Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

What would be the best $500 telescope out there?

  • Please log in to reply
67 replies to this topic

#1 Sixsence

Sixsence

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 3
  • Joined: 07 Apr 2021

Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:18 AM

Was wondering what would be the best telescope out there in the 500dollar budget range to view planets and some deep space. I have a Celestron Starsense Explorer LT 114mm but would like better visuals.
  • sevenofnine likes this

#2 nicknacknock

nicknacknock

    A man of many qualities, even if they are mostly bad ones

  • *****
  • Administrators
  • Posts: 15,826
  • Joined: 20 Feb 2012
  • Loc: Nicosia, Cyprus

Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:28 AM

Given that you have a 114mm scope available, a meaningful increase in aperture to allow you to see more would be a  more portable 8" dob or if you don't mind a bit of additional weight, a 12" dob, both conveniently listed on CN Classifieds, which allows you to get the best bang for your bucks.


  • paul hart, Bill Jensen, weis14 and 2 others like this

#3 sg6

sg6

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,184
  • Joined: 14 Feb 2010
  • Loc: Norfolk, UK.

Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:29 AM

Sorry but going to say a watse of time asking:

I would say a good ED refractor, most would say a dobsonian, and others will say an SCT/Mak.

 

I have just bought a WO Z81, OK over $500, but does everything I want. And does it all very well. So to me that is close to an ideal/best.

 

There is really no specific answer. How about turning it all around and determining for yourself what a scope should NOT do for you. You would likely get a better scope for yourself if you worked out what in the assorted variaties you did not like. Then you would end up with a scope that you liked and so would use.
 


  • JohnnyBGood, PKDfan and rodney j johnson jr like this

#4 clearwaterdave

clearwaterdave

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 5,725
  • Joined: 27 May 2014
  • Loc: Western Maine

Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:48 AM

The problem is what might be best for me most likely will not be best for you.,I like refractors so I would suggest one of those.,but others will say a dob can show more for less $$$.,

  Make a list of things you'd like in a scope..and things you don't like.,and go from there.,good luck. 


  • cclocke likes this

#5 DLuders

DLuders

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,887
  • Joined: 10 Apr 2017
  • Loc: Spokane, WA

Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:50 AM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights!  smile.gif   Your f/9 Celestron StarSense Explorer LT 114AZ Newtonian Reflector Telescope has a Focal Length of 1000mm, so it is easy to figure out the resulting Magnifications you get now with various eyepieces.

 

You may know that Magnification = (Focal Length of Telescope) / (Focal Length of Eyepiece).

 

With the supplied 25mm eyepiece, Magnification = (1000mm) / (25mm) = 40x

With the supplied 10mm eyepiece, Magnification = (1000mm) / (10mm) = 100x

 

Your 114mm (4.5") mirror isn't bad for collecting light, but if you want MORE for your $500 budget, you'll have to decide whether you want lots more Magnification (for planets) or more Light-Gathering ability (for faint Deep Sky Objects, or DSOs).  Selecting a good telescope for you is a compromise; no one telescope can do everything well.

 

Be advised that many telescope vendors are backordered or sold-out of NEW telescopes right now, but the backlog is clearing a bit.  You may get some good deals with your local Craigslist ads.


  • Bill Jensen, jeffreym and AstroAug like this

#6 DLuders

DLuders

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,887
  • Joined: 10 Apr 2017
  • Loc: Spokane, WA

Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:58 AM

Some factors to consider when selecting a good telescope for you are:

(1)  Are you planning to travel with your telescope?  If you live in a city, do you want to be able to tote the telescope in a vehicle to a darker location?  What size is your vehicle?  Do you have to travel up/down stairs to get it outside?

(2)  Are you considering doing some astrophotography with your telescope someday, or just Visual Astronomy?  "Faster" telescopes" (with short Focal Ratios) gather light more easily than longer-Focal-Ratio telescopes, thus cutting down exposure times.

(3)  Are you content with doing "Star Hopping" with a manual mount, or do you want GoTo capability to quickly locate your Deep Sky Object (DSO) target?   


  • Bill Jensen and rodney j johnson jr like this

#7 Supernova74

Supernova74

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,763
  • Joined: 25 May 2020
  • Loc: Epsom surrey near (London)

Posted 08 April 2021 - 03:09 AM

well even with a budget of $500 I’ve found it’s always blown out of the water!?and when I decided come back into Amateur Astronomy I spent closer double that as certain accessories seem to go a miss at times which you will always need and unaware of at that specific time when you puchase the scope.yes i agree a 6-8” dob might be the best weapon of choice for you however I wouldn’t recommend if you don’t like a completely maintenance free kind of setup as you will need to collimate the scopes optics quite frequently with aligning the primary mirror to the secondary!?thay are generally ok if you don,t move them around to much however if thay are constantly moved let’s say frequently to different sight locations a reasonable hands on approach doesn’t go a miss however once you have attempted this a couple of times it’s really not that hard to do as you can puchase gadgets and gizmos which can aid you and make life a lot easier for you.however with a relatively a small $500 budget you might be able to pick up something more substantial on the classifieds sections on CN


Edited by Supernova74, 08 April 2021 - 03:10 AM.

  • MellonLake likes this

#8 barbarosa

barbarosa

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,931
  • Joined: 11 Apr 2010
  • Loc: 139 miles W of the Awahnee Hotel

Posted 08 April 2021 - 03:43 AM

So now that you have seen the answers so far what do you think? Your current scope is a frankly low end design called a Bird - Jones. The 24" physical length of the tube is much shorter than its 39" focal length. This is accomplished by putting a lens in the focuser and that compromises the image quality. There is nothing to be done about it.

 

if you buy a true Newtonian, that is a scope with two mirrors and no extra lens in the path almost anything you buy will be a step up in quality. A Dob or Dobsonian is a true Newtonian mounted on a simple base, it will be the most scope you can buy for the money. It won't be a go to or have motors, you point it and you move it to track. But a clever guy might work out how to use the Celestron app with a Dob.

 

Many of us have owned used scopes, often from ads here at CN. it almost always is a good deal. With new you get a warranty. Your choice.

 

What else can you get for $500

 

Orion StarSeeker IV 80mm GoTo Refractor without Controller

 

Any of the Celestron SLT series, a refractor, a Newtonian or a Maksutov for $419 to $549.

 

Just want a good $500 scope. Take a look at the Astro Tech line from Astronomics (small discount for CN members).


  • ShaulaB, vtornado and MellonLake like this

#9 Jethro7

Jethro7

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,783
  • Joined: 17 Dec 2018
  • Loc: N.W. Florida

Posted 08 April 2021 - 04:54 AM

Was wondering what would be the best telescope out there in the 500dollar budget range to view planets and some deep space. I have a Celestron Starsense Explorer LT 114mm but would like better visuals.

Hello Sixsence, 

Welcome to CloudyNights

I will cast my vote for a 8" Dob such as a Orion Skyquest XT8 at $489.00  very nice deal found at  http://www.telescopes.com or a Apertura AD 8 at $549.00 a much better deal from http://www.highpointscientific.com The Apertura, will come with a much better two speed focuser, the tools and a couple of eyepieces to get you off and running and  FWIW that focuser is well worth the few extra bucks  by its self. I recomend a Dob for a one scope only person. I am a refractor nut but refractors are limited by their aperture. This is why I also have a 12" Dob to cover all my viewing needs. My personal preferences are, The Dob is for DSO's  that are out of reach of the refractors. The refractors are for everything else. But a Dob is no slouch, believe me when it comes down to viewing Planets, the Moon, or all the other stuff either.  The 8" Dob will provide a much better image scale and allow you to see much deeper into the wonders of the Cosmos. Maybe you could sell the Celestron Explorer Lt 114mm. Believe me after you look  through the eyepiece of a 8" Dob you will not want that scope anymore.This way you can have a few extra bucks for some other Astro toys to support that Dob. Like a 8X24 Zoom eyepiece and a 2X Barlow. 

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro


Edited by Jethro7, 08 April 2021 - 06:12 PM.

  • Bill Jensen, spaceoddity, ShaulaB and 2 others like this

#10 coopman

coopman

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,981
  • Joined: 23 Apr 2006
  • Loc: South Louisiana

Posted 08 April 2021 - 04:54 AM

Welcome to CN.


  • Sixsence likes this

#11 Tony Flanders

Tony Flanders

    Hubble

  • *****
  • Posts: 19,486
  • Joined: 18 May 2006
  • Loc: Cambridge, MA, USA

Posted 08 April 2021 - 05:46 AM

Was wondering what would be the best telescope out there in the 500dollar budget range to view planets and some deep space. I have a Celestron Starsense Explorer LT 114mm but would like better visuals.


Obviously there is no such thing as a "best" scope -- it all depends on what aspects of the telescope matter most to you. But it is beyond dispute that in that budget range, an 8-inch Dob (or perhaps a used 10-inch Dob) will give you the best possible images. And not by a small margin, either.

But I note that your current scope has electronic object-location capability via the Starsense feature. If you add that to an 8-inch Dob you will no longer be within your price range.
  • spaceoddity and Jethro7 like this

#12 ulrichsd

ulrichsd

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 133
  • Joined: 15 Dec 2020
  • Loc: Cincinnati, OH USA (Bortle 7)

Posted 08 April 2021 - 06:07 AM

Is it possible to return the celestron and add that money to the budget? :) would be nice to add some cash for an eyepiece upgrade or 2.

#13 Maritime

Maritime

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 793
  • Joined: 19 Aug 2020

Posted 08 April 2021 - 07:00 AM

Was wondering what would be the best telescope out there in the 500dollar budget range to view planets and some deep space. I have a Celestron Starsense Explorer LT 114mm but would like better visuals.

Im sending you a private message. 



#14 LDW47

LDW47

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,573
  • Joined: 04 Mar 2012
  • Loc: North Bay,Ontario,Canada

Posted 08 April 2021 - 07:10 AM

Was wondering what would be the best telescope out there in the 500dollar budget range to view planets and some deep space. I have a Celestron Starsense Explorer LT 114mm but would like better visuals.

You are going to get all kinds of advice about scopes that cost well above your $500’s, make sure they give you the cost of some of these inflated scopes ! Just remember there are some pretty capable scopes below $500 !



#15 laurelg9

laurelg9

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 110
  • Joined: 23 Nov 2020
  • Loc: Dayton, OH, USA

Posted 08 April 2021 - 07:26 AM

Hello and welcome!

 

My first scope was the same scope of yours, a Celestron Nexstar 114.  The scope I bought after that was a 10" dob and it has been a great step up in learning.  The 8" dob idea is where I'd go next, b/c it teaches you a lot.  After you have the dob, you'll eventually get the itch for a refractor.  If you go with a refractor now, you'll need a mount. And, eventually, you'll wonder what a dob brings to the table and get one too. Won't matter which one you get first, as they will all teach you things about astronomy, the sky and  your preferences in this hobby. Have fun! smile.gif


  • Jethro7 and mrsjeff like this

#16 rhetfield

rhetfield

    Apollo

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,480
  • Joined: 14 Aug 2019
  • Loc: Suburban Chicago, IL, USA

Posted 08 April 2021 - 08:29 AM

Obviously there is no such thing as a "best" scope -- it all depends on what aspects of the telescope matter most to you. But it is beyond dispute that in that budget range, an 8-inch Dob (or perhaps a used 10-inch Dob) will give you the best possible images. And not by a small margin, either.

But I note that your current scope has electronic object-location capability via the Starsense feature. If you add that to an 8-inch Dob you will no longer be within your price range.

If the OP is mechanically inclined, he can take the starsense mount off his current scope and put it on a dob.  Others will often buy the 114 or another cheap starsense scope just to get the mount and the activation code so they can put it on a different scope.

 

Alternatively, adding degree circles to a dob and getting coordinates from Sky Safari or another astro app works nearly as well.

 

Agree with the general consensus that a 6" or 8" dob would be a big upgrade.  I think pretty much all of the 8" and some of the 6" come with 2" focusers which help out a lot on wide angle capability.



#17 LDW47

LDW47

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,573
  • Joined: 04 Mar 2012
  • Loc: North Bay,Ontario,Canada

Posted 08 April 2021 - 09:27 AM

Was wondering what would be the best telescope out there in the 500dollar budget range to view planets and some deep space. I have a Celestron Starsense Explorer LT 114mm but would like better visuals.

Look for an 80mm ST refractor and a 2” diagonal and a capable AZ mount won’t be much more than your budget and you will have it all !



#18 Mrcloc

Mrcloc

    Vendor - SvBony Eyepieces

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 162
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2020
  • Loc: Pretoria, South Africa

Posted 08 April 2021 - 09:28 AM

Good advice so far, but you need to know what you would like to do with the scope. The 8" dob I used to have is far better for visual than my 5" mak, but I couldn't use it, hence the change to the 5".

 

So, $500 scope that is best for what, exactly?



#19 LDW47

LDW47

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 7,573
  • Joined: 04 Mar 2012
  • Loc: North Bay,Ontario,Canada

Posted 08 April 2021 - 11:16 AM

Good advice so far, but you need to know what you would like to do with the scope. The 8" dob I used to have is far better for visual than my 5" mak, but I couldn't use it, hence the change to the 5".

 

So, $500 scope that is best for what, exactly?

Doesn’t the OP mention that in their first post ?


  • Mrcloc likes this

#20 Supernova74

Supernova74

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,763
  • Joined: 25 May 2020
  • Loc: Epsom surrey near (London)

Posted 08 April 2021 - 11:34 AM

Hello Sixsence, 

Welcome to CloudyNights

I will cast my vote for a 8" Dob such as a Orion Skyquest XT8 at $489.00  very nice deal found at  http://www.telescopes.com or a Apertura AD 8 at $549.00 a much better deal from http://www.highpointscientific.com The Apertura, will come with a much better two speed focuser, the tools and a couple of eyepieces to get you off and running and  FWIW that focuser is well worth the few extra bucks  by its self. I recomend a Dob for a one scope only person. I am a refractor nut but refractors are limited by their aperture. This is why I also have a 12" Dob to cover all my viewing needs. My personal preferences are. The Dob is for DSO's  that are out of reach of the refractors. The refractors are for everything else. But a Dob is no slouch, believe me when it comes down to viewing Planets, the Moon, or all the other stuff either.  The 8" Dob will provide a much better image scale and allow you to see much deeper into the wonders of the Cosmos. Maybe you could sell the Celestron Explorer Lt 114mm. Believe me after you look  through the eyepiece of a 8" Dob you will not want that scope anymore.This way you can have a few extra bucks for some other Astro toys to support that Dob. Like a 8X24 Zoom eyepiece and a 2X Barlow. 

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro

Regarding the Apertura!? Almost a no brainier for me thay look like great pieces of kit for your money good looking also 

just like me lol.a previous forum member puchased the 12” version for $995 I couldn’t believe the price seemed cheap!?


  • Jethro7 likes this

#21 Deep13

Deep13

    Aurora

  • *****
  • Posts: 4,631
  • Joined: 25 Jan 2005
  • Loc: NE Ohio

Posted 08 April 2021 - 12:00 PM

An 8" Dobsonian.
  • spaceoddity, ShaulaB, MellonLake and 1 other like this

#22 Mrcloc

Mrcloc

    Vendor - SvBony Eyepieces

  • -----
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 162
  • Joined: 19 Jun 2020
  • Loc: Pretoria, South Africa

Posted 08 April 2021 - 01:01 PM

Doesn’t the OP mention that in their first post ?

Clearly badly written by me.

 

For a refractor, I like the Celestron Omni XLT 102. That's a really great mount! Either that, or I'd stretch to an ES 102 f/9.8 AZ. 4" will suck enough light, and the F/L is great for planets and some DSO. These are portable enough too.

 

For reflectors, an 8" Dobsonian. For visual, these are about the best you get, and kill planets and DSOs. They're cumbersome to carry around, and aren't what you would call portable.

 

For a cassegrain, I prefer a Mak, and I believe it's possible to get a 5" mounted. These are IMO the best for planets, and I haven't really wanted for more when looking at globulars, galaxies, or even nebulae, and they're great on PN. They're the most portable, and they're easy on the mount.

 

If the Dob suits your lifestyle, that's the best, if not, you should decide between the refractor and cassegrain. The best is the one you have, but when you have a choice, consider which one you will use the most, or feel like using the most.



#23 sevenofnine

sevenofnine

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 626
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Santa Rosa, California

Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:15 PM

I love these loaded questions love.gif  so much agreement! lol...My best scope by far is Orion's XT-8 Plus ($500) It comes fully accessorized so you don't need much to get started. They include 1) 28mm 2" eyepiece 2) 10mm eyepiece 3) 2"-1.25" adapter 4) 8" solar filter 5) 2" extension tube 6) red dot finder 7) 2" Crayford style focuser. Any manual Dob is going to give you the most aperture for the dollar spent. Your money goes mostly into the optical tube assembly and not the mount. The mount is a simple but effective particle board rocker base covered with melamine. Any other type of scope and you have to consider the mount. A good one really eats into the budget. Good luck with your decisions! waytogo.gif


  • Deep13, spaceoddity and Jethro7 like this

#24 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 95,974
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:31 PM

For a bit more than $500, an 8" Apertura AD8 Dob would be my recommendation.  However, like many other items in amateur astronomy it's currently backordered.
 

https://www.highpoin...n-telescope-ad8


  • Jethro7 likes this

#25 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 95,974
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 08 April 2021 - 02:34 PM

The 8" Sky-Watcher 200P Dob runs less than $500.  It's available from Astronomics, the sponsor of Cloudy Nights, but is also currently backordered.

 

https://www.astronom...-reflector.html

 

Cloudy Nights members get a small discount from Astronomics.

 

https://www.cloudyni...y_discount.html


  • Jethro7 likes this


CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics