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First real scope, HELP!

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#1 Navalaviation


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Posted 02 March 2021 - 11:41 PM

I am finally going to buy my first real scope! Budget is around that $2,000 to $2,500 mark at the top end for everything. The scopes I am really considering - at least for now - are the Celestron 7” mak on the advanced VX mount, Celestron 8” edge hd also on the advanced VX mount and the Orion XT12g, or solely for visual use the apertura 12”. AP is not a priority right this second, however I feel like it could/will be in the future. I don’t really want to close the door completely on AP but the idea of spending 1k less and getting some better Ep’s for the apertura also appeals to me. For reference I have a little Meade etx 90 now. Weight is not an issue as I am not what you would call a small or feeble man. Long story short I know there is no one scope that will do everything in the price range I am looking at but I would love some advice. Most important to me is ease of use “set up, collimation, alignment, etc” and being able to see a bunch of different things in a single night without getting frustrated “hence the GoTo capabilities” and finally something that will last me a long time with what I can see. Again not naive, I realize that my budget will not allow me to see everything in the night sky as every type of scope has their own strengths and weaknesses, I just want as well rounded, versatile a scope as I can for the money. Thanks in advance for the advice, Clear Skies!

#2 ravenhawk82


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Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:01 AM

If AP isn't a goal with this setup, go for the biggest light bucket you can afford. In this case that'd be the XT12g. The C8 would also be a good choice, but having used dobs and EQ mounted scopes I'd take a dob for a dedicated visual instrument. Dobs are also super easy to collimate if you have a laser collimator. Just stick it in the draw tube with the view port facing downward and look up at it while you adjust the primary mirror. Before I sold my dob I did this before every viewing session and it only took a couple minutes max. I sold mine when I still lived in an apartment that made observing difficult anyway, otherwise it'd still be my primary scope. 

A couple of things that I'd consider as you decide:

First, goto will ensure that you're pointed in the right direction but it won't help you see things. That takes practice. Most objects in the sky are big and diffuse, so if you aren't already used to looking at them it'll take a while to train your eye to recognize their faint structures against the background.

Second, the scope that you use most often is the one that's easiest to use. A dob can be thrown together in a couple minutes and have you up and observing while an EQ mount will take a while to assemble, balance, and align. The longer you know you'll have to spend setting up and tearing down the more picky you'll be about conditions each night: If clouds might roll in in two hours, will you really want to spend an hour setting up an EQ mount? I bet you'd be more likely to spend 10 minutes setting up the dob. I certainly would anyway.


As for longevity, none of your choices will disappoint. All are great instruments that'll outlast you if taken care of.

The general consensus is to get a good visual scope and when/if you get into astrophotography to get a dedicated scope for that just because the requirements are very different between the two. The two EQ mounted scopes you listed, while fantastic instruments, would be incredibly unforgiving to learn AP on with their photographically slow optics and long focal lengths. I recommend getting a nice dob, learning the sky, then getting a nice mount and a small APO refractor down the line if you decide that you like taking pictures.

Best of luck!

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#3 ravenhawk82


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Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:03 AM

Oh, one more note, don't worry about not being able to see everything. All the Messier objects were catalogued using a 3" refractor (albeit probably through a darker sky). None of your choices will really limit what you can see within reason but the bigger aperture will make it easier to see the finer details of them.

#4 Dave_L


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Posted 03 March 2021 - 12:49 AM

Good advice so far. One more thought... In your budget you could consider the Celestron CPC 925 GPS (XLT). It is a 9.25" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, uses Celestron's legendary NexStar "go-to" technology, has Celestron's premium StarBright XLT coatings, and comes with a really nice 9x50 finderscope to help accurately find objects. I really enjoy the Celestron NexStar system. It is a good system. OptCorp has this scope on a 2 month backorder, but other retailers have it ready to ship. Should run about $2,499. Clear skies.

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#5 MellonLake



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Posted 03 March 2021 - 01:24 PM

For visual (which all of the above setups are for) I would always get as much aperture as I can afford and move.  My choice would be the 12" manual Dob.



#6 DSOGabe


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Posted 03 March 2021 - 05:23 PM

I do not do AP. But I have read that some individuals can get nice images using the Celestron C-series scopes; anyone who knows more about that can correct me. But if that is indeed the case, a C8 will be good enough and cost much less. I had a C9.25 and it was very good for visual use.

Edited by DSOGabe, 04 March 2021 - 01:23 PM.

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#7 TelescopeBah


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Posted 03 March 2021 - 05:55 PM

If I was getting my first scope, and only wanted to do visual observing, I would definitely go for the biggest Dobsonian that I could afford, and handle. There are lots of somewhat easy ways to make a big Dob easy to move around. The Meade 16" Light bridge plus, is just under $2000, and you could get a couple good eyepieces with $500. But don't rush it, check out the various brands: Meade, Sky-watcher, Explore Scientific, Orion etc. Enjoy!
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#8 SeattleScott


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Posted 03 March 2021 - 06:30 PM

An hour to set up an Eq Mount? Yikes. Normally takes me 10-15 minutes to set up a scope on an Eq Mount, plus additional time to do a GoTo alignment if I choose to do one, but that would be the same with a GoTo Dob. Granted a Dob is a bit simpler so maybe it could be assembled in half the time, assuming a similar level of aperture. But as long as you aren’t doing long exposure AP there is no reason why it should take an hour to set up any scope.

The 8” SCT is a nice, reasonably portable scope that offers a lot of flexibility.
-if you decide you also want a refractor, you already have a suitable mount for it. You can’t put a refractor on your Dob mount.

-at F10 you don’t need premium eyepieces to get good views.

-you already have a built in coma corrector designed specifically for the scope. No re-spacing or tuning when you swap eyepieces. You can get a SIPS which provides coma corrector with similar convenience for a reflector, but it costs around $1000. Coma corrector for a newt doesn’t have to be expensive. There are some rather affordable options. But the cheaper they are, typically the more complicated they are to use.

-lower maintenance. Rarely have to deal with collimation. Probably never have to pull the mirror to clean it.

-Full GoTo capabilities, which the GoTo Dob would have but not the manual one. With a Celestron SCT you can even add Starsense for automatic GoTo alignment.

-a key advantage of SCTs is all the cool accessories you can get for them. Reducer, binoviewers work without a corrector, cameras, twist-lock visual back, etc.

-a key disadvantage of SCTs is all the expensive accessories you feel compelled to get for them.

That being said a 12” Dob has its advantages too. Generally don’t have to worry about dew. Might be able to go a little wider at low power, but not really enough difference to worry about. Once at a star party I teamed up with a couple guys, one with 8” SCT and the other with a 13” manual Dob. We used the GoTo SCT to locate targets and then turned the Dob on the targets. The Dob kinda blew the SCT away.

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#9 Hexley  Happy Birthday!


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Posted 04 March 2021 - 01:28 PM

I'd get a Celestron 8" Evolution SCT for about $1700, and save the extra in your budget for some sweet eyepieces and other accessories, as you see fit. You could go 9.25 but it's significantly larger, much longer on the tube... not my cup of tea.


There's much you'll want to get if you acquire an SCT (but hey, that mount already comes with wifi and a built in lithium battery, so some good stuff is included). I find that an 8" SCT is the right balance between weight/size/value and sheer observing power, although I happen to love my little 6", in dark enough skies, it does very well.


I personally have a 6SE, and an 8" Dob, arguably they're the most common recommendations you can find, but for good reason; portability and easy functionality. The Dob is the polar opposite of the 6SE, and that's what you want if you're going to own two scopes... one should be stronger where the other is weaker. I most often use my GoTo scope when I'm observing with others, I have little patience for making sure the moon is still in the eyepiece when it comes to others viewing with me, but for DSO and "Me Time" with a red lamp and my AltAz measurements, I rather like the "Newtonian experience" of the Dob, sweeping it around looking for stuff.


If I had my budget (I had two kids instead), and dark enough skies, I'd probably have that 8" SCT and something big and silly like a 12" Dob that rolls out from the garage to the backyard and then back in again.

Edited by Hexley, 04 March 2021 - 01:36 PM.

#10 DouglasPaul



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Posted 04 March 2021 - 03:20 PM

Lol, nothing like a big ol' silly Dob.

#11 fallenstarseven


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Posted 04 March 2021 - 04:10 PM

I think you should carefully consider the weight and size differential of the XT10g vs the XT12g.   Yes, you are a robust man who can easily carry the bigger OTA and base for the 12 over the 10--but, depending on where you live and where you will do most of your observing, between those two scopes is a vast difference.   A very close friend has the XT12g and I have the XT10g.    I can fit my entire kit in my Subaru Outback with room for a passenger.  The OTA at 35 lbs goes into a carry case and is installed in the back and into the driver-side second row seat which is folded forward.   The motorized dob base at about 45 lbs sits upright in the passenger side seat--the ONLY place it will fit and it just barely clears the doorway into the Outback.   The remaining room in the cargo area goes to two large hardwire cases that hold my EPs, Telrad on a riser, and binoviewer plus the other odds and ends like laser collimator, filters, etc.   I also have room for a parka, drinks, etc.


My friend, with his XT12g, has found that he needs a minivan to transport it and acquired a used Chrysler van for this purpose.  It is significantly harder for him to personally lug the thing from the van to the viewing site and set it up.  It's almost NOT a single-person operation, despite both of us being hale and hearty fellows.  It's enough that it does deter him from spur-of-the-moment transportation to a different location to observe.


When the time came for me to buy my scope, he strongly urged me to get the XT10g over the XT8g or the XT12g, saying it was in the sweet spot of lots of light gathering capability, solid GoTo functionality, and the ability for me to take it moist places I would want to go by myself and easily set it up.  I'm extremely glad he did so.


My pick of the XT10g over the 12 has been invaluable as the vagaries of my home mean that observing from there is mostly futile--narrow lot, close-by houses, eyeball searing new streetlights, tree cover and tall neighboring houses mean I have only narrow slices of sky to look through.  Whenever I observe I am packing my rig up and driving ten or fifteen minutes to a nearby park in the hills for better horizons and lack of light.   


Just some feedback from somebody who has one.

#12 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 04 March 2021 - 05:45 PM

A 12" solid-tube Dob is a bit of a beast to move around but is going to provide the best views, especially of DSOs.  A dolly of some sort will be very useful.

#13 Navalaviation


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Posted 05 March 2021 - 10:56 PM

Ok, my decision is progressing, I think I have it narrowed down to the nexstar evolution 9.25, sky watcher 12” collapsible dob or the 8” nexstar evolution edgehd. I am leaning toward the 9.25, simply for the ease of setup, being able to control the system from my iPad, and it has a beefed up tripod from the 8” version. I know aperture is king but I feel like I will use the sct more than the dob, transport, setup seems easier and my 6 year old son won’t have to get on a stool to look through the eyepiece. I am still very much open to advice, thanks again!

#14 whizbang



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Posted 05 March 2021 - 11:40 PM

Evo 8 or 9.25 or Orion XT10i (The G is too **** heavy).


The Evo 9.25 puts up better views than the Evo 8.  However, the tripod is a beast, and, the 9.25 is a tad shaky.


The DOB will have the faster set-up.


The XT10i and the EVO's can be run via tablet and SkySafari or SkyPortal ---- super cool.  The only way to go!

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#15 JoshUrban


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Posted 07 March 2021 - 09:06 AM

I second the vote for a 10" solid-tube dob, plus a few nice eyepieces.  (Used Televue Naglers are listed all the time on the classifieds here.)  I regularly observe with a 12.5" truss dob, but it would have made me quit if it were my first "big" scope.  A 10" solid tube is so portable - two trips and you're up and running - has some serious light grasp, and should be easy for your son to use, too.  Plus, it leaves plenty of money left over for some nice eyepieces.  Maybe see if you can snag a used 22mm Type 4 Nagler, which would be SO SWEET in that scope!  I had a 10" Zhumell for years, and loved it.  

#16 icomet


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Posted 09 March 2021 - 12:04 AM

$1800 or so. . .


I believe still for sale. This scope will make an impression no matter what venue it's set up in.


14.25" f/6 ( I believe) Cave Astrola Newtonian. Complete, being sold by, I believe, the original owner.


Can find the ad archived on CN.


Clear Skies.

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