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Hello and help needed please :-)

Guest GarySwift

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Guest GarySwift






I'm new to the forum and could do with some advice please. I have a done a little bit of astronomy many years ago with a fairly cheap 130mm Newtonian on a cheap EQ mount, despite it's limitations I did manage to view a number of objects and even managed to image the Moon and Saturn using a webcam, but it was very time consuming and frustrating, taking ages to set up and find my targets. Other things got in the way so I did not progress further


Since my earlier experiences my circumstances have changed significantly, so I'm looking to take up astronomy again to give me something to enjoy and to give my brain something to work on - but I do have some constraints that I need advice with:-


I am now the full time carer for my severely disabled wife, who needs a lot of care and cannot be left unattended for anything other than short periods of time. Therefore I cannot devote ages to setting up the scope and finding targets and may need to drop off several times during a session to attend to my wife's needs. Whilst I will probably be mostly viewing I would like eventually if possible to do some simple imaging, either with an adapted webcam or DSLR, both of which I already own.


The scopes that I've been considering each have their own merits (though you may not agree) and given that my viewing time will be limited and probably broken into numerous times whilst I attend my wife. There is also only a limited budget available as I am now a full time carer with only limited income. I'm based in the UK so the scopes that I've been looking each has GOTO facilities to increase my chances of acquiring targets with the limited time available at are:


Celestron 5SE - easily portable, GOTO and SkyAlign for easy set up and target acquisition, reasonable aperture, f10 so imaging may be possible, even if only Solar System objects, especially with the EQ wedge on the mount (I'm aware that this will need a minor mod to facilitate setting up). With this scope I could also afford to add in an EP and filter kit. With a solar film filter I could maybe do some simple Solar imaging of sunspots etc.


Celestron Advanced VX 8" Newtonian GOTO - not as portable and I suspect not quick to set up. Bigger aperture, f5 and EQ mount, which should give improved viewing of DSOs and probably improved imaging capability. I would just have to use the stock EPs etc. and save up for any additional EPs or filters. Probably not good for Solar imaging.


Skywatcher Explorer 200P Newtonian on EQ5 Pro GOTO - not as portable and I suspect not quick to set up. Bigger aperture, f5 and EQ mount, which should give improved viewing of DSOs and probably improved imaging capability. I would just have to use the stock EPs etc. and save up for any additional EPs or filters. Probably not good for Solar imaging.


Skywatcher Skyliner 200P Flex Tube SynScan GOTO Dobsonian- not as portable but I suspect much quicker to set up than either of the Newtonians. Reasonable aperture, f6 , which should give decent viewing of DSOs but no EQ mount so probably very limited imaging capability. I would just have to use the stock EPs etc. and save up for any additional EPs or filters. Probably not good for Solar imaging.


I'm sure there are other suitable scopes available but remember my constraints, fairly quick to set up, ease of use, preferably GOTO, limited budget, up to around £800. I know I'm stretching things by wanting to include imaging but that would be a "nice to have option" if possible, even if only a limited capability .


Ideally I would like to go to a Star Party or club and try out some of these scopes but I will have very little chance of doing this given my family commitments. I'm leaning towards the 8" Dob - I know that each of the above suggestions is a compromise but I'm hoping that some of you seasoned astronomers can give me some advice on how to proceed.


Thanks for taking the time to read my post


Kind Regards
















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Hi Gary, a warm welcome to EMS.


Sorry to hear of your family circumstances, I hope things are as good as they can be.


In response to your questions, my input may be limited, as I am only a visual observer.

I think that if you are having to do your observing or imaging from home, you may be hampered by light pollution, I would imagine that the glow from Sheffield would be pretty bright.

A few of our members have had good results using narrowband techniques, and isn't affected by LP and the Moon much, if not at all.


For visual though, aperture is what you want, and even in light polluted skies you might be able to the find brighter objects.


As for advice on the scopes you mention, maybe someone with experience of them will help out.


In the mean time enjoy the forum. :)

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Hi Gary and welcome to EMS.

I echo Martyn's comments above, sorry to hear about your wife.

Again like Martyn I am more of a visual monkey so not so clued up on the EQ side or imaging, but just to add another thought to your list, perhaps a dob would be a good compromise? By that, you get it out, plonk it down and start viewing, setup time is 2 minutes if that, where with a EQ mount, you need to get it out, add power, 2/3 star align etc.

Not great for astro photography but might cure the itch.

Happy hunting.

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Hi Gary, welcome aboard.

Like you I had a 130 on an eq but recently upgraded to a dob. Easy to set up. In fact I had mine in and out within an hour yesterday just to check a few things and managed to look at a few objects. Best bang for your buck and easily modded as you will see. I had considered going to the darkside (astrophotography) so went for a 10" which could be mounted on to an eq mount later on.

You would be more than welcome to come to a meet, although I realise this is easier said than done, and have a look at and through some different kit.

Clear skies

Edited by tuckstar
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Hi Gary, I understand your situation and would like to suggest a SW 150PDS on an EQ5 Pro mount? The PDS range of Newtonians are built for astro photography but are visually good as well and the Pro mount has the Goto facility you want. It's a fairly light combination and quite easy to set up for visual or photography. Well within budget as you will need eyepeices, adaptors etc.. etc..

Hope this helps?




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Guest Tweedledum

Hi Gary,


Welcome to EMS. Fully appreciate your position with both my wifes parents. Have you tried the Sheffield astro club??. they hold frequent meetings and you wouold be able to have a look at other folks kit and what might suit you best. To be found here ;-- http://www.voyagerdome.co.uk/sas/   . Also a well repected guide to astrophotography is 'making every photon counts'  this will save you cash in the long run..


Good luck wth your choice.

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Guest GarySwift

Thank you for all of your replies guys and for the link . Absterreo, thanks for the link, I see that the Sheffield club has a beginners night about choosing a scope later this month. I might try to get someone to sit with Diane so that I can attend this session.  :)




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Hi Gary


Imager here :)  but not good news really.  If you have little time with your circumstances then maybe astro imaging would

be a little difficult.  The set up takes a long time with polar aligning and all the other stuff that has to be done and can

be very frustrating when things dont go as planned.  Also it can be very expensive :o


I have noticed the visual guys with dobs are set up in what seems minutes and this could be a way to go for you??


With the imaging if you really want to go that way I can only suggest a permanent set up that is not moved, then PA and

sorting out would be much quicker.  My set up which is relatively easy to do takes at least 1 hour for putting together and

PA, before i start imaging and this is sometimes quite a bit longer when aligning stars and the clouds come over :lol: but

mine is not a permanent set up


Hope you find something to suit




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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Gary and welcome. I'm very sorry to hear about the difficulties you have with your wife.

Setting up "Go To" takes time and requires a reasonable vista to see 3 widely separated alignment stars. As stated earlier, a push pull Dob is set up in minutes so you get your eye to the eyepiece very quickly. Dob's give the biggest bang for your buck. I've got an HEQ 5 Pro and it takes me a good 30 mins to set it up if it all goes well. It's not light weight so I don't try to move it around in one piece. It requires several journeys to move all the bits into the garden before even starting the assembly and alignment process.

I prefer to use either my 102 or 120mm refractors on a simple Alt Az mount. Much enjoyment is had from planning what I'm going to look at and trying to learn where it is. I use the free software, Stellarium or Cartes Du Ciel and print off charts. This is done on cloudy nights, in the comfort of the living room, often with a cuppa or something stronger. You could do this and be available at a moments notice.

So that's an alternative idea to make the best use of your observing time.

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Guest daveclarke

thanks pete,for your advice on my scope,didnt want to spend to much at initial outlay in case,i didnt like it,,,,but the skies have been very mucky over here low cloud,,mists, so hoping for some clear cold crisp nights

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