Telescope usage tips for beginners

44 posts in this topic

This was taken 3 years ago with a Celestron C9.25 and an adaptive optics that I invented. Unfortunately my image processing skills are not very good.

 

post-224433-13746087584964.jpg

 

EDIT: 22 frames of 600 seconds each of O3 filter plus 28 frames of 600 seconds of h-alfa filter, taken on 2 different nights.

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You've got "The Wall" ! Nice! The picture looks amazing!

I also have a Toucam for astronomy, but I've used it just a couple of times. I was never too interested in planetary imaging, and just after the Toucam I bought a DSI Pro cam that took priority at the telescope :)

 

Where do you install your telescope usually? Any dark skies near your area? (although I don't expect any dark skies near Muenchen...). For planets you don't necessarily need very dark, but nevertheless I suspect that you use your telescope for DSOs too...

 

EDIT: what camera for the DSOs?

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My version of M57 in 2009:

(8" Newtonain on EQ6, DSI Pro, RGB of 30 frames, 30s each, unguided)

post-123868-13746096506598.jpg

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You've got "The Wall" ! Nice! The picture looks amazing!

 

Yes, Rupes Recta, an amazing feature of the lunar landscape!

 

 

I also have a Toucam for astronomy, but I've used it just a couple of times. I was never too interested in planetary imaging, and just after the Toucam I bought a DSI Pro cam that took priority at the telescope

 

I can tell you that my Toucam time was the most fun I had in astronomy. Deep sky imaging is a pain...

 

 

Where do you install your telescope usually? Any dark skies near your area? (although I don't expect any dark skies near Muenchen...). For planets you don't necessarily need very dark, but nevertheless I suspect that you use your telescope for DSOs too...

 

These were done in Portugal, on a very illuminated town. Just put a narrow band H-alfa filter in front of the camera and any nebula will be almost as good as in a dark spot. Shame it doesn't work with galaxies... I also use it on the moon because h-alfa is almost infrared and infra red is less affected by turbulence.

 

 

EDIT: what camera for the DSOs? guiding?

 

The camera is a Starlight Xpress H16 mono. For guiding I have used a Starlight Xpress Lodestar and later on a guide camera that I have developed. Guiding was done through my adaptive optics system, correcting turbulence up to 40 times per second.

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Maksutov telescopes have very good image and are very lightweight but they are usually better for planets than deep sky. It depends on what you want to observe. Still, it would be a lot of fun with a webcam and pointing at the moon (and some planets).

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@Mapleleafdude: does it necessarily have to be a go to?

the telescope itself is ok, but for that money I would buy something else:

 

why:

1) it is good for planets, moon and sun (it has a focal ratio of 13,9 which is way beyond anything usefull for DSOs - appart from globular clusters, perhaps, but the aperture is too small for them anyway). For a "universal" telescope I would go for a telescope with f-ratio of about 7 or 8.

 

2) although it is a go-to system on the motorized mount, you can't do too much astrophotography with it, as the mount is alt-azimuthal and not equatorial (you can take planets/moon photos, of course, as they don't require long exposure times or precise tracking). you could buy afterwards a wedge to tilt the mount head to work as an equatorial mount, or you could take photos with a "field rotator" but astrophotography in itself is complicated enough even without this additional hurdles...

 

3) the mount holds the telescope only on one side (I hate these mounts, as they are far less robust than the typical fork type mounts - like the ETX range from Meade for example)

 

4) if you ever want to take photos at objetcs that are near the zenith, you will always have problems with the camera as it will hit the base of the mount (that is a typical problem with this kind of mounts especially with a big camera like a DSLR)

 

5) you are limited to use it most of the time with a diagonal mirror (with 1.25" eyepieces).

 

so, if you really want this type/brand then check also other suppliers. for example Teleskop-Service has the same type of telescope just bigger and for less money:

http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p4275_Celestron-NexStar-127SLT---127-1500mm-GoTo-Maksutov-Teleskop.html

and a 127mm aperture gathers twice more light than a 90mm telescope. plus the resolution is much better.

 

but for this amount of money (<500E) I would buy something else (depending on what you are interested mainly: visual/photography; planets/DSOs; motorised w.go to/non motorised mount; etc.)

 

- http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p5536_GSO-6--F-5-Newton-Teleskop-auf-Skywatcher-EQ3-Montierung.html

pros: good for DSOs and some planets observing; equatorial mount can be later upgraded for astrophotography; good crayford focuser

cons: not goto; not motorised; tripod not that sturdy (for photography you'll need an upgrade)

 

- http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p2490_Skywatcher-Skyliner-200PX---8--f-6-Gitterrohr-Dobson-Teleskop.html

pros: "universal" telescope; very good for visual (8" mirror); light and transportable for an 8" telescope; as a Dobsonian telescope it may be the easiest way to enjoy astronomy, especially for a beginner

cons: not motorised; not goto -> no photo (you could still do some photos at planets as they don't require long exposures, but still, if it is astrophotography you are interested in then go for something else...)

 

- http://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p444_AKTION-Celestron-NexStar-102SLT---102mm-GoTo-Refraktor.html

pros: goto mount; good refractor-> better contrast than a similar sized Maksutov; 2" focuser (as with the other 2 telescopes from above). very portable.

cons: smaller aperture

 

disclaimer: i am not in any way affiliated with teleskop-service, but i had a very good experience with them in the last ~10 years, and almost everything I buy for astronomy, I buy from them. they also have the "best price guarantee" for some brands (including celestron) and if you find the product cheaper somewhere else in europe, you could write them and they make you an offer to beat that price (a friend of mine has already tried it :) )

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Just to follow up on my previous posts I finally managed a trip into Munich and Sauter today.

In the window they have a "special offer" on a rather large Meade (sorry, I don't recall the model number) for €1499 which is perhaps a little out of my budget and not very transportable but I did see a Meade ETX 125 for €899 which seems to offer everything I think I need. I had a chat with their telescope sales person who made it all sound rather easy when it comes to setting it up.

 

He also reckoned I could get Saturn with rings and deep sky with this model.

 

A quick gooogle of this model brings up a few questions about reliability or build quality.

 

Any opinions most welcomed from those on here who know.

Thanks in advance,

Malty

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Some great pics in the thread Guys. Those nebulae look great and the closeup of the moon is also pretty spectacular.

Better than I could get with my cheap 70mm refractor!

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Is telescope like this any good as a gift for 7 year old? Also, I never used a telescope and have no interest till now. I don't know but if I develop interest later, may be I buy a powerful one, but is it good to at least get started?

 

https://www.bresser.de/Marke/National-Geographic/NATIONAL-GEOGRAPHIC-Kinderteleskop-mit-Augmented-Reality-App.html?mtm_campaign=Google_Shopping&mtm_kwd=9101003&mtm_source=German&mtm_medium=CPC&mtm_cid=Germany&mtm_group=PLA&gclid=CjwKCAiAtdGNBhAmEiwAWxGcUjXqh1g6PHjXCmLZe3nN7Bz-NY7hYWabgsg2saWrXcMpF7MdiQNEAxoCAzIQAvD_BwE

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22 minutes ago, DanglingPointer said:

Is telescope like this any good as a gift for 7 year old? Also, I never used a telescope and have no interest till now. I don't know but if I develop interest later, may be I buy a powerful one, but is it good to at least get started?

 

 

Sincerely speaking: no. The only thing it will be able to show is some details on the Moon. All the rest will be just dots. You will see a bit of the Saturn rings and some detail on Jupiter, you could frame some clusters, see some haze for M42....

The problem in short is that what one dreams to see (photos from Hubble or ESO observatories) is not what you will see. Not even close, it's just some black and white smudges. Not to mention that light pollution will wash out anything even if you have a 50cm telescope (considering you write from Munich).

 

Not to be a total disappointment for most, you should get something (in this case a reflector) of at least 200mm aperture, but then it is not something for a 7 years old and a different price tag...

 

Sorry to break the enthusiasm :-/

 

 

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31 minutes ago, DanglingPointer said:

Is telescope like this any good as a gift for 7 year old? Also, I never used a telescope and have no interest till now. I don't know but if I develop interest later, may be I buy a powerful one, but is it good to at least get started?

 

https://www.bresser.de/Marke/National-Geographic/NATIONAL-GEOGRAPHIC-Kinderteleskop-mit-Augmented-Reality-App.html?mtm_campaign=Google_Shopping&mtm_kwd=9101003&mtm_source=German&mtm_medium=CPC&mtm_cid=Germany&mtm_group=PLA&gclid=CjwKCAiAtdGNBhAmEiwAWxGcUjXqh1g6PHjXCmLZe3nN7Bz-NY7hYWabgsg2saWrXcMpF7MdiQNEAxoCAzIQAvD_BwE

31 minutes ago, DanglingPointer said:

Is telescope like this any good as a gift for 7 year old? Also, I never used a telescope and have no interest till now. I don't know but if I develop interest later, may be I buy a powerful one, but is it good to at least get started?

 

https://www.bresser.de/Marke/National-Geographic/NATIONAL-GEOGRAPHIC-Kinderteleskop-mit-Augmented-Reality-App.html?mtm_campaign=Google_Shopping&mtm_kwd=9101003&mtm_source=German&mtm_medium=CPC&mtm_cid=Germany&mtm_group=PLA&gclid=CjwKCAiAtdGNBhAmEiwAWxGcUjXqh1g6PHjXCmLZe3nN7Bz-NY7hYWabgsg2saWrXcMpF7MdiQNEAxoCAzIQAvD_BwE

 

Hi,

Nope, it's what's called a hobby killer on the astro forums. It's got a wobbly tripod, no finderscope, it will suffer from Chromatic Abberation (purple fringing) on the Moon and bright planets, stars because of its short focal ratio ( focal length / apperature).

 

This telescope is under 100€ and will show nice views of the Moon, rings of Saturn, Galilean moons and cloud bands on Jupiter, double stars, Orion Nebula (depending on how bad your light pollution is), Cresent of Venus etc. 

 

https://www.teleskop-express.de/shop/product_info.php/info/p13893_Skywatcher-60-mm-Refractor-Telescope-Mercury-607-with-alt-azimuth-Mount.html

 

If you are ok about getting a used scope, a Skylux 70mm refractor on eBay is a good option. They were sold in Lidl around 15 years ago and are actually good scopes for their price (50€ used). Apperature of 70mm so more detail. The earlier version uses an Equatorial Mount which needs to be set up correctly. Again though, it will 'only' be Moon, planets, double stars and the brighter Deep Sky Objects (which will be a little underwhelming if you have bad light pollution).

 

I would also recommend a good pair of binoculars. These can be brought easily to a dark site and used to sweep the Milky Way and see Deep Sky Objects like the Andromeda Gakaxy . Something like a 8x40. Even in areas that have light pollution, the Pleiades still look lovely in binoculars. 

 

Finally, it goes without saying but never look at the Sun with any optical device or use any type of cheap solar filter. If one comes with your scope (perhaps a used one) throw it away. 

 

HTH

 

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Thanks @makkapakka and @pmd for the valuable insights. So as I understood I should buy something more than 150mm or 200 mm aperture

 

I see some up to 150mm here in below link: 

https://www.teleskop-spezialisten.de/shop/Telescope/Newtonian/till-150mm:::219_36_63.html

 

@pmd I will also look at Skywatcher you shared, but it has 60mm aperture. Is that good enough?

I can spend up to 200-250€ in case I get something really worth. Will also check in astroshop.eu

 

Also found one Skylux for just 20 € :D

 

https://www.ebay-kleinanzeigen.de/s-anzeige/skylux-teleskop-70-700mm/1925596339-242-6080

 

 

TIA

 

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My personal (likely biased) opinion given your budget of 200-250 Euro would be:

https://www.teleskop-spezialisten.de/shop/Teleskope/Dobson/bis-150mm/Skywatcher-Heritage-130P-FlexTube-Dobson-130mm-650mm-f/5-Teleskop-Fernrohr-mit-Mondfilter::356.html

or if you can go the extra mile to 300:

https://www.teleskop-spezialisten.de/shop/Teleskope/Dobson/bis-150mm/Skywatcher-Heritage-150P-FlexTube-Dobson-150mm-750mm-f/5-Teleskop-Fernrohr::4796.html

 

The "Dobson" telescopes are not in any way motorized, you just push them and watch the sky. They are very easy to use, and since there is no motors and electronics, most of the money gets into aperture. (so if you look for a similar aperture with tracking you will go quite more expensive). You don't have to polar align or anything and if set up correctly you can very easily track stuff as the movements are smooth.

 

When going cheap the mounts / motors you will get are anyway pretty bad, so don't expect to do any photos or so. Of course on the Dobsonians you rule that out already before as you don't have tracking. But IMO the extra aperture, fast focal ratio and ease of use may give you the extra kick to get into it!

 

That is of course my opinion (I've been using telescopes since many years and my job is around them as well).

 

I would like to underline something important: no matter what you buy, given the age, make sure you (or a parent / brother) will give some help. It takes some time to get used and to find something and I'm afraid interest may soon fade alone. So make sure first of all that you (or someone interested) will follow the activity at least at the beginning. If possible even think of some, even short, trips to places a bit outside the city (if as per your profile you are from Munich) where skies are darker and, no matter what aperture, it's all a different story!

 

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2 hours ago, makkapakka said:

If possible even think of some, even short, trips to places a bit outside the city (if as per your profile you are from Munich) where skies are darker and, no matter what aperture, it's all a different story!

Not only light pollution is the problem, but also the weather. Germany sucks at providing a clear sky. The best you can do is to travel to Egypt (Sinai peninsula), it is cheap and has the clearest sky you can get. Any other desert will work, too.

 

Regarding activities in Germany, I would advise a DSLR camera+tripod+remote control+500 mm lens (the cheapest one will go). This way you can take also photos of the sun (including during solar eclipse). Photography is more fun than just watching. You can take photos of the stars moving (to prove to the child that the earth is not flat), that is more interesting than just looking at them. 

 

  

 

 

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6 hours ago, DanglingPointer said:

@pmd I see one from Skywatcher here for 145€ with 70mm  aperture. Is this decent?

 

https://www.astroshop.eu/telescopes/skywatcher-telescope-ac-70-700-mercury-az-2/p,5000#tab_bar_0_select

 

So your budget is 200-250€ now 😉.

 

Astronomy can be a bit of a money pit as you can see. Unfortunately prices really went up in the last year as demand was up and supply down thanks to the impact of Covid. The majority of equipment gets manufactured in China now. People used to be sniffy about quality but modern manufacturing techniques has really improved the quality of Chinese optics. 

 

That's a nice scope for a beginner (even better would be an 80mm). The good thing is it is an alt-azimuth mount. This means you don't have to point the mount northwards / set your latitude like you would with an Equatorial Mount. The disadvantage is you have to keep moving both axes to keep the target in view ( the EQ mount's advantage is you just need to move one axis to keep the target in view). The first Skylux is on an EQ mount which is not so user friendly.

 

Another poster suggested a Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount. These are great for visual. It's a lot easier and cheaper to grind a mirror than a glass lens so you get *a lot* more aperture for your money when you buy a reflector (apperature is king for visual astronomy). Plus your mount is not made from metal but wood so more of the overall cost is spent on optics. The one caveat with Newtonian Reflectors is collimation - you will need to adjust the primary and secondary mirror's alignment periodically. 

 

Final point: If you look after your gear, new equipment can usually be sold for 60-70% of the new price. If you buy used, you can usually just resell the equipment or eyepiece at around what you paid for it. Just make sure you buy it from a reputable seller (ie they have other optical or photographic things for sale, good reputation etc). 

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