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Stargazing Telescope Recomendation

  1. Jan 13, 2010 #1
    I am wondering if I can have a good telescope recommended to me, I am deeply interested in astronomy and astrophysics and would like to be able to view astrophysical phenomena and objects on my own. Even if you can't recommend a good telescope, could you please reference a guide or something for what are good products when making this decision?
    Keep in mind that I am an undergrad right now, so a pretty strict budget is in need.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 13, 2010 #2


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    What does a "pretty strict budget" mean and what type of phenomena, specifically, are you most interested in?
  4. Jan 13, 2010 #3
    Here is a site that has a very complete set of reviews and recommendations.


    Click on the link "Beginner's Advice on Buying Telescopes - READ THIS FIRST "

    That should get you started.


  5. Jan 13, 2010 #4


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    I would reiterate Ed's advice to at least attend a star party or two and perhaps join an astronomy club before buying any 'scope. When I was active in the club located about an hour from here, I would coordinate with a couple of other members and we'd all bring our 'scopes so that people attending the meetings could look through them after the meetings. These were not publicized "star parties", but hands-on experience for guests or new members to show them what to expect if they bought a telescope. I have a 6" Apochromatic refractor, and my finder scope is a 3" Apochromatic refractor, so that gave people two apertures in high quality refractors to compare. Another member who didn't mind bringing his rig had a 10" Newtonian, and yet another had a Celestron C-8 (Schmidt-Newtonian design). All designs have their strengths and their weaknesses, and our guests got to see them after the meetings. How much room do you need to transport the 'scope and mount? How much time does it take to set it up? How much time does it take to thermally stabilize for steadier views? And perhaps most important of all for a beginning amateur, how much does this stuff cost?

    With a fairly large refractor, I easily had the most expensive optical tube assembly in the club, with a VERY massive mount and tripod. Nobody should jump in at this level. The guy with the Newtonian had a Meade on a German Equatorial mount, and that 10" scope pulled in a lot of light, though the primary was not of the best quality. Still with today's computer-controlled figuring, mirrors are getting a lot better, and simple Dobsonian mounts drive the price down to a minimum. He had a van with side-doors, like you would see a plumber or other craftsman use to transport their tools and supplies. Somewhere in the middle (quality-wise) was my friend and frequent observing partner with the C-8. His 'scope was far less expensive than mine, and the images were nowhere near as good, BUT the C-8 is a very compact scope, and not much trouble to set up. His was a fork-mount with a tripod and wedge. He showed up in a compact car, usually. I had to use my Nissan Pathfinder with the back seat folded down to transport my set-up. Very instructive, when people thought to ask the questions. If your 'scope is not small enough or light enough for you to handle it under adverse conditions (cold nights when the footing is icy, and you are bundled up like the Michelin man) you will not use it and your money will have been wasted.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  6. Jan 13, 2010 #5
    Pretty strict budget.... Hmmm... I would say, preferably, under $500, if possible.

    As for phenomena, honestly, anything. I'm currently at the University of Saskatchewan and a few months back I went to a public showing in the old observatory here (they don't open the good ones to the public), I got to look at a pretty rough picture of Jupiter; basically all I saw was a white dot, not too impressive. I understand, though, that that was a very old telescope and is nothing compared to what some of the personal ones, now could do. So I want to see anything, and everything I can, it all amazes and inspires me.

    Thanks Mike, I'll be sure to read that through.

    I also agree with you, although I am not familiar with any clubs on campus here, maybe there is one lurking. I'll just have to get my foot in the door a bit more with the astronomy department and see what I can find.
  7. Jan 13, 2010 #6

    George Jones

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    http://homepage.usask.ca/~ges125/rasc/about_rasc.html [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Jan 14, 2010 #7


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    I like cat's for portability, and portability will greatly influence your desire to use it. If you dont mind the work out, an 8" or 10" dob is a good choice. My only objection is you need an equatorial mount for astrophotograpy. That is something you will probably want to do at some point. You can get a good 6" newtonian on an equatorial mount in your price range.
  9. Jan 14, 2010 #8
    Well I feel kind of stupid, but thanks :P

    Thanks, I'll keep that in mind.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  10. Jan 24, 2010 #9
    Remember, the bigger the scope the less use it will get!

    Sounds barmy but unless you have the opportunity to leave it somewhere permanent the hassle of setting up etc is non-negligible!

    And dont neglect the mount, a stable weighty base is as at least as important as optical quality of the scope!
  11. Jan 24, 2010 #10
    6-10 inch dob hands down in my opinion. Do some research though, this exact question gets posted here once a week and the answers are inevitably the same.
  12. Jan 24, 2010 #11


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    Harinet's advice is definitely true of dobs. Especially if you don't have anywhere to observe that's right next to where you store your scope. My 8" dob weighs over 50 lbs and is quite unwieldy, which can make it a big pain to haul long distances. But as far as aperture for the price, dobs are definitely the biggest bang for your buck.
  13. Jan 24, 2010 #12
    on the other hand, OP already said he was disappointed with the view of jupiter. Imagine how hes gonna feel when he tries to find M-51 through a 3 inch refractor...
  14. Jan 24, 2010 #13
    Also is it really that hard to transport? If you have a small vehicle you can still get an f4 dob which I'm pretty sure will fit in any car up to 10" aperture.
  15. Jan 24, 2010 #14
    I can see how this is true, thanks.

    I'll definitely keep dobs in mind, and in high preference. Thanks.

    Hah, While it would be nice to see M-51, I don't expect to find it, especially with the budget I have. I do hope to be able to locate M-31 though...
    And the main reason I was disappointed with Jupiter is primarily because of the lack of color. I was expecting to see at least some of the color, not just a white dot.
  16. Jan 24, 2010 #15
  17. Jan 25, 2010 #16


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    With a Dob of 6" or larger, if you cannot see M-51 you are viewing under crappy skies. Don't expect to see a clear connection between the host and the companion, nor any detail in the halo/tail/countertail. That's not going to happen visually, but if you are in clear skies in the northern hemisphere, M-51 is pretty easy.
  18. Jan 25, 2010 #17
    yea I don't live in Saskatchewan that's for sure
  19. Jan 25, 2010 #18

    George Jones

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    The University of Saskatchewan is in Saskatoon, which is a city of about 250,000. Saskatoon probably is large enough that M31 is not naked-eye from large parts of it. Having access to a car would definitely be a plus.
  20. Jan 25, 2010 #19
    Yes, the light pollution here is something that angers me quite a bit; in my time here I have yet to see anything like I saw back home. I moved up here for university, and before, I lived about 4 hours away, rural to a very small town. Perfectly clear skies, absolutely no light pollution, it was perfect. Luckily, I do have access to a vehicle.
  21. Jan 26, 2010 #20


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    You really dont want a 100 pound monstrosity to introduce you to astronomy. After 3 outings it will get old. Don't say I didn't warn you.
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