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Best telescopes for a beginner.

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#1 Star_Fish

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 02:57 AM

Hello, this is my first time here and I'm planning on buying a telescope for the first time.

I come from a rather light-polluted area and it's extremely hard to see deep-sky objects, so I'm looking for a telescope that can show the planets(mainly Jupiter and Saturn) and the Moon in detail(not very high detail though, as this is my first telescope and I don't want to spend much).

I also heard that refractor telescopes do not require high maintenance and are easy to use, so I would prefer a refractor over other types.

 

I'm not planning on spending more than 250 dollars on it and I need some recommendations as there are so many refractors to choose from.

Thanks.


Edited by Star_Fish, 05 August 2021 - 03:21 AM.

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#2 TheUser

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 03:38 AM

hi

would you please describe your observation conditions (the more details the better)?

 

did you have a deal with optical instruments before?



#3 Aquat0ne

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 05:33 AM

Hi, welcome to the forums. Lots of great people and wealth of information to tap into.

Celestron have a range of refractor telescopes called the starsense series which can help you identify objects in the sky. Might be worth looking at as I assume it will help you learn the sky. Planets wise it's not too hard to find so you may find that it's more useful for brighter Deep sky objects that you can see under light polluted skies.

https://www.celestro...xplorer-lt-70az

Not sure which country you are in so not sure what the prices are like but I bought a 102mm Skywatch Maksutov with the AZGTI goto mount. I live in fairly light polluted skies here in Melbourne Australia and I can see the planets like Jupiter and Saturn without any issues. The reason I went for the Maksutov was due to it being compact. It also came with the AZGTI mount which I also wanted.

Cheers
A
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#4 Tony Flanders

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 06:05 AM

Hello, this is my first time here and I'm planning on buying a telescope for the first time.
I come from a rather light-polluted area and it's extremely hard to see deep-sky objects, so I'm looking for a telescope that can show the planets(mainly Jupiter and Saturn) and the Moon in detail(not very high detail though, as this is my first telescope and I don't want to spend much).
I also heard that refractor telescopes do not require high maintenance and are easy to use, so I would prefer a refractor over other types.


Your reasoning about refractors is sound, although reflectors do provide much better views for any given amount of money, and they're really quite easy to maintain once you have the hang of it.

The good news is that any decent telescope, starting at around $100, will show you Jupiter's two main cloud belts and Saturn's gorgeous rings. And even piece-of-junk scopes will show Jupiter's four main satellites and enough lunar craters to keep you busy for a lifetime. There's hardly a telescope on the market worse than the one that Galileo used, and look what he did with his!

Unfortunately for you, the pandemic has increased telescope demand and decreased supply, so most of the best budget-priced scopes are sold out. In your shoes I would be looking for a 70-mm refractor, one that comes well reviewed by experienced users. I started with a 70-mm refractor, and have never regretted it.
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#5 Ulmer Spatz

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 06:28 AM

This is my recommendation, partly also because it's available now. For the $100 left over, get a nice observing stool, a book on how to find things in the sky and one of those astronomer's flashlights. 

https://www.bhphotov..._70mm_f_10.html

 

I have the Meade 90 mm StarPro, which sits on the exact same mount and tripod and works really well for me. The tripod, even fully extended, is a little short for me (5'10"), hence the recommendation for a stool instead of a chair.


Edited by Ulmer Spatz, 05 August 2021 - 06:34 AM.

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#6 Star_Fish

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:04 AM

hi

would you please describe your observation conditions (the more details the better)?

 

did you have a deal with optical instruments before?

It's mostly cloudy, and for the past few weeks it has been really cloudy, but I can always see the brightest stars(Sirius, Vega, Arcturus etc.) and some constellations. There's little to no haze in the sky but there's still light pollution, on a completely clear sky, I can see about ~100 stars but bright Messier objects like the Orion nebula and the Andromeda galaxy are not visible to the naked eye.

By "have a deal with optical instruments" I assume you mean whether I have used an optical instrument or not. If so, I have used a camera to picture Jupiter(No telescope)

">https://i.imgur.com/Lp3jb2B.jpg

This was taken when it was cloudy(like what it has been the past few weeks)


Edited by Star_Fish, 05 August 2021 - 10:24 AM.

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#7 Star_Fish

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:10 AM

This is my recommendation, partly also because it's available now. For the $100 left over, get a nice observing stool, a book on how to find things in the sky and one of those astronomer's flashlights. 

https://www.bhphotov..._70mm_f_10.html

 

I have the Meade 90 mm StarPro, which sits on the exact same mount and tripod and works really well for me. The tripod, even fully extended, is a little short for me (5'10"), hence the recommendation for a stool instead of a chair.

Thanks a lot for the recommendation, also how were the quality of the included eye-pieces and barlow?



#8 Chris K

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:21 AM

From my personal experience truer telescope words I have not heard:

The best telescope is the one that gets you outside.

My first was an 203mm (8”) Newtonian
My second was a 152mm (6”) refractor
My third was a 72mm (2.7”) refractor

The 72mm has made me a better observer and my hobby happier.

Also my personal opinion, although shared by thousands:

The mount is as important as the telescope. Maybe more.
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#9 Ulmer Spatz

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:40 AM

Thanks a lot for the recommendation, also how were the quality of the included eye-pieces and barlow?

In my opinion, they are quality components. They are serving me well. Of course, you can buy eyepieces and barlows that would cost a lot more. But the gains you as a beginner would see are in no relation to the difference in cost. The gains are subtle and take some experience to fully appreciate. I would strongly advise you to not "upgrade" anything on the scope itself at this time. 

 

As Chris K said, the mount and tripod are an important part of the whole. A bad mount and tripod sabotages even the best of scopes and makes many people give up astronomy. The StarPro series mount and tripod is a good one, in my view. Meade used to sell Infinity-series scopes in that  price range. The mounts on those looked impressive, but were awful.


Edited by Ulmer Spatz, 05 August 2021 - 07:44 AM.


#10 rhetfield

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:55 AM

In your price range, I would take a look at the zhumell 130 and AWB OneSky/Skywatcher heritage 130 scopes.  They will outperform the 70 and 90mm scopes mentioned by others and only have minimal maintenance.

 

The following thread is for the AWB, but is also largely relevant to the zhumell:

 

https://www.cloudyni...ithout-borders/

 

If you can see 100 stars, you are seeing about 80-90 more stars than are visible in my skies on an average night and the scopes mentioned above will show a lot of the messier objects in your skies.  This is especially true if you add degree circles and use a phone app for coordinates.

 

https://www.cloudyni...degree-circles/


Edited by rhetfield, 05 August 2021 - 07:59 AM.

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#11 Notdarkenough

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 08:15 AM

The types of scopes you are asking about are often the types of scopes available at local libraries or wherever your local astronomy club "leaves" rigs for second-hand outreach. I don't live in a big city, or even a city! The population of our entire valley might be 100k in 2 states. Even then there are more than 20 small public libraries with entry-level scopes for check-out, provided or administered by the local club. It is an excellent way to see for yourself what is the cat's pajamas and what is simply the cat's breakfast!

 

Mike



#12 TheUser

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 09:04 AM

It's mostly cloudy, and for the past few weeks it has been really cloudy, but I can always see the brightest stars(Sirius, Vega, Arcturus etc.) and some constellations. There's little to no haze in the sky but there's still light pollution, on a completely clear sky, I can see about ~100 stars and bright Messier objects like the Orion nebula and the Andromeda galaxy are not visible to the naked eye.

By "have a deal with optical instruments" I assume you mean whether I have used an optical instrument or not. If so, I have used a camera to picture Jupiter(No telescope)

">https://i.imgur.com/Lp3jb2B.jpg

This was taken when it was cloudy(like what it has been the past few weeks)

what about the observation site? the place? is it backyard or apartments?



#13 Star_Fish

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 09:48 AM

The types of scopes you are asking about are often the types of scopes available at local libraries or wherever your local astronomy club "leaves" rigs for second-hand outreach. I don't live in a big city, or even a city! The population of our entire valley might be 100k in 2 states. Even then there are more than 20 small public libraries with entry-level scopes for check-out, provided or administered by the local club. It is an excellent way to see for yourself what is the cat's pajamas and what is simply the cat's breakfast!

 

Mike

Unfortunately for me, there aren't any local libraries or astronomy clubs near where I live.



#14 Star_Fish

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 09:49 AM

what about the observation site? the place? is it backyard or apartments?

It's from my balcony, so I suppose that counts as apartments.



#15 TheUser

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 10:33 AM

you need Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope over 100 aperture. tripod made of steel

 

what are the sizes of your balcony?

what part of the sky is open for you (south or north or)?

what is the floor? are there other buildings in front of you and higher than you?


Edited by TheUser, 05 August 2021 - 10:42 AM.

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#16 Rollo

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 10:51 AM

For $250 you can purchase a decent pair of binoculars and use them to learn the sky before you buy a telescope.   I have known many people that did this and have no regrets about doing it.   Check these out.     https://www.bhphotov..._Binocular.html


Edited by Rollo, 05 August 2021 - 11:33 AM.

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#17 drd715

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 11:21 AM

Your question on finding the inexpensive (limited budget) first telescope comes up frequently. The  previous suggestion above about starting with a nice quality pair of binoculars as a good place to start is true.  But dollar value in a lower budget telescope is a 6 inch Dobsonian. Several brands are available that come with basic eyepieces and accessories. Keep in mind you will need a guide to "sky hop" around the heavens above to locate objects of interest. Personally I like refractors, but a good quality refractor is  abit more expensive and requires a mount that a Dobsonian has built into it's design. In the economical small refractor an Achromatic "Achro" is the least expensive type. Achromats produce a better image when their focal ratio (F-#) is 8 or higher. My personal choice would be at least 80mm  objective size.   If you are mainly viewing the moon and planets a longer focal length/ ratio is better for both color correction and the power of magnification available in a longer fl.  An 80mm Achro refractor is for practical purposes power limited to about 160X or so.  If you are wanting to view wider DSO type subjects the Dobsonian is a better choice especially if you can get to 8 inches or more.


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#18 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 12:19 PM

Observing from a balcony usually requires a telescope on a tripod.  A 90mm Maksutov-Cassegrain is going to break your budget, Star_Fish, since a tripod isn't be included so an f/10 achromatic refractor is probably your best option.

I do a lot of binocular observing but they are not the right tool for observing the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn.


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#19 Ulmer Spatz

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 12:49 PM

Star Fish says he wants, quote, "a telescope that can show the planets (mainly Jupiter and Saturn) and the Moon in detail." As others have said, binoculars are not going to do that very well. To see some detail on Jupiter and Saturn, someone with little or no experience needs a minimum magnification of around 35 x.


Edited by Ulmer Spatz, 05 August 2021 - 01:17 PM.

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#20 ShaulaB

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:05 PM

This is not a refractor, but it will do what you want. An Orion 4.5 inch StarBlast tabletop Dobsonian costs $250. It would sit on a little table on the balcony. The Dobsonian mount is much more stable than the inexpensive tripods and mounts sold with refractors at this price point.

It has been stated that binoculars are not a good choice for your situation. Binocs can be a benefit under dark skies, but not for urban observing. Binocs will NOT give pleasing views of Saturn or Mars.
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#21 zleonis

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:06 PM

For $250 you can purchase a decent pair of binoculars and use them to learn the sky before you buy a telescope.   I have known many people that did this and have no regrets about doing it.   Check these out.     https://www.bhphotov..._Binocular.html

 

 

+1 on drd715's recommendation. I would go a bit further and say do not buy a new refractor unless you can afford a good one. Those are way over your budget. If size and or storage is an issue then look at the table top Dobsonians like the Zhumell Z130 for $200 on Amazon. Better yet, is the Sky-Watcher 150P Dob for about $350. If these are out of your budget, seriously consider a good pair of astronomy appropriate binoculars. The Nikon AE 10x50 for $175 is excellent! Best of luck to you and your choices. waytogo.gif

I agree that binocular observing can be enjoyable and is a great, even from a light polluted city, but they don't offer much for a planetary observer aside from a handful of moons. And while I enjoy the view of the moon at 8 or 10x magnification, I have a hard time holding the binoculars steady enough to really appreciate the detail that emerges with some magnification. For whatever reason, the shakiness of binoculars isn't as bothersome for me with deep sky observing.

 

It could still be enjoyable to buy some decent binoculars and spend some time learning the sky, but if your interest is primarily planets and the moon from a balcony, a tripod-mounted scope would probably be the best-bet. (quick aside, the planets/moon are visible from your balcony, right?)


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#22 Ulmer Spatz

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:24 PM

The Dobsonian mount is much more stable than the inexpensive tripods and mounts sold with refractors at this price point.

I have to agree. Those one-armed Dobsonian mounts are rock-steady and a pleasure to use. My StarPro 70 recommendation took into account availability and having money left over to buy a stool, a book or two and a flashlight.


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#23 ThusSpokeZarathustra

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:38 PM

Orion GoScope 80mm Refractor Telescope and Tripod Bundle, if you don't want to collimate your optics. I'd suggest you save save up and get one of these: Celestron 4" Omni XLT 102 Equatorial refractor. Otherwise, go for a Dobsonian.



#24 CarolinaBanker

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:44 PM

The Celestron StarSense LT 80 AZ should fit the bill. https://www.astronom...e.html?___SID=U I have the 102 which is its big brother. StarSense makes it easy with light polluted skies. It’s well suited to planetary viewing, as well as double stars. I’d get a SVBONY Barlow and 7-21mm zoom. Make sure your phone is compatible with the requirements of the software as plate solving requires a lot of power.


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#25 sevenofnine

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 02:40 PM

Welcome to C/N! flowerred.gif  You might want to look at a few of the Explore Scientifics achro-refractors. The ES First Light 80mm on a EQ mount for $329 stands out. The scope offers a fully coated doublet at f/11.25 and a focal length of 900mm. It's a little over your budget but the mount looks pretty good. You have to watch out for wobbly mounts in the under $300 offerings. They can be a real hobby killer. Good luck with your choice! waytogo.gif


Edited by sevenofnine, 05 August 2021 - 02:40 PM.

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