Advice for a newbie

A place to hang out and chat about astronomy

Advice for a newbie

Postby wilko » Thu May 28, 2009 2:53 pm

Hi All,

My name is Andy and I am looking to get involved in a bit of star gazing [:D]

This is something I have wanted to do for such a long time but haven't had the time, money or excuse to get stuck in, however I am now ready to start my quest for astrological enlightenment!

Now i would like some advice from you lovely experts, I have been looking at 2 scopes and have been advised that the first one, a Celestron Nexstar 4SE, would be a very good introduction but after looking around for review I have found a mixed bag, the other one that has caught my eye is the Meade ETX 90 PE but again I don't have the knowledge to make an informed decision...

So I am humbly asking for a) Advice and feedback on the scopes mentioned above, are they a good starter scope b) Is there another contender I should look at? or c) is there a clear obvious choice that I should go straight out and buy! (I doubt it will be that simple)

Thanks for you time in reading this and I look forward to your replies.....


[size="3"][font="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"][b][/b][/font][/size]
wilko
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:58 pm

RE: Advice for a newbie

Postby brianb » Thu May 28, 2009 4:00 pm

1. IMO the Celestron 4SE is a better scope than the Meade ETX90 - on the basis of the mount; the ETX mount is rather weak.

2. Why not look at the 5SE instead of the 4SE? The extra inch of aperture is useful, it's hardly any heavier or bulkier and the shorter focal ratio is more suited to deep sky targets ... the 4SE being a Mak is long focus, it's OK for moon & planets but getting a low power is awkward.

3. Also check out the Skywatcher Explorer 130PM
brianb
 
Posts: 5513
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:49 pm

RE: Advice for a newbie

Postby Chanctonbury » Thu May 28, 2009 4:00 pm

The two telescopes in your current short-list are both Maksutov Cassegrains. This means that they have fairly long focal lengths which equates to higher power magnification for a given eyepiece. This makes the two most suitable for Lunar and Planetary work where high magnification is desirable. This very attribute makes them less suitable for larger deep sky objects, not a fault or anything, just bringing this to your attention.

Of the two, I would advise against the Meade as the mount does not have the best reputation.

For a similar budget, you should add the Skywatcher Skymax 127 SynScan AZ GOTO (despite my alias, I have NO connection with SkyWatcher the company!!).

If you would prefer to have a more 'all round' use instrument, the Skywatcher Explorer 200P EQ5 would be a good choice but you would then be without the GoTo features and this may be important to you.

Perhaps you could let us know what you think your main interests will be?
Chanctonbury
 
Posts: 4457
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:57 pm

RE: Advice for a newbie

Postby wilko » Thu May 28, 2009 4:16 pm

Thanks for the advice so far, as for what I am most interested in the truth be known its both, I definitely want to view planets but I would also like to get good views of deep space objects! Is this going to prove a contradiction?

I will take a closer look at the skywatcher range as i have seen them mentioned before by others as good scopes...

The other option is to wait until I can afford a better scope but that defeats the object as I have been waiting 20 years already! lol
wilko
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:58 pm

RE: Advice for a newbie

Postby Chanctonbury » Thu May 28, 2009 4:50 pm

Don't wait, within reason whatever you get will bring you pleasure provided you don't buy an 'EBAY Special'. There is no one 'scope that suits all objects which is why it is common to find that many astronomers have two different 'scopes, with different focal lengths and light grasps. The problem is to do with 'scale' and to some extent, relative brightness - planets are relatively small as are the features on the Moon so they are best seen at high magnification which also dims the view for a given aperture. Magnification is a combination of telescope focal length and eyepiece focal length the maths being : magnification = telescope FL / eyepiece FL

Many deep sky objects are huge but dim so a large aperture and smaller focal lengths are required to see them and here lies the 'problem', the two types of telescope are to some extent mutually exclusive!

My temptation would be to look at an all rounder, i.e. a telescope with good light grasp (large aperture) and a medium focal length - you can increase the magnification with a good quality Barlow lens and additional eyepieces for lunar and planetary use and although this dims the view, as you are starting out with a large aperture, this is not such an issue. This type of 'scope is large though and a steady mount is required to hold it still and with the budget that you have intimated at, you would be better off doing away with the GoTo electronics and concentrating the money on a more substantial mount.

I need to pin my colours to the mast here and say that I love GoTo but it comes at a price and not one I could afford when I started 4 and bit years ago!

Chanctonbury
 
Posts: 4457
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:57 pm

RE: Advice for a newbie

Postby wilko » Thu May 28, 2009 5:06 pm

I like the idea of a goto mount because I don't believe I have enough knowledge to use a Manuel scope and to be honest I want to dive straight in!

I have considered your reply and I think initially I would like to concentrate on planets, the moon in particular has a special pull for me and I guess that is the same for most people, but I would also like a chance to see the planets in as much detail as possible, the issue I have with the Nexstar 4se is that the reviews I have read say that viewing planets it isn't very clear they end up being blurred blobs, so with you helping me work through what I want would you recommend any specific scopes for me to investigate further?

Thanks again, this is really helping me!

wilko
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:58 pm

RE: Advice for a newbie

Postby Chanctonbury » Thu May 28, 2009 6:30 pm

Unfortunately, I haven't used this telescope myself so am unable to offer an opinion on it's optical performance. I quite understand the GoTo requirement and I am not one of those astronomers that feel that we should all 'serve our apprenticeship' using a manual equatorial mount so keeping the GoTo seems more than fair enough.

At this stage, I would suggest that you now wait for some 'users' of the Celestron and Skywatcher Maksutovs to join in so that you can hear it first hand - you certainly don't want to buy a system with either a cranky mount or blurred optical train! If the Moon and Planets are your initial primary interest then a Maksutov would seem to be a good choice but get some user reports first or even better try and use one for yourself at a local astronomy club before commiting to one.

Good luck!
Chanctonbury
 
Posts: 4457
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:57 pm

RE: Advice for a newbie

Postby ronin » Thu May 28, 2009 9:33 pm

Andy, I went down a similar path to yourself a few months back, 4SE or 6SE, when I came here. I then had the chance of a Meade 105, used but in good condition so I had it. The 105 and the 4SE being fairly similar. Ignoring the mechanics the scope is a good general purpose scope.

Being the size it is it is OKish for some DSO's but you have to be selective and don't expect too much. Orion is good in it and Andromeda fair when you locate it. I went to Wikipedia and "stole" their Messier object list, then copied it into an excel spreadsheet then reordered the nebulea and galaxies by magnitude. Not as bad as it sounds.

Then you have a list ordered by brightness, the obvious thing then is to start with the brightest.

On one of the forums there is a review of the 4SE, this or SGL.

Many people, myself included, get a scope of this size as it is a reasonable size, fair cost and it can be put in a car and transported easily. One thing get the bits needed to run it from mains and/or a car. Also do not expect everything you ask it to go to to be in the field of view. Get a low magnification eyepiece (useful with the scope focal lengths involved) and use that when going to the next item, then move up in magnification once centred.

AB
ronin
 
Posts: 85
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:58 pm

RE: Advice for a newbie

Postby wilko » Fri May 29, 2009 6:06 pm

Anyone else want to add anything? I think I will get a sky watcher branded scope just don't know what model?

Discuss..
wilko
 
Posts: 5
Joined: Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:58 pm

RE: Advice for a newbie

Postby clipperride » Sat May 30, 2009 1:36 am

Goto mounts certainly make life easier when hunting down those faint objects from less than perfect (i.e. most UK) skies. However there is also a lot of satisfaction to be had from being able to find objects by star hopping from an easy to find bright star to your intended target.

As always I would advise getting a copy of "Turn Left at Orion" which gives clear and simple instructions on finding around 100 objects of various different kinds. Even if you decide on a goto scope I would still invest in a copy as it gives you an idea of what you can expect to see. It really should be included with every 'scope sold!

Regards

Mark B
clipperride
 
Posts: 851
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 7:52 pm
Location: Banbury, Oxfordshire, UK

Next

Return to General

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests