Skip to comments.Vanity: Looking for First Telescope/Astronomical Binoculars (Under $200)
Posted on 03/11/2013 10:23:47 AM PDT by C19fan
I am looking at buying my first astronomical instrument. I have a budget of under $150.
I was thinking of these two as possibilities:
1: Celestron SkyMaster 20x80 Binoculars
2: Orion SkyScanner 100mm TableTop Reflector Telescope
Any recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks.
Start out with a good pair of binoculars that can take a tripod mount. Even at 20X in good conditions you will be able to see the 4 major moons of Jupiter. You can then also get some solar filters and view sunspot activity.
I think both would be OK but I think I would get something like a Nikon 7X50 or maybe 10X50 binocular. I have seen the Monarch line on clearance at Wal-Mart for well under $200.
Don’t worry about power or maybe even purposely get low powered binoculars because really good high powered scopes or binoculars are way above your price.
I have a Celestron 20X60 spotting scope which has some ED glass elements. I paid less than $200 for it but that was a long time ago. It was made in Japan.
I can see the rings of Saturn tho the planet still looks tiny.
I also have a Meade 20-60X60 which also has some ED glass elements. It is about the same as the Celestron tho the extra power does help a bit. I paid $60 for it at a pawn shop. It was probably worth a lot more than that.
Two weeks ago, I was looking for a larger fish tank..I wanted a 55 gal one.retail, the best price I could find, was $170..and just for the tank..poked around on CL for a few days..found a lady offering one for $60...went to see it, filled it with water to make sure no leaks..offered her $40..she took it, AND threw in lights, filters, heaters, and a whole bunch of the tank decor ornaments..whole thing easily is $300+ retail..
Definitely worth looking on CL..
Not sure how “serious” you are about astronomy, but you might consider a construction project. Many people do this successfully.
“Mirror Grinding and Telescope Making”
Bill’s Homemade 14.5 Inch Telescope Making Project
At the bottom of the page are some links to similar projects.
Another source of info is Edmond Scientific. I have several small booklets that I purchased from them years ago.
There are Star Parties that seem to center around the area of the Davis Mountains. Some of my Ham Radio friends are involved in that, but optic and RF.
I do an awful lot of second hand shopping and I’m amazed at how many telescopes I’ve been coming across. Tripods, too. Don’t know what your market is like but a lot of folks are unloading some really good stuff.
Orion SkyScanner choice is fine.
The average $100 telescope is a heck of a lot better than anything Galileo had.
Take a look at Orion Telescopes. I have their 25X100 binoculars, which make it seem as the full moon is about to fall into your lap.
7x50 are the most powerful binoculars that will be useful without a tripod. The field will “dance” uncontrollably in 10x50s. A good pair of 7x50 binocs is a great first choice. This isn’t what most folks want to hear, but the truth is that inexpensive telescopes are worse than useless-they can actually kill interest in the hobby. There is no $200 scope on the market today that will not be more of a hassle than a pleasure. When you decide to “step up” to a scope, be prepared to spend a bare minumum of $500. $1000 is a more realistic target and will afford you an instrument that will deliver a lifetime of satisfactory service.
Usually 7x binocs are best for astro use, they will collect a lot of light and will be easy to point without shaking. Get the kind with a tripod mount.
I can see the moons of Jupiter and can make out the ring of Saturn with my 7x50’s.
I also have 14x80 binocs, much heavier and really needing a tripod. There are some good Russian 80 and 100 mm binocs around. The higher the power the less light and the most shakes.
For a telescope I’d get the biggest Dobsonian you can find and stay away from the computerized stuff, if you are spending money on a scope spend it on aperture not electronics. I have an f5 10 inch dob and it is super easy to set up and get going.
Bump for later - I’m interested, too!
I would suggest, if you’ve never owned Binoculars - to go with the 10x50.
The thing that really matters for you - isn’t the power, but the aperture, the amount of light that they can collect.
If you want a good evening observing, I would recommend getting a reclining chair so that you can sit and lay down. If you can’t do that, get a relatively thick blanket with a sleeping bag. You’ll find it far more comfortable then trying to sit and stand.
If you go heavier- get a tripod or a mount of some sort so that you can hold it without jiggling.
bkmk for lens grinding
Besides a good pair of binoculars, I would also like to recommend that you find a local astronomy club and join up.
Being with others who may know more about the sky than you do is a great way to get started. They also may have club scopes that you could use to see if you really want to spend the extra money for a scope.
I just picked up a 20-100x70 zoom binos from Celestron. They have a nice image, but, need some tweaking, so, I am sending them back for it.
Otherwise, I am using my 40 year old 7x50 Bushnells. Still work great after all these years.
I have the Celestron SkyMaster 15x70. They are very good, but a bit heavy. I hook them up to a tripod when I will be using them for anything more than a quick glance.
I did pick up a ‘like new’ Orion dobsonian skyquest (6” lens) Telescope on Craigs list. paid about $200 vs well over $500 new, and also got some extra lenses thrown in.
If you are looking into telescopes, this is a good starter.
4” is the minimum lens size for a telescope if you want to see anything.
I have one for you.... don’t recall the size or model.
It has a motor (earth rotate tracking). Software built in to use the motor to ‘go to’ objects. USB cords plug in to use laptop for functions. I also have a camera that mounts to it with USB cord.
Or use manually with handheld controller. Worked great when I put it away a couple years ago.
Mine is very similar to post #3. Maybe even the same model. I have camera to go with it...
BTW, I've bought used telescopes before and they worked well, but I inspected them first.
I am actually in the process of rebuilding my little observatory, which houses a 10" Schmidt Cassegrain - Catadioptric. The pier holding the scope is all homemade using scrap steel.
This is a pic of the old observatory location..It's been moved to a new location.
Here's a pic of my scope at the old location. Notice my junk yard steel plates used to bolt the equatorial mount to?
Below is one of the images taken not too long ago.
Eastern Veil Nebula NGC 6992 - Supernova remnant
Veil Nebula is an old supernova remnant in the constellation Cygnus. It is the remains of cataclysmic explosion of star that exploded between 5,000 and 8,000 years ago. This nebula is about 1,860 light-years distance.
My first ever scope cost me 21 bucks!
BTW, Meade and Celestron have pretty decent optics.
It's OK to buy used, save money and many times you can get a great deal...Try astromart.com
I got this telescope from freecycle. It’s a Jason 60x700. Can see saturn’s rings, but very frustrating to find and keep on target.
And yes, cheap telescopes are more hassle than they’re worth. Bring out the huge tripod, try and find something. Then keep moving it. Gets old fast.
2. Do you live around a lot of lights?
Binoculars on a tripod are probably your best buy for now. You will need to learn the night sky as far as the major constellations, a map from www.skymaps.com is free and can be printed for your use. Getting away from outdoor lighting will be the biggest help, you need to keep your eyes dark adapted. Also free astronomy programs are available to help learn the sky. If you do decide on a telescope a 114mm reflector would not be a bad choice if you find 1 on a dobsonian base. Hope this helps.
This book is excellent:
If you want a quick MASSIVE upgrade that won't cost too much, get a hybrid diagonal and a modern 1.25" eyepeice like this one. Get one of these, too, just in case you need a bit more focal length. You will see a huge difference. Another cheap win is to set a 6' x 4" pipe in concrete so that 4' is above ground and affix the scope to that instead of the wobbly-azz tripod.
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