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What telescopes are good for seeing planets and galaxies?

  1. Oct 28, 2016 #1
    I am currently considering on buying a telescope to do some of my own research and for sight seeing. Any recommendations? I would prefer to have a telescope that requires me to use code or at least a computer so I can familiarize myself with the mechanics.
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  3. Oct 28, 2016 #2
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2016
  4. Oct 28, 2016 #3


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    Do you live at a dark sky site and plan on doing a permanent mounting? Or do you plan to drive out to one to set up? That will kind of limit both the mount, and the aperture you'll actually be able to use.

    For deep sky, you want a very solid mount (longer exposure with minimal tracking error), as big of an aperture that you can set up (the giant light bucket), and a good camera + various filters/accessories(I run a filter wheel with 9 filters for various things, various lenses for various things, etc). The camera is vital, and is far more enjoyable as compared to optical observations (at least for me).

    Planetary you just want good optics, great seeing, and maybe a webcam.

    If you live in an area with a lot of light pollution, you're going to be running filters. So a large aperture will help offset that when you aren't driving off to a dark sky site. You want the largest aperture with the best optics you can afford/set up. I have a 14 inch on a dyi mount out in the backyard in a shed that's rigged up to run everything. I would never think about dragging that tube and a motorized mount out to set up somewhere. (I would probably never use it if I had to set it up each time!) A SCT scope is your best bet for a jack of all trades, and smaller set up. They can be a pain to get accurately tracking objects. A 8-10 inch tube would probably be the max I would feel comfortable enough to set up somewhere on my own.

    As far as cameras, I have a MallinCam and ATIK camera. The ATIK is for deep space mostly, the MC is when I want to look at pretty video of planets.
  5. Oct 28, 2016 #4


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    If one wants a really good telescope consider an Obsession Dobsonian telescope - http://www.obsessiontelescopes.com/
    They are somewhat expensive.
  6. Oct 28, 2016 #5


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    Welcome to PF!

    What is your budget and what are you more interested in; planets or deep sky objects?
  7. Oct 29, 2016 #6
    I live where there is some considerable amount of light pollution, not too much. I was planning to buy one and go to a more excluded area. Wow, this is extremely helpful! Thank you!!
  8. Oct 29, 2016 #7
    2500 and below. I'm not sure if this is a good price range because their are alot of expensive telescopes with good quality. I think this might get me decent telescope. Deep sky objects. Thank you.
  9. Oct 29, 2016 #8
    I have to agree with Astronuc. For the price you would be hard-pressed to do better than a Dobsonian telescope. Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes (SCT) are probably the most common privately owned telescope because they can be very compact. However, the key with any telescope is the amount of light they are able to capture and that comes down to the size of its primary concave reflective mirror. With a Dobsonian telescope you can get a larger primary mirror than with a SCT for the same price.

    The Dobsonian telescope refers to the type of mount. It is a Newtonian-style telescope with its mount in its base. Which does not lend itself well to a German Equatorial Mount (GEM). They do have computerized Dobsonian telescopes, but they are not as good at tracking objects over time as a GEM, and for that reason do not work as well for astrophotography.

    If astrophotography or imaging is your primary motivation, then you might be better served with a SCT and a good GEM. For the price range you mentioned, you could probably find a decent 8" SCT with a GEM and a few necessary accessories. That is big enough to see the planets. If imaging is not your primary motivation, then for the same price you could probably find a good 12" Dobsonian telescope with a computerized mount, or even a 16" Dobsonian telescope without a computerized mount. For observing deep space objects, the Dobsonian telescopes would be the better choice.
  10. Oct 29, 2016 #9


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    Something like this would be a good start (plus a camera):

    The main difficulty is in guiding for long exposure. In order to get exposures of more than about 30 seconds, you'd need a guidance system a second camera, which generally also means a second telescope.

    [edit] I forgot to ask if your main interest was in observing with your eyes or taking pictures. The Dobsonian would be about as good for using your eyes and a bunch cheaper (though not computerized/guided).
  11. Oct 29, 2016 #10


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    When I was studying astrophysics 40 years ago, I got to use a Celestron 14-inch. It was great for looking at features on the moon, or the planets, as well as nebulae, galaxies and other celestial objects. Those telescopes have become more complex and more expensive.

    One can review a variety of telescopes and prices at Celestron

    There are numerous telescope manufacturers.

    The best viewing is in places like the Davis mountains in Texas, near the McDonald observatory, or sites near other observatories. There is a group that usually goes to the Grand Canyon in the summer months.
  12. Oct 29, 2016 #11


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    I haven't been on the practical Astronomy scene for long but I have some valid points to make. The first is in response to your "considering". It would be a good ting not to invest too much money and effort into your first telescope because you may just not find astronomy as good as you hoped. The essential thing is that it must be CONVENIENT enough to use, which will run against its light gathering power and steadiness - but your first telescope will not be your last. If it is, then you could have wasted money which could go on your next hobby. The answer to that dilemma lies with your personal circs and money.
    My next point is about the GOTO thing. It is possible to buy a Goto system and use it without much idea at all about where those lovely objects actually are. It's just the same as vehicle SatNav - people go all over the place and never realise they passed just a few miles from a fantastic Pub, View, Ancient Monument, Astronomy Store because they never looked at a map.
    I bought a Dobsonian (8") at the start of the Summer (initial cost only 160GBP and I am really pleased with it) and then bought some better eyepieces and a right angle finder - after deciding what I really needed (I probably spent another 300GBP on the extras). I am still struggling to see things but I am learning as fast as the clouds will let me. Star hopping is very satisfying and you get to recognise patterns because you have to. If you buy a (some) books on astronomy, you will learn how much more you can see with a big aperture - before spending any money! That may be obvious but a beginner will just not spot things (as with other observing hobbies) without help and a light bucket will help you. But not if it's sitting in your house because of the struggle to get it out into the garden or fit it in the car. Consider an expensive pair of bins and a firm tripod. Excellent value and extremely versatile. I only really started using and appreciating my nice binos after I bought my Dobs.
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