• We invite you to join UKWorkshop.
    Members can turn off viewing Ads!

Telescopes

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

doctor Bob

Established Member
Joined
22 Jun 2011
Messages
4,900
Reaction score
1,495
Location
Matching Green
Hi,
I'm looking to get a telescope. In the past I have had the £150 ones which did a job but not great. I now have a great building to do some sky gazing. I have a budget up to about £400 for telescope and tripod. Anyone able to point me in the right direction. I will use it randomly to look at the night sky, can't see me wanting to track stuff, take pictures etc.
 

powertools

Established Member
Joined
7 Jun 2011
Messages
1,807
Reaction score
161
Location
Bedfordshire
"Anyone able to point me in the right direction."

I think you have to point the telescope in the right direction.
 

Jameshow

Established Member
Joined
4 Oct 2020
Messages
1,560
Reaction score
720
Location
Bradford
"Anyone able to point me in the right direction."

I think you have to point the telescope in the right direction.
As well as take the lense cap off....!

George Clarke is making an Observatory and visits Chile...

Cheers James
 

baldkev

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2020
Messages
738
Reaction score
324
Location
devon
I guess you'll get a lot more for your money 2nd hand.... i have no experience with telescopes, but maybe search for around the 1k range on google and the ebay then models found?

Edit for spelling 😔
 

rwillett

Established Member
Joined
6 Nov 2016
Messages
65
Reaction score
88
Location
North Yorkshire, UK
@doctor Bob

I have a few telescopes and a few mounts to go with them. I also used to teach and do viewings at the Greenwich Observatory so have some idea of what is out there.

1. Astronomy is fun and you can do it cheaply.

2. Once you really enjoy it, you can also spend a lot of money :) You think buying tools is expensive, wait until you see the price of astronomical glass :)

3. Start small. You can do an awful lot with a pair of ordinary (and decent) binoculars costing £50 new. Lower magnification is probably better than a pair of 20x80 binos that you can hardly hold. Since you are on this board, build a parallelogram to hold the binos up. (parallelogram binocular mount plans - Google Search)

4. The mount you use is just as important as the telescope. Do not put a larger telescope on a small and unstable mount. All you will see is wobbly stars and planets. If tou can build a simple wooden tripod to help, thats great. This is one of the two main problems buying a scope.

5. The first main problem buying a scope is there is so much garbage out there. Look on eBay and you will see hundreds of ads for 'professional' telescopes, with oustanding magnifications. That's complete b0ll0cks. The mounts are junk, the lenses are plastic or cheap glass, they have very long tubes (focal length) to get rid of chromatic aberation (distortion and false colour around objects). Theoretically you can get 800x magnification but the result is so dim and out of focus that it's pointless.

6. Avoid anything with the name Tasco, just about anything with the word professional in. The best telescopes do not advertise themselves like that. Anything with a kid pointing at the stars or moon. Anything with a mount that has a half circle mounting ring under the telescope. Anything that advertises something like 675x magnifcation. Anything with the word Kid in the title, In fact ignore just about all of the eBay stuff unless they have the following names, Celestron, Meade, Televue, Takahashi (look at their prices and wince), Skywatcher, Altair, Williams Optics, TAL (Russian telescopes, built like a T34 tank and remarkably good value, though a little dated). Also the cheap Celestron and Meade stuff is pretty rubbish. made down to a price.

7. Avoid astrophotography unless you have deep wallets and love suffering, frustration and downright pain. Ask me how I know!

8. The Dobsonian telescopes are probably the best entry level scopes. These are reflectors rather than a refractor, so they have a mirror at the bottom of the tube and a small mirror at the top. They use a very simple gun turret type base which is great for quick viewing and setup. The alternative to the gun turret or alt-az mounts are called equatorial mounts. These need to be setup very carefully, point a fraction off Polaris, be perfectly level and then you can track the stars with a simple motor. However they are very, very tricky to get setup right, we're talking about perhaps one - two degrees of turning of a screw in two dimensions and perhaps less. I wouldn't advise an equatorial mount as your first mount.

9. Aperture costs money, aperture on a refractor costs a lot of money, the cost goes up as the square of the radius of the aperture and then sometimes by the cube for the big telescopes. Costs for a reflector are fairly linear as making a mirror is a lot easier than configuring 2-3 bits of glass.

Something like this


is way under your budget and this allows you to buy eye pieces. Reputable brand, decent aperture at 200mm, simple to use as you point and look, then nudge, look, nudge and look. You will get very good views of Saturn, Jupiter and their moons. You'll see Messier objects (these are clusters of light).

One of these though


will probably drive you up the wall. Good telescope tube as all it is a tube, two mirrors, two bits of plastic to hold the mirrors and a focuser, However the mount is junk, the motor is rubbish and it'll just wobble. The Dobsonian would be a far better buy.

You can of course buy a refractor telescope, these would be the ones most people think of. The cheap ones are rubbish e.g.


The decent brands are excellent but you get a lot less aperture (light gathering) for the money. This one is an exellent bundle but it's 'only' 73mm of aperture vs 200mm for the reflector.


I have the smaller brother of the above, a Williams Optic ZS61mm for Astrophography and it's superb but that;s all I use it for. You have to add in a mount for most of them, a decent Alt-Az mount is £150+. Something like this


So if I had £400, what would I get? Check out this page


I'd probably look for a new (Dobsonians | First Light Optics) or just second hand Dobsonian telescope. You will probably need a laser collimator to check the alignment of the mirror if it's second hand, but thats a nother subject altogether.

If you fancied a refractor, then open your wallet and just don't look at the prices :)

e.g.

and see if you can get a decent alt-az mount for circa £200 which shouldn't be a problem.

If you have any questions, just ask :)

Rob

My scopes
TMB 100mm F8 Refractor - Visual use mainly. Superb scope for planets. This will be buried with me when I go.
Borg 76mm refractor, travel scope. Fantastic modular scope.
William Optics 61mm refractor - Dedicated for astrophotography
Lunt Solar Scope 60mm
Home made 9" Dobsonian reflector - Brilliant for demos and Saturn, the moon and planets
EQ6-Pro mount - Far too big and heavy
Giro II Alt-Az - Grab and go mount
EQ1 mount - Brought to find out how rubbish it is and it is.
Too many eye pieces to count.
 
Last edited:

Tris

What am I doing here?
Joined
28 Nov 2018
Messages
362
Reaction score
163
Location
Moreton in marsh
We have the skywatcher 200 as mentioned above, add a couple of good eyepieces and it's a good piece of kit. One thing I have found though is it's flippin heavy if you have to carry it out of wherever you store it. Your back will thank you for a little trolley to roll it out on.
All we need now is some clear sky.
 

DiyAddict

Established Member
Joined
30 Oct 2019
Messages
29
Reaction score
9
Location
Lydney
I started to reply but then rwillet posted and has covered pretty much everything. The only thing I would add is to manage your expectations. Looking directly, you will not see anything like the amazing photos that amateurs are able to achieve with long-exposure, rigid, tracked setups. You haven't really stated your expectations, or what sort of celestial objects you are most interested in. If you haven't really decided yet, then I would strongly urge you to join a skywatch with a local astronomy club, so you can see directly what various models are capable of before shelling out your hard-earned.
 

rwillett

Established Member
Joined
6 Nov 2016
Messages
65
Reaction score
88
Location
North Yorkshire, UK
@DiyAddict is spot on. 99.9% of astronomers will be more than happy to help, demonstrate and advise you.

find a local club and ask. That costs nothing. You might also find a club member looking to sell their kit. Buying used from somebody who knows what they are doing and you can talk to is always best.

there are other places that buy and sell apart from eBay. Uk astronomy buy and sell as well as stargazerslounge. The latter has made it a lot more difficult to buy and sell to avoid scammers which is understandable.

If in doubt ask.

rob
 

hairy

Established Member
UKW Supporter
Joined
16 Nov 2017
Messages
144
Reaction score
62
Location
Ecosse
I discovered recently the amazing images you can see of the sun, but hadn't realised that those telescopes are something entirely different and only for doing that one thing.
 

rwillett

Established Member
Joined
6 Nov 2016
Messages
65
Reaction score
88
Location
North Yorkshire, UK
@hairy

You can use an ordinary telescope for solar viewing. However you need some additional kit to make it safe, otherwise you will burn a hole through your eyeball and possibly through your brain :)

All telescopes gather light and bring it to a focal point so your eye can see it, basically they are light buckets collecting as much light as possible so we can see it. The issue with solar viewing is not too little light, but rather quite a large excess of light (and therefore energy).

You can look at the sun using:

1. A special Mylar filter that fits on the front of your scope and reflects 99.999% of the light. Celestron Eclipsmart Solar Filter - 8" SCT / Edge HD. Always check them by reflecting the output to a white sheet in case there is a microscopic pin prick in the film.

2. Use a Herschel wedge (Lunt White Light Herschel/Solar Wedge | First Light Optics). This takes out all of the heat and energy out of the system. I've never used one so can't comment.

3. Get a solar telescope designed for looking at the Sun. e.g. LUNT LS60MT/C Multipurpose Telescope OTA without Blocking Filter | First Light Optics Not cheap but probably the best way to look and image the Sun. I have a Lunt 60mm solar scope for sale if you want one :)

Rob
 

rwillett

Established Member
Joined
6 Nov 2016
Messages
65
Reaction score
88
Location
North Yorkshire, UK
@doctor Bob

It costs nothing to ask questions but it might save you from making an expensive mistake. You can pick up bargains on eBay but you have to look. You might be better finding a local astronomy club and turn up. I can't imagine for a second that they won't welcome you.

One other thing to be aware of, as you get older, your eye pupils are not as good. You don't get the same pupil sizes you do when young, this can restrict the type of eyepiece you can use, so another good reason to look at a local club and try before you buy. I had a mountain bike accident two years ago and that severely damaged my right eye, thanks to the brilliant surgeons at St Pauls Eye Clinic in Liverpool, they saved my sight. However I have now started culling back my eye pieces and telescopes and focussing (bad pun intended) on astrophotography and electronic imaging.

All the best

Rob
 

Inspector

Nyuck, Nyuck, Nyuck!
Joined
18 Jun 2006
Messages
2,649
Reaction score
764
Location
Saskatoon, SK., Canada
Does an open frame Dobson verses a solid tube version have any advantages/disadvantages? I'm curious about stray light from cars (live by a highway), structures nearby or dust blowing in them ( it's the prairies after all). Thanks.

Pete
 

shed9

establiSHED member
Joined
3 Nov 2013
Messages
1,800
Reaction score
295
Location
In a forest in Wales
I'm early into astronomy, I'm in the middle of setting up a Pulsar Dome and a separate Roll On Roll Off roof metal shed. I suspect rwillett has pretty much covered it all. Things I would add from my own experience;

1. I agree with starting small and although you already have access to a £150 scope and possibly beyond that starting phase, I'd still agree with going back to that position. Get a good star map and learn the sky (if you haven't already). Some half decent astronomy binoculars will have the appropriate tripod mount adapter.
2. Spend more on your mount than the scope. Look to do a bit of DIY to improve that mount, even straight from the factory they are generally better if you remove the supplied grease and put some decent lithium in there. If astro photography is on the cards, then get an Equatorial mount over an Alt-Azimuth. You can use an Alt-Azimuth (with extra kit), you just might find it easier with an Equatorial. I share the concerns, it can be road of regret but that depends on how far you want to go. Personally I think a GOTO mount is the way forward but this will blow the budget out on the mount alone. Be aware of payload weight.
3. As above, if astrophotography is something you want to consider then this dictates what type of scope you get. Some scope arrangements are better than others.
4. Don't get hung up on magnification, it's more about capturing light than how far you can push the optics.
5. Don't forget all the other costs; power supply (if you go the GOTO route), guide scope, eyepieces, barlow lens, collimator, relevant adapters (camera, etc), filters, etc, etc.
6. I agree that a Dobsonian is probably best bang for buck, I'd personally be looking at an 8" Sky Watcher or possibly an 8" Bresser as a minimum. A decent Newtonian should not be discounted (although its just a Dobsonian in a more traditional shape). Just be aware of the collimation aspect of it (look at Cheshire collimators as well as laser).
7. Buy from a real telescope shop (Rother Valley, First Light Optics, etc). Avoid the Amazons and similar outlets. Similar to a good tool shop, a good optics shop will help you with your purchase beyond the purchase.
8. Think about a pier as an alternative to a tripod, you mention you have the right building so it might be an option to install a pier. It would drop the cost of the tripod against a full mount option having to only source the head and if done right will be a better route.

Personally, at your stage, knowing what I know now and with a budget around £400 I would start with a refractor at around 100mm with a decent Alt-Azimuth mount. Possibly a Sky Watcher AZ5 and a Sky Watcher Sky Travel 102T to pair with it (or the 120T if you can stretch the budget) or maybe a Bresser AR102s. Light portable, very useable and simple.

I would add - be very careful - it can be a slippery slope once you start with this hobby. I too started with a budget of around £400 and went way over.
 

shed9

establiSHED member
Joined
3 Nov 2013
Messages
1,800
Reaction score
295
Location
In a forest in Wales
Does an open frame Dobson verses a solid tube version have any advantages/disadvantages? I'm curious about stray light from cars (live by a highway), structures nearby or dust blowing in them ( it's the prairies after all). Thanks.

Pete
The open frames are often (well in this price bracket anyhow) flex tubes in that they compact down for portability. Some of the more expensive ones, typically the 10-16" and above scopes use a truss frame for cost, strength, rigidity, weight and portability. Either way the larger ones often come with or have the option of a loose cover that wraps around and the better lower cost ones have a shroud that covers part of the exposed tube to reduce stray light getting to the secondary mirror. Besides you can always fit your own with some flexible board, fabric and velcro.

There is an advantage of open truss (or any open tube design) in that the ambient temperature reaches an equilibrium between the two mirrors and you avoid tube temperature currents in the final image. You will also sometimes find fans at the base of some optical tube assemblies for the purpose of maintaining static temperature.
 

shed9

establiSHED member
Joined
3 Nov 2013
Messages
1,800
Reaction score
295
Location
In a forest in Wales
William Optics 61mm refractor - Dedicated for astrophotography
Would be interested in your opinion on this, very tempted by the 61and the 73. Not on my list yet but definitely a contender.

Home made 9" Dobsonian reflector - Brilliant for demos and Saturn, the moon and planets
Would also like to see that if possible, I started a DIY truss unit with a 6" but it's yet to be finished. Have you seen the videos of John Dobson making the mirrors with small groups of students, in particular where they move around the garden as they move up the grits?
 

rwillett

Established Member
Joined
6 Nov 2016
Messages
65
Reaction score
88
Location
North Yorkshire, UK
Does an open frame Dobson verses a solid tube version have any advantages/disadvantages? I'm curious about stray light from cars (live by a highway), structures nearby or dust blowing in them ( it's the prairies after all). Thanks.

Pete
@shed9 gave a better answer than I could :)

When you get to big mirrors, the weight of the tube can be a lot so an open frame is an easier and lighter option. There are some skilled builders who design their frames using CAD programs to get the most rigidity for the least weight. if you have a 30" mirror (never even see on in the UK), a 30" tube would weight an awful lot.
 

rwillett

Established Member
Joined
6 Nov 2016
Messages
65
Reaction score
88
Location
North Yorkshire, UK
I'm early into astronomy, I'm in the middle of setting up a Pulsar Dome and a separate Roll On Roll Off roof metal shed. I suspect rwillett has pretty much covered it all. Things I would add from my own experience;

1. I agree with starting small and although you already have access to a £150 scope and possibly beyond that starting phase, I'd still agree with going back to that position. Get a good star map and learn the sky (if you haven't already). Some half decent astronomy binoculars will have the appropriate tripod mount adapter.
2. Spend more on your mount than the scope. Look to do a bit of DIY to improve that mount, even straight from the factory they are generally better if you remove the supplied grease and put some decent lithium in there. If astro photography is on the cards, then get an Equatorial mount over an Alt-Azimuth. You can use an Alt-Azimuth (with extra kit), you just might find it easier with an Equatorial. I share the concerns, it can be road of regret but that depends on how far you want to go. Personally I think a GOTO mount is the way forward but this will blow the budget out on the mount alone. Be aware of payload weight.
3. As above, if astrophotography is something you want to consider then this dictates what type of scope you get. Some scope arrangements are better than others.
4. Don't get hung up on magnification, it's more about capturing light than how far you can push the optics.
5. Don't forget all the other costs; power supply (if you go the GOTO route), guide scope, eyepieces, barlow lens, collimator, relevant adapters (camera, etc), filters, etc, etc.
6. I agree that a Dobsonian is probably best bang for buck, I'd personally be looking at an 8" Sky Watcher or possibly an 8" Bresser as a minimum. A decent Newtonian should not be discounted (although its just a Dobsonian in a more traditional shape). Just be aware of the collimation aspect of it (look at Cheshire collimators as well as laser).
7. Buy from a real telescope shop (Rother Valley, First Light Optics, etc). Avoid the Amazons and similar outlets. Similar to a good tool shop, a good optics shop will help you with your purchase beyond the purchase.
8. Think about a pier as an alternative to a tripod, you mention you have the right building so it might be an option to install a pier. It would drop the cost of the tripod against a full mount option having to only source the head and if done right will be a better route.

Personally, at your stage, knowing what I know now and with a budget around £400 I would start with a refractor at around 100mm with a decent Alt-Azimuth mount. Possibly a Sky Watcher AZ5 and a Sky Watcher Sky Travel 102T to pair with it (or the 120T if you can stretch the budget) or maybe a Bresser AR102s. Light portable, very useable and simple.

I would add - be very careful - it can be a slippery slope once you start with this hobby. I too started with a budget of around £400 and went way over.
Spot on advice.

1. Most decent binoculars have a 1/4"-20 thread in the joint in the middle. It's normally covered by a cap and most people never know its there. You can build a decent parallelogram in a few hours with 10mm aluminium box section and some nuts. I did and I have ten thumbs.

2. Not sure about the goto mount and getting one at the start. I brought a goto mount at the start and because the polar alignment was all out of kilter, I never got it polar aligned and eventually I gave it away as I hated it. A decent second hand alt-az mount gets you going and can be setup in seconds and you're doing things as opposed to scrambling around on your knees, checking your smartphone for exactly where to position things. If you buy a decent alt-az second hand you'll get most of your money back if you want to sell it on. There's little to go wrong with them.

3. If Astrophotography is on cards, then cut all your credit cards up now :) You will eventually start lusting after Takahasi kit and that stuff is like a Class A addition. Just to add to getting into Astrophotography, you'll end up with a computer to capture images, multiple USB cameras, multiple power supplies with different voltages, quite a lot of software, you'll be in first name terms with your local dealer (telescope, I might add, though the other sort of dealer might be cheaper), he'll be driving round in his new <erc whilst you're obsessing about how round your stars actually are, do you get another set of filters which are fractionally better (at £1,000) and do I buy that Takahashi field flattener at £500 or whatever.

4. 200% upvote on not getting hung up on magnification! Some of the best viewing I have done is with a wide angled eyepiece and 10x magnification AND a dark sky. A glass or two of wine might also have been had.

5. Good calls on the goto, you need lots of other stuff, one 'advantage' of my EQ6-Pro mount is that it is so heavy I can't move it too far from the house and therfore a power supply. The head is 17kg, the tripod another 7kg, then add counterweights, and thats before you look at humping the scope, eye pieces etc. This is another advantage of the dobsonian.

6. Collimation is where you adjust the mirrors of a reflecting telescope to get the best image. Normally mirrors in reflecting telescopes comes with a little circular ring stuck on the primary mirror, you fire a collimating laser down the eyepiece holder and adjust the pattern so all the mirrors are aligned. Its no more difficult than levelling a 3d printer bed and easier than doing a dowel joint. But you still have to buy a laser and do it eevery so often.

7. Agreed.

8. A pier is great and if you can keep the mount head on it all the time and protect it, it makes sense. You can leave it polar aligne and just shove the telescope on as you need it. A decent pier and mounting kit will probably east up £300 of your budget though.

I will now stop

rob
 
Top