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Choosing a decent amateur backyard telescope

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posted on Oct, 28 2006 @ 02:37 AM
Hi All,
I don't know if this is the right place to post this but I want to buy a decent amateur telescope to use in my backyard or on my roof.
I'm a total newbie to the world of telescopes, though slightly informed in basics of Astronomy.
Now I'm a Newbie and so I have no idea in what to look for but here's what I want :

1) Get to see GOOD sharp images of craters etc. on the lunar surface.

2) Decent view of the Rings of Saturn, moons of Jupiter, Mars etc.

3)Be able to see large/medium galaxies in a decent sharp image.

4) Upright image (I've heard some scopes give inverted/mirror images?)

So what are the technical specifications I need to looks for?

I've been going through a few sites and I came across a couple of different specs I came across.
Couldn't make much of it but this is the kind of stuff thats near and in my budget

Specs T1:

Optical design: Newtonian Optical system
Primary Mirror: Diameter 75mm / Focal length 750mm (180x Power)
Secondary Diagonal: Matched Optical Flat
Astro eyepieces 1.25"OD:1) 25mm efl,2) 12mm efl Ramsdens
Variable Barlow 1.25" OD
1.5x = 2x=2.5x=3x)
Finder: Gunsight for quick alignment
Eyepieces mount: Focuser 1.25"
Tube:110mm dia x 740mm length (approx.) of light weight rigid PVC tube, Finished inside with highly durable matt black paint. Dust prevention covers at both ends.
Stand: Metal tripod
Mount: Altazimuth Metal Mount with partial locks
Net Weight: Within 5.5 Kgs
Manual: Operating Manual

Technical Data
Mirror : Highly reflective aluminized mirror with an over layer coating of Silicon Mono-Oxide.
Magnification obtained with Eyepieces : 30x 62.5x
With Variable Barlow : 60x to 188x (In conjunction with above eyepieces)
Resolution : 2 Arc Seconds
Image Size : 1.94 Degrees / Inch at 750mm
Photographic speed : 15x Telescopic Telephoto
Visibility : Can see 10.5 Magnitude star


Design : International standard Classical Newtonian
Primary Mirror : 76mm with highly reflective hard Al.+SiO2 coating
Secondary mirror/ Diagonal : Around 1/4 wave Optical Flat (nobody offers at this price)
Eyepieces : WF 25mm and Ke 10mm Achromat 3 OG element AR coated (nobody offers ....)
Eyepiece Mount/Focuser : Metal 0.965" (24mm)
Tube : 90x750mm of light weight rigid PVC with flat black (inside) with covers at both ends.
Light wooden, portable height adjusting Tripod, very easy in journeys.
Mount : Altazimuth with locks
Operating Manual
Finder - gunsight for quickly locating any object
Visibility : Can see 11th Magnitude star.

In case anyone wants to see the entire range available to me its

Thanks to all inputs in advance

posted on Oct, 28 2006 @ 08:43 AM
Are all the astro guys here on ATS only into 'radio' telescopes(read SETI)?

optical ones ain't so bad!

posted on Oct, 28 2006 @ 09:57 AM
Hey Daedalus3-

here are a coupla member opinions

And this is a quote from an good article on how to pick a backyard scope.

Don't EVER buy a department store telescope. I said it earlier and will say it again. Some components are cheaply made of plastic, the mountings wobble, the finder scopes (used for pointing the telescope to the object) are close to useless, and generally a very frustrating experience. Whats worse, is that even experienced observers find them difficult to use. The only thing they can be used for, is to look at the moon. This will then get you hooked and make you want to buy a better scope. Many of us started out with these telescopes, and after a month or two, learned our lesson and got real telescopes that we've kept and used for years.!


I'd have to agree with 'don't go cheap'

I've got a 3.5" spotting scope which is ok for seeing Saturns rings or Jupiters cloud bands, but wish I would've gotten a 6" or 8", for more detail.
Cost me $375 10 yrs. ago.

It all depends on money and what you're gonna use it for.

I'm just Joe amateur, but if you gotta go cheap a newtonian is prob. the best bang for the buck.

Good luck.

posted on Oct, 28 2006 @ 12:40 PM

Originally posted by Daedalus3
I have no idea in what to look for but here's what I want :

1) Get to see GOOD sharp images of craters etc. on the lunar surface.

2) Decent view of the Rings of Saturn, moons of Jupiter, Mars etc.

3)Be able to see large/medium galaxies in a decent sharp image.

4) Upright image (I've heard some scopes give inverted/mirror images?)

So what are the technical specifications I need to looks for?

It would be great to be able to do all that with one telescope, but different scopes are better for different things. Different types of scopes have advantages as well as disadvantages.

Generally, if you were more interested in the solar system, I would recommend a good refractory telescope. For deep sky objects like globular clusters, nebula and galaxies, I would recommend a reflector and get as large a diameter as you can afford. The larger the diameter of a scope the more light gathering power it will have, which is more important than optical power. This is how you will get sharper images and see more detail. As far as being inverted, that doesn’t matter when viewing astronomical objects.

Before buying a telescope, I would recommend finding a local astronomy club and find out when they have star parties. This is the best way to get exposure to several types of telescopes and get a better idea of what you want. The club that I belong to also has club scopes that you can borrow for a while if you become a member.

I also recommend starting out with a good pair of binoculars for learning your way around the stars. I just picked up a pair that I think are very good for the money.

You can also read more about telescopes in this thread from our resident expert.

Good luck and clear skies.

posted on Oct, 28 2006 @ 01:18 PM
Hi there,

Sorry for short reply to this question,

The key is buy a good scope is to get one with as big an aperture as you can afford.

Also get one with gps tracking!!!

First issue is always learning to find an object to focus on, with gps tracking the scope will know where it is and auto track objects.


all the best,

keep looking up!!

NeoN HaZe

[edit on 28-10-2006 by Neon Haze]

posted on Oct, 28 2006 @ 02:01 PM
I certainly reccomend going along to a star party or finding someone with a telescope to look through before spending a lot of money.

A lot of people don't really know what to expect out of a telescope - if you are expecting really clear images of Saturns Rings and Jupiter / Galaxies - prepare to be dissapointed as the images you will see are very subtle and take time to appreciate. The more you look the more you will see.

The quality of the image is also dependent on the atmospheric conditions - even on a perfectly clear night the images you see may seem blurred due to air currents.

I have spent hours looking for and then looking at a faint blur that was supposed to be Saturn and getting quite annoyed at first but then suddenly, just for a couple of seconds the image became really clear and it all seemed worth it. It was still nothing like thepictures you see in magazines though.

Definately get a telescope with GOTO capability as the frustration of spending hours looking for various things can get very frustrating but at the same time makes you feel good when you finally find it - for about 5 minutes before the rain starts !

In the end it depends if you are serious about spending hours in the garden developing your skills or would rather get out and set up quickly without all the hassle and type in the co-ordinates....I wish I had spent a bit more money and got a better telescope as I lost interest after a few nights out in the cold.

posted on Oct, 28 2006 @ 11:05 PM
I'd recommend not buying a scope off Ebay unless its your only option. I'd also recommend at least a 115mm primary mirror in a reflector (the two you've listed are both 75mm). You are going to lose some light gathering ability due to the scope's central obstruction (the secondary mirror), as well as the coatings on the mirrors and eyepieces. As a result, that 75mm reflector is actually only equivalent to about 50mm of clear, unobstructed objective.

So, a 115mm reflector or 80mm refractor would be the absolute bare minimum I'd recommend. Bigger is better in all but two cases. For one, if you plan on observing in an area of significant light pollution, a larger objective may prove more a hindrance than an advantage. The other case is if you plan on doing a lot of very wide-field, low power observing. It can become difficult to find eyepieces that will drop the magnification into the 10x-20x range with longer focal lengths that come with larger objective lenses and mirrors.

In any case, I would probably go with a dobsonian-mounted reflector from a major manufacturer, if possible. Quality tends to be pretty good, prices pretty cheap. Don't buy a computerized scope the first time around. You'll end up spending more time learning to set the thing up than actually viewing. You'll also learn the night sky much better. It'll also allow you to use your money on a bigger main objective mirror/lens, which is all-important in this hobby.

One note of caution: don't expect the Hubble. I have a 200mm reflector with a pretty good mirror in it. Lunar details are ridiculously good (as in any decent scope). The views of Jupiter and especially Saturn are crisp and with a decent amount of visible detail. There will be no details on the discs of Mercury, Venus, Uranus or Neptune (though the latter two are nice finds since they can't be seen with the unaided eye). Most amateur astronomers will tell you that Mars is the most disappointing object in the night sky. Deep sky details? Some of the Messier objects look fantastic, though they will all appear colorless, unlike the magazine images. However, most of the other thousands of objects within range of our class of telescopes tend to appear as mere smudges, and again, the reward isn't the view so much as simply finding them. It takes a much larger telescope to gather enough light to start seeing some detail and color in the vast majority of deep sky objects.

And finally, expect some cool-down time after you take the scope outside. It usually takes about an hour before mine will reach thermal equilibrium after I take it outside. Until it does, air current within the tube will severely distort the images.

[edit on 28-10-2006 by vor78]

posted on Oct, 29 2006 @ 10:06 PM
Thanks a lot for the info guys!

After I posted this thread I've been doing a bit of reading myself and yes most of the things I've read here in all the replies have been repeated elsewhere in guides to select telescopes:

-don't go cheap on a telescope or you'll lose interest in no time.
-get a dob reflector with at least 4 inches(6 better) dia for the primary.
-don't expect magazine-like images except for lunar stuff (knew that before)
-its like fishing.. you can't expect to catch something in the first fifteen minutes and it totally depends on conditions that day.

I'm not too keen on computerised stuff, and agree with the fact that 'learning the sky' is the way to go..

Also theres the bit abt eyepieces..
from what I've read, it seems that buying the eyepieces is another hurdle..
the general recommendation is getting a 40mm and a 5-12mm.
Anyways thanks for the kickstart again guys, I guess a few hours of reading will give me a better idea

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