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Old 31-03-2020, 10:39 PM
Sbonda (Brendan)
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Tell me I'm making a good choice...please!

Hi,
I'm completely new to all of this and only decided a few weeks ago that i would get a telescope for my son for his 9th birthday. I mean...i may use it myself from time to time...but it's mostly for him!

My head is spinning as there seems to be so much on offer and different options so i'm hoping for some feedback on my planned purchase.

I have a modest budget of $300 - $400 (closer to $300 will keep me happily married for a while longer). I live in Perth, Western Australia. My son's birthday is in 2 weeks i would prefer to buy local if possible, but willing to ship to get a better scope for my budget.

As i don't know much about this i was planning on mostly viewing the moon, and then moving on to explore whatever the scope i purchase will allow.

I've come to the conclusion that i would like a Dobsonian scope (seems to be recommended for beginners) and was planning on getting the Skywatcher Heritage 5" P130.
https://www.ozscopes.com.au/skywatch...telescope.html

However, i can't find stock locally. I did see find the Saxon Deepsky 5" dobsonian for $40 cheaper and up the road too.
https://binocentral.com.au/product/s...ian-telescope/

Having done some research i believe these are essentially the same scope with different branding so i'm about to take the plunge and order one......unless someone has other recommendations.

I would consider a 'conventional' scope but get worried about buying something flimsly which shakes all time during use.

Sorry for the long post, thanks in advance for any ideas/ advice/ recommendations and i'm looking forward to exploring the forum a bit more....and then the skies!
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Old 31-03-2020, 11:45 PM
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pfitzgerald (Paul)
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Hi Brendon

Welcome to IIS. You will find that others will chime in come the morning.

For your budget I'd stay away from 'conventional' scopes - eg refractors as well.

If you could stretch your budget a little further Andrews Communications in Sydney have the 8" Skywatcher Dobsonian for $599 ($150-$200 cheaper than elsewhere).

http://www.andrewscom.com.au/optical-telescopes

Many of us have bought gear from them and been happy with our purchases.

Alternatively you could consider a good pair of binoculars (not exactly my strong suit when it comes to advice).

With the current lockdown on social gatherings this next piece of advice isn't practical at the moment - but still worth considering before you make a purchase. And that is to get in touch with the folk at ASWA and try to attend one of their public events to talk with their members, look at and through their 'scopes - you may even find they have what you're after second hand.

https://aswa-inc.org.au/

If you check through the IIS classifieds you will find that there are currently two 8" Dobsonians for sale within your price range.

Most of the astronomers I know recommend that if you're getting a Dobsonian scope 8" is the best place to start.

Hopefully this info will take you a little farther along getting your 9 yer old son hooked into one of the most worthwhile hobbies going - astronomy!

All the best.

Paul
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Old 01-04-2020, 12:15 AM
raymo
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A Dob is absolutely the way to go, ease of operation, virtually instant set up,
and biggest bang for your buck. One thing you could consider is a 6" if an
8" would stretch your budget too far. Even a 6" will show enough objects to
keep your son occupied for quite a while. If he develops a real interest, you
can sell the 6" here on our classifieds further down the track, and get an 8"
or a 10", they come up here quite frequently.
raymo
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  #4  
Old 01-04-2020, 07:20 AM
Startrek (Martin)
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Definitely a “Dob” ( a Newtonian Reflector on a dobsonian mount )
Skywatcher or GSO Bintel ( what ever is the cheaper )
6” or 8”
It should come with a couple of Plössl eye pieces 10mm and 25mm
I think Bintel give you 3 eye pieces , a 9mm , 25mm and a 30mm superview plus a moon filter
Get them to replace the straight through finderscope with a right angle finderscope at no extra cost . Straight through finderscopes are a pain in the neck literally
Good luck and I hope your son enjoys this new adventure into our universe
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Old 01-04-2020, 05:01 PM
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mental4astro (Alexander)
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Brendan, to IIS.

I think that 5" dob is a good choice for a first scope. The aperture is decent, and the compact package is small enough for your son to be able to move it from inside the house to outside without any help from you. He won't be able to do that with a 6" or 8" dob. That little scope can be plonked down on a table and away you go.

Such a scope will have plenty of aperture grunt to show you plenty without killing the piggy bank. My first "real" scope was a 5" SCT. Ok, not a 5" dob, but it was my only scope for many years, and I loved it and would have had the same visual experience as a 5" tabletop.

I WISH I had a 5" scope as a first scope! That 5" tabletop would have been blooming awesome! Mine was 2" Tasco refractor. I know I would have had a rough time of it negotiating a 6" or 8" dob by myself in and out of the house when I was 13, and even more so at 9. Even today with all the scopes I have at home (from 80mm to 17.5"), I still often use the 4" refractor and sketch with it (the pics below are a couple of sketches I've done with it of the Eta Carina, and of the area around the Coal Sack & Jewel Box cluster). So a 5" scope is not a whimp by any means. I have been SERIOUSLY thinking about getting a 5" Newtonian, even as a table top like you. I was only just talking to a good mate about this earlier today! I have no problem saying a 5" dob is a great first scope for both you and your son

Alex.
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Old 01-04-2020, 06:18 PM
Saturnine (Jeff)
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Hi Brendan and Welcome

I'm with Alex on this topic, what some of the responders may have been forgetting is that the scope is mainly for an 9 year old. Yes, Dad may / will use it too but for a 9 year old a 6" or 8" newt / dob would be too much to handle, so that Dad ( or Mum ) would be constantly being asked to set it up and may not always be around at the time.
The 5" Table Top scope would be fine for the 1st time user and if over the years the interest is still there and the child has grown a bit bigger and stronger, then would be the time to move up to a larger telescope.
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Old 01-04-2020, 06:58 PM
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JeniSkunk (Jenifur)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sbonda View Post
Hi, I'm completely new to all of this and only decided a few weeks ago that i would get a telescope for my son for his 9th birthday. I mean...i may use it myself from time to time...but it's mostly for him!
Welcome to Ice In Space, Brendan.
You'll get plenty of good advice from the long time regulars here.

Quote:
I have a modest budget of $300 - $400 (closer to $300 will keep me happily married for a while longer). I live in Perth, Western Australia.

I've come to the conclusion that i would like a Dobsonian scope (seems to be recommended for beginners) and was planning on getting the Skywatcher Heritage 5" P130.
https://www.ozscopes.com.au/skywatch...telescope.html

However, i can't find stock locally. I did see find the Saxon Deepsky 5" dobsonian for $40 cheaper and up the road too.
https://binocentral.com.au/product/s...ian-telescope/

Having done some research i believe these are essentially the same scope with different branding so I'm about to take the plunge and order one......unless someone has other recommendations.
They are very much the exact same telescope.
I've owned my P130 since late July 2018. With good eyepieces, it's a brilliant scope.

I'm not certain of shipping time, but Astro Anarchy here in Brisbane has stock of the P130.
http://www.astroanarchy.com.au/teles...ritage130.html
On occasion when they could not get stock of the P130, they've carried the Saxon scope.

The biggest advantages of the P130 are its weight and portability, and its light gathering capability.
It's small enough and lightweight enough to pretty well be takeen anywhere.
The light weight of the actual telescope means you can safely mount it on pretty well any suitable telescope tripod, without exceeding weight limits.
With an aperture of f5 and good eyepieces, what you can see in the scope will be nicely bright.

Eyepieces will actually be the bigger expense overall, but they can be slowly bought, so as to not instantly break the bank. The stock eyepieces are just good enough to get started with, but getting better ones will be a big improvement.
I use the Saxon Cielo HD eyepieces with my P130, having the 6.5mm, 12mm, and 25mm. The Saxon eyepieces are carried by Binocentral.
https://binocentral.com.au/product-c...pieces/page/2/

About the only other thing to think of, with the scope, is to figure out where and how you will set it up.
Being a tabletop telescope, the obvious thing to put it on would seem to be, well, a table. And you'd be wrong. You'd need to move the scope around the table, so you can see through the scope, turning it to point around the sky, NESW.
What you are better to set the scope up on is a classic round, flat top, unpadded, kitchen chair, or piano stool.
The pic at the bottom of the post, shows how I set things up on my east facing patio/balcony. An old, second-hand wooden kitchen chair.

Apart from that, the other things to have are a decent map of the sky, and an idea of what the skies will be up to of an evening.
For the maps, it's apps and programs, a planisphere, and books.
Stellarium has apps for Android and IOS, and programs for Windows and Linux.
SkySafari is for IOS and Android.
The IceInSpace Store has planispheres, as does all the decent astronomy shops.
https://shop.iceinspace.com.au/shop/...c-planisphere/
Binocentral has the Qasar Astronomy Australia 2020 book.
https://binocentral.com.au/product/astronomy-2020/

edit: fix typo
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Last edited by JeniSkunk; 01-04-2020 at 08:57 PM. Reason: fix typo
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  #8  
Old 01-04-2020, 07:07 PM
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JeniSkunk (Jenifur)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mental4astro View Post
I have been SERIOUSLY thinking about getting a 5" Newtonian, even as a table top like you. I was only just talking to a good mate about this earlier today!
Alex, at the Nundah Star Party in September last year, a regular comment I got from the public, was how really bright things looked in my scope, compared to the big Dobsonians other folks had.
That surprised me plenty.
I'd reckon you'd really be able to make the P130 work well.
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Old 01-04-2020, 07:29 PM
SkyWatch (Dean)
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Yeah: what they said! I think you will find the Saxon tabletop dob will be perfect for your 9yo. I have shown 1000's of children through telescopes, and I think this is ideal for beginners.

I see it has 2 eyepieces: a 10mm and a 25mm, giving 65x and 26x magnification respectively. I assume these are basic plossl eyepieces, and they will be fine for initial viewing: he will get wonderful views of the moon and bright deep-sky objects like the Orion nebula, Eta Carina, 47 Tuc and Omega Centauri. From a dark sky there will be literally 1000's of objects that will be visible, including lots of galaxies.

I agree with Alex: I would have loved one of these as a kid. They offer brighter views than even the (then) much more expensive 4 1/2" Tasco scopes, and with a much more beginner-friendly mount.

Absolutely follow Jeniskunk's suggestions for apps and some sort of skymaps. Stellarium is great (and free), and check out http://www.skymaps.com for a free monthly all-sky map. Make sure you get the Southern Hemisphere edition, for 35-degrees south!

He is a lucky boy!

The only problem he might find is that terrestrial views will be upside-down, so this type of scope is not the best for looking at birds or yachts.

All the best,

Dean
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Old 01-04-2020, 07:51 PM
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JeniSkunk (Jenifur)
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Dean, looking at the Saxon pages for the eyepieces that come with their 130mm scope, I think the eyepieces might be the same as the ones SkyWatcher uses, modified achromats.

Saxon eyepiece pages
Super 10 - https://www.saxon.com.au/saxon-10mm-...-eyepiece.html
Super 25 - https://www.saxon.com.au/saxon-25mm-...-eyepiece.html

International Astronomy Forum thread - What kind of EP are the stock SkyWatcher 25mm & 10mm?
http://www.astronomyforum.net/telesc...25mm-10mm.html
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Old 01-04-2020, 08:17 PM
SkyWatch (Dean)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeniSkunk View Post
Dean, looking at the Saxon pages for the eyepieces that come with their 130mm scope, I think the eyepieces might be the same as the ones SkyWatcher uses, modified achromats.

Saxon eyepiece pages
Super 10 - https://www.saxon.com.au/saxon-10mm-...-eyepiece.html
Super 25 - https://www.saxon.com.au/saxon-25mm-...-eyepiece.html

International Astronomy Forum thread - What kind of EP are the stock SkyWatcher 25mm & 10mm?
http://www.astronomyforum.net/telesc...25mm-10mm.html
Yeah, thanks for the link: I think you are right. However, for Brendon's information: the "modified achromat" is an eyepiece with three glass elements (sometimes one element can be acrylic), unlike the plossl, which has 4. This may mean that they can actually show a slightly brighter field than the plossls, as there are less elements and surfaces for the light to pass through. They generally have a relatively narrow field of view: ~ 45-50 degrees apparent field, which is pretty standard for entry level eyepieces, and are usually well corrected for chromatic aberration and quite sharp across most of the field.

Bottom line: they should give a good view for a beginner until you know the difference and want to upgrade to (say) a wider field of view.

All the best,

Dean

(PS: the link to the International Astronomy Forum may not work: the Forum is defunct thanks to a succession of idiot cyber attacks (some people really need to get a life!!!) and a lack of funds to protect the site and prevent further attacks. Most users have now transferred to The Sky Searchers: https://theskysearchers.com )
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Old 02-04-2020, 11:41 AM
Sbonda (Brendan)
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Wow, thanks all for the feedback.
I definitely considered the option of going 6" or 8", especially the 6" in the classifieds, however the drawback for me is the increase in size.
I've bitten the bullet and picked up the 5" Saxon for my son. I think it will be a good entry point and we can move it around easily enough.
If either him or myself take to it I'm happy to upgrade down the line, when I'll have a clearer idea of what would suit us best.
Right now I'm looking forward to giving him the scope and spending some time not only looking into the sky, but also using the scope as an opportunity to learn and teach him (and myself) about the moon and stars.
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Old 02-04-2020, 03:56 PM
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pfitzgerald (Paul)
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Way to go Brendan!

I hope that you and your son have many memorable and amazing times under dark skies looking at the wonders of the universe. May it be the start of bigger and better things for you both.

All the very best.

Paul
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Old 02-04-2020, 05:42 PM
Saturnine (Jeff)
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Congrats on getting the scope, I hope you and your son have fun observing the moon and planets and whatever else grabs your attention. Just remember to NOT look at the Sun with it unless fitted with the proper solar filter or you or anyone else that does will do permanent damage to the eyes. you can however do eyepiece projection ( plenty of online info on how to ) if you wanted to see an image of the sun, though there isn't much to see currently.
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Old 03-04-2020, 11:41 AM
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Your first accessory will be a steady table.
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Old 03-04-2020, 01:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doug mc View Post
Your first accessory will be a steady table.
It'd have to be a short height one, Doug, that's why I use a kitchen chair, and I also suggested to Brendan to look for a round seat piano stool.
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