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Amateur telescope reccomendations?

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Blast it Tom!

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I gave you (caveduck) a "like" for a great recommendation, but... I was married, had 5 kids, and was back in school by 1986, and your binoculars are "vintage"?!?!

Woe is me! (and a bunch of us here!) o_O
 
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gdjsky01

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This must be overwhelming. Look. Binoculars are nice but after a few minutes your arms get tired. And you'll not nurture your interest much. Those recommendations are good intentions but misguided IMO. Binos should be your second telescope.

Right now, you'd have to be blind not to be able to look south and see Jupiter and Saturn. A simple mobile app will point you there. Mars for me is super bright rising high in the east and 1/2 way (at least) up in the south by 2am. Again you can not miss it.

If you are scared of newtonian collimation (there no need to be but many are) then find a 90mm refractor. I fear the mount of the 90mm is not the best.

However a 15cm dob will blow you away. Just 4 objects. Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and the moon. A 20cm (maybe used?) even more so. And you are not screwing around with cheap motors and gears.
 

caveduck

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I did say binocs on tripod...no way would I recommend handheld in that aperture :). Though I do use them quite successfully for tracking deployments on high HPR flights.
 

o1d_dude

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I get a lot of mileage out of my old vintage 1986 Japan-made Celestron 11x80 binocs on a solid Manfrotto tripod. Good contrast and pretty decent light gathering, drastically better than 8x50's. You can cruise ebay for vintage giant binocs, right now there is an Orion 11x80 for $200 that would probably not suck. 8"+ dob is not a bad idea either. Make sure you get a decent finder.
Nice bino set up you’ve got there.

Love me some bino. They get more use than my Stellarvue refractors.
 

gdjsky01

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I did say binocs on tripod...no way would I recommend handheld in that aperture :)
Yes, but still not optimal unless you have amazing (decent?) skies, aka at least somewhat dark skies. For TODAY'S beginners, I just don't think binos are the answer.

Right now, you can grab a 15cm dob from someone, and Jove, Saturn, Mars, and the moon will blow you away. ok ok Mars is small no matter WHAT. But STUDY IT. The moon? Weeks and weeks of different views due to shadow changes. And IF I CAN DETECT M57, M5, M22, and M15 under Los Angeles Bortle 8 skies with a 127mm mak or SCT imagine if the OP has darker skies? And a simple mobile app will point the way if you really can't see them.

I wish buying a scope for a newcomer was easier. In many ways, Telescopes are like cars... how fast do you want to go? Or like jewels... how much purity do you want? $500CAD which I think is about $360USD is a tough call. Yet I understand when people say "Excuse me!!", MORE than $360? Yeah... optics+mount are expensive. As I think I mentioned, expectations... I'll head out tonight with my $200USD (bought used) Apex 127mm Mak-Cass on a $180 Twilight I AltAz mount (bought as a demo), with a $120 Bresser diagonal, and a few $90 Japanese orthos... and Mars might be awesome. But my expectations are seeing the polar cap and some 'markings'.

Hooking up with club can often be a lifesaver as they have rentals, or scopes for sale locally.
 

gdjsky01

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Yes, but still not optimal unless you have amazing (decent?) skies, aka at least somewhat dark skies. For TODAY'S beginners, I just don't think binos are the answer.

Right now, you can grab a 15cm dob from someone, and Jove, Saturn, Mars, and the moon will blow you away. ok ok Mars is small no matter WHAT. But STUDY IT. The moon? Weeks and weeks of different views due to shadow changes. And IF I CAN DETECT M57, M5, M22, and M15 under Los Angeles Bortle 8 skies with a 127mm mak or SCT imagine if the OP has darker skies? And a simple mobile app will point the way if you really can't see them.

I wish buying a scope for a newcomer was easier. In many ways, Telescopes are like cars... how fast do you want to go? Or like jewels... how much purity do you want? $500CAD which I think is about $360USD is a tough call. Yet I understand when people say "Excuse me!!", MORE than $360? Yeah... optics+mount are expensive. As I think I mentioned, expectations... I'll head out tonight with my $200USD (bought used) Apex 127mm Mak-Cass on a $180 Twilight I AltAz mount (bought as a demo), with a $120 Bresser diagonal, and a few $90 Japanese orthos... and Mars might be awesome. But my expectations are seeing the polar cap and some 'markings'.

Hooking up with club can often be a lifesaver as they have rentals, or scopes for sale locally.
I should mention you do NOT need $90 orthos or a $120 diagonal. You get those when you are HOOKED :)
 

MikeT

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Color can be quite subjective too. I was at our clubs observing site looking at Jupiter and another member was there with a high end refractor (TEC 140mm). I thought I could see the GRS but it was washed out. I went over to his scope, 😮 the GRS was right there! The best I’ve ever seen. It was also a $7K scope! That’s why astronomy clubs are great you get access to lots of different equipment.

You can expect to see color in planets and stars. I see green in Orion Nebula. Some claim to see faint colors in Orion with larger scopes. Galaxies are always gray smudges even in larger telescopes for me. A lot of deep sky astronomy is in the “minds-eye”. That photon may have traveled millions or hundreds of millions of years to reach your eyeball.
Filters go a long way to enhance viewing.




Mike
 

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b.wieting

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Depends on your level of interest. Nothing will be "Hubble" quality but what you see is with your own eyes. I'd start with the book "Binocular Highlights" (from Sky & Telescope) and a good pair of binoculars. Yes, the Canon image stabilized are super. I got a near new 10x30ISB for about 1/2 price on eBay. Then some years later popped for the 10x42ISB...
 

RocketTree

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Here is my first shot of the moon through a Celestron 130EQ and Nikon D5500 camera mounted to the scope.

Let me point out, the telescope image is sharp and vibrant through the eyepiece! Very impressive. The most difficult part is determining correct camera settings to accurately capture the image. It will take some practice if you aren't advanced in photography, which I am not.

I have since added 24mm Celestron zoom lens. Can now zoom right into the craters with great detail. Unfortunately I don't have a photo of it at the moment.


DSC_0031.JPG
 

DEN

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If you can build model rockets, you can easily collimate a DOB/Newt ;)
Nothing to be afraid of.

If you get into Astronomy, you will end up with a bunch of scopes :)
Oh and eyepieces, they multiply like rockets :)

The key to chosing a first scope is basically, not too big and not too small.
Don't fret over your first scope too much, just pull the trigger.

Avoid:
127 newts, (Bird Jones) the 130s are great and
Refractors under 80 mm

Most all of my scopes are SCTs and Maks, YMMV

Have Fun :)
Curious why avoid 127 newts. I have one does ok for me? But I might be missing something?
 

Dan Griffing

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I would highly recommend a decent pair of binoculars to start with a good star chart and a bino book. I would spend between $150 & $300. If you really think you are going to enjoy the hobby, learn the night sky first - constellations, bino capable deep-sky objects, some of the wider double stars, planets, open star clusters, a few of the larger globular clusters, a few galaxies. That will take you a year of fairly regular observing. If that whets the appetite for more, then get a 6" or 8" dob and you'll be able to go deeper. You'll need to know the night sky to use it effectively, which the binos will do for you. If that doesn't satisfy your urge for more, then be prepared to decide how to split your hobby dollars between rocketry and astronomy. Like any hobby, the sky is the limit (aka, $$$$). Astronomy does have a significant advantage over rocketry, however. When you spend $300 on a quality eyepiece you can use it more than once. When you spend $300 on a motor, you use it once and it's gone. If you're lucky you get your rocket back.
I use the great Celestron astronomical binoculars that I bought two decades ago for tracking rocket’s.

You can’t use astronomical telescopes, even with only a 40x magnification for this because you need a finder scope to locate the targets for them.
 

PXR5

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Curious why avoid 127 newts. I have one does ok for me? But I might be missing something?
Well, some of the newer 127 newts are what they call Bird Jones design.
In basic terms a Bird Jones has like a built-in Barlow, so let's say the scope has 1000mm focal length, the scope should then measure about 1000mm.

With a Bird Jones design, it will measure significantly shorter. This makes collimation more difficult.
If you already have one, don't fret, there are videos to help you get it done.

That said, all 127s are not B. J. Design.

A scope should physically measure it's focal length, with SCTs and Maks the exception.

I hope that was kinda clear.
 

NOLA_BAR

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This is my setup that I took to view the 2017 eclipse in Wyoming. That is my son looking at the progression in a “sun funnel” that I built. The sun funnel was a big hit with the other eclipse crowd. Easy to view progress without looking up. Once totality started I took off the funnel and put in a 32mm plossl. Fantastic view! The crappy looking cardboard tube on top was a pin hole finder that put together.
228E5DCA-6921-43C8-B288-C41DD88493BB.jpeg
 

gdjsky01

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Poor guy... 3 pages of stuff to look through. Binos rarely inspire anyone younger than 60. Have you looked through 50mm binos under Bortle 8 skies??? It's just times change. I wish the OP well. Contact me via PM if you are interested in a more in-depth talk (maybe even via Zoom or Phone)
 

gdjsky01

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Astronomy is a great hobby. I've been at it since I was a kid. A dark sky location is a must.


Mike
No it is not. One can enjoy astronomy and be under Bortle 8 skies. You just have to manage you expectations.
 

MikeT

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No it is not. One can enjoy astronomy and be under Bortle 8 skies. You just have to manage you expectations.
Depends on your expectations. I use my back yard for most activities but our R / C flying field (in the desert miles from anything) 15 minutes from the house for any serious viewing. The difference is night and day (LOL).

Mike
 

Blast it Tom!

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I have no idea what "Bortle 8" skies are, but I know LA and I know my area and I know there is an incredible (and beautiful) difference between urban areas and places I've been out west (most recently, Ft. Smith, MT) where you have the Milky Way from horizon to horizon is quite a noticeable difference. Yet, as some have noted, I can still see Saturn's rings and all that with a good scope (if I had one!!!) here in Pittsl-tucky-vania-burgh! ;)

Years back there was a particularly intense Leonids meteor shower predicted just before dawn, but also heavy fog in our area. Some of us got up early and drove about 80 miles NE , just off of I-80 and got away from the lights near Barkeyville and had the most incredible meteor shower I have ever seen - they were coming so fast you could hardly turn your head fast enough, big an bright - and out there it was a very dark, clear sky. So as you note, Mike T, a few miles can make a huge difference.

I'll still cast my vote for an equatorial mount. With either mount, you have to level and align to the sky, and then make two moves to your target, but with equatorial, once you level your scope and align it with the North Star, you can track it sooo easy with the slow motion knob on one axis. Unless you're automatically guided; but for manual this extremely inexperienced amateur will take an equatorial mount every time.
 

gdjsky01

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Bortle skies... LMGTFU... nah... you do! For pity sake...
I am not gonna get into a pissin match why I'd never live back east again.
I am on the committee of the best star party in the west. I know a little about dark skies when I break out the 55cm dob
Most EQs of any darn good are not grab and go. But again, I am not sure the OP has even responded since the first page.
 

Blast it Tom!

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Bortle skies... LMGTFU... nah... you do! For pity sake...
I am not gonna get into a pissin match why I'd never live back east again.
I am on the committee of the best star party in the west. I know a little about dark skies when I break out the 55cm dob
Most EQs of any darn good are not grab and go. But again, I am not sure the OP has even responded since the first page.
Well, I don't understand LMGTFU either - but I agree. I've never seen anything in my area to compare with the skies I've seen out west; even that Leonds case wasn't nearly as good as seeing the Milky Way from one horizon to the other. I make it a point to take an evening and head out away from the lights whenever I'm out west and have a good clear night - it's astounding, truly beautiful.

Oh wait! "Let Me Google That For You!" Ha, I sure should have known!
Let Me Google That For You - Bortle 8 skies
 

dr wogz

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OK, an update:

I've ordered the little 3" dob form Amazon. hey, $65, can't go wrong with "something" should have that in a few days..

I have thought of the binoculars, but: they can be heavy, and if I'm paying XX for a set, might as well put that toward either a new long lens for my camera, or towards a big lens to look at starry stuff.. (or buy candy!)

My friend has said I can borrow his 130EQ, (with the option to buy*). So, in the next couple of weeks I'll have that to play with. Now, to determine if it has a parabolic or spherical mirror.. And, not too worried about the mount.

And, Montreal does have an astronomical group, but gatherings are on hold because of, well, you know.. I will be looking them up in the future..



* he's the type of guy who will "buy it all" when he has a new interest, so it'll come with the camera mount, some books, a few filters, etc..
 

_kestrel_

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- edit -

It looks like you updated as I was typing. Enjoy the 3" dobsonian. It will teach you a lot. If the 130eq has a camera mount, throw it as far as you can away from yourself. :D Imaging is a whole different hobby and can be quite addictive. On the plus side, you can start with nothing more than a DSLR, a fast lens, and a tripod.

- end of edit -

Whatever you choose to get for a telescope, be ready for cloudy skies after you buy. I got a new battery to power my mount and had cloudy/smoky skies for three weeks.

I started with a $5 garage sale telescope on a whim, an 80mm reflector that was probably sold from a department store.. It had a few cheap eyepieces and a wobbly tripod. I used it to see Jupiter, Saturn, and the moon. I was hooked. I used that scope as a solar projector to watch the last Venus transit of the sun.

My current telescope is an 8" Celestron SCT with a decent mount. I also use a pair of 10x50 binoculars on a tripod for a quick grab and go set up (apparently I'm one of the few under 60 year-olds that can be inspired with binos). Last night I grabbed the binoculars and sat on the deck and looked at the moon. I moved over to Jupiter just to see what I could see, same for Saturn. Spin around on the deck and to see if I can find M31 (Andromeda Galaxy). It was too early for the Pleiades, oh well. The binoculars are multitaskers as well, lots of uses outside of staring at the sky.

There is joy to be found with whatever you choose - manage your expectations and marvel at what you can see, not what you can't. Consider the complexity of setting up and tearing down. Weight and size of components can become difficult to manage - not as likely with a $500 budget but still a consideration. Also, the pandemic has set off a bit of a boom for astronomy. Most telescope dealers in the US are out of stock, some patience may be required. It also points to some good deals to be had on used equipment in the future. Good luck on your journey.
 
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Sooner Boomer

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This is my setup that I took to view the 2017 eclipse in Wyoming. That is my son looking at the progression in a “sun funnel” that I built. The sun funnel was a big hit with the other eclipse crowd. Easy to view progress without looking up. Once totality started I took off the funnel and put in a 32mm plossl. Fantastic view! The crappy looking cardboard tube on top was a pin hole finder that put together.
View attachment 432210
Reminds me of a "Sun Gun"; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_Gun_Telescope
 

gdjsky01

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The idea of "My current scope" is foreign. Its like saying "my current rocket". :)
 

mooffle

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I've ordered the little 3" dob form Amazon. hey, $65, can't go wrong with "something" should have that in a few days..
I was curious and it looks like you got the celestron first scope right? All around it looks like a great choice for the price!
Only one thing to pay attention to, that smaller eyepiece may be tough to look into being as small as it is, especially if you use glasses to look through it. Any side to side motion of your head could make it go out of view.
It also looks like it has has some screws on the top for adding a red dot finder. They aren't too expensive and can help a lot once you graduate from moon and planets to deep sky objects.
 
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