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#1 StarGazed2

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 03:38 PM

Hello new astro friends. I'm a complete newbie having never looked through a telescope. I am old but active and strong. My interest is visual eg planets, bright DSOs and especially the lunar surface which I want to study in detail.

The ability to attach an astro camera down the road for individual pics would be an asset. I don't see a Dob set-up practical due to adverse winter conditions here in rural Ontario eg 2-3" of snow in the backyard. Bortle 4.

 

I want a grab & go system. From my research, I have identified the following possibilites:

 

1. S-W AZ-GTi mount. I don't have years/decades to learn the heavens on my own (not morbid just realistic)

 

2. either the  S-W Skymax Mak127 or 102 AZ-GTi package. The 1-2 hour cool down time of the 127 concerns me as a grab & go

 

3.a refractor eg S-W EvoStar ED Apo 72 or 80. I'v read here of the joys of a small ST refractor. Even if I don't get into astrophotography (likely) is an APO worth the extra $$ ?

 

I'm not looking for top of the line but I want quality.

 

My current binoculars ( below) are great for terrestrial but I'm a bit disappointed as far as the heavens are concerned.  Comments re Celestron Skymaster DX 8x56 please

 

 

thanks for your help. I'm very impressed with CN.

 

equipment: Nikon P900, Vortex Razor HD 10x42, skyguide app, several astro books



#2 SeattleScott

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 03:56 PM

Wrapping the Mak with Reflectivix pretty well solves cool down.

I think you are on the right track. I would try to go at least 4” aperture. Apo mainly beneficial on bright targets like Moon and planets.

Scott
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#3 Hikescdnrckys

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 04:08 PM

How about a goto Celestron Evolution 8"? The goto means you don't have to spend your time learning the night sky, it's not too heavy (we had a tiny female summer student moving and setting up the Evo 8 all by herself all summer) and while an Alt-az mount isn't perfect for astrophotography, you can get some good shots with an attached dslr and short exposures. BTW depending on where you are in the Georgian Bay area, check out Bayside Astronomy in Lions Head during the summer (not sure if we will be open this year due to COVID).


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#4 sg6

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 04:39 PM

The Az GTi is fine for visual but not the best item for getting images. It started as an Alt/Az mount and that is what it is suited for. Buying bits to make it operate in Eq mode is a compromise.

 

It will handle an 80ED and the views would be better. I use a 72ED but have an 80ED on the way.

The 127 or 102 are long focal length and result in a narrowish final vield of view. Makes things a little more difficult. I would suggest keeping life easy and so a refractor.

 

If eventually imaging is expected then start out by considering a smallish equitorial mount. They are the mount for imaging at the end of the day.

 

The Az GTi needs something like a Lithium battery, I built a small wooden platform to hold mine. It also really needs Skysafari on and Android device. Plus is fine for everything.

 

It is a nice G&G mount and you can get a Herschel Wedge and go solar viewing during the bright sunny warm days.

 

I find the Az GTi and the 72ED a nice easy pleasurable setup to use, day ot night.

 

The Synscan App means you have to know a few stars, you have to pick 2 from the presented list. So out you go and works out a few, 10 or 12 will do for now, but should be easy.

 

You will learn the sky, basically nobody trusts a goto to actually goto what it is asked to goto. So you always have an idea of where the thing will point so you know where the object is.

 

Binoculars are different to a scope. It is not a case of a scope or binoculars, usually it is scope and binoculars. They compliment each other and at the end do a slightly different job.


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#5 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 05:55 PM

What is your budget? A step up from the mass produced China scopes and mounts are the Vixens. Their Skybook 10 is pricey, but it has a large screen with a star chart displayed, so you direct the system right from the screen. Beats the heck out of scrolling through menus on a hand controller.

An 80mm is a good size scope, but aperture rules, and a bigger scope will show you more. If an APO is worth the money is a very personal question. Does false color bother you? Most Chinese APOs are really half- or semi- APOs. They are better than an achromat, but don't reach the level of the top tier scopes, but then they are much cheaper. I decided that the I prefer a good achromat over the cheap APOs.

Before you buy anything, you might want to see if there is an astronomy club near by, and contact them. They will certainly have a wide variety of scopes and mounts that you can look at and try out before you spend any money.
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#6 sevenofnine

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 07:16 PM

This question comes up often. Beginners wanting a scope that is good for visual and astrophotography. They are really two different hobbies needing different equipment and dramatically differently learning curves. For your eyes to see all the night sky glory you need aperture. The larger, the better. For photography, a small quality refractor on a highly accurate GEM mount is necessary. I suggest you start your journey with an excellent astronomy book like T. Dickinson's "NightWatch." Not only is it a great guide book for visual astronomy but Terence walks you through the steps to more advanced levels. Good luck and enjoy the ride! waytogo.gif


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#7 FlyingV74

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 08:03 PM

I currently own an 8” Zhumell dob and an old 60mm Jason refractor. The Jason is fun to take out for a quick look at the moon. At around 80x, the view is crisp and clear with little if any chromatic aberration (using a low cost Plossl eye piece). But if I really want to get up close and personal with the lunar surface, the aperture of the 8” dob is the only way to go. I have been so close that I have seen what looks like trails where rocks/meteors rolled around. Whatever those trails where, they were cool to see!

On the only DSO that I currently know how to find with ease (Orion), I can view the trapezium with the Jason. But the stars are quite small. And I get very little of the fuzziness of the Nebula. With the dob, I can get the Nebula fuzz easily and I can get a much closer view of the trapezium. So the 8” dob is much better at the DSO views.

I share this to support the thought that larger aperture = better viewing. If your main goal is to get up close to the moon, a 6”-8” aperture is going to get you a much, much better view than an 80mm (3.15”) scope. But I still enjoy my crummy little Jason scope. Perhaps it is just my nostalgic soul leading me to believe that it is better than it really is.

Good luck in your search for the perfect scope for you.
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#8 vtornado

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Posted 26 February 2021 - 11:40 PM

Hi, A 100mm ED scope is about the same image quality as a 127 mak, but is more versatile.

Fitted with a 2inch diagonal and eyepiece you can get a 3 degree+ field of view.  It is more money.

I personally don't do goto so I cannot comment on your mount choices.

 

A .63 focal reducer may also make your mak more versatile.  I have on for my C5 SCT, but I have

read here that with the proper adapter they can work on a mak.

 

You may want to consider EAA (Electronically assisted astronomy) which is a an advanced web cam

used to capture multiple images of objects to enhance and brighten them.  If you want to go this

path, this may tip your decision on scope and mount.


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#9 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 01:47 AM

You may want to consider at least a 100mm ED refractor or perhaps a 6" f/10 Celestron NexStar Evolution SCT.


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#10 MellonLake

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Posted 28 February 2021 - 09:00 AM

Hello new astro friends. I'm a complete newbie having never looked through a telescope. I am old but active and strong. My interest is visual eg planets, bright DSOs and especially the lunar surface which I want to study in detail.

The ability to attach an astro camera down the road for individual pics would be an asset. I don't see a Dob set-up practical due to adverse winter conditions here in rural Ontario eg 2-3" of snow in the backyard. Bortle 4.

 

I want a grab & go system. From my research, I have identified the following possibilites:

 

 

I am from the GTA and only wish I had Georgian Bay skies at home.  I know you are looking for something grab and go but aperture really really helps with DSOs.  Given you are Bortle 4 I would highly recommend getting as much aperture as you can afford/carry.  More aperture will also show you more on the moon and more detail in planets and more moons of planets.

 

I have spent a lot of time comparing the effects of aperture between by 3.5" MCT. 4.75" refractor and 10" Dob.  The larger apertures really helps with both DSOs and planets. But the 10" is simply in a different class of instrument compared to the smaller apertures.  For example I can find the bright Messier objects in the 3.5" MCT and 4.75" refractor.   However, in the 10" I have found 68 galaxies in the Virgo constellation alone in 2 hours (with the 3.5" MCT found less than 10 and with the 4.75" refractor less than 15).    

 

I know you have eliminated the Dob but in my opinion the Dob works as well in the snow as the MCT or the Refractor on a tripod (I just shovel out a small area).  If I wanted a grab and go telescope for Bortle 4 it would be an 8" Dob as this fits the sweet spot for grab and go vs aperture vs. weight.  I sets up faster than the 4.75" refractor and really does not weight any more than a 4.75" refractor on a "good" mount.   I think many beginners think that 8" Dobs are much heavier and more difficult to use than 4" to 5" telescope and in my experience this is not the case.  Decent tripods and good mounts weight similar to the base and tube of an 8" Dob (individuall).    

 

Given your home's Bortle 4 skies and relative proximity to Bortle 1-2 (The Bruce Peninsula or Torrens Barrens in Muskoka), if I were you, I would get as much aperture as I can afford/move.  The larger aperture will show you far more detail in objects and show you many many more DSOs than a 4" APO.  An 8" Dob has 4X the light gathering power of the 4" APO and significantly more than 6" SCT or 5" MCT.   If you don't think you cannot move the 8" Dob, look at a the 5" and 6" tabletop Dobs or a 6" SCT as these will show you more detail on planets, more detail in DSOs and more DSOs.   Of the telescopes you listed I would lean towards the 127mm MCT as it has the largest aperture.  

 

The telescopes you have listed are very good and would serve you well.  I just think you would be missing out on so much more by not going for a larger aperture given your dark skies.    


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#11 StarGazed2

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 04:37 PM

UPDATE: Thank you everyone for your thoughts. "Aperture is King" rings loud and clear. I have made some decisions in the short term. Managed to get the 4th addition of Nightwatch via a 4 hr car drive- very scarce in this area including on line. I've ordered the Celestron Skymaster DX 8x56 binos. I will use these along with several iOS apps to continue to learn the skies. When stock increases, I will travel to a reputable retailer to eyeball different telescope options.  I WILL DEFINITELY CONSIDER AN 8" DOB. And yes, hopefully I can get to those 2-3 bortle sites which aren't out of reach from where I live. There's also a club in the region which I will check out once Covid issues are on the wane. 


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