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A good starter scope ready for imaging ?

Fri May 26, 2017 6:37 pm


I am very new to astronomy and I'm looking for a scope and mount that is good starter to general viewing but I can use for astrophotography later. I recently went to a local club and had a look through a few different scopes. I was going to get a 8 or 10" dob but, one they are quite big to store and transport and I would need to collimate it so I think I would be wasting my money. I have a budget of 2k that is absolute maximum and I'm not including a camera as I'll get one later on and probably a used one. I'd prefer to spend less to start with but not waste my money having to upgrade to early. I have been looking at some of the Celestron's C8 edge, Nexstar SE and Evolution. I do quite like the Schmidt-Cassegrain designs but are these good for general viewing and astrophotography ? Or am I better of going for a refractor ? As I said I want something that I can just start viewing things with probably more interested in DSO but would like to view planets.


Re: A good starter scope ready for imaging ?

Sat May 27, 2017 1:29 pm


Well, you probably already realise that the requirements you've outlined are rather broad! That probably indicates that you don't really have a precise idea of what you want, and everything looks interesting.

Large Dobsonians are fine. Collimation is easy to learn, and shouldn't be a problem. Looking for faint objects that you can't see with your eye either requires a computerised mount, or a good knowledge of the sky. Computerised mounts are expensive, and on a fixed budget will take money away from getting a larger telescope. Therefore a large Dobsonian will require gradually aquiring a knowledge of the sky. You will get impressive bright views of deep sky objects with a Dobsonian - if you know where to look.

Schmidt-Cassegrain are much more manageable. However, the same principles apply; the more complex the mount, the less money you will have to spend on the 'tube' size. A basic computerised mount will do fine, but it still needs alignment. If you want a self aligning telescope which does it all for you, you will spend a lot of money on that, and you will have to get a smaller telescope to go with it. If you are happy to get a basic computerised mount, and learn your way around, you save money that can go on a better tube.

SCTs can be used for deep space objects, or planets, or the moon. Using a focal reducer with an SCT brings in a wider brighter view of DSOs and a Barlow lens will help with fine planetary detail. They work well with photography, depending on the mount. An alt-azimuth is easy to set up, but you are limited to exposures of 30sec or a minute due to 'rotation' of the object. An equatorial mount is more complex to set up, but theoretically your exposure time is unlimited. In reality a lot can be done with 30sec exposure, and light polluted skies will soon wash out your image after a few minutes. You also have additional problems with tracking objects precisely over several minutes anyway. Another way is to start off with an alt-azimuth mount, and later get a 'wedge' which effectively converts the mount to an equatorial.

Refractors are good telescopes, but lend themselves better to planetary and lunar observation.

There are lots of choices, but in the end it is learning how to use the one you chose well that matters the most.

Re: A good starter scope ready for imaging ?

Mon May 29, 2017 12:20 pm

I don't use a driven mount at all! Not only do I not have the money but, as I have a bad back, I would need a house move as well. I find there's loads I can do with a camera on its own. I have a webcam for planetary imaging and I can also attach my DSLR to a telescope. If I were you, I would consider an 8" SCT but you may find (with its mount) it is too heavy. Many DSO photographers but an APO or ED refractor and take wider fields of view.

Re: A good starter scope ready for imaging ?

Mon Jul 31, 2017 7:53 pm

I recently wrote a free short guide that you may find helpful: http://www.philippughastronomer.com/Ast ... 20DSLR.pdf
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