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Buying my first scope, what should I get?

Guest Eddy

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Hi everyone, I'm new here and new to this as a hobby too but I am definitely keen on getting stuck in on it.

A couple of members suggested the Skywatcher 200p to me already and from looking a few different sites this has amazing reviews .

What I think I want.

  • Something I can put my camera on the end of, or some webcam maybe(But surely a better camera means better pictures right? :) )
  • Decent zoom on it, I dont just want like a closer view of the moon, I want to be able to see like the rings on saturn and stuff in a decentish detail and possibly other objects in the sky(I don't know any names yet :D )
  • Budget is around £300, can go above or below by around £50 or push it a tiny bit more if anyone has some good recommendations.
  • Something that a newbie can use/learn to use with a few pointers.

Also what other equipment will I need, like I've read loads of things about filters and eyepieces, would I need some of these and which ones would you recommend, these aren't in the £300 budget, but obviously I don't want to spend like £1k on some eyepieces or something :D

Look forward to everyone's suggestions.

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well Eddy it`s a mine field !

first thing to consider is the mount, for imaging you need a mount that can track the stars otherwise the objects you are looking at or imaging will move out of the field of view, a good second hand mount would be a HEQ5 but they are about £500 second hand but worth it.

next is the scopes, different scope do different things to images, the 200p is a good all round scope for the money and good for visual and imaging deep sky stuff being an f5, that means focal ratio, the lower the f ratio the faster the scope is for imaging, but if your imaging panets then it`s the other way round, you need a bigger f ratio, a scope with f10 and more, you can use a barlow lens to increase the f ratio of the scope you are using.

there`s a lot to consider.

one thing i would surgest is you come to a meet and have a look at all the diffent scopes and people will tell you there best and worse bits which might help you alot.

Edited by red dwalf
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Like you i am new to adtronomy too. I have just bought a Skywatcher 200p and cant recommend it enough. However it is a Dobsonian mount and for astrophotography you would new a mount capable of tracking.

I will let the more experienced members advise you as, like I said I am new too and still learning myself.

I would recommend to start off with that you do what I am doing and that is just getting out there with a good pair if binoculars and learning all the constellations and DSO's etc.

I think astrophotography is unbelievably complex and astronomically (pun intended :) ) expensive. I guess it depends on what you want image as well. As Imaging DSO'S and Planets is completely different from what I understand.

As I said listen to the experienced guys on here they will see you right.

Welcome to EMS :)


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The SW 200p dobsonian is an excellent scope. I won't say it's a good starter scope because there are many of us that still use one (like me) because it delivers great views and is still relatively portable. The dob mount makes it simple to set up, which gets you observing quicker. EQ mounts work well for observing but they need to be aligned with the pole star and if it's a goto they can present the beginner with a potentially frustrating setup (despite what any sales pitch may tell you). The downside of a dob mount is that as it doesn't track the movement of the sky, it isn't camera friendly.

The scope itself is fine for imaging with an equatorial mount and as Red Dwarf points out, an HEQ5 would be the load bearing minimum for a 200p plus all the imaging gizmo's.

One way to go would be to get the 200p dob, learn how to use it, learn the sky and save for an HEQ5. the scope can be easily adapted to fit the mount and you will still have the dob base for a grab n go setup.

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Another vote for the Skywatcher 200P, not too big, not too small, easily modded if needed, good all rounder for planets and DSO, not great for imaging due to the need for manual tracking (dobsonian base only - put the scope on any EQ mount and you will be able to auto track, the only downside is the mount will cost double the price of the scope, new and second hand) but people do use the dobsonian base for astro photography.

Had mine for just over a year and am still loving it!

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Hi Eddy,

Welcome to the forum!

I got my first scope for christmas and can't recommend it enough.

Here's the details:


It's incredibly easy to set-up as you just connect the scope straight to the tripod; very compact for easy storage but with fantastic magnification; computer controlled - it will very easily go to any object you tell it to as long as it's up there to view and continue to track them without any messing about. It also came with 10mm, 25mm, x2 barlow (to double magnification) lenses, plus a moon filter. It comes in at £370, but their are also smaller models at around £300 with all the same features. Connecting cameras is mean't to be easy with the right adaptor, but I haven't gone down this road yet.

Hopefully this offers an alternative to the Dobs already suggested :)


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If you want "more bangs for bucks" as our US cousins would say then a reflector will usually get you a bigger scope for your money, a dob is a great visual starter scope but you mention you would like to image which complicates things a bit. You will need a driven mount of some type, prefferably an equatorial but you wont necessarily need goto at the mo. Therefore something like a used 6 newtonian scope with a used EQ5 mount with drives may just fit in your budget if you watch the for sale ads on here, UKABS and SGL. They do crop up from time to time.

As for accessories, forget the filters initially, get them when you are used to teh scope and have a bit more cash, you will need eyepieces though. Like everything else you get what you pay for, cheap eyepieces will work but you will miss alot with them, my advice would be to go for the best eyepieces you can get, maybe not initially but they can always be added to later.

Personally I dont really like these ere new fangled reflector telescope thingies, give me a good ole refractor made with lenses anyday :) Unfortunately the starter refractor scopes can be a minefield with some awful optics and rubbish mounts however the Celestron 1st scope range with say 80 or 90mm apeture are OK but with a decent mount they may stretch your budget.


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Another thing, we are a friendly bunch on here, if you have narrowed your choice down to 3-4 scopes, at your budget level there is a high (ish) chance of somebody on here having one of them, then just PM the person (most of us put our kit in the signature section), I`m sure they would be happy enough for you to pop round and have a look, or even better, wait until another dark site meet is planned and pop along then! If the skies are clear, nearly everybody brings their scopes and you can have a look at them in action!

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Welcome Eddy and I'm glad Stargazing Live has inniated this enthusiasm within you.

As others have said the 200P Dob if you want to visually onserve, it's aperture is big enough for you to observe Jupiter and Saturns moons, the Great red spot on Jupiter, numerous deep space objects including galaxies, and planetaries.

The above scope is not Go-To so you will have to find objects with the aid of a star map., If you want Go-To then they cost more but are within your budget. Just remember you forsake aperture for electronics.

If you want to do photography then you need a tracking mount one that moves at the same rotation as the Earth, these can be expensive but again within your budget.

I would recommend these.




Last thing buy from a proper shop not Argos, EBay, Jessops etc.

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Thanks for all the suggestions so far everyone, i'm almost pulling myself away from the photo side because it sounds expensive/tricky with me being so new to this.

Does anyone know when theres going to be a next meeting of some sort, wouldn't mind popping along :)

Edited by Eddy
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Personally I would concentrate on the visual side first, learn your way around the constellations, observe the major objects first to get a feel for it, and then dabble in the photography side.

As for meetings, this is very weather dependant, and normally a last minute suggestion, keep looking at the announcement section and if there is one it will appear there. They are normally at a weekend due to work comitments.

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Hi Eddy, welcome to EMS.

If you are not familiar with the sky and Astronomy in general, I would suggest concentrating on the visual side so you get to know your way round. Iam still only visual, and have really enjoyed my experiences doing just that.

The 200P Skyliner is a cracking scope, and although you have to find stuff for yourself, this is still a buzz when you have got something in the eyepiece. Jupiter and Saturn never disappoint, and are easy to find.

Imaging and "The Dark side", are a whole new ball game, with different components that all have to work together happily to produce an image. This doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, but generally does as there's always something that will improve your results.

( So does visual as SWMBO would testify)!

The 127 Mak is also a fantastic scope, but this has a long focal length, and doesn't do too well on faint fuzzies, it does however excel on the moon and planets. The tracking on it is Alt/Az, and is not suitable for imaging other than webcam.

Before you buy, see if you can get to the Belper site, and have a look at the scopes in use, and what would suit your needs before splashing out.

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Welcome to EMS Eddy :)

All the advice above is excelent and I had my first play with a 200P Dob last Friday and it's a smashing starter scope. It's "push to" so you have to nudge it to track objects manually, but you soon get used to that. And with a few cheap modifications you can refine pointing accuracy by adding an azimuth scale (known as a setting circle) and an electronic angle guage. £30 or £40 tops :)

The good thing about it is - if you wish to do photography at a later date you can adapt it to an equatorial mount with tracking and/or goto when you've the funds to do so. Meantime learning the sky is a lot of fun with sofware like Stellarium (free download) and the center pages from Sky at Night magazine. After a full year of seasons you'll have a great idea where most of the "stuff" is up there.

Look forward to seeing you at an observing meeting soon :)

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A note to add, but if you go for a 200P and still fancy imaging later, go for a solid tube. The flex-tubes are not suitable for mounting on an equatorial mount.

Welcome to EMS. :D

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I'm like 90% close to buying a 200p, I have one last question though, how big is it exactly(Does anyone have dimensions), can it actually fit in a car(Does it have to stand up or can it lay down)

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Guest Kheldar

The tube fits in a car easily across the back seats. The base can go in the boot.

The whole thing assembled is about 150cm high, the tube alone is about 120cm high. t comes to your shoulder but that is when it's on the base.

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