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Need recommendations for my first telescope purchase

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#26 UnityLover

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 09:20 AM

If you have some flexibility in your price range and have access to a smart phone then the Celestron Starsense Explorer DX telescopes are getting good reviews. Specially the 130AZ newtonian reflector model. I have had that telescope on a different mount and was able to see many deep sky objects as well as good planetary views. 

That is a great scope, but lets hope they can stretch the price range.



#27 WillR

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 09:38 AM

Yours is a very general question, other than the budget. To reply to one of your preferences, you won't get American or German made optics in a telescope in your price range, other than possibly on the used market. The optics will be Chinese or from another Asian manufacturing company.

 

The real question is refractor vs. reflector, and to make that decision, you are going to have to do some deeper research and try to imagining how you will use  it. A reflector will give you more aperture per dollar and a refractor is a little more of a portable telescope.

 

Personally I started with a 5" table top dob, and I would recommend something in a 5-6" reflector on a dobsonian mount. It will show you a lot.


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#28 Hexley

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 10:01 AM

It can track planets, and they may not be able to use a tabletop, due to not having a rock solid table. Its 300 dollars for the eq mount, scope, eyepieces, finder, and sky maps. Solid deal if you ask me. I'd recommend the zhummel 130 if he can use a tabletop, and it costs as much the eq scope. 

Fair, I've just seen far too many newbies come around our astro club with little idea how to use their $200 manual EQ mounts, completely frustrated with them and about to quit or sell us the scope for pennies on the dollar.

 

The worst cases I've seen, they are constantly adjusting their mount's latitude bolt and trying to use it in an Alt-Az fashion, despite me telling them, "listen, unless you move, lock that thing in at 40ºN because it's not changing unless you're driving 1+ hour away from here north/south.

 

GEMs need specific knowledge to even roughly polar align, and a newbie unfamiliar with Polaris (or unable to see it) is in for a very confusing first time.


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#29 UnityLover

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 10:10 AM

Fair, I've just seen far too many newbies come around our astro club with little idea how to use their $200 manual EQ mounts, completely frustrated with them and about to quit or sell us the scope for pennies on the dollar.

 

The worst cases I've seen, they are constantly adjusting their mount's latitude bolt and trying to use it in an Alt-Az fashion, despite me telling them, "listen, unless you move, lock that thing in at 40ºN because it's not changing unless you're driving 1+ hour away from here north/south.

 

GEMs need specific knowledge to even roughly polar align, and a newbie unfamiliar with Polaris (or unable to see it) is in for a very confusing first time.

Thats suprising, as I found mine easy, The latitude is locked, and just use a compass or a phone to roughtly point the mount north. I guess I was a more advanced newbie. :shrug:



#30 JamesDuffey

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 10:30 AM

For small scopes, the equatorial mount is not difficult to use if one understands the motion of the earth with respect  to the stars and the required orientation of the mount with respect to the earth. These concepts should be understood prior to purchasing any scope, regardless of the type of mount. 


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#31 Napp

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 10:54 AM

Fair, I've just seen far too many newbies come around our astro club with little idea how to use their $200 manual EQ mounts, completely frustrated with them and about to quit or sell us the scope for pennies on the dollar.

 

The worst cases I've seen, they are constantly adjusting their mount's latitude bolt and trying to use it in an Alt-Az fashion, despite me telling them, "listen, unless you move, lock that thing in at 40ºN because it's not changing unless you're driving 1+ hour away from here north/south.

 

GEMs need specific knowledge to even roughly polar align, and a newbie unfamiliar with Polaris (or unable to see it) is in for a very confusing first time.

 

Thats suprising, as I found mine easy, The latitude is locked, and just use a compass or a phone to roughtly point the mount north. I guess I was a more advanced newbie. shrug.gif

 

For small scopes, the equatorial mount is not difficult to use if one understands the motion of the earth with respect  to the stars and the required orientation of the mount with respect to the earth. These concepts should be understood prior to purchasing any scope, regardless of the type of mount. 

Some of us find an eq mount easy from the start.  But a far greater number do not.  Like Hexley, I have seen far too many newbies with a cheap eq mounted scope so frustrated that they are about to give up.  Who knows how many do give up that we never know about.  I have to admit I struggled a bit with my first eq mount.  It’s easy to say that folks should understand certain concepts before taking on an eq mount, but newbies don’t know that.  They’ve just read the sales summary that accompanied the scope.  The mount doesn’t even enter into their thinking.  They are just anticipating that huge image of Saturn’s rings they think they are going to get - you know the one - looks like a Hubble image.  After all, it was printed on the box.  


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#32 vtornado

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 01:20 PM

Fair, I've just seen far too many newbies come around our astro club with little idea how to use their $200 manual EQ mounts, completely frustrated with them and about to quit or sell us the scope for pennies on the dollar.

 

I won't dispute your finding, but that shocks me.

 

Set the latitude to the current latitude, level the scope, point the RA axis north.

It is that easy.


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#33 UnityLover

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 01:29 PM

Fair, I've just seen far too many newbies come around our astro club with little idea how to use their $200 manual EQ mounts, completely frustrated with them and about to quit or sell us the scope for pennies on the dollar.

 

I won't dispute your finding, but that shocks me.

 

Set the latitude to the current latitude, level the scope, point the RA axis north.

It is that easy.

Same here! :shrug:



#34 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 03:06 PM

If you can increase your budget a bit, the 6" (150mm) f/8 Sky-Watcher Classic 150P Dob might be an option.

https://www.skywatch...er-classic-150p

 

Be aware, that there will be a number of accessories such as additional eyepieces, a Telrad, an adjustable observing chair of some sort, a stellar atlas, observing guidebooks, etc., that will make using it easier.


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#35 Echolight

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 07:32 PM

I have a 20+ year old C8 that was made in the U.S.A. You might find something like this in your price range.

 

For a complete kit, more likely to find a C5 from this era for your stated budget. After about 2002 or 2003, production moved from California to China.


Edited by Echolight, 16 December 2022 - 07:37 PM.


#36 Echolight

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 07:35 PM

Looking for reflector type which is ideal for distant observations I guess? Weight around 10-15kgs should be fine. I came across Celesteon AstroMaker 130EQ not sure how good is that!

Definitely made in China.


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#37 Herb_H

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 08:47 PM

Hello, 
I am looking to buy my first telescope in $300-400 range. Looking to buy Made in USA or Germany telescope or atleast lens if possible. Curious to explore distant sky and specifically planets and stars within Milky Way. Any recommendations or suggestions with brands or specific models would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

I would recommend a tracking scope with a nice equatorial (EQ) mount so you don't waste time chasing objects in the sky,

 

Such as this one :

 

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/B0013Z42AK


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#38 Sky Muse

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Posted 16 December 2022 - 09:05 PM

I would recommend a tracking scope with a nice equatorial (EQ) mount so you don't waste time chasing objects in the sky,

 

Such as this one :

 

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/B0013Z42AK

The primary-mirror of that one is reportedly spherical(per Celestron itself), instead of parabolic as it should be, at f/5.  One tell-tale sign is that the primary-mirror is not center-spotted.

 

This one comes with a parabolic primary-mirror, and is the better buy...

 

https://www.telescop...yCategoryId=339


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#39 filup01

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Posted 17 December 2022 - 01:28 AM

I would recommend a tracking scope with a nice equatorial (EQ) mount so you don't waste time chasing objects in the sky,

 

Such as this one :

 

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/B0013Z42AK

 

 

The primary-mirror of that one is reportedly spherical(per Celestron itself), instead of parabolic as it should be, at f/5.  One tell-tale sign is that the primary-mirror is not center-spotted.

 

This one comes with a parabolic primary-mirror, and is the better buy...

 

https://www.telescop...yCategoryId=339

I will start by saying that I am a newbie and I really, really like both of these scopes and have caught myself seconds away from the "buy it now" button (because who can't use another scope?!?)  Both of these are inexpensive and should show some really good views but the OP mentioned he wanted to see "explore distant sky and specifically planets and stars".  This tells me the emphasis is planets and a fast scope may not be ideal for that as much as a used 4-5 inch SCT within the $3-400 price range.

 

My recommendation would be to get a used Celestron 4SE or 5SE.  Last I looked there were a few 4's in the classifieds (now that I typed this, there are probably none).  The F/13 of the 4SE and F/10 of the 5SE would be great for planetary viewing while still forgiving to a learning newcomer to astronomy.  While practicing with the 4SE/5SE he could build up a small collection of quality EPs, gain experience with the night sky, and learn what he wants to really focus on without ever having buyers remorse.  Plus, the 4SE/5SE are small, lightweight and easy to store.  The go-to mount on the SE's take away any frustration associated with the learning curve of polar alignment and potentially constant collimation of a Newtonian allowing more time for a beginner to study the universe.  For a beginner, I'd say the 4SE/5SE are one of the best "learner" scopes that act as a launchpad/stepping stone towards advancing in the hobby.  

 

I'm not saying a Newt on a EQ mount is a bad choice.  Like I said, I am still pulling myself away from smashing the "buy it now" button right now.  I just think the 4SE/5SE is the better, more forgiving and easier gateway drug to astronomy.

 

Phillip


Edited by filup01, 17 December 2022 - 01:29 AM.


#40 LJKMagic

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Posted 17 December 2022 - 01:46 AM

Mainly, but planets move fast in the eyepiece at high magnifications. Its nice to turn one knob to keep them in view for a nice amount of time.

Plus, the scope in my signature only costs around the same as the zhummel 130, at $300 dollars. Its eq mount fine, with dampening time in about a second at 93x. 

the heritage 130 and 150 dont have very big focal lengths, in my 8" dob the fastest they move out of view (with 9mm and 2x barlow) is 30 seconds, you do not need an eq mount at all, all it does is make setting up even longer, having to polar align every time you want to use it and will be confusing for the beginner


Edited by LJKMagic, 17 December 2022 - 01:48 AM.


#41 Herb_H

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Posted 17 December 2022 - 03:13 PM

Yes that Orion 130 ST is a good one too !

 

https://www.amazon.c...e/dp/B00D05BKOW

 

https://www.telescop...roductId=137399

 

I believe Celestron and Orion telescopes optics are made by the same company, Synta.

 

Nevertheless the above Celestron was good enough for me to take the picture of Mars shown below with a $140 Newtonian scope and a $30 Logitech webcam, a few years ago.smile.gif

 

Btw, well known facts are clearly stated here:

 

The question arises: if parabolic mirrors are more efficient than spherical mirrors, why even make spherical ones?

For optical applications, like Newtonian telescopes, the illustrations here are greatly exaggerated. Telescope mirrors are much less curved, almost flat. And parabolic telescope mirrors look spherical and very nearly are spherical, deviating from the sphere by perhaps only millionths of an inch. In reality, all optics suffer from diffraction. If the spherical aberration causes less image degradation than diffraction, then little or nothing is gained by using a parabola, which is harder to make. If a spherical mirror is a small enough section of a sphere of large enough radius, then it can still be diffraction limited. Small Newtonian telescopes, commonly around 114 mm diameter and 900 mm focal length, usually have spherical mirrors and are diffraction limited or nearly so.

.

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Edited by Herb_H, 17 December 2022 - 09:01 PM.

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#42 Spile

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Posted 17 December 2022 - 05:06 PM

For the visual observer, I think the Dobsonian is a great choice for the reasons I give here https://astro.catshi...se-a-dobsonian/


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#43 radiofm74

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Posted 19 December 2022 - 11:08 AM

Based on your budget, I'd say you'll buy a good entry level manual scope, and if you go on the used market you can get something better at the same price (more on this later).

 

But budget is nowhere near the only factor. Give us an indication on all the following points, and we'll be able to offer far better advice:

 

1. Where will you do your observing and how much portability do you need? An example of a scenario: "I will be mostly in town, and have a balcony with high rails all round, but want to have something portable enough to go in the countryside a couple times per month by car" or "I live under dark country sky and it will be a permanent setup in my backyard". 

2. Is waiting for thermal adaption of the scope an issue for you? Of course, if you have your own backyard, you can leave the scope there a couple hours earlier no problem. Not if you're observing in public areas… this also determines your choice

3. Do you have a strong focus on something (e.g. planetary, large diffuse nebulae…) or are you looking for an all-rounder?

4. Are you a mildly technically-minded person or does the sight of a screwdriver scare you ;D? Some telescopes and mounts call for some more adjusting than others… none are "hard to use" in the absolute, but if you abhor reading instruction manuals that provides a strong indication for/against certain types of telescopes. 

 

Me, I've started on a 6" Celestron Newtonian on a manual EQ mount and loved it… still love it. It's a wonderful all-rounder, has enough reach and rich field capabilities to show a lot of objects well even under light polluted skies, and it's a kit you can find for your budget used I think (Celestron OMNI 150 XLT, and its Skywatcher equivalents…). BUT it may be totally wrong for your needs, and a small refractor on a simple alt-az might be heaven for you (I have that setup too and love it as well…).

 

So: tell us more, and if you have yet to figure those points out, it's best to do it BEFORE you buy anything.

 

PS: books! I'll repeat my standard recommendations… Dickinson's Nightwatch as an intro to amateur astronomy, and Turn Left at Orion as a wonderful introductory field guide to keep you busy for your first year (and beyond)…


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#44 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 19 December 2022 - 12:30 PM

While it doesn't deal with purchasing a telescope directly, you may find some of the information on astronomy, amateur astronomy, and observing presented in my post (#22) at https://www.cloudyni...mers/?p=5184287 useful, TheWall.  There are sections on various books, observing guides, star-hopping, stellar atlases, planispheres, planetarium programs, astronomy apps, deep-sky object observing, lists of worthwhile celestial objects to observe, binocular astronomy, urban astronomy, and other related topics.



#45 Leia

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Posted 19 December 2022 - 12:43 PM

Fair, I've just seen far too many newbies come around our astro club with little idea how to use their $200 manual EQ mounts, completely frustrated with them and about to quit or sell us the scope for pennies on the dollar.

 

The worst cases I've seen, they are constantly adjusting their mount's latitude bolt and trying to use it in an Alt-Az fashion, despite me telling them, "listen, unless you move, lock that thing in at 40ºN because it's not changing unless you're driving 1+ hour away from here north/south.

 

GEMs need specific knowledge to even roughly polar align, and a newbie unfamiliar with Polaris (or unable to see it) is in for a very confusing first time.

I consider myself a newbie to tracking, and was able to polar align (sorta) a Nyx Tracker for a DSLR, with its laser point. Haven't played with GEMs, but just my two cents (it only mildly extended exposure time, and I didn't really like it, and have now lost it somewhere).



#46 radiofm74

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Posted 19 December 2022 - 01:16 PM

I totally get what Hexley is warning us about, but I think that the risk of a newbie getting discouraged because of polar alignment comes from newbies themselves mixing up advice related to visual and advice related to astrophotography. I know because I've been there.

 

However:

- in astrophotography, polar alignment has to be spot on and unless you have good equipment assisting you, it can be a fairly long and at times frustrating process.

- in visual, it's ok even if you're only very approximately polar aligned. So polar aligning your GEM mount for visual involves no more than getting your latitude right on your latitude knob and then pointing the polar axis roughly at Polaris (or at "N" in your compass if Polaris is not in view). If you really want to exaggerate, you may remove the dust covers and peep through the hole where the polar scope is supposed to be… if Polaris is somewhere in there, you're good. It may take you all of five minutes the first time you do it, and then you whittle it down to a few seconds. 

 

Sure, alt-az is even easier: plop it down anywhere you like and start gazing... but what you gain there, you lose in tracking convenience.

 

To me, the true advantage of alt-az mounts is not ease of set-up (that, too, marginally) but increased portability. If I can / feel like carrying my very light Vixen GEM, she's my choice. If I'm feeling lazy, or I have far to walk, or I have limited luggage space, or if it's just for a quick peep… I shun the bar and counterweights and batteries and hand controller, and reach for the little alt-az. 

 

BUT I'm running ahead of myself… OP: tell us all about your needs and desires ;D


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#47 Hexley

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Posted 19 December 2022 - 01:36 PM

 I shun the bar and counterweights and batteries and hand controller, and reach for the little alt-az. 

That's why one of these days, I'm gonna get a harmonic drive strain wave geared mount -- best of both worlds. Don't tell my wife what they cost ;)



#48 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 19 December 2022 - 02:29 PM

The Astronomical League's What is the best telescope for me? pdf is posted at https://www.astrolea...cope_85x 11.pdf

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#49 Protheus

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Posted 19 December 2022 - 04:04 PM

Don’t buy a newtonian on an EQ mount as a first scope for visual use. Get something on a Dobsonian “altitude-azimuth” base. You gain nothing from a polar alignment if you’re not imaging DSO, which isn’t in your budget.

 

I would say that statement is incorrect, but what you gain from the polar alignment and equatorial tracking is something that many are well prepared to discard for a bit of extra convenience.

 

Chris



#50 Mossonarock

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Posted 19 December 2022 - 04:06 PM

I came across Celesteon AstroMaker 130EQ not sure how good is that!

Skip it. put your money elsewhere.




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