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First telescope; help needed

Discussion in 'The Okie Corral' started by sbstudley, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. sbstudley

    sbstudley

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    I have been interested in astronomy now for a couple of years. I am interested in purchasing a telescope but I don't know what or how much telescope I need. I see that their are literally hundreds of used ones on CraigsList but maybe this is something that should not be purchased used.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    AlphaRed
     
  2. pack-indy

    pack-indy Emissary

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    Sounds really cool, but I have no idea about them. Good luck!
     

  3. tadbart

    tadbart duuuuude.

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    you won't see any color, or anything like the pics you've seen unless you invest a couple grand. a 4" reflector will cost you $500 + eyepieces, and will give you a decent view of some up-close clusters like the Pleiades, and a hint of what's out there as far as nebulas (Orion is a good place to look.) you can cut your teeth and learn where stuff is located with that minimal investment, before you dump a couple grand into a 12" light bucket. fun hobby, if you can get away from light pollution and mosquitos.
     
  4. Hokie

    Hokie NRA Member

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  5. RonS

    RonS Millennium Member

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  6. joeface

    joeface

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    It really depends upon what you are interested in viewing. As in most things there are telescopes that are better for planetary viewing, or set up for deep space objects etc. You will probably NOT find what you are looking for on craigslist, most of those would be big box store scopes and are about worthless. Orion telescope has some good beginner scopes and you can go up from there. They also have some good info as to what type of scope you might be looking for. http://www.telescope.com
     
  7. Steel Head

    Steel Head Tactical Cat

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  8. dahahn

    dahahn

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    I am into astronomy as well, so let's see if I can help you out!

    First things first: any astronomer will tell you...INVEST IN BINOCULARS FIRST. You will become frustrated with astronomy if you jump straight to a telescope (without automatic finding) because things are pretty hard to find. The Orion Nebula is pretty easy, as are the planets, but when you are looking for M13 (a star cluster in the Hercules constellation) it can get tough for the first timer. Invest in a good pair of binoculars and a tripod. It's enough to see the rings on Saturn, the Andromeda Galaxy, the Orion Nebula, etc.

    If you are set on getting a telescope, and want to learn about astronomy as well, get one without GoTo. GoTo takes the work out of finding targets in the sky and you won't learn how to locate Deep Sky Objects (DSOs). Here is a good site to do some telescope shopping:

    www.astronomics.com

    That's where I shop for eyepieces and the like. I have an Orion XT10. It's a 10" dobsonian. It's a HEFT to carry around (70 pounds), but it has 10" to gather light. That's the most important thing to remember about telescopes: you'll see a lot about magnification, but it doesn't matter. My highest magnification eyepiece is 150X, but I can see detail on Jupiter, see the division between Saturn and it's rings (and multiple moons of both), excellent color in the Orion Nebula, and the polar cap on Mars. Magnifacation is secondary, the amount of light is primary.

    If I had to reccommend a first telescope, it would be this:
    http://www.astronomics.com/main/pro...ame/8WE0S9X6Q9GN8M9M13UX4AW534/product_id/Q8D
    with a Telrad finderscope: http://www.astronomics.com/main/pro...me/2DNUFM33CE2S9KTPBVGJN12PF1/product_id/3990


    A dobsonian will allow you the most light gathering for the lowest cost. They make a series called the XT8i, which has GoTo on it, but it's also more expensive. Then, if you decide that you like astronomy, you can make your own setup. If you'd like to do that from the get go, I'd reccommend this optical tube:
    http://www.astronomics.com/main/cat...tegory_name/W783G2XG7GFD9G312JK1P6GQ65/Page/1

    You would need to supply a mount (tripod) for that, but Astro Tech is good stuff.

    Remember, as someone already said: what you will see through a telescope is NOT what you see from Hubble. Hubble images are exposed for hours in different wavelengths of light, allowing for the images you see. What you will be able to see will still amaze you though.

    Cloudy Nights is a great resource, too. Otherwise, if something I've said is confusing, or you have questions, let me know!

    ETA: DO NOT BUY A TELESCOPE FROM A RETAIL OUTLET, unless it's a specialty outlet for telescopes. The telescopes you will find at Wal-Mart, Target, etc. will merely turn you off of astronomy.
     
  9. Tim13

    Tim13

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    I agree that an 8 inch dobaonian is a good starter
    scope. Computerized "goto" capability isn't the evil
    that a lot of people make it out to be. Some times
    you don't have a lot of time, and it's nice to
    be able to move around the night sky quickly.

    The bottom line to remember is anytime your talking
    about optics, whether it's a gun scope or telescope, you
    get what you pay for.

    Tim
     
  10. Pylot7

    Pylot7

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    I have a 10" Neutonian. The basic difference is that mine has a motor that allows the tube to follow the movement of an object whereas with a dobsonian you are going to move the tube yourself. You will be quite surprised at how fast something will move across your field of vision with the rotation of the earth. Mine does not have the goto or finder software.

    The advice above is all very good. Look up the Nexrad and get one. It makes finding things relatively easy. The only other thing I would advise you to get is a laser collimator. A lot of things will cause your optics to be slightly out of alignment. Getting them perfectly aligned really lets you get the most out of your equipment. I check and adjust mine every time I use it.

    You can start with a skymap that shows the location of the messier objects. Just getting going by looking at those is really a lot of fun. After you see your first star cluster you will be hooked!

    A reflector is definitely the way to go to start because you can get excellent light gathering capability and reasonable expense. Mine is an old Meade with a 10 inch mirror. I bought it in 1995.

    If you shop craigslist you may find something worth having but as you do your homework you will come to know the difference between what is relatively speaking, junk, versus good equipment. When you do find the good stuff it will be a bit more expensive. Sometimes I see a good deal, but as stated, most of it is just not serious equipment and you will be disappointed.

    The only other thing I would add is that it is worthwhile to get a couple of good lenses. The standard ones that came with my meade almost never got used again after I got a couple of high quality ones. But I played with the standard ones for a year so I am not saying they are not worth having, just that stepping up is really a pleasant experience.
     
  11. Mr981

    Mr981

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    +1 on a good place to start.

    2 years ago, I was in the same spot, wondering which scope to go with. 10 years ago I had purchased a cheap Wal Mart brand refractor-60mm objective--and while it gave occasional views of the moon that were interesting, anything smaller was a disappointment.
    The cheap scopes use flimsy stands and plastic eyepiece assemblies ( as a opposed to aluminum). I should have saved that $300 and put it toward a real scope.

    Based on some of the reviews on the Cloudynights forum--and a rebate that Clelstron was running at the time--I picked up a CPC 925 scope for about $2k (new). It is a go to scope--you align on 3 unknown stars-- and after you get the go ahead the alignment was successful, use the controller to bring up what object you want to see and press the button--very simple.

    The CPC series is based on the Schmidt-Cassegrain design (short tube, large 9.25" objective lens) which gathers a lot of light (important) in a pretty compact package. My scope isn;t exactly light--about 60+ lbs--but there are single fork versions that weight half of that.

    The views have been spectacular--when atmospherics allow--and that's a big variable in Ohio.The scope has a useful magnification of about 500x, but practically speaking, I rarely have observing conditions that will support much beyond 200-250x. Given that, the views of Jupiter and Saturn have been great, as have some of the more well know clusters (Hercules) and galaxies.

    Probably the easiest views are the moon in the first quarter or half before it gets too bright; at 100 or 200X the detail is amazing--ridge lines, faults and the like.

    Anyway, I would give the Celestron line a thumbs up; Meade has a few new lines out that sound good. Be prepared to spend some serious money--depending on what you want to see or do with it. The go-to mounts are worth the money; they save lots of time getting around the skies. Think about used scopes if you can find one locally; a lot of people get into this and then loose interest when they don't get the same views they see in some of the published photographs.

    Best of luck with it.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2010
  12. fmfdocglock

    fmfdocglock

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    A second recommndation for the cloudy nights website.

    http://www.cloudynights.com/

    Also pick up a copy of Astronomy or Sky&Telescope magazines from your local book store.

    I would recommend locating a local astronomy club of you can find one.

    Many beginners start off with a 6-8 inch Dobsonian mount reflecting telescope and 2-3 basic eyepieces.
     
  13. dahahn

    dahahn

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    I've had my eye on that exact scope for 2 years now. It's my next one.
     
  14. dahahn

    dahahn

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    I nearly forgot about eyepieces! The telescope will come with an eyepiece (with the Orion it's a 28mm or a 32mm), but you'll need to get an eyepiece. I'd recommend TeleVue Plossl eyepieces (http://www.astronomics.com/main/Tel...tegory_name/FFC4TDMDE6FN9GCBLSG0GD9JK0/Page/1) They're the perfect blend of expense and functionality. My 8mm eyepiece was $65 on sale, and it gets me 150X. A barlow lens would be a good investment too; a barlow allows you to multiply the amplification of a given eyepiece by the amount given (a 2X barlow will yield 300X with said 8mm eyepiece, whereas it is 150X alone).
     
  15. Haldor

    Haldor Formerly retired EE.

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    General comments about astronomical telescopes.

    High magnification is not what makes a good telescope and if you see the word ZOOM run the other way.

    Cheap telescopes brag about magnification, better telescopes brag about aperture (diameter) and optical quality.

    Don't buy gimmicks, a computerized telescope with a 60 mm lens isn't going to show much more than the moon and the major gas giants (Saturn, Jupitor).

    Photography through a telescope is really cool, but very demanding (of both expertise and money). Don't worry about photographic use when buying your first telescope.

    Refractors will often give better results on planets, while reflector in larger sizes (8-10") will do a much better job at showing dim stellar objects (galaxies and nebulas).

    The steadiness of the mount is just as important as the optics. If you get a refractor, you want as firm and solid a tripod as possible. Any shakiness in the mount is going to make the telescope unusable.

    <$200? Get a good pair of binoculars. Key is finding a set with fully multi-coated optics and BAK4 prisms. Even if you have a decent telescope, you will want a good pair of binocs. Nothing is better for scanning the Milkyway Galaxy from a dark sky site. 8x56 is the largest practical handheld sized and is what I recommend.

    <$500 and interested in looking at the planets? Get a 4" refractor with an equatorial mount. Celestron makes a decent one (C104). Orion makes a decent scope in this size also. This is probably the most practical choice if you live in a big city with lots of light pollution.

    <$500 and interested in looking at the galaxies and nebulas? Get an 8" dobsonian reflector. You will need a dark site to see what this scope is capable of doing.

    <$1000? Get an 8" schmidt-cassegrain. Celestron and Meade are going to be the easiest to find in this size. Good all around scope, portable as a refractor, great light gathering power, clock drive mount, great choice for astrophotography. If you have the bucks this is the best choice.

    >$1000 why are you asking this question on a gun forum? I would either go for a bigger refractor or a really big dobsonian. Choice would be determined by how far I live from a dark site.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2010
  16. JLB768

    JLB768 Old & Grumpy Lifetime Member

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    This program is free, and will help you locate objects in the night sky, in realtime. It's 3D, so you can move the sky around with your mouse, I love it.

    http://stellarium.sourceforge.net/
     
  17. Mr981

    Mr981

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    Just to add a few more things others may have mentioned:

    --Find a local Astronomy club in your area and get to one of their public viewing nights. There's a good chance that a few members will bring out a number of scopes to look at and view the stars with.

    --Consider subscribing to Sky & Telescope magazine or reading the issues in the library if the local one carries it. Lots of interesting info on what will be in the sky, what to look for and what's new on the equipment front.

    BTW, I've attached a pic of the CPC 925
     
  18. sbstudley

    sbstudley

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    God bless GlockTalk...
    I always know I can get great information here. Thank you for all your help. I think I am going to stay with my binoculars and find a local club.

    You guys have great equipment. The web sights were great

    AlphaRed
     
  19. fmfdocglock

    fmfdocglock

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    Thats a good idea. If you go to the local club you will be able to learn about the different types of telescopes and look through them. It will alos help you get a start without costing you an arm and a leg.

    Our club has 2-3 Star Watches per month when it is warm, and we help alot of first time buyers.

    Good luck.
     
  20. dahahn

    dahahn

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    I forgot to mention this too. the MN Astronomical Society has Star Parties about twice a month as well. They're great for first timers, because people would be happy to let you take a look through their telescope. It can give you an idea of something you might want vs something that might be too much.