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nickoli

Backyard telescopes

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Posted (edited)

Anyone care to give some advice or pointers on buying a personal use backyard telescope? I just bought one off ebay a meade ds-114at but feel I'll want more, I bought this one to wet my feet so to speak and it was cheap enough if it doesnt pan out at least I can give it to the kids to learn and play with. I'm looking for pointers and suggestions I'll probably want more than average but then again I really dont know alot about any of them. I've been looking at 8" and 10" models thinking this will be enough to satisfy me but I'm the curious type and I can see this like all my other hobbies getting quickly out of hand. I really dont care for the didgital self propelled types as I'm sure I can find enough on my own to keep me interested. I appreciate all the help given on this subject thank you. btw I did see a decomissioned ex military telescope for sale on ebay for $175,000 sorry no link,this is a little more than I need but I thought it may be of interest. Seems they used it to track icbm test launches!

Edited by nickoli

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If you are going to get into the more serious aspects of astronomy the digital self propelled stuff can come in very handy. The goto functions on those systems are great time saving devices and incrase the time you can spend observing in relation to the time spent actually looking for the object.

What sort of telescope you should go for really depends on what your interest is, what your budget is and (to a certain extent) where you live.

If you are interested in observing planets then a good refractor is traditionally preferred over a reflector. If you are interested in deep sky objects then the you want the biggest aperture reflector you can afford. There are other issues yon need to consider. Do you need portability? Is the telescope going to be permanently mounted or will it be packed up and put away after a session? Are you likely to want to move the telescope out of town every now and again? (If you live in or near a city this is a consideration as you may wish to move the telescope to a site with darker skies). Are you likely to want to get involved in astrophotography? If the answer to this is yes then the accuracy of the drive mechanism needs to be considered.

I suggest you read the periodicals Sky & Telescope and Astronomy as these will have lots of details about the variety of telescopes on offer. I would also suggest you contact your local astronomy club. The members will be real enthusiasts and you will almost certainly find someone who is only too happy to offer you advice.

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Posted (edited)

I've been looking at 8" and 10" models thinking this will be enough to satisfy me but I'm the curious type and I can see this like all my other hobbies getting quickly out of hand.

If you want something relatively large but don't want to spend a huge amount of money you might want to look at one of the amateur astronomer's best friends, a Dobsonian reflector. You can get a large aperture Dobsonian with excellent optics for a few hundred dollars. They have very simple mounts and they're easy to use. I get the sense you don't mind a more rustic sort of scope, instead of the more polished goto designs. On the other hand, if you anticipate your interest dying out in the near future, you might not want to get a big light bucket but rather something more manageable--a more "I'll use it once in a while" sort of scope.

Edited by Startraveler

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Posted (edited)

Thank you both Waspie and Startraveler I recieved my cheapy ebay version today and as I expected it has some mount problems, ie someone moved it manually without the electronics hooked up I suspect and there is at least some worm gear damage. It only took a few moments to figure this out but for the money $75 I may try and buy replacement parts. I'll at least (once the sky clears) be able to use it a little and see if it'll be appropiate for what I want but I believe it'll not be near powerful enough to satisfy me. Guess I'll have to sell off one of the hotrods and limber up the credit card to play this game,gas is too expensive anyway to justify driving these old trucks and cars. I'll look into these dobsonian reflector telescopes but what I of course want is what everybody wants, I want hubble in the back yard lol. Really what can one expect from a hobbiest scope? Is it like ham gear the more you spend the further you talk or the old dollar a watt theory? I wont be able to permantly mount and I'll have to be able to transport in and out so size will be an issue but I also want good sharp images I think an 8" or 10" will be as big as will be feasable for the time being. The one I got today is a 4.5 and I wasn't real impressed with with Venus tonight although it is somewhat overcast and I soon lost it due to cloud cover,I am fortunant to have a dark yard out of town so my yard should prove adequate during most nights with trips to the farm country on week-end nights during optimum conditions and weather.

Edited by nickoli

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