View Full Version here: : Buying first telescope advice
02-02-2012, 01:56 PM
So I don't know anything about this hobby, but I was thinking of buying a telescope, don't know much about them, but I do know that the cheapies from Aldi/DSE etc are junk.
I've been wanting to buy one for a year or two but never gotten around to it, this pic on reddit sparked my interest again
i'd love to get some galaxy shots like the ones listed here but probably not with my budget
What type of gear would I need to get photos like this ?
Don't mind importing from B&H or whereever if it means I can get something better. Any recommendations ?
02-02-2012, 05:30 PM
Funnily enough I saw the same picture on reddit today, and had the same reaction, so here I am again (not just lurking this time) decided to have another look here for some recommendations on a basic setup.
I found this thread, I'm thinking the first recommendation might be the one for me.
02-02-2012, 05:39 PM
From that thread:
From my readings on astronomy and telescopes today, what I have gathered is:
1. Dobsonian are best bang for buck
2. For taking Deep Space Object photography (like my 2 galaxy pictures) - you need a motorized mount. Doesn't look like this package has one? I believe the 'Goto' only lets you get to a position via a computer.
3. 8" is recommended to get a good view, 10" is a little better but bulkier.
4. Collapsible telescopes may not be the best choice for beginners due to having to always readjust the lenses ? (can't remember the technical term for it)
02-02-2012, 06:04 PM
I don't do any photography but that pic of Saturn looks like it was taken on a bad night or through a mobile phone camera. An 8" Dobsonian scope with a 10mm eyepiece will probably get you a similar magnification to what is shown in the pic, but you would have much better quality.
I would suggest just buying a scope and seeing if you enjoy the hobby before forking out thousands for quality photography gear. Based on that list that was posted, here's what I recommend.
1) Skywatcher Black Diamond 8" Goto Collapsible Dobsonian = $999
You can get regular scopes at the same aperture for less than half that price.
2) Skywatcher 6.3mm Super Plossl Eyepiece - Optional
3) GSO Laser Collimator (align the mirrors) - Most new scopes will come reasonably well collimated. Optional.
4) ED 2x or 3x Barlow lens (magnifier) - Optional.
5) Portable jump start power pack (Super Cheap Auto) power for the scope - Only necessary if you buy the first scope suggested.
6) Bob's Knobs secondary screws (helps adjust the secondary mirror) - Optional. Unlikely you will need to use this very often.
7) Red/White Head torch (Energizer) to see in the dark - Pretty good idea.
8) 2011 Astronomy Handbook to find things to look at - It's 2012 now, use Stellarium on your laptop or a program on your mobile. www.stellarium.org (http://www.stellarium.org)
Once you have figured out if you enjoy it then you could make the decision to buy some photography gear which I don't know much about.
02-02-2012, 07:13 PM
I'm not sure where you can get the collapsible Black Diamond 8" Goto for $1000
02-02-2012, 08:58 PM
Hi Ashlin, Adz and Ben,
Welcome to IIS!
That thread was my one and while its getting on a bit, the advice is still sound, but unfortunately, the prices for the dobs (esp the goto one) have gone up...in the case of the 8" goto, its now $1199 and not $999.
The prices I quoted were from Andrews Communications which is the place to buy your first scope as their prices cannot be beaten (if you find it cheaper somewhere, they will beat it, not just match it)
As for pics, you can get better results afocally (camera looking into the eyepiece either hand held or with a bracket) when you have a tracking goto dobsonian than a standard non goto one as this means what you are looking at, stays locked on in the eyepiece rather than slide past and wreck the photo. This is especially true at higher magnifications as the Earth's rotation is quite fast when you are looking so far out at high magnification.
As you are looking for beginner's packages and scopes, my suggestions are still valid, obviously, if you are wanting to save on costs, you can troll around the Ice Trade classifieds here for good second hand dobs, solid tube or collapsible come up often.
If you are not a technical or scientifically interested person and want the convenience of goto (which have around 45,000 objects in their databases) then a dobsonian with goto will last you for years and years.
Astrophotography can be tricky, especially when you are on a budget as there always seems to be more things to buy to make the pictures better, dont expect to be getting much better results on planets than what was posted, unless you are prepared to connect a webcam like a phillips toucam (without an eyepiece or camera lens) connected to a PC/laptop. Even then, there is some processing required to split the videos into pics, stack them, process and sharpen them to get an average result.....this can be quite disappointing unless you enjoy the challenge and have deepish pockets to improve past your technology limit.
As for the packages I created as a starting point in my thread, both will excel as visual packages for a long, long time, with the manual version meaning you will have to "learn" your way around the sky with charts and star hopping techniques. If you want the ability to align your scope on stars and then press some buttons to make the scope GO to where you want to go, as well as do basic photos, then the goto version will be the choice for you.
Collimation of the mirrors (aligning them) is a CRITICAL thing you should do everytime you set up your scope, whether its a solid tube or collapsible as they BOTH move around somewhat. I have had both types and never found the collapsible ones to be more sensitive to movement, and I collimate the mirrors every time I set it up as it only takes me a minute with the Bob's Knobs, considerably longer if you have to use a screwdriver....and more annoying.
Dont be scared of reflectors either, while they might seem fiddly (they arent) they are the BEST way of getting LARGE aperture and more light to your eye for the least amount of money and should be the first scope on every beginner's shopping list, one reason why I included them in my starter packs.
Please feel free to post any other questions here, I will help if I can.
02-02-2012, 09:25 PM
Thanks for the information! Think I'll place an order :)
03-02-2012, 10:01 AM
Thanks for the great information so far
i'm mostly interested in astrophotography and taking pictures in taking galaxy / astro matter type shots rather than planets
I believe these were not taken without a motorized mount, but something similar to this style
What type of gear would you advise ?
03-02-2012, 01:47 PM
Screwdriverone, do you think the extra $400 and bulk of a 10" model is justified in the improvement in image over an 8" model? If I lash out the $1200 on an 8" I don't want to be thinking.. hmm i really should have just spent the extra for the 10". I've noticed 10" dobsonian's seem to be the weapon of choice on here.
03-02-2012, 07:36 PM
The photos you have listed look like they are all taken with a DSLR and a widefield type lens. A stock 18-55mm lens at 18mm should give you the field size shown in these photos, but you will probably find that these cameras are mounted "piggyback" style on the top of a tracking Equatorial Mount in order to keep the stars from blurring. If you just use a tripod, you will need to limit your exposures to around 30 secs MAX as the rotation of the Earth causes the stars to "blur" as they glide past the stationary camera....this can get frustrating....
With a tracking dobsonian, this is lessened somewhat, but as it is an ALT - AZ mount (up-down axis and left-right axis) then it does not turn in a circle when tracking like an Equatorial Mount does and therefore what ever you are tracking, will rotate as time passes, meaning when you try to stack any photos together (to bring out more details and light) it will be difficult to keep the pics all aligned properly.
If you are serious about Astrophotography, you can buy a scope like mine which is quite reasonable in price and can give you good results with a DSLR (with a T ring for it where the lens goes) by using the telescope as a BIIIIIG lens effectively.
Check out my post here (http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=63415) showing you the scope itself and the decision process in the thread (again, the price has increased from when I bought it) as well as here (http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=63622), here (http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=63634), here (http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=63635) and here (http://www.iceinspace.com.au/forum/showthread.php?t=85141&highlight=M42) for some pics I have taken through it of nebulae and globular clusters using a Canon 1000D DSLR.
Processing these images is often harder than capturing them, although, things like guiding your mount to keep the stars sharp can be hard, and involves more money and technology. This is where it starts to get expensive.
With a good entry level DSLR like the Canon 1000D or 1100D, 550D etc and the stock lenses on a tripod, you can take wide field shots of the sky or even one like that close(ish) Eta Carinae shot (the blue one) but will be limited to exposure length before the stars blur unless you use some sort of tracking....
The tracking dobs are FANTASTIC for planetary captures of Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter using a Webcam inserted into the eyepiece connector and a laptop, however, to get close enough, you will need at least a 2x or 3x or even a 5x barlow (magnifier) to get good details and at least an 8inch scope or bigger....
The other advantage of the tracking / goto dobs is as I mentioned before, is that whatever you want to look at can be dialled up and then when on target, will stay there for as long as you want. As you up the magnification, with a manual non motorised dob, you will CONSTANTLY have to keep nudging the scope slightly to keep the object in view as the Earth spins quite fast, especially when you are looking out so far away....
My advice then is to start cheaply with a great VISUAL telescope like a GOTO dobsonian as I have recommended (the 8" or bigger) and keep costs down until you either 1) have more interest in astrophotography or 2) find that it isnt really for you and can recoup most of the money invested by selling the gear second hand here or 3) Decide its AWESOME fun and get into planetary pictures or get aperture fever and upgrade to larger and larger scopes to chase new objects or simply become hooked.
Sorry for the blurb, I ramble sometimes....
03-02-2012, 07:57 PM
Funny you mention that, I thought the same when I was buying (gone now) my 12" collapsible manual dob and decided on the 12" rather than go the 10" for CONSIDERABLY less money.
Now, the difference between the 8" I have now and the 12" I had before is quite noticeable from a brightness point of view, as the 12" brings in A LOT more light than the 8", However, as I kept having to nudge my dob and I dont have to with my goto HEQ5, I can stare longer at things with my new scope and dont notice the smaller size much, PLUS I bought the 8" specifically with AP in mind (photos).
Now I think that if you can afford the $1200 for the 8" Goto, I think you will be using that scope for YEARS and YEARS as it is quite capable to keep you satisfied for a long time. I had a similar $500 jump between my 10" manual and the 12" and decided on the bigger one, then regretted it as I think the 10" would have satisfied me quite well and I would have been able to keep $500 of my money for other things....
More often than not, your first scope is NEVER your last if you stay with Astronomy, so while bigger is often better, $1200 for a goto 8" DOB is awesome value and will be years before you will have exhausted what it can show you....probably there will be a time when you decide to dabble in Astro Photography and when that time comes, the DOB wont be what you will be using, more likely an 8" reflector on an HEQ5 Pro like mine, or something like an ED80 (3.1 inch) on the same mount, or bigger Refractor (lenses, rather than mirrors). When or if that time comes, you will probably look at the 10" goto and say....HMMMM, I could sell that to fund the other scope/camera/mount/Laptop/filters/coma corrector etc etc etc and then not have a nice visual instrument to bring out and use while your camera spends 10 minutes taking 1 photo!
So, my advice to you is: if $400 more is not going to kill your budget, then by all means go for the 10", things will be brighter, the scope isnt THAT much bigger or heavier than the 8" and will probably be a keeper for a LONG LONG time.
However, if you want to keep costs down and maybe "dabble" later with a webcam on Jupiter/Saturn/Mars etc through the dob, or even buy a whole Astrophotography Rig if the bug bites, then stay with the 8" as you can save your pennies, use an AWESOME scope for the money in the meantime, and if you ultimately decide to give it away (boredom, work, life, spouse....etc) then the impact to you will be lesser as you wont get ALL the money back you spent on it, but they are a VERY popluar starting point for all beginners, so will EASILY sell here for about 60-80% of the purchase price, depending on age/current pricing/condition you keep it in.
As I said, I have HAD a 12" dob, which was Manual, and I sold it as I am quite happy with the performance visually of the 8" on the Equatorial mount as it has GOTO and it can ALSO take some pretty awesome pictures....
An 8" dob for a beginner with GOTO is a great way to start as bang for your buck, so start there.
If you decide to upgrade (as most of us do) then if you are staying a visual observer, then 12" and above will be where you will be looking, so the 10" gets skipped over in the quest for the BIGGEST you can get for the money/size/portability equation.
Whew, another monster answer. I hope you can understand and follow my reasoning, I am trying to play both sides of the fence as I dont really know how you will take to this great hobby, so am giving you my experiences so you can hopefully not spend too much initially if the bug really bites later (or if not at all) as this does happen to some.
04-02-2012, 09:27 AM
How much bigger and heavier is it?
I don't see much difference in looking between an 8" and a 10", I have had both side by side on many an occasion. The difference between an 8" and 12" is noticeable straight away, but I wouldn't go to the 10" personally, I'd either get an 8" and save the money, have better portability etc. or go the whole hog and get a collapsible 12" model.
For those wide field images, you could get a Pentax DSLR and their startracer GPS add-on, then you can shoot those sorts of images from a stationary tripod! (The sensor moves inside the camera to track the stars, while the camera sits still!)
05-02-2012, 12:16 PM
Hello :hi: I saw this thread and wondered how you are getting along. Two of our experienced astronomers have written good quality articles on how to select your fist telescope. They might help you get a broader general understanding. The articles are here:
Paul Foley http://bdas.net/BuyingATelescopeAnyone/tabid/379/Default.aspx
Also, I suggest heading out to any star nights that your local club might be having to get a feel for the variety of scopes.
I hope this info helps.
Happy Star Gazing... :)
Peter Mead - President BDAS www.bdas.net (http://www.bdas.net)
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