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My First Telescope Will Be... ?

Discussion in 'Beginner's Corner' started by Astro_Padawan, Sep 18, 2015.

My First Telescope Will Be... ?

Started by Astro_Padawan on Sep 18, 2015 at 12:41 PM

29 Replies 4057 Views 0 Likes

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?

What do I get?

  1. 8" Dobsinian

    10 vote(s)
    71.4%
  2. Refractor

    2 vote(s)
    14.3%
  3. Other (let me know!)

    2 vote(s)
    14.3%
  1. Astro_Padawan

    Astro_Padawan Member

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    I'm trying to keep my first purchase fairly low as I'm new to this. I don't want to mess up a better telescope while I'm learning about using it, so I'm going the cheap route first. Unless anyone wants to advise against me going cheaper?

    When I say cheaper I mean $200-$500 range. I see a lot of telescopes that are in excess of $1000 and while I'd love to jump right in, I feel it's a little smarter for me to spend a little and learn a little before I go broke from a new addicting hobby :p

    I live in an urban environment. Light pollution is a thing around me. I live in Los Angeles County and there are few places to escape to without the light pollution. I'd love to be able to observe from my yard which has no street lights or trees obstructing my view, but there's no denying the glow of a city in the distance. Not sure if that's a real issue for observing. I'm absolutely fine with taking the telescope with me and heading to the Angeles Crest Highway or observatories.

    I'd really like to get into deep space observations, but I'll settle on the moon and planets if my price range will not work well for dso.

    I've read recommendations on other sites and an 8" dobsinian seems to be the route to go. If I find something larger within my budget, should I get that? A few suggested a refractor with an altazimuth mount. I feel like I should go with the dobsinians, though.

    If you have a specific telescope recommendation, then please let me know.

    I'm not trying to get ahead of myself but I'd also like to get into astrophotography. I imagine I'll mostly just be taking pictures of the star filled skies. Maybe eventually a planet or 2? Am I way ahead of myself on that? I don't expect to get remotely close to hubble space telescope quality, so don't worry I have not got my head that far into the atmosphere.

    I will also want to know if there are any musts for transporting and caring for my future telescope?

    Side note: I own a pair of binoculars and I think they're 10x42 or larger... it has been a while since I used them. I inherited a few binoculars from an old friend who was into bird watching and managed to just keep what I deemed the best of the bunch.
     
  2. Frank

    Frank Member

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    Hi A-P,

    Welcome to AC :D.

    I'm pretty much a beginner also. I see you already have what would have been my recommendation. Binoculars are great for learning the night sky and are very portable! Some astronomical targets are at their best through binoculars as well.

    I have some smaller refractors and a four inch Maksutov and a six inch reflector. If someone were to take all but one away, I would keep the six inch reflector. I don't know how it would work with your level of light pollution, but the eight inch dob would be my suggestion. Of course, it won't work well for photography, but if you read the suggested link: LINK, you saw this:

    "What about Astrophotography?
    Don't.
    Just don't."

    I have to agree. Unless you are really competent, I think it's too big a bite to chew right off.
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2015
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  3. Crow Haven

    Crow Haven Well-Known Member

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    +1 I agree with Frank.
     
  4. Dan Acker

    Dan Acker Member

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    Go with the 8" Dob. Reflectors give the most bang for the buck and an 8" Dob is a great starter scope. If it comes with a "Red Dot" finder, replace it with a regular finder scope or a right-angle finder scope. You'll have to learn how to star-hop to find deep sky objects and a finder scope is the best way to do it.
     
  5. Orlando_Jeff

    Orlando_Jeff New Member

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    Hello and welcome. A 8" dob would be a great starter scope. If you can afford it, I would suggest getting a goto scope. They do cost more but in my opinion they make observing sessions much more enjoyable. It's nice to learn the night sky but with a goto scope you can see so much more. I have a Meade 5" reflector goto and just moved up to a 10" Orion XT10g goto dob.The views are amazing and I live in light polluted Orlando,Fl.
     
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  6. Auriga

    Auriga Active Member

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    For transportation considerations... 8" dob is around 50 lbs. fully assembled, and no great chore to pick up in one piece and carry outside. The tube weighs ~33 lbs., slides easily off the base, and fits both along the back seat and in the trunk of my Corolla. Any larger dob without trusses I think would not fit in my Corolla, which is was one factor in why I started with the 8". I think some larger common cars can take 10" or 12" solid tubes without a problem, but those of course weigh a bit more.

    Your light pollution is likely to make galaxy and nebula viewing a challenge, but some of the brightest objects should be visible from your yard. That Tony Flanders Messier Guide has observation details based on viewing with a 7" reflector from Boston, so it should give you a good idea of what to expect with an 8" in L.A.

    Open clusters and asterisms may be your most rewarding deep sky targets from the back yard. They are my favorite. A night sky guru local to you named Don Pensack considers the 8" F/6 relfector to be the ideal scope for open cluster viewing.

    I know virtually nothing about astro-photography except that it is complicated and expensive, and therefore not likely the best way to start taking in the night sky. But you can capture some pretty nice snap shots of the Moon through an 8" dob.
     
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  7. Derek Wong

    Derek Wong Member

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    Hi Neighbor!

    You have exactly the right idea. The 8” Dob is the way to go. It will give you excellent views of the planets and deep sky. I would not buy a refractor with alt az mount until you have more experience because the ones in the $500 price range will not be comparable to the Dob. With your budget, I suggest a bigger manual scope rather than a smaller GOTO one. It will force you to get to know the constellations and where the brighter objects are.

    Since this site is generously sponsored by Agena, I recommend looking at their offerings. They have two Skywatcher Dobs (one is out of stock). Either will be fine for your use, and they include eyepieces. In addition to the included eyepieces, you should get a 2x barlow (or a 4-5mm eyepiece) for higher power.

    I suggest that you learn to collimate the scope, possibly with the help of some people in an astronomy club or at a star party. You will need something like this:
    http://agenaastro.com/agena-1-25-collimating-eyepiece-newtonian-reflectors.html

    There is a star party tonight here where you can look through different scopes:

    http://oakcanyonastro.com/

    People go to Mt. Pinos for deep sky viewing during the summer but it gets quite cold after September.

    You can also go to Nightfall for relatively dark skies and warmer weather.
    http://nightfallstarparty.com/

    I live within a few miles of you. Although the skies are bright, the seeing is often good for planetary viewing. You can start on the Moon, catch Saturn (it will be low) and then get Jupiter. Deep sky is fairly unsatisfying other than bright objects like the Pleiades or the ring nebula, but it is good to find a few objects so that when you do get to dark skies it will be better. You can look at double stars like Epsilon Lyrae, of course.

    90% of people say they want to do astrophotography. Don’t buy this scope with photography in mind – you will regret it. You are better off doing visual first, then asking about astrophoto equipment.

    Derek
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2015
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  8. Astro_Padawan

    Astro_Padawan Member

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    I got a little scared by the word collimate. I had seen it when I was reading over one of the provided links but didn't think much of it. It doesn't seem too complicated with what. It helps that I found a few videos on how to do it as well.

    I feel I've gathered enough feedback and research to know I'll be getting an 8" dob. Now I'm just shopping around for fair prices and good reviews. I'll update with what I get.

    Thanks to everyone for this. I know it may have been a simple answer since it seems to be asked all the time, but I just had to ask. I feel more confident about my future scope. TOO EXCITED!

    I've always had a passion for being creative, so astrophotography just caught my attention immediately. I'll not jump into that until I've learned more and got better gear. I was just being stubborn in spite of the resources provided and articles I've read. I just had to be sure there were no immediate options to jump into astrophotography.
     
  9. LewC

    LewC Well-Known Member

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    There was a time when a four- or six-inch scope was considered the perfect 1st scope, but now I think it's an 8-inch. I have owned an 8-inch reflector since 1959 and have never owned or felt I needed a bigger one. You could spend a lifetime observing with an 8-inch and never exhaust the celestial objects available to it. And don't worry about collimation; it's an easy adjustment that will become 2nd nature in no time.
     
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  10. NerdThing

    NerdThing Member

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    I'm going to buck the trend and say...

    10" dob. You're only going to want to upgrade after your first night of use! :)
     
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  11. larrygeary

    larrygeary Member

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    Go for the Dobsonian, 8" or 10".

    I wouldn't get goto, because I feel it's more important to get familiar with the sky, but I can see its advantage in light-polluted areas. Still, goto raises the price and complicates things.

    You'll probably have a Telrad or a red dot sight on it, and if you get yourself a low power eyepiece, you can star hop well enough. A regular finder might be helpful (or might not), but if it isn't part of the scope's plan it may cause balance problems.

    Astrophotography is totally different from visual astronomy. If taking the Dob outside, slipping an eyepiece into the focuser and viewing the sky is a joy, astrophotography will be a chore. Skip it for now.
     
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  12. LewC

    LewC Well-Known Member

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    I can tell that larrygeary speaks with the wisdom of age and experience. I'm in total agreement with him.
     
  13. Dr. Ski

    Dr. Ski Well-Known Member

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    I will make a bold statement: your first telescope should be an Orion Short-Tube 80 (for less than $200). You will get wide field views similar to binoculars, but will have the option to increase the magnification up to 80x or so to enjoy the rings of Saturn, the moons and belts of Jupiter, and minute lunar features! You will be able to split the more interesting double stars and enjoy observing the larger DSO's. Put it on an inexpensive ball-mount photo tripod, set the stem of the ball into the slot, and you will have a perfect alt/az mount! No slo-mo controls needed at high power! The weight of this set-up will be less than 8lbs!!! Take it anywhere with you and enjoy a lifetime of observing celestial wonders. Unless you are compelled to get into AP! Then you will forego the aesthetics of pure observation for the technicalities of Astro-photography, which will also entail a lot of time and money! Trust me! Been there, done that!
     
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  14. Bomber Bob

    Bomber Bob Well-Known Member

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    I've been in the hobby for 46 years. Back in the 60s, a 60mm alt/az was the most common first scope, mainly due to limited options & costs. Today, I recommend 8" Newtonians on Dobson mounts as a great first scope. Portable, easy to use, and lots of aperture for a beginner. However, you're interested in astrophotography, too; and that adds some other factors to consider.

    You can make short lunar & planetary videos with a manual mount, stack those, and get good images. Here's a Jupiter series made with my non-motorized 1956 Edmund 4" f/15 refractor & cheap imager:
    ESC4-Jupiter-20150605-Combo-4.jpg
     
  15. Bomber Bob

    Bomber Bob Well-Known Member

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    Whatever scope type you select, you can save a lot of money buying used. Check out the Classifieds on the Cloudy Nights web site. I got my complete, 100% original Edmund refractor, mount, & tripod there for $600.

    Here's a complete Meade ETX 105EC outfit (tripod & storage bags) for just $350 --> http://www.cloudynights.com/classifieds/item/65916-meade-etx-105ec/

    Or, a very nice vintage Edmund 6" f/6 Newtonian with fork mount, tripod, & drive for just $400 --> http://www.cloudynights.com/classifieds/item/64926-edmund-6-f6-portable-reflector-telescope/

    Or, a superb Classic Mayflower 815 80x1200 refractor with mount, tripod, and wood case for just $300 shipped --> http://www.cloudynights.com/classifieds/item/65890-mayflower-816-80mm/

    It's worth your time to do some shopping there!
     
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  16. BillP

    BillP Well-Known Member

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    A first scope is a difficult recommendation because most folks want a scope to do everything and also be very inexpensive. So it is just not possible. And given your price limitation not much out there with an adequate mount that can do a good job for a wide range of observing. However, IMO this is one of the more capable ones out there at a good price:

    http://www.optcorp.com/vixen-r130sf-5inch-reflector-telescope-ota.html

    Pros:
    -Good size aperture
    -Light setup easy to move around
    -Easy to use Alt-Az mount
    -Performs well from wide field to high magnifications (200x and more)
    -Very good on lunar and planetary with a good power eyepiece
    -No chromatic aberration like an achromat refractor
    -Mount is a keeper if you decide to move up later -- keep mount, sell OTA

    Cons:
    -At lowest powers Newt mirrors show coma off-axis so not sharp at edges (but true for all Newts under F/6 focal ratio)
    -Only has 1.25" focuser so can't use 2" EPs for lowest power views (but most in this price class only have 1.25")
     
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  17. Dr. Ski

    Dr. Ski Well-Known Member

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    What? No Jupiter photos?
    That price is for the OTA only! Besides, you do not want to put a 9lb scope on that 'marginal" Mini-porta mount! And that will cost an additional $200! My goodness! And I hate transporting reflectors! And waiting for them to achieve thermal equilibrium. Astro-pad will want to upgrade eventually anyway. Why not get the least expensive, most portable, durable, utilitarian scope to decide where your interests lie?
     
  18. BillP

    BillP Well-Known Member

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    Ahh. Missed that it was OTA only. FWIW I had one and it cooled in no time. So while I agree that mirrors are typically problematic, at 6" and smaller cooldown is not an issue.
     
  19. Dr. Ski

    Dr. Ski Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but after a few San Miguel beers, I tend to abuse reflectors a little. Then I have to go thru the trouble of re-collimating the mirrors. They do not travel well. Unless you are sober and treat them very gently.
     
  20. Frank Dutton

    Frank Dutton Active Member

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    Good advice, as a starter the 8'' dob punches above its weight and will cover many bases with the exception of AP. That really is the Dark Side and once you start down the slippery slope there is no coming back...but it is fun, if frustrating.

    The collapsible tube versions are good and easy to shift around.
     

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