Fairly specific first telescope advice please...

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Fairly specific first telescope advice please...

Postby elevensees » Wed Dec 21, 2016 1:10 pm

Hello all,

I’ve been having a chug around the forum and various sites to work through some advice for buying a first telescope. I realise this is essentially the age old “What telescope for £xxx?” question, but my situation is quite specific, if I may explain…

I recently passed my 25 years’ service at work and as a reward we were given a £500 voucher and rather than the old timer gold watch or random garden furniture, I would like to use mine for something that will last and something meaningful to me. I have been fascinated by Astronomy since I was small, but I have never had the opportunity (read, spare money!) to indulge my interest, so this seems like the perfect time.

One major restriction, before I go any further, is that the voucher is from love2shop, so I think my choice of shop is restricted to Jessops, unless anyone else knows of another retailer who would accept it.

On reading about what equipment is out there at the moment I have come to the (extraordinarily basic) conclusion that I would like to maximise the size and quality of the telescope for the money available, which has led me to (basically) one of the following, a 5” or 6” ‘scope on a goto mount, an 8” on an EQ mount or a 10” dobsonian. My aims are to be able to see anything and everything (moon, planets, deep space objects, etc, etc, etc) along with some photography if possible (my son has a basic Nikon DSLR that I can sometimes use), although the photography isn’t necessarily the driving factor, that would be the quality of the image.

I think I am leaning towards the 8” on a manual EQ mount, but I also love the idea of a goto mount. Does a goto usually allow tracking for longer exposure photography? But is the image and what I’ll be able to see from an 8” superior enough, over a 6”, to warrant it’s selection. I love the thought of a huge 10” telescope (that’s the child in me surfacing) but I think the Dobsonian mount might be the only down side, especially when considering possible photography.

As it is essentially a once in a lifetime purchase, there won’t be much scope for upgrading, beyond maybe eyepieces and the like, so I would like to get it as right as possible from the off.

Sorry for the random nature of some questions, but thank you for taking the time to read through my ramblings and I look forward to whatever advice filters through.

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Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:38 am

Re: Fairly specific first telescope advice please...

Postby Gfamily2 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:55 pm

Hi, welcome.
The sensible advice would be to hold fire on your purchase until you've had a chance to try out some telescopes for yourself. If you have a local astronomical society (google will help you find if one exists), find out when their observing evenings are - some do this weekly, others monthly - and go along. Most people will be delighted to show you around their scopes, and that way you can try out different types to see what each can do.

That said; you are apparently limited to buying from one place - and of the Jessops' scopes in the £300-£500 price range, I think I agree that the Skywatcher 200P on the EQ mount looks like a good place to start. The mount is pretty solid for visual use, and the scope itself has a good reputation and is a good size. The one thing that it's not going to do from day 1 is to be of use for taking images - however, you can buy a Motor Drive for about £70 that will allow it to track across the sky to begin taking images - with an Equatorial mount, you only need to have a drive operating the RA axis to be able to track moderately well.

You ask about whether you can track with a GOTO mount - yes you can, but with an Alt-Az mount (as per the other ones that Jessops' are offering), the movement is in small sideways and up/down steps, which means that you won't be able to take long exposure images without getting a rotation of the field of view. The power drain is greater too - so batteries don't last as long.

And yes, an 8" scope will give a significant improvement over a 6" scope.

One useful feature of the Barlow lens that comes with the 8" Skywatcher scope is that it is already threaded for a T-mount which will fit onto a suitable T-ring adapter for your son's Nikon.

To widen your choice of retailers, are you able to do a 'trade' with someone, so if they are doing a big purchase at one of the eligible stores, you use your card and they give you the cash value? Though, that said, I think the 8" scope on the EQ mount is a pretty good place to start if you're sure that that's the scope for you, and the Jessops price is competitive with other places

The main take-away message though, is that I would thoroughly recommend holding fire until you've been on a few observing sessions and have experienced different types of scopes and have a better idea of what each of them does best.

Hope you find this useful
Scopes: Meade 8" SCT, Skywatcher 127mm Mak, Raffle winner of SW ST80
For imaging: Pentax K5, Asda webcam, Star Adventurer (new toy)
For companionship: Mid Cheshire Astronomical Group.
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Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:38 pm

Re: Fairly specific first telescope advice please...

Postby elevensees » Thu Dec 22, 2016 11:35 am

Gfamily2 thank you very much for some good sensible advice and for clearing up the technical points. I've checked and I do indeed have a local astronomical society and they are meeting twice in January so I will try to get along, especially as one session does seem to be an intoduction to telescopes and setting them up (perfect timing).
Also a good idea of maybe exchanging my voucher with someone in the family, I'll ask around over the festive period.
Thank you again for taking the time to reply.
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2016 11:38 am

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