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Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 5:02 pm
by starguru
Hi all,

Looking for my first telescope; here is my situation:

1. I've already done a lot of research and understand the pros and cons of each type of telescope.
2. I live outside of DC; I'm not sure what the light pollution situation is. It's definitely not the darkest sky Ive ever seen. I can easily find Orion and the Big Dipper. My neighborhood has a bunch of houses whose owners have decided to light up like daytime, but on the patio behind the house I am relatively shielded from this, at the cost of having a limited field of view (the 180 degrees behind the house, which faces east).
3. I've been on the relevant reddits and universally the advice has been buy an 8" DOB.
4. Not sure if I will ever take pictures, but I don't want to exclude the possibility. I have been told on the reddits most people have separate setups for viewing and photography.
5. I called High Point Scientific and the guy with whom I spoke recommended one of the Celestron SCTs.
6. I'd be interested in viewing DSOs and planets.
7. I'd be willing to spend $1-2k for the right setup, but am worried about the light situation as I'm not going to travel frequently for this (small kids at home). Biggest fear is I by a kick-ass setup but the light pollution kills my ability to get the most out of it.
8. I looked into local astronomy clubs, but the only stuff I found online don't have any events until March.

So I'm a bit stuck in analysis paralysis. The SCT seems to have the same aperture size as the DOB, with the f/10 rating but the ability to go down to f/6 with a focal reducer. Also a smaller and lighter package, but more expensive. I'm not sold on some of these goto scopes; I'd like to learn how to find things myself, but admittedly once the charm of DIY wears off the convenience would be nice. That particular model that I linked has some troubling reviews about the quality of the mount.

Some of the awesome photos I see are taken with apochromatic refractors; not sure if those would be better for viewing.

So I'm looking for more advice here. Thanks in advance.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 5:25 pm
by helicon
I'd suggest either an 8" Dob or an 8" SCT. If you want to observe the moon and planets regularly I'd suggest the SCT over the Dob. However, if your interest is more deep sky objects than I would get the 8" Dob. Your light pollution situation sounds similar to mine, Bortle 6-7. From home I've managed to observe the 110 Messier objects even though the LP is an irritant. If you want to do astrophotography at some point in the future I'd get the SCT. You can always get a small refractor for AP as well, as a dedicated instrument.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:22 pm
by starguru
helicon wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 5:25 pm
I'd suggest either an 8" Dob or an 8" SCT. If you want to observe the moon and planets regularly I'd suggest the SCT over the Dob. However, if your interest is more deep sky objects than I would get the 8" Dob. Your light pollution situation sounds similar to mine, Bortle 6-7. From home I've managed to observe the 110 Messier objects even though the LP is an irritant. If you want to do astrophotography at some point in the future I'd get the SCT. You can always get a small refractor for AP as well, as a dedicated instrument.
Hi Helicon thanks for the reply. Do you have any recommendations as far as brand is concerned, or any opinions on the SCT I linked above? Also, I've read that Meade makes pretty good SCTs. Does it ever make sense to buy the OTA separately, for more customization?

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:27 pm
by Refractordude
Buy cheap and used to start. A used scope can be resold for what you paid for it. Be sure to test it out with a friend that has some hobby experience. My favorite beginner scope is the Meade 102mm infinity refractor. Right click both images.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Meade-Instru ... e/41147082

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:09 pm
by Lady Fraktor
Personally I would look at the 8" Newtonian or a 4" refractor when starting out.
The Celestron Omni XLT 102mm with CG-4 is an excellent package as well as the Apertura/ Zhumell 200mm Newtonian.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:37 pm
by Larry 1969
Goto is not a must but it is pretty nice but some kind of tracking is a must if you plan to take some pictures.
I started out with a 10" goto collapsible dob for visual and it was great! Since it's collapsible I was able to attach a DSLR camera and get it to focus.
And it tracks (albeit crudely) so I can get OK 20 second exposures. That sparked a rather expensive journey. :D

Good luck!

Larry

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:42 pm
by starguru
Refractordude wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:27 pm
Buy cheap and used to start. A used scope can be resold for what you paid for it. Be sure to test it out with a friend that has some hobby experience. My favorite beginner scope is the Meade 102mm infinity refractor. Right click both images.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Meade-Instru ... e/41147082
Heh, someone is selling a Meade Telescope NG-70SM for $20 near me. Should I get it or is it crap?

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:53 pm
by Lady Fraktor
For $20 if it is complete and the focuser and lens are in good condition it would be a fun telescope to view the Moon and such with.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:58 pm
by mikemarotta
starguru wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 5:02 pm
1. I've already done a lot of research and understand the pros and cons of each type of telescope.
2. I live outside of DC; I'm not sure what the light pollution situation is. It's definitely not the darkest sky Ive ever seen.
That all being as it may, while the 6-inch dobsonian might have been a better first choic for myself, I am not running out to buy one now. I could. But I will not. One thing about reflectors is that they need collimation. You need to adjust the alignments of the optics. Typically, it takes $300 of laser and four to six hours. Myself, I might spend the same amount of money as I would on a big "light bucket" reflector on a refractor. It would have a smaller aperture for the money, but it is less likely to be knocked out of alignment by casual use. But, again, I am not rushing into anything.

That was some of the advice you received: for the price buy the larger reflector or somewhat smaller refractor.

You really cannot go wrong whatever your choice for the kind of money you seem able to spend. The kids will grow up and grow up with your hobby of astronomy. It is not so much that they will become astronomers, but that you will be able to spend constructive and creative time with them. In the mean time - and after they are gone - you will have your own hobby. There is no law against a second telescope for yourself when and as you can afford it. In the mean time, it seems that you have nothing but good choices to pick from.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:01 pm
by starguru
Lady Fraktor wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:53 pm
For $20 if it is complete and the focuser and lens are in good condition it would be a fun telescope to view the Moon and such with.
Thanks. Any reason you recommended the 8” Newtonian or 4” refractor for starting out?

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:01 pm
by Smitty
Heh, someone is selling a Meade Telescope NG-70SM for $20 near me. Should I get it or is it crap?


For $20 bucks and if all the parts are there I say GO for it” :galleleo:

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:04 pm
by starguru
Refractordude wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:27 pm
Buy cheap and used to start. A used scope can be resold for what you paid for it. Be sure to test it out with a friend that has some hobby experience. My favorite beginner scope is the Meade 102mm infinity refractor. Right click both images.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Meade-Instru ... e/41147082
Refractordude how would something like the Orion Nebula look in a scope that size? I’m having trouble finding images online.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:09 pm
by Lady Fraktor
The Newtonian is good optics for a low price which can be put towards accessories.
A 4" refractor is an excellent size for viewing and still a easily transportable package.

Unless you are planning on spending the money to get a aplanatic SCT, (this is my opinion) a standard SCT though they gather a lot of light the optics tend to be a bit of a soft view which blurs out a lot of fine details.
This is why I prefer to use refractors for planetary observing, the view is usually quite better.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:13 pm
by Lady Fraktor
starguru wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 8:04 pm
Refractordude how would something like the Orion Nebula look in a scope that size? I’m having trouble finding images online.
What you see in an online image is not what you are going to see visually through a telescope.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:19 pm
by Bigzmey
When I started observing I went through a few entry level scopes (reflectors and refractors) but was never quite satisfied before I finally upgraded to 8" SCT. 4 years later it is still my most used scope.

If I knew what I know now back then I would went straight for it. As you I am not a big fan of computerized mount so I have purchased just the scope OTA

https://www.highpointscientific.com/bra ... -11069-ota

and manual AltAz mount

https://www.highpointscientific.com/exp ... d-maz01-00

This combo works like a charm. Very compact and lightweight but goes deep on DSOs and great for Moon, planets and splitting doubles.
home_site.jpg

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:29 pm
by JayTee
mikemarotta wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:58 pm
You need to adjust the alignments of the optics. Typically, it takes $300 of laser and four to six hours.
@mikemarotta
Mike,

This information is both biased and flat out wrong!!! I can collimate my 8" Newtonian reflector with a film can with a hole poked in the bottom in less than 5 minutes. Oh wait, that's both free and quick. It is important with newbies seeking advice to inject as little bias a possible.

JT

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:53 pm
by starguru
JayTee wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 10:29 pm
mikemarotta wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:58 pm
You need to adjust the alignments of the optics. Typically, it takes $300 of laser and four to six hours.
@mikemarotta
Mike,

This information is both biased and flat out wrong!!! I can collimate my 8" Newtonian reflector with a film can with a hole poked in the bottom in less than 5 minutes. Oh wait, that's both free and quick. It is important with newbies seeking advice to inject as little bias a possible.

JT
Yes I’ve seen multiple explainers for collimnation and it doesn’t seem too bad. Would probably take a while the first time and then be routine.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:32 pm
by starguru
Bigzmey wrote:
Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:19 pm
When I started observing I went through a few entry level scopes (reflectors and refractors) but was never quite satisfied before I finally upgraded to 8" SCT. 4 years later it is still my most used scope.

If I knew what I know now back then I would went straight for it. As you I am not a big fan of computerized mount so I have purchased just the scope OTA

https://www.highpointscientific.com/bra ... -11069-ota

and manual AltAz mount

https://www.highpointscientific.com/exp ... d-maz01-00

This combo works like a charm. Very compact and lightweight but goes deep on DSOs and great for Moon, planets and splitting doubles.

home_site.jpg
Hmm this isn't helping :).

How do the Celestron SCTs compare with the Meade? I've seen a bunch of favorable reviews of the Celestron, but where they go south is talking about the mounts and the GOTO. Which of course would not matter if I did everything a la carte. I am still interested in the Meade telescope I referenced in my first post. Their alignment procedure seems very streamlined.

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:37 pm
by JayTee
How do the Celestron SCTs compare with the Meade? I've seen a bunch of favorable reviews of the Celestron, but where they go south is talking about the mounts and the GOTO. Which of course would not matter if I did everything a la carte. I am still interested in the Meade telescope I referenced in my first post. Their alignment procedure seems very streamlined.
Firstly, Meade is going out of business so that pretty much seals that deal. Both manufacturers (Celestron and Meade) have alignment procedures that are easy to accomplish, (I own mounts from both of them). It is sad about Meade but at this time, I would steer clear if it is a new telescope you are interested in.

Cheers,
JT

Re: Another seeking recommendations for a first telescope question

Posted: Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:45 pm
by Lady Fraktor
The Celestron programming is one of the more intuitive of the various ones available from China.
Menus are easy to navigate and straight forward.
The Meade is quite good as well but the menu is not as streamlined and doing resets can be a hassle.