need telescope buying advice
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01-04-2014, 09:19 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 08:50 AM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  
(01-04-2014 08:15 AM)Chas Wrote:  You might like to start with a quality pair of binoculars. If you get any equipment, don't cheap out, it is a waste of money. Buy the best you can afford.

The Sky & Telescope site has useful info.

Good, affordable telescopes that might meet your criteria:

Meade ETX

Celestron NexStar



You are welcome to PM me if you'd like more info.

the tracking and locating is exactly what I'm looking for. How would the two that you posted be different from this one? I realize the type of scope is different, but I don't know how that plays out in what I see when I look at stars. In terms of my experience-- will the view be different in some way? These are all roughly in the same neighborhood price-wise, all are offering the auto find, and auto tracking. I'm trying to figure out why I would choose one over the other in terms of the experience.


Nexstar 102mm SLT refractor

That one is also a good choice. That's a "short-tube refractor" so it is almost as compact as the Maksutov-Cassegrains.

There are three categories of telescope:
  • Refractor (lenses - Galileo used one)
  • Reflector (mirror - Newton invented this)
  • Catadioptric (a combination of lens/mirror)

There are many variations of each type. Each has strengths, each has weakness.

How to pick a telescope.

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01-04-2014, 09:22 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 09:15 AM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  
(01-04-2014 08:58 AM)WillHopp Wrote:  Logisch helped me a lot when I first joined the forum. I still haven't pulled the trigger on getting one, but he was real helpful. I wish I had someone who would let me borrow one to see if it's something I will want to continue doing instead of just plunking down cash to find out later I don't want to keep using it.

We are going to a star party Friday at the nearby university. My daughter has met the director of the observatory and she's kind of invited her under her wing. I am hoping there are others there with scopes we can look thru as well. But I wanted to have a bit of knowledge before checking them out so I know what to look for.

google observatories and clubs near you.....many have a monthly star party open to the public.

That is an excellent plan; there will almost certainly be multiple telescopes, and owners love to share their views (in both senses Smile).

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01-04-2014, 09:24 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 09:22 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(01-04-2014 09:15 AM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  We are going to a star party Friday at the nearby university. My daughter has met the director of the observatory and she's kind of invited her under her wing. I am hoping there are others there with scopes we can look thru as well. But I wanted to have a bit of knowledge before checking them out so I know what to look for.

google observatories and clubs near you.....many have a monthly star party open to the public.

That is an excellent plan; there will almost certainly be multiple telescopes, and owners love to share their views (in both senses Smile).

I third this. We have a dark sky park near where I live and it never disappoints. They have an observatory telescope that they let people look through occasionally, but there are almost always amateur astronomers with some pretty serious equipment that will enthusiastically show you some cool object they are studying. They'll also give great advice on what kind of telescope you should get. They may even know someone with some good used equipment to get you started.

Excuse me, I'm making perfect sense. You're just not keeping up.

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01-04-2014, 11:43 AM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 09:24 AM)itsnotmeitsyou Wrote:  
(01-04-2014 09:22 AM)Chas Wrote:  That is an excellent plan; there will almost certainly be multiple telescopes, and owners love to share their views (in both senses Smile).

I third this. We have a dark sky park near where I live and it never disappoints. They have an observatory telescope that they let people look through occasionally, but there are almost always amateur astronomers with some pretty serious equipment that will enthusiastically show you some cool object they are studying. They'll also give great advice on what kind of telescope you should get. They may even know someone with some good used equipment to get you started.

There's been some good info on here already. I think it's really important, however, to clarify what budget you are looking to stay within as well as what your aspirations for now and in the future with the telescope.

A brief breakdown on telescopes:

Refractor - The best optical clarity. However, to capture lots of light, a large one is expensive.
Reflector - Optical clarity is good, but not as good as a refractor. However, they are easier to make, less expensive to make, and therefore, inexpensive for aperture purposes.
Catadioptric - These have good optical clarity and can often be pretty compact as well. There's a lot of manufacturers that use these a lot now in combination with the scope, mount and tracking system (celestron being one of them).

If it were me and if I were getting a telescope just for viewing for my family, I'd go with a Reflector (such as a nice dobsonian) or one of the Celestron Nexstar telescopes.

Here's my reasoning for this... The dobsonians can be had for a few hundred bucks and are affordable, even used, for as large as an 8" telescope. At that large of an aperture your whole family will be able to see the "big fuzzies" (galaxies) as well as nebula (such as orion's nebula). You'll also be able to see the weatherbands of Jupiter, saturn and the rings, etc. You will also be able to see the moons of jupiter when about (although they'll look like tiny glossy specs orbiting it).

You would be able to pick this up as well with a medium size catadioptric scope.

A go to mount with tracking is a really nice thing to have as well. It will also provide your son and family with the ability to hook up a camera (should you want to) to take shots of the moon and deep space objects, stars, star clusters, nebula, etc. So a scope that is both versatile for viewing and also able to track can be used for pictures as well.

Something small like a 70mm refractor is inexpensive since they can be had for $100 or less, however, the small aperture will limit your physical viewing abilities on objects in the sky. On the flip side to this, 70mm is just fine for taking photos and provides optical clarity.

Here's a few pictures I took back when I had my Orion xt8 Telescope. These are moon photos and very very fast exposures, so these are pretty close to what you'd see with your eye. These are with a 2x barlow (zoom lense, essentially).

[Image: DSC_0240.jpg]

[Image: DSC_0226.jpg]

[Image: DSC_0215.jpg]

A few good deals I found online today:
http://www.telescope.com/Telescopes/Dobs...goryId=398
http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/cat...ackage.cfm
http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/cat...escope.cfm
http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/cat...tar4se.cfm

Keep in mind that the goto scopes will all require you to "calibrate" them. This means you set the telescope up pointing to the north star (or close to it using the proper polaris finder). It then will ask you to guide it to a few "calibration stars" and it does the math from there. After that it'll just go to the stars or objects you tell it to.

I do not believe the go to dobsonian is a tracking scope, just a go to computerized scope. However, if you want tracking, be sure to read the fine print as "go to" is not the same as "go to with tracking" or "sidereal".

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01-04-2014, 12:30 PM
RE: need telescope buying advice
this one has caught my eye too

celestron Nexstar 130 SLT


I am hoping there will be lots of variety at the star party to check out.


its really about the "wow" factor. With a 10 & 8 year old GIRLS I know if they look in and say "wow!" they will be hooked and follow it with enthusiasm. But if I tell them the got to figure out this and that, don't bump, oh you moved it! twenty times in five minutes and then they look in the scope and say "eh, it just looks like a dot" that we won't make it very far.

thank you everyone for your help and suggestions.


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01-04-2014, 12:31 PM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 12:30 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  this one has caught my eye too

celestron Nexstar 130 SLT


I am hoping there will be lots of variety at the star party to check out.


its really about the "wow" factor. With a 10 & 8 year old GIRLS I know if they look in and say "wow!" they will be hooked and follow it with enthusiasm. But if I tell them the got to figure out this and that, don't bump, oh you moved it! twenty times in five minutes and then they look in the scope and say "eh, it just looks like a dot" that we won't make it very far.

thank you everyone for your help and suggestions.

It's pretty cool all the info you can get around here. Good bunch of people. Big Grin

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01-04-2014, 12:34 PM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 12:30 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  this one has caught my eye too

celestron Nexstar 130 SLT


I am hoping there will be lots of variety at the star party to check out.


its really about the "wow" factor. With a 10 & 8 year old GIRLS I know if they look in and say "wow!" they will be hooked and follow it with enthusiasm. But if I tell them the got to figure out this and that, don't bump, oh you moved it! twenty times in five minutes and then they look in the scope and say "eh, it just looks like a dot" that we won't make it very far.

thank you everyone for your help and suggestions.

That's roughly 5" of aperture which is a decent aperture. I'd expect to see some details of jupiter with a good close up barlow and decent eyepiece, orion, very good moon detail and the ability to see star clusters such as the M13.

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01-04-2014, 12:44 PM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 12:34 PM)Logisch Wrote:  
(01-04-2014 12:30 PM)Bows and Arrows Wrote:  this one has caught my eye too

celestron Nexstar 130 SLT


I am hoping there will be lots of variety at the star party to check out.


its really about the "wow" factor. With a 10 & 8 year old GIRLS I know if they look in and say "wow!" they will be hooked and follow it with enthusiasm. But if I tell them the got to figure out this and that, don't bump, oh you moved it! twenty times in five minutes and then they look in the scope and say "eh, it just looks like a dot" that we won't make it very far.

thank you everyone for your help and suggestions.

That's roughly 5" of aperture which is a decent aperture. I'd expect to see some details of jupiter with a good close up barlow and decent eyepiece, orion, very good moon detail and the ability to see star clusters such as the M13.

The mount for the 'scope is just as important as the 'scope. You've already said you wanted computerized tracking, so you're in the $500+ region.

As long as the 'scope has a good, solid mount, the 'wow' factor depends heavily on picking the right targets for the aperture. Smile
You're not going to see nebulae very well with a small 'scope.

And, Logisch, you're late to the party - the sun's coming up. Angry

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01-04-2014, 12:50 PM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 12:44 PM)Chas Wrote:  
(01-04-2014 12:34 PM)Logisch Wrote:  That's roughly 5" of aperture which is a decent aperture. I'd expect to see some details of jupiter with a good close up barlow and decent eyepiece, orion, very good moon detail and the ability to see star clusters such as the M13.

The mount for the 'scope is just as important as the 'scope. You've already said you wanted computerized tracking, so you're in the $500+ region.

As long as the 'scope has a good, solid mount, the 'wow' factor depends heavily on picking the right targets for the aperture. Smile
You're not going to see nebulae very well with a small 'scope.

And, Logisch, you're late to the party - the sun's coming up. Angry

True, mount is very important. $400-500+ region I think is very accurate for a decent aperture and a mount that is go-to and tracking.

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01-04-2014, 12:58 PM
RE: need telescope buying advice
(01-04-2014 09:05 AM)Alex_Leonardo Wrote:  Astrophysicist, eh?
You , might want to get him/her Kerbal Space Program instead of a telescope.
It costs much less than a telescope. ($27.00)

Really, if he/she wants to be an astrophysicist and not an astronomer, buy Kerbal Space Program.

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