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Help deciding on my first telescope

Beginner Celestron Dob Equipment Observing Smartphone AP Visual Reflector Optics Collimation
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#1 jackydubs

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 08:13 PM

Im only 18 and I already have one telescope that I got handed down from my grandfather which is a Meade ds2114 but I want to purchase something larger. I live in a bortle 6 area as of 2015 (not sure if it is still a 6 or if it has gone up). I need help deciding on my next telescope and my two main choices are a Celestron 8se or a skywatcher Flextube 250P SynScan GoTo Collapsible Dobsonian. Everyone recommends getting a Dobsonian but I want one with goto functionality. It seems like I should pick the 10 inch Dobsonian one because it is wider and can gather more light but I don't really know much about skywatcher. My girlfriend has a 5.5 inch Celestron and I like the Celestron other than the fact it has a laser view finder. I have seen plenty of reviews on the Celestron 8se but almost none on the skywatcher. I have never used a Dobsonian before so I don't really understand too much about them. Here are my questions: Are skywatchers worse quality or do they have worse optics? Do they have as good as a goto system as the Celestron? Is it as user friendly as the Celestron or is it harder to use? Does it have as good as Iphone apps as the Celestron? Does the skywatcher have gps from factory or the ability to add it on later like the Celestron? I have never collimated anything so how hard is it collimate a dob and how much more often do I need to do it? Which one is better to transport around incase I want to take it somewhere in my mustang? These are my main questions but I am open to any more recommendations of telescopes 8 inches or above with goto for under 1500. Thanks so much for any information given to me as I am almost completely new to this and all I know is stuff I learned from youtube. 



#2 MeridianStarGazer

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 08:48 PM

Welcome to CloudyNights. Worrying about such first world problems as which scope to buy sure is fun. Soon you will be deciding between eyepieces too.
Hint: There are many good ones.
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#3 Echolight

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 08:49 PM

As far as I know, Skywatcher is the house brand for Synta, which also owns Celestron.

 

Essentially, the brand names aren't something that makes a difference in quality of optics. It's more the color, features, and accessories that are different.

 

A Mustang? lol.gif

10 inch goto dob, even the flextube collapsible model, is a big heavy scope. Too big I'd say.

You should probably get an SCT.


Edited by Echolight, 27 November 2023 - 08:56 PM.


#4 descott12

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 08:50 PM

It really depends on what you want to look at. Planets/moon/sun vs deep sky. That will help guide your decision. Realize that you will need to learn to collimate both and, a dob\newt may be a little trickier to collimate than an SCT.  Portabilty is another big factor. I think SCT's (at least the 8" or smaller) tend to be pretty easy to lug around as you can break them down quickly into two very manageable pieces.

 

If you do go with the SCT, I would upgrade to the Evolution over the SE as it has quite a few major advantages (internal  battery, better stability, wifi, etc).


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#5 Jethro7

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:14 PM

Hello Jackydubs, 

Welcome to the Forums.The Skywatcher flex tube Dob is a very good telescope and will put up amazing views when your Sky Conditions permit. One of the basic rules for Backyard Astronomy is, aperture wins., the only caveat is, aperture wins if you can handle the scopes weight and set up routine and you are young. The skywatcher 250P with Synscan GoTo has built in WiFi and if you subscribe to and down load the SkySafari App, to a phone or better a tablet, you can do away with the hand contoler  (always have the hand contoler handy just in case) The  SkySafari App will have your GPS location and dealing with a larger screen will make operating the scope overall very easy. Okay, when you become an owner of a reflector scope you will need to learn how to collimate the scope. Don't worry, collimation seems scarry at first but it is a skill that you will have to learn. Collimation is not that hard to learn and nothing to be worried about. My 12.5" truss tube Discovery Dob fits into my Honda Civic all be it not much room left for more than one passenger. As for the Celestron 8Se , I can recommend the scope but not the mount. Go for the aperture and the much better mount of the Skywatcher 250P. 

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro

 

https://youtu.be/Teb...FTUTMi6ksLjlfLq

 

https://youtu.be/8G9...vhyjLQVZaqDnpPM

 

By this Book

"The Backyard Astronomers Guid" by Terrence Dickerson and Alan Dyre. 

https://www.amazon.c...6RoC3vQQAvD_BwE


Edited by Jethro7, 27 November 2023 - 09:23 PM.

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#6 spaceoddity

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:18 PM

The 250 skywatcher will clobber the 8SE in every way shape and form with the exception of 1 thing - portability. The 8SE will be much easier to transport in your mustang, being much smaller and lighter. Collimation is something you will have to learn with a reflector and check every time out. It will probably require better tools than which come with the scope(if any). With an SCT you don't need to collimate much, if at all once it's correct. but if you need to it's much more difficult than a reflector. I have a solid tube 10" dob which I can transport the tube in the back seat of my ford focus and base on the passenger seat, so it is possible if you don't have any passengers. I'm not sure how difficult the sky-watcher go-to dobs are to set up and align but from my experience, the 8SE is not what I'd consider user friendly. I've had difficulties getting the go-to aligned every time I've used it. It now sits in my shed while I use my dobs. SCT's are also dew magnets. If you live in an area with frequent dew, you will need a dew heater. To be fair, dobs are not immune to dew either but it usually takes a few hours before dew becomes an issue with a dob while the corrector plate on an SCT gets dewed up pretty quickly.  


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#7 Bean614

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:19 PM

Celestron, ORION, Skywatcher,  and some Meade scopes are made by the SAME Company--- Synta.  GSO also makes a few items for these companies,  as does Kunming United, JOC, etc.

Skywatcher and Orion use the SynScan GoTo System, while Celestron uses NexStar. They are similar but can't be 'interchanged' the way Orion/Skywatcher can. Both are very good, and some prefer one, while others prefer the other. There is NO generally accepted  'better' one.

 You WILL need to learn Collimation for both the Dobsonian (which is a Newtonian Reflector) and the SCT!  Most are 'afraid' of it, but don't be!  Yes, the first time could take 15 or 20 minutes before the Light Bulb above your head comes on, but, after that, it's just a 2 minute procedure that becomes an intuitive part of your setup!

     The difference between views, through the same scope, is as simple as this:  assuming 'Seeing' conditions are good, a Perfectly Collimated 8-inch SCT or 10-inch Dob, will give you 300X--400X Sharp magnification on Jupiter or Saturn. Not Perfectly Collimated?? Maybe 100X to 150X before the view breaks up, gets soft, or blurry.  Collimation of a 10" Dob DOES need to be checked, and probably slightly tweaked, before Each Use!  And SCT can go a bit longer, but should at least be checked! So, do you want to know just how good your optics REALLY are?  Or, like most, just be content, or not, with the views you get "out of the box", and either gripe about them for being terrible, or claim they've never needed collimation.  Your choice.....

   You should also learn what Seeing means, and what Transparency means--- they are 2 different things!!  You can have crystal clear, Moonless,  dark skies, and have the Worst Seeing Conditions you've ever experienced! 

   Good luck!



#8 jackydubs

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:24 PM

As far as I know, Skywatcher is the house brand for Synta, which also owns Celestron.

 

Essentially, the brand names aren't something that makes a difference in quality of optics. It's more the color, features, and accessories that are different.

 

A Mustang? lol.gif

10 inch goto dob, even the flextube collapsible model, is a big heavy scope. Too big I'd say.

You should probably get an SCT.

You would be surprised with how much the mustang can fit. I can pack a week worth of vacation stuff for two people in it with the back seat folded down. Thanks for the advice.



#9 jackydubs

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:25 PM

It really depends on what you want to look at. Planets/moon/sun vs deep sky. That will help guide your decision. Realize that you will need to learn to collimate both and, a dob\newt may be a little trickier to collimate than an SCT.  Portabilty is another big factor. I think SCT's (at least the 8" or smaller) tend to be pretty easy to lug around as you can break them down quickly into two very manageable pieces.

 

If you do go with the SCT, I would upgrade to the Evolution over the SE as it has quite a few major advantages (internal  battery, better stability, wifi, etc).

Even though the evo is better I don't think I can convince myself to spend the extra dough.



#10 jackydubs

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:26 PM

Hello Jackydubs, 

Welcome to the Forums.The Skywatcher flex tube Dob is a very good telescope and will put up amazing views when your Sky Conditions permit. One of the basic rules for Backyard Astronomy is, aperture wins., the only caveat is, aperture wins if you can handle the scopes weight and set up routine and you are young. The skywatcher 250P with Synscan GoTo has built in WiFi and if you subscribe to and down load the SkySafari App, to a phone or better a tablet, you can do away with the hand contoler  (always have the hand contoler handy just in case) The  SkySafari App will have your GPS location and dealing with a larger screen will make operating the scope overall very easy. Okay, when you become an owner of a reflector scope you will need to learn how to collimate the scope. Don't worry, collimation seems scarry at first but it is a skill that you will have to learn. Collimation is not that hard to learn and nothing to be worried about. My 12.5" truss tube Discovery Dob fits into my Honda Civic all be it not much room left for more than one passenger. As for the Celestron 8Se , I can recommend the scope but not the mount. Go for the aperture and the much better mount of the Skywatcher 250P. 

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro

 

https://youtu.be/Teb...FTUTMi6ksLjlfLq

 

https://youtu.be/8G9...vhyjLQVZaqDnpPM

 

By this Book

"The Backyard Astronomers Guid" by Terrence Dickerson and Alan Dyre. 

https://www.amazon.c...6RoC3vQQAvD_BwE

Why don't you recommend the mount?



#11 Echolight

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:26 PM

If you could do without goto, you could get this 10 inch truss dob that would be a lot easier to fit in your car for $600.

https://www.costco.c....100505499.html



#12 jackydubs

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:27 PM

The 250 skywatcher will clobber the 8SE in every way shape and form with the exception of 1 thing - portability. The 8SE will be much easier to transport in your mustang, being much smaller and lighter. Collimation is something you will have to learn with a reflector and check every time out. It will probably require better tools than which come with the scope(if any). With an SCT you don't need to collimate much, if at all once it's correct. but if you need to it's much more difficult than a reflector. I have a solid tube 10" dob which I can transport the tube in the back seat of my ford focus and base on the passenger seat, so it is possible if you don't have any passengers. I'm not sure how difficult the sky-watcher go-to dobs are to set up and align but from my experience, the 8SE is not what I'd consider user friendly. I've had difficulties getting the go-to aligned every time I've used it. It now sits in my shed while I use my dobs. SCT's are also dew magnets. If you live in an area with frequent dew, you will need a dew heater. To be fair, dobs are not immune to dew either but it usually takes a few hours before dew becomes an issue with a dob while the corrector plate on an SCT gets dewed up pretty quickly.  

Thanks for the info. I think I will go for the dob now even though it is less portable because I rarely do take it anywhere.



#13 Echolight

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:29 PM

You would be surprised with how much the mustang can fit. I can pack a week worth of vacation stuff for two people in it with the back seat folded down. Thanks for the advice.

It's the base that's the big part. You could probably get the tube in the trunk.

 

But like spaceoddity said, you'd probably have to put the base in the front passenger seat. Or disassemble it every time.



#14 jackydubs

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:30 PM

Celestron, ORION, Skywatcher,  and some Meade scopes are made by the SAME Company--- Synta.  GSO also makes a few items for these companies,  as does Kunming United, JOC, etc.

Skywatcher and Orion use the SynScan GoTo System, while Celestron uses NexStar. They are similar but can't be 'interchanged' the way Orion/Skywatcher can. Both are very good, and some prefer one, while others prefer the other. There is NO generally accepted  'better' one.

 You WILL need to learn Collimation for both the Dobsonian (which is a Newtonian Reflector) and the SCT!  Most are 'afraid' of it, but don't be!  Yes, the first time could take 15 or 20 minutes before the Light Bulb above your head comes on, but, after that, it's just a 2 minute procedure that becomes an intuitive part of your setup!

     The difference between views, through the same scope, is as simple as this:  assuming 'Seeing' conditions are good, a Perfectly Collimated 8-inch SCT or 10-inch Dob, will give you 300X--400X Sharp magnification on Jupiter or Saturn. Not Perfectly Collimated?? Maybe 100X to 150X before the view breaks up, gets soft, or blurry.  Collimation of a 10" Dob DOES need to be checked, and probably slightly tweaked, before Each Use!  And SCT can go a bit longer, but should at least be checked! So, do you want to know just how good your optics REALLY are?  Or, like most, just be content, or not, with the views you get "out of the box", and either gripe about them for being terrible, or claim they've never needed collimation.  Your choice.....

   You should also learn what Seeing means, and what Transparency means--- they are 2 different things!!  You can have crystal clear, Moonless,  dark skies, and have the Worst Seeing Conditions you've ever experienced! 

   Good luck!

Thanks for the information about how they are all the same company. I feel a lot more confident with my decision of purchasing the sky watcher instead because I now know that they both have good goto functionality. Do you recommend any collimation devices?



#15 jackydubs

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:31 PM

If you could do without goto, you could get this 10 inch truss dob that would be a lot easier to fit in your car for $600.

https://www.costco.c....100505499.html

Thanks for the recommendation. I still want goto so my family can use it and I can have it track for a longer period of time.



#16 ShaulaB

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:33 PM

SkyWatcher is a reputable brand, it just has not been around as long as Celestron. A 10 inch Dob would be a great first serious telescope. You are a smart person. Figuring out how to use a Dobsonian is no big deal. If you have a smartphone or tablet with a good app  like Sky Safari, you will have a lot of fun. A Telrad finder plus a Dob is a match made in heaven.

 

I have been a member of Cloudy Nights for quite a while. At least two posts per month, someone with a Celestron SE8 will post that he or she is having trouble with it or can't figure out how to use it. The C8 is a great scope, and I have two of them, but they are not mounted on the SE mounting system.

 

With either the Dobsonian or C8, you will need to learn about collimation. Some people say a Schmidt-Cassegrain never needs collimation, but that is not true. Videos and Cloudy Night help for collimation is out there in massive amounts.


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#17 Bean614

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:46 PM

Thanks for the information about how they are all the same company. I feel a lot more confident with my decision of purchasing the sky watcher instead because I now know that they both have good goto functionality. Do you recommend any collimation devices?

Yes. For the Dob, the simple Collimation Cap that comes with it when new (believe me, learning collimation this basic way WILL help you in the future!

For the SCT,  the simple screwdriver and/or Allen Key that comes with it when new.  Again, you'll thank me for this in a year or two....


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#18 Jethro7

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 09:57 PM

Why don't you recommend the mount?

Hello jackydubs,

Because the Se Nexstar mount is very cheaply made inside and out, all plastic with some pot metal parts. The mount has horrable backlash that can't be fixed. You will see lots of these used Nexstar Mounts for sale on the classifieds without the scope. There is a good reason why folks want the scope but not the mount. The C8 SCT scope that comes with the Nexstar mounts, are actually  very nice scopes that are handicapped by a crummy mount. That's exactly what I did. I owned a 6Se Nexstar and after about a month some one offered me $100.00  for the mount and I still feel a little guilty for selling the mount for that price. After all these years, I still own the cool little C6 scope. Personally if I wanted a C8 SCT, I would purchase it as a OTA (optical tube only) and buy a decent mount for it and I have done that.

 

HAPPY SKIES AND KEEP LOOKING UP Jethro


Edited by Jethro7, 27 November 2023 - 10:03 PM.


#19 vtornado

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Posted 27 November 2023 - 11:39 PM

Im only 18 and I already have one telescope that I got handed down from my grandfather which is a Meade ds2114 but I want to purchase something larger. I live in a bortle 6 area as of 2015 (not sure if it is still a 6 or if it has gone up).

 

It Probably has due to LED lighting and urban sprawl.  Use the Bortle Chart in wikipedia for a self assessment.

 

I need help deciding on my next telescope and my two main choices are a Celestron 8se or a skywatcher Flextube 250P SynScan GoTo Collapsible Dobsonian.  Why a collapsible 10?  A 10 is not that long of a tube.  The flanges and struts of the flextube actually makes it heavier than the 10 solid tube.   (but it is shorter).  Goto add significantly more weight. you will have to have a power supply too.

 

 

Everyone recommends getting a Dobsonian but I want one with goto functionality.    Why do you want goto?  For tracking? For finding objects.?

The celestron starsense explorer can help you find objects, but not track.  Just so you know goto can have problems if you have to deal with trees or build occlusions.

 

It seems like I should pick the 10 inch Dobsonian one because it is wider and can gather more light but I don't really know much about skywatcher.   Are skywatchers worse quality or do they have worse optics?  As above there are two manufactures of Dobs synta (celestron, skywatcher) and GSO.  (Apertura and others).  Both have good optics.

 

Do they have as good as a goto system as the Celestron?   So this is really about the mount, The 8SE goto vs the Skywatcher dob goto.  I don't know the answer to this, but since the dob has a wider field of view the goto does not have to be as accurate.   The SE is slightly undermounted. If it is breezy it might not settle down.  Is it as user friendly as the Celestron or is it harder to use? I have used several different goto systems.  Alignment is roughly the same.  Selecting the target is about the same.  Using the phone vs the hand controller is easier to find things.  Does it have as good as Iphone apps as the Celestron? Does the skywatcher have gps from factory or the ability to add it on later like the Celestron? Why do you want GPS?

 

I have never collimated anything so how hard is it collimate a dob and how much more often do I need to do it?  With practice collimation will take a few minutes A 10 inch f/5 will need to be collimated each time it is used. Which one is better to transport around incase I want to take it somewhere in my mustang?   A solid f/10 tube will fit standing up in the passenger area, or length wise across the back seat.

 

 

These are my main questions but I am open to any more recommendations of telescopes 8 inches or above with goto for under 1500. Thanks so much for any information given to me as I am almost completely new to this and all I know is stuff I learned from youtube.  youtube is often an oracle of confusion since any yahoo can post. Ed Ting videos are quite good.


Edited by vtornado, 27 November 2023 - 11:40 PM.


#20 Invisibl

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Posted 09 December 2023 - 06:23 AM

Personally, I'd recommend to not buy too large of a telescope as you've never had one before and don't know what it's like until you have one.

I'd also not recognize buying a GPS telescope as your first telescope, it only complicates it more for someone that's new.

I'd recommend either a 6 inch or 8 inch dobsonian made by Orion or Skywatcher. Simple, not too heavy or very large, and you can even fit both in your car if needed. Otherwise, if you really don't like the idea of a dobsonian for your first telescope, I'd recommend a Celestron C5 or C6 SCT.


Edited by Invisibl, 09 December 2023 - 06:25 AM.



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