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Astro and moon viewing and photography.


Link Posted 07/02/2014 - 13:56
Would you guys say this is a good first telescope for my children and me to check out the sky and maybe attach a camera?
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Last Edited by Darkmunk on 07/02/2014 - 13:57


Link Posted 07/02/2014 - 15:24
I've read the neg feedback and wouldn't touch it with a barge pole



Link Posted 07/02/2014 - 19:56
I don't know how old the children are, but best viewing is, in my opinion, this time of year making it cold out. Cold kids tend to lose interest quickly. Alignment and vibrations when touching the telescope are likely to be the biggest frustrations you'll encounter so you'll be wanting something that aligns easy and stays aligned.
At over 100x magnification it takes seconds only for the moon to travel through the optical plane.
I can only recommend you look at telescopes with motorised mounts, such as the 'Goto' telescopes which start at around 300 and go from there. Once aligned you can direct the telescope to objects and it'll pick them up and stay there, leaving you only to adjust the focus.
I took the following image earlier with Pentax Q mounted on Nexstar 4se, which was set to track the moon, there was no cropping. The Q is great for the 5.5x crop factor and focus peaking.


Link Posted 07/02/2014 - 20:06
Avoid Seben scopes, the quality is very poor. You would be far better buying a half decent pair of binoculars for 60 if that's as much as you want to spend.

Consider this book as well -

As for attaching a camera, definitely not, just the camera on a tripod would be far better.
Last Edited by Steep on 07/02/2014 - 20:07


Link Posted 07/02/2014 - 22:34
I had a very quick look at the link, and I'm convinced the tripod wouldn't be up to any astronomical use.
In addition the description list loads of magnification powers without referencing the objective size - a sure sign of a low quality scope!

Light gathering power is all to do with the objective size, it's easy to fit a different eyepiece to get more magnification, but if there's not enough light you won't get an improved image. Often half the magnification claimed for cheap scopes is just empty magnification that gives no further detail.

It's possible to pick up reasonable telescopes used via e-bay for ~100 with a bit of patience, at least if you know what to look for. My scope a Celestron 130 with motor driven EQ3 mount was about that and qualifies as a good beginner's scope.

If your budget's less than that I'd certainly second Steep's suggestion of binoculars. Which in many ways are a better buy anyway. The scope needs careful alignment to set it up, and is very heavy too. In 3+ years I've only set it up properly twice. Once at a local star party, and once for photography only to find the cold effected my batteries and they died before I'd got the camera set-up right. (It seems SLRs have difficulty getting close enough for prime focus with most Newtonian scopes)

More recently I have used my scope on a heavy duty video/studio tripod (which cost used as much again as the astro gear) for terrestrial imaging. Which has enabled me to get the camera mounting sorted, and given some reasonable pictures of distant items. - The lifeboat at the far end of the local pier, I don't want any one to think I'm pointing it at their house...
Best results were either Prime focus with a compact system camera, or with low power eyepieces and a basic point & shoot just held at the eyepiece. These work out around 15x-20x magnification, the highest magnification I tried works out about 400x but at f/128 it was severely limited by diffraction and didn't actualy show any more detail.

The scope works reasonably well for photography BUT it's bulk and the hassle of setting up etc make it unlikely to get used much. Binoculars on the other hand can just be grabbed and give you visual observing in seconds. Used from a deckchair they can make for quite comfortable viewing too.
Pentax:K5ii, K7, K100D, DA18-55, DA10-17, DA55-300, DA50-200, F100-300, F50, DA35 AL, 4* M50, 2* M135, Helicoid extension, Tak 300 f4 (& 6 film bodies)
3rd Party: Bigmos (Sigma 150-500mm OS HSM),2* 28mm, 100mm macro, 28-200 zoom, 35-80 zoom, 80-200 zoom, 80-210 zoom, 300mm M42, 600 mirror, 1000-4000 scope, 50mm M42, enlarger lenses, Sony & micro 4/3 cameras with various PK mounts, Zenit E...
Far to many tele-converters, adapters, project parts & extension tubes etc.

.[size=11:].Flickr WPF Panoramio


Link Posted 07/02/2014 - 23:17
Blimey! Thanks guys. I was going round in circles with all the new info on the web. I knew you lot would be able to help.
I may be back with more questions soon!
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Link Posted 08/02/2014 - 11:06
For general sky viewing and looking at the moon I can recommend the Skywatcher 150mm
Dobsonian mounted scope. Its very large and bulky which does sometimes put you off wanting to cart it outside in the cold but it offers a lot of scope for the money. They are about 180-200 new but about 2/3rds of that price for a used one.

The scope itself is 150mm wide which lets lots of light in and you get a couple of eyepieces to start you off. The lower magnification one is 48x which is brilliant for moon viewing.

The Dobsonian mount is very unusual but effective. Basically it is a circular turntable about 15 or 16" across which the scope rests on in a near vertical position but which allows you to alter the angle of the scope. So you rotate the scope until its facing in the right direction which is easy to do then you raise or lower the angle until you are locked on. Once locked on you can lightly tighten the scope in place. With a bit of practice you can follow distant planets like Jupiter or Saturn for 15-20 seconds without too much trouble.

I haven't fitted a camera to mine yet but do intend trying it in the near future. It looks as though it should be good for taking photos of the moon but not the planets. Scope is ideal height for both children and adults to use. If anything its easier on the kids as adults have to bend over a bit more.

Hope this helps.



Link Posted 08/02/2014 - 14:46
Dobsonians are great for ease of use and you often get a bigger scope for your money, the mount is limited in terms of photography though because you can't have a motor.

I have a Celestron Firstscope 4.5" Newtonian, which I've had good success with looking around. It has a German Equatorial mount with a single axis motor and cost about 120 pounds a few years ago. I have also mounted my Slr with a big lens on the same mount. Mounting the DSLR on the telescope itself is unlikely to get good results with a scope this small, you want 6 or 8 inches for that.
you don't have to be mad to post here

but it does help


Link Posted 08/02/2014 - 18:42
+1 for the Dob if you're going buy a scope and the SW 150 is a great place to start. All the money goes on the scope itself rather than fancy mounts and electronics.


Link Posted 08/02/2014 - 21:18
Thanks guys.
So if I get the SW150 optics, umm... Can I mount it on anything, or does it have to be on a specific mount?
I'm certain I'm going to want to photograph the results and i just know I'm not going to be happy with some noisy little sensor
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Link Posted 08/02/2014 - 21:28
It all depends what you want to photograph and how much you want to lug a telescope about. Dobsonians are great for viewing, not so great for lugging about or photographing anything except the Moon.
You can see some of my photos here if you are so inclined


Link Posted 08/02/2014 - 21:48
Darkmunk wrote:
Thanks guys.
So if I get the SW150 optics, umm... Can I mount it on anything, or does it have to be on a specific mount?
I'm certain I'm going to want to photograph the results and i just know I'm not going to be happy with some noisy little sensor

The Skywatcher 150 Dobsonian is a complete scope with a very basic and easy to use turntable base, you don't need to buy anything else, though you will need a bit of room to store it because it doesn't pack away.

I'd honestly forget about imaging through a telescope until you're sure it's something you are going to get into properly, to get consistently good results (like the stuff you can see on the net) you need to spend an awful lot of money. Telescopes fall into two distinct types, visual and imaging, for visual you want a bit of magnification combined with reasonable light gathering. For imaging light gathering is much more important and the glass needs to be much higher quality so it's correspondingly pricier.


Link Posted 09/02/2014 - 09:36
Good advice here re the Dob we have a bigger version and love it. Photo of moon fine but planets a struggle , a Dob is not an 'astrophotographers' scope as it doesn't track well enough.

The 'manual' ones don't track at all.

As well as getting opinions on here checkout 'Stargazers Lounge', it's a great and very friendly forum that has been invaluable for me.
Sharon's: K-x, FA35/2, DA 18-250.Glen's: K10D, DA100 Macro, 55-300, Paragon 500, Silk Pro700 Tripod


Link Posted 09/02/2014 - 10:08
I'll check out the Stargazers, thanks. I suspect I'll be another year figuring out which one to get once I start there tho
Thanks for you help guys, Very useful
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Link Posted 09/02/2014 - 14:08
I'd also recommend Stargazers, it is a friendly place but I'd try searching their forum for similar questions and research some of the replies before posting another newbie 'which telescope' question. The imaging gear they use (scopes, mounts, trackers, cameras, software) is extremely advanced, expensive and requires considerable setup/tuning to achieve the results they get.

As for which gear is suitable, binoculars are far better to start with (something like 10x50s), preferably tripod mounted. Suggested minimum sizes (object lens diameter) for 'scopes have usually been 3" refractors and 6" reflectors but the mount is almost as important. Good imaging requires not just motorised but 'tracking' mounts and precise setups. The current crop of computerised/guided scopes are much more friendly, some offer 'auto-setup' options to simply aligning them as well.

I have an old Tasco 4.5" (115mm) aperture Newtonian with 900mm focal length f/8 which gives reasonable views of the moon, Saturn & Jupiter. With a 20mm eyepiece it shows 45x magnification.

I also have a Tamron 500mm f/8 mirror lens and an old Jessops monocular convertor with a 10mm eyepiece (similar to this but mine's straight not angled:link). This gives 50x magnification with a 500mm lens with comparable image quality when viewing as my Tasco 'scope. The lens can also be used with an O-GPS1 Astrotracer (unlike a Newtonian).

Lastly, before buying a 6" 'scope, check out how big they (and their boxes) really are. I hardly use my 4.5" due to the aggro involved in digging it out and setting it up.

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Last Edited by johnha on 09/02/2014 - 14:09

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