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

Need help with telescope buying dilemma (yes I read all the threads)

Astrophotography Beginner Reflector Maksutov
  • Please log in to reply
43 replies to this topic

#1 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 01:14 PM

Hello, 

 

I am buying a first telescope for my son for Christmas. (My son has a passion for astronomy, has taken Astro 101 in Uni).  The purpose would be to explore deep space, nebulae and planetary bodies (+pics like everyone else). 

 

I did the research, read Nighwatch and all the threads (thank-you all BTW).   I landed on Celestron 31045 AstroMaster 130 EQ Reflector (with the plan of investing in accessories that could go with as he upgraded the scope).  I got a good price @BB and ordered.  All was well.  Until yesterday.  They oversold, apologized and refunded my money, so I am back to square 1.   All the deals are pretty much gone in our area.  

 

So I went back to my research (again thank-you all), and came up with these alternatives: 

 

1. Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector

2. Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector

3. Orion 9825 Apex 127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain

4. Orion 9827 AstroView 6 Equatorial Reflector

 

Since these are more than I planned to spend (my original plan was to buy a go-kart and upgrade into a Ferrari :) ) and I don't know a lot about the difference in optics (my son is the expert but wants to be surprised at Christmas), I would appreciate any advice/help/experience that the community has had with any of these choices.  (Or if there is a better one that I may have missed?). 

 

Any and all input would be greatly appreciated. 

 

Thank-you & Happy Holidays. 



#2 Echolight

Echolight

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,467
  • Joined: 01 May 2020
  • Loc: Texas

Posted 28 November 2021 - 01:31 PM

What kind of telescope has he talked about?

 

A 130mm f/5 will be limited for visual on faint fuzzies. Just so you know. Deep space objects, other than Star clusters and a couple of bright nebula (M42, M57), will mostly look like smudges or tiny wispy clouds. I think it’s exciting to find them. But many expect to see something like photos they have seen on the internet. And in the eyepiece of a 130mm reflector that won’t be the case.

 

You will be able to see a lot of detail on the Moon. And some detail on planets. Mars polar cap. Bands, the Great Red Spot, and shadow transits of the Galilean moons on Jupiter. And some banding, and the rings along with the Cassini division on Saturn. 
 

Star fields in the Milky Way will be nice to look at.

 

Still, it is a nice size scope that is easy to transport and store. And he could be very pleased with what he sees if his expectations are realistic. Although if he doesn’t know what to expect when looking for/at very small deep space objects, and how to look for and see them, he may not recognize or see them.
Even though many can be detected with binoculars, it takes quite a bit of aperture to see any real detail in many deep space objects.


Edited by Echolight, 28 November 2021 - 01:50 PM.

  • isolli and 900SL like this

#3 ShaulaB

ShaulaB

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,781
  • Joined: 11 Oct 2012
  • Loc: Missouri

Posted 28 November 2021 - 01:41 PM

An equatorial mount might not be the best choice. Perhaps in reading, it was stated that an equatorial mount was necessary for astrophotography. However, an appropriate EQ mount costs $1,000 minimum. Small inexpensive EQ mounts can be frustrating for a new casual user.

Among my many telescopes, I own a 4.5 inch Orion StarBlast. I enjoy using it, but I know it's limitations. There is no way to modify it into a Ferrari. It's a VW Beetle and that's all it will ever be: small and fun.

Lots of threads have suggested a small refractor like an Orion ST 80 on an alt-az altitude azimuth mount plus tripod. Or it has often been posted that a 6 or 8 inch Dobsonian is great for a beginner.

A Maksutov telescope has a small field of view, and benefits greatly from a go-to tracking mount.
  • dswtan, Voyageur, Echolight and 2 others like this

#4 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 01:49 PM

What kind of telescope has he talked about?

Not anything really, that's what makes it hard (and easy).  I don't think he has enough experience to develop any preferences yet. 



#5 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 01:58 PM

An equatorial mount might not be the best choice. Perhaps in reading, it was stated that an equatorial mount was necessary for astrophotography. However, an appropriate EQ mount costs $1,000 minimum. Small inexpensive EQ mounts can be frustrating for a new casual user.

Among my many telescopes, I own a 4.5 inch Orion StarBlast. I enjoy using it, but I know it's limitations. There is no way to modify it into a Ferrari. It's a VW Beetle and that's all it will ever be: small and fun.

Lots of threads have suggested a small refractor like an Orion ST 80 on an alt-az altitude azimuth mount plus tripod. Or it has often been posted that a 6 or 8 inch Dobsonian is great for a beginner.

A Maksutov telescope has a small field of view, and benefits greatly from a go-to tracking mount.

Yeah I read that as well re: EQ, I wasn't sure how that would work (one of the reasons I posted).  He is very meticulous so that's what I was betting on overcoming the frustration.  (He loves precision and fiddling, which most people don't. :) )

 

Thx for the feedback re: Orion.  Good to know (I don't really know what is/is not practical re: upgrading, I think that's part of the journey.  But small and fun was exactly what I was going for.  I wanted to save the upgrade/investing for a year down the road when he had developed some experience and preferences.) 

 

Yeah I debater alt-az vs Dobson for weeks (and pls correct me if I am wrong) but I discarded Dobson b/c of portability issues. We live in a light polluted area, so we are going to have to travel to see anything.  

 

Yeah I was hestiating on the Maksutov b/c  of that and that I would have to add a goto.  But I heard it was good? 



#6 Echolight

Echolight

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,467
  • Joined: 01 May 2020
  • Loc: Texas

Posted 28 November 2021 - 02:31 PM

Not anything really, that's what makes it hard (and easy).  I don't think he has enough experience to develop any preferences yet. 

It is very difficult to say what someone might enjoy using. I have an almost an embarrassment of riches when it comes to not real expensive telescopes. All were bought used. For starters, a six inch and eight inch telescope that I love to use.

But I also enjoy using very modest equipment. Maybe more so than the larger scopes. Or at least sometimes more often. 
 

Not quite a telescope, but 10x50 binoculars are popular. I have 8x56, and use them along with my zero gravity chair. And I might use them for viewing the sky as much or more than any telescope. As you may have seen in Nightwatch, an in flatable dingy can take the place of a zero gravity chair. Or even a sleeping bag and pillow, which could double as date night under the stars for a college kid.

These are great for learning your way around the sky. Learning the constellations and where some DSO, deep space objects, lie in relation to them.

D5622B6F-10A7-4B1D-AD88-CB0172EAA8F4.jpeg

 

An 80mm f/5 achromat, aka ST80, on a medium weight photo tripod is another favorite. Easy to get this out and look through. Of course, aside from the very binocular like large field of view, and showing large swaths of star fields, along with great views of bright open clusters, and being very friendly about ease of use and finding objects in the eyepiece, it is somewhat limited in the details it will show on celestial objects. Still, I use this telescope a lot. It is very uninhibited. And it is a telescope that can go anywhere and stand the test of time even if larger and more technical telescopes are added in the future.

7E956118-5A88-4466-AE27-FB50DF7DBD64.jpeg

 

A 6 inch f/5 newtonian is starting to get towards the largest small telescope. It’s not too much trouble at all really. But is starting to take on a the guise of a more serious observing tool that takes a little more commitment of space, time, and energy than those above. It’s the last step before moving on to what many would consider a big scope. It’ll show more fine detail on planets, and show brighter smudges in deep space. Nebula will be better recognized. And globular clusters will start to be resolved into individual stars. Again, not too much trouble for more serious observations.

83DA611A-1992-4BAC-BEFA-7694742B15D0.jpeg
 

If you were local to me, I’d be happy to sell you a complete setup at a more than fair price. I’m ashamed to say that there are many more grin.gif


Edited by Echolight, 28 November 2021 - 02:34 PM.

  • isolli likes this

#7 Napp

Napp

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 3,799
  • Joined: 26 Jul 2015
  • Loc: Northeast Florida, USA

Posted 28 November 2021 - 02:43 PM

Looks like you are looking for a scope that does everything which doesn't exist.  That's why folks tend to have multiple instruments.  Good visual setups don't tend to be good for photography and viceversa.  How portable a setup is depends on the person and their circumstances.  I consider an 8 inch DOB very portable.  Others may not.  

 

Since neither of you are experinced enough with scopes to know what to get I recommend contacting your local astronomy club.  Ask if they have resumed outreach events or group observing sessions that the two of you could attend.  If so, you should go.  Arrive early so you can setup of various types of scopes and mounts and what it took to transport them.  Watch operation.  Look through the scopes.  Ask the owners questions:  Why did they get that setup?  What is the setup good for and not good for?  etc.  Talk to them about what you would want to do.

 

Learn more about scopes/mounts, observing and what you want to do with the equipment before just buying a scope/mount. 


  • Dave Mitsky and sevenofnine like this

#8 sevenofnine

sevenofnine

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,049
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Santa Rosa, California

Posted 28 November 2021 - 02:57 PM

Think of visual astronomy and astrophotograpy as two different hobbies that require mostly different equipment. If your son really wants to take photos a lot more than he wants to do visual then buy him a nice short tubed refractor like the AstroTech AT80ED ($399) or the triplet version for lots more. You haven't mentioned budget but I assume that you know that a good AP rig runs into many thousands of dollars. So a good scope will be a start and he can get a EQ mount for it when he's ready to make that move. In the mean time, a much less expensive visual only mount can be had for a few hundred dollars. Best of luck to you and your choices! waytogo.gif

 

This AP guide book is recommended by a very experienced forum member: The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer (2nd ed) by Charles Bracken. This should be read before any decisions are made IMO. wink.gif


Edited by sevenofnine, 28 November 2021 - 07:25 PM.

  • Dave Mitsky and Jethro7 like this

#9 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 101,904
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 28 November 2021 - 03:49 PM

Yeah I debater alt-az vs Dobson for weeks (and pls correct me if I am wrong) but I discarded Dobson b/c of portability issues. We live in a light polluted area, so we are going to have to travel to see anything.

Just so you know, a Dobsonian mount is an alt-azimuth mount.  Perhaps you meant to say equatorial vs Dobson.

 

Dobs up to and including 10 inches in aperture or not all that difficult to transport.  Although it's not the largest, one of my most used telescopes is a 10" Sky-Watcher Collapsible Dob.  I take it to dark sites all the time.

 

I've owned an Orion ShortTube 80 achromat for many years.  It's a lot of fun to use for low-power observing but has very definite limitations when it comes to planetary and DSO use.
 

Attached Thumbnails

  • 10-inch Sky-Watcher 80mm ST80 Weiser 5-8-21.jpg

  • Napp and sevenofnine like this

#10 Speedy1985

Speedy1985

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 790
  • Joined: 23 Dec 2020
  • Loc: Central NJ

Posted 28 November 2021 - 04:11 PM

https://www.highpoin...scope-zhue023-1

 

The 8" dob will fill the bill and not break the bank. Zhumells and Aperturas are well regarded for a mass produced scope, and there are many fun DIY mods for them too. The one above is in stock, a rarity considering the times. FWIW, I have a 12" Apertura myself. 


  • Dave Mitsky, drd715, Jethro7 and 3 others like this

#11 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 04:38 PM

What kind of telescope has he talked about?

 

A 130mm f/5 will be limited for visual on faint fuzzies. Just so you know. Deep space objects, other than Star clusters and a couple of bright nebula (M42, M57), will mostly look like smudges or tiny wispy clouds. I think it’s exciting to find them. But many expect to see something like photos they have seen on the internet. And in the eyepiece of a 130mm reflector that won’t be the case.

 

You will be able to see a lot of detail on the Moon. And some detail on planets. Mars polar cap. Bands, the Great Red Spot, and shadow transits of the Galilean moons on Jupiter. And some banding, and the rings along with the Cassini division on Saturn. 
 

Star fields in the Milky Way will be nice to look at.

 

Still, it is a nice size scope that is easy to transport and store. And he could be very pleased with what he sees if his expectations are realistic. Although if he doesn’t know what to expect when looking for/at very small deep space objects, and how to look for and see them, he may not recognize or see them.
Even though many can be detected with binoculars, it takes quite a bit of aperture to see any real detail in many deep space objects.

He really hasn't.  (Pre-covid he went to a couple star-gazing events and walked out with 3-4 favs. (I suspect I am in trouble! :) )

 

Thank-you that helps alot. That is likely what he would use it for, I think and it's good to know it will do that.  

 

He is a good egg and has already said he'll love whatever I get for Christmas but since I am very aware the wrong person is picking out the scope, I really appreciate your feedback.   I think that yes if he could see the closer objects with more clarity, but still 'catch' a deep space object occasionally (even if fuzzy) that would be the next logical step for now. 


  • Echolight likes this

#12 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 101,904
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 28 November 2021 - 04:43 PM

Deep space objects, other than Star clusters and a couple of bright nebula (M42, M57), will mostly look like smudges or tiny wispy clouds. I think it’s exciting to find them. But many expect to see something like photos they have seen on the internet. And in the eyepiece of a 130mm reflector that won’t be the case.

That pretty much won't be the case for the majority of deep-sky objects when seen through telescopes with 5 or 6 times that aperture.


  • mrsjeff, Echolight and Diymama like this

#13 Starman1

Starman1

    Vendor (EyepiecesEtc.com)

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 53,616
  • Joined: 23 Jun 2003
  • Loc: Los Angeles

Posted 28 November 2021 - 04:52 PM

Hello, 

 

I am buying a first telescope for my son for Christmas. (My son has a passion for astronomy, has taken Astro 101 in Uni).  The purpose would be to explore deep space, nebulae and planetary bodies (+pics like everyone else). 

 

I did the research, read Nighwatch and all the threads (thank-you all BTW).   I landed on Celestron 31045 AstroMaster 130 EQ Reflector (with the plan of investing in accessories that could go with as he upgraded the scope).  I got a good price @BB and ordered.  All was well.  Until yesterday.  They oversold, apologized and refunded my money, so I am back to square 1.   All the deals are pretty much gone in our area.  

 

So I went back to my research (again thank-you all), and came up with these alternatives: 

 

1. Orion StarBlast II 4.5 Equatorial Reflector

2. Orion 09007 SpaceProbe 130ST Equatorial Reflector

3. Orion 9825 Apex 127mm Maksutov-Cassegrain

4. Orion 9827 AstroView 6 Equatorial Reflector

 

Since these are more than I planned to spend (my original plan was to buy a go-kart and upgrade into a Ferrari smile.gif ) and I don't know a lot about the difference in optics (my son is the expert but wants to be surprised at Christmas), I would appreciate any advice/help/experience that the community has had with any of these choices.  (Or if there is a better one that I may have missed?). 

 

Any and all input would be greatly appreciated. 

 

Thank-you & Happy Holidays. 

Beginners like to look at the planets.

And the Moon.

With that in mind, I'll comment on your choices and suggest another couple.

1) Too short a focal length and too unstable on most tables for high powers needed for planets and Moon.  Excellent as a low power instrument for star clusters.

2) Better.  More stable and a longer focal length for high powers.  However, the optical design is weak and the scope almost impossible to optically align.

3) Excellent optics.  Good at high powers.  This scope does not have a mount, however, and a camera tripod isn't stable enough.

You would need to look at a more expensive version that comes with a mount.

4) This is a serious telescope.  It is excellent, but more than you need to spend.  It is by far the best of the 4 you mention, though.

 

I suggest:

1) https://www.telescop...uts?keyword=XT6

Enough aperture, combined with a very stable mount.  It is capable of high powers and is easy to use and transport.  Very cost-effective.

2) https://www.telescop...uts?keyword=XT8

More aperture sees deeper into the universe, and it still costs less than your last #4 option.

 

There are others I could recommend, but nearly all are out of stock (goods are probably stuck on ships in LA Harbor) for a while.


  • Dave Mitsky, drd715, sevenofnine and 1 other like this

#14 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 05:00 PM

It is very difficult to say what someone might enjoy using. I have an almost an embarrassment of riches when it comes to not real expensive telescopes. All were bought used. For starters, a six inch and eight inch telescope that I love to use.

But I also enjoy using very modest equipment. Maybe more so than the larger scopes. Or at least sometimes more often. 
 

Not quite a telescope, but 10x50 binoculars are popular. I have 8x56, and use them along with my zero gravity chair. And I might use them for viewing the sky as much or more than any telescope. As you may have seen in Nightwatch, an in flatable dingy can take the place of a zero gravity chair. Or even a sleeping bag and pillow, which could double as date night under the stars for a college kid.

These are great for learning your way around the sky. Learning the constellations and where some DSO, deep space objects, lie in relation to them.

attachicon.gifD5622B6F-10A7-4B1D-AD88-CB0172EAA8F4.jpeg

 

An 80mm f/5 achromat, aka ST80, on a medium weight photo tripod is another favorite. Easy to get this out and look through. Of course, aside from the very binocular like large field of view, and showing large swaths of star fields, along with great views of bright open clusters, and being very friendly about ease of use and finding objects in the eyepiece, it is somewhat limited in the details it will show on celestial objects. Still, I use this telescope a lot. It is very uninhibited. And it is a telescope that can go anywhere and stand the test of time even if larger and more technical telescopes are added in the future.

attachicon.gif7E956118-5A88-4466-AE27-FB50DF7DBD64.jpeg

 

A 6 inch f/5 newtonian is starting to get towards the largest small telescope. It’s not too much trouble at all really. But is starting to take on a the guise of a more serious observing tool that takes a little more commitment of space, time, and energy than those above. It’s the last step before moving on to what many would consider a big scope. It’ll show more fine detail on planets, and show brighter smudges in deep space. Nebula will be better recognized. And globular clusters will start to be resolved into individual stars. Again, not too much trouble for more serious observations.

attachicon.gif83DA611A-1992-4BAC-BEFA-7694742B15D0.jpeg
 

If you were local to me, I’d be happy to sell you a complete setup at a more than fair price. I’m ashamed to say that there are many more grin.gif

I think we're headed that way too! :) 

 

He does too.  He's been using $60 refractor we bought at Costco 6yrs ago (he took the profile pic with it), & binoculars, but now as he'e learning more in school, he wants to be able to explore a bit more. (We've had the same experience and we really enjoy our scope but we are ready to get him a buddy.) 

 

I will look into the chair (great tip!) (We could have used it during the lunar eclipse as we were chillin' to PF:"Dark side of the moon" :))  Yeah we did that too, (camp chairs, dingy, sleeping bags & hex tent with mesh top! Nothing better!) I will tell him, he's a ways from college yet, tho'!

 

Thank-you I will add the 80mm to the mix.   The one he's got is similar to a National Geographic 60/700 AZ Refractor Telescope. 

 

I think you helped clarify, yes the way to described the Newtonian is where he's at I think.  He still needs to explore more before a more 'serious' scope.  That's why I thought the electron I had originally bought would help him try a bit more and also nail down what he doesn't like.  

 

Thank-you so much this has been a great help! 


  • Echolight likes this

#15 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 05:05 PM

Looks like you are looking for a scope that does everything which doesn't exist.  That's why folks tend to have multiple instruments.  Good visual setups don't tend to be good for photography and viceversa.  How portable a setup is depends on the person and their circumstances.  I consider an 8 inch DOB very portable.  Others may not.  

 

Since neither of you are experinced enough with scopes to know what to get I recommend contacting your local astronomy club.  Ask if they have resumed outreach events or group observing sessions that the two of you could attend.  If so, you should go.  Arrive early so you can setup of various types of scopes and mounts and what it took to transport them.  Watch operation.  Look through the scopes.  Ask the owners questions:  Why did they get that setup?  What is the setup good for and not good for?  etc.  Talk to them about what you would want to do.

 

Learn more about scopes/mounts, observing and what you want to do with the equipment before just buying a scope/mount. 

Yeah like most people, I want it all!  :)  But seriously, great suggestions, I have added them to the spreadsheets.  I wish we could but no COVID is on the rise in our area to that's not really an option right now.   Thank-you for helping me out, I appreciate it. 



#16 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 05:16 PM

Think of visual astronomy and astrophotograpy as two different hobbies that require mostly different equipment. If your son really wants to take photos a lot more than he wants to do visual then buy him a nice short tubed refractor like the AstroTech AT80ED ($399) or the triplet version for lots more. You haven't mentioned budget but I assume that you know that a good AP rig runs into many thousands of dollars. So a good scope will be a start and he can get a good EQ mount for it when he's ready to make that move. In the mean time, a much less expensive visual only mount can be had for a few hundred dollars. Best of luck to you and your choices! waytogo.gif

 

This AP guide book is recommended by a very experienced forum member: The Deep-Sky Imaging Primer (2nd ed) by Charles Bracken. This should be read before any decisions are made IMO. wink.gif

Oh, I didn't know that, thank-you.  I will add that to the list, appreciate it.   I think he likes the photos, but from watching him, he's more into the exploration part. (From observing him on the course this summer, he was very keen on poring through data to read light waves from stars, so he's very drawn to the technical aspects of Astronomy.)  I really haven't.  I have been looking more at function & quality.  I am looking for a good scope that will bridge between his inexpensive refractor and whatever serious scopes are in his future.   (Yeah you are in the right area of what I was thinking.)   Oh good thank-you, that would be a great solution.  

 

I will get that asap.  Thx again, appreciate it and Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays. 



#17 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 05:28 PM

Just so you know, a Dobsonian mount is an alt-azimuth mount.  Perhaps you meant to say equatorial vs Dobson.

 

Dobs up to and including 10 inches in aperture or not all that difficult to transport.  Although it's not the largest, one of my most used telescopes is a 10" Sky-Watcher Collapsible Dob.  I take it to dark sites all the time.

 

I've owned an Orion ShortTube 80 achromat for many years.  It's a lot of fun to use for low-power observing but has very definite limitations when it comes to planetary and DSO use.
 

Ha ha, I did not know that, LOL!  Grateful for the clarification.  I actually thought they were 3 different things. (I did say the wrong person is picking out the scope, :) ).  

 

Seriously though, thank-you for the clarification and sharing your experience.  I had thought they were because I had read comments from people who had felt that they were challenging to transport in an RV, you'd need a stable platform (like a picnic table) and asst'd comments/reviews that tended toward the negative as well. 

 

I actually had them in the mix in early November because I liked how many said they were easier to work vs other mounts. (Is that true?) 

 

Yeah he's starting to want more detail and to reach out more.  (We're currently using binoculars and this is very simliar to the telescope we have National Geographic 60/700 AZ Refractor Telescope).  



#18 Napp

Napp

    Soyuz

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 3,799
  • Joined: 26 Jul 2015
  • Loc: Northeast Florida, USA

Posted 28 November 2021 - 05:30 PM

Yeah like most people, I want it all!  smile.gif  But seriously, great suggestions, I have added them to the spreadsheets.  I wish we could but no COVID is on the rise in our area to that's not really an option right now.   Thank-you for helping me out, I appreciate it. 

You’re welcome.  It’s unfortunate that club sessions are not available.  I generally hesitate to offer a scope recommendation when someone is still trying to determine what they want to do but here goes.  Several have suggested 8 inch DOB’s. They are about as close as you can get to an all purpose visual setup.  They are good for planetary and and deep sky observing.  They are small enough to be quite portable but large enough to do serious deep sky observing.  An 8 inch DOB can be a lifetime scope.  Many folks who go on to much larger scopes keep the 8 inch DOB for times when the big scope is just too much to deal with.  I do something similar.  I have a 10 inch DOB and a 16 inch DOB among other scopes.  The big scope goes to dark sky sites.  The 10 inch is used in my light polluted skies at home or for other sites when the forecast is iffy or when I either don’t need or don’t feel like dealing with the big scope.  I bought the 10 inch used.  It needed a bit of work but was cheap so well worth the price and a bit of work.  If budget is an issue look for a used DOB in Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.  Your local astronomy club can advise on the local market and may know of a good deal.  A nice thing about DOB’s is their simplicity.  For manual DOB’s no fancy electronics to worry about.  And if things don’t work out or your son decides to upgrade you or he can probably sell it for what you paid.



#19 Ranger Tim

Ranger Tim

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,709
  • Joined: 25 Mar 2008
  • Loc: SW Idaho, USA

Posted 28 November 2021 - 05:32 PM

Visual objects that are bright (stars, planets, Luna, and a half dozen bright Messier objects) are good candidates for a smaller refractor. Fainter objects like most DSO's require a LOT of aperture for best results, i.e. larger reflectors. Many scopes attempt to be good compromises but fail. Mounts are best when they are not flimsy and are manipulated easily. Dobsonian and other alt-azimuth mounts have convenient viewing angles. Equatorials are best when trying to track objects over long periods but can result in clumsy viewing angles. Computer driven mounts are nice when trying to track down objects in light polluted skies. Push-to mounts (manual) are great for star-hopping and viewing many objects in a shorter period of time. You will learn the sky using a manual mount.

 

Mounts are usually not given enough importance when selecting a beginner scope. People often choose a scope package based on their preconceived notion of what a telescope should look like. Cheap equatorial mounts are notoriously difficult to use and prone to horrendous vibration, parts breaking, etc. There have been affordable equatorial mounts that are definite exceptions to this, particularly the Vixen style Polaris series and its' copies, with or without motors. The Dobsonian mount is fairly robust and easy to keep pointed accurately. It must be adjusted to keep objects centered every 15-45 seconds depending on magnification, but you soon learn the "touch." A well-built (!) Go-to Alt-Az mount such as those often sold with SCT's is an excellent choice for casual observers that like that style of scope -- but beware of flimsy one-armed, lightweight plastic models on cheaper refractors. In any case, the mount is where most beginners fail to spend enough money and end up disgruntled or frustrated with the way a scope handles. It is also why experienced observers tend to recommend Dobsonians - they are simple to operate, fairly fool proof and allow for more aperture to be incorporated into the price.

 

Astrophotography is often a lurking desire of those who begin the hobby. Unfortunately the cost of getting a robust mount that tracks well along with a well-corrected telescope suitable for AP is considerable. I'm not saying that it cannot be done, but it will involve more than just a casual kit purchase from an online vendor. Used mounts and scopes are really the best way to enter AP with minimal cost. Unfortunately this involves having enough familiarity with equipment to be able to sift through what is available and pick out what is likely to be in good working condition from a distance. I will tell you that (except for the C11) I do not use my AP scopes for visual -- they are purpose built.

 

Each amateur astronomer on these forums has their own individual biases and we tend to promote our own favorite choices regarding equipment. I own and utilize each different type of scope and mount for different reasons and have grown to like all of them. It's nice to have a stable of scopes : ) This has taken a lifetime to pull together. I'm not independently wealthy and this is one of several hobbies.

 

Rarely do I meet an observer out with the same scope with which they started the hobby. As your interests become more focused you will quickly lust for more specialized gear. Having an entry model telescope that can be easily sold or passed along once you have reached that point is something to consider. Beware of thinking that you know exactly what will fill your needs five years from now. And beware of analysis paralysis - you are losing valuable hours at the eyepiece!



#20 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 05:47 PM

https://www.highpoin...scope-zhue023-1

 

The 8" dob will fill the bill and not break the bank. Zhumells and Aperturas are well regarded for a mass produced scope, and there are many fun DIY mods for them too. The one above is in stock, a rarity considering the times. FWIW, I have a 12" Apertura myself. 

Thank-you so much I will add that into the spreadsheet.  Ok I will take a look asap. 

 

I really appreciate both your and Dave Mitsky's help. (Especially the picture, I did not realize it could be placed on the ground. I thought it had to have a support or was more for a stable platform like a deck).  That changes things a bit, grateful for your perspectives on that and the links. :) 


  • Speedy1985 and Noto like this

#21 Diymama

Diymama

    Lift Off

  • -----
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 16
  • Joined: 27 Nov 2021

Posted 28 November 2021 - 06:19 PM

Beginners like to look at the planets.

And the Moon.

With that in mind, I'll comment on your choices and suggest another couple.

1) Too short a focal length and too unstable on most tables for high powers needed for planets and Moon.  Excellent as a low power instrument for star clusters.

2) Better.  More stable and a longer focal length for high powers.  However, the optical design is weak and the scope almost impossible to optically align.

3) Excellent optics.  Good at high powers.  This scope does not have a mount, however, and a camera tripod isn't stable enough.

You would need to look at a more expensive version that comes with a mount.

4) This is a serious telescope.  It is excellent, but more than you need to spend.  It is by far the best of the 4 you mention, though.

 

I suggest:

1) https://www.telescop...uts?keyword=XT6

Enough aperture, combined with a very stable mount.  It is capable of high powers and is easy to use and transport.  Very cost-effective.

2) https://www.telescop...uts?keyword=XT8

More aperture sees deeper into the universe, and it still costs less than your last #4 option.

 

There are others I could recommend, but nearly all are out of stock (goods are probably stuck on ships in LA Harbor) for a while.

This is great, thank-you for taking the time.  It's a huge help. (Online everything looks great and it's a challenge to 'see' the differences.) 

 

1) That was a concern but I didn't realize that about the moon/planets.  Good to know. 

2)  I didn't know that about alignment. 

3) Yeah that's kinda what I had thought but I wasn't sure. And who would put that on a camera mount? (Did I just put my foot in my mouth? Is that done?) It seems to me that it would be too heavy for a camera mount, esp. when at angles tracking movements across the sky.  

4) Yeah I think I will save this one for when he's picking for himself. Ty.

 

Ok thank-you I will check those out! (Cost effective is good, esp around the holidays!)  Have a good one and Merry Christmas! 



#22 Bill Weir

Bill Weir

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,069
  • Joined: 01 Jun 2004
  • Loc: Metchosin (Victoria), Canada

Posted 28 November 2021 - 06:30 PM

Right let him pick then buy it for him. I know you probably have a price limit so pick together. For Christmas wrap a box with an astronomy mag in it and a void cheque with a note on it that says lets buy you a real scope.

 

My wife has bought me several astronomy related gifts by this method over the years and every time I got exactly the giftI wanted. This way it not this scenario, “Oh a sweater……thanks”. 

 

Bill



#23 Dave Mitsky

Dave Mitsky

    ISS

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 101,904
  • Joined: 08 Apr 2002
  • Loc: PA, USA, Planet Earth

Posted 28 November 2021 - 06:57 PM

I really appreciate both your and Dave Mitsky's help. (Especially the picture, I did not realize it could be placed on the ground. I thought it had to have a support or was more for a stable platform like a deck).  That changes things a bit, grateful for your perspectives on that and the links. smile.gif

The telescopes that you are referring to are probably short-focal-length "table top" Dobs.  Orion sells a 4.5" Dob that sits on the ground but with a 900mm focal length the eyepiece won't be very high. 

https://www.telescop...pe/p/102009.uts

The optical tubes on traditional 6", 8", or 10" Dobs are all such that the eyepieces are at about the same height and work very well with adjustable observing chairs or drum thrones.

Here's a photo of the almost 20-year-old 6" f/8 Orion SkyQuest XT6 that I use for casual observing from my red-zone front yard.

Attached Thumbnails

  • Orion SkyQuest XT6 with Chair and Table CN Reprocessed Resized 850.jpg

  • Echolight and firemachine69 like this

#24 Echolight

Echolight

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Posts: 3,467
  • Joined: 01 May 2020
  • Loc: Texas

Posted 28 November 2021 - 07:01 PM

As others have said, a dobsonian is the best bang for the buck. In spite of their bulk, they are very simple and easy to set up. And in their simplicity is their elegance.

my XT8

C00837C6-7334-4625-BDC1-FF838B1E2060.jpeg

 

Of course, my eyeball is an equal opportunity photon receptor. This may be a bit outside of what most would choose. And not really competitive with a dob’s bang for the buck unless you stumble across one used for a good price. Aaaand there’s the chromatic aberration (false color) that so many are offended by. Meh, a little purple halo around Jupiter. A little purple tint to Vega. Most stars show their natural color very well though. And many pictures present Vega as I see it. And it does need a very tall mount. But still, it is a spectacularly fun scope to use. A terrific deep sky scope. And absolutely spectacular on open clusters.

Of course a big achromat is not for everyone. And there can be a little more danger involved when mounting it as opposed to a dob, if that kind of thing appeals to you. For many, a 6 inch f/8 or 120 f8.3 achro can be a very nice scope to look through if you find a good deal on a used one. My C6R shows razor sharp shadow transits and Cassini.
Though again, not for everyone. And I could get stoned or banned for bringing it up outside of the refractor forum. But..... banjodance.gif banjodance.gif banjodance.gif

There are two camps.

https://m.youtube.co...h?v=nDbeqj-1XOo

 

Love it or hate it. First sight, first light for me. 
My yard cannon

148DA892-2728-42F6-A612-9C76C25B7259.jpeg
 


Edited by Echolight, 28 November 2021 - 07:22 PM.

  • Dave Mitsky likes this

#25 dnrmilspec

dnrmilspec

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 655
  • Joined: 17 Feb 2021
  • Loc: Southern Arizona

Posted 28 November 2021 - 07:29 PM

I wish to join Dave and Speedy and recommend the 8" Dob.  It is as close to the "perfect" beginner scope as there can be.  And it is MUCH more capable than the 4.5" tabletop Dobs. 

 

The way you describe him I think he will really enjoy using it and understanding the night sky.  It is fairly affordable.  He will have no trouble transporting it.  I keep one set up in my garage and can easily move it around. 

 

After kid scopes I got an 8" Newtonian on an equatorial mount.  The 8" Newtonian part is the tube and mirrors that are the same as the Dobsonian.  Dobsonian refers to a kind of alt azimuth mount named after the guy who invented it.  (I think ShaulaB actually knew him and worked on her scope with him if I recall correctly.)  Anyway, My 8" scope let me see things that smaller scopes just could not.  A great globular cluster in an 8" scope is gorgeous and in a 4.5" scope, not so much.  Saturn in the 8" is a joy to behold.  The 8" Dobsonian is a grown up scope.

 

If your son comes to love astronomy,  like so many of us have, he will likely have any number of scopes of diverse designs and purposes in the coming years.   But like so many of us he will keep the 8" Dobsonian the whole time.  He will never sell it.  

 

Your son is a lucky man to have such a cool mom.  Have a great Christmas. 


Edited by dnrmilspec, 28 November 2021 - 07:31 PM.

  • drd715, vtornado and Echolight like 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





Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Astrophotography, Beginner, Reflector, Maksutov



Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics