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First Scope Buying Advice

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#1 NeoMoses

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 01:41 AM

Hi All, I'm a longtime lurker and finally decided to post some questions.  I'm looking to get a telescope after not using one for 20+ years, so consider me a newbie.  My previous experience is on a 60mm Big Box store refractor, so not much experience.  I expect most of my viewing will be planets and the moon, although I'm sure if the DSOs are rewarding I'd like to look at them, too.  I'm trying to find something to introduce the family to stargazing, and if there's interest I may save up for a larger/nicer scope later.  I also want to keep the scope mobile, as I live in the outskirts of a large city.  I will have to travel to get to dark skies.

 

I want to try to pick up a used reflector on Craigslist/Facebook if possible and not break the bank.  I'm looking at a couple of 4.5" reflectors (Celestron First Scope/Meade 4500 style).  I've found a couple of these in the $100 range, and some  have a couple of eyepieces included.  They all look a bit dusty, but it appears the mirror looks like it's still shiny, so I'm assuming I should be able to clean them up and get them working.

 

I've also come across a 6" Orion AstroView, but it looks like it doesn't come with any eyepieces.  It's listed at ~$225, which is interesting at ~half of the brand new price, but I'm figuring I'll have to buy a couple eyepieces and a Barlow to get started with that one.  If I go with this one, I'm guessing I'll be close to ~$300 with the scope + eyepieces.  

 

My gut tells me to just spend the money and go with the 6" scope, that it will be better in the long run.  Will it really be 3x as good as an older 4.5" scope that costs 1/3 the price?  If I go with the 6 incher, should I just buy a new one for $450 instead of risking half of that on a  used one?

 

All of these scopes I'm looking at are on equatorial mounts, but manual only, no drive motors.

 

I'd really like to try to make this decision in the next few days so I can get some practice and take a look at Saturn & Jupiter on December 21.  Any advice would be helpful.  Thanks in advance!



#2 Waynosworld

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 02:38 AM

Do you have a model number for this 6" Orion AstroView scope your thinking about buying?



#3 osbourne one-nil

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 02:42 AM

Morning and welcome!

 

If we leave cost aside for one moment, I'd only consider a 4.5" reflector if portability was of paramount importance, but a 6" scope isn't really any more problematical to move around or store than a 4.5" mount, but a 6" scope will show more and could keep you happy for years. 

 

Buying used can be great and the chances are something like a 6" Astroview has been barely used as they're often bought by people who like the idea of astronomy but then realise it means going outside at night, or by well-meaning grandparents for their grand-children. However, is the AstroView on a mount on a tripod? If so, I'd urge caution as those sort of mounts are zero fun for quick peaks and general viewing. I'd probably look at something like https://uk.telescope...CategoryId=1344 instead...there are lots of variants out there. 

 

Have a look at Ed Ting's YouTube channel; he's got some great advice around this!


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#4 Sky Muse

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 02:45 AM

Do you have any tools to collimate a Newtonian?  In that all three are used, I naturally suspect that they need their collimation checked at least.  If you don't have any tools, then I would suggest a Cheshire, and a collimation-cap as a fail-safe...

 

Cheshires: https://agenaastro.c...reflectors.html ...or... https://agenaastro.c...tors-94182.html

Collimation-cap: https://agenaastro.c...t-eyepiece.html

 

You can make do with just the cap.  The more accurate the collimation, the sharper the images will be at the higher powers.  I assume you'll be wanting to see the upcoming planetary union up close.

 

The Celestron and Meade Newtonians are 114mm(4.5") f/8 instruments.  I have a current Meade...

 

kit4c.jpg

 

Sight unseen however, I would choose the Celestron of those two.  I get very nice views out of my own. 

 

I also have an Orion 150mm(6") f/5 Newtonian, and almost identical to that of the "AstroView" kit...

 

6 f5qa.jpg  

 

I've had some wonderful views through that one...

 

sampler.jpg

 

Those are just afocal-shots of brighter objects, by holding a small point-and-shoot camera up to an eyepiece and snapping a shot, on the fly.  Others use their "smartphones".  I'm not an astro-photographer/imager however.   

 

I'd say that the 6" would be at least 1.5x nicer than the 4.5", maybe twice as nice.  With the 6" at f/5, it will be more difficult to collimate, but that really shouldn't steer you away.  Just avoid f/4 instruments among these smaller apertures, at least until you're proficient in working with the design.  For example, I have this 100mm f/4, and at present I'm a bit disappointed with it...

 

mounted3b.jpg  

 

However, part of that may be my fault.  Just stick with f/5 and longer among those apertures.

 

You also have this option, and new...

 

https://telescopes.n...elescope.html  


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#5 kfrederick

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 08:12 AM

There is a 10 inch dob in the classified for 350 dollars   



#6 Bill Jensen

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Posted 30 November 2020 - 08:26 AM

Welcome to CN!

 

similar to Kfrederick, I suggest you keep an open mind to a dob since it has an alt az mount, as you will have less complexity to manage as you are restarting your interest in astronomy. The CN classifieds often have very nice scopes available for a good price, and the members, if local to you, can assist once you purchase one. 

 

Since you live near a city, it is likely you are in the area served by an astronomy club. I suggest investing in a membership with them before buying a scope.

 

I live in the DC suburbs, and our club offers loaner scopes for example. It allows you the opportunity to "try before you buy" a scope. If your club offers something similar, you can see what works for you size wise, and also budget wise. Members also may help you via their email lists or FB pages with how to handle setup and finding objects. Some may have a nice scope that is used, but available for sale, and doesn't need to be "fixed". 

I think a 6 inch dobsonian mounted telescope, perhaps f/8 (although some are f/6) would be a scope that would keep you busy for years. a f/8 scope will be easier to collimate as well 



#7 NeoMoses

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 12:36 AM

There is a 10 inch dob in the classified for 350 dollars   

I know this is a slight departure of the original thread, but is there a way to sort the classifieds by location?  I'm in the Detroit Metro area and I'm not really seeing much within a 2-3 hour drive from me. Thanks!



#8 cuzimthedad

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 01:28 AM

I know this is a slight departure of the original thread, but is there a way to sort the classifieds by location?  I'm in the Detroit Metro area and I'm not really seeing much within a 2-3 hour drive from me. Thanks!

You may best find the answer to your question by asking in the CN Feedback Forum.



#9 NeoMoses

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 10:10 PM

I pulled the trigger and picked up a Celestron Firstscope 114 for $90.  The primary mirror looked nice and shiny, so I figured I'd give it a go.  It came with a 2x Barlow and 3 EPs, 25mm, 10mm, 7.5mm.  I figure that's enough to get me started and $90 is a pretty low entry price.  

 

I got it home tonight and did a quick look at the moon with the  25mm eyepiece.  Everything looks nice and clear and I was able to focus easily.  I think the scope has potential.  I did notice that the declination axis isn't responding to the fine adjustment, so I'm heading out to the garage to see if I can fix it.

 

I'll post a couple of pics soon.


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#10 NeoMoses

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Posted 02 December 2020 - 10:24 PM

Let's see if this works.  Here's a few pics of the scope.  I also see I'm missing the counterweight rod and the counterweights.  
Celestron FirstScope 114
 
First Shot of the Moon Through Celestron FirstScope 114

 

 

 

Edited by NeoMoses, 02 December 2020 - 10:25 PM.


#11 osbourne one-nil

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 02:00 AM

Nice! For $90 I think it's definitely worth a go and if the mount turns out to be the weak point, it would be easy enough to mount it on something else...perhaps even a good photo tripod. 

 

Looks nice!



#12 cuzimthedad

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 12:17 PM

Congratulations! Use it often and have fun!!



#13 SeattleScott

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Posted 03 December 2020 - 12:21 PM

Funny, the finder stalk looks like it got put on backwards. I guess as long as it works. Flipping it around will help a little with keeping your warm breath further away from the eyepiece, reducing problems with eyepiece fogging. And might make it easier to align the finderscope, or might not.

Scott

#14 NeoMoses

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Posted 04 December 2020 - 08:32 AM

Thanks for the tip on the finderscope.  I'll take a look and flip it.  I also think the mount is a little weird.  It's missing the counterweight and counterweight shaft.  Does anyone know the thread pitch for this shaft?  I went through my bolt bin and it doesn't appear to be an SAE thread, so I'm guessing it's metric.  Maybe an M10?  I'm not really sure on the thread pitch yet, though. 



#15 NeoMoses

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 11:13 AM

Do you have any tools to collimate a Newtonian?  In that all three are used, I naturally suspect that they need their collimation checked at least.  If you don't have any tools, then I would suggest a Cheshire, and a collimation-cap as a fail-safe...

 

Cheshires: https://agenaastro.c...reflectors.html ...or... https://agenaastro.c...tors-94182.html

Collimation-cap: https://agenaastro.c...t-eyepiece.html

 

You can make do with just the cap.  The more accurate the collimation, the sharper the images will be at the higher powers.  I assume you'll be wanting to see the upcoming planetary union up close.

I think the collimation advice is great and I plan on learning how to do this quickly, before 12/21. :)  Do I need both a collimation cap AND a Cheshire eyepiece, or will the Cheshire do both tasks?  

 

It looks like the Cheshires come in a long body and a short body.  Since I got a 4.5" scope, 910mm FL, F/8, which Cheshire do I need?  I haven't seen a clear answer, but I think I need the long one.



#16 Sky Muse

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Posted 05 December 2020 - 08:16 PM

I think the collimation advice is great and I plan on learning how to do this quickly, before 12/21. smile.gif  Do I need both a collimation cap AND a Cheshire eyepiece, or will the Cheshire do both tasks?  

 

It looks like the Cheshires come in a long body and a short body.  Since I got a 4.5" scope, 910mm FL, F/8, which Cheshire do I need?  I haven't seen a clear answer, but I think I need the long one.

I don't think you'd need a Cheshire straight away.  It becomes really necessary for those shorter(f/4, f/5); those more difficult to collimate.  I suggest the cap in addition to a Cheshire as a fail-safe; a "second opinion", so to speak.

 

Most all Cheshires are long.  The ones for refractors are shorter.  Modern Cheshires combine a sight-tube with a traditional Cheshire.  I have, instead, a sight-tube, and a Cheshire(for refractors usually)...

 

Tectron tool set - basic.jpg

 

The sight-tube, with cross-hairs, for Newtonians, is long.  That Cheshire is short, for refractors.  Again, the modern Cheshres combine both into one unit.

 

You want to make sure that the secondary-mirror is centered directly under the focusser, and a nigh perfect circle in appearance.  This is the view down the focusser of my own 114mm f/8...

 

focusser2b.jpg

 

But I haven't collimated/renovated that telescope yet.  Illuminate the telescope from the front...

 

illumination.jpg

 

That way, you will be able see everything within the scene more clearly...

 

factory collimation2d.jpg

 

Again, I haven't worked on that one yet, although the images were quite good with it wonky-looking like that.

 

The cap works best, or only if the primary-mirror is center-spotted...

 

https://garyseronik....primary-mirror/

 

If you go to that trouble, use a plastic reinforcement rather than that of paper...

 

reinforcements.jpg

 

That's Avery #5729.  I couldn't find them locally, only online.

 

Some have opined that it is of no use in center-spotting a spherical primary-mirror.  But if it's round, and has a center, I'm going to spot it...

 

primary center-spot4.jpg

 

That being the 127mm f/4(?) spherical primary-mirror of my somewhat exquisite and unique "Bird Jones".

 

In the end, you want the centers of the mirrors, the focusser, the eyepiece and the eye, all lined up...

 

Newtonian light-path2ca.jpg



#17 NeoMoses

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Posted 10 December 2020 - 08:35 PM

So far so good.  I picked up a Celestron Cheshire eyepiece and tried my hand at collimating today.  I'm not really sure I made anything better, though.  I moved some stuff around, but moving the secondary mirror seems really inaccurate.  As soon as I loosen a screw, the thing is just like a wet noodle and moves all around.  This is going to take some practice. Whoever says they can do this in a few minutes obviously has WAAAAAAY more skill than I do. bow.gif

 

The good news is:  the scope is still useable after my first collimation attempt. We had clear-ish skies for the first time in almost a week, so I got to check out Jupiter and Saturn tonight.  I was able to see rings around Saturn! I could also see the 4 Galilean moons of Jupiter.  I might have been able to see 1 band near Jupiter's equator, but that may have just been my brain tricking me.  

 

It looks like my useful magnification right now is ~90x, because anything beyond the 10mm eyepiece in this scope (910mm FL) just gets blurry, never sharper.  The 10mm eyepiece alone, or the 25mm with the 2x Barlow are the highest magnification I find useful.  Is this showing me that my collimation could still be improved?  Because that is very possible. 

 

Thanks for all the help!  I can't wait to check out these two planets as they get closer and closer this month. 



#18 ed_turco

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Posted 11 December 2020 - 04:27 PM

I think that you have bought a good 'fresh start'.  Welcome back to the hobby!



#19 Sheol

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Posted 11 December 2020 - 07:01 PM

             Is that an Alt-azimuth mount or a GEQ? I cannot tell, its got an accessory tray on the tripod like an Alt-Az...  Hmm, I thought most makers of reflectors had gone for 5.1 inch mirrors & dropped the 4.5 inch size.

 

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