Planning to buy a first telescope? - Comments

  • #1
turbo
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  • #2
EternusVia
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Wow! Thanks for the great post. I only recently started thinking about astronomy. Binoculars are great, but I have trouble keeping my arms steady enough to get a good look at anything. Any good ways to keep binoculars steady?
 
  • #3
DaveC426913
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Tripod? Or even monopod.

Really cheap ones can go for < $30, but you get what you pay for.

I'll bet if you ask around your fam & friends, someone will have an old tripod they don't use anymore.
 
  • #4
DHF
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most tripods have a hook on the bottom, you can by small sandbags from any video or photography shop like BHvideo.com
just mount the sandbag on the hook and it will increase the tripod's stability and keep your binoculars extra steady. Just make sure the Binoculars you have come with a screw mount so you can attach them to a tripod.
 
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  • #5
DHF
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EDIT to my last post: Porters.com is aparently out of business, As you can see, I shop at B&H a lot more :)
 
  • #6
CalcNerd
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I have a moderately priced Newtonian that I bought at a steep discount (maybe because it didn't have the auto tracking motors and other high end toys, but still costs some bucks) that I bought to replace a much lower end Newtonian that I had earlier. And it magnification and quality are really good. And I sometimes take it out and set it up. I'm glad I have it. But 90% of the time, I use binoculars. Aside from viewing the Jupiter and Saturn, I get no other real value out of it. If I use my Barlow adapter and lens to get the supposed 250 X magnification, I am constantly adjusting as the object is running out of my field of view. That is the one nice thing about buying a unit with a tracking motor. But that would require even more effort to set up. I am a 5-15 minute observer. I don't attend all night (or even a couple hours) events. Hence the Good pair of binoculars.

I might even get enough enjoyment out of a spotting scope of 50-60X (I don't have one, but I rarely use my telescope above these ranges either, due to keeping the object in my field of view). Very simple, point and look. Primitive, down and dirty. But then I don't hang out with the amateur astronomer crowd. You really might enjoy that.

About binoculars. Money doesn't always buy the best set of glasses. I have several pair, my most expensive are actually my poorest for night viewing. It is a high end name brand 7-21X50 variable magnification set (I think Bausch, but I don't use them enough to even remember). I couldn't pass them up at 50% off. They're ok, but color is dulled out (made for the deer hunter or possibly winter viewing during the day on snow, which might explain the less that stellar performance??). My best set is a modest 10X50 (some cheap set that I pick up and marveled at how clear the image was) and my most used is a 7X40 due to its much lighter weight and good optics. The 7X40 was my first set and wasn't expensive but a good brand name that I still use. The reason I have a few sets of glasses is so I can share with my guests if anyone wants to join me (once in a while the wife, but she would rather see something in the big telescope, looks and is almost always disappointed aside from Jupiter and Saturn).

So my advice isn't as an enthusiast but a casual user.
 
  • #7
Drakkith
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Next, learn a bit about optics, if you can. Many inexpensive Newtonian telescopes hit a price/aperture price point by compromising on mirror quality. This means that you will be paying for spherically-figured primary mirrors and not the more difficult-to-figure parabolic mirrors. Google on "spherical abberation" to see why you might want to consider paying a bit more for better optics.

One thing to note here. A spherical mirror is just fine for either small apertures or long focal ratios. For an 8-inch aperture, the f-ratio needs to be about f/12 in order to be diffraction limited with a spherical mirror. Anything faster than f/12 with an 8-inch aperture will not be diffraction limited. For smaller apertures you can move to a faster f-ratio and still be diffraction limited with a spherical mirror since the airy disk increases in size with decreasing aperture.
 
  • #8
wabbit
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Agreed, but 8" f/12 is a bit of a beast (and a specialty item, not found so easily I think), and decent parabolic mirrors are really affordable esp. Chinese ones. Good or even great starter scopes like small (say 6"f/8) dobsonians are available for $300 or so.
 
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  • #9
Drakkith
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Agreed, but 8" f/12 is a bit of a beast (and a specialty item, not found so easily I think), and decent parabolic mirrors are really affordable esp. Chinese ones. Good or even great starter scopes like small (say 6"f/8) dobsonians are available for $300 or so.

Certainly. Newts are cheap to buy at almost any aperture.
 
  • #10
davenn
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Certainly. Newts are cheap to buy at almost any aperture.

and specially if they are Dobo mounts :smile:
 
  • #11
Yashbhatt
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We often have questions about what telescope an aspiring amateur astronomer should buy. The "correct" answer can be elusive and is highly dependent on a lot of variables, including the expectations of the questioner, budget, storage capacity, available transport, etc. Rather than type all this advice over and over, I'd like to offer this post in the hopes that it can be made "sticky" so others can add to it, and it can remain near the top of the astronomy forum.

Hello, nice thread for beginners.
Can you tell me how are these for beginners:
http://www.telescope.com/Orion-SpaceProbe-130-EQ-Reflector-Telescope/p/9851.uts?keyword=spaceprobe 130

http://www.telescope.com/Celestron-SkyMaster-20x80-Binoculars/p/9117.uts?keyword=20x80

http://www.telescope.com/catalog/se...&keyword=astroview+90&refinementValueIds=4508
 
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  • #12
turbo
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I have not had the opportunity to observe through any of those instruments, nor try out the mounts. Orion is quite a popular company, so if you join a local club, you may get to try some of these instruments and compare them to others. That is the best way to make your choice before you spend a dime. Good luck to you.
 
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  • #14
jim hardy
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My first telescope was a cheap department store 10X to 30X 1 inch zoom handheld with a tripod mount.
With it on my camera tripod i stumbled across Saturn. It only looked like a black-eyed pea , but even that was thrilling.

So i took next step and ordered a Celestron "Comet Catcher."
It is a small Schmitt-Newtonian , not very expensive .
Using just a camera tripod i had a lot of fun with it.
It did a great job on last visit of Halley's Comet before the tail fizzled out .
http://www.telescopebluebook.com/other/celestron.htm [Broken]
http://www.telescopebluebook.com/other/cometcatch.jpg [Broken]
I never progressed beyond that little beginner's scope. Still use it.
The Schmitt lens at end is nice because it keeps dust off the main mirror.
It'd make a great finder for a serious telescope.

Dad's 70th birthday was coming up. Retirement getting tedious, he was tiring of making birdhouses for the neighbors..
He'd wanted a telescope since he was a kid so i ordered him an 8 inch Meade mirror and mounts.
We built a redwood tube for it. It became the darling of local astronomy club.

Advice given above regarding a hookup with local enthusiasts is most excellent. Do-It-Yourselfer's are always eager to help out.
The guys at Southern Cross club showed us how to improve our mirror mounting scheme
and how to make an equatorial mount from plumbing fittings.

I found Petersen's Field Guide to the Stars and Planets a pretty good starter-out book.

old jim
 
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  • #15
ayush solanki
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My first telescope and the only one I have and ever bought till date is the celestron firstscope.its a 76 mm dubsonian type reflecting telescope.it is pretty amazing actually.the moon looks awesome through it and you can see Jupiter too.I absolutely love it.I am looking forward to buy an advanced telescope than it but I think that firstscope is a perfect beginners telescope.
 
  • #16
Chronos
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The best scope for you is tne one you enjoy using. Sounds like a success on that point. Beyond that you must decide what will please you in the future. Don't worry about getting down to magnitude 20. Eyepieces are your best friend. A good eyepiece makes a scope your slave, not master- and they are aperature insensitive. The best views for any aperature size comes from high quality low mag eyepieces.
 
  • #17
Yashbhatt
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The best scope for you is tne one you enjoy using. Sounds like a success on that point. Beyond that you must decide what will please you in the future. Don't worry about getting down to magnitude 20. Eyepieces are your best friend. A good eyepiece makes a scope your slave, not master- and they are aperature insensitive. The best views for any aperature size comes from high quality low mag eyepieces.

So, in your opinion is the Orion Funscope fine?
 
  • #18
ayush solanki
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The funscope is similar to my telescope(celestron firstscope).there is no difference between them except the company.in my opinion it is perfect for an amatuer.I myself am yet learning.and firstscope seems to be a decent scope to start with and so is funscope.
 
  • #19
Yashbhatt
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The funscope is similar to my telescope(celestron firstscope).there is no difference between them except the company.in my opinion it is perfect for an amatuer.I myself am yet learning.and firstscope seems to be a decent scope to start with and so is funscope.

What sort of objects have you seen?
 
  • #20
ayush solanki
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Moons crater,Jupiter,Saturn,pieldes and a globular star cluster.
 
  • #21
Keiran OConnor
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Why can't I see anything from my telescope ? The moon looks great but besides that I can't find anything ? It's really cheap think it was Around £200.
 
  • #22
DHF
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The really cheap telescopes are not very good at seeing dim objects because they have really small apertures and do not collect a lot of light. my first telescope cost around 100 quid and the moon was really the only thing I could easily see.
 
  • #23
Keiran OConnor
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Shame, it did say I could see Saturn's rings and Jupiter on the description. The moon looks great anyway lol
 
  • #24
DHF
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you can never listen to marketing. The box will show you brilliant pictures of M13 but the reality is that you will never see that on the scope in question.
 
  • #25
jim hardy
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besides that I can't find anything ?

Be aware the telescope only shows you a very tiny piece of sky. It is hard to find things at first when learning , and impossible at high power . Start at lowest power , find something, then swap eypieces to higher power..
Might be as simple as aligning the finder.
Orion Nebula is a good practice target.

I first saw Saturn with a really cheap one-inch 10-30x zoom terrestrial scope on a camera tripod. Stumbled across it by accident. Was so excited i ordered Petersen's Field Guide to the Stars and Planets...

Sky and Telescope magazine has a good website and i really enjoyed their publication - one of the few magazines i ever read cover to cover as soon as it arrived..

if you're way advanced - No offense meant , just i assumed you're a beginner


old jim
 
  • #26
Keiran OConnor
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Had a small telescope as a child but am still pretty new to stargazing, thanks for the advice :)
 
  • #27
davenn
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Why can't I see anything from my telescope ? The moon looks great but besides that I can't find anything ? It's really cheap think it was Around .

hi Keiran
welcome to PF :smile:

£200 (~ AU$350 - 400) isn't really a very cheap scope, it should be quite reasonable results

learning to find other objects much fainter than the moon takes a little more effort and learning to find your way around the sky
Programs like Stellarium ( free download) is an awesome starting point

but for a start, lets take a step backwards .... you didn't even tell us the make and model of the scope you purchased
maybe also give us a link to where you got it from


Dave
 
  • #28
Keiran OConnor
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Hi thanks for the message, I over-shot the price lol. Must have been more near £100 unless the price has dropped over the years. Here's the exact one I have :)

www.harrisoncameras.co.uk/pd/Danubia-Merkur-60A-Refractor-Astro-Telescope_567065.htm

I feel like I am getting close to seeing something because I can see the shades of black getting lighter when am moving it through the sky looking for things, it's a improvement from total darkness anyway lol.
 
  • #29
jim hardy
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From Sky and Telescope, probably for US observers
cloudy here this morning
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/observing-news/astronomy-podcast-april-2016-04012016/
Get up before dawn, and you'll be rewarded with a bright triangle of beacons in the south that's roughly the size of your clenched fist held at arm’s length. The red-supergiant star Antares, marking the heart of Scorpius, is at the bottom of the triangle. To its upper right is Mars, and to its upper left is Saturn.
 
  • #30
hemlok
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One word of caution - telescopes are like any other gear, from computers to cars to metal detectors. A lot of people develop very strong 'religious' opinions about what is good and what 'sucks'. These people will often lead you to a very specific set of fairly high end gear, often in very specific combinations. You might end up with something really nice, but you will almost certainly pay much more for these kinds of objects of worship. Talk to a lot of people, and if they start frothing at the mouth or baying at the moon you might want to try somebody else...
 
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  • #31
russ_watters
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Why can't I see anything from my telescope ? The moon looks great but besides that I can't find anything ? It's really cheap think it was Around £200.
What else have you tried to find? Jupiter? It's pretty easy to spot right now and looks great even in a cheap telescope.

[edit] And FYI, there are two moons transiting in front of Jupiter tonight. You should be able to see the shadows with even a cheap telescope.
 
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  • #32
Keiran OConnor
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Yeah Jupiter and tried finding Venus, I heard it was close to the moon all last week. Very cloudy up my end past week or so unfortunately :(.
 
  • #33
newjerseyrunner
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Why can't I see anything from my telescope ? The moon looks great but besides that I can't find anything ? It's really cheap think it was Around £200.
How dark is your sky? I can see very little from where I live near NYC with my fairly powerful telescope, but if I bring it to my mother's up in the mountains, I can see much much more.
 
  • #34
Keiran OConnor
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Erm.... Pretty dark, won't have the light pollution of somewhere like New York. I live in a town just off Liverpool (pretty rural area).
 
  • #35
sophiecentaur
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I bought a s/hand 200p Dobs recently and immediately got myself a couple of good eyepieces. Using such a crude mount makes you learn fast about finding things up there. 8" is very good for dim objects but it does require some effort to get it out into the garden. I haven't travelled with it yet but I plan to use it on the back of my truck, which would be more pleasant than scrabbling around on the ground in some random open field.
As people have already said, the best one to buy depends on individual circs. I think I made a good choice 'for me' and the views can be stunning.
Start cheap and you can always sell it on for a better chosen upgrade. (Sell before buying another. Be strong!!)
Go-to is all very well but, like sat nav in cars, it doesn't give you a clue where you are or how you got there. It's something to aspire to when you have learned a bit about the business.
 

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