View Full Version here: : buying my 1st telescope
12-05-2012, 05:49 AM
Hi everyone, im Rick i just joined up here.
Im in the process of looking at buying my 1st telescope and wanted to ask a few questions about 2 ive seen online for sale.
Now im not looking at buying anything expensive to start, want to get something that i can use and see things with and see how much of a space bug i get :)
The 2 that i have found are a SaxonF1149EQ and a Celestron PowerSeeker 114EQ reflector scopes
Both are listing at just under $200, 1 down from $380 the other down from $500, so im thinking sweet i can get a better scope for much less.
Wanting to know how good both these are?? Curious to know are these just on a great end of financial year sale or are they getting rid of them cause they arent that great.
Also, telescopes like these 2 and others similar, just how good and how far can you see with them?? These both say that you can see the moons of Jupiter with them and the rings of Saturn as well, which to me is awesome cause thats some of the type of things im hoping to see.
Years ago i was at the Siding Springs Observatory in Coonabarabran and got to see Saturn through 1 of the scopes the public could use and now i want to see more :)
Thanks in advance for any help i can get.
12-05-2012, 07:37 AM
Welcome to IIS :welcome:
Both the scopes you listed are very similar, but of the two i would go for the Celestron, which has a slightly better name and seems to come with a better set of accessories.
However, i would not recommend either for a beginner for observing.
4 inch aperture (114mm) is not going to give you a pleasing image of the planets (size and contrast); and
the EQ mount is not a easy and fun mount to use for observing.
If you do a search on this site, you will see time and time again our recommendation for beginning observers is a dobsonian mount. Easy to set up just point and look.
At a minimum try to get an 8 inch Dobsonian.
Best price I have seen today is $449 for a GSO solid tube or $499 for a skywatcher flex dob (collapsible tube).
But even with an 8 inch scope, the planet views will not blow your sox off.
Best advice I can give is to try to find a local gathering observing meeting and look through a bunch of other peoples scopes.
If you are in the area, you can come to our observing nights on the Central Coast. But I am sure there will be some closer to you.
12-05-2012, 09:05 AM
Thanks for the reply Allan
1 of the main things i read when looking up online was that aperture size is important for being able to see things at a distance, those 2 were the biggest in the price they are now, would have been nice to be able to get something on sale to start with :)
I might keep an eye out more for a 2nd hand of the type you mentioned, ill add it to the list with the guitar i want and the new tires and servie for my car lol. That way i can go for the 8" or bigger sized scope.
As for 2nd hand, how much wear and tear does a scope get over the years? Has there been much advancement in the design of them over the last 5 year to make a big difference in them?
12-05-2012, 09:43 AM
Welcome to IIS!
You are exactly right that aperture is one of the most important things for a telescope. Bear in mind this applies primarily for Deep Space Objects (DSOs), which are faint and extended so need aperture. However I would extend and say that it is the MOST important factor when picking a scope.
Generally, aperture is the most important factor in the views you will get and more aperture is bigger. Also you must consider that the size of a scope overall varies dramatically with aperture. An 8" scope is easy to fit on the backseat of a small car and is easily handled. A 12" is going to nead at least a small wagon and I have built a trolley to assist me transport mine into the back yard each night.
To give you an idea of scale a 6" or 8" scope lookes like a large drainage pipe, a 12" looks like a hot water tank!
Beside the scope itself, the mount is the next thing to consider. I have owned both a small EQ mounted scope like th eones you mentioned, as well as an 8" and 12" dob.
For a beginner I wouldn't recommend an EQ mount simply based on my experience. At this price bracket even the Celestrons are very basic mounts, best described as "wobbletronics". They result in hours of frustration. I was lucky to see more than half a dozen objects in the year I used my EQ mount. Once I got a dob I was viewing dozens each night.
Save some money for the Dob that suits you size wise, it will be worth it.
12-05-2012, 03:32 PM
EQ not fun for beginner...get an 8" Newtonian on a Dob mount and you'll have years of fun...I have...and Im now only progressing futher and I have used my 8" on a dob mount for about 6 years...
12-05-2012, 09:56 PM
Thanks Malcolm and Josh for the replies appreciate the feedback.
I will skip the 2 scopes i was looking at and start saving towards they type you have both suggested.
If i do go with a 8" scope, what can i realistically expect to be able to see with them in terms of planets nebulas stuff like that?
And how much more difference does a 10" have over the 8"??
12-05-2012, 11:53 PM
Celestron 114EQ may be a fun scope, but it will take a long and winding way for a beginner to get there. I still keep my 114EQ in good repair for family car trips and holidays. Dobson style is a reasonable advice, though. However, I would not recommend starting with 10" size - beautiful, but heavy and bulky they are, and need more attention than say, 6" that I own as well. 6" is a great size for the beginner, esp. considering it's bigger f ratio - which gives you better chances for easy collimation and less demanding for eyepiece quality. It's also considerably cheaper and lighter than 8". Remember, except the telescope you must buy a collimator (Cheshire or laser) to keep you telescope in best shape possible. Also, less loss if you cool down to the idea with time. That happens, too. I hope you will not - with magnificent views of planets and stars you will see!
With 6" expect to see:
-great deal of large detail on the rims and inside lunar craters;
-Belts and Great red spot of Jupiter, satellites will differentiate in size and color;
-Bright nebulas (like Orion nebula);
-Star clusters, etc.
I was able to observe all of this even from badly light polluted inner suburb of Melbourne.
13-05-2012, 11:46 AM
Hi Rick and welcome. Mine is another vote for an 8" dob. They are quite portable and grab quite a lot more light than a 6". 10" even better. Collimation will not be much of an issue with this size scope but you will want a cheshire eyepiece +/- laser, both of which can be purchased for a few measly coppers at Bintel or Andrews
It is good that you've had a look through a scope to set your expectations. You will see rings of Saturn, cloud bands and red spot on Jupiter, moons of both, detail on Mars. You will see lots of nebulae and galaxies and lovely star clusters. You will NOTsee colours in nebulae or galaxies with any visual telescope that you're ever likely to buy (except for some planetary nebulae). Your night vision will not see colour in these objects - they will all be grey, but with plenty of detail and very fascinating. You will see colour on Jupiter and Mars.
Bigger aperture also show more detail on planets as you ahve higher resolving power. Enhanced light gathering shows a lot more on deep sky objects.
If money is an issues, keep an eye in the IceTrades section as there are often 8' scopes for sale as people often get the bug and upgrade or are bitterly disappointed that they don't see colour and that planets don't fill their eypieces.
With the right gear and well calibrated expectations, you will have a great time.
13-05-2012, 12:20 PM
I suggest that while you are saving your money for a scope and some extras that you consider attending a viewing night or connecting with some folks in your area to see what kind of scope best suits you...
Some Astro Clubs also have loaner scopes for beginners. Getting the right scope for your situation will mean lots of nights under the stars...a wrong scope sits unused.
Each type of scope has advantages and disadvantages depending on your intended use...try them all before you buy if you can.
13-05-2012, 03:57 PM
There is a definite step up in performance from 8" to 10". That said and 8" has a lot of pluses. The thing to remember is that with an 8" you have the entire Messier catalogue (admittedly some are hard to get, M33 here in Vic is trickey without really dark skies and more so for M74.) as well as hundreds of NGC objects. Even working systematically you will struggle to see even a few hundred objects within a year or so, so it will give you plenty to see before you need to make an upgrade decision.
As I mentioned an 8' can be handled by anyone. A 10" is still OK to handle but is a step up in bulk and weight.
Scotts advice about loaners is excellent, I went that route and it was the best decision I made astro wise!
Thanks Rick! You asked my question for me. I was looking at those two as well.
I don't mean to hijack the thread but what are the downsides of having an EQ mount for a beginner? I (vaguely) remember using EQ mounted scopes in highschool astronomy but I don't remember the setup being overly hard.
13-05-2012, 09:36 PM
There are a number of reasons why I consider an EQ mount to be not the best choice for a beginner.
1. Has to be polar aligned at least roughly. As we in the south have no significant Pole Star, that means using a compass, knowing the magnetic declination for your area, being able to set the altitude, levelling the tripod and doing all that in the dark. By comparison you take a dob base outdoors, find a moderately level bit of ground and put it down.
2. You have to reasonably accurately balance the mount. With a dob, see above.
3. The eyepiece can end up in all sorts of odd positions if using a Newtonian. This is not an issue for refractors with a diagonal, but they cost a lot more. I can remember trying for M15 with my EQ2 mounted newt and kneeling on wet grass looking vertically upwards in the EP. Of course you can loosen the tube rings and rotate the OTA, but then the balance you set earlier (see point 2) is probably thrown out as the tube has slipped. With a Dob, the eyepiece just moves up or down. Sometime when observing low down objects, a chair can help.
4. Price. Even the cheapest woddletronic EQ mounts are still more expensive than a dob mount. Dobs allow you to get more aperture. And I cannot stress enough, with scopes for visual observing aperture always wins.
5. With an EQ mount you have to find knobs in the dark. With a dob, you grab it and move it.
6. Navigating with an EQ mount sounds really simple on paper, try doing it in the dark for the first time. With a dob, see point 5.
Anyways, all the above is my opinion. It is based on experience having owned a 130mm EQ2 mounted scope that has hardly been used, as well as an 8" dob that got used a lot and now a 12" that gets used heaps. This is NOT to say that eq mounts do not have a very important role to play, for some people who like them, go ahead. Also they are great for imaging (remembering that imaging mounts are not cheap and the EQ mounts sold with cheaper scopes are next to useless for imaging, unless you are keen on hand guiding!).
Thanks Malcolm I do remember chasing the Newtonian eyepiece now!
I've been on the lookout for a well priced Dob but I've recently been tempted to just go with an entry level Celestron. You've reminded me why the Dobs were at the top of my list. Thanks again!
15-05-2012, 04:12 AM
Thanks to everyone for the great advice, now that ive decided to go for a dobsonian i would like to know about the collapsible ones ive seen advertised on Ebay, is the only difference between them and other types the fact that it is collapsible or is there other hardware differences cause there seems to be a big price diff between them.
15-05-2012, 07:37 AM
The only difference between a full tube and a collapsible tube DOB is the tube.
But note there are two types:
Collapsible Type and Truss Type.
Both are heaps easier to transport and man handle than the Solid Tube models.
So the collapsible slides up/down a set of struts to a compact unit (so simpler to put up/take down) while the truss type disassembles into two separate pieces (which breaks the weight into more manageable units for a big scope).
Additional matters to consider:
Collapsible and truss types may require a shroud to stop light (and other objects) entering the tube; and may need a collimation check each time tube is reassembled. But they are easier to work with and store.
Thats how I see it anyway :shrug:
15-05-2012, 01:59 PM
I think this is an absolute gem of a piece of advise. (and there is lots of good advise in this thread).
Drop a little coin and become a member at your local astro club - go along to a few members nights and sample what is out there to see and see with.
You can probably borrow a small dob from the club if they have such a service and take it home - after some lessons on how it works, and after being shown the basics - should mean a lot less frustration for you, and some good outcomes!
Most of the members are more than happy to show off their gleaming scopes, from big dobs, to refractors, to goto meades/celestrons etc.
Who knows - you may even pick up a bargin when one of them gets "aperture fever" or "upgradeitis".
But more the point, you get out, look at the scopes in a dark environment and work out how they work, match your expectations of what you may be able to see with scopes that may be similar to what you want to buy, and mix with some people who are probably able to tell you about the mistakes they made, scopes they've progressed through etc etc.
There is a wealth of knowledge on here, but nothing really beats peering down the eyepiece to match your expectations to reality. Ask lots of questions and hopefully the path will thin down for you.
Even a humble pair of binoculars, can let you see lots of things, at little outlay, and lets you build up a great knowledge of the sky - which can help multitudes....
20-05-2012, 06:06 PM
I joined an astronomy club here on the gold coast and am renting an 8inch dob for 10 bucks amonth. I am slowly finding my way around the night sky and intend to catchup with other members for a night viewing at the end of May.
Take your time dont rush have a look through different scopes and get advice on correct eyepieces that will suit you and you may save sum serious coin. Heavens above its amazing up there.:thumbsup:
22-05-2012, 05:48 PM
Rick (and Dino too).
G'day. I met a human Go-To at Astrofest 2009 before I bought my Skywatcher 12" collapsable Dob. He pushed a 25" SDM around the sky to give the most amazing tour of Deep Sky Objects. It was my second time ever looking through a telescope. His first bit of advice to me was, "Learn to identify the 20 brightest stars".
Moving on from the 20 brightest stars, I have found the book, "Star Watch - The Amateur Astronomer's Guide to Finding, Observing and Learning about Over 125 Celestial Objects" to be very useful in learning star-hops to an ever growing list of 'usual suspects'.
After several months of borrowing copy from the local library, I bought my own copy through Borders Australia On-Line. Their RRP is currently $23.99, but with reasonably regular Discount Voucher Sales it drops to $17.99.
22-05-2012, 06:32 PM
I learnt the stars in Canberra...gulp 35 years ago!. I remember the cold but clear nights. There must be a local club there somewhere so look em up and look through some scopes. Failing that get a 8 to 10 " dob, easy enough to sell later if the bug don't bite!
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