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please critique my first telescope choice

Beginner Celestron Equipment Software
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#1 mikemikemike

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 11:58 AM

Hello all, 

 

I'm brand new to this forum, and not yet even new to astronomy, but Cloudy Nights seems like an amazing community and resource. 

 

I would welcome any comments before I pull the trigger on my first telescope. 

 

My situation: I moved to a Colorado mountain town (Ouray) with amazing darkness, and it seems criminal not to get closer to these stars. I'd like to get a setup that enables me to do so. We are surrounded by mountains so the view is somewhat limited in terms of the width of the panorama, but the sky is consistently dark and stars are amazing. I am open to being sucked into the technical details of this hobby, but at least at first I know myself enough to know that I need something high quality, easy to use (like idiot easy, point and shoot easy), with minimal learning curve - if Apple made a telescope I'd buy it right now. For budget, 1500 bucks sounds in the ballpark, but I would go higher to future proof things. 

 

Here's what I'm considering at this point, based on very minimal research and a phone call to telescopes.com : 

 

Celestron Nexstar 8SE telescope

1.25" Orion Variable Polarizing Filter

Orion 8-24mm Pro Lanthanum Zoom Eyepiece

Celestron AC Adapter for Computerized Telescopes

 

What do you think of this plan? Is the Celestron software as easy to spin up and use as advertised? Is there anything else I should consider adding or substituting? Any thoughts on pros and cons would be welcome, including references to specific threads or reviews that I have not found on my lackadaisical efforts to peruse this forum. 

 

Also, AFIK I'm many hours from the nearest astronomy store, so I'd welcome recommendations for the best online sources for this gear. Some of the outlets selling the Celestron have zero knowledge, so I'd prefer to keep my dollars where the experts are, both because it seems more ethical somehow, and because I assume that customer service would be better down the line. 

 

Thanks much! 
Mike 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#2 Avgvstvs

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 12:10 PM

I would just go with the telescope for now.

Maybe add the zoom if you are very eager.

There is plenty to see with just the basic setup.

I think its always wise to invest in a quality low power/wide angle EP

especially with the long focal length of the SCT.

This will get a lot more use than a higher power EP generally.

The computerised stuff is nice but can add another level of complexity.

Many would suggest that a large Dob would be your best bet.


Edited by Avgvstvs, 05 August 2021 - 12:11 PM.

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#3 ShaulaB

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 12:10 PM

Welcome to CN! First, let me thank you for not saying "I want to do astrophotography with the scope." Astrophotography, aka imaging, is a completely different pursuit. Not the same hobby at all compared to strictly visual observing.

Lots of first time telescope buyers opt for your choice of a Celestron 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain. Versions of it has been the serious amateur astronomer pick for over forty years. With your dark skies, it will really give a lot of enjoyment.

We have two 8 inch SCTs in our house. One rides on an old school fork mount. The other is mated to an iOptron mount. The husband and i have gotten great use from them over the past decades.
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#4 astrochaser

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 12:20 PM

Your making me jealous with those dark skies in the mountains lol.gif

 

Look up your local Astronomy club in your area. They can help guide you and give you the opportunity to ask many questions as you progress with your hobby.


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#5 Jeff Struve

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 12:34 PM

Hi,

 

If you are wanting to do mainly visual astronomy, for the money you mention, look at one of the Orion 12" Intellescopes... a dobsonian with encoders... the 10" is about $1200 and the view IMHO would be much, much better than the one you mentioned. It has encoders to help you locate objects... piece of cake...

 

If you think imaging is in your future, the dob, like the 8se you mentioned are not really the way to go... maybe an 8" SCT on an EQ mount in that case... or better yet an 80mm-127mm triplet... but these will liekly through you out of budget a bit.   

 

I do both visual and AP... I seldom do AP w/o my dob being set up for visual while the other scope is imaging... and when I do visual, its generally the dob that is used...

 

If it were me... maybe the Orion 10XTi and a Baader zoom... and a red dot finder in place of the stock finder scope (which is pretty decent)

 

Jeff

 

 

Oh... I should mention just minutes to set up and use... and minutes to pack up...


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#6 mikemikemike

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:10 PM

What a great set of fast responses! Thank you. I'm guessing this won't exhaust the opinions on this forum, but some reactions to follow... 


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#7 mikemikemike

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:12 PM

I would just go with the telescope for now.

Maybe add the zoom if you are very eager.

There is plenty to see with just the basic setup.

I think its always wise to invest in a quality low power/wide angle EP

especially with the long focal length of the SCT.

This will get a lot more use than a higher power EP generally.

The computerised stuff is nice but can add another level of complexity.

Many would suggest that a large Dob would be your best bet.

Can you recommend a quality low power/wide angle EP that would work with this setup? is the stock EP not good on this telescope? 



#8 ThusSpokeZarathustra

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:20 PM

If I was in your position (although I eclipsed your budget by roughly $200), I would go with a:

I'm heavily biased in my opinion since have a terrible affinity with my own Starwave 102ED F/11, it's beautiful. Analytically, the Celestron Nextstar 8SE is superior, however, the 102 requires no collimation, very little cool down, mechanistically superior (no plastic!), and pin point sharp with no discernible chromatic aberration. No matter how many telescopes you end up obtaining, the 102ED F/11 will always have a place among them (same can't be said of the Celestron Nextstar 8SE).

Upgrade 2

Edited by ThusSpokeZarathustra, 05 August 2021 - 01:24 PM.


#9 mikemikemike

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:32 PM

Hi,

 

If you are wanting to do mainly visual astronomy, for the money you mention, look at one of the Orion 12" Intellescopes... a dobsonian with encoders... the 10" is about $1200 and the view IMHO would be much, much better than the one you mentioned. It has encoders to help you locate objects... piece of cake...

 

If you think imaging is in your future, the dob, like the 8se you mentioned are not really the way to go... maybe an 8" SCT on an EQ mount in that case... or better yet an 80mm-127mm triplet... but these will liekly through you out of budget a bit.   

 

I do both visual and AP... I seldom do AP w/o my dob being set up for visual while the other scope is imaging... and when I do visual, its generally the dob that is used...

 

If it were me... maybe the Orion 10XTi and a Baader zoom... and a red dot finder in place of the stock finder scope (which is pretty decent)

 

Jeff

Hm. This is interesting and throws a wrench in my plans. 

 

So, sounds like you are saying Jeff that, for the money, the larger Dobson gives (far?) better images and viewing, with the tradeoff being size, and Push To vs. GoTo? I'll have to do some more reading on this. 

 

Having no experience with this, tracking seems like a major item for me. I'll be setting things up for my wife and kids as well, so keeping objects in view is a major consideration for me. Am I missing something? 


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#10 mikemikemike

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 01:37 PM

If I was in your position (although I eclipsed your budget by roughly $200), I would go with a:

I'm heavily biased in my opinion since have a terrible affinity with my own Starwave 102ED F/11, it's beautiful. Analytically, the Celestron Nextstar 8SE is superior, however, the 102 requires no collimation, very little cool down, mechanistically superior (no plastic!), and pin point sharp with no discernible chromatic aberration. No matter how many telescopes you end up obtaining, the 102ED F/11 will always have a place among them (same can't be said of the Celestron Nextstar 8SE).

Ooh boy. There are many dimensions to this activity... chromatic aberration! More things to learn. 


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#11 SteveG

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 02:14 PM

The 8” SCT will be nice, but it does not do ultra wide views.

The recommendation for 10” or 12” dobs is a very good one. They will show better resolution, and more importantly deep sky objects will be brighter. They come in manual, push-to and go-to.

 

For best recommendations, you should go to the forums for the type of scope and pose your questions. You will get many more eyes on this. See “Reflectors” and “Cats & Casses”.


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#12 Jeff Struve

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 02:21 PM

Hm. This is interesting and throws a wrench in my plans. 

 

So, sounds like you are saying Jeff that, for the money, the larger Dobson gives (far?) better images and viewing, with the tradeoff being size, and Push To vs. GoTo? I'll have to do some more reading on this. 

 

Having no experience with this, tracking seems like a major item for me. I'll be setting things up for my wife and kids as well, so keeping objects in view is a major consideration for me. Am I missing something? 

Better images... no... like the SE you mentioned, the Dob is basically an AltAz mount... so like your SE... not great for imaging.

 

But yes better view, by far... and yes, a trade off is pushing rather than motors... but the pushing is quick and simple, and I bet as quick or quicker than the motors... With my pushto dob and just a 21mm eyepiece I was able to find 107 of the 110 Messier objects and another 11 objects in a single night at our last Messier Marathon...

 

Keeping objects in the FoV... yes the tracking the SE has will help that... BUT... its like keeping your hands on a steering wheel when you drive... it becomes second nature after a short while and depending on what you are doing, the object does stay in the FoV for minutes or longer...   


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#13 Notdarkenough

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 02:33 PM

Hello. I started 11 months ago; you can see my choices in my signature block. I too live in a high Rocky Mtn valley! For some reason, super-experienced observers want everyone to start with a manual dob and then go equatorial, or go tiny aperture equatorial.  Rubbish I say! (They might be right, but not solely right.)  I researched for months and ended up with a great rig for me, in my location, for my preferences.

 

If you are OK with the money, a Celestron NexStar Evolution EdgeHD with StarSense is the best all-around package. The mount has an internal battery, integrated WiFi (not great previously but wonderful in the last 6 months of upgrades and experience), plenty of clearance at the back for viewing high-angle targets and lots of Aux ports for accessories. The Go To is spot-on and tracking is automatic. Alt/Az is the standard, but if you really want to image in future years there are many options like a wedge, focal reducer or HyperStar. Additionally, the Evo has manual release clutches which is a huge improvement over the SE mount.

 

The EdgeHD will be awesome if you choose one day to image (future-proof), includes ventilation areas for better cooling, has wonderful StarBright coatings and a 2" SCT-thread output for 2" diagonals. Stock EPs are good for quite a bit (I upgraded to use Dioptrx) and the accessories are manyfold. They are also Fastar compatible to allow for any future/additional wants. 

 

Don't know if you are into photography; I never have been. But, the "slow/fast" focal length is a photography holdover and references exposure times. The SCT was developed for "best-of-all-worlds" application, not as a master of 1 thing. This a wonderful tool to have in the bag. Additionally, they allow for high magnification with less drama. And, I have never collimated it once. I know folks who never have, or haven't for years and years. Travel might make it more likely, but not if careful. The weight can be heavy if you want to go big, but my entire 8in rig is less than 50lbs, with three pieces (tripod, mount, OTA) all very manageable, even for this guy in a wheelchair with wires in my spine! Lots like to go smaller (6" is cheaper and lighter) and lots like bigger too. But most have an 8in. 

 

Software updates are easy, scope-control software choices abound (Android, iOS, Windows PC, etc.) and very little previous experience is needed. StarSense and SkySync are truly set-up for newbies; no having to point at such and such star or aim here and click x and and then move it. I turn it on, go get my chair and ep case and it is ready to go.

 

As for EPs, I really liked the Baader Mark-IV 8-24mm Zoom with 2.25x Barlow combo. That with the stock Kellner (my kit came with an E-Lux 32mm) cover almost everything. Not the best EPs, but miles cheaper than the Naglers I moved to for Dioptrx compatability. 

 

The one real stinker is the worthless StarPointer Pro the kit comes with. I upgraded to the Baader SkySurf V and love it. But, with StarSense it isn't nearly as important and lots of Celestron owners are OK with it. Mine was crap out of the box, the vendor replaced it and that one was crap too. However, once you calibrate StarSense (a 1 time, 2 button process) you might not care about a Finder!

 

I did upgrade the stock 2" Celestron diagonal with a Baader Maxbright ClickLock. It is much more secure and much easier to use than those dumb tiny thumb screws. The 8 Evo comes with a decent tripod; sturdy, solid and well built, but nothing to write home about. I did buy TEMPest ventilation fans and I am still not sure about their necessity in a visual-only rig. Additionally I bought a Telegizmos 365 cover so I can leave it outside; folks in high-humidity locations freak when I say that, but the low humidity in my location; less than 50% in the rain and zero dew, single digits in our longer winters when views are awesome!

 

That's it! Easy peasey, but not super cheap. I would never recommend starting with all this crap, I just though it unfair to not mention how easy it is to build around, and what I felt the need to upgrade. You should see how you do - Celestron is good at providing a usable product out of the box. And if I ever want to destroy my sanity with AP I can image at native f/10, use a focal reducer at .7, or best, get F/2 with HyperStar! If you want images at Hubble-quality, ask elsewhere. For all-target visual-only viewing it really is a wonderful product! Good Luck!

 

Mike


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#14 rl112871

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 02:50 PM

An illuminated double crosshair EP would be a great addition for your alignment needs.


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#15 scadvice

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 02:51 PM

Plus one for Jeff's advice. There really is no 'one scope fits all'. Visual observing in a dark site nothing beats a big reflector like a 12" Dobsonian style reflector.  I'm a imager but I have many friends with big home made reflectors that while my 130mm refractor is clicking away at images I get to look through.


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#16 ThusSpokeZarathustra

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 05:56 PM

Ooh boy. There are many dimensions to this activity... chromatic aberration! More things to learn. 

Not with that refractor! On the other hand, Extra-Low Dispersion glass is definitely another dimension that I have yet to fully understand, an in depth understanding of the refraction of light through different glass types is not necessary to enjoying amateur astronomy though.


Edited by ThusSpokeZarathustra, 05 August 2021 - 06:43 PM.


#17 ThusSpokeZarathustra

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 06:37 PM

The question you need to ask yourself is what do you want out of a telescope:

  1. Are you impartial to adjusting the optics of your telescope every night before you start observing or would you desire a telescope that stays aligned for a long time?
  2. What would be the maximum size and weight that you would be comfortable to handle during transport and assembly to your observing site?
  3. What do you primarily want to observe in the night sky, double stars, planets, deep sky objects?
  4. How long do you realistically want to wait for your optical tube to cool down?
  5. Do you plan to image in the future?
  6. Do you what a mount capable of slewing itself to a designated portion of the sky, under the condition of the additional weight of a battery to carry and the limitation of the said battery's charge?
  7. Do you desire the ease of tracking control that equatorial mounts offer or, do you not mind using the stair stepping method (in case the answer to 6 is no)?
  8. Do you care for the influence of chromatic aberration in your observations?
  9. Are you impartial to spherical aberration?
  10. Are you bothered by diffraction spikes?
  11. Do you prefer to sit or stand while observing?

If the scope you chose aligns with your answers to these questions then you have your perfect scope, don't let any of us convince you otherwise.

(Just don't purchase a Bird-Jones Reflector)


Edited by ThusSpokeZarathustra, 05 August 2021 - 06:41 PM.

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#18 Pat Rochford

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 06:54 PM

Make sure you read and completely understand the the one-hundred or so suggestions that are about to come your way.  There will be a test on Friday.

 

Hello all, 

 

I'm brand new to this forum, and not yet even new to astronomy, but Cloudy Nights seems like an amazing community and resource. 

 

I would welcome any comments before I pull the trigger on my first telescope. 

 

 


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#19 luxo II

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:20 PM

Since you are under great dark skies I'd have bought a bigger dob, 12"-18", with which to enjoy the DSOs. Not an SCT.

 

Aperture rules and the focal length will be similar so it would also be fine for the moon and planets when the occasion arises. But aperture rules, especially on DSO's in dark skies, so frankly an 8" SCT will just leave you lusting for something bigger.


Edited by luxo II, 05 August 2021 - 07:22 PM.


#20 teashea

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:25 PM

Hello all, 

 

I'm brand new to this forum, and not yet even new to astronomy, but Cloudy Nights seems like an amazing community and resource. 

 

I would welcome any comments before I pull the trigger on my first telescope. 

 

My situation: I moved to a Colorado mountain town (Ouray) with amazing darkness, and it seems criminal not to get closer to these stars. I'd like to get a setup that enables me to do so. We are surrounded by mountains so the view is somewhat limited in terms of the width of the panorama, but the sky is consistently dark and stars are amazing. I am open to being sucked into the technical details of this hobby, but at least at first I know myself enough to know that I need something high quality, easy to use (like idiot easy, point and shoot easy), with minimal learning curve - if Apple made a telescope I'd buy it right now. For budget, 1500 bucks sounds in the ballpark, but I would go higher to future proof things. 

 

Here's what I'm considering at this point, based on very minimal research and a phone call to telescopes.com : 

 

Celestron Nexstar 8SE telescope

1.25" Orion Variable Polarizing Filter

Orion 8-24mm Pro Lanthanum Zoom Eyepiece

Celestron AC Adapter for Computerized Telescopes

 

What do you think of this plan? Is the Celestron software as easy to spin up and use as advertised? Is there anything else I should consider adding or substituting? Any thoughts on pros and cons would be welcome, including references to specific threads or reviews that I have not found on my lackadaisical efforts to peruse this forum. 

 

Also, AFIK I'm many hours from the nearest astronomy store, so I'd welcome recommendations for the best online sources for this gear. Some of the outlets selling the Celestron have zero knowledge, so I'd prefer to keep my dollars where the experts are, both because it seems more ethical somehow, and because I assume that customer service would be better down the line. 

 

Thanks much! 
Mike 

You are doing right by seeking opinions on this.  The mount is not very adequate.  There is plastic everywhere.  You can do better.  


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#21 rhaskins

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:38 PM

i like your original choices. Get it all with: the understanding that:

- you have a lot to learn about the mount

- you have a lot to learn about the sky and where all the "stuff" is

 

While I am not personally in love with zoom eyepieces, the one you picked out will do you well.

 

With the dark skies you have, you will have a great deal of fun on visual. you will be able to see a lot especially with the changing seasons.

 

After 6mos-to 12 months think about where you want to go. My first scope is long gone but it gave me a lot of enjoyment and led me to where I am now, a lot more equipment. If you like it you may go deeper into purchases. If it is not your thing, well you may save some money.

 

Again, for starting out, your selections are very good.

 

Rick


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#22 mikemikemike

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 07:45 PM

The question you need to ask yourself is what do you want out of a telescope:

  1. Are you impartial to adjusting the optics of your telescope every night before you start observing or would you desire a telescope that stays aligned for a long time?

I want to mess with it as little as possible. Required maintenance will kill the hobby for me faster than anything else. 

 

  1. What would be the maximum size and weight that you would be comfortable to handle during transport and assembly to your observing site?

My site is my back yard, but I'll have to get the telescope from garage to lawn. I'm reasonably fit, so maybe more concerned about storing another bulky object than moving it around. 

  1. What do you primarily want to observe in the night sky, double stars, planets, deep sky objects?

Um, all of this sounds awesome! Having never done it at all, I'd say everything? 

 

  1. How long do you realistically want to wait for your optical tube to cool down?

Not a huge issue. Do I need to wait for the cool down before moving it at all? I suppose if its not going to rain I can just leave it until morning worst case? 

  1. Do you plan to image in the future?

No. I mean never say never, but probably not. 

  1. Do you what a mount capable of slewing itself to a designated portion of the sky, under the condition of the additional weight of a battery to carry and the limitation of the said battery's charge?

I want as much automation as I can get. Weight is not that important. I don't plan to travel with the scope beyond my backyard, although again who knows if I'll want to see a wider portion of the sky at some point. 

 

  1. Do you desire the ease of tracking control that equatorial mounts offer or, do you not mind using the stair stepping method (in case the answer to 6 is no)?

    I don't know what any of this means, but I definitely want tracking. 
     
  2. Do you care for the influence of chromatic aberration in your observations?

    Having never seen this, I don't know, but It sounds bad, so I guess I don't want this. 
     
  3. Are you impartial to spherical aberration?

    Ditto the above LOL 
     
  4. Are you bothered by diffraction spikes?

    Again. Let me guess: if I spend more money and have a heavier rig, I'll have no chromatic aberration, spherical aberration, or diffraction spikes, but if I spend less for a lighter and smaller rig I'll have these awful things haunting me during daylight hours? 
     
  5. Do you prefer to sit or stand while observing?

    Sit. 

If the scope you chose aligns with your answers to these questions then you have your perfect scope, don't let any of us convince you otherwise.

(Just don't purchase a Bird-Jones Reflector)

 

I like this quiz. Given my answers, what does it suggest to you that I want? 

This is very thoughtful. I'm guessing these questions will become meaningful to me AFTER I receive whatever scope I decide on! Answers above. 


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#23 Mark Lovik

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 08:08 PM

You walked in the middle of the cloudy nights scope wars!

 

  • The Dobophiles ... always starts and ends with ... get a Dob
  • APO Refractorites. .... it ain't pure without a lens.  Sub-variant the imaging refractorites
  • Cat lovers.  SCTs or Maks rule the world.   Sub variant the EAA cat lovers 
  • Newt heads ... older or European newtonian reflector lovers that like to mount big reflectors on bigger mounts.   Also has EAA and imaging variants

At different times I have fallen into three of the 4 categories above.  .... sigh

 

You already sound like you would like an automated turnkey system.   Most of the time the automated and mount parts have a limited (5-15 year) shelf life.  The optics .. telescope and stuff like eyepieces last much longer.  So re-mounting and repurposing the Ota is common.

 

You could buy a goto or push to Dob.  It becomes an issue when the electronics become obsolete or flakey.  You could remount it as a manual system in the future, or buy retrofit electronics.   Making it a traditional Newt is possible but expensive.

 

Your selection of the cheaper mounted 8 inch SCT has merit.  Most of the cost is in the optical tube. It can be used for a long time.  If (when) the mount dies ... the tube has a standard mounting rail.   Put it on the next greatest automated mounting platform.

 

Notice I did not pick the refractor route ... normally you mix and match a seperate mount purchase to the refractor ota.   Many need a separate purchase of diagonals, eyepieces and finders.   Good choice ... more work to start.

 

If possible ... find an observing group or club in the area.  It may refine your ideas.  Figure what your family will use and have fun with


Edited by Mark Lovik, 05 August 2021 - 08:21 PM.

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#24 ThusSpokeZarathustra

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Posted 05 August 2021 - 11:36 PM

In response to your answers, take a gander at this scope:

Celestron - Advanced VX 6" Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope

 

A nice SCT telescope with a quality goto equatorial mount, Advanced VX mount, that will comfortably hold any telescope tube you throw at it. Much better quality than the mount for the Celestron Nexstar 8SE. If you ever feel the desire for a new telescope, the mount that comes with this will take it with ease, unless its heavier than 30lbs (at that point you're building an observatory or you're the hulk). Moreover, the StarBright XLT coatings should allow for maximum contrast in an 6 inch optical tube of its design. No chromatic aberration to worry about, no coma, no fuss (except for some cool down and probable mirror flop, SCTs). Just add a Telrad and you're good to go! Did I mention that it is goto?


Edited by ThusSpokeZarathustra, 06 August 2021 - 09:33 AM.

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#25 tturtle

tturtle

    Mariner 2

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Posted 06 August 2021 - 07:43 AM

I just love these posts asking for advice on first scope to buy as they generate such amusing and knowledgeable responses since we all have our respective hobby horses (myself included).  2 things stood out for me which were kids and dark skies.  Kids means that your time is probably limited, dark skies means you are fortunate to be where fainter celestial objects are viewable. The GoTo motorized SCTs are great both the Meade and the Celestron, but I have found them not to be conducive to “family astronomy” - too fiddly, complicated, heavy, bulky, etc. so at the end of a work day with other child rearing stuff to attend to the scope tends to sit in a corner. You want something you can literally pick up walk out the door and boom the stars are there. For this reason plus the dark skies I would second the recommendation of a good 8” or 10” dobsonian with encoders.

With encoders and the excellent astronomy apps you can have on your iPhone you will quickly (and I mean very quickly) locate and view many stunning double stars, nebulae, galaxies, etc. The other thing that rarely gets mentioned is that goto scopes, being motorized, can be a little distracting as there is some motor noise. It’s not that they are loud but even the small amount of whirring you hear can feel out of place in the dead of night. As far as size I would go with the highest quality 8” I can afford. Yes the 10” will show more, but don’t underestimate the importance of a quality mount. You do not want a Dobsonian mount that Is just barely adequate as that will significantly detract from your enjoyment of the scope.


Edited by tturtle, 06 August 2021 - 07:46 AM.

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