[Chaos-l] Buying a scope
mhrivnak at hrivnak.org
Mon Apr 20 00:38:54 EDT 2009
I went through this not long ago. I ended up with a used Orion 8" dob as my
first scope. To start, I encourage you to check out http://astromart.com. You
can get great deals there on used equipment. I've bought quite a few things
from there myself. When I don't see quite what I'm looking for, I'll check
back once a day until it shows up. Also check out http://cloudynights.com
which has fewer classified ads than astromart, but enough that it's worth
keeping an eye on.
As for accessories, here are my thoughts in no particular order:
1. A good resource for finding objects. I started with the book "Turn Left at
Orion" and was very happy. It literally brought me from zero knowledge of the
stars to being a proficient star-hopper.
2. Telrad. I have a red-dot finder on my 8" dob, but I wish it were a telrad.
More and more software is supporting the telrad by projecting its actual shape
and size onto star charts. Telrad is the standard.
3. 8x50 finder. I personally like the right-angle-correct-image (RACI) ones,
particularly the one made by GSO. It was only about $55 a year and a half
ago, which I think is the best value out there. I'm using it very happily now
on my 18" starmaster. I suppose if you're planning to rely very heavily on
the intelliscope features, a powered finder might not be necessary. However, I
personally find it very rewarding to find things on my own.
4. Eyepieces really make a huge difference. I'd start by investing in one
high-quality eyepiece at a good general-use focal length. I find that with a
scope around that size, I usually end up observing most objects with one
eyepiece that is a "sweet spot" between magnification, contrast, and
brightness. With the XT10 having a focal length of 1200mm, a Nagler 17mm
would give you about 70x magnification. You could easily observe for an entire
evening with only that eyepiece and be very happy. In any case, some
experimentation is probably in order. Collectively, the members of this club
own a lot of very good and very different eyepieces that you could try out with
your new scope. Then you can get a feel for what is most comfortable and
where you want to invest first.
5. Red flashlight.
6. Adjustable-height chair. Sitting comfortably at the scope makes a HUGE
difference. I use this chair and am very happy with it:
Keep us posted. Also, if you don't mind, please schedule the delivery of your
new scope for about a week before full moon. There is a well-documented
correlation between the purchase of a new scope and the onset of extended foul
weather. On the day I bought my 18" dob, we got multiple inches of rain. It
was then cloudy for a solid 3 weeks. It won't be so bad if we can ride out
your post-purchase weather while the moon is ruining the party anyway.
On Sunday 19 April 2009 11:02:47 Matt Lochansky wrote:
> Hi everyone -
> Hope you had fun at Farrington or Medoc on Friday. It was one of the
> best nights I've had in the 10 months I've been observing - I made it
> to my backyard about 9:30 (hence why I wasn't able to get to
> Farrington - a 30 minute drive). It did get a bit chilly later in the
> evening, but I was exhausted by 11:30pm and came inside. I had such a
> good time, but so limited by my aperture, that I decided now is the
> time. I've been talking about buying a nice scope for quite a while
> now, but wanted to tool around with the Meade ETX-90EC I've been
> loaned. It clearly has some limits with deep sky objects I enjoy
> finding, but I have been able to see some of the common fainter
> objects, even if they are just dark smudges in the eyepiece.
> Looking for comments, tips, or suggestions...
> I've pretty well decided on the Orion XT10i (with the intellicope
> add-on). Great value for the price and the "intelliscope" feature is
> just what I want. What accessories would you recommend for someone
> who has never owned a newtonian previously? On my list I have a laser
> collimator, variable polarizing filter, a single 2" eyepiece (the
> scope comes with an adapter so I can use my 1.25" eyepieces and
> filters) - even going to buy a solar filter. I have a few other
> things on the list, but not related to the telescope directly. Any
> other must-have accessories for a first-time buyer? I"m sure this is
> in the archives somewhere, but they are hard to search!
> Chaos-l mailing list
> Chaos-l at rtpnet.org
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