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Requesting Opinion on Two Telescope set up for Outreach

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#1 AstroIndia

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Posted 15 October 2023 - 12:30 PM

Hello Astronomers,

I am a beginner in astronomy and have been given a task to lead a outreach program on Astronomy and I don't see my self going anywhere without some guide from you all.
I need to acquire two Telescope,one for observing planets and the other for EAA.
Budget Allocated - 2500 dollar
Light Pollution level- 4-5 Bortle Scale
1st- 8 or 10inch dob from GSO -500 USD in India for visual astronomy
2nd - SVbony 80ed on ES Iexos 100 PMC with wifi and Bluetooth (no goto) -1800 USD.

With the above minimal set up, I am left with 200 USD which I have to manage to get eyepieces and barlows.

Please recommend any other set up to address for both visual and EAA for bright nebulae and clusters.
I shortlisted svbony because it seems to be versatile piece for both visual and DSO.

Thank you all in advance 🙂

#2 truckerfromaustin

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Posted 15 October 2023 - 12:42 PM

The 8 inch dob is my recommendation. It's the most recommended scope for beginners and experienced observers alike. It's the right size for just about everything except for faint objects that require LARGE amounts of light. I have a 6 inch GSO dob that I use for outreach. It's surprisingly good. I'm going to recommend the svbony zoom eyepieces. The optics are good for the price with a decent afov.

Welcome to CN,
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#3 Greyhaven

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Posted 15 October 2023 - 12:47 PM

Wow! That is quite a project for a beginner in astronomy to be tackling. An 8 or 10 inch dob will give the best results for visual observers. The 80mm refractor will do a nice job with a EAA program but adds a whole different layer of technical complexity for a novice astronomer to manage. Good luck!

 

Grey


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#4 vtornado

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Posted 15 October 2023 - 01:18 PM

EAA for public can be done on something like the sky watcher AZ-GTI.

 

For outreach I really like tracking scopes because there is a lot to manage and then I don't have to keep on getting the scope pointed back at target.

 

Long eye relief eyepieces are great, so glasses wearers don't have to remove their glasses and then  refocus.  I use orion stratus eyepieces.   Others to consider are Orion Q70.

 

A stool with a handle for kids to stand on and to hold on to is very important.  A dob eyepiece height will most of the time be over thier heads.


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#5 pierce

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Posted 15 October 2023 - 01:46 PM

I used to mostly have Orion Stratus eyepieces, with a few Vixen LVWs...  then I got an ES82, and within a year or two had managed to collect the entire set of ES 82's (one at a time, all on sale and/or at event special pricing) and sold all the Stratus.   Sadly, the $70-ish average I paid for the 1.25" ones is long gone, I think they are over twice that now each.

 

for kids, I like using a 3-step kitchen ladder like this...

712Hom2GTiL._AC_SL1500_.jpg


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#6 therealdmt

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Posted 23 October 2023 - 12:17 PM

I think the 8" Dob should be good (easier to move and easier to collimate than the 10", and I would think it would save you a little money that could be used on the eyepieces).

 

For a barlow, the Orion Shorty Barlow (also sold under various other brand names) is a well-liked and well known affordable barlow. It’s also flexible since the bottom can be unscrewed to give you a 1.5x magnification boost, or it can be used like normal for its full 2x boost.

 

For eyepieces, you should probably look at a set that would give you about 60 degrees or so apparent field of view and at least 15mm eye relief (preferably a little more, like closer to 20mm) so that glasses wearers can use them, too. The exact eyepieces to get is a bit of a complicated topic as there are a lot of possibilities, but the barlow could effectively double your collection, turning,  say, 3 eyepieces into, in effect, 6. With my Dob I usually bring out an eyepiece case with 6 eyepieces, of which I typically use 5 (the 6th is in case of encountering better than usual "seeing" conditions (steady air)). The focal lengths I use are 30mm, 18mm, 14mm, 8.8mm, 6.7mm, and then a 4.7mm that doesn’t see all that much use (a 5.5mm would have been better for me). The 18mm and the 14mm I bring out aren’t really both needed, but I particularly like each of them, so I use the 14mm one when mostly using my 1.25" barrel size eyepieces (basically, small eyepieces) and the 18mm one when using my 2" barrel size eyepieces (basically, big eyepieces). But with a 2x barlow, a 30mm can act as a 15, an 18mm can act as a 9, and a 12mm could act as a 6, for example (if using a 1.25" barrel sized barlow and all eyepieces are also 1.25" size).

 

Another way to maximize your budget is with a zoom like an 8-24 zoom (plus the barlow). Svbony sells a 7mm-21mm zoom for only like $49 and an 8mm-24mm zoom for $59. I was just observing tonight with my refractor using only a 7-21 zoom, a 30mm Plossl and a 2x barlow, for example.

 

Hope that helps a bit smile.gif



#7 maroubra_boy

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Posted 23 October 2023 - 03:36 PM

I thoroughly agree with Pierce's point about a ladder.  However, the step ladder he posted an image of is not suitable.  The hand rail needs to be taller.

 

Have a look at the pic below.  It shows a little kid on the top rung of a step ladder with a short hand rail.  The child is just barely able to reach the hand rail and is making a big effort to stay balanced on the ladder.  If the scope was pointed up higher, there is no way that the child can reach the hand rail and the child is not in a safe situation and the scope is totally exposed to any loss of balance of the child.  A longer/higher reaching hand rail is a far better and safer solution.

 

The second pic shows a better ladder option.  Not only is the hand rail taller, but each of the rungs is also a larger platform, compared to the ladder the child is standing on, which makes stability much easier and safer for the person standing on the ladder, no matter which rung they are on.

 

NEVER underestimate the significance of ladder design for safety.  And to make one's choice of ladder based only on cost with no consideration towards its safe use is a bad situation.  YOU may think a short hand rail is fine or no hand rail because YOU feel comfortable in your use of your gear, but in the dark with few visual cues and in a totally new experience, safety must come first ALWAYS, for your guests and your gear.

 

There happens to be another thread running concurrently to this one that deals with ladder safety.  I strongly recommend people read through it.  There are examples of both good ladder options and poor ones and the why, along with experiences of the poor ones.

 

CN link ->  https://www.cloudynights.com/topic/894665-outreach-eyepiece-access/

 

Alex.

Attached Thumbnails

  • BAD astro ladder.jpg
  • step ladder iv.jpeg

Edited by maroubra_boy, 23 October 2023 - 04:50 PM.

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#8 pierce

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Posted 23 October 2023 - 04:41 PM

yeah, the one I have used is a 3-step not a 2 step.

 

but my most recent rounds of outreach were with a 20" f/5 Obsession, requiring a 7 foot step ladder, this was pre-covid.    I've since given up on hauling the obsession around, as I am almost 70, it became too much this year for me to handle, so I passed it onto another member of my club.

 

i-hGWVd47-X3.jpgObsession at GSSP 2019


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#9 Paul Sweeney

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Posted 02 November 2023 - 01:48 PM

I think you need to re-evaluate what you need to get. Nobody wants to wait around while you search for something, so GoTo is important. You should be sticking to bright, easy to see targets, so you don't really need EAA. I have tried targeting faint fuzzies with poor results. Guests have trouble seeing many objects that are obvious to you and me.

That means you may have to go with only one general purpose scope, maybe something like a Nexstar 6 or 8, or a GoTo dob.

Edited by Paul Sweeney, 02 November 2023 - 01:52 PM.


#10 pierce

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Posted 02 November 2023 - 02:44 PM

I think you need to re-evaluate what you need to get. Nobody wants to wait around while you search for something, so GoTo is important. You should be sticking to bright, easy to see targets, so you don't really need EAA. I have tried targeting faint fuzzies with poor results. Guests have trouble seeing many objects that are obvious to you and me.

That means you may have to go with only one general purpose scope, maybe something like a Nexstar 6 or 8, or a GoTo dob.

 

I beg to differ re goto.     I can generally find eye-candy objects with a telrad and an entirely manual dob faster than most people can key them into their goto and slew.   for sure, having tracking is nice, especially at a public event where there's long lines at each scope.


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#11 JerryStellar

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Posted 08 November 2023 - 01:49 PM

I’d recommend a thousand oaks white light solid filter for one of your telescopes… observing the sun will add a lot more opportunities for blowing kids minds…seeing sunspots larger than planet earth is humbling.

 Maybe figure around $100 for a top of the line glass filter but can save a few bucks using film vs glass.

  The 80mm refractor would be a great choice for your solar outreach… cheaper solar filter, easier to manage in the hot sun vs a large Dobsonian…

   I’d also recommend buying used equipment here on Cloudy Nights…

   Safe a good amount of cash picking up a used 70-90mm refractor for eaa/ solar as well as a cheap Dobsonian… 

 you could find a used SCT for planetary but a mid range dob will be cheaper. Can excel at both eaa and planetary.

    Good luck! 
jerry 



#12 pierce

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Posted 08 November 2023 - 02:30 PM

fyi, thousandoaks discontinued the glass filters some time ago.   I just picked up a silver film filter from them (silver on the sun side, black on the back), and the sun looks a nice orange in it.   the filter I had before was a different brand (maybe Baader?), and the sun looked pinkish white which was somewhat annoying.



#13 Richard Low

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Posted 15 November 2023 - 08:02 AM

For a beginner, you need to get comfortable to learn how to properly collimate a newtonian telescope. And please check the actual size and weight of dob which you find manageable to carry, transport and use. If the 8 inch is still too heavy or bulky, maybe consider the 6 inch f/5 or f/8 dob for a start. Otherwise 8 inch f/6 dob is a solid choice for beginner and for outreach use.

 

If collimation and maintenance of a newtonian is too troublesome, maybe consider a maksutov cassegraine telescope (MCT) of say 127mm aperture which is low maintenance, doesn't need collimation and also good for planetary views.

 

For 8 inch f/6 dob and 80ED f/7 refractor, you may like to consider a few (3-4 nos.) widefield (60-70 degree AFOV eyepieces with good eye-relief (preferably 20mm eye relief) of at least mid-to-higher value quality. Focal length of a minimum eyepiece set to consider are as follows:

 

a. low power: 35-40mm eyepiece in 2 inch barrel (65-70 deg. AFOV)

b. mid power: 12-14mm eyepiece in 1.25 inch barrel

c. high power: 2x barlow

 

If you have difficulty to starhop in finding celestial objects, then you need a GOTO mount, Nexus with DSCs, or use some plate-solving device like StarSense or PiFinder.


Edited by Richard Low, 15 November 2023 - 09:57 AM.


#14 astrohamp

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Posted 15 November 2023 - 10:29 AM

My vote would be an 8" dob and a tracking, go to, refractor set up for EAA with auxiliary monitor (dual mode in Sharpcap).  I would think a wide field and 75-125x eyepiece would be enough.  The 'astronomytools' FOV calculator can help figure out what works.  A Barlow may not be needed.

 

Thing is some folks (like me) don't know the sky enough to star hop very well.  This is why a goto may prove to be useful to discover objects for viewing.

 

The step stool/ladder is important to have for younglings and even grabby adults.  My two step serves folks well able to gain 22" in height onto a large platform with a 28" higher hoop grab bar above that.  A Werner 264, it's industrial equivalent is probably the model PD7302 or PD6202 Podium Ladders.  Seen here it double duties as my EAA workstation with laptop in a bin, and side mounted 23" monitor.

 

Last outreach EAA session folks divided their time between two other dobs on the field, gathering near my side monitor, and looking over my shoulders at the control software. 

 

A 4" refractor is very capable for EAA although many folks here use smaller aperture with excellent success.  Accessibility at purchase time and budget will constrain any choice of course.  The camera alone can be a big ticket item as would mount, computer, monitor...  So perhaps one of the new 'robot' EAA scopes would serve better.

Good luck.



#15 Sebastian_Sajaroff

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Posted 18 November 2023 - 11:15 AM

My comments from the field :

99% of public are not interested in visual observation of galaxies and nebulae. M42 and M31 give -at best- a "meh… what’s next?" response. Even worse if you’re doing outreach from an urban/suburban spot.

In fact, many complain they see nothing because they expect a galaxy to look like in Contact movie, not like a grey anemic smudge.

If you want to share galaxies or nebulae with the public bring an EAA or an NVD. Note that EAA images take a few minutes to form, so plan on how to keep your public entertained during that interval.

Outreach relativity : 5 minutes with 30 bored whining kids will feel like 500 years. Believe me.

#16 geovermont

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Posted 24 November 2023 - 12:41 PM

I take a different approach to outreach than many. A 6 or 8 inch Dobsonian will work great. Stick to easy objects like Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon, a really good globular, or open cluster, and let them try keeping the telescope centered on the object. Tracking by hand teaches them about the motion of the stars. Goto and drives are a recipe for wasting time trying to get the thing to work. Also, they have the unintended consequence of teaching the public that telescopes are complicated and expensive. A child can master keeping a Dobsonian centered in 30 seconds. One instrument per docent or it might get pretty confusing (as you will have to help with the pointing).

 

Whatever you choose to do, start with one instrument and work out the inevitable kinks before adding in another. Definitely have a step ladder with a high rail as mentioned above. I use an adjustable observing chair (homemade), but it is one that locks at a level very securely and won't slide down unexpectedly. The short stepladder would work just as well as no one is looking for too long (well, some want to)--I just don't happen to have one.

 

Also, do not spend all your money on telescopes. You'll probably try a few different eyepieces before you get things right. Make sure you have an eyepiece for very low power in each scope, such as a 32 mm for a 6 inch/f/8 or 8 inch f/6. That gives you a big true field of view which is very, very useful. You'll end up using that low power eyepiece far more often than the high power ones (really). Then there's all the other stuff: red cellophane and rubber bands to turn any regular flashlight into a nearly free red light, planispheres, binoculars, etc. As soon as possible, get a couple of assistants to help you with each session (they don't have to know much at first and will probably be learning along with you, which is great fun).



#17 triplemon

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Posted 25 November 2023 - 12:04 AM

Another thing that is often overlooked for outreach is - be able to actually show folks anything at all.

If you can not find your way in the skies, re-point a bumped scope, re-align a forcefully moved goto-scope or reboot after an unplugged cable in an EAA setup in well under 30 seconds, its all in vane. Average folks aren't patient enough to wait 5 or 10 minutes for you to fix whatever got screwed up.

 

So being able to fix pretty much any snafu in no time is king. Which might require lots of manpower, more than one operator per scope, maybe an additional helper to entertain and explain folks standing in line the do and don'ts, move (and hold !!) stepladders as kids or different tall adults come up in line.

 

That is why I like keep is as simple as it gets.


Edited by triplemon, 25 November 2023 - 08:09 PM.


#18 pierce

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Posted 25 November 2023 - 01:55 AM

Another thing that is often overlooked for outreach is - be able to actually show folks anything at all.

If you can not find your way in the skies, re-point a bumped scope, re-align a forcefully moved goto-scope or reboot after an unplugged cable in an EAA setup in well under 30 seconds, its all in vane. Average folks aren't patient enough to wait 5 or 10 minutes for you to fix whatever got screwed up.

 

So being able to fix pretty much any snafu in no time is king. Which might require lots of manpower, more than one operator per scope, maybe an additional helper to entertain and explain folks standing in line the do and don'ts, move (and hold !!) stepladders as kids or different tall adults come up in line.

 

That is why I like keep is as simple as it gets.

 

 

all those mishaps are why I like entirely human powered dobsonians.

 

I've done a lot of outreach at venues from club nights at local county parks to astronomy nights at a local school campus to national park official sky viewing nights (Glacier Pt at Yosemite numerous times).   My favorite is using most any size dobson style newtonians, entirely manual, from 8" to 20",  although I've also done outreach with a wide range of other instruments such as SCTs, refractors, big mounted binoculars,   

 

On the dobs, what I find really helps me is to have a 8x or 9x 50mm right angle erect finder where I can access it without being in the way of the line of would be viewers.   If the dobson gets pushed completely out of whack, I can get back on my target in seconds without having to squeeze in line.   On the smaller dobs, I have this finder on the top side of the main tube so I can stand across from the current viewer, and lean over and repoint, without them having to do more than stand back from the eyepiece.    For the 20", which required a 7 foot ladder for the viewers if the object was high up, I mounted the finder shoe on the main mirror box, so I could aim it from behind the scope on the ground.  I don't care how big the scope is, I always go for eye candy.   If its a small event and a visitor is spending some time with me, I've shown them how to guide and aim the dob themselves, even shown a few people how to walk all the way around the Veil Nebula with a wide field eyepiece and a proper nebular filter (DGM NPB is my favorite, sometimes while guiding them with a green laser pointer)  If its a really big event with lines, I do like to have someone at the ladder while I'm guiding and narrating from behind.


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#19 Napp

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Posted 25 November 2023 - 02:56 AM

I will reinforce sticking to bright objects - the moon and whatever planets are visible.  My club schedules it’s main monthly outreach on the Saturday night closest to first quarter moon.  That way we always have the moon in the sky with an excellent terminator showing.  The lunar terminator always elicits the greatest reaction from guests second only to Saturn.

I think you should try to have entry level scopes available.  You don’t want to give your guests the impression they have to spend a lot of money to enter the hobby.  Almost all your guests will take a brief glance through the eyepiece - certainly not long enough to appreciate any of the deep objects except the Orion Nebula.  When you have guests who are interested enough to go to the club’s dark sky site on dark sky observing nights is when you start pointing the scope toward deep sky objects.


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#20 csrlice12

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Posted 25 November 2023 - 11:55 AM

+1 on a manual dob...and many are surprised when they find out it's cheaper than other type scopes. 

 

Oddly enough, I got more comments on my 102XLT f9.8 than I did with the dob.  I usually brought the 10" dob, but that night I brought the XLT on a CG4.  It might have been due to the fact I was viewing M42 instead of planets (it was also an exceptionally good night).  One advantage of an EQ mount, as an object moves out of the fov, a twist of one knob brings it back into view, which can be handy for outreach.  And the 102f9.8 is an achromat, but does well for being one....most were surprised they could get the scope and mount for $500...and they're pretty rugged, and look like what most people think a scope should look like.


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#21 Sebastian_Sajaroff

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Posted 26 November 2023 - 07:32 AM

Think about your public.

Elders and young kids will be reluctant to climb a ladder to observe through the eyepiece.


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#22 pierce

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Posted 29 November 2023 - 03:05 AM

Think about your public.

Elders and young kids will be reluctant to climb a ladder to observe through the eyepiece.

 

oh, you'd be amazed at how many little kids LOVE to climb up a ladder for any reason.    older folks as in 60+, sure, I get that.  I'm 69.




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