Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Ideal backyard telescope?

  • Please log in to reply
57 replies to this topic

#1 paulsky

paulsky

    Vanguard

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 2,275
  • Joined: 17 Feb 2004

Posted 28 May 2024 - 02:36 AM

Hello,
I was wondering what the "ideal" small backyard telescope could be... surrounded by bushes and houses up to 45° altitude, with two distinct parts, and in semi-rural Bortle, with nearby streetlights...
Thank you
Paul



#2 kjkrum

kjkrum

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 580
  • Joined: 08 Mar 2019
  • Loc: Tucson, Arizona, USA

Posted 28 May 2024 - 02:54 AM

I think the "ideal" telescope (and mount) has more to do with the user's personality than their physical environment.
  • Jon Isaacs, Harry Jacobson, Astrojensen and 8 others like this

#3 Astrojensen

Astrojensen

    James Webb Space Telescope

  • *****
  • Posts: 16,903
  • Joined: 05 Oct 2008
  • Loc: Bornholm, Denmark

Posted 28 May 2024 - 03:07 AM

There is no such thing. Everything's a tradeoff and what works well for one observer, another might find difficult to work with. It's a difficult balance between several different important factors, such as cost, portability, light grasp, tracking or not, manual or GOTO, ergonomics, etc. 

 

And sometimes we just fall in love with how a certain telescope looks or functions, and make it work, regardless of the other tradeoffs we have to make.

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


  • Jon Isaacs, izar187, BlueMoon and 18 others like this

#4 maroubra_boy

maroubra_boy

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,907
  • Joined: 08 Sep 2009
  • Loc: Sydney, Australia

Posted 28 May 2024 - 03:52 AM

One person's ideal scope is another's trashcan.

One person will say a refractor. Another an SCT. Another a dob. Another a Mak. Another a Takahashi. Another a Questar. Another... Get the picture?

Then there is casual viewing or a dedicated imaging rig. Experienced old salt or a newbie. Deep pockets or modest means. Out of a backyard or for someone living in an apartment. Physically strong or not too strong. How severe is the light pollution around them. Are they mobile or even have access to a safe location to set up close by.

There are many considerations. Many of which many people give no thought to when offering advice, such as giving no thought to how physically competent the other person may be.

And for those people asking for help, they more often than not also wouldn't be aware of these same considerations being a factor.

And while reading & asking on a forum such as this is a good idea, it certainly isn't as good as having some hands-on experience from visiting an astro club to see the many different scopes that there are in action as this gives a totally different point if view on scope selection. Just in the last 24 hours my club received a question from a newbie who hasn't attended a club meet but they then bought a new scope that no member would ever have suggested as a good option. How do you tell someone they bought a load of garbage? But if they asked first before doing their dash...

Alex.
  • Diana N, AJK 547, PKDfan and 4 others like this

#5 Etien

Etien

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 38
  • Joined: 15 May 2023

Posted 28 May 2024 - 03:56 AM

Hello, I am in a similar surounding, if you aren't planing to do astro photography and if you have the budget I would recommend:

- a celestron dobson starsences push-to ( the 10" or the 12" if you are tall enough, the 8" is okish for a beginer )

- a couple of televue ethos eyepieces 2" ( 21 and 13 should be enough ) ; or a cheaper set ( baader hyperion ? )

- a 2" svbony laser collimator or equivalent, ( needed )

- a simple set of 2" filters ( moon, 81b for jupiter )

 

then for confort

- a JMI trolley  ( not needed )

- a baader Tube allonge 2" ClickLock 2" for security ( not needed )

- more 2" filters ( Neodymium ("Moonglow & Skyglow"), cls  )


Edited by Etien, 28 May 2024 - 03:57 AM.

  • Rgwood88 and Roman M like this

#6 Kerste

Kerste

    Sputnik

  • -----
  • Posts: 40
  • Joined: 12 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Germany

Posted 28 May 2024 - 04:10 AM

As you can't use large exit pupils under bright skies anyway, no need for a fast Newtonian, which favours a SCT or a refractor (slower f/ratio => cheaper eyepieces). Limited space favours the SCT with a dew shield over the long refractor (if you want a similar aperture).

 

Ideally, you have a pier with power supply permanently installed in the backyard, so you only have to put the mount on it – or you have a small observatory building:-)


  • lwbehney likes this

#7 therealdmt

therealdmt

    Gemini

  • *****
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 3,354
  • Joined: 05 Mar 2015
  • Loc: 35° N

Posted 28 May 2024 - 04:17 AM

Hello,
I was wondering what the "ideal" small backyard telescope could be... surrounded by bushes and houses up to 45° altitude, with two distinct parts, and in semi-rural Bortle, with nearby streetlights...
Thank you
Paul

What telescopes do you have now, and what are your issues with your current equipment? What type of experience do you want that you’re not getting now? (ex. something easier to get in and out?, easier to use near zenith?, see spiral arms in galaxies better?, find stuff easier?, see more detail on planets?, no more electronics issues?, no more dealing with collimation? etc.). Be aware that one telescope might not be able to do everything you want (but two can cover a lot of ground)

 

Or are you happy with your equipment and more just posing a question for general discussion?


  • 12BH7 likes this

#8 rachnoman

rachnoman

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 367
  • Joined: 29 May 2009

Posted 28 May 2024 - 06:17 AM

For me it's my Starmaster 12.5" Newtonian with Zambuto optics. It's big enough for deep sky viewing. It's high quality optics lends itself for planetary viewing, and don't need a ladder.


  • Diana N likes this

#9 TheChosen

TheChosen

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 670
  • Joined: 21 Jun 2022
  • Loc: Central Europe

Posted 28 May 2024 - 06:25 AM

Don't overthink it with theory and pages and pages of different advice.

 

Get a new/used 8" DOB , possibly the GSO or StellaLyra as they give you a free 30mm 2" eyepiece.

 

Get also a 65-70 degree 10-15mm eyepiece and enjoy the views... maybe get the SVBony Zoom 7-21mm

 

A year later you will discover what kind of astronomer you are and get the ideal telescope... or maybe you find out 6 months down the road this hobby is not for you, at which point you sell everything with a minimal loss (The 8" is very re-sellable)


  • Chassetter, careysub, ShaulaB and 2 others like this

#10 Cpk133

Cpk133

    Gemini

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,192
  • Joined: 14 Mar 2015
  • Loc: SE Michigan

Posted 28 May 2024 - 06:52 AM

One person's ideal scope is another's trashcan.

One person will say a refractor. Another an SCT. Another a dob. Another a Mak. Another a Takahashi. Another a Questar. Another... Get the picture?

Then there is casual viewing or a dedicated imaging rig. Experienced old salt or a newbie. Deep pockets or modest means. Out of a backyard or for someone living in an apartment. Physically strong or not too strong. How severe is the light pollution around them. Are they mobile or even have access to a safe location to set up close by.

There are many considerations. Many of which many people give no thought to when offering advice, such as giving no thought to how physically competent the other person may be.

And for those people asking for help, they more often than not also wouldn't be aware of these same considerations being a factor.

And while reading & asking on a forum such as this is a good idea, it certainly isn't as good as having some hands-on experience from visiting an astro club to see the many different scopes that there are in action as this gives a totally different point if view on scope selection. Just in the last 24 hours my club received a question from a newbie who hasn't attended a club meet but they then bought a new scope that no member would ever have suggested as a good option. How do you tell someone they bought a load of garbage? But if they asked first before doing their dash...

Alex.

This^. Op needs to provide a whole lot more info before anyone can make a meaningful recommendation:

 

budget
Ability and willingness to move and or store equipment

Intended target / goals

Ever plan to use outside of back yard

Visual imaging or both

Experience level


  • Diana N, mrlovt, JOEinCO and 1 other like this

#11 revans

revans

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • ****-
  • Moderators
  • Posts: 6,328
  • Joined: 26 Sep 2005
  • Loc: Fitchburg, MA

Posted 28 May 2024 - 06:58 AM

Hello,
I was wondering what the "ideal" small backyard telescope could be... surrounded by bushes and houses up to 45° altitude, with two distinct parts, and in semi-rural Bortle, with nearby streetlights...
Thank you
Paul

For me, it is a decent 3.5" to 4" refractor on something like an EQ6-R Pro mount.  Why?  Because it is small and portable and you can do the greatest variety of things within the hobby as a whole with it.

 

Rick


  • 72Nova and BobSoltys like this

#12 12BH7

12BH7

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,824
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2022
  • Loc: North of Phoenix Arizona

Posted 28 May 2024 - 08:50 AM

With the little info we have - here it goes.

 

You're locked into viewing near zenith and you have a street light problem. So you need something small, light, mobile and easy pointing almost straight up.

 

It would suggest that any small scope could work out. The only wrinkle would be a refractor would position you on your knees to view. 


  • paulsky likes this

#13 Alex65

Alex65

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 573
  • Joined: 03 Apr 2019
  • Loc: 57° North

Posted 28 May 2024 - 09:15 AM

Hello,
I was wondering what the "ideal" small backyard telescope could be... surrounded by bushes and houses up to 45° altitude, with two distinct parts, and in semi-rural Bortle, with nearby streetlights...
Thank you
Paul

I think that you can't go far wrong with a simple 6" Dobsonian. You can choose a tabletop version (focal length around 750mm) if you're short of space, but I would probably recommend a 'normal' 6" Dob with a focal length of 1200mm. It is the instrument that I use every time I'm out under the stars. Mine is made by Orion (a Sky Quest XT6).

 

It would show you a lifetime's worth of astronomical targets, everything from the craters on the moon, to Jupiter's Giant Red Spot, the rings of Saturn, the ice caps of Mars to countless double stars, nebulae, clusters and even views of galaxies. 


  • justfred likes this

#14 yeldahtron

yeldahtron

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 203
  • Joined: 16 Jan 2014
  • Loc: Rideau Ferry, ON

Posted 28 May 2024 - 09:37 AM

You're locked into viewing near zenith and you have a street light problem. So you need something small, light, mobile and easy pointing almost straight up.

If most viewing is to be at the zenith (within say 10 degrees of straight up), that rules out a dob, because the acursèd dobhole makes pointing at the zenith a challenge.  A small refractor (say, ST80) can be coaxed into pointing at the zenith by shortening a tripod leg, so the azimuth axis of the mount isn't pointing straight up.  Of course, one needs to be careful about balance.  Don't want your scope tipping over and crashing to the ground. 


  • Diana N likes this

#15 12BH7

12BH7

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,824
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2022
  • Loc: North of Phoenix Arizona

Posted 28 May 2024 - 10:28 AM

If most viewing is to be at the zenith (within say 10 degrees of straight up), that rules out a dob, because the acursèd dobhole makes pointing at the zenith a challenge.  A small refractor (say, ST80) can be coaxed into pointing at the zenith by shortening a tripod leg, so the azimuth axis of the mount isn't pointing straight up.  Of course, one needs to be careful about balance.  Don't want your scope tipping over and crashing to the ground. 

I used a Dob for 16 years and that Dob hole is a real thing.  As I mentioned a refractor is going to put you either on your knees or a scope 6 feet off the ground. That's a heck of a tripod.

 

So now you're left with either a smallish SCT / MCT or a short tube 80mm refractor. 


Edited by 12BH7, 28 May 2024 - 10:28 AM.

  • Diana N, yeldahtron and BobSoltys like this

#16 Tony Flanders

Tony Flanders

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 23,544
  • Joined: 18 May 2006
  • Loc: New Lebanon, NY and Cambridge, MA, USA

Posted 28 May 2024 - 11:11 AM

If most viewing is to be at the zenith (within say 10 degrees of straight up), that rules out a dob, because the acursèd dobhole makes pointing at the zenith a challenge.  A small refractor (say, ST80) can be coaxed into pointing at the zenith by shortening a tripod leg, so the azimuth axis of the mount isn't pointing straight up.  Of course, one needs to be careful about balance.  Don't want your scope tipping over and crashing to the ground. 

You don't really need to be worrying about being within 10 degrees of the zenith; that's an exceedingly small piece of the entire sky. And if there is something up there that you're really eager to see, just wait an hour and it will be lower.

 

The original poster said there are obstructions "up to 45 degrees," which sounds pretty alarming. But there's a big difference between being 45 degrees from the zenith and 45 degrees from the zenith. Any half-decent scope works fine 20 degrees from the zenith.

 

Having said that, I must admit that the first advice that comes to my mind is to try to find a better viewing site. I don't mind moving around to view different parts of the sky, but those 45-degree obstructions sound alarming if there are lots of them, and the streetlights sound even worse.

 

Anyway, ignoring that, if you need a scope that you can move around easily, the next question is how you plan to move it. I move my 7-inch Dob by picking up the base in one hand and the tube in the other. That would work with most 6-inch Dobs if you added a handle to the tube (easily done) but perhaps not so well with an 8- or 10-incher, depending on the particular scope and how strong you are.

 

My 12.5-inch Dob usually gets around on a handcart, which works fine as long as the surface isn't too rough. It's more of a production tying it to the handcart (actually vice versa) and then untying it, but in some ways it's easier to wheel it than to carry any scope.

 

With my refractors I usually leave them attached to the tripod, and carry the whole thing. My very small refractors are a smidge easier to carry than my 7-inch Dob and my larger ones possibly a bit harder. But it's a single trip with all my scopes.

 

But then there's the chair, the table, and all the stuff on the table -- charts, eyepieces, binoculars, whatever. Depending how much stuff I'm deploying, moving that can be quite a bit more of a job than moving the telescope. Sometimes I just leave the table in one place and make trips to it when I need something.

 

The chair is essential for my 7-inch Dob, optional for most of my refractor rigs, and rarely used for my 12.5-incher.


  • Jon Isaacs, John O'Hara, Diana N and 3 others like this

#17 sevenofnine

sevenofnine

    Fly Me to the Moon

  • *****
  • Posts: 6,625
  • Joined: 16 Apr 2016
  • Loc: Santa Rosa, California

Posted 28 May 2024 - 03:23 PM

In a similar backyard situation, I use an 80mm ED refractor on a lightweight mount the most  borg.gif


  • Harry Jacobson and Chassetter like this

#18 daveb2022

daveb2022

    Viking 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 947
  • Joined: 13 Jun 2022
  • Loc: San Joaquin Valley

Posted 28 May 2024 - 04:03 PM

Hello,
I was wondering what the "ideal" small backyard telescope could be... surrounded by bushes and houses up to 45° altitude, with two distinct parts, and in semi-rural Bortle, with nearby streetlights...
Thank you
Paul

Sounds like my backyard. One good part of being surrounded is I don't have streetlights shinning directly at my scope. Wind is also a non issue most of the time.

 

My main objective is to be comfortable. If the scope is difficult to operate, is too heavy or a pain to set up, it detours me a bit.

 

I prefer something on a tripod that sits high enough to help shoot over the obstructions and roofs. A dob sitting on the ground limits your viewing from a highly confined space. But I don't mind using a dob for viewing close to zenith and actually prefer it often over a refractor on an alt/az mount/tripod. 

 

In my level of light pollution, I need aperture of around 8 inches and find it a minimal fit.  But I also have the option to use small scopes to view brighter objects and skip out of much I enjoy to observe. It's often about compromise and what you might need to give up. It's why I feel a small refractor on a mount side by side with a 6 inch or larger SCT gives me more options in regard to different objects.

 

Some type of pointing tech is fine (if you want it), and with limited access to open sky, I don't have trouble finding alignment stars. Having the options of some type of pointing data base is nice when so much of the sky is blocked. JMO. I prefer push-to over go-to for a few reasons, and have never felt hindered much w/o tracking capability... but tracking is nice. However, I doubt my neighbors enjoy the noise my LX 200 stuff makes while slewing.

 

Lastly, as compared to imaging, I found real-time night vision observing was my best solution to lousy LP skies. Even my 4" refractor with NV easily out performs my 10" SCT w/o NV on many deep space objects. But like everything else, NV has pros and cons.

 

I would suggest researching how LP impacts your specific site and how different apertures cope with it. Find out what you feel is acceptable. Even an 8" struggles on many targets from my location. It's nice to hit a star party and see how different scopes operate, but how well they work from your normal viewing spot might be a bit different.

 

Good luck on the quest.



#19 RAKing

RAKing

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,466
  • Joined: 28 Dec 2007
  • Loc: Northern VA - West of the D.C. Nebula

Posted 28 May 2024 - 05:21 PM

When I was stuck in a similar location, I used a C6 SE scope and mount, along with an 80mm refractor.  Both scopes were comfortable to use while sitting comfortably.  The C6 was my “big” scope, the 80 was for wide field and double stars.  The SE mount worked fine for both and gave me Goto so I could find things easier than star hopping.

 

Cheers,

 

Ron


  • gene 4181 likes this

#20 stevety

stevety

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 166
  • Joined: 13 Aug 2018
  • Loc: San Ramon ca

Posted 28 May 2024 - 11:10 PM

MY setup for backyard

 

STELLARVUE 80MM TRIPLET REFRACTOR TELESCOPE

ZWO AM5 MOUNT

ZWO ASIAIR PLUS

ZWO 2600MS COLOR CAMERA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • IMG_2663.jpg

Edited by stevety, 28 May 2024 - 11:11 PM.

  • jimandlaura26 likes this

#21 Sasa

Sasa

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,766
  • Joined: 03 Nov 2010
  • Loc: Ricany, Czech Republic

Posted 29 May 2024 - 12:13 AM

I also observe under similar conditions - backyard in small town just at the edge IG 1M+ metropolis. I have tried various telescopes: Dobson's (150, 200 and 250mm), 140mm Mak and refractors (60-130mm). I ended up with small refractors (60-110mm). They are light ready to go out in short notice even in winter planetary sessions, handle well side light (very important for DSO in light polluted place).

C63_Sun_003.jpg

Edited by Sasa, 29 May 2024 - 12:23 AM.

  • jimandlaura26, paulsky, RAKing and 4 others like this

#22 edwincjones

edwincjones

    Close Enough

  • *****
  • Posts: 14,776
  • Joined: 10 Apr 2004
  • Loc: NW AR

Posted 29 May 2024 - 03:57 AM

One person's ideal scope is another's trashcan.
.................

Alex.

that said, I would suggest

 

3-4" refractor

8" SCT

6-8" dob

 

edj


  • Dave Mitsky and 12BH7 like this

#23 Sebastian_Sajaroff

Sebastian_Sajaroff

    Vanguard

  • -----
  • Posts: 2,078
  • Joined: 27 Jan 2023
  • Loc: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Posted 29 May 2024 - 04:50 AM

Your main problem is the observing spot, not the telescope. Choose any telescope you may easily move to a site with a clear view.

Edited by Sebastian_Sajaroff, 29 May 2024 - 05:51 AM.

  • jcj380 and 12BH7 like this

#24 12BH7

12BH7

    Soyuz

  • -----
  • Posts: 3,824
  • Joined: 05 Jan 2022
  • Loc: North of Phoenix Arizona

Posted 29 May 2024 - 09:52 AM

I think the OP may have packed it up and switched hobbies after reading this thread. 


  • maroubra_boy, therealdmt, Cpk133 and 1 other like this

#25 lwbehney

lwbehney

    Surveyor 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 1,518
  • Joined: 06 Mar 2018

Posted 29 May 2024 - 10:49 AM

As you can't use large exit pupils under bright skies anyway, no need for a fast Newtonian, which favours a SCT or a refractor (slower f/ratio => cheaper eyepieces). Limited space favours the SCT with a dew shield over the long refractor (if you want a similar aperture).

 

Ideally, you have a pier with power supply permanently installed in the backyard, so you only have to put the mount on it – or you have a small observatory building:-)

Agree with Kerste. A  big reflector is wasted in an environment with light pollution. Set up a permanent Equatorial or Alt/Az mount on a tripod in your backyard and just put a telegizmos cover over it when you are finished observing at night. You will only need to align the mount one time, if you park it pointed at some terrestrial object when you complete your session.  I recommend an ED f/8 six inch refractor, or a 6" f/8 Newtonian depending upon your budget. 

Both are big enough to provide delightful views of a great number of targets and yet are also small enough in aperture to cut through atmospheric seeing and both are manageable by one person. On transparent nights, six inches of aperture opens up views of all of the Messier and brighter NGC galaxies and M13 will stand up to high magnification views with many resolved stars. The fov of an 8" SCT is too limiting and the contrast won't be as good compared to the refractor or a quality f/8 Newt. 




CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics