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The most obvious question!


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Hi guys,


Thanks for the lovely welcome in the Introductions page. 


Im looking for advice on what to get as my first scope. 


I'm looking to spend around £400-£500. I'd love to be able to take pictures at some point but for now I just want to explore. Mainly wanting to see the moon, planets in our solar system and maybe some deep space objects. The DSO more see as a blur as apposed to the insane detail you can get with some of the mega expensive scopes. 


I think I'd quite like a goto mount as I think that would be easier to find my way around. I already have a pair of 15x70 Celestron binoculars that I'm using every night I can to learn. 


I also want to be able to upgrade things as I go. Like the lenses and things. 


Anyway, forgive me if I said anything stupid, I've been actively looking up for about a week. 





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Firstly, let me put your mind at rest, you haven't said anything stupid and even if you had, this isn't the sort of forum that would be at your throat. We were all in the same spot as you at one point and we have all learned from other folks who have been kind enough to help out. This is the core ethic of the group.


Right, you have money for us to spend for you to invest in the hobby. Sensibly you have chosen to go visual to start with, that will get you to learn the sky and where stuff is within it. Imaging is a whole different ball game and you'll need somewhat deeper pockets too, but to begin with I would suggest that you get comfortable with the basics and then move to imaging if that's the direction you want to follow, again you will get help and advice and folks will be happy to advise you.


I would suggest you buy a Dob, but I am biased and they for me they give the best bang for your buck. I say this as I have been down the GoTo route on my first scope (Meade ETX80) and although the optics were good, the GoTo was rubbish. If you spend money on the optics rather than electronics you will be able to see much more. Don't take this as the way you may want to go, it's just my personal choice for visual astronomy.


Learning your way round the sky isn't as daunting as it sounds and there are a number of methods that will get you to where you want to be. The time honoured method is "Star Hopping", you get a Star Atlas and use the various stars as pointers to find the object you want. You'll need a good Star Atlas, I would be happy to recommend the Sky and Telescope Pocket Star Atlas. They must have bigger pockets in the USA, it's A5 size, but a very detailed and user friendly Atlas and doesn't break the bank either. There are numerous Star Atlases and they get to a very specifc and detailed level, way past what we can see with your basic amateur scope, but the cost might put you off when you get to those.


Then you can modify the scope to include things like angle gauges and setting circles, this will need a bit of DIY on your new scope but most of us have done some form of modification to improve the performance of the scope. With this you get the AltAz coordinates of your object off a planetarium app or program and then, after aligning the scope up to the right direction, you push the scope to the given coordinates on the gauges/circle. This gets you in the ball park of where the object is. It's easier to show you this than describe it, it really isn't too technical.


Again the scope you chose depends on your personal circumstances too. There's no point buying a monster scope if you live in a third floor flat and have to lug it up and down stairs to be able to use it. This has happened and why I mention it.  Storing it safely is something you need to consider and the space it's likely to need.

I am not sure where you live, but I would suggest that if you can get to one of the meets come and have a look at and through some of the scopes in the flesh. They are different beasts and it's finding one to suit you rather than keep spending money and changing until you find a rig you are happy with. From again personal experience, the most expensive isn't always the best, whatever you decide to buy, see if you can try one first, as what suits one person might not work for you. 


The budget you have will get you a good scope not only start with but continue with for years, then as you say theirs things like eyepieces and other bit's and bobs to buy, but that will come with time. Feel free to keep asking questions, you will get sensible advice. 

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Thank you for your reply Baz. I live in Rutland near Leicestershire. I was planning to come to the next meet.


I've found a store very local to me called uk telescopes that I'm looking at going popping in next week to ask loads of questions and stuff. 


Whisky I don't live on a 3rd floor of a flat. I'd need to have it uosatirs in the man cave. Soneverytine unwanted to usenitnid need to carry it down and back up. So the manoeuvrability is a factor. Which is ultimately the thing that puts my off a DOB


I'm glad you've said that about my budget as general advice on Facebook is I need to save up more. Which I probably do for the best scopes out there. But for my first I think this is enough. 


Thanks again for your reply. I really want to learn more and appreciate your time. 

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Hello Shane, if this is the mob I think (Peterborough based, just down the road from me as it happens) I think they do everything online.  Their showroom according to their website is closed for maintenance at the moment.


I agree with pretty much everything above, particularly as regards imaging.  Generally, the more expensive the kit /more experience in its use leads to better images (there are of course exceptions and it depends upon what you want to image - you can do nice stuff with a phone camera for example)  What tends to happen is someone will get involved in astronomy with simpler (read, doesn't mean inferior) kit and get familiar with the sky, the language, the culture etc as it were and then imaging (sometimes) becomes a natural extension of that. At this point you will most likely have fewer of the concerns you would normally have when first starting out on spending on appropriate kit (and with a clearer idea at this point as to what you want to do, what kit you need for it and how best to achieve it).  Many of us have a 'stable' of telescopes, all suitable for different purposes and functions and this comes as a natural function of being immersed in what is now a 'lifestyle' ( I dislike 'hobby'... - for much the same reasons as i dislike 'stargazing'.).  So any scope you buy now will likely be one you continue using if you end up going down the imaging path - by which time you will have a better idea of kit and its capabilities/limitations - and a better idea as to where to improve your own skills.

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The best advice has already been given.

If you want to get into Astro photography then you are going to need a good mount.

That alone will blow your entire budget and that is for a secondhand HEQ5.

I would take Martyn's advice and start with a dob.


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If portability is an issue, you may like to consider a small ED or APO refractor. What would put me off an APO is that you need eyepieces almost as expensive as the telescope to get the best out of it. However, when you go down the imaging route, an APO will knock the socks off of anything else.


You don't always need big bucks for astrophotography. None of this lot will win any prizes but this will give you some idea of what you can do without tracking:



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