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Thread: Telescope for city viewing

  1. #1
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    Default Telescope for city viewing



    Hey guys just joined today, and I'll preface by saying I know nothing about telescopes.

    My wife and I just moved into a highrise in downtown Dallas. We'd like a telescope for city viewing, not so much for astromy.

    Any ideas on brand and power, and where a great place to purchase would be very helpful!

    Jason

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    Default Re: Telescope for city viewing

    Quote Originally Posted by JWBurns View Post
    Hey guys just joined today, and I'll preface by saying I know nothing about telescopes.

    My wife and I just moved into a highrise in downtown Dallas. We'd like a telescope for city viewing, not so much for astromy.

    Any ideas on brand and power, and where a great place to purchase would be very helpful!

    Jason
    If you are wanting it mostly for viewing the city scape, a spotter scope would work best or even some nice binoculars on a tripod.
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    Default Re: Telescope for city viewing

    Quote Originally Posted by MG1692 View Post
    If you are wanting it mostly for viewing the city scape, a spotter scope would work best or even some nice binoculars on a tripod.
    Just want I was getting ready to say!
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    Default Re: Telescope for city viewing

    Wouldn't a spotter scope be only good for a few hundred yards though?
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    Default Re: Telescope for city viewing

    A small to medium refractor on tripod is good for city viewing.
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    Default Re: Telescope for city viewing

    Quote Originally Posted by JWBurns View Post
    Wouldn't a spotter scope be only good for a few hundred yards though?
    The problem is not distance, it is the steadiness of the air- which can be a problem when you are looking at terrestrial objects (even more so than astronomical ones because you are looking through more air horizontally than vertically).

    If you get a spotter with a variable magnification eyepiece you can set the magnification to be optimal for the conditions. If there is a lot of heat haze for instance, you can drop the magnification and get nice wide-field, low power views. When the air is more steady you can increase the magnification and clearly see objects that are a lot smaller/further away.

    There are a huge number of spotting scopes out there, but like anything you get what you pay for. If the budget allows, try to get something with "ED" or "HD" glass or even better, an "apochromat" scope, as these minimise chromatic aberrations (or "false colour") and give the best views possible.

    There is quite a good intro to them here: https://procular.com.au/choose-spott...FUtwvAod1FoE6Q

    All the best,

    Dean
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    Default Re: Telescope for city viewing

    I'll second the suggestion for a spotting scope. They are after all just small fast focal ratio refractors. You can see a lot with a 60mm or 80mm spotting scope, and if you're willing to spend $350-$500, you can get fairly decent optics with sharp optics, minimal chromatic abberation and good contrast. Check the bird watching forums for recommendations on spotting scopes. They are much more particular than shooters in terms of optical performance, and they are also a group of people who tend to demand maximum value for the money.

    ----

    On the other hand, $400 or so will get a 4" Maksutov Cassegrain telescope, like the 102mm Orion Apex, plus an extra eyepeice. You'll lose a little contrast due to the central obstruction but you'll have the advantage of being able to use higher quality eye pieces, CA won't be an issue, and you'll have the potential for higher useful magnification while retaining a fairly large exit pupil due to the longer focal ratio. It's also still small enough to mount on a heavy duty photography or video tripod, although you'll want to invest in a decent fluid head or pistol grip ball head to go with it. It's less portable than a spotting scope and needs a little more care in handling, but it will offer better optics for the money.

    -----

    Another option in the same price range is to get a decent set off binoculars, a tripod and adapter. They are very portable and durable, and the binocular view has some significant advantages. Once again check out the birder forums for recommendations.

    ----

    In all three cases, plan on spending $250-$300 on a decent tripod and head.
    Last edited by AR6; 10-05-2015 at 12:54 AM.
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