First telescope advice please

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Butterfly Maiden
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First telescope advice please

#1

Post by Butterfly Maiden »

A while back (not long after I joined the Forum actually) I posed the question about suitable telescopes for beginners to start off with.

I can't remember the section I posted it in, and checking the 'Telescopes' forum section it is split between Refractor, Reflector and Catadioptric. But I don't know which one I want to go for so I couldn't post in any of those. If there is a more suitable location for my enquiry then Mods please move it.

I recall that Gabrielle was very helpful with her advice when we exchanged a few PMs about this, but I can't find those PMs - sorry Gabrielle :oops:

Anyway, basically I am looking for a lightweight telescope (not large in size) that Sophia and I can carry with us in the car to go into the Forest to view the sky at different locations ( as well as from our home) and is easy to set up. I don't want to have a laptop to control anything.

Primarily, we are wanting to look at the Moon, and the nearest Constellations. DSOs will not be a consideration at this time.

Once a suitable make of telescope has been whittled down, eyepieces are going to be important too. From reading other posts on the forum there are so many choices available, that it becomes mind-boggling. A wide field of view seems to be a good consideration, so I suppose the widest possible maybe ?

As regards cost, then here the minefield begins. We don't have a specific cost in mind at the moment. We don't want to spend thousands of Pounds (Sterling) if it can be avoided.

Also, an equatorial mount will likely to be put into the mix for consideration to be able to track the stars properly.

I am not speaking with any sort of expertise here with regards to the equipment required, I am just recalling pieces of information I have gleaned from reading previous posts about 'starting out' telescopes.

I just wanted to specify our requirements at this point so we can decide on our best options.

Please don't be too technical with any advice you can give us, as it would probably just go over our heads :roll:
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Re: First telescope advice please

#2

Post by Gfamily »

A quick point worth noting is that you don't need to have an equatorial mount to be able to track the stars. There are excellent Alt Az mounts that will allow tracking and are generally simpler to set up.

I would highly recommend getting a SkyWatcher AZ Gti (or AZ GTe) mount and tripod and something like an ST80 telescope to go with it. These are quite compact and light, and very easy to set up.
They use an app on your phone instead of a handset, so you do need to go out with a fully charged battery, but the app is great for helping you find things.
Mount and Tripod about £340
ST 80 Telescope about £120 - though you'll want a 90 degree diagonal as well
You'll also need a battery pack of some sort.

You can also link up the mounts to a couple of the good Planetarium apps - Sky Safari Plus works very very well with it (it also works with Stellarium Plus, but Sky Safari does it much better).With these, you can find something on the Planetarium app, and the app will tell the telescope to point to it. I find that the mount is very good at getting the target very close to the centre of the field of view - particularly when using a lightweight scope.

As for what eyepieces to get - I always start with a 32mm eyepiece as this gives a good wide view, so you get to see the widest field - which will allow you to centre the target more easily. You might want to consider a zoom eyepiece as well - there's a very good value SVBONY 7-21mm zoom that is not too heavy ( they also do an 8-24mm zoom that is almost twice the weight). They are certainly good enough to start with (in my view).

Do you already have a pair of binoculars? They can be a great low-cost way of exploring the night sky.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#3

Post by Ruud »

There are some pretty nice 80mm refractors around. My initial thoughts are that should I have your wish list, I'd buy an 80mm doublet ED semi-APO on a beefy version of an EQ3 mount (I think they're called EQ3-ii). I'd go for non motorised. Rough polar alignment works quite well visually. A nice right-angle 6x30 finder would be nice. I'd want a few decent eyepieces too.

For constellation viewing I would choose 6x30 binoculars with a true field of about 11°. Actually, I'm going to see if anything interesting is available. I used 4x22s before but one of the prisms broke. They were cheap but gave really nice 17° views.
7x50 Helios Apollo 8x42 Bresser Everest 73mm f/5.9 WO APO 4" f/5 TeleVue Genesis 6" f/10 Celestron 6SE 0.63x reducer 1.8, 2, 2.5 and 3x Barlows eyepieces from 4.5 to 34mm
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Re: First telescope advice please

#4

Post by Bigzmey »

Sounds like you want grab and go. Easy to setup and carry and suitable for wide variety of targets. I believe a small 80mm-102mm refractor or even short tube 120mm refractor on AltAz mount is the best option. You just need to decide weather you want to learn to find the targets manually or use GoTo.

Nothing wrong with equatorial mount if you want to give it a shot. But for visual (not AP) AZ mounts have several advantages over EQ. AZ tend to be lighter and more compact, they keep EP and finder at fixed angle which is very convenient for visual. With EQ mounts the angle of EP and finder change depending on the target coordinates, you need to keep rotating your diagonal and finder (or scope within the rings).

Advantage of manual EQ is easier one hand tracking and easy way to required target which shifted away due to sky rotation. To me fixed EP/finder position and more natural vertical/horizontal movement outweigh advantages of EQ. But you may decide otherwise.

If you decide to go with GoTo setup for visual AZ mounts have all the advantages over EQ. For AP is the other way around.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#5

Post by Butterfly Maiden »

Great advice so far, for which I thank you.

I actually have two pairs of binoculars - 8x30 and 10x50.

Both are okay but I don't have any mounts for them to attach to a tripod, so they get a bit tiring on the arms after a while. Not ideal for long sessions.

I will make a note of all models of telescopes that get suggested and do more research into them later on :smile:
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Re: First telescope advice please

#6

Post by Jnicholes »

I have an 80mm refractor myself. Its pretty light. Easy for me to carry around and transport.

80mm refractors are GREAT for looking at the moon, in my own opinion. Also good with planets. I can make out Jupiter's moons easily on mine.

I would start with an 80mm refractor, as others have recommended.

As for an eyepiece, I am not sure, don't have much experience with eyepieces. I only have one, a zoom eyepiece I use for all purpose astronomy. HOWEVER, a lunar filter might be needed for looking at the moon. It cuts down the light, making it easier to look at through a telescope. The filter screws onto the eyepiece easily.

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Re: First telescope advice please

#7

Post by Gordon »

Let me put my 2 cents in (shows how much it's worth).

I have 5 telescopes, 3 mounts, 2 pair of binos and I couldn't even begin to say how many eye pieces. Much of my work is now done with cameras so I use much more that I could carry any distance.

Now on to my advise.

Keep it simple. If I'm just going to visually see something, I grab an old Bushnell 76mm Newtonian StarSeeker, they don't make them anymore but Celestron has on that's similar https://www.amazon.com/Celestron-21044- ... B0002CTZB6

It doesn't track or locate objects but it actually gives you a pretty good view. As for eyepieces, I have too many.... For just casual viewing I find it much easier to just use a Zoom eyepiece. This is the one I have: https://www.amazon.com/Celestron-93230- ... 201&sr=1-4

You had mentioned using binos and how tiring it can get. I agree. What works for me is to take a 'walking stick' along and when you want to use the binos you can just place them on the top of the walking stick to stabilize them.

I'm sure everyone will have opinions but the above is my grab and go stuff that I have used for years.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#8

Post by sdbodin »

Ditto for a short 80, I have a couple and my Orion semi-apo is perfect grab and go. Couple with a 2 inch diagonal and 30mm eyepiece, the $80-$150 cheapo's, and a great birding scope at 14x, no need for a finder and at this mag it is a finder. Also, at 14x the full extent of M31 is visible and much more.

Mount, well, I'll leave that to others, needless to say this is difficult, maybe you need two, and easy manual alt-az for terrestrial and a goto for the heavens. This could be the expensive part.

Clear skies,
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Re: First telescope advice please

#9

Post by mikemarotta »

Butterfly Maiden wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 4:29 pm ... Anyway, basically I am looking for a lightweight telescope (not large in size) that Sophia and I can carry with us in the car to go into the Forest to view the sky at different locations ( as well as from our home) and is easy to set up. I don't want to have a laptop to control anything. ...
Bigzmey wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 5:08 pm Sounds like you want grab and go. Easy to setup and carry and suitable for wide variety of targets. I believe a small 80mm-102mm refractor or even short tube 120mm refractor on AltAz mount is the best option.
That is common sense advice, easy to endorse. All of Bigzmey's points are on-target.
As for DSOs, you can still see quite a bit in a small scope: the Orion Nebual, the Beehive, the Steam from the Teapot, Hercules Cluster, ..., an array of binaries, ...

Alt-Az mount for sure because of the weight factor.

On the same basis, I suggest a refractor not a reflector because the Newtonians do not travel as well as an all-lens system.

As for eyepieces, it depends on your budget. You really need only four: wide (40 to 32 mm), medium (25 to 20 mm), high-power (10 mm or so) and a 2X Barlow. They all compete well by brand name. Ploessl designs are always an easy recommendation: inexpensive and great for mid-range instruments. If you just started with a 32mm and a 2X Barlow you will be well on the way to a range of viewing options now and later.

You might want to ask here about specific makes and models as you get down to your choices.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#10

Post by Gfamily »

Butterfly Maiden wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 7:48 pm Great advice so far, for which I thank you.

I actually have two pairs of binoculars - 8x30 and 10x50.

Both are okay but I don't have any mounts for them to attach to a tripod, so they get a bit tiring on the arms after a while. Not ideal for long sessions.
If you have a tripod, things like this are easily available on ebay
Binocular mout.jpg
Search for "binocular mount" - Most decent 'porro' binoculars have a screw thread on the centre axis (usually with a cover fitted).

Have you discovered the binocularsky.com website (and newsletter) - they're brilliant for ideas on what can be seen from month to month.
Alternatively; take a foam sleep mat, lay it on the floor and you'll find it takes a lot of weight off your arms.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#11

Post by SkyHiker »

I had a lot of fun with my 80 mm Apo on a simple Exos Nano (a $99 equatorial mount that is quite solid). I also enjoyed using the 80 mm on my Tiltall binocular mount, which is really a camera/binocular mount but my Tiltall with a 20 kg load can easily handle the 80 mm. Having the 80 mm on the Tiltall (much taller than an Alt-Az mount) has the advantage that you don't need a diagonal so you can look in the direction that you are eyeballing the target, which makes point-and-view much easier. That said I use my Celestron Skymaster 20x80 on the Tiltall most because of ease of use and two-eye viewing. The Apo has the best quality of course, I would use it when I want to see everything crisp.

An 80 mm with a focal length of 480 mm has a wide enough field of view that tracking is not much of a problem. The Tiltall is $190, and is head and shoulders above fancy carbon fiber mounts, you will love it. You should be able to get an 80 mm achromat for below $200, but I would also recommend getting 20x80 binoculars, the Celestron Skymaster 20x80 are only $160 and they are a good value.

Sorry about the US $ prices, it is just to give an idea of the cost, you can find an equivalent in GB.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#12

Post by Gulf Coast Guy »

Butterfly Maiden wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 7:48 pm Great advice so far, for which I thank you.

I actually have two pairs of binoculars - 8x30 and 10x50.

Both are okay but I don't have any mounts for them to attach to a tripod, so they get a bit tiring on the arms after a while. Not ideal for long sessions.

I will make a note of all models of telescopes that get suggested and do more research into them later on :smile:
One of these will make the 10x50's more usable. Just lie back and scan the sky. much easier on both the arms and the neck.
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https://www.amazon.com/Gravity-Recliner ... 6766412459

Add this and a cold beverage and it gets even better.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#13

Post by GCoyote »

Gulf Coast Guy wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 10:31 pm
Butterfly Maiden wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 7:48 pm Great advice so far, for which I thank you.

I actually have two pairs of binoculars - 8x30 and 10x50.

Both are okay but I don't have any mounts for them to attach to a tripod, so they get a bit tiring on the arms after a while. Not ideal for long sessions.

I will make a note of all models of telescopes that get suggested and do more research into them later on :smile:
One of these will make the 10x50's more usable. Just lie back and scan the sky. much easier on both the arms and the neck.
Image
https://www.amazon.com/Gravity-Recliner ... 6766412459

Add this and a cold beverage and it gets even better.
Image
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K1OHZ1G/re ... ljaz10cnVl

Possibly my favorite accessory.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#14

Post by turboscrew »

Gfamily wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 10:04 pm
Butterfly Maiden wrote: Fri Jun 25, 2021 7:48 pm Great advice so far, for which I thank you.

I actually have two pairs of binoculars - 8x30 and 10x50.

Both are okay but I don't have any mounts for them to attach to a tripod, so they get a bit tiring on the arms after a while. Not ideal for long sessions.
If you have a tripod, things like this are easily available on ebay
Image
Search for "binocular mount" - Most decent 'porro' binoculars have a screw thread on the centre axis (usually with a cover fitted).

Have you discovered the binocularsky.com website (and newsletter) - they're brilliant for ideas on what can be seen from month to month.
Alternatively; take a foam sleep mat, lay it on the floor and you'll find it takes a lot of weight off your arms.
I have one of those. I use it to connect my 10x50 binoculars to my Manfrotto camera tripod.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#15

Post by notFritzArgelander »

If you plan to use the scope for terrestrial viewing too, I'd recommend rethinking the wide field eyepieces. They all suffer from pincushion distortion. So if you don't mind tree trunks and posts doing a shimmy as you pan the field of view they are OK. Use whatever eyepiece(s) comes with at first. A short refractor is a good low maintenance first choice. An 80mm f5 is popular.

If you want to do day time terrestrial observing you need an erecting prism. For night time use a star diagonal.

My grab and go kit consists of

VMC110L very nice lunar and planetary views and can reach all the Messier DSOs. I don't recommend it for beginners as you need to check collimation.

Vixen star diagonal.

Orion erect view diagonal.

Red dot finder.

Orion Star Seeker III giving alt azimuth mount.

I like the flip mirror that comes with some of the Vixen products. It allows switching to a camera (in the straight through position) after you've acquired the object. Focus at the camera not at the eyepiece. Several Vixen refractors are sold with the flip mirror assembly.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#16

Post by Ylem »

I second a ST80 and a heavy duty photo tripod for trips into the forest.
There are some decent tripods that might collapse enough to fit in a back pack.
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Re: First telescope advice please

#17

Post by ARock »

And in case you are wondering about where to buy a ST80 or clone, in your neck of the woods (when it comes back on stock)

OTA only, if you want to add your own mount.
https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startr ... 0-ota.html

Combo with a AZ3 mount.
https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startr ... 0-az3.html

The general Skywatcher Startravel page
https://www.firstlightoptics.com/startravel.html

It is generally good to plan your upgrade path/timeline. Do you think you want a scope for the next 1 year, 2 years, or 5 years. That might influence the choice of scope/mount to have things more future compatible.
AR
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Re: First telescope advice please

#18

Post by Graeme1858 »

Lots of sound advice there Vanessa.

And if you would like more here's a very fine article by our very own Bigzmey:

app.php/article/how-to-select-your-first-telescope.


Regards

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Re: First telescope advice please

#19

Post by Butterfly Maiden »

WOW! A very big thank you (and hugs) for an overwhelming amount of brilliant advice from everyone :D

It is going to take me quite some time to go through all these posts and pick out the equipment suggested for me to do further research (especially the cost involved.)

I also like the additional consideration for comfort whilst skywatching. Perfect :D
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turboscrew
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Re: First telescope advice please

#20

Post by turboscrew »

I'd recommend the binocular adapter anyway, if you have a camera tripod. It's not very expensive.
https://www.firstlightoptics.com/adapte ... apter.html
- Juha

Senior Embedded SW Designer
Telescope: OrionOptics XV12
Mount: CEM120, Tri-pier 360 and alternative dobson mount.
Eyepieces: 26 mm Omegon SWAN 70°, 15 mm TV Plössl, 6 mm Baader Classic Ortho, 5 mm TV DeLite
Explore Scientific HR 2" coma corrector
Meade x3 1.25" Barlow
Some filters (#80A, ND-96, ND-09, UHC)

LAT 61° 28' 10.9" N, Bortle 5

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