I recently got interested in visual astronomy and decided to dip my toe in the water by getting a set of Celestron Skymaster 15x70 binoculars and a tripod, and from the first crisp views of the moon and Pleiades I was hooked. I immediately started doing a ton of research into a telescope, and I think I've settled on getting a computerized/go-to one, like the Celestron nexstar series. I really want something that excels at planetary viewing, but something that I could also eventually adapt and use for astrophotography of DSOs.
Though I've never used a telescope before, I've learned a lot in my research about how telescopes work, what equipment is needed to actually use them correctly, what results to actually expect as a beginner, etc, and I think I know what I'm getting myself into. On the other hand, I'm worried I might be underestimating how much work will go into keeping the telescope (and associated equipment) maintained without the right knowledge/experience, or that I'll get the telescope and then just not be able to figure out how to actually use it correctly. For example, I know the nexstar mount finds objects and tracks them for you, but you need to align the scope first, which means that you need some knowledge of the sky.
I've been looking at a lot of used nexstar telescope postings, thinking that I could start out with an inexpensive purchase (and maybe the smaller scope - the 4SE) first to make all the beginner mistakes and get some experience before graduating to a larger and more expensive scope.
I'm hoping some experienced telescope users who actually know what they're talking about will look at my ramblings and hopefully clear up any misconceptions I probably have and point me in the right direction.
Thanks in advance.
You posted on a DSO imaging forum, so this answer will apply to that. As explained below, you need to consult other forums here for other things you wish to do.
It's not a question of ambition. It's a question of paying attention the the experience of others who have walked that path. Some no doubt more ambitious, some less.
It's a question of paying attention to the recognized experts in the field, and their advice. I'm not including myself.
It's a question of understanding that DSO imaging is an unintuitive activity, and that using your intuition is very risky.
Perhaps most of all it's a question of understanding the VERY different natures of: visual astronomy, using your eye; planetary imaging, using a camera on extremely bright (sunlit) targets; and DSO imaging, using a camera on very dim things, dim because they're so very far away.
The fourth thing is OFTEN overlooked as being a lot different than the third. LEARNING DSO imaging. It has special needs. As many people have found out.
Those are four different things. What works for one activity may EASILY not work for another.
My specialty is giving advice about how to LEARN DSO imaging. I base it on reading what other people have written. So I quote them. Here's the most important thing.
"The recurring theme and BEST PIECE OF ADVICE BY FAR I received over and over again was a) the mount is king and everything else comes second b) start with a widefield refractor and build your skills and go from there. There is so much involved and building good practices and habits and foundational building from the start will save you a lot of wasted time and heartache."
"Convincing me to start with a smaller widefield APO and get the best mount I possibly could even at the expense of the scope proved to be incredible wisdom that I have passed along."
"After months of learning and overcoming challenges <with the SCT>, and finally buying a shorter FL APO refractor, I really really really wish I had listened to everyone on here and started learning the imaging basics on THAT frac instead of on the SCT. Trust me"
Don't trust me, trust him. <smile>
But, you say you only have the budget for one setup for everything? Visual. Planetary imaging. Learning DSO imaging.
That's an extremely common wish. We all would like that. But it simply doesn't exist. No more than a car which could win drag racing events, win the F1 race at Monaco, and haul thousands of pounds of freight across the country.
The closest two are visual and planetary imaging. Your setup could work well for both of those. Just not learning DSO imaging.
Since your budget is low, I'll close with a picture of the most economical good setup for learning DSO imaging. In order of importance.
A camera tracker (the mount is the most important thing in learning DSO imaging).
A camera lens, short and light optics are what lets you use such an inexpensive mount.
A DSLR camera, which you may already have, or which can be purchased used cheaply, especially since they're out of fashion.
As I said, intuition is a bad guide. Here's a good one, from an expert of many years experience, who has done it all.
The above post was written because you posted on a DSO imaging forum. For visual astronomy, there's a Beginners forum. For planetary imaging, Major and Minor Planet imaging.
Different activities, require different forums, too.
Last note. Here's what you're underestimating, as most all beginners do.
The difficulty (and cost) of learning DSO imaging. The pretty pictures do not come easy. <smile> I've been at it, hard, for seven years. And I'm still learning. That's a good thing, in my opinion.
Edited by bobzeq25, 03 October 2023 - 01:35 PM.