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help! i’m buying a scope as a gift and know nothing

Astrometry Observing Optics Refractor Reflector Catadioptric
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#26 lunardave

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Posted 03 December 2021 - 05:14 PM

Flexible can mean a lot of things! For some folks $500 is a lot to start out with, for others, well, it's not difficult at all to spend more on a single setup than on a new car smile.gif I'm glad you narrowed it down for us to *under $1200* 

 

I agree, visual is a great place to start, and it's good to narrow down the wide berth of possibilities before selecting more specialized instruments. 

 

Three (primary) options for visual- any of which can be found to fit your budget: 

 

1. Refractor - Nice contrasty wider-field views. Good for brighter deep space targets, planets, moon, solar. Easiest to setup and maintain. Usually more portable than other designs. 

2. Reflector - As was mentioned, the best bang for the buck, visually. Excels at deep space targets. Requires collimation. Larger, usually less portable than other designs. 

3. Catadioptric - A combo of mirrors and lenses, at the smaller (within your budget) sizes these designs are great for planetary, lunar, and bright, small deep space objects. Heavy for their size, narrow field, usually requires periodic collimation, which can be difficult for a beginner. 

 

You could take a guess at what your husband might enjoy best, but for a beginner I'd first suggest a refractor or reflector before a Catadioptric.  

Why?



#27 ShaulaB

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Posted 03 December 2021 - 05:24 PM

A Celestron 6SE is a favorite first telescope for a lot of people. It is a Schmidt-Cassegrain with a go-to mount. Some of my observing friends started with this and still use it. The focal length is long enough for up-close looks at planets. The 6 inches of aperture are enough for viewing the deep sky objects a beginner will learn to love. It breaks down small enough to be carried in the smallest vehicle.

#28 zakry3323

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Posted 03 December 2021 - 06:49 PM

Why?

Only because precision instruments require periodic maintenance to maintain their accuracy, and cats are a more complex optical design that other options.

 

Don't get me wrong- I love em, but more than once I've been approached by a new astronomer at an outreach event that believed their new EdgeHD was broken after being bumped the wrong way. They're not the easiest tool to learn how to collimate :)



#29 Brent Campbell

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Posted 03 December 2021 - 07:02 PM

Maybe hard to find before Christmas but this would fit your criteria nicely. Its a great value and will allow a lot of room for growth:

 

https://www.highpoin...-telescope-ad10


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#30 betacygni

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Posted 04 December 2021 - 10:33 PM

Jethro7 above got it right, get him an 8” or 10” dobsonian. This is the best place to start out. If he really gets into the hobby down the road all the other more complicated scope designs, astrophotography, etc will be big topics of research that he will want/need to do on his own. An 8” or 10” scope is a lifetime scope he will keep even if he buys others. My first scope 20 years ago was a 10” dob. I still have a 10” dob (and about 7 other telescopes, still love that 10” though!).
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#31 Jethro7

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Posted 05 December 2021 - 12:57 AM

Jethro7 above got it right, get him an 8” or 10” dobsonian. This is the best place to start out. If he really gets into the hobby down the road all the other more complicated scope designs, astrophotography, etc will be big topics of research that he will want/need to do on his own. An 8” or 10” scope is a lifetime scope he will keep even if he buys others. My first scope 20 years ago was a 10” dob. I still have a 10” dob (and about 7 other telescopes, still love that 10” though!).

Hello betacygni,

Thank you for the endorsement. I started off with a C8 Edge HD, this was before I joined Cloudy Nights. If I had joined the Forum first and asked the proper questions and took the advice and started out with a 8" or 10" Dob that many of the experienced folks on CloudyNights recommend for beginners. Knowing what I know now, I would, never have purchased the C8. Not that its a bad scope but a 8" and especially a 10" Dob provides much more pleasing views because of the much larger field of view and better scale than the C8 ever can. I still own the C8 and it does have its niche but that niche is very small. I prefer refractors for Lunar, Planetary, splitting double stars and panning Star fields. Refractors and this goes for the MAKs as well, this is their realm and  that's about all refractors and MAKs can do and they are perfect for viewing the Moon, Planets, Starfields and splitting Double Stars as well as a few bright DSO's  if that's all you want to do, they perform marvelously at this task. An 8" to 10" Dob can do all of these things plus bring into view many of Those gorgeous DSO's,  that are completely out of reach of refractors and MAKs simply because of the necessary aperture they provide. I own quite a few scopes of various types and if I had to cull the heard down to two scopes, I would keep a 4" refractor and the 10" Dob. These two scopes could cover all my Astronomy needs. If I could only have one scope it would most certainly be my Dob. No doubt about it. Dobs are not just the best bang for the buck for the nessessary aperture to view DSO's, they are by far the best all around scope for viewing that you can own. 

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro


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