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

Stargazing What Telescope should I buy?

  1. Aug 7, 2016 #1
    I happened to find this site looking for a telescope. I am a newbie to telescopes. I had a cheap department store telescope about 30 years ago.


    I am looking for a telescope I can connect to a PC and displays on the screen for the purpose of making it easier for me and my 6 and 7 year old granddaughters to see and have fun so that they would become enthused about Science and the diversity of the world around them, including the normally unseen parts.


    So I'm looking for a telescope, that can easily be connected to a laptop for viewing if there aren't serious shortcomings to that. I would like it to have a fairly clear view of at least some details for Jupiter, Mars, and Saturn and at least a glimmer of sights like Andromeda. I doubt I can achieve all of this for less than $300 but I'd prefer not to spend more than $700-1000.


    So, is it possible with some considerable convenience in mind (I don't want to start off making it a job to learn the skies just yet so Go To seems a must) to fulfill this quest. Considering my budget and what accessories I will likely need right away I had considered http://www.highpointscientific.com/...n-nexstar-90-slt-computerized-telescope-22087 this one as an example of what I suppose would just barely fulfill my/our minimal requirements. Am I on the right track?


    Or would a Celestron Nexstar 6SE” GoTo Schmidt-cassegrain be better.


    After buying a telescope there will be no upgrading later. I am retiring in November and will be on a tight budget from there on.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 7, 2016 #2

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm not aware of any telescope you could simply hook up to a laptop and view the telescopic image on-screen. The "computerized" telescopes like the one you've linked to simply have a hand controller that contains the electronics to run the mount and move it to an object that you select from a pre-programmed database. They do not usually hook up to a laptop without some significant work and a few third-party programs and accessories.

    However, they do sell small cameras which you can insert into the focuser (where the eyepieces usually go) and which hook up to a laptop. It would take perhaps a few nights worth of practice to get comfortable with using the telescope and finding objects with it. Even with a computerized telescope there will still be some setup work to do each night, usually in the form of setting up the telescope and then running through the alignment program so that the telescope knows its location, the date and time, and exactly where it's initially pointing.

    Unfortunately, good planetary views are very difficult to achieve when using a camera instead of an eyepiece. This is mostly because of how much magnification you need to be able to see planetary details. With an eyepiece, you can easily swap from a low-magnification eyepiece, which is good for wide-field views of star clusters and nebulas, to a high-magnification eyepiece, which is good for lunar details and viewing the planets. With a camera you need a barlow lens, and they typically don't come in anything but a few different "powers". So the choice of magnifications are usually limited to the one or two barlow lenses people usually have. For exampe, while most eyepiece kits come with a half-dozen different eyepieces, giving you an equal number of choices of magnification, they usually only come with one barlow lens.

    Personally I'd stick to looking through eyepieces for now, but that's up to you. I can definitely see the appeal of putting it on-screen.
     
  4. Aug 7, 2016 #3

    1oldman2

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

  5. Aug 7, 2016 #4
    Thanks DRAKKITH, which of those two telescopes do you think I should buy, knowing I will never buy an other?
     
  6. Aug 8, 2016 #5

    Chronos

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    A number of online options are available to accomplish your stated objectives. These include http://live.slooh.com/; [Broken] http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/ and http://www.itelescope.net/. While there may be fees associated with the use of some services [depending on you particular interests], they appear fairly reasonable and you wont be stuck with an expensive closet gnome if it doesn't pan out.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  7. Aug 8, 2016 #6

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I honestly can't say. I think the one you linked to, the Celestron NexStar 90 SLT, would be just fine as a general purpose telescope that's fairly easy to setup and use. The only real downside is that it only has 3.5 inches of aperture, which limits the maximum resolution of planetary and lunar viewing and means that you won't be able to see any but the brightest of deep sky objects. Unfortunately a larger aperture also requires a larger telescope, which weighs more, is more difficult to setup and use, and is much more expensive. But they say that the best telescope is the one you actually use, and the heavier and more difficult it is to setup and use a telescope the less you will use it. Many large-aperture "light buckets" sit in the corner of someone's shed gathering dust because they are so godawful difficult to lug around and use, which is a bit of a waste of a few thousand dollars if you ask me.
     
  8. Aug 9, 2016 #7
    There are devices you can hook up to a Celestron Nexstar to view live images. Mallincam makes very good astronomical video cameras that produce good planetary and deepsky (nebular, star clusters, galaxies) images. The other alternative is to use a DSLR camera/interchangeable lens camera or a dedicated astronomical CCD camera to produce still images of objects. Further, there are video cameras made by Meade, Celestron, others, that allow thousands of still images of planets to be stacked in order to extract the most detail from planets.
     
  9. Aug 10, 2016 #8

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    True, but the vast majority of these are not for beginners and require much more expensive mounts, additional guide cameras, software, and other equipment to use.
     
  10. Aug 10, 2016 #9

    davenn

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I agree with Drakkith with these comments
    I would definitely shy away from that, you will outgrow it very fast, and also because of it's low level abilities ( because of the small aperture) there
    a chance it would put you right off astronomy because of disappointment in what you could and couldn't see

    this one ...
    http://www.highpointscientific.com/...elestron-nexstar-6se-telescope-bundle-package

    your second choice is within your budget and it would serve you well but my only worry is your very last comment

    a 6 " scope would be easy to outgrow if you really started to enjoy astronomy ... it can be very addictive
    I am on my 7th scope over the last 50 yrs since my original foray into astronomy when I was around 7 yrs old.

    25mm refractor spotting scope, 30mm refractor, 60mm refractor, 205mm (8") Newtonian reflector ( home built)
    10" Newtonian reflector, then moved to Australia from New Zealand, an 8" Newtonian, and my latest is a 9.25"
    Schmidt Cassegrain computerised/GOTO scope
    http://www.bintel.com.au/Telescopes/Cassegrain/Celestron-CPC-925--GPS--XLT/2155/productview.aspx [Broken]

    What I am really trying to impress upon you with all that is.....
    There is always an urge to upgrade, and if you are really going to be in a position where that is not likely to happen
    then you really do need to spend a little extra now so you don't out grow it after just a few short years
    On the other hand, you don't want to go too extreme and having that huge "white elephant" in the corner because
    of the more effort it takes to use it

    A 6" scope like that Celestron Nexstar-6SE would be a great start but I would suggest you consider spending a little
    more for an 8" scope. It would really last you well.

    either of these two 8" variations would be great .....

    http://www.highpointscientific.com/...tar-8se-telescope-professional-bundle-package

    http://www.highpointscientific.com/...n-nexstar-8se-telescope-bundle-with-skyq-link

    The Al/Az mount is VERY easy to use and it will give your many years of fun looking up and searching for objects around the nite sky



    Dave
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2017
  11. Aug 10, 2016 #10
    My only advice is don't buy a telescope that ends up being too big to use - that's assuming you don't have your own private observatory or permanant viewing mount. I have to travel out of town to do any meaningful stargazing and it's most fortunate (all due blessings to Explore Scientific) that my short-focus 6" mak-newt comes with a sturdy carrying handle.
     
  12. Aug 10, 2016 #11

    davenn

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Damn, I wrote that post yesterday and didn't realise it hadn't posted ... I notice some at the end is missing ... have to try and recollect what I said :rolleyes:
     
  13. Aug 10, 2016 #12

    Drakkith

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    The two scopes Dave linked to would serve you well. They're also 4 times the price of the one you were looking at earlier. Personally I think you'd be better off spending a little more now and getting a decent scope in the first place. But that's really up to you.

    In all honestly this isn't really something that we can give you the answer to. We don't even know if you'll like having a telescope. I'd highly recommend seeing if there are any astronomy clubs in your local area and getting involved with them. They are always willing to let you take a peak through their scopes and I think that would be the only way for you to know for sure whether or not you'll like astronomy before spending upwards of a grand on a telescope.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Draft saved Draft deleted



Similar Discussions: What Telescope should I buy?
  1. What Telescope to buy? (Replies: 15)

  2. Buying a telescope (Replies: 16)

Loading...