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Stargazing I'm looking to buy a telescope pretty soon

  1. Nov 16, 2004 #1
    I'm looking to buy a telescope pretty soon. I've wanted one for a long time but now I will be able to get one finally. The problem is that I have NO idea where to start with looking for what to buy though. Was hoping for some pointing in the right direction (hopefully this forum is the right place to post this). I'm going to check out Edmund's Scientific and possibly this one other camera place by me that carries some telescopes but I hate to rely on what a salesman tells me.

    Some things that might help:
    -- obviously... I'd like something with high magnification and good clarity. I dont' want to spend my money on something that I won't get to see anything with of course.
    -- relatively compact. doesn't have to be tiny or anything but not huge 15". 8' tall telescopes :surprised:
    -- and my price range is between $500-$1000
    -- I would like to maybe be able to use a digital camera with it and take pictures (major plus), and have the possibility of hooking it to a computer to do more advanced things (would be nice to at least have the option of doing that).

    I've googled with limited success. Mostly stores with concise reviews or astronomy forums that seem to be very lacking in users posting. I need to figure out what I'm going to get within a short period of time here, so thanks in advance if you can help me out. :smile: Even if you want to post a few pictures of images from telescopes would be helpful.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2004 #2
    You are bound to get a lot of advice and opinions, but all of it will be meaningless until you educate yourself about telescopes and their features.

    back when i was still reading Astronomy magazine, every year they would have a telescope buyer's guide, and through out the year they would have articles on picking and choosing telescopes (and even building your own). I would start with the library and peruse their collection of Astronomy. Also browse through their astronomy section. The are bound to have books that talk about telescopes. Libraries are a wealth of information that people often overlook nowadays.

    One of the things you will learn in your telescope research is that magnification is relatively unimportant. What is more important is the telesope diameter and quality of the optics. High quality optics are key to resolving objects, and telescope diameter is important when it comes to seeing faint objects.
  4. Nov 16, 2004 #3


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    Orion is a very good company to deal with, and their 'scopes seem to be of very good quality with respect to the price points they're hitting. I would suggest a nice mid-sized Dobsonian scope (lots of light-gathering power, very low-tech) to get you started. You will have such a lot of fun with an 8" or 10" Dob that you will never notice the lack of a computer-aided finder or a driven equatorial mount, etc. Just get a decent Dobsonian, a couple of good eyepieces (not TOO much power - it's rarely useful), and a decent set of charts. You may want to get a basic introductory book on astronomy, like Peterson's field guide to the Stars and Planets that has great introductory material on observational astronomy, but also has nice charts and sky maps that you will use for quick reference to for years to come.

    Basic advice: Buy all the aperture and optical quality that you can afford, without all the doodads. Do not impoverish yourself to the point that you cannot afford to buy a nice set of charts and some very basic introductory books on observational astronomy. They will help you immensely, and they will give you something really productive to do on nights when you are short of time, or when the weather is crappy.

    If you have any other questions, please ask.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2004
  5. Nov 17, 2004 #4
    Have u decided the type of telescope u are gonna buy? Try this guide
  6. Nov 17, 2004 #5
    thanks for the replies guys. I actually know a bit about aperature sizes and focal lengths and other general things (fairly easy to pick up the basics because I know cameras pretty well... which is a distance cousin of the telescope in some respects). My main question was more of what brands, what type of telescope, what aperature size. that kind of thing. I mainly don't know the specifics.

    Anyway from what I've gathered so far a Dobsonian may be the way to go for me. I've looked up other people's comments on this site and other sites and it seems that Celestron or Orion are pretty good companies. So far I think that I may go with a 10" Orion XT10 and maybe get one of the available computer modules. I'd at least like to have the option of getting one even though I'll probably end up just looking around manually a lot because I'm a bare bones kind of person and it'd be nice to get used to looking at starmaps and reading them. But it'd be nice to locate a specific thing quickly if I just want to check something out real quick.

    Orion XT10

    Does this seem like a pretty good choice for me? Relatively simple and not terribly expensive. Looks to be a good quality optics. How would this telescope be with options for extra eyepieces and things? I'd like to have some decent options there to. If anyone has something to add about it, feel free to. BTW, that link you posted, omicron, is very nice. Lots of good info to read about. Thanks for that one. I don't require the end all be all of telescopes, I just want one that will be fun to use and will allow me to see a good amount.
  7. Nov 17, 2004 #6


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    That 10" Dob is a really good choice. A compromise between lots of light-gathering capacity, and raw simplicity. The encoders and computer-aided aiming system are icing on the cake, although if money is tight, I would suggest getting a less-elaborate mount for less money, and spending the difference on either a zero-power finder (like a Telrad) or a large-aperture low-power finder, a decent set of charts and better oculars. There are some nice Tele-Vue eyepices that feature very wide fields and excellent eye relief (a great help if you wear glasses or expect to share views with people who have little experience with scopes). The eyepieces with the largest, flattest field, and great eye relief tend to be pretty expensive, as you might expect, but I wouldn't trade my best oculars for encoded setting circles and a computer on a bet.

    Bear in mind that with a Dob, you essentially have an alt-azimuth mounting system, and any photography will necessarily be of the snapshot variety, due to field rotation and lack of a clock drive. This is not as big a deal as you might think, because once you start tracking down faint objects with your Dob, you will be hooked. You can always invest in a nice little apochromat with an equatorial mount in a few years, if you want to take photos, but it will help you immensely to learn the sky first - the old fashioned way. With good charts, a decent low-power finderscope and a bit of practice, you can star-hop to faint objects in seconds (and make lots of serendipitous discoveries in the process, like colorful double stars or asterisms that cannot be properly represented in your charts.)

    Have fun, and keep an observing log - you will learn a lot from that.
  8. Nov 17, 2004 #7


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    You can save $160 in basic cost, plus the cost of the computer module and holster if you get the basic 10" Dob instead. This is almost $320 to spend on a really nice low-power wide-field ocular (you will thank me for this, since many interesting objects are too extended to view with the standard oculars most scopes ship with), or perhaps a decent pair of 7x50 binoculars (I never go observing without my Nikon 7x50s, and it's very rare that they don't get used!) A large aperture low-power finder would be good, too. Just find a short FL APO refractor with a prism and 1-1/4" and 2" capabilities and a pair of mounting rings. This small 'scope can be used for birding, astronomy on camping trips, or even as a fixed aperture telephoto for your camera. I have an old Vernonscope APO on my main scope (a 6" Astro-Physics APO) and it gets used for a lot of things. You will have to hunt to find a nice finder, but short APOs are getting really popular, and the price points seem to be coming down.

    Here is the basic 10" - no bells and whistles, just aperture and a solid mount (which actually looks sturdier than the newer model with the computer option).

  9. Nov 17, 2004 #8
    thanks turbo-1. I think this 'scope will be great for me. A beginner who wants at least a little bit of power. I ended up going with the higher model 10" Dob and got the keypad too. I'm being helped with the cost here so that's why I needed to expedite my purchase a little bit. So the extended model with the keypad didn't really effect me much. I didn't get any extra eyepieces or filters or anything yet. I'm going to mess around with the standard piece and then go from there with what I'll need. From what I've read, a nice set of color filters and a lunar filter and things like that are really nice to have.

    I'm really excited :biggrin:. I read lots of cosmology/astrophysics oriented books but have never had access to anything to view things in on my own. Pics in books or on the web are nice and all but nothing beats seeing with your own eyes I'm sure.

    Thanks for all the help!
  10. Nov 17, 2004 #9


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    Pics in the books are great - just don't be disappointed when you find out your eyes don't build up nice exposures like the cameras that took those pictures! You'll have a blast with your new scope.

    Don't bother to buy sets of color filters, etc - if you are like me you will rarely reach for one. Instead, if your observing location has particular problems like scattered light from streetlights, etc, use your money to buy a filter specifically designed to filter the offending wavelengths. These can greatly improve the performance of a large aperture scope - the more aperture you have, the more light-pollution you pick up (in addition to the light you WANT to get!). Filters that block the offensive wavelengths (typically from mercury-vapor lighting and sodium lamps) can greatly improve contrast, which is the key to successfully locating and observing faint extended objects.

    One money-saving tip: If you buy oculars, do not get them in focal lengths that are exact doubles. Instead, get them staggered (to avoid f/l dupication) and later complement them with a really nice 2X Barlow. For instance, get a 20 mm and a 30 mm (yielding equivalent f/l's of 10mm and 15 mm with the 2X Barlow). If you buy your oculars in f/l's of 5, 10, 20, 40 mm, your 2x Barlow would give you too many redundant effective f/l's and it might then be more appropriate to consider a 1.5 or 3X Barlow. Typically 2X Barlows can be found in a wider variety of qualities (coating, correction, etc) and at a better price point, so plan carefully.

    Have fun!
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