Author Topic: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck  (Read 1807 times)

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« on: December 02, 2020, 09:09:27 PM »
For right now, I just want something halfway good to observe the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, coming up very soon! I want decent optics, magnification (likely at least 40X to see rings of Saturn clearly), and portability. We live in The HELL A area, where the only things you can see in the night sky are loads of police helicopters, the moon, and a tiny smattering of stars and planets. However, we frequently vacation to cool places (i.e., not anywhere near SoCal), that have very dark skies indeed. I don't want to schelp some huge thing along with us on those road trips, nor do I want something so refined and sensitive that it will be knocked out of alignment after a thousand mile road trip.

I am aware of the differences between refractors, reflectors (have owned and used both in the past) and cadioptrics. Serious hobbyists often buy optical tube assemblies and tripods separately, and many have two or more OTAs they can mount on the same tripod--thus, they can whip out their Norbecker  large reflector for deep space objects, and their refractor for planets, the moon, etc. However, I have no interest to get into it to that level now, due to cost, time, and the fact that we live in SoCal.

I am leaning toward a small, relatively inexpensive cadipotric--likely from Celestron or Meade with computerized control, clock drive, etc. Alternatively, I might just go with a small, cheapo 100$ reflector or refractor. I do not expect anything in this price/size range to be suitable for deep-space objects, cool as they are.

The problem now is that my usual vendor --BandH is "Backordered" or "Out of Stock" on nearly everything! I don't buy expensive stuff from Amazon, so I am looking for a good online store specializing in telescopes with someone (preferably not on comission) to answer a few questions.

Any and all advice appreciated!

Thanks





« Last Edit: December 02, 2020, 09:27:03 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »

lutorm

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2020, 11:27:13 PM »
As an ex- both amateur and professional astronomer (although being a professional astronomer doesn't give anyone ability to comment on your question...) my advice would be that rather than going for a $100 refractor, which typically will be so crappy, and have a sufficiently crappy and unstable mount that you won't be able to see anything due to all the shake and just be frustrated, get a set of decent binoculars instead. A 10x80 or something like that will be much more versatile and useful for looking at the sky.

However, it won't let you resolve Jupiter and Saturn. If you want that, you're going to need something with pretty high magnification and the optics to make that magnification useful (and the sky conditions to make that magnification useful, too.)

Honestly, a computerized 10" Schmidt-Cassegrain from Celestron/Meade is what I would get if I were to get a telescope now. They're portable enough that you can haul them around, the computerized alignment means you can be up and looking at stuff quickly, and the optics are pretty good. 12" and larger start getting very heavy, 8" have a bit small collecting area.

IF you just want to look at planets, though, those companies also have smaller refractor options (like 5") that would give you the higher magnification and optical quality without all the bulk. Those could also double up as terrestrial spotter scopes if that's something you're interested in, too.

Khaetra

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2020, 01:25:07 PM »
https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-equipment/choosing-astronomy-equipment/telescopes/

http://www.binocularsky.com

The biggest killer of nighttime enjoyment of stargazing is clouds, light pollution and a crappy scope.  I got mine from Amazon (a Celestron) and while it's okay, the mount is horrible.  It's just been too cloudy to drag it out this year, so I've been using binoculars on nights when I've caught a break.  Hopefully those two links will help you find something to gaze the sky with.

Just Joe

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2020, 01:48:38 PM »
Stellarium? Its free...

HotTubes

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2020, 07:03:17 PM »
The OneSky would be ideal but I'm sure it's backordered.

My 4 inch SkyWatcher is a superb on planets up to 180-220x - maybe around $500 used?

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2020, 10:09:29 PM »
Thanks guys. The limiting factor right now is what's available. This looks like a decent buy. Clock drive is available as an add-on for 39$.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/485278-REG/Celestron_31042_AstroMaster_114_EQ_4_4_114mm.html






BlueMR2

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2020, 04:51:43 AM »
I picked up a second from Orion Telescopes (www.telescope.com).  130mm reflector.  Amazing price.  Wasn't expecting too much, but the quality was impressive.  I don't regret it at all.  Today's factory seconds entry level scopes are as good as the better scopes from not too many years ago.  Originally had planned on upgrading to something nicer down the road, but have found that to be totally unnecessary.

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2020, 02:05:09 PM »
I picked up a second from Orion Telescopes (www.telescope.com).  130mm reflector.  Amazing price.  Wasn't expecting too much, but the quality was impressive.  I don't regret it at all.  Today's factory seconds entry level scopes are as good as the better scopes from not too many years ago.  Originally had planned on upgrading to something nicer down the road, but have found that to be totally unnecessary.


Thanks,

Can you elaborate on what a second is in the world of telescopes? Is this like a refurb or reconditioned PC or electronic device?

Also, do you own an MR-2? LOVE that car--always wanted one! May still get one some day. I understand the MR-2 community is one of the coolest in the automotive world. If I ran Toyota, I would send down an order to start working on a new-retro electric MR-2 right away!

EDIT: I just read what a second is on the site:

https://www.telescope.com/Orion/Sale/Clearance-Center/rc/2160/pc/6/777.uts

Makes sense to have a look at these.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2020, 02:11:39 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »

TheAnonOne

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2020, 02:21:49 PM »
I picked up a second from Orion Telescopes (www.telescope.com).  130mm reflector.  Amazing price.  Wasn't expecting too much, but the quality was impressive.  I don't regret it at all.  Today's factory seconds entry level scopes are as good as the better scopes from not too many years ago.  Originally had planned on upgrading to something nicer down the road, but have found that to be totally unnecessary.

I think it just means... a second telescope.

Thanks,

Can you elaborate on what a second is in the world of telescopes? Is this like a refurb or reconditioned PC or electronic device?

Also, do you own an MR-2? LOVE that car--always wanted one! May still get one some day. I understand the MR-2 community is one of the coolest in the automotive world. If I ran Toyota, I would send down an order to start working on a new-retro electric MR-2 right away!

EDIT: I just read what a second is on the site:

https://www.telescope.com/Orion/Sale/Clearance-Center/rc/2160/pc/6/777.uts

Makes sense to have a look at these.

BlueMR2

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2020, 04:20:58 PM »
Also, do you own an MR-2? LOVE that car--always wanted one! May still get one some day. I understand the MR-2 community is one of the coolest in the automotive world. If I ran Toyota, I would send down an order to start working on a new-retro electric MR-2 right away!

Yep.  As a matter of fact this is my MR2's birth month.  30 years old.  298,000 miles.  Still a reliable daily driver!

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2020, 04:46:23 PM »
Also, do you own an MR-2? LOVE that car--always wanted one! May still get one some day. I understand the MR-2 community is one of the coolest in the automotive world. If I ran Toyota, I would send down an order to start working on a new-retro electric MR-2 right away!

Yep.  As a matter of fact this is my MR2's birth month.  30 years old.  298,000 miles.  Still a reliable daily driver!

Awesome. I should get one one of these years! My DD and only car is a nearly-identical-in-age 1991 Volvo 740 SE (turbo), which I bought new--single-owner car, incredibly reliable, and quite cheap to own over all those years. Still a very nice looking car--was a limited edition for (I believe California) with full leather, wood, sunroof and everything red, including the bumpers (were black on all other 740s and 940s). Quite a different look than the boxy styling Volvo was known for in that time.

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2020, 06:58:21 PM »
Just got an email from Astronomics that they have some stock.  Great company I've dealt with many times.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #12 on: December 07, 2020, 07:16:18 AM »
Try to find a second hand bargain. Then you pay max half the shop price and you might get a lot of extras included.

I first bought a 5 inch maksutov. And later a C8. With a bigger diameter you really see more. I seldom use the maksutov anymore, apart from watching the sun (with a filter).

NorthernMonkey

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2020, 07:29:32 AM »
For around $100, I'd be keeping an eye on craigslist and FB marketplace, and find someone having a prechristmas clear out. I'd try and find a 5 inch reflector for that money, and if the marketplace gods smile upon you, maybe a 6"

ObviouslyNotAGolfer

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #14 on: December 21, 2020, 02:21:31 PM »
Update:

Partly because all the astronomical scopes I was interested in were backordered, I settled on a Celestron Ultima 22-66 x 100mm waterproof, N2 filled spotting scope for about $350. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/320308-REG/Celestron_52252_Ultima_100_4_0_100mm_Spotting.html?sts=pi&pim=Y

It is very light at about 8kg, and pretty small, so it certainly checks the portability box. WE were looking at Jupiter/Saturn, the moon, the Pleiades, mars, etc the last few nights and were very impressed with the sharpness and brightness of this modestly-priced instrument. It will also function for bird/whale watching, so a very good purchase overall.

Looking forward to the great conjunction later this evening! THEN, a special viewing of 2001 A Space Odyssey, the greatest film ever made!!!

« Last Edit: December 21, 2020, 02:47:32 PM by ObviouslyNotAGolfer »

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2021, 07:28:45 PM »
Try to find a second hand bargain. Then you pay max half the shop price and you might get a lot of extras included.

I first bought a 5 inch maksutov. And later a C8. With a bigger diameter you really see more. I seldom use the maksutov anymore, apart from watching the sun (with a filter).

Is there anything to look out for particularly if you're buying second-hand that could be a problem?

Linea_Norway

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2021, 04:34:30 AM »
Try to find a second hand bargain. Then you pay max half the shop price and you might get a lot of extras included.

I first bought a 5 inch maksutov. And later a C8. With a bigger diameter you really see more. I seldom use the maksutov anymore, apart from watching the sun (with a filter).

Is there anything to look out for particularly if you're buying second-hand that could be a problem?

That the telescope hasn't been dropped. Then the mirror could be misplaced or broken. You should test whether it is sharp. Maybe buy from a person with a good reputation.
If the scope has a mount and motor, check whether it is running smoothly and is stable.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2021, 03:39:06 PM by Linea_Norway »

Wolfpack Mustachian

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Re: Telescopes--looking for good vendor, bang for buck
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2021, 11:57:53 AM »
Try to find a second hand bargain. Then you pay max half the shop price and you might get a lot of extras included.

I first bought a 5 inch maksutov. And later a C8. With a bigger diameter you really see more. I seldom use the maksutov anymore, apart from watching the sun (with a filter).

Is there anything to look out for particularly if you're buying second-hand that could be a problem?

That the telescope hasn't been dropped. Then the mirror could be misplaced or broken. You should test whether it is sharp. Maybe buy from a person with a good reputation.
If the scope has a miunt and motor, check whether it is running smoothly and is stable.

Thanks for the advice!