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  1. #1
    AstroMatt's Avatar
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    Default Another request for scope suggestions



    But I got details! :-) Here is my story:

    Newbie. But I know some stars and planets and studied some in college. Enthusiasm is there so not worried about jumping right to a scope versus binos. I plan on getting to the local clubs as well.

    Budget. Up to $600.

    Goals. In order: viewing moon & planets, viewing galaxies and nebula, allowing kids 4yrs and 7yrs to view, viewing clusters and doubles, fooling around with astrophotography. I don't have expectations of viewing or taking Hubble-like images, but I want a beginning scope that will cover these bases as well as it can. My fear is getting a scope that does the planets well, but will not let me expand a bit beyond as that as my skills and experience grow.

    Portable Location will be primarily my yard. However, because the majority of my sky is blocked by trees, I plan to travel to locations to view as often or more often than I view from my yard. Weight I feel is also an issue since I think I will be moving around my yard a lot to get a clear shot of the object.

    No GOTO. It might just be me, and I know I am completely new, but I want to feel the joy of finding the object myself. It's already cheating that there are apps like SkySafari that can give me the exact location, so I do not really want a computer on my scope taking the fun out of this part.

    Light pollution. At home seems low to medium. I live in the suburbs of Toledo OH, a mid-sized city in northeast ohio. However, I can get out to the country in a matter of minutes, so thus the desire for a portable scope.

    Astrophotography. Again, no big expectations on taking the best photos in the world. My wife is pro photographer so I have access to knowledge and equipment so I would like to be able to play around in the area a bit. Probably mostly of planets, and maybe some DSO after getting a drive.

    With these things in mind, I have scope still in its box sitting in my hallway, just delivered this morning. But I am having doubts so looking for some advise.

    I got the Celestron AstroMaster 90EQ, for portability, decent beginning aperture, no worry about collimation from all the travel, eyepiece is lower to the ground so kiddies can more easily reach it, light weight, steel tripod, eq mount.

    To accompany it, I also got the Celestron eyepiece and filter set. Again, mostly for the filters, but the included barlow and range of eyepieces seemed like a good deal.

    So what do you think? I was also looking at the Omni XLT 102 Telescope, but is the difference between 90mm and 102mm that great? However, at 43 pounds it does not feel like it would easy to move around the yard.

    I also was looking at Orion AstroView 120ST. It's lighter, but has an aluminum tripod, which I read was not desirable.

    Maybe I am making too much of a deal out of collimation to stay away from reflectors. How often do you need to do this? And how long does it take? With the eyepieces in the front tho it feels like it would tougher to get the kids up to see through it.

    Appreciate your input!

    Matt

  2. #2
    Vondragonnoggin's Avatar
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    Default

    To address your points:

    Budget. Up to $600.
    This limits you to very small scopes with tracking, like the Nexstar 4SE (a spot mak that requires no collimation usually ever), but has goto, or to a wide variety of larger dobsonian mount reflectors which are not for astrophotography, although the occasional afocal moon shot might be good, but requires collimation, or some of the smaller aperture refractors like the Omni XLT 102 you mentioned. The nexstar 4SE will not view as wide a window of space, but the views should be very sharp.

    Light pollution. At home seems low to medium. I live in the suburbs of Toledo OH, a mid-sized city in northeast ohio. However, I can get out to the country in a matter of minutes, so thus the desire for a portable scope.
    Portability would be best unless you go for a larger dobsonian based reflector to cut through some light pollution. Pack up a portable set and drive to dark skies and youll see more with less aperture.

    Goals. In order: viewing moon & planets, viewing galaxies and nebula, allowing kids 4yrs and 7yrs to view, viewing clusters and doubles, fooling around with astrophotography. I don't have expectations of viewing or taking Hubble-like images, but I want a beginning scope that will cover these bases as well as it can. My fear is getting a scope that does the planets well, but will not let me expand a bit beyond as that as my skills and experience grow.
    in my experience with my own son who started at 8 and all his neighborhood friends, the bigger aperture is nice for image scale, but no tracking is a minus, and no goto is a minus. Remember the attention span and impatience of 4-7 year olds. They do not want to be sitting around waiting for you to find things interesting or constantly readjusting the telescope every minute to keep things in the eyepiece field of view.

    until you have learned the night sky and seasonal treasures intimately, goto is going to work better for kids patience. Once you have some experience to take minutes to find all the most interesting sights, then manual aquisition of objects is fun and no issue.

    Astrophotography. Again, no big expectations on taking the best photos in the world. My wife is pro photographer so I have access to knowledge and equipment so I would like to be able to play around in the area a bit. Probably mostly of planets, and maybe some DSO after getting a drive.
    I addressed most of this already, but stick with visual for a bit before trying some afocal or webcam AP. Visual and AP are two different beasts and for just about anything besides the moon for quick shots, tracking is a must. For anything long exposure, an equatorial mount and tracking is a must, along with maximum stability in the mount.

    Both Nexstar 4SE, 5SE, 6SE and up or Omni XLT 102 should be fine to start with practicing a little. Dobsonian reflector will be rudimentary for webcam or afocal pics, but dont expect too much.

    I also was looking at Orion AstroView 120ST. It's lighter, but has an aluminum tripod, which I read was not desirable.
    The 120ST will be good for lower powers (up to about 120x max) and widefield DSO finding. Not really the best at planetary as it exhibits a significant amount of Chromatic Aberration causing a smearing of color that takes away from achieving a sharp, clear view. A minus violet filter of some sort will help, but this is primarily what they call a richfield telescope or RFT. Good for lower power wide views on objects that are not bright like planets.

    Hope some of that helps. This is my experience, but someone might come along with better suggestions.
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  4. #3
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    Default

    Mostly what he said.

    But I'm going to get rather blunt. . .

    If you have thoughts of doing AP (AstroPhotography) utilizing a DSLR and such, that is almost incompatible with your decision to have a non-GoTo. It is also incompatible with your budget.

    If you get something like a Celestron 4SE you might be doing OK with your budget and would be able to do some very nice webcam-type astrophotography of the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn using that telescope.

    If you plan to do the really high quality stuff on dimmer objects, then your budget is woefully inadequate. You'd be spending your entire budget on trying to get the entry level mount and then you'd have to get the OTA and OAG, etc. in addition.
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  6. #4
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    Default

    dont even bother with taking photos it requires items more expensive than the scope most times instead just invest in a nice scope for viewing only and some eyepieces for it.

    easy to use scope is a Dobsonian and you can buy a massive size one for 600.00 compared to any other scope.

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  7. #5
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    Default

    Something else to address when viewing with children is eyepiece height and how much variation it does going from 30 degrees to zenith views. An SCT or mak-cass has little variation because of the folded design, next would be a smaller Dobsonian, in which case if you get a big one, the children will be viewing on a step stool and have a harder time with the eyepiece height variation, plus the precarious perch on the step stool. A refractor has the most variation and can go from standing up views to completely sitting on the floor views depending on the mount. For yourself, you can get an adjustable chair and just move the seat to the height you need, but set tripod legs low enough so kids can get the most without having to strain while standing.

    If you were to get something like a starblast 6i, then you have COL (computer object locater) to help find objects, but still you manually push it where it needs to go. A good amount of aperture too, but will be the same on photos as I described with the dob. They also have the 6i Dobsonian.

    Some things to think about.
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  9. #6
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    Thank you all so much for your feedback. I am re-examining my budget and more seriously looking at the Celestron 5SE. Will the difference between the 4SE and 5SE be noticeable when viewing?

  10. #7
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    It is an extra inch - they are also two different designs. The 4SE is a maksutov-cassegrain and the 5SE is a Schmidt-cassegrain.

    http://www.celestron.com/astronomy/t...xstar-5se.html

    Check out actual size in the pictures. I think it is a great starting scope that does quite a bit and would be a good way to introduce webcam AP or short exposure shots.

    Work within your budget and research, research, research.

    You can move up in size later if you want, but chances are you'll still want to keep the 4 or 5 SE even if you get a bigger scope someday. There is a lot to be seen with a 4" or 5" scope. I know. I use to have an 8" and now have 5" and 6" scopes, plus even smaller binocular telescope.
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    The step from a 4SE to a 5SE is very significant. Something like a 50% increase in light-gathering capacity?

    You might not be into a "wow" difference, but in fact you will see much more with the 5SE than with the 4SE.
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    Thanks again everyone! What about eyepieces and filters? Should I keep the set I got or return for a more specific piece or two? Again I got the Celestron eyepiece and filter set (Plössl Eyepieces - 1.25” 6mm, 8mm, 13mm, 17mm*and 32mm, Barlow Lens, Six Colored Eyepiece Filters, Moon Filter).

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    Keep the set. Those eyepieces will perform well in either a 5SE or 4SE. Why spend extra now? It has tracking, so you won't need super widefields, and those should be sharp to the edge in those scopes.
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