Telescope usage tips for beginners

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I've just got a telescope for xmas and havn't got a clue! I'm really excited and want to get going, but I know sod all, apart from pointing it at the pleiades on a clear night that is.

 

What do I do next?

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Find out which one of your female neighbors is the hottest, and point it towards their place :D

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@DK, Sidthespid is a women as far as I know, so maybe she would prefer pointing it at men...can't say for certain but its just a guess. ;)

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Thanks Eurovol and Jeremy, it's just an affordable beginners scope really. Bresser reflector 76/700, just to get me in the swing of things. No point spending a fortune if I'm too lazy to keep at it.

 

@Darkknight - Dunno about hot neighbours, but when I was setting it up, it was so cloudy that I practised on the houses out the back. The woman on the corner's got a soda club!

 

@SleeplessInMunich - yes it's true, i'm a gal, just the one though ;) Sid is not a reference to me, but a spider I used to draw as a child.

 

I still havn't seen anything else yet, but we were lucky enough to have clear skies not long ago and had a good mooch at the moon. Wow! I just wish it wasn't so cold outside!

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To be honest, there's not really a whole lot besides the moon that you're gonna be able to see with a 7.6cm aperture. To see anything at all, you'll need to go quite far out from civilization - perhaps up into the Alps (the altitude would be good as well). You should be able to see Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, but I'd guess that Mars wouldn't be more than a pencil point with that sized scope. You may be able to see two bands of color across Jupiter, and you *might* be able to resolve the gap between Saturn's rings (though Saturn is awe-inspiring no matter how small the aperture). Aside from that, you've got M31 (Andromeda), the Orion Nebula, *maybe* the Ring Nebula (but I doubt it), and globular and open clusters. If I can think of some other objects, I'll post 'em. Definitely get a start chart and perhaps a book on the constellations and what objects are visible in them.

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My wife loves looking at the (clearer) night skies and in the past I've bought her a few books on what can be seen in them. Every year I come round to thinking I should buy her a telescope, well for us both really, but never quite manage it.

 

I'm thinking along those lines once again and this could be a good idea for a Christmas present or even a welcome back home after all you've been through witzh your last leg and hip breaks.

 

So, after reading the above helpful comments, what would you recommend as a reasonable telescope?

 

We have a large balcony which extends around two sides of the house where I'd like it to be used, plus a large garden so space (sic) isn't too much of an issue.

I know some of these telescopes can be pretty cumbersome but I'd also like to be able to take it on trips in the car occasionally.

 

Is it also too much to ask for some kind of accessory to attach my Nikon D200 (DSLR) camera?

 

Looking forward to your suggestions and if you ask me about budget then I'd say if possible up to around €800 - €1000,

Malty

 

Edit: I've just searched the forum and found a few older posts pointing people to the Meade range but this info is all a few years old and points mainly to the < €200 price range. So I'm looking for more recent details and yes, when I next get chance I'll head into Munich and look at Sauter for ideas, but I guess these aren't the cheapest people to buy from?

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Great shot, MLD.

 

Is that Big Bird's shadow I see on the left side?

 

2B

 

Naw, just the neighbors evergreen the moon was just coming out nfrom behind of. I was just fiddling with the iPhone over the eyepiece when all of a sudden I see the silhouette of a plane. Started hitting the trigger like an idiot and actually got one fairly good shot. :-)

 

Wasn't much of anything else last night because the moon was glaring at full force. Because of all the trees and houses its difficult to catch anything close to the horizon. Maybe again in a few days without the moon and driving further out of town or possibly into the harz mountains.

 

Been thinking of upgrading to a celestron. Any pointers?

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Malty get in autumn nto winter. It is fiddly to get it set up and you don't want to do it in the cold. Mine takles ages and I havent done it in ages.

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Instead of a telescope you might also consider a good pair of binoculars. You can spot plenty of Messier objects with them, easy to take on vacation, no special setup required and you can use them for things other than stargazing as well, like neighbor gazing. Plus the large field of view makes it easier for amateur like me to find stellar objects when navigating around the constellations. I use a 10 x 50 Pentax http://www.pentaximaging.com/sport-optics/products/PCF_WP_II_10x50, which works great. If you get something with a larger objective, you might consider a mono pod as they get heavy after a few minutes. One of those foldy chairs with a cup holder for your beer works great!

 

Btw, plenty of books available on the subject:

http://www.amazon.de/gp/product/1770850430/

 

~S

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Thanks SG we already have a pair of excellent binoculars on the terrace, we mainly use them for bird spotting in our trees and I'd now like to move onwards from this with a decent telescope.

 

After gooogling around I kind of set my heart on the Meade LS 8" which claims to make things easy peasy with auto set-up and yes it looks good, but it also seems to be out of my price range (just).

 

Jeremy, that's kind of why I'm asking now. I don't mind using it in the cold, but learning about set-up and getting it off the ground (so to speak) should be done in more temperate climes.

 

Malty

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I have been an amateur astronomer for most of my life. It is a fascinating hobby (and expensive!). I have also developed several imaging devices for astronomy.

 

Here are my tips:

 

- buy the largest optical tube you can get. Telescopes "wow" factor comes from diameter, not magnification

- a 8" telescope is the minimum recommended to fully appreciate planetary observing and deep sky observing

- objects won't look as awesome as in pictures and they won't be colored, although the contrast is much better.

 

My recommended telescopes types for begginers:

 

Reflectors on a Dobson mount.

Pros: very large telescope for the money, simple to use. Buy a 10" or larger!

Cons: no tracking motor (some have), can be heavy and large, not suitable for imaging, just observing

Example: http://www.astroshop.de/orion-dobson-teleskop-n-305-1500-skyquest-xx12-trusstube-intelliscope-dob/p,33294

This scope is huge (12") but can be disassembled in small parts.

 

Schmidt Cassegrain on a fork goto mount:

Pros: compact, very easy to use (goto), great for planetary imaging with a webcam or an iphone

Cons: expensive, can be heavy if the scope cannot be detached from the fork

Example: http://www.astroshop.de/meade-schmidt-cassegrain-teleskop-sc-203-2000-lt-goto/p,20663

 

Schmidt Cassegrain on an equatorial mount:

Pros: the same as above, plus being lightweight and allowing deep sky imaging (for advance users)

Cons: more complex to use

Example: http://www.astroshop.de/celestron-schmidt-cassegrain-teleskop-sc-203-2032-advanced-vx-8-avx-goto/p,32997

 

Semi-Apochromatic Refractor:

Pros: excellent image, great for future astrophotography, very lightweight

Cons: extremely expensive, limiting you to a small diameter of 3"

Example: http://www.astroshop.de/orion-apochromatischer-refraktor-ap-80-600-ed-sirius-heq-5-goto/p,14327

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Thanks for the great info and tips. I really do need a trip to Sauter just to get a 'feel' for these before I can make a decision, or is there any other recommended nearby real shop where I can view them?

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You should get a day view of the equipment before going to an observation session, because at that time all will be dark and you can't see the equipment properly.

 

Astroshop is one of the largest shops in Europe. They do most of it through the internet, but they also have a showroom in Landsberg am Lech.

 

http://www.astroshop.de/ueber-uns/teleskop-ausstellung/c,6864

 

Also make sure you save some money for accessories, sometimes they cost a lot more than the telescope :D. You can easily find most of them on second hand.

 

Small list of telescope accessories:

- 3 different eyepieces for different magnifications. Don't be tempted to buy lots of them. I own about 15 and I only use 3. Usually a 5mm-7mm for planets and small targets, a 15mm-21mm for most targets and a 25-35mm for a wide view. For an immersible view, get a 2" barrel eyepiece of 31mm with a FOV of 72º.

- laser collimator for reflectors telescopes.

- star chart

- broadband pollution filter. These are amazing if you observe close to a city.

- red dot finder

 

Here is a small list of non-telescope accessories that you might need:

- red flashlight (Red does not damage dark adaptation)

- folding camping table to place charts, a hot drink, etc

- folding chair

- chocolate/coffee insulated mug

 

What not to buy:

- color filters for planets. Useless

- Zoom eyepieces

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1) Yeah! Astronomy again on this forum... finally :)

2) International Space Station fliyng in front of the sun last friday:

post-123868-13746049742894_thumb.jpg

3) @Mapleleafdude: cool picture (especially the one with the plane and the Godzilla that is about to eat it). Maybe you should play a little bit with the focus. You could check out this gadget.

4) "Been thinking of upgrading to a celestron. Any pointers?" Must it be necessarily Celestron? What equipment do you have now? I use a celestron newtonian, but lately I thing that Orion & SkyWatcher match Celestron and Meade in quality.

5) @Malt-Teaser: the beginner equipment question comes up very often. But it's like asking "what car should I buy". It basically depends mostly on what are you're interested. The suggestions from MikeMelga are excellent, I would only add some details:

 

first, telescope type:

- want planets? take a reflector or cassegrain type telescope. you don't need to gather light, as the planets are quite luminous, but you need resolution as the details are small (aperture = resolution)

- want deep sky objects (galaxies/nebulae/clusters)? go for a newtonian. the resolution is not that important, but you need to gather as much light as possible; so the same money would get you a bigger aperture.

 

second, mount:

- do you plan to take pictures? if not take an alt-az (altitude-azimutal) mount. it is way more easier to handle for a beginner. a newtonian on a dobsonian mount will do just fine. if yes, then tell your wife to forget about expensive vacations :) you need an equatorial mount for a starter (then comes the camera, then you'll need guiding, then you'll need autoguider camera, then you'll want some narrow-band filters for the german heavily light polluted skies [sic] and so on...)

 

But as a start I would recommend that you check the Astroshop showroom, or the Teleskop-Service showroom (that's also near Muenchen). go out with a local club or friend to check what you can see with your own eyes through the telescope. Like Mike has pointed out, for some, the image at the eyepiece is dissapointing, as everybody is already spoiled with the Hubble pictures, and expect to see something similar through a 1000Euro telescope. Check also how heavy the equipment is. Not everytime the biggest telescope is the best for everybody. I used to have a 6" self made dobsonian that weighed ~8kg and I would just grab it and go out whenever I wanted. Now my equipment weighs 70-80kg, I have to make 5-6 trips to the car to bring everything there, and I need at least half hour to set it up (more than an hour to set everything up for photography). So now I need really clear skies and a very good mood to carry weights in order to get out under the skies... So I use it just a few times per year...

 

Writing all this has got me in the mood to go out this weekend :)

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