Looking to buy your first telescope? Part 1

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tfwthom

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Since you are going to $250 go just a few dollars more and get the SkyQuest XT6 Classic for $260<br /><br />What you can see with a typical 6" reflector under reasonably good skies: <br /><br />All 110 Messier objects, which includes nebulae, open and globular clusters, and extended galaxies. Most of these will seem impossibly dim to you at first. Later in your career, they will seem really bright. <br /><br />All of the planets except Pluto. Saturn's rings are easy. Shadow transits on Jupiter are easy. Detail on Mars is somewhat harder, but gets a little easier once every two years. Venus, Mercury, Neptune, and Uranus are pretty much featureless balls. <br /><br />Hundreds of named craters on the moon. <br /><br />Sunspots and other activity on the sun, with a proper filter. Do not look at the sun without proper filtration! <br /><br />Hundreds of other various objects. <br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="1" color="#3366ff">www.siriuslookers.org</font> </div>
 
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geoffg

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Probably what he means by connecting to a computer is a telescope which can be pointed at objects in the sky using computer software such as Starry Night. This means that the computer must have a computer of its own built in which can communicate with the main computer; such computerized scopes are either "GoTo" (built in motors) or "Digital Setting Circles" (no motors). As someone else mentioned, computerized scopes often sacrifice optical power, unless you're prepared to spend a bit of money. If you check out Orion's telescope lineup (a good place to start) their "IntelliScope" series have a kind of Digital Setting Circle, while some of their other scopes have motorized GoTo systems:<br /><br />http://www.telescope.com/<br /><br />In general, it's dangerous to buy a telescope for someone else unless you really know what you're doing. It's really best to involve the person in the decision making, even if it spoils the surprise a little.<br /><br />Geoff Gaherty<br />Starry Night Software Support
 
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geoffg

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The Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 is an excellent first scope for a beginner, especially a child. Sky & Telescope magazine did an article on beginner's scopes last year, and this scope led the field. Just about any scope will show you Saturn's rings, but this scope will give you an excellent view, and will provide years of observing pleasure.<br /><br />Geoff Gaherty<br />Starry Night Software Support
 
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MeteorWayne

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"In general, it's dangerous to buy a telescope for someone else unless you really know what you're doing. It's really best to involve the person in the decision making, even if it spoils the surprise a little. "<br /><br />Sort of like springing a pet on someone <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />Excellent advice. You must find out how they are interested in using it, and how much time and in what way they are prepared to learn about the sky.<br /><br />I use a different program, hopefully I'll get to see Starry Night in action someday so I can see how it fits my needs. I learned about the sky from many hours of meteor observing (watching the WHOLE sky), and reading a lot.<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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geoffg

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"64k question: The bigger the mirror size, the higher the magnification?"<br /><br />Yes and no. Experienced astronomers choose the magnification they use depending on the object they're looking at and the quality of the observing conditions. With a decent quality scope, the maximum magnification is roughly twice the aperture in millimetres, given a perfectly steady atmosphere. Based with real-life atmospheric conditions, it's rare to be able to use more than about 300 power on _any_ Earth-bound telescope. My main scope is an 11-inch Newtonian reflector, and I do most of my observing between 60 power and 250 power. Saturn is an object that can handle quite a bit of magnification, but I rarely see any advantage in going over 250 power. With a 4.5-inch scope, I'd probably never use much more than about 180 power.<br /><br />Geoff Gaherty<br />Starry Night Software Support
 
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nexius

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I live in a suburb with a fair amount of light pollution being I live in a development. I will try to take observing place away from my area in the moutains behind me so light shouldnt be a real big problem. I am trying to figure which of these two telescopes is better for me. <br /><br />http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=387&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=4&iSubCat=13&iProductID=387<br /><br />or<br /><br />http://www.telescope.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=241007&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=4&iSubCat=9&iProductID=241007<br /><br />The dobsonian mount will probably see farther than the refractor but what is your guys opinions?
 
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toothferry

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I'd go with the dobsonian. its going to be compact enough to haul around and fairly quick to setup plus offer superior images.
 
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pisces22

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Hey Folks!<br /><br />I am also looking to buy a Telescope and my Budget range is $ 1000. Kindly suggest which is the best one.I am totally new to this and watching sky in the night is a fascination from my childhood.
 
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bbk1

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Shy to say it but my scope is 4.5" Bushnell yet I can make out Saturn and its rings. I can't see any rings details, though. I am thinking to upgrade to 6.5" but is difficult to get around here.<br /><br />You mentioned smoething about sun filters. Are they really safe? How much detail can one see of the sun?<br /><br />Does anyone have images of the sun taken from their scope?
 
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MeteorWayne

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A solar filter that goes over the incoming end of the scope is extremely safe.<br />Eyepiece type solar filters are not.<br />I also use my Astroscan 2001 to make projected images of the sun up to about 1/2 meter in diameter. That way lots of people can look at once. I'll often set it up out near the street and show people what the face of the sun looks like, when there are sunspots in view.<br /><br />I don't do photography myself, but each Sunday we bring out the solar filtered scope at the observatory for the public. We also have a hydrogen alpha filter as well, that's really entertaining, even when no sunspots are visible. But pricey and touchy. <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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bbk1

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MeteorWayne<br /><br />I know this will come out dumb but I will devulge this little secret that I kept for 10 years. Ready? When I first started taking interest in skyviewing with a telescope, some 10+ years ago, I once tried to view the sun through my scope not knowing that it can not be done without a filter. That's right, I almost got my retina put out of commission if it wasn't for my quick reflex reaction to immediately pull away. Of course I have now realised the blunder but I wonder how many amateurs may go through the same highly risky experience. Since then i am very weary and hesitant to view the sun even with filters. You can say it's become like a paranoia.<br /><br /><font color="yellow">"I also use my Astroscan 2001 to make projected images of the sun up to about 1/2 meter in diameter."</font><br /><br />How do you do that? I've tried, not with a great success, to do it with a binocular. It would be neat to be able to do it with the telescope but I can't think of how to do it.
 
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MeteorWayne

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I guess you were lucky!! <img src="/images/icons/cool.gif" /><br />Sometimes there's a lot to be said for a little guidance.<br />We STRONGLY emphasize the need for caution during our presentations....maybe next time I'll start a piece of paper on fire <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /><br /><br />A solar filter that fits over the front of the scope is quite safe, as long as it is firmly secured.I'll see if I can find an article I had discussing the views through different types. Depending on the filter, the image can be yellow, orange, or blue. They block 99.99% of the sunlight, so there is no danger. Overcome your paranoia! <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br />I gather yours is a reflector?<br />That's a little harder for the projection method, since something needs to me mounted around the scope to block the light so the image isn't washed out. That can be a bit unwieldy, but it is doable. Same for a binocular (you'd probably only want to use one light path so they don't overlap.)<br /><br />The Astroscan is a newtonian reflector, so the image comes out the side which makes it easier to find a dark area to place the white card that the image is projected on.<br />I've observed several partial eclipses and the recent Venus transit (2002?) using this method, and the results are very satisfying. Making an image of a sunspot an inch or so across allows lots of detail to be seen, and as I say lots of people can look at once. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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bbk1

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Thanks, MeteorWayne<br /><br />And yep, you guessed it right. It's a reflector. I tried to find an image to display here but couldn't. The eyepeice is on the side just close to the viewfinder.
 
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jayjs21

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Hello, I'm new here. I just bought my first telescope and defiled almost every recommendation on buying your first telescope by buying this<br /><br />http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ih=015&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWA%3AIT&viewitem=&item=250093101617&rd=1&rd=1<br /><br />The seller lives close to me, so I don't have to buy the shipping. I just can go pick it up. I've read several reviews on this telescope and they mostly seem to be highly positive. I would appreciated if someone would tell me what I got myself into, things I should look for and ask the seller once I go pick it up. I'm in a hurry, so I can't write a more detailed post. I'll be back later. Thanks.
 
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MeteorWayne

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BTW, if it is dusty, <font color="orange"> DO NOT WIPE THE DUST OFF THE MIRROR!! </font><br /><br />Since this is to be your first scope, I just thought I'd throw that warning out. If you did that, you would severely damage the mirror, making it much worse than having the dust on there. And requring money and time to fix.<br /><br />Once you own it, you can look up proper mirror cleaning procedures, so you won't damage the surface. It's not hard, you just have to be real careful, and basically clean the surface without touching it <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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jayjs21

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Well I picked it up today and tested it out tonight. That thing is better then I thought I'd be. Besides the missing nuts and bolts, everything seems to be working fine. I pointed it at the moon and saw a pretty good picture. I do have two questions though. <br /><br />First, I'm running into the situation where'd 'fuze' alittle bit when I try to focus it, then settle; usually no where near where I tried to focus it at. Therefore, I'm forced to guess where the correct focus is, instead of being coordinated by my eye. Is there a way to correct this?<br /><br />Second, I pointed it at a random non-twinkling object in the sky and happen to land on Saturn. It was really pretty, but small - even though it was detailed enough for me to see the blackness inbetween the planet and the rings. How do I go about buying a stronger eyepiece? This auction came with a 10mm and a 25mm eyepiece.
 
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jayjs21

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It's less of a 'snap'ing movement and more of a gliding movement. With most all gliding movement moving against friction, if you move it forward any amount, when you release it, it'll slide back just a tiny bit. Is there a fix for this?<br /><br />Oh, and I do need to wear glasses so I'll look into collimating.<br /><br />As for a Barlow/4 or 5 mm eyepiece, I guess I could spend about 50-100 dollars on one. How much are they usually?
 
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MeteorWayne

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The question is whether the glasses are for astigmatism or not. If they are, then the user needs to wear them and allow for the necessary eye relief.<br /><br />However if it is pure near or far sightedness, then you just focus for your eyes, and don't need to wear the glasses.<br /><br />(I replied to CE's post, just to clarify, or focus <img src="/images/icons/wink.gif" /> the point he was making.) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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jayjs21

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I have a question about Barlows. What are the difference between different Barlows and what makes one better then the other?
 
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mstupid3000

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a comment to those interested inbuying their first telescope: get a great pair of binoculars instead. Spend 200 bucks on 10 X 50 binos and you'll be able to see twice as many objects then with your eye. binos are easy to use and store and you can do lots of other things with them besides star gazing. <br /><br />A big telescope takes up lots of space, can be cumbersome to set up and has a commitment level that might surprise you. If you buy binos and after a year get bored with astronomy you'll still have a great pair of binos and maybe you'll catch on to birdwatching. However, buy a telescope and get bored and you'll have one very expensive coat rack.
 
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johnny_blade

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I have an antares 900mm focal length and a diameter of 114mm it's really good it's a newtonian reflector.
 
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BReif

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Jayjs21 said: ""Hello, I'm new here. I just bought my first telescope and defiled almost every recommendation on buying your first telescope by buying this...""<br /><br />The Orion 10" Classic Dobsonian was my third telescope. I have had it for two years now, and it has been an outstanding platform for visual astronomy. Nothing else I have ever had can beat it. That 10 inches of aperture brings in alot of light, and it is great for the deep sky, as well as the planets. Collimation can be tricky at first, but it comes quickly enough. Well collimated, it is a great planet scope as well as a deep sky scope. <br /><br />My second scope was a Meade ETX 125 5 " MCT. A good planetary scope, but not overly good for much else, maybe globulars in a dark sky, and a few open clusters. My first scope was (crazzyeddie don't laugh) was a Sears 60mm refractor department store refractor that actually was a good lunar and planetary scope. I got that one from my parents when I was 10 years old, and I used it for 15 years, until the nuts and bolts wore out. Then I bought the ETX, and pitched the refractor after having been out of astronomy for 20 years.
 
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MeteorWayne

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My first was (and I still have it) an Astroscan 2001 <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /> , about 20 years now.<br />Great for large objects like comets (see Hale-Bopp) and big open clusters, cruising the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, solar projection, and the moon and planets. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#000080"><em><font color="#000000">But the Krell forgot one thing John. Monsters. Monsters from the Id.</font></em> </font></p><p><font color="#000080">I really, really, really, really miss the "first unread post" function</font><font color="#000080"> </font></p> </div>
 
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Smersh

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I was thinking of buying a telescope, on a budget of $500-$700, specifically so I could try Astrophotography. The telescope I originally had in mind was the Skyquest XT8, but then found out that it cannot be used for astrophotography and I read somewhere that I would be better off with a refractor. That aside, I saw this thread a few weeks ago and read some of you guy's comments and it put me off the whole Astrophotography idea altogether, for example:<br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>TFWThom<br />To anyone new to astronomy that is thinking about astrophotography my advice is to FORGET ABOUT IT! <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br /><blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>MeteorWayne<br />If photography is the goal (the saving to jpeg thing) by the time you're done I would not think $3K is out of line, depending what the expectation is. It could be $2K, but will the results meet the expectations?<br /> <p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />However, on checking the Starry Night store a couple of days ago I came across this:<br /><br /><font color="yellow">"StarShoot Solar System Color Imager II - Makes Solar System Astrophotography Easy and Affordable"</font><br /><br />http://store.starrynightstore.com/52069.html<br /><br />I'm not certain, but I think this device may be fairly new on the market, so does this change anything at all does anyone know, re the above comments? Thanks.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <h1 style="margin:0pt;font-size:12px">----------------------------------------------------- </h1><p><font color="#800000"><em>Lady Nancy Astor: "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea."<br />Churchill: "Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink it."</em></font></p><p><font color="#0000ff"><strong>Website / forums </strong></font></p> </div>
 
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Smersh

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Thanks for the info Eddie. I think I'll put my astrophotography idea on hold, at least for the time being ... <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <h1 style="margin:0pt;font-size:12px">----------------------------------------------------- </h1><p><font color="#800000"><em>Lady Nancy Astor: "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea."<br />Churchill: "Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink it."</em></font></p><p><font color="#0000ff"><strong>Website / forums </strong></font></p> </div>
 
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