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Pantherjon

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Well, this is way on out there..Anyway, I have been bitten by this strange bug to look into our universe..Have been looking around for a good 'first' telescope and think I have narrowed the choices down to 2..Would like others opinions as well..Criteria is less then $200 for right now..Here are the links to my 2 choices, prices are within $10 of each other..Which one would you get?

http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/reflecting-telescopes/meade114eqastrequatorialreflector.cfm

http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/reflecting-telescopes/celestronastromaster114eqreflector.cfm

Right now I am leaning towards the Celestron model, but would like some input..
 

WillMarchant

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Do you already have a good set of binoculars? I'd suggest getting that before a telescope.
 

dedleytedley

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Hi Pantherjon I heartily agree with the ege regarding the dobsonian telescope. It is much easier to use than an equatorial mount. The F4.5 ratio is also much better than a narrow field of view(F10 etc.) With a dobsonian you can sight down the side of the tube to find objects or better still get a telrad finder scope for it. If you get one soon you can do the Messier Marathon this year! Ted
 

GregGleason

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While at university in 1983, I took an astronomy course and we used 8" (203mm) Celestrons with clock drives. So if it were me, I go with the Celestron and add the motor drive for the AstroMaster. Having the motor drive keep things in sync while you are watching something is a real help.

Two stories of my lab with the telescopes:

1) Looking at M31, the Andromeda Galaxy. It looked like an elliptical mist, because you cannot resolve stars as individual points of light. Makes one feel real small.

2) I was looking at the Ring Nebula when a blinding light entered the telescope. I looked around for the "wise guy" with the flashlight who though it would be funny to turn it on at the business end of my telescope, but everyone was looking through their 'scopes. I looked up again and saw the faint trace of a satellite, slowly arcing its way through the night sky. The satellite just happened to cross my field of view, but because of the light gathering capacity of the 'scope, it appeared as a bright light.

Greg
 

MattieShoes

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In terms of bang for the buck, Dobsonians are by far the best. They're not great for astrophotography, but you'd need to have a budget 10 times as big to even consider telescope astrophotography I think.

Were it me, I'd save up and get a more sizeable telescope, perhaps an 8" dobsonian ($330ish). They collect a lot more light, so you can see those faint fuzzy things better.

Incidentally, I have an 8" Newtonian from Orion (same scope, only on a motorized equatorial mount).

One downside of dobsonians is you need to collimate them. It's about a 5 minute process when you get it out to play, but I thought I'd mention it. I bought a laser collimator, makes things very painless.

Correction: You could take pictures of very bright objects like the moon, mars, jupiter, and saturn with a dobsonian, but it's still far from ideal for astrophotography
 
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sylvie369

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A couple of comments for accuracy's sake -

That 4.5" Starblast mount isn't really a Dobsonian.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobsonian_telescope

Here's what a Dobsonian looks like:

http://www.telescope.com/control/te...rion-skyquest-xt6-classic-dobsonian-telescope

That's just a picky point, unrelated to the suggestion.

Secondly, it's not just Dobsonians that need to be collminated. A typical Newtonian reflector - including the two the OP was looking at - will need to be collminated as well, and I'd be inclined to say that any reflector will (but I'll bet somewhere out there there's an exception).

A bigger telescope is nice for looking at faint objects, but portability REALLY matters, and someone just jumping in might do better with a small scope that he'll actually use rather than a larger one that is just too much hassle. Maybe not, in this case, but it's certainly something he should think about.
 
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MattieShoes

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A couple of comments for accuracy's sake -

That 4.5" Starblast mount isn't really a Dobsonian.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobsonian_telescope

Here's what a Dobsonian looks like:

http://www.telescope.com/control/te...rion-skyquest-xt6-classic-dobsonian-telescope

That's just a picky point, unrelated to the suggestion.

Secondly, it's not just Dobsonians that need to be collminated. A typical Newtonian reflector - including the two the OP was looking at - will need to be collminated as well, and I'd be inclined to say that any reflector will (but I'll bet somewhere out there there's an exception).

A bigger telescope is nice for looking at faint objects, but portability REALLY matters, and someone just jumping in might do better with a small scope that he'll actually use rather than a larger one that is just too much hassle. Maybe not, in this case, but it's certainly something he should think about.
Orion makes Starblasts on a dobsonian mount.
http://www.telescope.com/control/product/~category_id=minidobs/~pcategory=dobsonians/~product_id=09814

They also sell them on a equatorial mount
http://www.telescope.com/control/telescopes/reflector-telescopes/orion-starblast-4*5-equatorial-reflector-telescope

Portability is definitely something to consider... I guess you pick your frustration... frustration lugging it around or frustration in trying to see anything dim with it.

Yeah, all newtonian scopes do need collimation. What sort of mount it's on isn't going to change that :)

Incidentally, the scope is just the first expense. You'll want a nice pair of binoculars with it, and the eyepieces that come with scopes are often low quality. Decent eyepieces are fairly pricey, running around $50 a pop, and the best ones are more than double your entire budget. Nagler and other wide-angle eyepieces are an experience -- instead of seeing a porthole with magnified stars, when you put your eye up to a Nagler, you see stars everywhere! Of course, they start at over $200 for a single eyepiece... Ouch!
 

tbzep

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A bigger telescope is nice for looking at faint objects, but portability REALLY matters, and someone just jumping in might do better with a small scope that he'll actually use rather than a larger one that is just too much hassle. Maybe not, in this case, but it's certainly something he should think about.
Absolutely. I have a 10" SCT that seldom gets used because it's so cumbersome. I know several folks that have 8", 10", and 12" Newtonians and SCT's that usually leave them packed away while they pull out their little 3.5" Questars and ETX 125's.
 

Handeman

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.... So if it were me, I go with the Celestron and add the motor drive for the AstroMaster. Having the motor drive keep things in sync while you are watching something is a real help.
Greg
I totally agree with this. Get the motor drive! You won't be sorry.

A few things to remember:
  • the bigger the diameter, the more light and fainter things you can see
  • lens quality, especially the eye piece can make a huge difference
  • if the telescope is advertised by its powers of magnification, it's probably a toy.
I highly recommend the motor drive on an equitorial mount. Without a drive, once you find what you want to look at, depending on magnification, in 15 to 30 seconds, it will have moved out of the field of view and you have to adjust the scope again. With a motor drive, once you find your object, flip on the drive and the object will stay in the field of view for minutes at a time. Most motor drives have a pause and 4x speed buttons so you can tweak the image position without having to actually touch the scope and make it shake.
Here's the link for the motor drive for the Celestron, it's $40.
 

sylvie369

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I think it's very reasonable to feel differently, but personally, I'd recommend a smaller scope to a person looking for a first scope. For a pretty small investment ($200? That's a no-brainer - cheap enough to give away to a happy kid when you outgrow it) you can learn something about what there is to see, and get some idea how to locate objects. The jump up to the aperture needed to get good views of the "faint fuzzies" is enough that I think a first-time scope user would tend to say "forget it - it's not worth the hassle". If you get the fever from that first scope, you can always go buy the larger one later, when you have a much better idea what you really want, based on the experience you had with the small one.

I had a heavy and not very portable Newtonian when I was a kid (in the late 60s), and sadly I got much more use out of my cheap department store refractor, not because it was better in any way, but because I could carry it outside with one hand and be observing right away. Last year I bought my first "adult" scope, and went with a little 80mm Meade which I pull out pretty frequently. I'll probably get a larger scope soon, but because I am willing to carry the 80mm around with me when I go camping and things like that, I've seen more in the past year than I did in the entire time I spent in my parents' backyard as a kid. I'm surprised to find that I can see dim nebulosity in M42 through an 80mm scope set up on my balcony, especially with an anti-sky pollution filter. Clusters are easy and pretty spectacular. I'd love more aperture, and I very likely will go for it soon, but I'm very happy with this small scope.

Handelman wrote "if the telescope is advertised by its powers of magnification, it's probably a toy".

I couldn't agree more. This is probably the first rule of telescope buying (and OP seems to have already understood it).

Mattie wrote

"Orion makes Starblasts on a dobsonian mount.
http://www.telescope.com/control/pro...oduct_id=09814"

Well, again, that's not a Dobsonian mount. It's some kind of special design of its own. I see that Orion does refer to it as a "Dobsonian", though, or at least it appears when you click on the filter to show you scopes with Dob mounts. It doesn't really matter, of course, what the mount is called. I am curious, though, about people's experiences with that mount. It looks like the scope is connected only at one point, through a threaded bolt on the other side of that knob. I think I read a review in one of the astronomy magazines in which the reviewer said that the view was remarkably stable for that design, but I think I'd want some reassurance on that before getting my expectations up. A true Dobsonian, with the scope resting on two large contact points seems much more likely to give good stable views.

Regardless, that's another consideration: the stability of the mount. It's not much fun watching Jupiter dancing around your field of view every time a little wind comes through.
 
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o1d_dude

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The mini-dobs are kind of gimmick if you ask me. I'd recommend the 4.5" Orion Classic which you can see H E R E.

Yes, it's a little more expensive ($225+) and you will still have to pay shipping. Overall, I think you will be happier with it. Give some thought to popping for another $50 and getting the 6" model. Welcome to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome).

For better pricing, check your local Craigslist and search for "telescope -steering -wheel". The two minus items will keep cars with telescoping steering wheels out of your search results.

Another thing you can try is the Cloudy Nights website. Join the forum there and ask for advice. Cloudy Nights and tell them I sent you :D
 

Pantherjon

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Thanks for all the input and resouces! I will certainly look into the Cloudy Nights forums! I am certainly going to go into this with my eyes open(pun intended) and learn as much as I can prior to making the investment..And yeah, I read somewhere(can't recall now where) about the 'magnification power' games. All that will end up doing is showing you bigger 'globs' of light.:roll: I am still a newb, so as much info as possible is appreciated..

And, I suppose, a good set of binos would be a worthy 'first step'. Plus they will make it easier to track my rockets! :)
 

jeff_in_AZ

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Another good source of information and experience might be
a local astronomy club. Where I live there is
a club that sponsors public "star parties"
once a month, where club members set up their
telescopes at a local library parking lot.
The public is invited to come and look through the
telescopes and talk astronomy. It is a lot of fun
and very interesting. You get to see a wide variety
of telescopes from starter systems to ones costing several
thousand dollars. If you are considering buying
some particular telescope, someone there probably either
has one on display or has one at home. You might even find
a good deal on a gently used scope.
 

MattieShoes

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The same set of binocs can indeed be used for astronomy and rocketry, though astronomy binocs are a bit more restrictive... You aren't worried so much about magnification, but you want a lot of light gathering power. That means a lot of those super-compact sport type binoculars aren't very suitable.

Binoculars are listed like "10x50" meaning 10x magnification and 50mm objective lenses. If you divide them, you get the exit pupil... 50/10 = 5mm. You want an exit pupil of at least 5mm and preferably closer to 7mm for astronomy use. More than 7mm exit pupil is kind of a waste because your own pupils wont open up more than that even in the dark.

IMHO, I think 7x50 or 8x50 binoculars are about perfect for nighttime viewing. Higher magnification makes your view more shaky and if the objectives are scaled up too, they can get heavy. I wouldn't go past 10x for handheld binoculars.

I don't own these but they look to be about perfect for hunting down the faint fuzzies like the Messier objects. They offer nearly an inch of eye relief too so you don't have to plaster your eyeball to the eyepiece in order to use them. The Andromeda galaxy and the great nebula in Orion are two of the most impressive sights in the northern hemisphere, IMHO. The great globular cluster in Hercules is cool too... If you've got dark skies to the south, there's all sorts of awesome stuff around Sagittarius too.

This is obvious, but be careful about the sun when you're tracking rockets with binoculars.
 
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MarkII

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Higher magnification makes your view more shaky and if the objectives are scaled up too, they can get heavy. I wouldn't go past 10x for handheld binoculars.
No? Darn..................





Mark K.
 

MattieShoes

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No? Darn..................





Mark K.
Haha! Mounted binoculars are awesome, but 10x70s are already fairly heavy and make me feel like there's something wrong with me because I just... cant... hold them... steady!
 

Pantherjon

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Well, I have been doing quite a bit of reading and looking around lately..Was only up til 2am this morning after work reading up on scopes!:rolleyes:

Anyway, I have(or will have shortly) a telescope enroute to me! :) Found a NIB Meade 114EQ-ASTR on eBay, and won the bid for it for $50!:D:clap:

I had read some good reviews on this scope, so hopefully they are true!

Also found a local astronomy club! Only bummer is that their monthly meetings are on nights I work.:( Will have to e-mail them to find out when their next 'star party' is..Also have a few 'star guide' books on their way to me too..
 

Handeman

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Sounds like you're all set! Now you just have to adjust that work schedule and.....
 

o1d_dude

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Should be a decent scope for you to get your feet wet.

Hooking up with the local astronomy club is key, tho. Look through as many of their telescopes as you can. It will give you an idea of what to expect. Many folks approach astronomy with the idea they will see Hubble quality images through the eyepiece and are sorely disappointed by the reality.

Should you decide to look at a few things and hand the scope off, your investment is minimal and you can probably recoup by selling.

A well-known astronomical telescope designer (Thomas M Back of TMB Optical) offered the following advice: "Don’t worry about what telescope you own, or its quality. Just get out under the night sky, and enjoy God’s wondrous universe."

In any event, enjoy the stars!
 

MattieShoes

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It's good to have a sky program too... Cartes du Ciel is very popular, though I personally prefer Hallo Northern Sky. Both are free. :)
 

sylvie369

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A few weeks ago I was forwarded an email from one of our students, who wanted to sell a telescope that she and her husband had bought. It was a 12" Celestron, worth a couple of thousand dollars. She didn't sound too knowledgeable about it, and so I asked if she'd won it in a contest (I thought that the same model was the top prize in an Astronomy magazine contest recently). She said no, she and her husband had just decided to buy it. They set it up once, looked at the moon and Saturn, and never pulled it out again, and now she needs the money to pay some delinquent tuition before we'll let her finish her degree.

I understand why she needed that scope. It was so she could see the Earth from whatever planet she and her husband are living on.
---------
Then yesterday I was picking up a few parts at a Radio Shack, and the guy at the counter asked what they were for. I said I was putting together a rocket project, he said he used to fly rockets, then changed the conversation to telescopes. I mentioned that I'd bought one last year, as it was the "Year of the Telescope", and he said he was looking at one, a $2000 Celestron. I said "I assume you've had telescopes before, then", and he said "nope, this would be my first one".

Geez. Same planet. I should have asked if he knows my student and her husband.

I think you're making a very good choice, Jon, in spending a very small amount for your first scope. You'll probably want a much better one before too long, but you'll have learned what it is that you need, and what to look for.
 

Peartree

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Geez. Same planet. I should have asked if he knows my student and her husband.
This phenomenon is not new...

"A foole and his money is soone parted."
[1587 J. Bridges Defence of Government in Church of England xv. 1294]

"A foole and his money be soone at debate: which after with sorow repents him too late."
[1573 T. Tusser Husbandry (rev. ed.) ix.]

"Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom?"
- Proverbs 17:16
 

ScrapDaddy

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[1587 J. Bridges Defence of Government in Church of England xv. 1294]
this is where the word antidisestablishmentarianism comes into play :D [to be against the belief that there should no longer be an offical church or the country] Now that's an OxyMoron:D
 

MarkII

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Then yesterday I was picking up a few parts at a Radio Shack, and the guy at the counter asked what they were for. I said I was putting together a rocket project, he said he used to fly rockets, then changed the conversation to telescopes. I mentioned that I'd bought one last year, as it was the "Year of the Telescope", and he said he was looking at one, a $2000 Celestron. I said "I assume you've had telescopes before, then", and he said "nope, this would be my first one".
If I could afford it, I would buy a $2k Meade or Celestron SCT or ACF and a decent set of eyepieces in a heartbeat, even though it would be my very first 'scope. And trust me, it would get used. A lot. Astronomy has been a lifelong passion of mine that even predates my interest in rocketry (and THAT goes back a really long way). I was a BASW (Born Again Sky Watcher) long before I became a BAR. Coming across some rocketry ads on an astronomy website that I was viewing several years ago was the spark that relit the wildfire that has raged ever since. I get a big charge whenever I step outside at night and see a clear sky. My wife can tell you about the night in November, 2001 when I woke her up at 3am so that we could drive out to a really dark spot on the lake shore and watch the Leonids, which were incredible that year.

Mark K.
 

Peartree

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this is where the word antidisestablishmentarianism comes into play :D [to be against the belief that there should no longer be an offical church or the country] Now that's an OxyMoron:D
Not even close.

Oxymoron: A figure of speech in which incongruous or contradictory terms appear side by side; a compressed paradox. Adjective: oxymoronic. See also: verbal paradox.

An oxymoron is "Jumbo Shrimp," "military intelligence," or "balanced federal budget." Terms that simply don't go together or are considered opposites. A great many countries have official religions or national churches. The United States is not one becauee our Constitution prohibits a national church (although well *after* the constitution was written and ratified, many US states established official STATE churches).
 

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