Stargazing Planning to buy a first telescope? - Comments

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When I was 12 (1958 or so), a schoolmate of mine (much smarter than me) had a quality 6" Newtonian telescope that his doting father bought him. One night while I was over at his house (in a Bay Area suburb with a lot of light pollution) he showed me the Andromeda Galaxy. I was absolutely taken with the view; being able to discern the arms and also one of the companion galaxies.
1978 rolls around and a friend of my wife, a PhD physicist was over dinner and I mentioned my earlier view of Andromeda and he mentioned he had an 8" f/4 Newtonian that he had ground the mirror and assembled the OTA himself and would I like it - well, yeah! I purchased a basic equatorial mount and the fire was lit.
2010 rolls around and $40,000 later.
Astronomy, as a hobby will eat up checkbooks as much as any hobby so be careful. I no longer have a complete telescope rig but my final rig consisted of a:
152mm f/8 APM/TMB Apochromatic refractor (near perfection) [I still have the OTA]
Paramount ME Equatorial mount (the best in its size)
QSI 683 full-frame 8.3 megapixel CCD camera with filter wheel
SBIG ST-4 Autoguider
Astronomy software
Way too many eyepieces​
I shot the Soap Bubble Nebula from my San Jose, CA backyard 30 days after discovery.
You don't need aperture, you need quality and patience.
 

sophiecentaur

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Astronomy, as a hobby will eat up checkbooks as much as any hobby
Oh yesssss! And all your time, too. The family may forget what you look like if you spend too much time outside at night. The final straw that breaks the camel's back is when you decide to instal an Observatory in your garden. :smile: There are more of these around than you could ever imagine. If you can find a neighbour with one (via local Astro Society) then you may have a cheaper way into the business, although it's not quite 'the same' as having your own gear.
 
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I had been saving up to buy a decent telescope for my adult Son when someone bought him a cheapo (I think under $150 USD) as a gift. I don't think it's actually bad but it doesn't solve my two-pronged plan to get my prodigious grand-daughter interested as well as the height at which the tripod suits adults is still too tall for her. I'd still like to get a "real telescope" but I suppose it's wise to see if she develops any serious interest before I actually spend $300-400 USD. So I'm thinking one of those eyepieces that sends the image to a laptop (or maybe her phone! lol) would be a practical "whistle wetter". I've measured the diameter of the eyepiece and it is a rather standard size for cheapos (1.25") so can anybody either say "No. Not a good idea" or recommend one that would be appropriate? FWIW we live in the rural mountains and have pretty decent viewing situation.
 

Drakkith

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So I'm thinking one of those eyepieces that sends the image to a laptop (or maybe her phone! lol) would be a practical "whistle wetter". I've measured the diameter of the eyepiece and it is a rather standard size for cheapos (1.25") so can anybody either say "No. Not a good idea" or recommend one that would be appropriate? FWIW we live in the rural mountains and have pretty decent viewing situation.
Tough to say. If you do end up buying one, I'd say go for a good quality one that allows the adjustment of the gain, exposure time, etc.
 

davenn

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There are few galaxies you can see with a naked if the sky is dark enough, like M31 Andromeda.

To be specific, there are only 4 naked eye visible galaxies
1) The Milky Way
2,3) the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds
4) Andromeda Galaxy

All others require a telescope
 

davenn

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@davenn
I am comparing the The SkyWatcher with the Celestron NexStar.
The SkyWatcher seems better to me .. it has larger aperture of 8 inch (vs 6 inch for Celestron) and comes at half price $378 (vs 750$ for Celestron).

In general should I aim for the largest aperture when deciding which telescope to buy?

In general Skywatcher scopes are not as good quality as Celestron, Meade or Orion. Hence why they are cheaper :wink:

As I said earlier .... if you want quality, you have to pay for it
 

sophiecentaur

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As I said earlier .... if you want quality, you have to pay for it
Imo, you need experience before the quality differences are relevant. SW are good value , not rubbish and, let's face it, being able to see objects that are bright and sparkly in the eyepiece is the most likely thing to turn a first-timer into an enthusiast.
The second hand telescope equipment market is well worth while investigating. Amateur astronomers all seem to take care of their stuff and they will mostly be more critical of the scope they are offering you than a first-timer buyer will be.
But Astronomy is more likely to reward a beginner if they get in contact with and join a local Astro Society. Hands-on experience of equipment at night, with some friendly advice is much better than what you will get in a 'shop' that wants your money.
 

davenn

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SW are good value , not rubbish

now, now, now .... don't misquote me/put words in my mouth :wink:
I didn't say they were not good value, and I definitely didn't say they were rubbish

Skywatcher are OK scopes .... I have one myself, a 120mm x 1000 mm refractor,

IMG_1301sm.jpg


am not overly impressed with the chromatic and spherical aberration around the outer 1/4 of the field of view

but for AU$525, you cannot expect high quality optics

The Skywatcher mounts as in the pic above, the HEQ5 PRO is quite respectable and I would well recommend
them, as I have already done so. That mount on it's own cost me AU$1250. It was purchased separately from the scope,
around 4 years ago. Where the scope was purchased about a year ago.


Dave
 

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sophiecentaur

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now, now, now .... don't misquote me/put words in my mouth :wink:
I know what you meant and I was not actually quoting you - just making sure that a less informed reader could be taking your summing up in a more extreme way than you meant it. I know well that SW mechanics is 'only just good enough'. They have some 'terrible' design features in the NEQ6 but those are built to a price. No one would suggest that a first time scope should be high end because the formula of their first choice would almost certainly eventually not suit their needs.
I am aware of quality in mechanical, electronic and optical devices and I tend to go in at a higher level so you could say that I don't always practice what I preach.
There are a few ground rules - which have been mentioned somewhere back ups this thread. Never buy stuff from a 'store' or new, off eBay. Read up about things and hold off before committing to any expenditure. Find someone local who knows about these things etc. etc.
 
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To be specific, there are only 4 naked eye visible galaxies
1) The Milky Way
2,3) the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds
4) Andromeda Galaxy

All others require a telescope
Wikipedia is listing some more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_galaxies#Naked-eye_galaxies
To be honest, without a telescope or binos, I've seen only Andromeda (not counting the Milky Way :wink:). But if you have really dark sky and eyes fully adapted, I can imagine that Triangulum and Bode's galaxy could be detectable.
 

davenn

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Wikipedia is listing some more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_galaxies#Naked-eye_galaxies
To be honest, without a telescope or binos, I've seen only Andromeda (not counting the Milky Way :wink:). But if you have really dark sky and eyes fully adapted, I can imagine that Triangulum and Bode's galaxy could be detectable.
Triangulum Galaxy (M33, NGC 598) 5.7 2.9 Mly (900 kpc) Triangulum Being a diffuse object, its visibility is strongly affected by even small amounts of light pollution, ranging from easily visible in direct vision in truly dark skies to a difficult averted vision object in rural/suburban skies.[12]
Centaurus A (NGC 5128) 6.84 13.7 Mly (4.2 Mpc) Centaurus Centaurus A has been spotted with the naked eye by Stephen James O'Meara.[13]
Bode's Galaxy (M81, NGC 3031) 6.94 12 Mly (3.6 Mpc) Ursa Major Highly experienced amateur astronomers may be able to see Messier 81 under exceptional observing conditions.[14][15][16]
Messier 83 (NGC 5236) 8.2 14.7 Mly (4.5 Mpc) Hydra M83 has reportedly been seen with the naked eye.[17]


Those would all be exceptional eyesight under exceptionally good conditions ...... the avg person wouldn't have a chance .
Most people with reasonable eyesight can see down to around 5.5 - 6.0 .... anything fainter than M6.0 would fall into the exceptional conditions

M31 is an easy naked eye object, even for us southern hemisphere dwellers where it is low on the horizon.
Doesn't get more than around 10 - 15 deg for me in Sydney
I'm pretty sure I have never naked eye seen M33 in Triangulum. It's higher in the sky than M31 by another 5 - 10 deg
I did photo it a couple of weeks ago for the first time



Dave
 
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To be specific, there are only 4 naked eye visible galaxies
1) The Milky Way
2,3) the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds
4) Andromeda Galaxy

All others require a telescope
I would like to add M33 - The Triangulum Galaxy. I have glimpsed this very sparse and wide fuzzy from the Santa Crus Mountains outside of Boulder Creek. It is very difficult and you must know where to look.
 

sophiecentaur

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I'll give you that one ::smile:
If you were having this conversation a few hundred years ago, the visually observable numbers would probably be higher. A rich person would have time to sit in the dark all night (no distractions) and with much less air and light pollution and loads of practice, there would probably be many more faint but visible objects.
 

davenn

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Skywatcher are OK scopes .... I have one myself, a 120mm x 1000 mm refractor,
I know what you meant and I was not actually quoting you - just making sure that a less informed reader could be taking your summing up in a more extreme way than you meant it. I know well that SW mechanics is 'only just good enough'. They have some 'terrible' design features in the NEQ6 but those are built to a price. No one would suggest that a first time scope should be high end because the formula of their first choice would almost certainly eventually not suit their needs.
I am aware of quality in mechanical, electronic and optical devices and I tend

Well time has moved on and a couple of weeks ago and I added a top end refractor to my collection
Strangely enough, it is a Skywatcher. This came after looking at a number of refractor scopes at around the 100 - 120mm
objective size and what I was able to afford. Also my existing HEQ5 PRO had to be able to handle it. After talking to a number
of guys using either the 100mm or the 120mm. Their comments have been very encouraging with their high praise of the optics
particularly when used for astrophotography. One of them is a local guy whom I caught up with in person at a local club night under the stars

I present the Skywatcher 100mm ED ESPRIT .... AU$3500 ( that is just the scope and some accessories that come in the box)

https://www.bintel.com.au/product/skywatcher-esprit-100-ed-super-apo-optical-tube-assembly-triplet-refractor/?v=6cc98ba2045f

my one in the box ... and what a solid box it is aluminium outer covering with dense foam lining

upload_2019-3-14_8-4-55.png


I am very impressed and cant wait to do some astrophotography with it ... now only if we could get some cloudless nites
Those truly into astronomy will be well aware of the curse of "If you buy a new scope ... cloudy nights are sure to immediately follow"
view the www page for all the spec's ... the only thing not mentioned on that page is that it also has a 11:1 fine focussing
The scope tube and mechanics are very solidly built

I think I'm in love :smile:

Dave
 

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sophiecentaur

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I am very impressed
I'm well jell (as my daughter would say).
SW work to a price and where would we be without them? The extra that you have to pay to ensure no inadequate bits follows a fairly high order Inverse Power Law,
On the same lines, I bought a seriously chunky and firm camera tripod some years ago. Using it with my 250mm Pentax Zoom has revealed an increasing slop in the neck, under the mount. Everything is built big enough but the plug / spigot that fits into the top of the vertical tube is held in place by a single 4mm pin through the tube and the spigot which is the weak link. How did that creep into the design? Design costs are cut long before advertising costs. I can, at least fix it. I am cinsidering welding!!!
 

davenn

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I'm well jell (as my daughter would say).
I had a hint of that too when I saw what awesome images other guys have been producing with the SW ESPRIT 100 or 120mm
Tho I had been having good success with the Canon camera and top end telephoto zoom lenses, I really desired a decent scope
on an equally decent tracking mount so that I could get exposures of more than 30 sec. The 100mm scope and the HEQ5 Pro mount
will achieve this goal.

SW work to a price and where would we be without them? The extra that you have to pay to ensure no inadequate bits follows a fairly high order Inverse Power Law,
That's so true. This scope is leaps and bounds above that AU$525 scope that I pictured on the previous page of this thread

I would have loved to get the 120mm version but it is AU$1000 more expensive - just affordable. But on top of that, with its extra weight,
I would have to go to the next mount up, the HEQ6-R with a 20kg max load ( for astrophotography) higher if you are just observing.
But that is AU$2400 and that put the whole BIG upgrade out of range.

The 100mm scope is 5.5kg plus another 2-3kg of camera gear etc gives around 8.5kg on a 13kg mount and that is about the right
ratio ( gear weight ~ 2/3 max load rating of the mount when doing astrophotography.



On the same lines, I bought a seriously chunky and firm camera tripod some years ago. Using it with my 250mm Pentax Zoom has revealed an increasing slop in the neck, under the mount. Everything is built big enough but the plug / spigot that fits into the top of the vertical tube is held in place by a single 4mm pin through the tube and the spigot which is the weak link. How did that creep into the design? Design costs are cut long before advertising costs. I can, at least fix it. I am cinsidering welding!!!

One wonders, huh ... I even see silly things like that in the top end GPS gear I deal with every day. Another WTF moment haha
So often shaking my head wondering what the hell the designer was thinking of when he/she "put pen to paper"

I have purchased several el cheapo <AU$100 camera tripods over the years. And yeah, their performance leaves a lot to be desired :rolleyes:

When I lashed out of the Canon 5D3 and 6D cameras around - 5 -6 yrs ago, I also finally got a decent Manfrotto tripod. Never regretted that expense.


Dave
 

sophiecentaur

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I had a hint of that too when I saw what awesome images other guys have been producing with the SW ESPRIT 100 or 120mm
Tho I had been having good success with the Canon camera and top end telephoto zoom lenses, I really desired a decent scope
on an equally decent tracking mount so that I could get exposures of more than 30 sec. The 100mm scope and the HEQ5 Pro mount
will achieve this goal.



That's so true. This scope is leaps and bounds above that AU$525 scope that I pictured on the previous page of this thread

I would have loved to get the 120mm version but it is AU$1000 more expensive - just affordable. But on top of that, with its extra weight,
I would have to go to the next mount up, the HEQ6-R with a 20kg max load ( for astrophotography) higher if you are just observing.
But that is AU$2400 and that put the whole BIG upgrade out of range.

The 100mm scope is 5.5kg plus another 2-3kg of camera gear etc gives around 8.5kg on a 13kg mount and that is about the right
ratio ( gear weight ~ 2/3 max load rating of the mount when doing astrophotography.






One wonders, huh ... I even see silly things like that in the top end GPS gear I deal with every day. Another WTF moment haha
So often shaking my head wondering what the hell the designer was thinking of when he/she "put pen to paper"

I have purchased several el cheapo <AU$100 camera tripods over the years. And yeah, their performance leaves a lot to be desired :rolleyes:

When I lashed out of the Canon 5D3 and 6D cameras around - 5 -6 yrs ago, I also finally got a decent Manfrotto tripod. Never regretted that expense.


Dave
I bit the bullet and put two extra pins through the tube and plug. Everything is fine now. I should have done this a long time ago instead of whingeing about a basically reasonable tripod (by Ioptron, I now realise).
 

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