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Forums > Social Discussion > Astronomy Friends - Telescope advice

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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton

Total posts: 1626
Posted:I'm a total beginner, still enjoying using my binoculars to look around the night sky. However, I'm really hoping to get a telescope for christmas and I'm looking around for a good one. I think I've decided on a refractor because of their advantages over reflectors. I want to get a fairly decent level of magnification, and I've found this one ... I know Argos isn't exactly the greatest place to buy from but it's cheap and I've heard Tasco are fairly reliable and well-made for their price. It also has a 10-year garuntee which is a big advantage!



I was wondering if someone knowledgable could cast an eye over it, or give me advice of where to find a similarly-priced (or cheaper!) one with decent magnification, that's well-made and easy enough for a total beginner.



Thanks a lot for any help you can give me. I did a search but to no avail.



EDIT I'm actually an idiot. Sorry. Just showing quite how much of a total beginner I am to all this. Sorry if I annoyed anyone, it was 100% unintentional stupidity.

EDITED_BY: nearly_all_gone (1101684256)


What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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marco


enthusiast
Location: uk

Total posts: 328
Posted:I think you need an astronomy geek, actually magnification isn't everything, your really looking for light gathering properties, a refractor will provide greater magnification, but with degraded light gathering, especially at fairly small objective lense size's, if your budget can stretch to it this one represents better value for money, and will serve you better, Tasco 420x Astronomical Reflector Telescope, same site,

mark


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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton

Total posts: 1626
Posted:Thanks a lot Mark, that's interesting to know. I really have no knowledge of all this so every little helps!

I'll check out the reflector, and other reflectors too. What you said makes a lot of sense!


What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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flid
BRONZE Member since Aug 2002

flid

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Warwickshire

Total posts: 3136
Posted:rule number one, astronomers HATE being called astrologers.

I'll write a proper reply when at work tomorrow, but avoid like the plague any scope from a non specialist store for less than 150 quid - you'll only be dissapointed.


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Lillie Frog


Lillie Frog

not a stranger
Location: wales

Total posts: 558
Posted:Astrologers hate being called astronomers, also.

Flid. Why does your avatar say 23?
Is it some kind of wierd code about the law of fives?


Eat when you're hungry
Sleep where it's dry
No one is ever what they seem
Gabriel King - The Wild Road

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Sir_Sheep


Sir_Sheep

old hand
Location: Chester, UK

Total posts: 725
Posted:No, it's his birthday cake

Spoiling Christmas for small children since 2003.

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flid
BRONZE Member since Aug 2002

flid

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Warwickshire

Total posts: 3136
Posted:Sir_Sheep made it for me. I lost my old avatar in a harddisk crash and i've been too lazy to make a new one wink

About 2 years ago I did a few months worth of research on sub 500 scopes and ended up buying a Meade ETX70AT. I read a lot from professionals and people with expensive scopes and the general consensus is that any scopes from non specialist stores will either be overpriced or crap. Certainly anything which boasts stupid magnification (over 200x) is just a gimic to look trendy in a geek bedroom. The scope I did buy was the second cheapeast from a company which sells scopes costing up tens of thousands and it does show. My criteria was basically that I wanted to have an introduction to astronomy, then sell it 6 months down the line. I also wanted something that was easy to transport without a car. If i liked it I could buy a better scope atfer i graduated and if i hated it then no great loss. I payed 250 in the end and sold it on ebay (gotta love stupid people) for about 300. Forget about 10 years guarantee, hopefully you won't still have it this time next year.

You have to ask yourself what you plan to use it for. The beautiful colour images that you see in magazines and on TV have had hundreds of thousands/millions spent on equipment to get them. There's a reason why we have satellites like the Hubble (albeit soon to be accidently crashed into Iran) and astronomers spend millions on huge scopes on remote islands - light pollution and atmospheric conditions are a big problem for optical astronomy. If you've ever been on a ship and seen the sky you'll be in total awe compared to the darkest spots of england. You can get glass filters which will filter out wavelengths commonly used by sodium streetlights, but they are out of budget. The amount of light that your scope recieves is essential, so bigger appature is important. Bigger appature on cheap scopes means crap optics, which will just give you a blur.

The best you can hope for with a sub 500 scope is the moon, jupiter and its largest moons and saturn (big enough to just see the ring system). You may see other planets when closest to the earth (i could just see mars the summer before last). To get interesting images you'll need to get into astrophotography and long exposures. You won't be suprised to know that the earth is spinning, but you may be suprised at home noticable it is when using a telescope. Unless you have a very sturdy mount (ie not a cheap one), magnifications above about 150 are unworkable. You'll ideally have a motorized mount, which compensates for the earth's spinning by adjusting the mount constantly ever so slightly.

I can't recomend enough, if you can afford to outlay the money to get an ETX70AT (you should be able to get a decent package for 250). For your money you'll get a computerised scope with decent (in its price bracket) optics which you will be impressed by. It's dead easy to setup, and once done you can tell it what you want to look at with the handheld controller and it'll align itself perfectly. You can also manouvre it manually, then ask it for information about what you're looking at (highly useful). It has a tour feature, so you can set it going and it will give you a tour of the best stuff currently visable with information about what you're seeing. With the computer connection kit you can hook it upto a laptop and with the included software see a planetarion and click on things and the laptop will move the scope for you. You can connect it to the internet and download latest location details for objects, new tours etc. If there's an interesting satellite like the ISS and you live in a dark enough place, you can set the scope to give you a reminder when its about to be visiable on the horizon, then track it across the sky. The 70AT is the second lowest in the range of scopes going upto several grand and they all use roughly the same onboard computer. It's like a semi automatic camera - you can be a lazy basterd with it or use it manually. But you have the choice, and it's excellent for beginners. And it's not cheating either, professionals use way more computer power to control telescopes. If you can't afford over 100, then buy a pair of decent binoculars instead and use them to learn the night sky's consolations.

Hope this helps - there's tonnes more info online


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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton

Total posts: 1626
Posted:Thanks a lot flid. That does help a lot, very in depth and useful.

I don't think I've got unrealistic expectations of what I'll see. I'm aware of light pollution, atmospheric pollution and other conditions affecting the view enormously.. I just want to see some of the larger planets, Venus, maybe mars... and look out towards the constellations. I don't want something amazing, as I know I'd never get something like that on my budget, and I'm not expecting nebulae and stuff like that.

You know what my number one mission is? To see Europa. And I know I would never be able to distinguish it from the other Galilean moons, but maybe by finding out the positions of each I could know which one it was.. that's my goal. Albeit a fairly short-term one!

I might go for binoculars and a tripod instead, going by what you're telling me. The research into what I'm going to get is ongoing and I've found a bit more info, and I'm sure I'll find more based on what you're telling me. Thanks a lot for your help though! I appreciate it, especially considering my somewhat major gaffe before redface


What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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flid
BRONZE Member since Aug 2002

flid

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Warwickshire

Total posts: 3136
Posted:Have a read of this, this and this.

"Avoid like the plague any cheap refractor sold on the basis of its magnification.
A "675X" 60 mm telescope is almost certainly a piece of junk. Maximum useful
magnification is usually given as 50X-60X per inch of aperture. Thus, the 60 mm
example given above is really only a 120X-144X telescope (and its images will
probably break down well before that point). You find these scopes all over
the place, in department stores, toy stores, etc. This is not just what Ed Ting
thinks you should do. This same important advice can be found in any responsible
text on telescopes.

Let me repeat that one again: Do NOT buy a telescope from your local depart-
ment store, toy store, or from a television commercial. Most scopes found
at the Nature/Science stores at your local mall also fall under this category.
These telescopes are little more than toys and will likely kill your budding
enthusiasm. Buy from a retailer who specializes in serious amateur telescopes.
Some of the better ones are linked off my "links" page. As a general rule, avoid
any telescope that costs less than $300. Please do not e-mail me with something
you have found in a dept store."


Personally I can recomend http://www.mc2scopes.com/
for good advice (if you call they are very friendly) and some of the best prices around.


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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton

Total posts: 1626
Posted:Thanks a lot. All that is really really appreciated, and just makes me think that a good pair of 10x50 binoculars would more than satisfy me at the moment. That ETX70AT looks like a beauty, but it's just out of my price range - I'm getting this as a pressie, you see, and my limit's 100.

Thanks so much, I think you just helped me avoid an expensive mistake. I like the point that good binoculars are still useful when you've got a decent telescope anyway, that makes me feel that they're a good investment whatever happens! Cheers! smile


What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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Lillie Frog


Lillie Frog

not a stranger
Location: wales

Total posts: 558
Posted:It's really amazing seeing all the craters on the moon.

I managed to see them once. It was great.


Eat when you're hungry
Sleep where it's dry
No one is ever what they seem
Gabriel King - The Wild Road

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flid
BRONZE Member since Aug 2002

flid

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Warwickshire

Total posts: 3136
Posted:i took some piccies of the moon using my scope at about 100x using an extremely dodgy mount i made out of MDF (blue peter style) and a digital camera last year: http://photos.offline.org.uk/showgallery.php?galleryid=78


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vanize
SILVER Member since Aug 2001

vanize

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Austin, Texas

Total posts: 3899
Posted:well, looks like flid has covered most of it in good order.

I have worked with all kinds of telescopes, from "monoculars" to very large binoculars to refractors to small reflectors to ones with a 1 meter mirror, and even the HST (which is morelike working with a computer and a burocracy than working with a telelscope.

for just looking at stuff like the moon or jupiter, I actually prefer those very large binoculars to my 4 inch refractor. Point in fact, I feel like there is not so much advantage from a telescope over a really good pair of binoculars till you get to the 6-8 inch range, although if you live in the country with little light pollution, this may be less true.

anyway, for 100 quid, you are definitely best off buying binoculars and a tripod.

telescopes (and anything to do with optics in general) are things that definitely represent the philosophy of "you get what you pay for".


-v-

Wiederstand ist Zwecklos!

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Eera


old hand
Location: In a test pit, Mackay

Total posts: 1107
Posted:A decent star guide will tell you what size lens you need to see specific objects. Looking quickly at my little book anything under 60mm refractor is not worthwhile, 75mm is OK, 100mm better.

Basically get it as big as you can afford.


There is a slight possibility that I am not actually right all of the time.

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flid
BRONZE Member since Aug 2002

flid

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Warwickshire

Total posts: 3136
Posted:Written by:
Basically get it as big as you can afford.



as with everything in life, bigger isn't always better quality!


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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton

Total posts: 1626
Posted:I mentioned I wanted to get some binoculars and was given a really good pair of 10x50 ones which had been my grandads. What a wonderful gift, and random that they were exactly what I was after.

I hope the weather clears up sometime soon soon so I can go use them properly. Thanks again for all the advice Flid (wicked piccies of the moon by the way!), and everyone else!


What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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MiG
GOLD Member since Apr 2004

MiG

Self-Flagellation Expert
Location: Bogged at CG

Total posts: 3415
Posted:you could have said 'look, i want that one, and if my limit is 100, then i'll chip in the rest' ive done that a few times.

"beg beg grovel beg grovel"
"master"
--FSA

"There was an arse there, i couldn't help myself"
--Rougie

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nearly_all_gone
SILVER Member since Aug 2004

nearly_all_gone

Pooh-Bah
Location: Southampton

Total posts: 1626
Posted:That's a good plan MiG but unfortunatley I'm totally skint so it wouldn't have worked. I'll keep it in mind if I ever have any money though!

What a wonderful miracle if only we could look through each other's eyes for an instant.
Thoreau

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