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Go Back   IceInSpace > Beginners Start Here > Beginners Equipment Discussions

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  #1  
Old 03-08-2018, 08:49 PM
Outcast (Carlton)
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Looking for advice on equipment purchase

Apologies in advance for the long post but, I'm at a decision point on purchasing a new telescope & I am having trouble making the decision. I'm wondering what I might not be considering as I way up the pro's & cons of which way to go.

Firstly, some background info to inform opinions:

I live in Cairns, about 8km from the CBD as the crow flies. Light pollution is in my opinion pretty bad but, probably not as bad as a major city. I do most of my observing from my backyard with the viewing area restricted by my house & some fairly tall trees in the adjacent bushland. I get about 180 degrees of views to the eastern hemisphere with an lower altitude limit of about 40 degrees. My neighbours leave their porch lights on, permanently which adds to my light pollution issues.

If I want to view western skies I move to the front yard but, this brings in more light pollution in the form of street lights & the illuminated footbridge from hell about 2km away.

I currently own a Meade 5000 series 80mm ED APO refractor & have owned this for the past 5 years. However, I have recently sold the two mounts I had for it (GSO Skyview deluxe & Ioptron Cube Pro). I was never 100% happy with either mount; the skyview because it wasn't a goto mount & the Cube pro because I think the scope was right on the practical weight limit & vibrated like hell whenever I touched the scope (ie: trying to focus). I have enjoyed some wonderful views in this scope & intend to keep it.

I want to be able to see everything (of course I do).. with the 80mm I have pulled out some great detail on the moon, Jupiter & even clear views of Saturns rings (but, not the cassini divisions). I have also managed some pretty cool views of the Orion Nebula & a couple of other bright nebula. Mars however, is just a bright orange ball.. the view through my 80mm isn't particularly mind blowing.

I have done a little bit of photography, predominantly Afocal or short exposure prime focus stuff.. don't really envisage getting into AP heavily.

I want more... I want bigger more detailed views of the planets, I want better views of deep sky objects & I want more deep sky objects to be available to me.

Edit: One other note of importance, we might be considering a move to an apartment/townhouse in the next 5 - 7 years; not sure how useable a Dob is from a balcony.

Lastly in terms of background information, I consider GOTO a must.. I'm lazy.. not too lazy to do setups but, too lazy to truly learn the night sky & do star hopping. Plus, to be honest... the visibility of stars with the naked eye in my backyard is limited to the brightest.

Now to the options I am considering in order of cost;

Option 1: Skywatcher 8 inch GOTO Collapsible Dobsonian. Can get one for $1200 at present, plus postage. This would mean postponing the purchase of a new mount for the 80mm

Option 2: Skywatcher 10 inch GOTO Collapsible Dobsonian. Currently available for $1699 plus postage. Also means no mount for the 80mm for a while.

Option 3: GSO 8 inch F5 newtonian reflector on Celestron VX mount. This bumps my cost up to around $1800 plus postage. It does give me a mount for my 80mm; possibly gives me an option of piggy back mounting my 80mm (might be over the limit for the mount??). I'm aware of the challenges of a Newt reflector on a GEM but....

Option 4: 150mm f8 Achromat on Celestron Advanced VX mount. I think I can get one for around $2200 plus postage. I have read a lot about Chromatic Aberration & I can't say I like the sound of purple fringing around planets.

Option 5: Celestron 8 inch f10 SCT on CGEM Goto for $2300 plus postage, again gives me a mount for my 80mm. Is a more compact approach in terms of physical size & weight.

Option 6: Celestron 8 inch f10 SCT on Celestron Advanced VX mount for around $2500 plus postage.

Budget is a major consideration.. the more I spend the less my wife will like me but, really what I want to achieve is maximum bang for buck & less chance of buyers remorse.

Can I wait to purchase a mount for my 80mm; yes but, only if the dobsonian that I purchase really blows my mind for views & is a relatively simple/easy evolution to move from my house to my basically flat backyard (about 8 metres with a couple of steps down from my rear deck to the lawn).

Thankyou for your patience in reading this epic post... I look forward to the myriad of opinions that will follow from the vast knowledge bank that is this forum.

Regards

Carlton
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  #2  
Old 03-08-2018, 09:52 PM
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The Mekon (John B)
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From your post, it indicates to me you have not reached the limits of your 80mm ED as yet. You should be able to see the Cassini division on Saturn with this scope, using a magnification of 120X or so. Perhaps you have not had a mount capable of holding the image steady enough.
Mars is just a big orange ball for the best of our scopes at present so don't worry about that. Have you observed satellite transits of Jupiter? Well within the capability of your scope.

All that aside, if you must make the jump, the 10" goto is the one I would choose here. Will give you all that you want for the least money.
In the meantime, look out for a cheap equatorial mount for your 80mm on the classifieds.
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  #3  
Old 04-08-2018, 12:55 AM
Zuts
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Hi,

Since you are not sure about your living conditions and since atm you are happy with an 80 mm scope I think you would be blown away with an 8" sct. It's a lot of computerised scope for the money. Small, light and so very portable. A bonus is that you can easily do some planetary photography with it.

From a dark site you would see a lot of things.

An 8"sct is close to grab and go and generally is a keeper...

Cheers
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  #4  
Old 04-08-2018, 10:17 AM
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Camelopardalis (Dunk)
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Yeah 8-10” is a bit of a sweet spot between portability and practicality.

If you’re visual only, avoid equatorial mounts...they’re not exactly grab and go (even though the AVX is lightweight).

When all is said and done, what details you see on the planets is mostly dependent on the seeing...if it’s poor, you will just get a blurry blob when you increase the magnification...but when it’s good, you’ll be rewarded.

Regarding an SCT...I frequently use a 8” Celestron here in Brisbane and dew isn’t a problem most of the time, but I’d imagine the humidity is worse in Cairns. Just prepare youself with a heated dew strap if you go that way.
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  #5  
Old 06-08-2018, 09:44 AM
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sil
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Hm, what eyepieces are you using? kit ones? or quality ones? unlikely since as John pointed out you are not getting best use from the OTA you have. btw mars is prone to dust storms as it currently is so is often just a blurry ball with little to no details.
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  #6  
Old 07-08-2018, 12:52 AM
Outcast (Carlton)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sil View Post
Hm, what eyepieces are you using? kit ones? or quality ones? unlikely since as John pointed out you are not getting best use from the OTA you have. btw mars is prone to dust storms as it currently is so is often just a blurry ball with little to no details.
Hi Sil,

Not kit eyepieces but, not Televue either.

Have the following:
GSO Superview 30mm
GSO Superview 15mm
TMB Planetary 10mm
Meade 5000 Series UWA 6.7mm
Also have a Televue 2.5x Powermate

Cheers

Carlton
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  #7  
Old 07-08-2018, 04:14 PM
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sil
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Honestly, I'd say for you to grab a 6" dob. Based on your living uncertainties, commiting to a good mount or ota right now >for you< would not be a wise choice. A 6" dob will open up a lot more sky for you to enjoy and satisfy the blood lust for new gear hopefully until you have a more certain living situation. So if you get stuck with only a balcony a small dob is still usable and should Always be usable too (get the wife looking, or if your main setup turns into an astrophotography platform a dob to keep busy while imaging is handy.

Then aim for a good mount (even if you only use the 80mm on it for a while). Ive got a celestron cgem dx which is much beefier in the legs than the cgem was at the time, so first i guess try to get a look in person at the mounts/tripods available, the current cgem and vx look to me no sturdier than the old cgem mounts. They maybe be good, i dont know, but if you get something that is slightly wobbly it'll drive you nuts (buyers remorse). Better to save for a good mount and worry about the ota later (or just aim for a package). if you relocate to somewhere with consistently poor seeing a high magnification sct might never get its capabilities appreciated. you may get stuck with poor sky views and hot bright light neighbours. My advice is grab something to tide you over until circumstances and budget allows for a better decision. Will save money in the long run and gear will only improve in the mean time, my gut tells me anything you buy now from your list won't quite live up to expectations and thus not worth the money. Again <for you>, given your epic first post this is purely an opinion. Those options I think anyone will be happy with, but for how long? and considering the costs are they end game setups for you? I'm guessing not. Good luck deciding
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  #8  
Old 07-08-2018, 04:33 PM
Wavytone (Nick)
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Don't buy anything. There is another solution - go join an astro society, turn up at their observing nights and use other peoples gear. Why own the stuff when others will let you have a look through theirs - and when that gear is far more than you can possibly afford.

Big scopes are for when you have the cash to splash (and don't care), the right space to use them and store them, and if you are in a big city, the car to transport them safely. Alternatively if you live in the country with dark skies at home, great, but this is not reality for most until they can retire, and even then unlikely.

Family comes first.
House second.
Car third.

Scopes are well down the list, very much a boys-toy or luxury item, along with cameras, hi-fi, and expensive sporting gear like paragliders and ski-gear.

Last edited by Wavytone; 07-08-2018 at 04:43 PM.
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  #9  
Old 08-08-2018, 12:42 AM
Outcast (Carlton)
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Location: Cairns, Qld
Posts: 79
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wavytone View Post
Don't buy anything. There is another solution - go join an astro society, turn up at their observing nights and use other peoples gear. Why own the stuff when others will let you have a look through theirs - and when that gear is far more than you can possibly afford.

Big scopes are for when you have the cash to splash (and don't care), the right space to use them and store them, and if you are in a big city, the car to transport them safely. Alternatively if you live in the country with dark skies at home, great, but this is not reality for most until they can retire, and even then unlikely.

Family comes first.
House second.
Car third.

Scopes are well down the list, very much a boys-toy or luxury item, along with cameras, hi-fi, and expensive sporting gear like paragliders and ski-gear.
No local Astronomy Society up here in Cairns unfortunately; it folded a few years back.

Have the funds to purchase something nice; more just don't want to do it then, discover I did it wrong & have to do it over in a few years time.

I'm leaning towards the C8 AVX combination at present; I think it will give me what I am seeking as well as provide me with a solid mount for when I want to use the 80mm.

I've thought long & hard about this; really did consider going the dob route but, truly believe I will use the SCT more regulularly & that storage will be less of an issue for me.

Cheers to all that have ventured an opinion, together with reading a large number of articles, reviews & the like, they have been invaluable in terms of evaluating my options & coming to a decision.

Regards

Carlton
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  #10  
Old 08-08-2018, 11:03 AM
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netwolf
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Firstly try to find used gear, In Australia new prices are high and used gear can be just as good for a good price and comes with plenty of accessories. Iceinspace Classfieds, Astrobuysell, Gumtree.

The Celestron Evolution mount with a C6 or C8 is a good fit for me and I am currently using it from my newly repaired Balcony. Though I have a backyard its just too cold. The trouble with balcony setup is limited alignment star options. The Evolution is a good mount for planetary imaging, and also you can do some DSO work with same PLanetary cameras using live stacking (Video Astronomy, or EAA Electronicaly assisted astronomy). Evolution mount also gives you the option to use a short refractor if you chose. Some people have adapted the mount for larger. The challenge is the length of OTA is an issue for accesories you hang at the back as well as for getting correct balance. With a C6 or C8 this is not a big issue.

If you are serious about doing more DSO work then you need to consider an EQ mount. But an EQ mount on a balcony may not work depending on the direction you have available to you as you need to do a Polar alignment.

There is one hard learned lesson I will share, the best scope is the one you use most. I have two Equatorial mounts a G11 and Pentax MS-5 both have had little use compared to my Evoloution. I also have a Meade ETX-125 which is also more used than my EQ mounts. The older Meade ETX can be had used for a bargain and perform very well. Again there F12-F15 FL means your DSO options are limited to visual and maybe short exposure. The older ETX's do have a build in wedge if you want to try EQ long exposure. But with my Evo moutn I now have a C8, C6, Mak180 (hefty), 80mm Refractor, ETX-125 OTA that I can use all with this mount.
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  #11  
Old 08-08-2018, 01:50 PM
Outcast (Carlton)
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Hi there & thanks for the advice.

I am indeed hunting around for used gear at present. The challenge is finding someone who is prepared to freight a bulky item to Cairns, particularly on Gumtree.

I'm looking at a used Nexstar 8SE on Gumtree at present. Not the latest & greatest but, is this a good setup, say comparable with the Nexstar evolution mounts at least?

Cheers

Quote:
Originally Posted by netwolf View Post
Firstly try to find used gear, In Australia new prices are high and used gear can be just as good for a good price and comes with plenty of accessories. Iceinspace Classfieds, Astrobuysell, Gumtree.

The Celestron Evolution mount with a C6 or C8 is a good fit for me and I am currently using it from my newly repaired Balcony. Though I have a backyard its just too cold. The trouble with balcony setup is limited alignment star options. The Evolution is a good mount for planetary imaging, and also you can do some DSO work with same PLanetary cameras using live stacking (Video Astronomy, or EAA Electronicaly assisted astronomy). Evolution mount also gives you the option to use a short refractor if you chose. Some people have adapted the mount for larger. The challenge is the length of OTA is an issue for accesories you hang at the back as well as for getting correct balance. With a C6 or C8 this is not a big issue.

If you are serious about doing more DSO work then you need to consider an EQ mount. But an EQ mount on a balcony may not work depending on the direction you have available to you as you need to do a Polar alignment.

There is one hard learned lesson I will share, the best scope is the one you use most. I have two Equatorial mounts a G11 and Pentax MS-5 both have had little use compared to my Evoloution. I also have a Meade ETX-125 which is also more used than my EQ mounts. The older Meade ETX can be had used for a bargain and perform very well. Again there F12-F15 FL means your DSO options are limited to visual and maybe short exposure. The older ETX's do have a build in wedge if you want to try EQ long exposure. But with my Evo moutn I now have a C8, C6, Mak180 (hefty), 80mm Refractor, ETX-125 OTA that I can use all with this mount.
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  #12  
Old 08-08-2018, 02:58 PM
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netwolf
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Yes the SE is a good mount I had one prior to my Evo.

When buying interstate the issue is always the condition of the optics. For shipping I have had seller use Pack and Send with appropriate insurance. In one instance the local pack and send manager drove to the sellers house to pickup scope to pack and send to me. Now some here have had some bad experience with pack and send so your mileage may vary.

Nexatar SE vs Evo is not much difference to me the big benefit is internal battery on Evo. The wifi is iffy and can easily be added to the SE. The other nice thing are the clutches on the evo.
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  #13  
Old 08-08-2018, 03:06 PM
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netwolf
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btw 4se and 5se is a different mount to the 6se. 6se mount is same as the 8se so I can upgrade the OTA.

Another option to consider is the Skywatcher Alt/Az goto mounts. or the Azeq6. the azeq6 is a lot heavier though than the evo or se. The star discover is AZ only and about 500 new but not sure it will take more than a 6inch. C8 maybe ok.
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Old 12-08-2018, 10:44 PM
TareqPhoto (Tareq)
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I skipped your original post, was long and English is not my language, so again, what are you looking for to do, imaging or visual? if visual then "APERTURE", 10" in this case, i have ST80 and 8" Newtonian that i never used yet and 180mm Mak [2700], visual with the Mak is nice, but if i think about imaging then it is another story, i am planning to buy something like 14"-18" Dob for planetary imaging, i can't afford 14" SCT and new mount for it, so i will choose a Dob, if my plan is DSO imaging then an EQ mount is a must, i have that already, but i need to get another scope than ST80 and leave my 8" Newtonian for something else of DSO.


Decide what do you want to do, there is no one item or setup do it all, but from what i read and see a lot of images since last year i found out that the best scope for overall is the reflector one, mainly a Newtonian, SCT is good for both but it must use kind of reducer first to make it nice for DSO, while the Newtonian is already ready for DSO and just need a corrector, and buying a focal extender and it is a planetary scope, much cheaper than SCT, so i will depend on Newtonian more.
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  #15  
Old 13-08-2018, 08:18 PM
Outcast (Carlton)
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Ended up picking up a Meade LX90 8 inch SCT (pre ACF but, with UHTC) complete with about 8 Meade eyepieces (Plossls I think), some filters & an LPI camera for what I considered a good price.

I understand that I may not be able to get the LPI to work as there are no 64bit drivers for them but, that was not a deal breaker as I already have a DSLR & adapters to fit.

I am confident that this will achieve my desire for a scope with some decent aperture whilst at the same time being fairly portable. Also, in the future when we consider moving to an apartment or small townhouse, I believe this will work for me from a balcony, I was not particularly confident about achieving this with a Dob.

Still need to find a solid mount for my Meade ED 80 but, will keep my eye on the classifieds here

Thanks all for your comments, advice, they helped me greatly to evaluate what I was attempting to achieve, look more carefully for something secondhand & make a decision.

Now just the wait for the scope to arrive.. apologies in advance for the crap weather that will roll in next week...
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