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mesaba
2003-Jun-18, 01:13 PM
I've watched the stars and moons and planets my entire life and it's time for me to get a telescope to bring them closer. Is there a specific telescope that somebody could recommend? I guess I'd like to see planets, comets, far off things, Saturn's rings, the moon's craters, the canal system build by the Martians ;) etc.

Although I've been watching the sky my whole life I'd still consider myself a very eager novice.

It would be neat if I could take pictures with it as well with my digital camera but that's not really a big deal.

Thanks!
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SkyEyeGuy
2003-Jun-18, 02:16 PM
Okay. You'd like a scope, preferably one which will allow you to dabble in astrophotography. That leads me to ask two questions of you:

1) Is your observing site nearby -- i.e., will you be transporting the scope into your backyard, by hand, or will you be lugging it out into the country via car?

2) I know, it's rude to ask, but what's your budget? $500 USD? More? Less? How much more or less?

Since you want to do some astrophotography, that pretty much rules out a Dobsonian mount, which can't track (yeah, I know you can build tracking platforms for a Dobs, but that's another ball of wax entirely). So you'll need an equatorial mount, hopefully a motorized one.

Reflector? Refractor? SCT? Again, that's a function of budget, size, and intent. I'm a Newtonian man myself -- big mirrors, big fun. But I observe from my backyard, I don't do photography, so a big heavy Dobs is fine. I wouldn't want to wrestle the whole works in a car, bump around the countryside, haul it all out, re-collimate, and then reverse the process (sans collimation) to go home.

I've managed, thus far, to avoid answering your question entirely. Let me make one specific poiunt, though. Those 3" reflectors and 60 mm refractors you've seen in your local department super store? The ones that scream "675x magnification!" all over the box?

DO NOT BUY ONE. The optics are inferior. The mounts are useless. DO NOT BUY ONE.

I'd suggest Orion, if that's okay with our host. Excellent scopes, at reasonable prices.

Check out the other threads in this topic, too -- the one titled "Can someone answer a question" or something similar to that, started by Maggie, contains some good advice. So does the telescope FAQ on the Bad Astronomer homepage, and the FAQ on the Orion homepage.

Hope some of this helps.