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What telescope to get

gsun

COG# 9127 CDA# 560
Member
First of all, I know basically nothing about them. I would like to check out the night sky but also have a killer view in my new house so want to look at mountains and ocean as well. Had Orcas go by yesterday and would've liked to zoom in. My buddy gas a 20-60 spotting scope but it's not enough. What would you gents suggest keeping in mind I'm broke.
 

Scary Harry

Fear is not boring. COG# 4090
Member
Sky & Telescope

Getting started

Great starting video - what to avoid

Start with good binoculars. Get to know the sky first. Know what to look for.
Free astronomy software.

Telescope dot com


What I have discovered is that big bad a$$ telescopes will kill your interest rather quickly.
Too many variables that will bite you. Start simple and go slow. So much out there.
There are dozens of Youtube videos that are great. The simpler the telescope, the more fun it is to use.
However, you don't want to go cheap.
I'm about to pull the trigger on 10.5 x 70mm binoculars and they ain't cheap, nor lightweight. But the view of the sky will be priceless. They are massively heavy, so it is recommended to get 10 x 50 or smaller magnification and use a good tripod. Purchase BAK4 prisims with fully coated lenses, made for astronomy.

You will never be able to compete with the Hubble space telescope, so you will want to lower your expectations.

I bought my son an 8" Dobs reflector telescope. A big long tube with an 8" mirror at the bottom. We can see Saturn's rings just fine with that monster and it is amazing. No electronics, but a blast to play with. You can see Jupitor's spots and moons quite clearly. With 10 x 50 binoculars (and smaller), you can see Jupitor's moons quite clearly, but not the bands of color. With the binoculars, you can see the larger constellations and brighter galaxies and comets when close enough.

Visit a local astronomy club and see what they are using. Some of their home built scopes are moved around in large vans. But, the more fun scopes will fit under your arm pit. Avoid the department store crap.

Good brands are Celestron and Orion. The videos are more helpful than the stupid reviews, you know..."Best 5 telescopes for 2021" with links to Amazon ( junk reviews). The Youtube videos seem to be honest. Most seem to speak honestly on their experiences on what works and what doesn't. A big problem I have found is that scopes arrive out of collimation right out of the box. The mirrors or optics are out of alignment. A big bummer that will kill the hobby before ever getting started. A Dobs reflector scope is very easy to recollimate (calibrate).

These are delicate instruments and optics, but quite capable with an experienced user.

My next scope will be a portable Cassegrain. Not too big or too small. A lot of light gathering ability.
I'm still learning as well, so I appreciate all the advice I can get too.

If you just want to look at Orca killer whales eating a seal, then maybe a good wildlife spotting scope is what you need. However, you will still need a good tripod as a fly landing on the scope with throw off the view from shake or vibration. The higher the magnification, the more difficult the view. Do a lot of reading to learn the differences in scopes.

Hope that helps
 

S Smith

COG Northeast Area Director
Member
Depends on your budget. Back in the day I used an Edmund standard reflector and Celestron Schmidt-Cassegrain type telescopes. Both worked well. The latter was more compact, but cost more. I think Edmund is out of the telescope business, but you may find an Astroscan for sale on eBay.
 

nickrides

Scooter
Forum Subscriber
Thread drift light ON
You can sign up though NASA for a text message when the ISS is going over your house. Its great!
That thing is really big, easy to see with Bino's
Light OFF
Nick
2014 C-14
 

gsun

COG# 9127 CDA# 560
Member
Sky & Telescope

Getting started

Great starting video - what to avoid

Start with good binoculars. Get to know the sky first. Know what to look for.
Free astronomy software.

Telescope dot com


What I have discovered is that big bad a$$ telescopes will kill your interest rather quickly.
Too many variables that will bite you. Start simple and go slow. So much out there.
There are dozens of Youtube videos that are great. The simpler the telescope, the more fun it is to use.
However, you don't want to go cheap.
I'm about to pull the trigger on 10.5 x 70mm binoculars and they ain't cheap, nor lightweight. But the view of the sky will be priceless. They are massively heavy, so it is recommended to get 10 x 50 or smaller magnification and use a good tripod. Purchase BAK4 prisims with fully coated lenses, made for astronomy.

You will never be able to compete with the Hubble space telescope, so you will want to lower your expectations.

I bought my son an 8" Dobs reflector telescope. A big long tube with an 8" mirror at the bottom. We can see Saturn's rings just fine with that monster and it is amazing. No electronics, but a blast to play with. You can see Jupitor's spots and moons quite clearly. With 10 x 50 binoculars (and smaller), you can see Jupitor's moons quite clearly, but not the bands of color. With the binoculars, you can see the larger constellations and brighter galaxies and comets when close enough.

Visit a local astronomy club and see what they are using. Some of their home built scopes are moved around in large vans. But, the more fun scopes will fit under your arm pit. Avoid the department store crap.

Good brands are Celestron and Orion. The videos are more helpful than the stupid reviews, you know..."Best 5 telescopes for 2021" with links to Amazon ( junk reviews). The Youtube videos seem to be honest. Most seem to speak honestly on their experiences on what works and what doesn't. A big problem I have found is that scopes arrive out of collimation right out of the box. The mirrors or optics are out of alignment. A big bummer that will kill the hobby before ever getting started. A Dobs reflector scope is very easy to recollimate (calibrate).

These are delicate instruments and optics, but quite capable with an experienced user.

My next scope will be a portable Cassegrain. Not too big or too small. A lot of light gathering ability.
I'm still learning as well, so I appreciate all the advice I can get too.

If you just want to look at Orca killer whales eating a seal, then maybe a good wildlife spotting scope is what you need. However, you will still need a good tripod as a fly landing on the scope with throw off the view from shake or vibration. The higher the magnification, the more difficult the view. Do a lot of reading to learn the differences in scopes.

Hope that helps
Ok, a lot to digest. I do want a zoom so I can see things like Orcas as mentioned. Four of them went by on Saturday. I was looking at big binos but again no zoom. Maybe a spotting scope would be good but they can get pricey. The 10 X 80 binos that I looked at were not that bad but no zoom.
 

fartymarty

Member
Member
Ok, a lot to digest. I do want a zoom so I can see things like Orcas as mentioned. Four of them went by on Saturday. I was looking at big binos but again no zoom. Maybe a spotting scope would be good but they can get pricey. The 10 X 80 binos that I looked at were not that bad but no zoom.

Hard to get something for nothing. When you zoom in generally the amount of light goes way down so sometimes you get a better view at the lower powers than you do at the higher power. If you're broke AND you need zoom that goes higher than 20X then you should search the used market. Many when they discover that their less than $1000 telescopes won't give them Hubble quality views, will quit and sell cheap.

If you get some stimulus money to spend then I recommend a Meade ETX telecope (90mm or 125mm) with an erecting prism eye piece coupled with a zoom eyepiece. That should serve well for day use and very well for night sky....probably remove the erecting prism for night use. I have a 90mm ETX and using a sun filter I took the photo below of Venus passing in front of the sun.


The dot in the upper right is Venus, the other dots are of course sun spots and the little doughnut shaped ghost rings (zoom in) are artifacts of dust inside the camera lens.....fine optics and Dual-Sporting in the desert don't go together very well :rolleyes: :(. The photo is out of focus a bit as well. The eye piece view without the camera mounted was crystal sharp.
 

Konehead34

Member
Member
Ud probably be better off watching the orcas with a camera with a zoom lense... that way u can document the pod.

Harry has privided you with some great info...
 

Scary Harry

Fear is not boring. COG# 4090
Member
For those of us with curiosity about what you can really see with a good reflecting telescope, I would like to refer you to this astronomer.
6" reflector with real feedback

This is the kind of information I have been looking for. This fellow actually observes and draws (by hand) what he sees. This is far more telling than providing a Hubble image I could never achieve. I like his home made designs. They are works of art.
 

Tour1

Member
Member
First of all, I know basically nothing about them. I would like to check out the night sky but also have a killer view in my new house so want to look at mountains and ocean as well. Had Orcas go by yesterday and would've liked to zoom in. My buddy gas a 20-60 spotting scope but it's not enough. What would you gents suggest keeping in mind I'm broke.
If there are any astronomy clubs near you you should check them out when covid etc permit. They usually have observing sessions where guests are tolerated and sometimes welcome. Beware of shining your bike's headlight at anybody, it drives stargazers nuts.
I googled your island and "observatory", these are places to check out websites for tours and clubs:
A rule of thumb is that the bigger a telescope is the less it gets used. Too much PITA and so on.
Clubs can be that way too, the more you have to do the less you will look through any telescope, theirs or yours.
If you try looking through a few different telescopes you will get a feel for what they are like.
Keep an eye out for yard sales and flea markets too. A bachelor friend of mine (RIP) had 17 telescopes.
My 1st 35mm camera taught me what stuff is worth: $400 to buy (used), hundreds more for accessories, and all worth $100 when you're broke & need pants. Be the guy who buys $400+ stuff for $100, not the other way around.

*ammendment: this looks like the only sure bet on the map above:
 

kv5e

South Central Area Director - COG 5063
Staff member
Member
Meade ETX series are fast to set up and use. They are not as bright as big reflectors, but have superb optics with a nice airy disc on stars.

I can set up an ETX in under 10 minutes and with a solar filter it was a huge hit at the 2017 Great American Eclipse where many folks wanted to watch the progress of the moon across the sun until totality.

I also like having a modest Dobsonian as they are brighter, but require collimation which is fairly easy now with a $30 collimator.

A used ETX and tripod is a great way to dip your toe in the water. Look for one with UHTC as they are more efficient and pass more photons.
 

gsun

COG# 9127 CDA# 560
Member
Ud probably be better off watching the orcas with a camera with a zoom lense... that way u can document the pod.

Harry has privided you with some great info...
I have a camera with an 18X optical and another 18X digital which can do the trick but I still would like a more all round zoom telescope.
 
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