by Sheneron
 P: 360 Hey everyone, I am thinking about buying my first scope and I am not really sure what I should be looking for and what a good deal is. I am trying to get a decent scope for not much money; I would not like to spend over 350. However if you could get significantly better images with a little more money then that, then it would be a possibility. I would like to be able to see planets and details about them well. I would like to be able to make out the rings of saturn and the moons around it, and maybe see some galaxies and clusters. Nothing stellar but something where I can still get some good views. But like I said I would like to get one where I can get these views for a cheap price. So what size scope could I accomplish these things with? Where would be a good place to look for scopes? Any general information would be helpful. Thanks
 Mentor P: 21,999 Nothing stellar? Sorry, couldn't let that one go. I really need to write an article on this and opinions are widely varied (and it's too late for me to write more...), but in that price range, a scope like this would be great: http://www.telescope.com/control/pro...oduct_id=09007
 P: 360 I was hoping people would catch that. Thanks for the advice/link.
PF Gold
P: 7,367

If you would like a much larger aperture for around $350, here is an 8" Dobsonian with accessories. Since light-gathering ability increases as a function of area, an 8" will gather well over twice as much light as a 5" scope. Some of the most thrilling things to view (IMO) are distant galaxies, and they are inherently dim. M31 is the nearest large spiral, and it is visible to the naked eye, but a large scope will show you details in the dust lanes, and its faint outer regions and let you view its companion galaxies. http://www.telescope.com/control/pro...oduct_id=09707  P: 360 What about this... http://www.telescope.com/control/pro...oduct_id=09964 Should I just be thinking about finding the largest aperture for the least amount of money?  P: 360 Also around what size does the aperture need to be to make out the dust lanes of m31?  PF Gold P: 7,367 Seeing detail in faint objects (dust lanes for instance) requires not only aperture, but optics with good contrast and clear dark skies, so there's no hard and fast answer for your last question. Other fun objects that look very nice in larger scopes are emission nebulae such as the Swan, Lagoon, and Orion nebulae. Again, aperture is key if you want to see the faint detail in these objects. You won't see colors in these objects, so don't be disappointed when the visual views don't look like the pictures in the ads. If you can afford the 8" Dobsonian and if you have room to store and transport it, it would be a good buy. It's Orion's best-seller in that type. If you lose interest, it will be a much easier scope to sell than a small "starter" scope on a flimsy mount.  P: 360 Yeah 350 is up there for me, so I can't really decide what to do. I would like to see the things you speak of, but then again I would like to own a 100 inch telescope. It says on the site that the 8inch will pull in 73% more light then the 6inch, so I guess it would be worth it to pay a little more and get alot more. Thanks for the link.  P: 61 don't expect to see many galaxies or clusters if you live by apopulated area. I live 40 miles west of dc and I cant see galaxies and have only seen m13 for star clusters with a 10" dobsonian. Maybe I will see Galaxies in the winter when there is less atmospheric turbulence from heat.  P: 112 Don't forget to factor in some $$for decent instrumentation as well, even with a decent sized scope and moderately dark skies, the human eye is a poor detector. . . Good luck!  P: 360 What do you need to hook up a camera, expose an image, and take pictures. Russ_Watters What is the telescope you have, and size, and how much does it cost? P: 360  Quote by AstroRoyale Don't forget to factor in some$$ for decent instrumentation as well, even with a decent sized scope and moderately dark skies, the human eye is a poor detector. . . Good luck! Yes, what kind of equipment would be necessary? I would really like to be able to take pictures and be able to expose images so I can capture alot of light. Around how much is the equipment to do this (just the basic)? Thanks for all the input so far everyone. PF Gold P: 7,367  Quote by Sheneron What do you need to hook up a camera, expose an image, and take pictures. Russ_Watters What is the telescope you have, and size, and how much does it cost? Don't even think of going there, Sheneron! At least not until you have a LOT more money to spend. You would need a very solid, stable motorized German equatorial mount to support the 'scope, and you would need a guidescope and a drive corrector to guide the exposures manually or an automated guider mounted on your guidescope to do the guiding (more$).

BTW, Russ is using an 11" Schmidt-Cassegrain from Orion (basically a Celestron OTA on an Orion Atlas mount). The scope with the go-to version of this mount and a few eyepieces, shipping, etc will easily cost 10x what you're budgeting for your first scope.
P: 360
 Quote by turbo-1 Don't even think of going there, Sheneron! At least not until you have a LOT more money to spend.
Haha, I guess I got a little ahead of myself. Looks like I will just be getting a viewing scope. I was just wondering about russ_watters' scope because I looked at his pictures and they were really nice.
Mentor
P: 21,999
 Quote by Sheneron What do you need to hook up a camera, expose an image, and take pictures.
Well, you need a good motorized scope. The equatorial mounted scope I suggested can take a motor, but it probably can't do much more than hold an object in the eyepiece for short exposures (like shooting a planet).

You can get good pictures of planets with any motorized scope with a decent aperature and a webcam.
 Russ_Watters What is the telescope you have, and size, and how much does it cost?
This is my telescope:
http://www.telescope.com/control/pro...oduct_id=24331

When I bought it, it was $250 cheaper. They didn't realize just how good it was when it first came out - they were almost always on back order. Long exposure pictures of deep-sky objects require at least$1,000 for a very limited capability, very difficult to use, entry-level imaging setup. But even with mine, there are some serious limitations I have to constantly deal with, mostly because I'm pushing my equipment beyond what the manufacturer would promise I can do with it. Astrophotography is a very complicated hobby that requires quite a bit of work to get good results. And I still have a lot to learn.
 Sci Advisor PF Gold P: 9,182 Star party suggested. Look through a variety of scopes and literally see what fits your fancy. Aperature is not upgradeable. I like cats [catadioptic]. Short tubes set up easily and are user friendly. Wrestling large tubes is exponentially painful.
 Sci Advisor P: 2,194 One thing I will advise you on while telling a little anecdote of my own. I have an 8" dob and things were all (well relatively speaking) good because I have a park right next to my house. However, I live about 15 miles out of Chicago so light pollution is terrible. Well, the powers that be put a giant parking lot up next to my house and so now I have no close observation site. Dobs, being like 50lbs and having long tubes, aren't very easy to transport, so I don't know where to go now. The moral is, try to have some sort of observation site in mind because it can factor in to what kind of scope you buy. As a general rule, the larger (and more difficult to move) your scope is, the less you will use it.
 P: 360 Thanks for the advice. I do have a good place to observe; however, I would like to be able to move it around some, so I will have to keep that in mind.

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