Newbie star gazer

Discussion in 'Astronomy / Star Gazing' started by 4xMeteor, Aug 23, 2014.

  1. 4xMeteor

    4xMeteor Active Member

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    Hey all, the last couple months, we've had a "Astronomy Night" once a month and I've been going and learning. I was out just last night and got to see the ISS go by, straight overhead - was cool.

    Any advice on a beginner scope, a "starter"? I've learned a lot front the monthly get togethers and been researching - so I'm beginning to understand what all the numbers mean, but I know nothing on brands and such.


    Any advice would be appreciated, thats.
     
  2. Raycfe

    Raycfe Waterford Ct.

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    I could never get by the pre-starter stage. On an clear night I would lay in the quiet and dark .................. and fall asleep, just too much goodness around. [SNZ] [SNZ] [SNZ]
     
  3. ghacker

    ghacker Active Member

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    Wow, I could write a book about this, but I'll try to be brief as possible.

    1st, not sure if you're hooked up with a local association or going to some type of educational offering by a local library, school, etc. If there's one near you, I'd suggest you go to a local amateur astronomers assc. I belong to a great one, the Naperville Astronomical Association. Lot's of expert advice, you can get hands-on experience with members equipment, and, if you're lucky, they'll have their own observatory as well as some agreements with relatively nearby landowners for dark sky sites. Another option is to join on on-line forum like Cloudy Nights or Astromart. Both have sections for buying/selling used equipment and a wealth of info. on their forums. JMO, Astromart is THE place for buying/selling, CN for ums have more participation. Both have beginner sections to answer just about any question you can think of.

    What kind of budget did you have in mind? As with almost any hobby, you can spend 100's or 1000's. You REALLY need to educate yourself about all the options/factors involved to get what you want. All kinds of things come into play like type of scope (refractor, reflector, CAT/MAK are the main ones.) focal length, APO vs. ED vs. achromatic (for refractors), equatoral vs alt/az mounts, goto vs. push to, etc. For example, if your interested in wide-field viewing, a shorter focal length scope is likely a better choice. For more magnification and detail, a longer focal length is desireable. Typically, people want the latter but YMMV.

    I'd recommend you buy used equipment. You get a lot more "bang for the buck" and you'll minimize your expenses while you decide if you really want to get into the hobby. I've never had a problem using the sites mentioned above. Sellers/buyers are rated and ratings are pretty accurate.

    Since you just "testing the waters" at this point, you might want to consider getting a set of binoculars. Minimal expense and you'd be able to see some detail on the moon and, at a dark sky site, some star and gobular clusters. Trouble is holding them steady. It helps to lay down on the ground/sit in a chair.

    If you want a bit more, than a small refractor would be a significant upgrade. Refractors advantages are they cool down relatively quickly and as a result provide good viewing faster and have less problems with dew. Also, they are generally an easier setup and more portable. In this case, I'd recommend an 80 or 102mm scope with a manual altazimuth mount. If you find you want more light gathering ability, which translates into "you can see more", then a dobsonian scope is probably the way to go. Definitely get the most bang for the buck but they are bulky and require more setup and cool down time.

    As far as brands, most manufactures have a wide line of equipment from beginer to expert and quality increases accordingly. Celestron and Orion have decent reputations and I've owned both of their equipment. My Dobsonian 10" reflector is an Orion product, has stood the test of time, and has GoTo capability which is a god send for beginners. My 1st refractor scope was a Celestron 80mm and was a good, cheap entry product (Bought at an estate sale, with an alt/az mount for $100.) Achromatic, it had some false color but provided sharp views. Vixen is also a brand you can depend on.

    If you're willing to spend more, find a used Stellarvue, more than Celestron/Orion/Vixen. They're relatively expensive but make a great product and offer very good customer support. I've got an 80 and 102mm, both ED models. Over the years, they've changed their product line and just about abandoned the entry level market. But you may find some of their early "stuff" on the used market.
     
    MikeJ65 likes this.
  4. 4xMeteor

    4xMeteor Active Member

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    Thanks for the info.
    There's been a local guy that's been doing an astronomy night once a month at the library - it's been educational. Sense we are in a small town, there is not a lot of people that show up so I've been able to get some good information. Bummer is we had the last night for the summer - but they want to get together for the eclipse on Oct 8th. Not sure if I can make it do to work [:(]

    He has a 10inch reflector, with a 1200mm FL which has been pretty cool for viewing Saturn. I've been researching and starting to learn more about the various factors, such as FL, Aperture, etc... however, there is a ton more I need to learn. If I start getting into it, then I would probably like to get a reflector - but still in the early stages so nothing set in stone.

    As with anything, I'd like to spend as little as possible. If this takes off, then I could see looking at a couple hundred for a decent scope.

    I've looked online at some scopes, Celestron and Orion ones look pretty nice.

    Again, thanks for the info. I will have to look around for a club.
     
  5. ghacker

    ghacker Active Member

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    For a DOB, $200 (+ shipping) will get you a 6", $3-400 a 8-10" on either of the 2 astro sites I mentioned. But shipping will be a killer. And likely you'll get only 1 eyepiece, if that. Orion is probably your best bet in that price range.

    Don't forget to ck. CL and estate/garage sales. Takes some patience but sometimes you can find a real bargain.
     

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