Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Stargazing Buying a telescope any suggestions?

  1. Aug 2, 2006 #1
    Hey, I'm new. I want to buy a telescope but don't know what to get... This is the one I'm looking at: http://tinyurl.com/k7pxp"

    I dont want to go tooo much over that price. Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 22, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 2, 2006 #2


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Wow, lotta people jumping in with both feet!

    That is a good scope, but I would recommend getting one with an equatorial mount (the s-gt). It will provide a more stable platform and better tracking.
  4. Aug 2, 2006 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Russ is right. If you want to do astrophotography, that mount is a recipe for field-rotation, and it is unlikely to accept any massive accessories gracefully. Also a half a fork-mount looks like flexure waiting to happen. For $1449 Orion will sell you an 8" OTA on a sturdy-looking equatorial mount with computer controls and the intelliscope upgrade. If you will go without the intelliscope upgrade, the scope goes for $1249. Use the difference to buy a good set of charts and a nice eyepiece.
  5. Aug 2, 2006 #4
    Most of that went right over my head... but what I got from that is that the telescope I picked out isn't good for adding any extra attachments... or it is... but the mount (tripod?) that it comes with isn't? I wasn't really planning on taking pictures with it if that helps. If you have a better telescope suggestions could you just send a link to the actual telescope...? Or tell me who I should buy from? I am a total noob if you haven't noticed. :rofl:
  6. Aug 2, 2006 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    If you aren't planning on taking pictures, it is probably stable enough. An equatorial mount is one that is aligned with the earth's axis of rotation, so tracking objects only requires movement in one axis. Here is the S-GT: http://celestron.telescopes.com/products/celestron-c8-s-gt-schmidt-cassegrain-wxlt-coatings-21443.html [Broken]

    Field rotation is when your field of view literally rotates - through the eyepiece, objects will rotate as you follow them through the sky. Not a big deal if you are not taking pictures, but it is a huge deal if you are.

    A "half fork" mount is exactly what it sounds like. Compare the different celestron telescopes on that site - they come in 3 flavors: fork mount, half fork mount, and equatorial.

    When we say "mount", we aren't talking about the tripod, we are talking about the mechanical/electrical apparatus that sits on top of the tripod and points the telescope.

    Being completely new to backyard astronomy, you have an awfully steep learning curve ahead of you - are you sure you know what you are getting yourself into? $1500 ($2000 after you accessorize) isn't chump change for most people.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Aug 2, 2006 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I strongly advise that you do not buy an equatorial mount for your first telescope. (The telescope you linked has an altazimuth mount.) You neither want nor need an equatorial mount for a first 'scope. Equatorials are larger, heavier, and require more precise alignment. If you're not taking long-exposure photographs, there is absolutely no advantage to having an equatorial mount, and many disadvantages.

    It is true that this mount (The NexStar 8i) will not be very stable, but, unless you have grand aspirations, will serve you just fine for visual use.

    The computer control is very nice to have as a beginner. Even as you begin to learn the sky and begin to find things on your own, the computer can act as the world's most patient tutor.

    IMO, the most important feature for a telescope is its overall convenience. The best telescope for you is the one you will use the most. If this telescope's size and weight are too much for you, or if the setup is too time consuming, you may decide to just stay home.

    Many beginners like 6" to 8" Newtonian reflector telescopes on Dobsonian mounts, because they are relatively cheap, take seconds to assemble, and are very intuitive to use. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobsonian

    Other people, who are into planetary observation and want a quick "grab and go" kind of telescope, prefer small, high-quality refractors like this one: http://www.televue.com/engine/page.asp?ID=261

    We cannot really help you with your telescope purchase unless you answer these questions:

    1) How much weight are you willing to lug around?
    2) How much time are you willing to invest each time you set the 'scope up?
    3) How much time and effort are you willing to invest in finding each object you want to look at?
    4) Do you ever intend to take pictures?
    5) Do you wish to learn the sky intimately? Or would you prefer to just enjoy some of the bright, pretty objects?
    6) Do you have a vehicle which can comfortably carry a telescope that's bigger than a human being?

    The telescope you linked, the NexStar 8i, weighs about 60 lbs, takes about 10-15 minutes to set up each time, plus about an hour to cool down to ambient temperature. It's not good for taking pictures. It also has a very narrow field-of-view, typical of Schmidt-Cassegrain designs, and thus does not lend itself well to large, faint nebulosity like the Veil Nebula.

    - Warren
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2006
  8. Aug 2, 2006 #7

    Learning curves and 1500-2000 dollar ranges aren't issues with me, I am very earnest about this.

    I don't want to lug around any large heavy man-sized ones as I do live in a moderately light polluted area, but it isn't too far a drive to the country... and with that said I don't want to spend hours upon hours setting it up.

    Now when it comes to finding stuff... my original intention was just to look at pretty bright objects yes, but after skewering wikipedia on the subject of astronomy (and the fact that I'm taking it as an elective in highschool this fall) yes, I think I would like to get to know the night sky "intimately" and put effort into finding objects.

    And as for taking pictures... I'm quite sure yet... but let's just assume yes for right now.

    Thanks agian for being so nice and helpful about this! :biggrin:
  9. Aug 3, 2006 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Opatik, if I may make a suggestion:

    Find the astronomy club nearest to your location, and arrange to sit in on a few meetings and attend at least one of their star parties before making any big purchase. And show up EARLY for the star party. That way, you'll be able to see the transportation, storage, and set-up issues accompanying each type of scope, and you'll be able to look through a variety of instruments. You may find out that you are absolutely smitten with wide-angle views of big, faint objects (and you will want a big Dobsonian - maybe a truss-tube Dob if your vehicle is small), or maybe you will be drawn to crisp high-power planetary views or splitting close double stars (maybe a refractor or a cat), etc, etc. Some practical experience can be a great help to you. Also, if the folks in the club know that you're in the market for a telescope, they might steer you toward a good used scope. You can usually buy a used consumer-grade scope for about 50% of the new price, AND you get to try it out first.

    Good luck!
  10. Aug 3, 2006 #9


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I strongly agree with turbo-1, learn first, then spend money.

    But I would take it one step further. Don't plan on a scope yet. Get a good pair of binoculars and some good star charts and learn the sky.

    If you buy the scope up-front, there is a high likelihood that you will get frustrated and disappointed.

    Don't take my word on it, most people you ask will tell you the same thing. Learn the sky, know your way around the hobby, then spend money.
  11. Aug 3, 2006 #10
    I don't mean to be discouraging or rude, but you're in high school, and you're not concerned about tossing around $2000 dollars for potentially the wrong scope? There's earnest and then there's reckless. I wish I didn't have to worry about that kind of money.

    I'm going to advise against such an expensive scope for a first one, especially when you don't seem to know a lot about what you're getting into. Get to know more about amateur astronomy, definitely go to local star club meetings, see what kinds of scopes people have, what they use them for, and what their limitations are. Then make a decision.
  12. Aug 3, 2006 #11
    Go with a dob for a first telescope (y)
  13. Aug 8, 2006 #12
    Forget photography for now, very difficult and expensive. The Celestron Nexstar 8i is a great first scope for visual astronomy if you can afford it. 8 inches is the best combo of portability and viewing in my opinion and this scope, mount, tripod only weighs about 40 pounds total. I owned this scope in the past and it remains my favorite, I may buy another one. I now own a larger scope, better mount that can handle astrophotography, but nothing beats the 8i for portability, price/quality, 10 minute set up. The GOTO function works well and really helps a beginner learn the night sky. Learn the sky and basic astronomy with this scope and then decide if you want to move on to bigger and better.
  14. Aug 8, 2006 #13


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Photography isn't as difficult or expensive as it used to be...
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook