Any Star Gazers out there?

  Arthur Scrimshaw 16:56 02 Sep 2006

Don't know if this should be in speakers corner but here goes.
I've always been interested in Astronomy and fancy getting a (first)telescope. Any advice as what to buy? - I had planned a toe dipping exercise and spending around £200 - £300 as I realise I could spend a fortune but I'm not sure I'll get hooked.
I've read a little and understand the two (main) types - I fancy a reflector telescope, but mainly because I like the look of them! I'm not really clear which type would suit me best. Also with my budget I can just about get one with the motorised 'goto' mounts - is this useful or is the money better spent elsewhere?

thanks in anticipation

  Jackcoms 17:03 02 Sep 2006

This any use? click here

  spuds 17:10 02 Sep 2006

Many a nice night I have spent looking at the heavens, wondering what that particular star was named, and like you Arthur Scrimshaw, I have thoughts of venturing further.

Having said that though, it doesn't help you on your quest. My suggestion would be to contact a local club or training university and see what they advice.

  wiz-king 17:15 02 Sep 2006

If there is a Astronomy club in your area then a chat with the members could be useful. Where I live the local club has built an small observatory on the outskirts of the village as well as the members having telescopes in their gardens.

You might find some useful info here click here it's a free subscription site.

  Forum Editor 18:16 02 Sep 2006

and you could easily spend a great deal of money. As you rightly say, the way to get started is to buy a modestly-priced scope and see how it goes.

I strongly recommend that you buy one with a motorised mount, so you're not deterred by having to constantly track a moving object manually - it can be a nightmare.

click here for the kind of thing that will afford an excellent entry into this fascinating pursuit - smack in the middle of your budget bracket.

  Arthur Scrimshaw 18:38 02 Sep 2006

FE - I was checking that very one out! - I'm reassured you think that a motorised mount is a good idea - I'm sure finding and tracking an object (at least for a newbie) is difficult and could put me off the whole idea.

  wjrt 00:05 03 Sep 2006

click here

can set your location and find out what stars you can see and where they are in relation to you and much more very good

  CurlyWhirly 01:46 03 Sep 2006

As you are new to astronomy, I would definently go for a refractor as they are low maintenance.

A reflector telescope is more fragile and every couple of years the secondary mirror needs to have it's aluminium coating redone.

I have a 120 mm refractor and I use setting circles to find my celestial targets, I was going to buy a computerised motor until I saw the cost!

  Giant68 11:56 03 Sep 2006

Arthur Scrimshaw

I've been a keen astronomer for many years now, and I agree with what the FE has suggested. I would also add that it may pay you to visit click here
This used to the Junior Astronomy Society but changed a few years back to help beginners of all ages.
If you want ot watch for some of the more obscure objects in the night sky click here this lists dates and times of the International Space statiion transits, Iridium flashes etc...

Happy stargazing


  Wilham 13:14 03 Sep 2006

When I used to subscribe to Scientific American it carried every month a full colour page advertising the Questar 3 1/2 inch Cassegrain telescope, priced just over £1000. A year or two of this induced me to buy a copy from Poland. I shouldn't say 'copy' because the Russian Maksutov design preceded both. Price I paid was under £100.

Whatever telescope you buy there is always a better model round the corner. Next I wanted a Meade. But I found telescopes were giving me a stiff neck after 20 minutes, so that upgrade was shelved.

Then I planned to buy an 8" Meade with coated optics (No need to re-aluminise), with remote PC control of motorised mount,.. and with a fitted digital eye (o/p to PC) in order I could comfortably control and stargaze comfortably sitting at my desktop indoors. In turn that scheme was put on hold when the (corrected) Hubble pics appeared on TV....Wow!

I suggest before you buy a telescope you get a good pair of binoculars. Load program 'Starry Night' on a laptop (Came free on cover of our PCA mag..
click here )
On a fine late autumn evening set up a low table outside, draw up a garden chair, and key in data: north, lat., and long. The screen will position and identify the stars as you see them,... and more.

Indoors later, browse Hubble pics on the web, -they are out of this world. (Sorry) click here
Here and other sites let you track down images of what you saw through binoculars.

Don't these fine photographs on the internet reduce market demand for higher priced telescopes?

  Forum Editor 17:03 03 Sep 2006

Perhaps, but - as I'm sure you'll agree - there's no substitute for your first sight of the canals on Mars, seen through your own telescope.

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