Skip to comments.Need of Freeper help to buy telescope
Posted on 03/18/2012 3:18:14 PM PDT by w4women
I am looking to buy my husband a telescope for his birthday and would appreciate any guidance from Freeper Friends. I want to spend less than $500 - he is a novice so looking for ease of set-up and use. Thanks in advance!
Ping me if you get some good answers, I like telescopes........
What would he use it for? There’s a big difference between a telescope that would be used for amateur astronomy and one that would be used for terrestrial viewing (bird watching, etc.).
Maybe swampsniper has some thoughts.......
Edmund Scientific is good.
A pair of binoculars would be better at that price point.
I just bought an Orion for my stepfather for XMas. It was over $1k, but one thing I learned is that a lot of scopes these days come with computer/iPad control. Calibrate, and then you can use an app like SkySafari to punch in what you want to look at. Don’t know if motorized scopes are in that price range. Also, auto-tracking is good, it’s amazing how fast objects move and it’s a pain to have to manually adjust the scope as you’re viewing. My 1.5 cents.
Anyone on the APOD list who can assist this nice freeper?
He will use it for astronomy - star and planet gazing. Thanks for all comments so far!
This is perfect for stargazing as well as terrestrial use: http://shop.usa.canon.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_10051_10051_172516_-1
Shop around and you can get it for less than the retail price.
I bought an inexpensive telescope about 10 years ago. It had a lot of features, but the glass was not great. It could show me a lot of things, but never in focus or without distortion.
It got so frustrating that I just gave up the hobby before it was really born. Motor drives and computers and all the gadgets in the world aren’t worth as much as some good glass.
Unfortunately, glass is expensive.
they make several in the $199-$300 range,
but if you can go to $570 this is a great entry/mid level scope that's pretty much all he could ever need/want
Celestron 127mm Computer Controlled Advanced Cassegrain Telescope
"Celestron designed this telescope to be the perfect entry level to mid-level telescope. The Celestron 127mm Computer Controlled Advanced Cassegrain Telescope is designed to give you a sophisticated telescope in an easy to use package. Celestron patented SkyAlign system makes aligning this telescope as easy as looking up into the night sky. Just point the telescope at any three bright objects and you're ready to go. And where are you going? Well, anywhere you want really. The built-in computer has an object database of 4000 space objects. That includes all the planets and popular deep-space celestial bodies, like galaxies and nebulae. You'll se more objects with this telescope in one night than Galileo saw in his lifetime."
The Celestron 127mm Computer Controlled Advanced Cassegrain Telescope
This is a nice scope around $500.
One bit of advice I would give is that the quality of the mount is just as important as the telescope itself. If you can get something with a sturdy equatorial mount that has a computer drive, it would be worth the money you pay for it. In the link above, the equatorial mounts are those where the telescope doesn't sit directly on the tripod but instead is fixed to a small arm with counterweights at the other end. Without getting too complicated ... this arrangement allows the "arm" of the mount to be pointed at a single point in the sky around which the telescope can rotate to maintain its focus on an object as the earth turns.
I'm not sure what the circumstances of this gift are, but is it possible for your husband should be involved in selecting it? I don't want to ruin a surprise gift, but with this kind of thing I'd want him to be comfortable with what he's getting before you spend the $500 on it.
You can see a very good offering of scopes at Orion Telescope and Binocular http://www.telescope.com/
Long focal ratio refractors are the best for planetary viewing, shorter focal ratio reflectors and refractors for deep sky. Whatever you pick out, get a really solid mount. The stuff at Walmart, etc. is junk. A bad mount will spoil any desire to pursue star gazing further. I’d go for a manual mount rather than an automated one. You will learn to locate stuff (not that hard) and it takes time to set up the auto mounts. Also, get a mount with slow motion controls. Not sure if you can squeeze this into $500 but you might come close. Feel free to Freepmail me with any questions. I have about 8 small scopes - all refractors.
$499.00 with free shipping at B&H Photo.
If you’re husband hasn’t first spent a fair amount of time stargazing with the naked eye, then with some 7 x 50 binoculars, a telescope is pretty useless.
If your husband hasn't worked with small telescopes before, he should be prepared to be a bit "disappointed" with what he sees in the sky. Any impressive color images you see in telescope ads don't really look anything like what you see in the sky. Most objects in the night sky are far too distant to show any kind of colors to the human eye, so the photos you see are typically done using a camera setup on the telescope with a motorized mount that allows for extended film exposure to bring all those colors out.
Do you want a refractor or reflector type telescope?
I don’t know enough to know which.
I'd recommend this: http://www.telescope.com/Telescopes/Dobsonian-Telescopes/Classic-Dobsonians/Orion-XT45-Dobsonian-Telescope-amp-Beginner-Barlow-Kit/pc/1/c/12/sc/13/p/27159.uts?refineByCategoryId=13
and also buy a Celstron Skyscout.
The Skyscout is good for learning about what you're looking at, and at least you'll know for sure what that light in the sky IS that you're looking at.
A copy of the book "Turn Left at Orion" would also be good for finding interesting stuff to see in the telescope.
I've spent tens of thousands of dollars over the years on astronomy equipment, and I can honestly say that I get as much enjoyment out of the SkyScout and my smallest telescope as I do out of my most expensive equipment.
Where do you live, urban, suburban, rural? Will you be using it at home or in the field? Do you have a clear field of view? What about light pollution?
Good refractor telescopes are generally pretty expensive, because high quality lenses and coatings cost a lot to manufacture.
I didn't do either of those before buying a telescope, and I didn't find it useless.
I recently bought a 6” dobsonion with extra lenses (worth over $600) for $300 on Craigs list. (about 5 years old - barely used)
You need at least a 4” or 6” to see anything.
check out sky & telescope web pages for general information.
I will use it at a NC beach, great view south and west. Not much city light. No street lights. Thanks!
I am an avid amateur astronomer, and I would recommend for $500 or less, a Meade etx-90, etx-125, or a Celestron Nexstar 4se. These are great entry level go-to telescopes.(they have an electronic drive and database that will find your target for you.) and they have good optics yet compact design. It is easy to spend thousands, even tens of thousands on amateur telescopes. This is a good amateur site for info. http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/ubbthreads.php/Cat/0
There are also links to retailers there. They are hosted by http://www.astronomics.com who usually has some good deals.
Good luck and clear skies.
I don’t know anything about telescopes, but I can recommend checking with BH Camera- once you decide what you’re looking for.
Their website is bhphotovideo.com
We’ve bought 3 Macs from them & AppleCare over the years. They had the best price, great service, & fast (I think free each time) shipping.
These are pretty amazing little scopes for the money. Small and easy to set up too.
The Celestron is slightly larger.
I have two “inexpensive” telescopes that do not do a satisfactory job at all, they set in the basement with a dust cover over them.
I stumbled upon a deal At Gandor Mtn several years ago on PENTAX binoculars, one is a 16x60 pcf v and the other is a 20x60 pcf v. Each was clearance at $99, I purchased both.
I suggest waterproof, fogproof and nitrogen-filled! My above two are not nitrogen filled.
IMO: any astronomical viewing requires a tripod mount to hold the binoculars steady, you will also need an adaptor to attach the binoculars to it.
Point straight - see far
If you really get serious, consider some kind of CCD imaging system. Its more or less the standard when it comes to capturing astro images. But keep a good set of long eye relief (lets you hold your eye back from the eyepiece a comfortable distance) eyepieces for "live" viewing. The neighbors (especially kids) will love that.
You could make a 10” diameter Dobson telescope for about $500 if you wanted to put the time in to construct it.
You may find a local astronomy club in your area, they can also assist you in your selection.
IMHO, this is the best deal you are going to get. 5 inches of aperture and the digital features make this a great deal.
I had the Edmund Astroscan for a number of years, and this can't be beat for ease of use, with almost zero setup time. It is limited in power, though, and I wanted to step up.
I would be wary of the computerized setups. I think you have to go top end to get the real advantage of these. I think it's ironic that so many "beginner scopes" actually require a deft touch to make them work because of the low cost and skimpy construction. I say wary, as I have been wary, and never owned one! So that's just my opinion. To me, part of the fun is learning to spot, and this involves basic knowledge of the sky, so what are you out there for?
That's another caveat. Observing the sky is actually a rather refined enjoyment, and many people are spoiled by the dazzling depeictions they see on TV. This started with Sagan's COSMOS series, but it's just gotten worse since then.
At that price, forget the refractors if you cannot settle for binoculars, because the Wal Mart style thin refracting tubes are not worth it for serious stuff, imo, and the binoculars do a better quicker job to learn the sky.
Get a Newtonian reflector. I prefer Equatorial mounts but Dobsonian mounts are cheaper.
In order of brand quality, imo,
In order of Bang for Buck optics quality:
Newtonian (pure reflector)
Shmidt Cassegrain, Shmidt “Kasuetov” (hybrid reflectors-refractors)
In order of raw quality refractors might be arguably the best for color etc... but they are so much more expensive, it is not worth it, imo.
A big fat light-hugging Newtonian scope makes amateurs so thrilled to see their first deep sky objects like Nebulas, galaxies etc... and all for $500 you get some high quality images.
Motors can be an extra cost. I would not trade glass or quality for a motor, though. I’d rather learn to do it manualy. The thrill is even more then, and motors are not necessarily hassle free to set up and work unless you go serious with photography exposure etc... but that requires much more than $500.
Also get scopes that accept large eyepieces for good eye relief.
Look for one that let’s you see things that are really far away. Try to find one you can use for reading, as well. You might also want to consider a monocle.
Good advice. You need to really do your homework. A bad telescope, like a cheap musical instrument, will be very frustrating. Meade has great scopes, and some are fairly inexpensive, but you can run up the price fairly quickly.
Oh, there are also some online ways to purchase time on telescopes, including some observatory telescopes. You can rent time on the telescope, tell them where you want to look, and they will link the telescope images to you. Here's some links for some:
I would be careful that this is something HE wants and not something that you think is cool.
I have every hobby ever - and my wife got me some junky telescope a few years back. It never gets used.
And I can get interested in anything.
One thing - along a similar axis - that I like doing for fun is celestial navigation with a sextant. Plus - you still need to learn stars etc.
For the Telescope - from the ground up -
1. Base/support/tripod - whatever they call it.
2. Mount - that follows target
3. Computer controller - a must in the modern world. 100X easier.
The chain is only as strong as weakest link.
There are a lot of nice sets of gear - but I have fun with binoculars.
Oh - also - Starry Night software for computer. Can stargaze “from the desktop”. A lot of fun for about $20. Put it on a laptop, go out in the woods/country, and pretend you have a telescope.
With that and a sextant - you are approaching guy-geek nirvana.