle. Sometimes, if the stalk that holds the finder is bent, or the tube is deformed where the finder attaches, you may need to use shims or something to get positioning correct (this happened to me), but it should be reasonably easy to get your finder aligned. Enjoy your new telescope!



#15 Lunacies

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 03:38 PM

Picked up my 8" today from Augustus here on CN. Got some accessories with it as well he was looking to get rid of including a chair and some eye pieces. Really looking forward to getting to try it out, looking abit cloudy now but hopefully it clears up later tonight. 8" is definitely the biggest size I can go with for a while, I am glad I did not get ahead of myself and try to jump into anything bigger. Anyway, thanks for the advice and cannot wait to start using this thing.



#16 gnowellsct

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 03:45 PM

Congratulations.  Sometimes the purpose of a scope is to lead you to another scope.  Enjoy this one, use it, get to know its strengths and limitations.  Down the line, you might want to buy some other scope or rig to see how that works.

 

You did real good by using that 60mm till you decided you wanted to try something bigger.  8 inches is a LOT bigger!  You'll be pleased.

 

We tend to urge newcomers to 8 inch dobs on this forum but I think there is at least an argument or two to be made on behalf of starting with a refractor.

 

Greg N



#17 Jimceez

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Posted 01 October 2020 - 04:17 PM

Lunacies,

 

Congrats on the purchase.  I made the same choice as you and went with a used Orion XT8 bought off the classifieds on this website.  The classifieds here have lots of eyepieces come up all the time.  As in your same position, I would suggest a zoom eyepiece instead of the set.  I bought an Agena Astro 8-24mm to get started.  Celestron, Meade all have a decent zoom in the $60-90 range new.  Watch the classifieds on CN.  I would also recommend a 2” 25, 32, 38mm wide angle for the moon and planets.  I got a 26mm 70 deg. on the classifieds.

 

Good luck viewing.




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