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  1. #1
    mh500's Avatar
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    Default Telescopes: Reflector or Refractor?



    I am looking to buy my first scope, and ive come to a fork in the road... reflector vs. refractor!?

    now, ive already checked out other yahoo answers questions and seen many recommendations for "beginners" to buy binoculars, etc. thats not what im interested in. ive saved $1500 and i am looking specifically for a scope that will give me some impressive views of the universe that i have never seen outside a astronomy magazine!

    so, heres what im hoping for: a scope with autotracking features, and the ability to view deep space objects. id like to be able to see the planets in our solar system, comets/large asteroids, galaxies. i would also like to have a scope that can be connected to a camera for astrophotography (when im ready). i very rarely have this much money to buy a scope, so this is a "one shot" deal.... i need a scope that i can use for YEARS to come!!

    any suggestions? whats the difference between reflector & refractor and what minimum size should i be looking for?

  2. #2
    John Boy's Avatar
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    Default

    The main difference is that a reflector telescope flips or inverts the image you are viewing... it's upside down. So they won't work very well for terrestrial viewing. The refractors do not invert what you are seeing, so they can also be used for viewing earth based objects without having to stand on your head.

    If your going to spend that kind of money though get a good schmidt cassegrain telescope. Check out some of the major manufacturers websites first and talk to some astronomers and see which ones they prefer and why... I'm sure there are some good online forumns that have a wealth of knowledge out there. I wish I could help you more but I haven't started looking at the schmidt cassegrain's in detail yet since I don't have the money right now but I know there are some great scopes in that price range. When we upgrade from the $400 meade reflector we have now that is what we are going to get.

    There's a guy on here named Astro and I really appreciate reading his answers on the Astronomy subject... I would take his advice if he gives it... he really knows what he's talking about.

    Here's a link to his blog... you could just ask him.

    http://www.asktheastronomer.blogspot.com/

    Good luck and happy star gazing!!

  3. #3
    yooperpooper's Avatar
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    Default

    Step 1. Go to the local bookstore and pick up an issue of an astronomy magazine, such as Sky and Telescope...there are others.

    Step 2. Check out the ads from companies such as Meade, Celestron, etc.

    For $1500 you will be able to get a scope with "auto-tracking" (generally a misnomer) suitable for astrophotography.

    The most important two features are diameter of primary mirror, and a stable mount. For $1500, probably around 8" (200mm) diameter, maybe 10". Good heavy fork mount or equatorial, don't buy altazimuth or Dobsonian for astrophotography, won't work.

  4. #4
    Twizard113's Avatar
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    For $1500 you should get a reflector as you can get a bigger mirror that reflectors use than you can a lens of a refractor. Refractors are much more expensive per inch of aperture. This will enable you to see more planetary details as well as fainter deep space objects.

    You should look for at least an 8 inch computerized reflector. You can get one at Orion Telescopes for around $1000 and have money left over to get some objective lenses to go with it (the smaller lenses you actually look through to magnify the image from the mirror) and still have money left over for camera connectors. Have fun!

    www.telescope.com

  5. #5
    dmburke007@Gmail.com's Avatar
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    Default

    It took me 4 years to be able to understand telescopes and before I made the plunge $$
    I joined a local Astronomy club and it was the most informative move one can make, One has then the opportunity to test equipments and discuss honestly about the pros and cons of equipments.
    In my opinion the mount is as important as the scope and for 1500 $ I do not believe it is enough to purchase the best of all world i.e computerized scope and mount.
    Another element in the decision making is the brand of the scope. If you purchase a high quality good brand equipment then if you decide to upgrade you could easily sell it as it tend to keep its value.
    One option which comes to mind is: Takahashi:
    FS-60CB 60mm Refractor - Teegul Sky Patrol III Mount which cost around 2600$,
    or if 1500 $ is the limit then the same scope with a Vixen mount.
    A good quality refractor inch per inch of aperture is better than mirror telescope.
    The other point is that mirror telescope require maintenance, including collimating etc...
    In summary:
    1- Purchase the best brand possible so that one could easily sell the scope at good value and upgrade to a more powerful one. at the 1500 $ price range 3 inch APO Refractor Telescope is a great investment
    2-Mount as important as scope
    3-Join local astronomy club before purchasing a scope !!!!!
    4-at the 1500 $ price range do not purchase computerized scope, not good quality at this price range
    5-And not least do not expect to see the same celestial object as the Hubble Telescope!! with a starter scope

    David

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  7. #6
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    Default

    Seems the experienced astro guys have sidestepped this post - and there's a good reason.
    The question that s asked is one of those vague ones that mean such a wide variety of things.

    Astropics..... well for that you need a good mount and that will not cost less than 1000- the scope for astrophotography isn't terribly important and to be honest, a small refrator of ED type at 102 mm will do an exceptional job on a decent mount.
    But if you want eyepower, you need at least 8" of reflector. So SCT or Mak, with go to will cost about 1700 in USA - 3000 in Aus or 1700 pounds in UK - that's the basic scope and mount and goto computer - which is what I started with - the camera will cost another 500 and the wedge to make it equatorial another 200. Laptop etc etc...

    My advice as an all rounder would be an 8in Newtonian with an EQ5 mount - that will give you just about everything you need and be usable for quite acceptable photography
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  9. #7
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    Default

    HI,

    Welcome to the astronomy forum and thanks a bunch for stopping by. As I understand your requirements, you have a budget of $1500 and want to purchase a telescope to last a lifetime that has sufficient aperture to view deep space objects and planets with some details, have a mount with tracking capabilities, and be capable of using for astrophotography in the future. You also stated that your purchase is it as you are not able to upgrade to another telescope later on.

    You will need a telescope of at least 8 inches aperture and on an equatorial mount that has automatic tracking or a goto capability. That is a very demanding set of requirements and will require some compromises. As Jennifer said, for photography, its the mount, not the telescope, that is important. On the other hand, for viewing the telescope is very important.

    You may want to consider the Celestron Advanced Series C8 SGT which if you look around you can often find for around $1500. This is an 8 inch Schmidt Cassegrain Telescope (SCT) on a CG5 computerized mount. An 8 inch SCT is capable of showing significant details of deep space objects and is a good solar system scope as well. The CG5 mount is very capable for astrophotography.

    For less money and well within your budget, the Advanced Series C8 NGT is available. It is an 8 inch Newtonian telescope and will also provide excellent views of deep space objects and planets. It is also on the CG5 computerized mount. However it weighs 13 pounds more than the 8 inch SCT and probably exceeds the CG5 mount's capabilities for photography. The C8 SGT will also be much easier to use for visual observations.

    Celestron also has some six inch telescopes in their Advanced Series that are also good for viewing as well as for photography. The lesser weight of the smaller telescopes provide more options for photography at the expense of viewing capabilities. They also cost less. A six inch telescope is good for deep space objects as well as planets but will not show the details that an 8 inch telescope is capable of providing. Two excellent six inch telescopes that will meet your photography requirements but are on the small side for your visual requirements are the Advanced Series C6 SGT (6 inch SCT) or the C6 NGT (six inch Newtonian).

    NOTE: It's the CG5 GT mount in Celestrons Advanced Series telescopes that make these telescopes suitable for astrophotography.The telescopes themselves are excellent but no better than those of Meade and other manufacturers. The CG5 GT is suitable as an astrophotography platform for telescope weighing up to around 12-13 pounds. You can also purchase the CG5 GT mount as a stand alone item and a used 8 inch telescope and maybe save a little money.
    Last edited by sxinias; 03-11-2011 at 05:44 AM. Reason: added note
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  10. #8
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    Default

    To be blunt.... Sxinias (Joe) nailed another question...

    Read his post and act accordingly....

    Only other thing I woudl suggest is do not focus to much on buying any set up with Photography n mind AT THIS POINT...
    That is an entirely different hobby in my opinion and required completely different equipment ....

    Bob G
    CPC1100 housed in a slotted domed observatory (Exploradome) 4 and 5 inch refractors for use from the lawn, a 8" Sct (NS 8i) for star parties...
    I Hate the winter so I use heated Motorcycle clothing to stay warm while observing in winter
    Retired, also have 2 other hobbies
    1. tinker with older Corvettes (6 in garage)
    2. make a heck of a lot of sawdust in my wood shop.

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    mh500

    Let me be the first to set you back on terra firma.
    I am a rank beginner and as you can see in my signature
    I have a very basic setup. My next 'scope is probably a 8 or 10 inch Dob.

    From the grapevine, I have heard that it takes about 6 years of
    visual observing before anyone attempts AP.

    In my research, some of the equatorial mounts alone, costing 1000 - 2000 bux
    are NOT up to par for AP and need supplemental "adjustments" after their
    purchase.

    Joining a club as suggested above and maybe making it to a couple of star parties may give you some insight as to what is necessary as it pertains to 'scopes and mounts. You may even see someone being shot out of one of the larger CANNONS
    <CS> Rick - Taylor, MI
    Metal Detecting - Amateur Radio - N8XI


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