So, telescopes.

16 years 11 months ago #636 by tomcosgrave
So, telescopes. was created by tomcosgrave
About the only thing I know for sure is that I want a new one! This is a bit rambly, and long, so apologies in advance.
Any thoughts from veterans would be a great help.

Here's some background -
I have a Helios Explorer 6" Newtonian ( www.telescopehouse.co.uk/product.php?sec...n_id=4&product_id=32 ). It's okay, but not the best. It's not my scope - it's my Dad's, an unwanted gift - he likes the idea of astronomy, but hates the time that it takes! On the other hand, I'm getting into it now - always have been into it, but hadn't decided to put the effort in and make it a hobby till a couple of months ago.

So, I have use of the scope. It's about two years old, and most of that time it's been boxed away down the attic. It's a bit messed up - the optics on it are more or less fine.

This diatribe has been sparked off by the 25mm Plossl falling apart on me last night - I unscrewed the covering cap off the lens and the lens came out in three pieces. I put it back together, but haven't tried it yet, but I bet it's wrecked. There's a 10mm as well (both pieces came with the scope) but that is impossible to find things with especially as the finder scope is all off - the finder bracket is fecked, I think beyond repair - you can put the finder in, but it's very loose, and is off whack with the main scope - this makes it insanely hard to find things, unless you're looking at the moon or, with a fair bit more effort, the Pleiades or Mars. The mount is fine, but is without a motor drive, which is starting to get at me.

Before the 25mm piece fell apart on me last night, I had it in mind to perhaps get soem more eyepieces for it, some filters and cope with this thing until a years time, after which I'd go for a 12 SCT.

But now I've started to wonder if I shouldn't get something small in the next month or so, and then get a bigger scope in the spring of 2004. I've mentioned elsewhere that my folks will be in Uganda and I'll go out to see them - a small scope would be great for that, and also for a trip to New Zealand I have planned for a couple of years time. The 12" SCT can wait - and it's also a fortune to buy. Two smaller scopes would be considerably easier on the wallet!

So, I've been doing some poking around and here's what I came up with. All these links are to Telescope House (BC&F) as their site is the only one in the British Isles that seems to be honest and upfront with prices. While I haven't called Andromeda, they don't seem to have much in the way of selection, just some TALs and Intes scopes. And I honestly don't know if going with Russian scopes is great idea in case something went wrong afterwards. As for the Helios, I might just it for the moon and the sun, when I have other scopes to play with. It might be good for a scope to bring to public nights as well. But I would like to get something more advanced, and move on from it.

Small scopes
--
Orion ShortTube 90mm Rich-Field Refractor - Reviews of this seem to be positive...
www.telescopehouse.co.uk/product.php?sec...n_id=3&product_id=60

Orion ShortTube 80mm Rich-Field Refractor - Smaller version of the 90mm, positive reviews...
www.telescopehouse.co.uk/product.php?sec...n_id=3&product_id=59

Helios - Startravel 80T Rich-Field Refractor - I have my doubts about this one...I've not seen any reviews!
www.telescopehouse.co.uk/subsection.php?...id=1&subsection_id=3

For a mount, I reckon an Orion tabletop EQ mount would do, and I could find a tripod somewhere.

Larger Scopes
--

All of these are Meade LXD55's, as they seem to be good enough scopes, and they're within a decent price range, without skimping, and without going nuts at the same time (I'll leave going nuts for an SCT!)
Thing is though, they're all Meades - anyone got any alternatives? I have to say that I've read a bit about Celestrons, but they really don't seem to be as good, but I could be wrong, and that's where I hope I can get some advice...
As for Dob's they seem to be aimed more at deep sky work, and I would prefer a more general scope. I haven't looked at many.

Meade LXD55 6" Achromatic Refractor - Seems like a good scope, better than my Helios, as there's no obstruction, the mount has electric slow motion controls and it has Autostar.
www.telescopehouse.co.uk/product.php?sec...n_id=3&product_id=43

Meade LXD55 5" Achromatic Refractor - smaller than above, but same setup.
www.telescopehouse.co.uk/product.php?sec...n_id=3&product_id=42

Meade - 10" LXD55 Schmidt Newtonian telescope - Seems decent, has a slow-mo controls and Autostar.
www.telescopehouse.co.uk/product.php?sec...n_id=4&product_id=25

Meade - 8" LXD55 Schmidt Newtonian telescope - Same as the 10".
www.telescopehouse.co.uk/product.php?sec...n_id=4&product_id=24

So, that's about it. I'm sure I'll rant on about eyepieces and filters at some stage ;-) But for now I'd like to be told if my thoughts here are sensible or if I should get a grip and go back to the drawing board.
Thanks a lot in advance - and congrats if you're still reading ;-)

Cheers,
Tom

--
tom cosgrave
this is diopter - www.thisisdiopter.org

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16 years 11 months ago #637 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic Re: So, telescopes.
Tom,
One thing's for sure, deciding on which scope to buy is NOT easy!...believe me! I was in a similar situation last fall. I had a Helios 4.5" reflector and wanted something bigger but had planned on buying something at the end of 2003. Then, hey presto, Meade decided to have an eyepiece offer on virtually all new scopes. Whichever scope you decide to buy make sure you do two things:
1) get it soon
2) get a Meade
Why? Here's a few reasons.
The eyepiece offer is out for almost a year now and is likely to end shortly (I'm amazed it has lasted this long to be honest). It consists of a carry-case and a load of premium-grade eyepieces for less than the price of a single eyepiece (£99 to be exact). This eyepiece offer can save you a FORTUNE in the long run.
Meade are considered to be a good brand (although to be fair, Celestron and Orion are also very good). A small refractor is highly portable but it's small lens will offer much fainter and lower resolution views than those obtainable in your six inch.
Personally, I bought an LX90. I bought this in favour of an LXD55 because I personally dislike using equatorial mounts. I personally find them a real pain in the neck...literally! although I'm sure this doesn't bother most people at all, just my experience with my 4.5" scope. There were also some issues with the stability of the LXD55 mount (this may or may not be resolved now, perhaps someone here knows more on this story).
If you had no plans for travelling I would highly recommend the LX90. I find it to be a very good all-rounder at a reasonable price compared to some of the other SCTs. However, if portability is important, I personally would buy a scope that you can take on board as hand luggage. For this I would recommend the Meade ETX-125EC Maksutov Cassegrain Telescope http://www.telescopehouse.co.uk/product.php?section_id=1&subsection_id=5&product_id=13 .
This scope costs £1050 although if you go through a dealer and say you're a member of an astronomy club they should knock 10% off the price (they did that for me anyway). For an extra £99 you get all the eyepieces that you will ever need, regardless of what scope you get in the future. You also get all the benefits of GOTO, which I personally find very useful. And the scope is very portable.
At the end of the day, it's up to you. I'm sure others will give their recommendations, but if it were me and if portabaility was essential then this is the scope I would go for myself.
Michael

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16 years 11 months ago #638 by tomcosgrave
Replied by tomcosgrave on topic Re: So, telescopes.
Hey Michael,

That eyepiece offer caught my eye alright. You're probably not wrong about it ending soon. I am fairly set on a Meade for a bigger scope anyway, so I'll be availing of the offer if it's still running!

As for the Mak-Cas, I heard the optics on those were not as good as other types of scope, so I hadn't given them much thought.

As for the small 80mm or 90mm refractor, the idea is that it would do me for a couple of months, then I'd go in and grab a bigger and more permanent scope, going back to the small refractor when travelling. When not travelling abroad, I reckon the 6" refractor would be better than the 6" Newt that I have now as there is no obstruction from the mirror. I did list a couple of 5" scopes in my first post...but I don't really think I'd get one - I'd prefer the 6". But in case I suddenly fall short of cash, I wanted some thoughts on the 5" ones in case I had to resort to it ;-)

(edited) A further thought here is that the small 80mm scope would make for an excellent guide scope for when I got something bigger and got into astro photography. With that in mind, it tends to put the idea of a Mak to rest...

Something else that springs to mind is that I really should get to a meet and take a look at some scopes hands on. I can't make it to Birr sadly, so I'll have to give that a miss, but hopefully the IAS (just applied for membership) will organise a session in the Wicklow Mountains soon, or will have a session after a lecture or something.

--
tom cosgrave
this is diopter - www.thisisdiopter.org

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16 years 11 months ago #639 by spculleton
Replied by spculleton on topic Re: So, telescopes.
Tom,
I have a similar experience to Michael's, in that I bought an LX90 last year. I bought mine through Brady opticians in Dublin and paid about EURO 2,000 for it. The exchange rate is a killer! The eyepiece deal wasn't a factor in my decision though, as I didn't find out about the deal until after I ordered the scope. I still qualified for the deal, and now I find that one of my least used eyepieces is the 26mm plossl that came with the LX90.
I would go for a Meade just for the eyepiece deal though, although Celestron have (or maybe had) a good deal on as well. You have a good selection of scopes there and I'm sure you'll find one that suits you. The best advice is shop around, and if possible get a look through a scope before you commit yourself. There's bound to be some observing going on these weekends so someone will help out.
Would I go for the LX90 again? Not if I could afford the LX200! Get the biggest aperture you can afford. You'll only end up wanting it later. How I dream of twelve inches!
Best of luck either way, take your time, check all your options, and you'll get something worthwhile.

Shane Culleton.

Dozo Yoroshiku Onegai Shimasu

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16 years 11 months ago #640 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic Re: So, telescopes.

As for the Mak-Cas, I heard the optics on those were not as good as other types of scope, so I hadn't given them much thought.

I'm a little surprised to hear this...perhaps others can offer an opinion here. I've never owned a Mak-Cas myself so I can't speak from personal experience, but I had always thought they were one of the best optical systems available....mabey I'm incorrect? Anyone able to offer a more educated opinion than mine on the matter? :?
Another option is to get a really good pair of binoculars. Would be relatively cheap and REALLY portable. One site that sells them from small to very big is www.bigbinoculars.com You could get 25x100s and a tripod. Total glass area is almost equal to a 6" scope and 25x is a very nice low power for milky way, star clusters, moon, large nebulae etc... besides, two eyes is always better than one.
Michael

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16 years 11 months ago #641 by gnason
Replied by gnason on topic Re: So, telescopes.

While I haven't called Andromeda, they don't seem to have much in the way of selection, just some TALs and Intes scopes. And I honestly don't know if going with Russian scopes is great idea in case something went wrong afterwards. As for the Helios, I might just it for the moon and the sun, when I have other scopes to play with. It might be good for a scope to bring to public nights as well. But I would like to get something more advanced, and move on from it.


I'm not sure why you're so dismissive of Intes telescopes. Both Intes and Intes Micro make some of the finest optics available, especially the Mak-Newts. Also, they are built like tanks so little if anything ever goes wrong. I've never heard anyone complain of not getting a good service from these manufacturers or their dealers. Anyway, Only Meade and Celestron SCTs/Maks are made in the US - their other scopes come from China as do many other telescopes these days.

Gordon

Gordon

SDAS

Stargazer am I
It seems that I was born
to chart the evening sky

Mark Knopfler - Sailing to Philadelphia

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16 years 11 months ago #642 by gnason
Replied by gnason on topic Re: So, telescopes.
[/quote]I'm a little surprised to hear this...perhaps others can offer an opinion here. I've never owned a Mak-Cas myself so I can't speak from personal experience, but I had always thought they were one of the best optical systems available....mabey I'm incorrect? Anyone able to offer a more educated opinion than mine on the matter?[/quote]

I'm surprised too. Maksutov-Cassegrain optics are usually excellent and in fact provide slightly superior views to Schimdt-Cassegrains (assuming similar aperture) due to a smaller secondary. Of the two types, Schimdt-Cassegrains are preferred for photography as Maksutov-Cassegrains normally have longer focal ratios.


Tom, I would suggest you buy Phil Harrington's book Starware (Third Edition), as this is a great guide to buying optical equipment and accessories.

Gordon

Gordon

SDAS

Stargazer am I
It seems that I was born
to chart the evening sky

Mark Knopfler - Sailing to Philadelphia

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16 years 11 months ago #643 by tomcosgrave
Replied by tomcosgrave on topic Re: So, telescopes.
Thanks for the book tip, Gordon....most of my looking around has been on online, I probably should get a book. I do have the Backyard Astronomers Guide, and that's not bad, but it's only one book.

Looks like I need to do more research!

--
tom cosgrave
this is diopter - www.thisisdiopter.org

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16 years 11 months ago #644 by tomcosgrave
Replied by tomcosgrave on topic Re: So, telescopes.
I'm not sure why you're so dismissive of Intes telescopes.

Well, they're built in Russia, and I guess I'm a little unsure of how well I might be able to get an Intes serviced or replaced if something were to go wrong. Not being dismissive of the scopes themselves, really.

But your words are making me think again - I will take a closer look at them, and TAL as well.

--
tom cosgrave
this is diopter - www.thisisdiopter.org

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16 years 11 months ago #646 by albertw
Replied by albertw on topic From Jimmy Miller
[posting this reply from Jimmy Miller who replied on the IFAS list]

Hi Tom

I am replying to your mail with my Andromeda Optics hat on.

I feel you are being very harsh on Helios based on a scope that has been "
feckled up "( which by the way is the same as Skywatcher, Orion and
Celestron just a different coat of paint ).

I would suggest get the problems sorted out ( should be easy to sort out a
finder ), maybe invest in motor drives ( approx. EUR 150 - EUR 175 for dual
axis for the EQ 3.2 ) and give the scope a real lash before discarding it (
ps. if you are discarding it I will take it off your hands for free ).

Seriously, we are the agents in Ireland for Skywatcher/Helios, Meade etc and
can assure you that the scope you have is a good performer ( apologies for
the website, it hasn't been updated in a while and, point/criticism taken,
needs work to show a more realistic view of what we offer ie. full ranges of
Meade,Skywatcher,Intes, TAL INCLUDING ANY AND ALL ACCESSORIES FOR THE THIS
LIST including any exotic equipment you may wqant to play with ).

But as you say, with the finder not working and a limited set of eyepieces I
would be frustrated too.

OFFER - If you would like us to take a look at the scope and tell you
what ( if anything ) is wrong we would be happy to do so.

As regards smaller more portable. we can suggest the meade ETXs ( especially
the 90 mm - in stock at the moment ) or another option & excellent performer
is the Skywatcher 127mm Maksutov ( also in stock ).

Either way dont get frustrated by a scope that possibly only needs a little
tweeking.

Give us a call if we can do anything for you.

Clearskies

Jimmy
Andromeda Optics

Albert White MSc FRAS
Chairperson, International Dark Sky Association - Irish Section
www.darksky.ie/

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16 years 11 months ago #654 by dave_lillis
Replied by dave_lillis on topic Re: So, telescopes.
Hi All,
All you guys out there with an 8 inch SCT wishing for a 12" need to keep in mind that it is a real monster to carry around, even though its only 4 inches more in aperture, its easily twice the bulk/weight of an LX90.
I'm seriously considering getting an ETX125, just so I can carry it around without chancing a hernia (I got an 12" SCT 3 years ago).

One thing is for sure, there is no way I'm buying it on this side of the atlantic !!!!! :twisted:

Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
Chairman. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor

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16 years 11 months ago #655 by tomcosgrave
Replied by tomcosgrave on topic Re: So, telescopes.
I posted this to the Celestron thread, but thought I better post to the original thread...
After some more research, I'm still looking for a small scope...almost definitely a refractor, hopefully a 90mm (maybe a 100mm - will look at an 80mm if the accessories are really good) and will probably get it in England as it's quite a bit cheaper to do so, and I'll actually be going there at the end of November as well.

But holy crap, deciding what you want to get is a very tough job.

As for the optics on the Mak-Cas that I said weren't as good as others, well, I have a nice slice of humble pie here and it tastes great ;-) Reviews I've seen rate them highly - I probably got confused with something else (spot the rookie!). But I'm learning ;-)

--
tom cosgrave
this is diopter - www.thisisdiopter.org

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