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Newbie with a Mak as 1st Scope

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#1 Mandolins88

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Posted 02 March 2021 - 11:18 PM

Hey all,

 

I've recently bought myself, and have been playing with a SkyWatcher Skymax 102mm  Mak-Cass Telescope on an AZ-GTi Mount (my very first one grin.gif )

 

So far, I've only really been able to get good views of the moon (obviously) and the Pleiades, which has been great (I live in the southern hemisphere in Western Australia)

 

However I really wish to try to see (and eventually capture) deep sky objects, nebulae etc

 

I've so far added on the following in an effort to improve the views

- SVBONY 7-21mm variable focal length eyepiece

- Celestron XLT 2X Barlow lens

- Telrad Reflex sight (incoming)

- Explore Scientific Red LED (incoming)

 

I've been watching all sorts of videos on YouTube to get up to speed, which in itself has been a fun process, learning both theory and tips and tricks here and there.

 

I've come to realise that perhaps this narrow field scope wasn't the best option for a beginner (I've much to learn!)

 

Would you guys have any advice on improving views with my current setup?

 

I would like to get a refractor, of which there seems to be two main choices, one for observing (achromatic, large aperture) and one for imaging (apochromatic, smaller aperture for the same cost, and I'm guessing poor views for observing, but good for AP in the future). Ideally, it would be good to find a reasonably priced one that does both. 

 

Any thoughts?

 

PS I've attached below my very first view and shot from this scope (just with an iPhone pointed into the eyepiece lol)

Attached Thumbnails

  • Mewn23.jpg

Edited by Mandolins88, 02 March 2021 - 11:22 PM.

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#2 litesong

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:01 AM

Get a large, quality achromatic refractor w/a long f/stop(f/12+?). You’ll be a long way to an apochromatic refractor at far less price. Just make sure you can deal with a heavier & more awkward telescope. With the extra money you save NOT getting the apo, get a GOTO telescope.

 

Now, get ready to observe the Milky Way from RA=5 all the way to RA=16 & Declination 10+ to -65degrees. Oh, I’ll let you observe all the way to the South Pole, too.....much or all of the stuff us “northerners”  can’t see. If ya have to, I’ll let you observe a few “mundane” things up north here.lol.gif


Edited by litesong, 03 March 2021 - 11:44 PM.

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#3 ravenhawk82

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:24 AM

Honestly, you could certainly do worse! For visual observation the focal length and ratio definitely impacts your usable fields of view but they're not nearly as limiting as for photography. I'd recommend investing in a nice wide field eyepiece first. Depending on how much you want to spend you have different options. Long focal length eyepieces pair quite well with slower optical systems like this, and something like a GSO 50mm superview would give you a pleasant 26x magnification for viewing wide swaths of sky while still keeping a usable exit pupil and would cost a fraction of a new telescope. This would probably be the best first step to make before investing in another scope. A compact and versatile setup like you have with a wide field eyepiece is one of the best ways to learn astronomy! I wouldn't bother buying another scope for visual use unless you at least double the aperture; a 4" scope is a powerful tool and you won't really see a difference going to something only slightly larger.

While a long Acrhomat like Litesong suggested would make a nice instrument, it wouldn't do anything your mak can't but would take up much more space. 

I wouldn't worry about astrophotography yet... A quality equatorial mount is the foundation of astrophotography and should be your first purchase if you ever decide to go in that direction. Should you decide to go that way, 70-80mm Apo refractors are the gold standard of learning astrophotography. The collective wisdom is to get the most expensive 80mm apochromat you can afford for beginning AP work once you have a good mount to put it on. 

Good luck!


Edited by ravenhawk82, 03 March 2021 - 12:28 AM.

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#4 Stevencbradley

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:28 AM

Sounds like you have a 4" long focus scope. I'd suggest reading a bit more before you buy, watch Ed Ting's YT videos on beginner scopes (he also shows size relative to humans, which is more helpful than you yet know).
I managed to make a number of expensive mistakes early on, some in buying, some in selling, most of which could have been avoided by
1. Gathering more info,
2. Going to some star parties & looking through as many scopes as possible,
3. Gaining more understanding of what's available to you and in your price range. I reviewed what I have left after the US recession a number of years ago. Just the few items I have are well into the thousands of dollars US, and I have only a small amount of equipment.
It's a pricey hobby. As the knight said to the group of adventurers in Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade:
"Choose ... Wisely."
I hope you enjoy the hobby. It's wonderful.
I just thought of a couple of other things:
1. Get a decent pair of binoculars, if you don't have them. Most everyone chooses power between 7-10 power.
Binoculars give you views you cannot get any other way.
2. If you don't have software that lets you learn the sky well. You may have already done this, and if so, that's great. Your eyes are the main instruments of amateur astronomy.

Edited by Stevencbradley, 03 March 2021 - 12:39 AM.

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#5 starbug

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:37 AM

If you're willing to experiment and spend some money on experimenting, I'd recommend you  to get a long FL eyepiece (30-40mm) and a focal reducer, and try those with you scope. This would give you a feeling what could you achieve with your (or maybe another) scope.


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#6 Redbetter

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 01:23 AM

Until you observe with the Moon out of the way, you don't have any idea what you have in the way of scope for DSO's.  Seems quite a bit early to jump to a different scope.  The 4" Mak should have the light throughput of something less than an 90mm refractor, but more than an 80mm.  In dark sky this can be quite effective.

 

Let's look at your kit other than the scope:

  • You could probably use a low power eyepiece with max field stop (about 27mm) to maximize true field of view for larger objects, 57.3*27/1300 = ~1.2 deg with a 24 Pan or 32 Plossl.  I don't know what field the stock 25mm provides, but it is probably poorly corrected around the edges.  The zoom will only provide about 0.65 deg field per specs (40 deg. apparent field at highest focal length.)
  • The Barlow is likely of limited usefulness since you already have the 7-21mm zoom.  I doubt the bargain zoom puts up decent images at high power, but even if it does ~186x should be near the limit for max detail for planetary/lunar with this scope.  (Others will have to comment on the zoom, I don't have any of the 7-21mm type.)
  • Telrad won't hurt, but the stock red dot finder and fancy mount should be able to put you on targets.  Having a max true field of view eyepiece could help in this regard, especially if you have to star hop any.

I assume you are not trying to observe galaxies and nebulae in town.  You are blessed to be in a country of abundant and near pristine sky, so making use of that dark sky is the single biggest factor in your favor, regardless of the scope.

 

Work through the well placed bright galaxies in Virgo, Leo, etc. With the zoom you can get an appreciation of what setting (magnification level) shows the most for your eye.  There is a balance to be had between magnification (scale) and image brightness.  The apparent surface brightness of the image is reduced as you magnify, so at some point it becomes harder to see lower surface brightness detail--while stars or bright knots are more readily seen.

 

Globular and open clusters respond well to magnification since the dimmer stars are more readily seen this way.  

 

As for a refractor, at some point you will likely want to do that, but I wouldn't rush.  Become familiar with what you have, and consider what other objects you would observe with a refractor.   To me the main benefit of a refractor is in the larger/wider field targets--these are often Milky Way structures (and in your case the SMC and LMC.) 


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#7 Tony Flanders

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 07:07 AM

PS I've attached below my very first view and shot from this scope (just with an iPhone pointed into the eyepiece lol)


For the record, that's an outstanding Moon image, considering that it's your very first ever.
 
As for the rest, I second every word of Redbetter's advice.


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#8 spereira

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 08:29 AM

Moving to Beginning Deep Sky Imaging.

 

smp


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#9 litesong

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Posted 03 March 2021 - 11:41 PM

I wouldn't bother buying another scope for visual use unless you at least double the aperture.....
While a long Acrhomat like Litesong suggested would make a nice instrument, it wouldn't do anything your mak can't but would take up much more space. 

Thirty plus years ago, I agreed with your first sentence.....& ended up with big Dobsonians. However, Mandolin88 had interests in large aperture(6-7inch?)  refractors. The second third of your second sentence, which infers that (6 or 7?) inch refractors wouldn’t do more than 4inch Maks is not correct. I already addressed your size concern.


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#10 Mandolins88

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 01:17 AM

Wow, thank you all for the responses - what a warm welcome....and even more helpful than I could have imagined. I'm clearly amongst friends (knowledgeable ones, too)

 

Okay, so I did a thing....

 

I pulled the trigger on this:

 

SkyWatcher Evostar 80/600 ED Doublet Refractor (OTA)

 

I know, I should just get to learn the Mak I have, however am already becoming a little frustrated at the little thing. I figure I can use this for some general observations at first, then one day (deep breath) dive into the AP world, as that is the ultimate aim.


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#11 Adun

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Posted 05 March 2021 - 07:09 PM

Wow, thank you all for the responses - what a warm welcome....and even more helpful than I could have imagined. I'm clearly amongst friends (knowledgeable ones, too)

 

Okay, so I did a thing....

 

I pulled the trigger on this:

 

SkyWatcher Evostar 80/600 ED Doublet Refractor (OTA)

 

I know, I should just get to learn the Mak I have, however am already becoming a little frustrated at the little thing. I figure I can use this for some general observations at first, then one day (deep breath) dive into the AP world, as that is the ultimate aim.

 

Hello, fellow southerner.

 

I started with a 90mm mak, and soon the narrow field made me look for a second scope. The 80mm refractor was my third. Then there was a fourth and eventually a fifth.

 

My advise: once you get the ED80, focus more on having access to darker skies than on getting bigger/better scopes. If you're in a city, take that ED80 to a very dark sky in the outback. My 80mm refractor under Bortle 3 skies does more than my 254mm dobsonian at home (Bortle 8). Take good peeks at the Orion nebula, the Carina nebula, the southern pinwheel, both magellanic clouds, Omega centauri, Tucane 47, heck: the galactic core, M8, NGC3532.

 

Once you have figured the logistics of access to a dark site, and the basic navigation of the sky, then you'll be ready to start thinking about a good AP mount for that ED80. By then your heart will also know better whether you truly are enough into it for the wallet commitments and frustration tolerance required by AP.


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