Old 07-26-2011, 09:56 PM #1
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Default First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

I have been debating buying a telescope for as long as I can remember but every time I set out to buy one online I get overwhelmed with options and end up just putting it off.

I have read lots of website guides to buying telescopes and have some general knowledge but its hard to understand exactly what is important when the last telescope experience I had was when my grandmother was baby sitting me as a child.

I know a couple things:

1. I am not a billionaire. I do not have a set budget set in stone or anything like that but I am looking at this as an occasional hobby (that I am sure will become an obsession I spend way too much money on).

2. I want a Reflector type with the parabolic mirror in the bottom since they seem to get the most light gathering for the $.

I see options like motorized bases, different types of tripods, different eye pieces, different accessories, name brands, no name brands etc and I am not sure what is important or what I need.

I may not buy it now but in December I am moving to Arizona which seems like a great place to start amateur astronomy.


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Old 07-26-2011, 10:14 PM #2
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

There are a plethora of telescope forums. You'd get better info there.
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Old 07-26-2011, 10:17 PM #3
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

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Originally Posted by Tech_Junkie View Post
There are a plethora of telescope forums. You'd get better info there.
Probably true but from what I have seen there are quite a few amateur astronomers kicking around here.

Right now I am just looking for some advice since I probably wont buy one until after I move. I will take your advice though once I get closer to making a purchase.

I like to be well researched.
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Old 07-26-2011, 10:30 PM #4
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

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I like to be well researched.
Me too, thats why I'd go to the source.
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Old 07-26-2011, 10:43 PM #5
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

If you're moving to Arizona, you should look up local astronomy clubs, there will be plenty in that state! Most clubs have a set place to observe once or twice a month, if you attend one you'll be able to test drive some of the scopes that are available.

Just getting into astronomy, the best place to start would be with a good pair of binoculars, a start chart and a red flashlight. I've seen several people jump right in with a 10 or 12 inch dobsonian or SCT and end up loosing interest after a while.

After that, you should decide where you want to go with the hobby, astrophotography or just casual observing. For just casual observing, a dobsonian is perfect, very easy to setup and maintain. For astrophotography an SCT on a German Equitorial mount is the best bet. You can get a fork mounted SCT but it makes astrophotography a bit more difficult.

I got into astrophotography pretty deep back in the 90's. Back then it was all 35mm film. I even hypered the film to make it more sensitive. It was basically baking the film in a chamber of nitrogen for a few days, the results were amazing. Today it's all CCD's and auto-guiding which makes astrophotography quite easy compaired to the 35mm days.

Quote:
quite a few amateur astronomers kicking around here.
I've noticed that as well, about the same thing on the other forum. I got my start in astronomy, then worked in a planetarium that ran laser shows, been hooked on lasers ever since...
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Old 07-26-2011, 10:55 PM #6
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

Thats an awesome picture. Going to a local club meet up is a great idea. Then I can get an idea of what the actual possibilities are with several scopes.

What kind of scope is required to see something like you have in the picture? I really have no idea what to expect out of a telescope except that space is indescribably interesting to me.

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Old 07-26-2011, 11:04 PM #7
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

hey I live in az. Middle of nowhere a.z. black skys!! An 8in, an s.c.t. on a smart mount would be a great first great telescope no need to hunt what you want to see just push a button and it goes right to the objec you see

@djz..did you take that pic of M42?
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:05 PM #8
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

I'm a big fan of Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes, when one has the MONEY for them. I used cheap department store refractors for a long time, but then I got a Bausch & Lomb 4000 Pro. Also got an electric drive corrector for it.

That telescope is now defunct... I had it for years, but the tropics got to it (Hawaii)... some kind of fungus ate little pits in the mirrors / lenses (the air was EXTREMELY humid & salty there).

Found these pics:




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Old 07-26-2011, 11:18 PM #9
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

I had mine for 8 years now and the primary mirror and corrector plate is still flawless! dry arizona air!
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:41 PM #10
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

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What kind of scope is required to see something like you have in the picture? I really have no idea what to expect out of a telescope except that space is indescribably interesting to me.
The picture is of M42, you can actually see that nebula with a pair of binoculars just fine. Just understand that what you see in pics is not what you're going to see thru a scope. M42 looks like a blue cloud with either pair of binos or a scope. It takes the light gathering ability of either emulsion film or ccd to capture the color.

Quote:
@djz..did you take that pic of M42?
Yes, it's a 30 minute exposure on hypered film. Shot thru a C-8 SCT, manually guided. I probably took that pic 12-15 years ago! Amazing how time flies....
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Old 07-26-2011, 11:47 PM #11
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

Thanks all for the suggestions

Quote:
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The picture is of M42, you can actually see that nebula with a pair of binoculars just fine. Just understand that what you see in pics is not what you're going to see thru a scope. M42 looks like a blue cloud with either pair of binos or a scope. It takes the light gathering ability of either emulsion film or ccd to capture the color.



Yes, it's a 30 minute exposure on hypered film. Shot thru a C-8 SCT, manually guided. I probably took that pic 12-15 years ago! Amazing how time flies....
So in order to get real detail a long exposure is required? I would imagine this is dependent on the distance of the object. Its amazing however you did it.

Any other pictures of what can be seen through an amateur telescope would be greatly appreciated from anyone!
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Old 07-27-2011, 12:12 AM #12
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

You should get this book. The backyard astronomers guide by ,terence dickinson&alan dyer
It tells averything you need to know about a first telescope to astrophotography.

Sorry don't have a link to it.
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:59 AM #13
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

I have a nice orion one myself, but if you are going to get into them I STRONGLY suggest you get a Dobsonian (SP) if you want to be looking at some seriously cool stuff get a 10 inch or bigger!

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Old 07-27-2011, 08:42 AM #14
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

I used to have a reflection telescope with a very basic motorized base.

The motor becomes very handy, it only takes a few minutes before everything has moved completely out of view.
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Old 07-27-2011, 09:38 AM #15
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

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Any other pictures of what can be seen through an amateur telescope would be greatly appreciated from anyone!
... simply the variety of star COLORS, compared to the naked eye.

You start to see gold stars, deep blue ones, red ones, etc etc etc. It is like looking at gemstones.

Something fairly dramatic is to look at binaries (incl. just "visual binaries") of two stars that are completely different in color.

-----

Star CLUSTERS.

-----

Another very good book: Peterson Field Guides -> "Stars and Planets" / Donald H. Menzel / Jay M. Pasachoff. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, ISBN 0-395-34835-8 (paperback)

I have the Second Edition, 1983, $12.95

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Old 07-27-2011, 05:39 PM #16
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Default Re: First Telescope - Best Options? Things to Consider?

Straight Newt Reflector, 4" or better, is the best investment for a starter. A dobsonian base will work just fine in the beginning. Don't bother with EQ mounts and motor drives until you are sure you want to start putting a lot of funds into the hobby. I would suggest putting your money into GOOD eyepieces. You'llbe able to use them with your next scope, mostlikely.
You really need a polar aligned eq mount with a motor drive to do good astro photography. It's easy to get discouraged with bad results because of inadequate equipment, so save that for later. You'll enjoy it much more that way. Have fun and good luck.

P.S. learning to condition your eyesight to dark conditions before observing (and being able to find a good dark spot with good conditions) will greatly enhance your experience, even when observing with binoc's.

Last edited by 123splat; 07-27-2011 at 05:44 PM.
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