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Hardpan Curmudgeon SASS #8967

Any stargazers here...?

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Helen Brimstone sez she's thinkin' about buying a telescope.  She has an engineering background in aerospace, for years has had a "starfinder" app on her phone, and enjoys hangin' out in the back yard watching the night sky.

 

So now she's pondering "kicking it up a notch,"  and looking for suggestions.  Preferably something affordable and easy to find things with.   

 

Any recommendations?    Star

 

 

 

 

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I would have to ask the members of the astronomy club I belong to. I have an old Meade, but something a little nicer with a motor drive and computer is something I aspire to

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Posted (edited)

Large aperture good quality binoculars (objective lenses 50 mm or larger ) are a good way to start.  Top quality spotting scopes are good also.

 

Don’t go crazy with magnification power.  Magnification higher than 40X will require a tripod for steady viewing.  Your most enjoyable viewing will probably be at 100X or less.  Higher magnification is for photography, not the naked eye.

 

Refractors are easier to set up than reflectors, but if you have the money and interest one of the maksutov scopes will give good light collection and magnification in a compact package.

 

As with most things,  you get what you pay for in terms of optical quality.

Edited by J-BAR #18287
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Posted (edited)

If there is a local Astronomy club definitely check it out. Many teach intro classes. A quality set of fixed power binoculars would be the first purchase she should make.  7 or 8 X 50 is a great starting point. Too much magnification is actually a bad thing.

 

Good books for beginners.

Turn Left at Orion

NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe.

 

Sky and Telescope is a good resource.

 

Does she want a manual telescope or a computerized one? Avoid anything sold in a store unless the store is dedicated to selling telescopes. I personally don't like computerized scopes. Takes the fun out of actually finding a celestial object. They also tend to not have the best mounts.  Expect to pay as much or more for the mount as you pay for the telescope. The best glass in the world is junk unless the mount is up to the task, Even a telescope from walmart can do a pretty good job if mated to a first class mount. However a $5000 scope is nothing more than a paperweight without a quality mount.

 

I lucked out when I bought my 4" Neutonian.  I got a $1500 mount and a $400 scope for a couple hundred dollars off of craigslist. Guy was going through a divorce and was hard up for cash.

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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2 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

If there is a local Astronomy club definitely check it out. Many teach intro classes. A quality set of fixed power binoculars would be the first purchase she should make.  7 or 8 X 50 is a great starting point. Too much magnification is actually a bad thing.

 

Good books for beginners.

Turn Left at Orion

NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe.

 

Sky and Telescope is a good resource.

 

Does she want a manual telescope or a computerized one? Avoid anything sold in a store unless the store is dedicated to selling telescopes. I personally don't like computerized scopes. Takes the fun out of actually finding a celestial object. They also tend to not have the best mounts.  Expect to pay as much or more for the mount as you pay for the telescope. The best glass in the world is junk unless the mount is up to the task, Even a telescope from walmart can do a pretty good job if mated to a first class mount. However a $5000 scope is nothing more than a paperweight without a quality mount.

 

I lucked out when I bought my 4" Neutonian.  I got a $1500 mount and a $400 scope for a couple hundred dollars off of craigslist. Guy was going through a divorce and was hard up for cash.

 

All good points, but I will disagree regarding the computer. Yes, they can become a crutch if you let them, but they can be handy tools as well. Certainly, it is important to know your way around a star chart, regardless.

 

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Howdy,

My Dad and I had some fun looking at a comet or two years back.

We just used the same binoculars we had around the house.

A tripod or monopod help a LOT.

Check around garage sales or goodwill stores.

Look at what other folks are using.

A class or a club would be great.

If the object of intrest is to the northwest, drive to where ever the

light in that direction is less.  A short drive can put lights at your back.

Best

CR

 

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Marshal Mo Hare, SASS #45984 said:

You don’t have a lot of light pollution?


 

That’s a big concern. We have virtually none here. Only the small tow; of Dove Creek. 12 miles to the ENE.

Night Sky here can be amazing. I have a Meade refractor but have long lusted after a Celestron. Something always takes precedence. :(

Edited by Utah Bob #35998
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4 minutes ago, Utah Bob #35998 said:


 

That’s a big concern. We have virtually none here. Only the small tow; of Dove Creek. 12 miles to the ENE.

Night Sky here can be amazing. I have a Meade refractor but have long lusted after a Celestron. Something always takes precedence. :(

 

Celestron makes some excellent scopes.

 

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?InitialSearch=yes&N=0&Ntt=Celestron Skyprodigy 130 Images&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIis2rgIuP6wIVxcDACh37jw0gEAAYASAAEgLGSPD_BwE&fbclid=IwAR19TDsdxkShA6AlZnpuGI9KUYsUk2cTnA5tiAC3bf8VTtPBfd2lG9eEXkQ

 

 

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Well a Celestron 11 inch with computerized object finding, centering, and tracking ought to do her.

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I have a nice Celestron 6" reflector.  I STRONGLY suggest you contact OPT in Carlsbad, CA.    optcorp.com   They will give you the best information and sell you something that will work at a reasonable price.  I have dealt with them over the years.  There is a HUGE difference between a cheap big box telescope and a real motor drive astronomical telescope.  Tell them what you want to do and they will tell you straight. 

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When I was stationed at China Lake a friend had a 18 in Dobsonian that he built himself. Only problem was it wasn't exactly portable.

 

Performance vs cost Dobsonian's are hard to beat

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19 minutes ago, Utah Bob #35998 said:


 

That’s a big concern. We have virtually none here. Only the small tow; of Dove Creek. 12 miles to the ENE.

Night Sky here can be amazing. I have a Meade refractor but have long lusted after a Celestron. Something always takes precedence. :(

The four corners area is in the middle of several dark sky places.

 

 

0BE523B0-36AC-4A94-984A-489C99895173.jpeg

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The only advice I have is do not buy any telescope that you can find in a department store or sporting goods store including places like REI. You may as well tear up several  hundred dollars then burn it for good measure. 

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4 hours ago, J-BAR #18287 said:

Large aperture good quality binoculars (objective lenses 50 mm or larger ) are a good way to start.  Top quality spotting scopes are good also.

 

 

Past that point... she's ready to "move on up."  ^_^

 

4 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

If there is a local Astronomy club definitely check it out. Many teach intro classes. 

 

 

I looked it up - there actually is a local astronomy club.  So, I forwarded the information to HB and she immediately joined up!  :lol:

 

1 hour ago, Marshal Mo Hare, SASS #45984 said:

You don’t have a lot of light pollution?

 

We do.  But this an agricultural region ~ short drive and you're out in the sticks where it gets darned dark.  A bit farther and you're in the hills.  :ph34r:

 

54 minutes ago, Happy Jack, SASS #20451 said:

I have a nice Celestron 6" reflector.  I STRONGLY suggest you contact OPT in Carlsbad, CA.    optcorp.com   They will give you the best information and sell you something that will work at a reasonable price.  I have dealt with them over the years.  There is a HUGE difference between a cheap big box telescope and a real motor drive astronomical telescope.  Tell them what you want to do and they will tell you straight. 

 

OPT does have some pretty cool stuff ~ even used equipment.

 

:)

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Posted (edited)

OP,

My wife had an interest, so I got her an Orion 10" Dob.
It is SO big and so cumbersome, it literally never gets used.
The viewing angle is not at all user-friendly.
Today, it sits in the storage unit, unused.  It needs to go away.

I got her an Astro-Tech AT90-EDT v2.
This is a 603mm/f6.7 scope with a 90mm objective with FPL-53 Ohara APO glass.

f/6.7 and slower allows use of the many Ortho eyepieces such as the Baader Genuine Abbe Orthos, and the various clones.
You do not need premium TeleVue eyepieces ($$$) to have a good time.
I have a pair of TeleVue Powermates and a Nikon F-mount adapter that I use for both daylight and night moon shots.
This is the equivalent of a 4,000 mm telephoto for the Nikon, and very usable during daylight.

Before you spend the $$ on a scope, at least check into the binocular type scopes.
Astro-Tech and Explore Scientific are both Chinese outfits that make top quality scopes.

If we had it to do all over again, it would be a quality binocular scope with 90-degree (not 45-degree) turrets.

We are all signed up to buy one, but the factory in China burned down and was delayed by several years.
APM and Oberwerk are the premium brands for binocular scopes today.




 

Edited by bgavin
edited for typos
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There was a fellow at work that had a small (only way I can describe it) observatory in his back yard.  Looked like a mini Mount Palomar.  Cost him a ton of money with all the gear he had inside.  He retired a couple of years after I did and I imagine he is now using the heck out of it.  He used to go far out into the everglades to look at stars.

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19 minutes ago, bgavin said:

OP,

My wife had an interest, so I got her an Orion 10" Dob.
It is SO big and so cumbersome, it literally never gets used.
The viewing angle is not at all user-friendly.
Today, it sits in the storage unit, unused.  It needs to go away.

I got her an Astro-Tech AT90-EDT v2.
This is a 603mm/f6.7 scope with a 90mm objective with FPL-53 Ohara APO glass.

f/6.7 and slower allows use of the many Ortho eyepieces such as the Baader Genuine Abbe Orthos, and the various clones.
You do not need premium TeleVue eyepieces ($$$) to have a good time.
I have a pair of TeleVue Powermates and a Nikon F-mount adapter that I use for both daylight and night moon shots.
This is the equivalent of a 4,000 mm telephoto for the Nikon, and very usable during daylight.

Before you spend the $$ on a scope, at least check into the binocular type scopes.
Astro-Tech and Explore Scientific are both Chinese outfits that make top quality scopes.

If we had it to do all over again, it would be a quality binocular scope with 90-degree (not 45-degree) turrets.

We are all signed up to buy one, but the factory in China burned down and was delayed by several years.
APM and Oberwerk are the premium brands for binocular scopes today.

 

Oberwerk is local to me, and sponsor our club's large summer meeting, and always have binoculars on display. They are simply amazing.

 

From one of the people on the club, who has had astrophotography published by NASA, Sky and Telescope, and others:

"There is some very good information for beginners on Sky and Telescope's web site and I believe that Kelly Beatty has a video. Orion Telescopes and Binoculars also has a very good video showing several telescopes for beginners. My favorite is an 8" Dob, a small table, a comfy seat, and a copy of Turn Left at Orion."

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Look hard at Celestron. You what the HD coated lens.

Ck out BH Photo.

Ck scope reviews on bird watching sites.

Don't go cheap on the tripod.

OLG 

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Marshal Mo Hare, SASS #45984 said:

The four corners area is in the middle of several dark sky places.

 

 

0BE523B0-36AC-4A94-984A-489C99895173.jpeg


Yup. I might try some shots with my new camera tonight.

4216117F-1C60-4BF5-9039-E9C0372EA22A.png

Edited by Utah Bob #35998

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Posted (edited)
18 hours ago, Marshal Mo Hare, SASS #45984 said:

You don’t have a lot of light pollution?

 

One very common myth is that you cannot stargaze unless you live out in the sticks.  While it is true that the darker the sky is the more stars you can see with just a little work it is possible to do some serious stargazing in an urban setting. 

 

All you need is a location that is shaded from direct illumination by light sources. A small park with small trees or shrubs in the right location or a secluded back yard will work. You still have to deal with sky glow and it will cause issues seeing very dim objects.

 

Until recently I had a location where I work that was shielded for all the various lights on the facility yet had great views of all but the western sky. About 2 years ago they put in a dusk to dawn light at a satellite location about a half mile away that has ruined the spot but I have hopes that I can locate another.

 

 

Edited by Sedalia Dave

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I've had several telescopes through the years, most of them junk.  This was by far my favorite.  It doesn't have high magnification, but the field of view and clarity were amazing.  Ease of use was another huge factor.   Sadly they are no longer made, so you'd have to buy used.  Edmund Astroscan.

A few years ago I bought a Celestron 102mm refractor.  Views of Jupiter and Saturn had huge amounts of coma.  I called back and asked why, they told me I also needed some filter that goes over the eyepiece.  PO'd me royally.  

 

My biggest problem with most telescopes is you have to be a contortionist to use them.  The higher in the sky an object is, the worse it is to look at.  Not so with the Astroscan.

 

 

s-l640.jpg

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2 hours ago, Marshal Mo Hare, SASS #45984 said:

Did you ever feel like you were being kept in the dark?

Yes. And we like it! :P

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Perseid meteor shower peaks tomorrow.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Pulp, SASS#28319 said:

I've had several telescopes through the years, most of them junk.  This was by far my favorite.  It doesn't have high magnification, but the field of view and clarity were amazing.  Ease of use was another huge factor.   Sadly they are no longer made, so you'd have to buy used.  Edmund Astroscan.

A few years ago I bought a Celestron 102mm refractor.  Views of Jupiter and Saturn had huge amounts of coma.  I called back and asked why, they told me I also needed some filter that goes over the eyepiece.  PO'd me royally.  

 

My biggest problem with most telescopes is you have to be a contortionist to use them.  The higher in the sky an object is, the worse it is to look at.  Not so with the Astroscan.

 

 

s-l640.jpg

 

I remember reading about those. Wanted one but could never find one I could afford.

 

The up side part of my current setup is that a chair with a couple of cushions for adjusting height will get the eyepiece at a comfortable angle 97% of the time. The down side is that to align the equatorial mount requires sitting / lying on the ground in some pretty uncomfortable positions to be able to look through the alignment eye piece. Fortunately it I can easily get the alignment to within a 10th of a degree very easily so I only have to be incredibly uncomfortable for a couple of minutes..    

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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3 hours ago, Sedalia Dave said:

 

One very common myth is that you cannot stargaze unless you live out in the sticks.  While it is true that the darker the sky is the more stars you can see with just a little work it is possible to do some serious stargazing in an urban setting. 

 

All you need is a location that is shaded from direct illumination by light sources. A small park with small trees or shrubs in the right location or a secluded back yard will work. You still have to deal with sky glow and it will cause issues seeing very dim objects.

 

Until recently I had a location where I work that was shielded for all the various lights on the facility yet had great views of all but the western sky. About 2 years ago they put in a dusk to dawn light at a satellite location about a half mile away that has ruined the spot but I have hopes that I can locate another.

 

 

Here in suburban Sacramento, our best seeing is Sigma Orionis with the naked eye.
The is a magnitude 3.77, and the first descending object in Orion's Belt, at the left side.
Here, I have not seen the Little Dipper in decades...
However, if we get out by Sonora, or into NV, the seeing is FAR better.

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6 hours ago, Pulp, SASS#28319 said:

I've had several telescopes through the years, most of them junk.  

s-l640.jpg


Hi Pulp, good to hear from you!  You are a great photographer.  Do you use this scope for any celestial photography?  Feel free to give a tutorial!!

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51 minutes ago, ShadowCatcher said:

This is what I use and I'm just starting to get into night photography.

 

https://www.telescope.com/Orion/Orion-AstroView-90mm-Equatorial-Refractor-Telescope/rc/2160/p/9024.uts

 

SC


Beauty!  It reminds me of the Unitron I had in high school.  (Sold to make tuition payment in college.  :()

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This is an excellent BEGINNER telescope. It is also a wonderful backpacking scope and can be used for terrestrial viewing.

https://www.meade.com/telescopes/etx80-observer.html#additional

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, J-BAR #18287 said:


Beauty!  It reminds me of the Unitron I had in high school.  (Sold to make tuition payment in college.  :()

This was using my iPhone on the telescope.  I now have a mounting system for my digital camera, and am planning to start doing more work!

IMG_2608-1.jpg

Edited by ShadowCatcher
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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, ShadowCatcher said:

This is what I use and I'm just starting to get into night photography.

 

https://www.telescope.com/Orion/Orion-AstroView-90mm-Equatorial-Refractor-Telescope/rc/2160/p/9024.uts

 

SC

 

Very nice setup

 

When you get some funds, upgrade your mount to something like the SkyView Pro Equatorial Mount or an equivalent German equatorial mount. Be sure it has a polar scope as it is significantly easier to get a good North Celestial Pole (NCP) alignment. With a good NCP you will only need to use the Right Ascension slow motion knob to track objects and keep them centered in the field of view.  

 

The bigger mount will be orders of magnitude more stable and will make photography a lot more enjoyable

Edited by Sedalia Dave
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4 hours ago, Marshal Mo Hare, SASS #45984 said:

If she does not get bored with it, plan a mini vacation at a dark sky park or preserve.

 

Nothing like going to one of the big star parties.

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