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Anyone here know anything about telescopes?


Zackny
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I used to be a bit of an amateur astronomer and I knew what was available, but that has been awhile.

 

People new to the hobby (I'm assuming you want it to look at the sky) can't go to wrong with a Dobsonian reflector.  Not too expensive and very good at light gathering (get an 8 inch or larger). Easy to operate but large and not overly mobile.  But if you start with a reflector, you won't have spent a fortune and you can always opt for something different later if you so choose.

 

If you want to use a scope to view earth objects, then just forget everything I said.

 

I use to buy stuff from these guys:  http://www.telescope.com/

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You're probably best starting off with a Dobsonian. This is classic reflector telescope like the one just pictured above, but it's mounted on a base that swivels. They provide great magnification for the price (best bang for your buck if you simply want to see cool stuff like nebulae and galaxies and comets). Other options are some of the tabletop scopes, which might be a little easier to work with. Dobsonians do require a lot of bending over and and they aren't easy to use when trying to reacquire a target in the sky. 

 

This cheap tabletop might be a good starter: http://www.telescope.com/Telescopes/I-want-to-look-at-the-Moon-and-planets/Telescopes-that-are-easy-to-move-carry/Orion-StarMax-90mm-TableTop-Maksutov-Cassegrain-Telescope/pc/1/c/399/sc/401/p/102016.uts?refineByCategoryId=401

 

Honestly, anything that's tripod mounted is something I'd avoid unless it's a VERY nice model. The mount is the critical element there. It must be very solid and vibration resistant. All those junk telescopes you see in department stores have horrible mounts, and indeed many of the beginner scopes just have weak mounts. You're pretty much looking for something you could also mount a .50 cal machinegun on, and that's not cheap.

 

Go here and find a good beginner's dobsonian. http://www.telescope.com/  They have great customer service.

 

Amateur astronomy isn't for everybody. Being even more honest, you might want to even start off with just a nice pair of 15x or better magnification binoculars. http://www.telescope.com/Orion-Giant-View-15x70-Astronomy-Binoculars/p/9327.uts You'll actually have better control over your viewing experience with binoculars, and it's MUCH easier to just run out into the backyard and look at a few things with the aid of a small chart than to lug out your entire scope rig and all the other junk you need. There's very little that you're going to be able to see without needing a much bigger scope anyways.

 

Once you've seen a few nebulae and galaxies and all that, there's not going to be much for you to do except repeat that experience over and over, sketch the moon, follow the moons of Jupiter, look around for various clusters, trace constellations etc. Beyond that, you COULD dig deeper and start making observations, but to do that practically, you'd want a very nice machine. Even an amateur with a $2,000 scope setup can contribute to research. If you're willing to spend that much on a bike....

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I have several different kinds... what all do you want to know, or more or less what all do you want it to do? 

 

Just basic star gazing, Maybe see the rings of Saturn etc.

 

Eh, Saturn is pretty far away for you to see the rings. You might notice a disc shape to it, but that's going to be about it. Mostly, it'll just be a very bright star. Same for Jupiter.

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Eh, Saturn is pretty far away for you to see the rings. You might notice a disc shape to it, but that's going to be about it. Mostly, it'll just be a very bright star. Same for Jupiter.

I have seen all seven moons of Jupiter with mine, granted I was using a x2 bellow and a 200mm lens. 

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I can clearly see the cloud bands on Jupiter and on rare occasions when the conditions are right I've seen Cassini's division in the rings of Saturn with the 8", but that was with a very high magnification and a smooth clock drive.

 

Yeah, it's nice to see these but I think many people are expecting this:

 

Jupiter.jpg

 

But in reality, you'll see this:

 

guilford_jupiter.jpg

 

And this is what Saturn might appear like, only smaller...

 

0.jpg

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Yeah, it's nice to see these but I think many people are expecting this:

 

Jupiter.jpg

 

But in reality, you'll see this:

 

guilford_jupiter.jpg

 

And this is what Saturn might appear like, only smaller...

 

0.jpg

 

I actually saw Saturn like that earlier this year.  Some astronomy club had a setup and invited people to have a look.  More impressive in concept than in reality, but it would be really cool to get an up-close look at the moon.

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I fogot all about the Sun. Now that is an interesting thing to observe, and fun to do so since you don't need cold, dark, remote nights to view it. A good tabletop reflector with a solar filter, and you can look at sunspots in great detail and of course observe various eclipses and the like. Definitely worth spending money on the filter and getting a lot more use out of your scope.

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Aperture is king with telescopes.  As others have suggested, the Newtonian reflector is a great value; it has the best price to aperture ratio.  The least expensive mount is the Dobsonian.  What is nice about the Dobsonian is that it is in expensive.  The disadvantage is that it can be tough to track objects once you find them.  The earth rotates faster than you think and with the Dobsonian mount, you need to push the scope along two axis.  The other common mount is the equatorial mount which is what you see in Uglybob's picture.  With an equatorial mount to only have to push the scope along one axis to track the object.  They can also come with a motor drive to track automatically track the objects.  The disadvantage with the equatorial mount is that they weigh a lot with the counter weight.  Someone mentioned getting a 8", I had a 6" and was very happy with it.

 

Just like with bicycles, don't buy a telescope through a big box store for most of the same reasons.  Meade and Celestron are the Trek and Specialized of the telescope world.  They're both good values for the price.

 

 

I fogot all about the Sun. Now that is an interesting thing to observe, and fun to do so since you don't need cold, dark, remote nights to view it. A good tabletop reflector with a solar filter, and you can look at sunspots in great detail and of course observe various eclipses and the like. Definitely worth spending money on the filter and getting a lot more use out of your scope.

 

This summer was the first time I looked at the sun through a full aperture solar filter.  COOLEST THING I'VE EVER SEEN THROUGH A TELESCOPE!!!!  You could see the sun spots, prominences and solar flairs.  The image was sorta like this:

 

72ca61f024.jpg

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I fogot all about the Sun. Now that is an interesting thing to observe, and fun to do so since you don't need cold, dark, remote nights to view it. A good tabletop reflector with a solar filter, and you can look at sunspots in great detail and of course observe various eclipses and the like. Definitely worth spending money on the filter and getting a lot more use out of your scope.

I made my own filter for the sun... granted I'm a Krazy™ person... I duct taped a welding lens onto the front of the telescope. 

I would have rather spent the money for a filter, but time was short, I am cheep, and it worked :)

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