New telescope options?

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New telescope options?

Postby dmtarry » Thu Sep 29, 2016 5:53 pm

Hi I am new to this and have been looking to buy a telescope for initially viewing the Moon, Planets along with some photography. However I want the scope to be good enough to move on a little further into the hobby when i know more about what i am doing. I live in a lodge by the beach in Anglesey 90% of the time with wonderful skies and seemingly little light pollution. I want to be able to move around to different locations on the island so portability is a useful option, I have researched options and with my budget of around £1,000 narrowed things down to the Celestron range as follows :-

The Celestron NexStar 6SE (with power pack) *First option?

The Celestron NexStar 8SE (Reading forums some questions about extended cool down times over the 6 and "Wobble" ? also the head unit is heavier though fitted to the same tripod and mount and may be being overworked if cameras attached etc?? (with power pack)

or The Celestron Evolution 6 SCT Some seem to think that the gearing and mechanics are better in this unit obviously easier with inbuilt power pack and wifi for connection to a tablet.

My gut is pushing me towards the evolution though would be interested in your thoughts?
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Re: New telescope options?

Postby Aratus » Sat Oct 01, 2016 1:23 pm

The Celestron Evolution type telescopes are obviously the most modern telescopes and do contain improvements over the older types based on their experience. For myself it also contains a lot of unneccesary items which add greatly to the cost without increasing its ability, but others may find them useful. For me anyway spending money on GPS, wifi connections and tablet control seems more like gimmicks than anything that might improve the experience. That is something you need to judge for yourself.

The NextStar 8SE certain doesn't wobble, and cooling down times are par for the course for an SCT. A lot depends where you keep it as to the time it takes to cool down, as well as the difference in temperatures. In extreme cases you might need to leave it out for a hour if you've had it at room temperatures and going out into a freezing backyard, but 20 minutes is more average. Keep it in an unheated shed or garage and you are ready to go almost straight away.

(EDIT: I took a look at some of the comments elswhere regarding the cooling down of an older type SCT, and it seems that all the comments referred to large temperature swings in some parts of the United States. Some of them complain that the telescope temperature never equalises. That would be very unlikely ever to happen in the UK. The times I gave above are typical here.)

I've used an 8" Celestron SCT for 12 years and I have never had any problems with the mount and gearing. I frequently use a DSLR camera on the end and it copes fine. I can't say I've noticed it straining or acting as if it was underpowered. I guess eventually it will wear out, but after 12 years of constant use, I can't say it owes me anything. To my knowledge the modern SE range uses the same gearing system.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'power pack'. The SE range is normally powered by either a mains power adapter or a 12v battery, neither of which is attached to the telescope or the mount. There is an option to fit a load of AA batteries to the mount, but it wouldn't add any weight to the moving parts. (a very expensive way of powering the telescope anyway.)

In the end I'm sure you will enjoy your telescope whichever you choose. You just need to bear in mind that most of the cost of these modern telescopes are the mounts/ computer control/ built in electronics. Every pound you pay for those is 1 pound less available towards the actual telescope and the likelihood that you will only be able to afford a smaller telescope. You need to strike the correct balance for yourself.
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
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Re: New telescope options?

Postby Gfamily2 » Sun Oct 02, 2016 2:48 pm

It may be useful for you to get in touch with the Gwynedd Astronomy Society, who meet on first Thursday evenings in Bangor.
I'd expect them to have members with a range of scopes, and if they have observing sessions as well as their lectures, you may be able to try out some to see what works for you.

Personally, my advice would be to go for the largest aperture you can afford, and (as Aratus has wisely suggested) don't worry too much about the extra features. I like having a GOTO, but a basic GOTO mount doesn't need to have full automation built in, it adds a lot of cost, and the benefits are not that great. If you have a smartphone it's easy to get GPS location from that, and you may well find that setting up can be almost as quick to do yourself than letting the scope do it.

I have a Meade LS8, which has the fully automated alignment, (it has its own GPS and uses a built in camera to do its two-star alignment by itself). It generally works well, but added about 40% to the cost of the scope. I also have a Skywatcher Skymax on a SynScan mount and doing a manual 2 star align is pretty quick to do (and often easier too, if it turns out that alignment stars are obscured by trees or clouds).

With any of the scopes you're considering, as they are on an alt/az mount, they're going to be somewhat limited for photography - you should be OK to get photos of brighter DSOs , and the planets/moon, but you'll struggle to get good images requiring exposures longer than about 30 seconds.

Very envious of your dark skies though - one of our club members lives near Penmon and gets fantastic photos from there.
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.
(Not a moderator)
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Re: New telescope options?

Postby dmtarry » Mon Oct 03, 2016 7:57 am

Thank you for your time and comments, I have become aware of the local group and will follow that up. One daft idea that I have thought about for storage outside is to purchase a spare wheelie bin to convert into a wheelie telescope storage / carrier which can be left outside. I was thinking of adding some vents for air movement, and installing a foam interior to add protection giving a moveable unit assuming the unit bought will fit? Damp would be the potential issue i assume, any thoughts?
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Re: New telescope options?

Postby Aratus » Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:04 pm

I spent a whole year investigating all the ways I could keep a telescope outside. (A shoulder condition meant I could no longer carry the telescope in and out the house.) I could probably take you through the main options.

One way would be to get a pier and attach the telescope permenantly to that. It would then be a matter of somehow protecting the telescope from the elements. . .

1. A rubber sheet and strap to wrap it in?
2. A box (wheelie bin!) which could lifted or pushed away. (Sometimes known as a 'Tardis'!)
3. A small shed which could be set on runners with wheels? The shed could then be pushed away and the telescope would go through the door. The shed could then act as an observing hut.
4. A larger shed essentially cut in half. Each half pushes away on rails to reveal the telescope.
5. A fixed shed with a hinged or run-off roof
6. A many sided (circularish) shed on a circular rail and an aperture. The whole shed is rotated.
7. A circular enclosed wall with a 'clam shell' dome which slides open
8. A circular enclosed wall topped off with a rotating dome with a sliding aperture.

They are roughly in order of cost, and they all have their problems and strengths.

Damp is a problem with all of these because to be any use they have to be unheated. An SCT is not affected by the damp too much, being a sealed tube, but some damp can find its way inside if kept in a cold damp place. Internal condension can arise, and even mould growth. A silica gel container can keep the internals dry. If the shed/container/observatory is at least mostly sealed then a small dehumidifier can do a good job. The need for ventilation (getting rid of heat) is largely a factor of the surrounding area, the material used to construct it, and the colour it is painted.
I use an 11" Celestron SCT (CPC 1100) on an equatorial wedge, housed in a 2.2m Pulsar observatory. I use a ZWO ASI1600MC and Canon 500D for imaging.
Aratus
 
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