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Old 03-20-2017, 12:39 PM   #1
OutOfTheCube
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I've been thinking about getting into amateur astronomy for a while now, I've always had a fascination with space and stars. I'm finally going to take the plunge this year and buy a legitimate telescope and start getting into this.

So, does anybody have any suggestions for someone with literally no experience? I want to get something of decent quality, but also not spend a fortune either. Something easy to set up and operate, that I'll be able to see some really cool stuff through. There's so many different types on Amazon, it's hard to know where to start!

CP always seems to have some expert hobbyists in just about every category, so what's your best advice for starting out?
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Old 03-20-2017, 12:43 PM   #2
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There is definitely a thread on this from back in the day. I think we have a couple of enthusiasts here.

Happy New Year pal!
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OutOfTheCube View Post
I've been thinking about getting into amateur astronomy for a while now, I've always had a fascination with space and stars. I'm finally going to take the plunge this year and buy a legitimate telescope and start getting into this.

So, does anybody have any suggestions for someone with literally no experience? I want to get something of decent quality, but also not spend a fortune either. Something easy to set up and operate, that I'll be able to see some really cool stuff through. There's so many different types on Amazon, it's hard to know where to start!

CP always seems to have some expert hobbyists in just about every category, so what's your best advice for starting out?
I've never done any amateur astronomy, but the subject does interest me.
Phil Plait once gave what I think is probably the best advice I've ever seen to this exact question. Basically he said instead of buying a telescope right away, instead you should buy a good pair of binoculars. The main reason for this is that it's usually cheaper, you can still find a lot of cool things, it's easier to get started, and in the event you realize you don't like standing outside in the cold at night, you'll still have something you can use for some other purpose.
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bring_Back_Shantz View Post
I've never done any amateur astronomy, but the subject does interest me.
Phil Plait once gave what I think is probably the best advice I've ever seen to this exact question. Basically he said instead of buying a telescope right away, instead you should buy a good pair of binoculars. The main reason for this is that it's usually cheaper, you can still find a lot of cool things, it's easier to get started, and in the event you realize you don't like standing outside in the cold at night, you'll still have something you can use for some other purpose.
I agree with B_B_S; get a decent set of binos to start off with as the binos will make it easier for you to navigate the night sky. For binos, 10x50 is plenty and I recommend the Celestron Cavalry. Celestron has "dedicated" binos for astronomy, but the Cavalry line are better in my opinion. Pentax are really good, too. Amazon often has them on sale. Even with 10x50, you might want a tripod (Celestron offers a tripod adapter).
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:12 PM   #5
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A good place to start is to spend an evening here (on Hwy 22 before Millarville):

https://www.ucalgary.ca/rao/

Located on a hilltop in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (RAO) is dedicated to expanding our knowledge of the Universe and educating students, school groups and the public about the wonders of Astronomy. Our site provides easy access from Calgary and an unobstructed view of the entire night time sky. Visit us and learn amazing things about astronomy and space science!

Our next event is Open House Saturday March 25 Information
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OutOfTheCube View Post
So, does anybody have any suggestions for someone with literally no experience? I want to get something of decent quality, but also not spend a fortune either. Something easy to set up and operate, that I'll be able to see some really cool stuff through. There's so many different types on Amazon, it's hard to know where to start!
Binoculars, as per above comments. After you get a set, buy this book:

https://www.amazon.ca/Binocular-High...omy+binoculars

You should also consider joining the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (RASC). I think it is around $90.00/year to join. There is a Calgary chapter from which you can rent (for a modest price) telescopes.
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:18 PM   #7
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The Star Walk app is really cool, and can be set for night-time viewing mode:

http://vitotechnology.com/star-walk.html
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Old 03-20-2017, 01:32 PM   #8
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Hows the view with astronomy binoculars?

Tried googling but there's a huge variety of results and I doubt more than half of these are from binoculars.
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Old 03-20-2017, 02:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Hows the view with astronomy binoculars?

Tried googling but there's a huge variety of results and I doubt more than half of these are from binoculars.
Depending on what you're looking at, the view is quite impressive. The book I linked to offers many deep sky objects that are easily resolved with binos. Perhaps the finest to view right now is Pleiades. Even with the light pollution, I can lookout my backdoor and glimpse Pleiades every night.

https://www.google.ca/search?q=pleia...&bih=882#spf=1

Perhaps it's a cliché because it is always mentioned, but the Great Orion Nebula is a fascinating sight with binos.

Ultimately, your viewing experience will depend on factors such as light pollution and weather.
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Old 03-20-2017, 03:56 PM   #10
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Amateur Astronomy is an expensive hobby. If you are going to take the plunge on a scope don't go cheap. Go for a legit company like Meade or at least Celestron. Any scope under $1000.00 is probably going to disappoint you.
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Old 03-20-2017, 03:59 PM   #11
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For reference this was my beginner scope.
http://khanscope.com/collections/mea...lescope-205005
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Old 03-20-2017, 04:30 PM   #12
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Google play store has an app called Sky Map that I found useful
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Old 03-20-2017, 05:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
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For reference this was my beginner scope.
http://khanscope.com/collections/mea...lescope-205005
That seems... very expensive. $1000 is a tough sell for a new hobby with a second baby on the way, haha.

So is something like this one not very good:

https://www.amazon.ca/Celestron-2104...ords=celestron

Or this:

https://www.amazon.ca/Celestron-2104...ords=celestron

I mean, I know they aren't amazing but they're not Toys R Us "my first telescope" either. What's the main difference -- amount of zoom, ease of tracking, image quality, etc.? How big of a quality gap are we talking about?

Or, in that price range, is it better to get a pair of high end binoculars, as suggested above?
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Old 03-20-2017, 05:52 PM   #14
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A barely used telescope strikes me as something you could get heavily discounted on the used market from people who thought they wanted to be Copernicus, but are happier as Al Bundy.
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Old 03-20-2017, 05:54 PM   #15
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A few points on telescopes:

The views in telescopes are nothing like you see in pictures! Almost everything is either faint, fuzzy, or roiling in a turbulent atmosphere. Get someone to show you the views of a few of the "famous" sights through a high-quality telescope, and then you'll know what you're signing up for.

In my experience, the mount is far more important than the 'scope. A shaky mount like those Celestrons above will absolutely frustrate the enthusiasm out of any observer. I started with a 4" reflector on a similar mount, and it almost never got used because the view was ruined every time I touched the thing to adjust it.

Cheap 'scopes come with smaller-diameter eyepieces (< 1"). Better 'scopes are designed for 1.25" eyepieces. Really fancy beasts apparently handle 2" eyepieces, although I've never seen one. The smaller ones are really not used by anyone serious, so they're often poor quality. If a 'scope you're looking at is designed for them...keep looking. The 4 mm eyepiece with those Celestrons is an absolute piece of garbage, and is only included so they can advertise "400x manification" or whatever.

On that note, magnification isn't everything...or really much of anything. Any department-store telescope advertising "400x magnification!" is selling you crap. I rarely use anything beyond 150x except on the steadiest of nights...and then only up to 250x.

And lasty, if you're still interested in getting a telescope after all this, remember that it's really "the hunt" that's the most satisfying. When I find a faint, almost invisible galaxy, it might not be very impressive visually but knowing that I found it is really great. So don't over-value those fancy "go-to" telescopes...they take away a lot of the fun, IMO.

And (really lastly) always keep an observing log...I don't get out much, but when I look at all the observing I've done over the last 15 years, it really brings back some good memories.

Last edited by Cube Inmate; 03-20-2017 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 03-20-2017, 06:44 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cube Inmate View Post
A few points on telescopes:

The views in telescopes are nothing like you see in pictures! Almost everything is either faint, fuzzy, or roiling in a turbulent atmosphere. Get someone to show you the views of a few of the "famous" sights through a high-quality telescope, and then you'll know what you're signing up for.

In my experience, the mount is far more important than the 'scope. A shaky mount like those Celestrons above will absolutely frustrate the enthusiasm out of any observer. I started with a 4" reflector on a similar mount, and it almost never got used because the view was ruined every time I touched the thing to adjust it.

Cheap 'scopes come with smaller-diameter eyepieces (< 1"). Better 'scopes are designed for 1.25" eyepieces. Really fancy beasts apparently handle 2" eyepieces, although I've never seen one. The smaller ones are really not used by anyone serious, so they're often poor quality. If a 'scope you're looking at is designed for them...keep looking. The 4 mm eyepiece with those Celestrons is an absolute piece of garbage, and is only included so they can advertise "400x manification" or whatever.

On that note, magnification isn't everything...or really much of anything. Any department-store telescope advertising "400x magnification!" is selling you crap. I rarely use anything beyond 150x except on the steadiest of nights...and then only up to 250x.

And lasty, if you're still interested in getting a telescope after all this, remember that it's really "the hunt" that's the most satisfying. When I find a faint, almost invisible galaxy, it might not be very impressive visually but knowing that I found it is really great. So don't over-value those fancy "go-to" telescopes...they take away a lot of the fun, IMO.

And (really lastly) always keep an observing log...I don't get out much, but when I look at all the observing I've done over the last 15 years, it really brings back some good memories.
There are some good points here but some things I disagree with as well.
Yes the mount and tripod are better when they are thicker and more stable however the scope quality is just as important. You can have the best mount in the world but if you have a low quality scope then it won't matter. It is a hobby that is going to hook you and hook you hard. As far as eye pieces go the general rule I find is the higher the magnification with the eye piece the less detail and more fuzzy the image is. I think when Cube Inmate is saying everything is fuzzy he must be referring to galaxies, and nebula. He is right, you are not going to see vast explosions of colour if you are looking at lets say the Orion nebula, it is going to look like a fuzzy cloud. The moon and planets however can be seen quite clearly with nice colour with a decent scope.I think my favourite item in the sky to look at is Saturn, seeing the rings and the body is amazing but don't expect it to be a gigantic view, we are talking the size of a pea. I strongly disagree with the hunt is the most satisfying. When I first started out I didn't bother programming the Autostar and it was very frustrating trying to locate some things. I love the Autostar not only finds the object but it will keep it tracked in view because the sky is always moving and objects don't stay in your view long if you get on it and lock it in and then leave it. The more magnification you use the faster it will move sideways out of your view so the Autostar is great for staying on your object if you are going up into the higher eye pieces and sacrificing some details. In the end it comes down to what you want to spend and if how much you will dabble in it. Celestron makes decent scopes but the ones you found are the bottom end. Is there a store where you are that sells scopes? They would probably have some used models that will be higher up and in your price range. I personally recommend Meade as their optics and glass are second to none imo but if you are just going to take it out once in a blue moon (bad pun) then you could always try out a cheap model like you found. The only thing I am concerned about for you with that is a) they have little to no re resale value and b) You will wish you had spent a bit more for better quality.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:18 AM   #17
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I'm really interested and enthusiastic about this! But don't know where to start haha.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:37 AM   #18
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Best place to start is to figure out what sign you are. I'm an Aquarius.
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Old 03-21-2017, 09:49 AM   #19
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When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars
This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
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Old 03-21-2017, 10:10 AM   #20
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A good place to start is to spend an evening here (on Hwy 22 before Millarville):

https://www.ucalgary.ca/rao/

Located on a hilltop in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, the Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (RAO) is dedicated to expanding our knowledge of the Universe and educating students, school groups and the public about the wonders of Astronomy. Our site provides easy access from Calgary and an unobstructed view of the entire night time sky. Visit us and learn amazing things about astronomy and space science!

Our next event is Open House Saturday March 25 Information
Looks like they're next open house is about Quantum Tech. Is the observatory still going to be open? Girlfriend would not be happy if I took her to an open house on Quantum physics and computing

I still have never got to look at the stars and planets through a telescope. Really would like to do that one day soon.
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