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To Infinity and Beyond...Telescope GAS

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by stormsedge, Apr 8, 2021.

  1. stormsedge

    stormsedge Friend of Leo's

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    My guitar GAS has ebbed, and I think my next biggish purchase should be a telescope. It seems like a fun and educational item to have available, especially when the grandkids are over. We have a pretty good view of the sky here, especially when the trees are winter bare. We are outside the main light bubble of our small town as well, so we should be in pretty good shape for viewing.

    Very basic looks at some astronomy forums and articles suggest a dobsonian is probably the way I want to go...either in a 6" or 8". Specifically, I've been looking at Orion XT6/XT8 series. Admittedly, the price delta between them is $150-250 depending on the accessories/extras. But, I'd rather spend it now than find out a year from now that I coulda-shoulda.

    For those TDPRI-ites with experience in owning/using hobbyist telescopes...what say you?
     
  2. dougstrum

    dougstrum Friend of Leo's

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    Sounds like a lot of fun! Here we get the grandkids to bed before dark;)

    I was sure this was gonna be about the Buzz Lightyear Tele:lol:
     
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  3. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Silver Supporter

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    My dad has been into it for about 55 years now (he is 91). Depending on what you want to view makes a big difference.

    If you are viewing far away nebulas and want to share the view with others, you are going to want a motorized tracking system, because they will move quite quickly out of view due the the earth's rotational speed vs. how wide your view area is.
    If you are viewing nebulas and want to take photos, you are going to want a motorized tracking system for the same reason.

    Now the flip side is, for auto tracking, the set-up needs to be aligned with the rotation of the earth's axis ... which takes some extra time during initial set-up for the evening viewing.

    Just things to consider. A fun hobby and fun to share with the grandkids. Enjoy.
     
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  4. PhoenixBill

    PhoenixBill Tele-Meister

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    I have several scopes, got started years ago with a 10” Dobsonian. I upgraded that particular scope to another 10” Dob. I also have several refractors, modest scopes with the biggest being a 102 mm aperture. The others are older Japanese scopes. All of these are on alt-az mounts, they aren’t motorized. However, buried somewhere I do have a computerized small reflector, which I have never taken out.

    So, the biggest questions you have to ask yourself: what’s your goals? Photography? Casual viewing? And what are your expectations? The gorgeous space images we see...you aren’t going to get them looking through the eyepiece of your scope. Sure, I can see the rings of Saturn, and the belts of Jupiter, but they are tiny features on a tiny little ball, even on the 10” scope. Finally, where are you going to do your viewing? Do you have a fairly dark backyard or are you going to have to put everything in a car and drive somewhere? The hassle factor of driving means you won’t do it very often, and eventually you’ll go less and less. Same with the setup of computerized scopes. They’re better now but it’s still a several minute job.

    I live on the outskirts of Phoenix and the light pollution only lets me see the planets, the moon, and the Orion Nebula, a few double stars or clusters but nothing faint. So I had a small very portable 70 mm refractor set up on a tripod by the door, I could easily grab it and go out the door with a couple of eyepieces for a quick look at Mars or Saturn for example. Portability and ease of use trumps the views from big giant heavy scopes. (Note, even a 10” Dob can be fairly large and heavy, even on collapsible mounts).

    Binoculars are usually recommended as the preferred way to get into astronomy. A decent 7x50 provides decent magnification with a good field of view without being too hard to hold steady. You can figure out what constellations and stars are out there, etc. There’s several good books on getting into astronomy with binoculars.
     
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  5. PhoenixBill

    PhoenixBill Tele-Meister

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    This picture was taken with an iPhone through the eyepiece of a small, non-driven scope. Not a professional picture by any means, but still, for a quick and dirty picture using an inexpensive cell phone holder it’s not too bad.

    A93BD481-EE9C-4607-9FEE-19C2B00C2169.jpeg
     
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  6. stormsedge

    stormsedge Friend of Leo's

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    I have had good binos for years. My goals are casual, no photos, and mostly in the yard (we are pretty rural). Ideally, I should probably concentrate on the moon and near planets. I think that puts be back in the 6" or smaller category. Back to the catalog!
     
  7. PhoenixBill

    PhoenixBill Tele-Meister

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    A quick note: don’t get hung up on magnification! Many cheap department-store scopes claim “400x power!” Or “see objects x miles away!” Duh, the stars are trillions of miles away and you can see them with your naked eye... and magnification is useless past a certain point, due to the physics of light, the sturdiness of the tripod, and the turbulence of the Earth’s atmosphere. As a general rule, the highest useful magnification is typically 1 to 2 times the aperture of the scope in millimeters. So for a 100 mm aperture scope, 100 to 200 power (you change the eyepieces to get more or less magnification) will be most useful. Anything beyond that will be too fuzzy to be useful or enjoyable.

    Aperture refers to the diameter of the primary mirror (if it’s a reflector) or the objective lens (the big lens on the far end, if it’s a refractor). Refractors are what everyone thinks of when they think of a telescope. However, they get really expensive past 100 mm in size. Reflectors offer more aperture for the buck. Don’t confuse aperture with focal length, which (to simplify it) is the length of the scope.

    Eyepieces are the things you look through. You change these to get different magnification. More magnification means a smaller field of view though, and a shakier view if the tripod isn’t massive. You can spend a fortune on eyepieces if you get caught up in the hyperbole over expensive eyepieces.
     
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  8. ce24

    ce24 Poster Extraordinaire

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    I built one of these...6”.....amazingly cool.Looking at a full moon is almost too bright. 1CD7DB1C-B01A-486D-9E5B-F57B22D0103E.png
     
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