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Am I chasing something that doesn't exist?

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#1 Psionmark

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 07:49 AM

I recently purchased a SkyWatcher Evostar 90MM Refractor. I've also been adding goodies to my setup such as an AZ-GTI mount which has helped tremendously.

 

However, there was something about that big (in length!) refractor that didn't feel right. On reflection (sorry), I had a feeling it was just too unwieldy for me in my current situation. I've got a fairly limited view of the sky, and a lot of the stuff I want to see is fairly high in the sky, which is good for viewing, but bad for my back! I seemed to have to get into all sorts of contortions to try and get the initial alignment of the mount done, to the point where it just wasn't a pleasant experience. And then quite often the object I wanted to see was at such a high angle I'd be kneeling on a frozen ground trying to get my head down to the viewing area, even with the tripod at its highest level.

 

So I thought I'd dig out my original little scope - the Sky-Watcher Heritage-100P. I'd only ever used this on the provided table-top mount, but noticed it was the same mounting fixture as my refractor so popped it on to the AZ-GTI. What a revelation! Because the eyepiece tube is up near the top and the tube is so short, it has a much narrower range of movement, so my aging body doesn't have to get into the sort of positions it's not really made for to enable me to get my eye to the eyepiece. This is a much better experience.

 

To my untrained eye, I'm not noticing a huge difference in the views I'm getting between the 2 scopes and I've been pretty pleased with my initial attempts at astrophotography and also visually, given the obvious limitations of such a small scope.

 

However, as usual, I'm in the "Bigger must be better" phase lol and I've been looking at larger scopes (something along the lines of the SkyWatcher 127 Mak, because it seems well reviewed and is short, and hence, for me, better).

 

It recently occurred to me, though, that all of these beautiful images I see are only attainable through astrophotography? Will getting a bigger scope really better my visual experience? I know on paper if I get a scope that enables me to double the magnification, the image should be double the size, but will that in reality be much better visually? (I know it'll help with the astrophotography, but I'm specifically thinking of visual here). Or will it just make the small dot of Mars a slightly less-small dot?

 

In summary, I want the perfect scope lol. One that will provide me nice visual views of the planets and beauties such as the Orion Nebula, and also allow me to play with my SV305 camera for astrophotography. All for less than 300 quid :)

 

Maybe I'm just trying to move too fast. Perhaps I should just take a breath and get used to what I currently have and try and make the most of that first. After all, it was that that led me to try my older scope and that worked out well.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble!

 

P.S. Please let me know if that perfect scope exists smile.gif



#2 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 08:08 AM

I’m also a beginner, but the perfect scope doesn’t exist. Especially at a sub-£300 price point. Everything is a compromise. It sounds like you dislike the first scope for being unwieldy and you sound like me, new to this hobby. Why not wait a year before getting into astrophotography and make use of the scopes you presently have?

#3 BradFran

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 08:15 AM

No perfect scope exists. You can do much better than what you have, but not for 300 quid! Stick with what you have for now. The best improvements you can make would be getting to a wide open dark sky and sitting comfortably at the eyepiece.

 

If you must get an upgrade in that price range, a 6" f/8 Dob would be my choice. Very different ergonomics, but brings its own issues. I would stick with the 90mm for now. A good observing chair, some warm clothes and an oversized hoodie to block out lights would be your best bet for upgrades.

 

You do have a 90 degree diagonal on that refactor, right? Without one it's almost impossible to look near the zenith without damaging your neck. If that is the case, a good trick is a reclining lawn chair. Kick back and put the tripod over you. Works with binoculars too! But get a diagonal.

 

Here is an example of the kind of chair that works well:

https://www.firstlig...ving-chair.html


Edited by BradFran, 25 January 2021 - 08:28 AM.


#4 zakry3323

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 08:29 AM

Just a hunch, but it sounds to me like EAA- Electronically Assisted Astronomy, may be a great fit your situation. Much less complicated and expensive than traditional astrophotography, with live viewing that will greatly surpass what you can see with the naked eye in large aperture telescopes. Consider checking out the EAA forum :) 


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#5 clearwaterdave

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:10 AM

I had the same issue with my Alt/AZ mounts.,so I built what I call a seesaw mount that let's me raise and lower the scope instead of the chair.,I couldn't be happier.,

 I call it Frank.,It can hold all of my refractors and is as stable as can be. 

I sit in comfort in a cushy office chair and view from horizon to zenith without any adjusting of my chair or tripod.,

  One on a tripod also.,

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#6 RobertMaples

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:12 AM

...

In summary, I want the perfect scope lol. One that will provide me nice visual views of the planets and beauties such as the Orion Nebula, and also allow me to play with my SV305 camera for astrophotography...

 

Visual observing and astrophotography a very different activities and if you get serous about both you will likely want different scopes for each.  While you can certainly do both with the same scope, there are definitely going to be more comprises.  Astrophotography does not need a large aperture because you are holding the shutter open for extended periods to collect a more light, but you do need an extremely stable and accurate tripod and mount.  With visual, a larger aperture is very beneficial, but the tripod and mount are not near as critical.

 

...

To my untrained eye, I'm not noticing a huge difference in the views I'm getting between the 2 scopes and I've been pretty pleased with my initial attempts at astrophotography and also visually, given the obvious limitations of such a small scope.

 

However, as usual, I'm in the "Bigger must be better" phase lol and I've been looking at larger scopes (something along the lines of the SkyWatcher 127 Mak, because it seems well reviewed and is short, and hence, for me, better).

...

It recently occurred to me, though, that all of these beautiful images I see are only attainable through astrophotography? Will getting a bigger scope really better my visual experience?..

You're not going to see much difference between 90mm and 100mm, and likewise you won't see much difference between the 100 and a 127.  Yes, getting a bigger scope will definitely better your visual experience, but small changes in aperture are not going to make huge changes in that experience, and even the largest apertures are not going to give you astrophotography like views.


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#7 burb scope

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:31 AM

I think that world peace will happen before we all find our "perfect scope".

 

Some mounts have a "tall" option,:

https://www.bhphotov...lt_azimuth.html

 

Some other mounts have pier extensions that may help your back.

 

Consider getting more than one scope.  You know it will happen anyway.  Scope "A" for wide field, and scope "B" for higher magnification planetary and Lunar views.  You might end up spending more money on Barlows, field flatteners and focal reducers for a single scope than you would for a second scope.

 

300 Quid?  That might only get you a decent mount for beginner astrophotography.

 

I don't want to dampen your spirits, but be realistic, be patient, and learn as you go.


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#8 Psionmark

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:36 AM

I had the same issue with my Alt/AZ mounts.,so I built what I call a seesaw mount that let's me raise and lower the scope instead of the chair.,I couldn't be happier.,

 I call it Frank.,It can hold all of my refractors and is as stable as can be. 

I sit in comfort in a cushy office chair and view from horizon to zenith without any adjusting of my chair or tripod.,

  One on a tripod also.,

That's an awesome setup!



#9 clearwaterdave

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:43 AM

Sitting at the helm.,lol.

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#10 Psionmark

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 09:44 AM

Thanks for all the quick feedback folks! I guess I should've emphasised the smiley after the 300 quid comment, lol, as I know this isn't possible, nor is the option of a perfect scope hehe.

 

I'm definitely trying to run before I can walk, and most of the posts here rightly confirm that for me. I've got some good equipment to get started with for now (good enough for now, at least) and as suggested I shall take the time to enjoy and get the most for these first.

 

I did have a quick play with Live Stacking last night on the Orion Nebula and, honestly, I was pretty pleased with what I was seeing. And I've a LONG way to go to get that optimised, so that alone will keep me going for a while. I guess this falls into the EAA suggested above? This does seem like a good option and I've already got the gear to get me started with this and yes it was a lot more comfortable looking at a laptop than contorting to get to the viewfinder smile.gif

 

I shall be more patient and I would guess the more I get into this, it may become apparent where my preference is (e.g. visual or electronic, or both!).

 

Thanks again everyone! All valuable feedback and ideas.


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#11 LDW47

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 10:36 AM

I recently purchased a SkyWatcher Evostar 90MM Refractor. I've also been adding goodies to my setup such as an AZ-GTI mount which has helped tremendously.

 

However, there was something about that big (in length!) refractor that didn't feel right. On reflection (sorry), I had a feeling it was just too unwieldy for me in my current situation. I've got a fairly limited view of the sky, and a lot of the stuff I want to see is fairly high in the sky, which is good for viewing, but bad for my back! I seemed to have to get into all sorts of contortions to try and get the initial alignment of the mount done, to the point where it just wasn't a pleasant experience. And then quite often the object I wanted to see was at such a high angle I'd be kneeling on a frozen ground trying to get my head down to the viewing area, even with the tripod at its highest level.

 

So I thought I'd dig out my original little scope - the Sky-Watcher Heritage-100P. I'd only ever used this on the provided table-top mount, but noticed it was the same mounting fixture as my refractor so popped it on to the AZ-GTI. What a revelation! Because the eyepiece tube is up near the top and the tube is so short, it has a much narrower range of movement, so my aging body doesn't have to get into the sort of positions it's not really made for to enable me to get my eye to the eyepiece. This is a much better experience.

 

To my untrained eye, I'm not noticing a huge difference in the views I'm getting between the 2 scopes and I've been pretty pleased with my initial attempts at astrophotography and also visually, given the obvious limitations of such a small scope.

 

However, as usual, I'm in the "Bigger must be better" phase lol and I've been looking at larger scopes (something along the lines of the SkyWatcher 127 Mak, because it seems well reviewed and is short, and hence, for me, better).

 

It recently occurred to me, though, that all of these beautiful images I see are only attainable through astrophotography? Will getting a bigger scope really better my visual experience? I know on paper if I get a scope that enables me to double the magnification, the image should be double the size, but will that in reality be much better visually? (I know it'll help with the astrophotography, but I'm specifically thinking of visual here). Or will it just make the small dot of Mars a slightly less-small dot?

 

In summary, I want the perfect scope lol. One that will provide me nice visual views of the planets and beauties such as the Orion Nebula, and also allow me to play with my SV305 camera for astrophotography. All for less than 300 quid smile.gif

 

Maybe I'm just trying to move too fast. Perhaps I should just take a breath and get used to what I currently have and try and make the most of that first. After all, it was that that led me to try my older scope and that worked out well.

 

Thanks for letting me ramble!

 

P.S. Please let me know if that perfect scope exists smile.gif

Do you really, really think the perfect scope exists, really ? When you see the majority of fellow astronomers with multi scopes in their stable, lol !



#12 Psionmark

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 10:50 AM

Do you really, really think the perfect scope exists, really ? When you see the majority of fellow astronomers with multi scopes in their stable, lol !

No lol, hence my comments above smile.gif


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#13 Psionmark

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 10:51 AM

Visual observing and astrophotography a very different activities and if you get serous about both you will likely want different scopes for each.  While you can certainly do both with the same scope, there are definitely going to be more comprises.  Astrophotography does not need a large aperture because you are holding the shutter open for extended periods to collect a more light, but you do need an extremely stable and accurate tripod and mount.  With visual, a larger aperture is very beneficial, but the tripod and mount are not near as critical.

 

You're not going to see much difference between 90mm and 100mm, and likewise you won't see much difference between the 100 and a 127.  Yes, getting a bigger scope will definitely better your visual experience, but small changes in aperture are not going to make huge changes in that experience, and even the largest apertures are not going to give you astrophotography like views.

Many thanks - that's useful information to have.



#14 LDW47

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 11:00 AM

Visual observing and astrophotography a very different activities and if you get serous about both you will likely want different scopes for each.  While you can certainly do both with the same scope, there are definitely going to be more comprises.  Astrophotography does not need a large aperture because you are holding the shutter open for extended periods to collect a more light, but you do need an extremely stable and accurate tripod and mount.  With visual, a larger aperture is very beneficial, but the tripod and mount are not near as critical.

 

You're not going to see much difference between 90mm and 100mm, and likewise you won't see much difference between the 100 and a 127.  Yes, getting a bigger scope will definitely better your visual experience, but small changes in aperture are not going to make huge changes in that experience, and even the largest apertures are not going to give you astrophotography like views.

Not going to see much difference between 100mm & 127mm ?? A 27mm increase ? Really ?


Edited by LDW47, 25 January 2021 - 11:01 AM.


#15 RobertMaples

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 12:00 PM

Not going to see much difference between 100mm & 127mm ?? A 27mm increase ? Really ?

Well, of course "not much" is a purely subjective term.  Going from 100mm to 127mm will give ~61% increase in light gathering ability.  That is significant, and for someone experienced and/or with an understanding of what to expect the difference can be dramatic; however, for a newbie comparing what they see to astrophotography, the difference generally does not seem as much.  Just trying to temper expectations.


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#16 sevenofnine

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 12:00 PM

The difference you will see in a 5 inch (127mm) Mak is the length of the optical tube is dramatically shorter. That can mean much less contortions to get into a comfortable position using an alt-az mount. I suggest getting a copy of "Turn Left at Orion." The sketches are closer to what you see in a telescope. Good luck on your astro-journey waytogo.gif



#17 sg6

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 12:33 PM

"Perfection" is what you want it to be. Way too much of astronomy is "Perfection is BIGGER".

 

Many of my best nights have been with a 70mm goto, with some public after the main outreach has finished just finding simple basic easy targets and chatting.

 

I have access to a 12" and a 16", but the 70mm is "the one". Strange world. Even Very strange.

 

Used a 70mm and 72mm on assorted transits. Other people brought bigger along, however I was the last to leave as people stayed around my rather small offerings. I was thanked by the organiser for staying. I suppose the comment "I cannot get my scope back off them" pointing to people summed it up.

 

My idea of "perfection" would be a good 80mm ED. But "GOOD" is the key.

Have a GT81, why does that make "perfection" ? Weight. Hence the idea of a doublet for a little less weight.

 

The other half  - the mount - I wish they would make a 8Kg or 10Kg Az GTi. Just so easy to use. Well after I work out where North is.

 

Also guessing Psionmark is UK based ??.

If so add it in your profile, answers otherwise will be heavily US based.


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#18 therealdmt

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 01:21 PM

Make sure you’re using a right angle finder with that refractor - the straight through ones are rough on the neck.

 

Beyond that, it sounds like you need to get the scope up higher - don’t be afraid to extend the tripod’s legs (if that’s possible with your tripod). Another option for some tripods is to, like burb scope said above, add a pier extension.

 

Viewing (not to mention aiming) right up near zenith is always going to be a bit problematic, so choose targets that are a bit lower in the sky


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#19 LDW47

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 02:28 PM

Make sure you’re using a right angle finder with that refractor - the straight through ones are rough on the neck.

 

Beyond that, it sounds like you need to get the scope up higher - don’t be afraid to extend the tripod’s legs (if that’s possible with your tripod). Another option for some tripods is to, like burb scope said above, add a pier extension.

 

Viewing (not to mention aiming) right up near zenith is always going to be a bit problematic, so choose targets that are a bit lower in the sky

A bit lower in the sky means forget about M13, the 3 Auriga clusters, Andromeda Galaxy, the Double Cluster etc during times of the year ?? Who wants to miss them on a black, clear nite ?



#20 Psionmark

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 03:31 PM

"Perfection" is what you want it to be. Way too much of astronomy is "Perfection is BIGGER".

 

Many of my best nights have been with a 70mm goto, with some public after the main outreach has finished just finding simple basic easy targets and chatting.

 

I have access to a 12" and a 16", but the 70mm is "the one". Strange world. Even Very strange.

 

Used a 70mm and 72mm on assorted transits. Other people brought bigger along, however I was the last to leave as people stayed around my rather small offerings. I was thanked by the organiser for staying. I suppose the comment "I cannot get my scope back off them" pointing to people summed it up.

 

My idea of "perfection" would be a good 80mm ED. But "GOOD" is the key.

Have a GT81, why does that make "perfection" ? Weight. Hence the idea of a doublet for a little less weight.

 

The other half  - the mount - I wish they would make a 8Kg or 10Kg Az GTi. Just so easy to use. Well after I work out where North is.

 

Also guessing Psionmark is UK based ??.

If so add it in your profile, answers otherwise will be heavily US based.

Thanks for the tip tree location in profile - now updated. 
 

And yes, you’re absolutely right. I’ve just spent an hour and a half outside with my current equipment and loved every minute :)


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#21 Psionmark

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Posted 25 January 2021 - 03:33 PM

A bit lower in the sky means forget about M13, the 3 Auriga clusters, Andromeda Galaxy, the Double Cluster etc during times of the year ?? Who wants to miss them on a black, clear nite ?

I’ve just been looking at the Andromeda Galaxy smile.gif It’s faint, but it’s definitely a Galaxy! And with some averted vision it looked pretty impressive. Also managed a not-bad image so a happy bit of observing. 


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