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I need some telescope advice.

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posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 03:52 AM
Well after 3 years of studying astronomy, I will finally be able to buy a telescope here in the next couple weeks but I literally know almost nothing about telescopes.

I plan on spending anywhere from 300-500$ on the telescope itself, a set of lenses and possibly anything else that is suggested to me. I'm majoring in astrophysics so the telescope will be put to much use.

My question is what kind of telescope should I look for? Refracting or reflecting? If I wanted to take pictures in the future is it wise to maybe think ahead now? I don't know how exactly cameras are attached but my girlfriend owns a few that are capable of awesome pictures and I would like to use those in the future. Aside from a set of lenses, are there any other little accessories I might want to pick up?

Any help would be appreciated. If anyone has any specific telescopes in mind please let me know the model and company.


posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 04:18 AM
Def can help you here. im 35, been into astronomy since i was 11. Got my first telescope when i was 13, a celestron 4.5 inch reflector.
Well, do research before buying anything! And know what you want, but it can become an expensive hobby, mostly in eyepieces.
A refractor, gives the clearest views, but you wont find them over 5 inches, and their notoriously expensive for what your getting.
A reflector, yuor best bet, big and bulky, give you the closest powerful views, hence forth thier known as 'light buckets'. Youget way more per aperture compared to refractors. Most are dobsonian mounted, meaing thier in a base that turns 360 degrees. You can refit them to use 2 inch eyepieces instead of 1.25 inch. They will without question give you yuor bang for yuor buck. The downside is, their unpractical to put on any kind of mount, since they still come in longish tubes, theymsot liekly will be usntable, unless you invest a few grand in a sturdy base.
Then, commonly are cassegrains. Yup thier a few thousand, but are typicaly fork mounted and do track objects across the sky secifically for photography. An example would be like Mead schmiddt cassegrains. But hey go for $900 and up used* $1,400 brand new,a nd thats jsut for an 8 inch. Refractors take the incoming objects light, and project it right through the eyepice. Reflectors bounce the light image off a primary mirror, off a 2ndary mirror, then into the eyepice.
cassigrains, on front lens, have a black ring, thats its 2ndary mirror, which is manufactured on the outside of the lens, so its just a slight drop in percentage of light, the light is bounced back and forth 3 times inside the tube before it gets tot he eyepice. but at least thier sturdy on forkmounts.
eyepices, arnt that bad, but Naglers are viewed as the best eyepices available.but be prepaired to spend major $$$ on one..typically they go for $240 and up! really, you can go to or, and find a 5 or 6 elemnt eyepiece for $30 or $40 and up. remember, the lower the mm numbered eyepice, the more detail and closer the object will be..the higher the mm number the farther away it kinda appears, thier wide feild eyepices, meaning thier used to observe objects over a wide area. their are some with exit pupil holes, so yuo dont strain the hell out of your eye, cost a bit mor, but well worth it for any astornomer.
MY advice...go to or thiers also discovery
remember also, the bigger the scope the more yuo will see. DOnot expect too see all those bight reds, oranges, yellows, blues with galaxys, nebulas ect. even witht he largest telescopes on earth! thiers almost no color. The only way yuo will get color, is tracking the object through the ky, and letting its light build up on film. nowadays, their portable PC, software linked up to it. The only real colors you will see, are on the planets. an 8 inch reflfector will show much more detail than a 4 inch refractor. for a backyard scope, anyting over 12.5 inches is considered impractical, because of atmospheric dustrbaces. Mead has a starfinder 16 inch scope, whcih used to come on a mount, but it was very very weak, and often counted suport the weight of the scope, so thats why yuo will only find them in dobsonian models. its just too big and heavy, unless you have a small backyard observatory you made the fine.
for cameras, i never got into it, but read tons. most traditional astrophotographers, liek to use an old model camera not found anymore..a 35mm with a T fitting on the eyepice, and a thumb click device to the camera, allowing the shutter to stay open as long as yuo like. all cameras today ars SLR's..the shutter will only stay open for 7 to 15 seconds, when maybe yuo need 35 minutes or more. they cannot perfrom that.
thats where digital cameras come in and portable laptops. you take a serious of phtos on it, stacking up the images over and over again to get one image. yuode have to read more on that, it is expensive, but its where astrophotography has been placed to date.
good luck in yuor journeys and findings! and hope my info has helped. as a famous tv guy in 80's about astornomy said... 'keep looking up'

posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 04:29 AM
before i forget!!! NEVER under any circumstances, point any binoculars or teelscope at the sun, unless you have a solar filter placed over the front, otherwise you most likely will damage the primary lens from its heat alone, as well as your retinas in yuor eyes*
for certain nebulae, you are going to require special filters for the wavelength fo light thier in. PLanetary nebulaes typically require an O III fitler (oxygen III). thier greenish and block out i think its the red wavelengths of light. our human eyes are not sensitive enough to detect them without use of them. H alpha filter(hydrogen alpha filters) are for dark red bebuals like the horsehead nebula. You can get a skyglow fitler which is kinda in the middle and affordable. an h alpha and O III fitler typically go for about $100 each. they simply thread over the eyepice.
again on aperature* get something like a 6 inch scope starting or 8 would be better. give you an idea..a 6 inch reflector is the beginning aperature to show you jupiters great red spot, atmospheric detail; the times they show up on saturn, dust storms and detail on mars, as well as its polar caps. its always been difficlut to view mercury and its phases. Youde need a 36 inch scope too see any kind of crater detail IF allowable due to atmospheric conditons, and that is RARE in astronomical history. uranus and neptune will both simply yeild blue greenballs.
I like the maps form sky& telescope, and used to be a memebr of the astronomical society of the pacific. You cn buy very detailed star books, that will help yuo starr hop and guide yuor way around the heavens to find things. Norton was another very detailed starbook.

posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 04:31 AM
reply to post by ziggy1706

I was told to look at Orion telescopes by someone else not to long ago. I believe the exact telescope was around 300 bucks but can't remember the model. I would really like to spend somewhere around 300-400 on the scope and then somewhere around 200 on lenses and accessories. I'm trying to avoid any type of motorized, "do the work for you" telescopes because I want the fun of searching and finding. Thank you for that though. I wasn't expecting to find such a detailed explanation so late/early.

posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 05:03 AM
your welcome
faovrite hobby of mine so i tend to jibber jab alot when on the subject.
yeah, in my online fidnings, orion and celestron telescopes will bea s good as it gets, so check thier catalogue or online store out. and stay away from store brand stuff. its nothing but less than kalieko- toy garbage.
meads will be the the next msot expensive scopes, but be warned they ca be pricey* any other manufafturer , get your check book out$$$

posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 05:38 AM
I believe that is the telescope someone recommended to me a while back. Would that telescope with the eyepiece kit be worthy? Could you by chance estimate what I might be able to see with that combo? I am trying to stay in this range the scope is $330 and the lens set is 120$.

Orion AstroView 90 Equatorial Refractor Telescope with the Celestron 1.25in. Eyepiece and Filter Accessory Kit.

If no, could you maybe suggest a few specific scopes between 300and 500 at the most and also a set of lenses or a particular lens.

posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 05:40 AM
I have a Meade ETX seriex (ETX-60) and it has auto track and a database of 30,000 celestial objects. I got it for around $250 a couple of years ago. It was actually a gift to me, but that is what the price was said to be then. Here is a page from Meade of their products and the ETX does accept a camera. I plan on hooking up a digital camera and use it with my laptop to get photos.

The ETX Series is on that page, and there is a lot of information on the site as to accessories and everything. They have some very expensive professional scopes that are amazing.

posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 05:58 AM
Here is an ETX-80AT-TC for $244

[edit on 13/4/10 by spirit_horse]

posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 06:06 AM
Its worth getting info from starry nights or star gazers lounge..... however, much of the advice will go along the lines of:

- Avoid eBay toy makes (you can buy a branded make of eBay just fine)
- Spend as much as you can afford!
- If you can visit a shop (astro shop) then do so
- Even better, if you can go along to a star party then you will walk away much, much happier with your decision
- Will you be observing only or do you want to do astrophotography. This makes a massive difference to what scope and mount you choose.
- The mount is just as important as the telescope!
- The eye pieces are just as important as the telescope!
- Aperture is king.

Modular is a good way to go so you can upgrade bit as you can afford. It does mean it takes longer to get a good setup but also means you don't have to keep starting again....

Bang-for-Buck orion are great and so are Skywatcher

William Optics APO are great if you want to go the modular (astrophotography) route....


posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 01:14 PM
My astronomy professor told me last semester, that when buying a telescope, never ever ever buy it through a retail store, always buy through the dealer so you don't have to deal with retail markups. Also, since refracting telescopes are expensive, you can get a reflecting telescope with a mirror about twice the size of the lens on a refractor

posted on Apr, 13 2010 @ 09:59 PM
There are plenty of places to read online about the various types of telescopes and their pros/cons. I will just suggest a single starting scope, lense and a bag for it.

Comes to about $500 and is everything you need except a star chart and a car to go stargazing.

Astrophotography is an expensive endeavor. Don't worry about that for now. Just enjoy looking at the stars and learning where everything is. No need to ruin a good view by trying to photograph it just yet. Get a solid small scope, a good bag and get outside and start looking around.

[edit on 13-4-2010 by garritynet]

posted on Apr, 14 2010 @ 10:18 AM
Orion 10 to 15 inch Dobsonian. They are huge, but it's definitely the best bang for your buck, especially if you only want to pay under $1k.

Orion Telescopes > Celestron Telescopes simply because Orion has higher quality mirrors.

What to look for in a telescope:

Aperture: This is the diameter of the telescope itself. This is probably the most important aspect of a scope. The wider it is, the more light it can gather, the more light it can gather, the brighter deep space objects appear. I doubt you will be able to see much of anything deep space with a 4.5 (that was suggested previously). You will get beautiful images from a dobs or wide cassegrain though.

Focal Length: The longer the distance from objective mirror to secondary mirror the greater your magnification X. Just remember that magnification will really only help you when viewing planets. For deep space it's all about Aperture (and quality mirrors).

Plossls: A Plossl is an eyepiece. Although when you buy a scope they are already included, you can find much better quality plossls (or binoviewers which are essentially binocular eye pieces) in sets or alone online. Yes better eye pieces make a big difference.

You will also want to buy a collimator. This will "sight in" your scope so the images appear clear. This is important as transportation of your scope and the process of shipping knocks the scope around. It will help you make sure the mirrors line up.

Any other questions?

(you may also want to get a solar filter eventually. Watch the sun in real time)

[edit on 14-4-2010 by DaMod]

[edit on 14-4-2010 by DaMod]

posted on Apr, 14 2010 @ 10:33 AM
reply to post by garritynet

Yeah, they do make camera plossls now. I think 10 mp is only like 150 bucks and they hook up to the USB in your laptop.

No longer an expensive endeavor.

That's a nice Orion you pointed him to btw. I would totally go for the XT10 though. Just a tad more expensive but a lot more light gathering ability.

[edit on 14-4-2010 by DaMod]

posted on Apr, 14 2010 @ 09:10 PM
reply to post by DaMod

True but the xt10 would take his entire budget. He can see a lot with the Xt8. Unless he uses it everyday it would be years before he really needs to see further out.

posted on Apr, 15 2010 @ 03:16 AM
reply to post by seangkt

Being in astrophysics I'm kind of suprised you didn't take a course in optics yet...Anyway, lots of good advice all around thus far, here's mine:

Don't buy a brand-spanking-new telescope if you're on a budget. A 20 year old 'scope should do you just fine.

Buy a REFLECTING 'scope, refracting uses lenses which are small, reflecting uses large mirrors to focus a lot of light into a little point.

For astrophotography, your best bet is CCD camera for beautiful pictures. Just about any camera you can hold still is good for unexciting pictures. I have lots of pictures of Jupiter and the moon with a $200 digital refurb camera.

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