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[Lazyweb] Telescope Advice - F*cking with Clusters

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Previous Entry [Lazyweb] Telescope Advice May. 29th, 2028 @ 12:20 pm Next Entry
I've been called on to buy a telescope as a present for a cousin who is graduating high school and headed off to a fast-track NASA aerospace engineering program.

It's been a while since I've looked at the market. I'm currently considering buying her a Maksutov-Newtonian, since she's likely to have access to darker areas and appreciate the added clarity. I'm debating between a larger Mak-Newt or a smaller refractor. My budget is $1000, +-500, with a hard cap around $2k. Are modern cheaper refractors really as bad as some people seem to think? Also, does anyone here have experience with SCTs? I have heard they are amazing, but have never seen one in person. The easy portability sounds like a big plus for a student.

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From:bellwethr
Date:May 29th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
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I have a NexStar 5, which is a SCT. I really like it, although it's in desperate need of re-collimation. I kind of wish I had the 8 instead, but the 5 was a nice beginner 'scope. I really, really like the "Auto-GoTo" feature--it's great for parties when you want to show off the sky without really needing to hunt around too much.
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From:porfinn
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:06 pm (UTC)
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You wouldn't happen to know what she wants to look at? Lighter and brighter stuff like planets and the moon, or deeper and darker?
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From:avani
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC)
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No. I assume there is some academic use for a personal telescope, though I'm not exactly sure what that could be. It might be useful to be able to use it for astrophotography for that reason, however.
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From:porfinn
Date:May 29th, 2008 10:16 pm (UTC)
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You might check out a local starparty. There are lots of astronomy groups in your area, and they would have all the latest toys, and it is fun (for me, at least) to hear people talk about their scopes. And that way you could also find out a good retail store in the area (possibly even who to talk to at the store-- these people can be pretty precise). Here is the closet astronomy group I found to San Jose
http://www.sjaa.net/
I'm good with the types of telescopes, but I'm not up on the newest mounts and eye pieces, and all of that sort of stuff is almost as essential as a good telescope.
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From:bonboard
Date:May 29th, 2008 11:49 pm (UTC)
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I would vote for either a Maksutov-Cassegrain or Schmidt-Cassegrain over a refractor or folded refractor of equal price.

Around $1,500 should put you into a ~6" MCT with a very, very nice motorized go-to mount, last I checked.

I've used 4" and 6" MCTs, and they're wonderful for both planetary and stellar observations. But, I'm also pretty new at this.
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From:porfinn
Date:May 30th, 2008 04:42 pm (UTC)
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Ya know, I was just cruising the Celestron website, and you really can't go wrong with one of their telescopes (or Meade's). Both have a rep. to maintain, and both tend to support their products. My friend has this one:
http://www.celestron.com/c2/product.php?CatID=9&ProdID=37

This is a lot of telescope! More than most of us mere mortals need. It is reasonably easy to take down and set up. If you just poked around either website, and then went into a telescope store (or astronomical society meeting) and said, "Why should I, or shouldn't I buy this model?" It would be perfect place to start. My gut instinct says that a casse-grain would suit her needs better than a newtonian (somewhere in the back of my head, my brain is telling me that the casse-grain tends to be sturdier, more portable, and better for moving around). I'm sure, based on the design (and your friends review), that the nexstar is a pretty sweet scope, and that might leave you some additional cash to buy some accessories, like eye pieces (based on your budget). If you need more info, I can probably get it for you, but that-- to me-- seems like the easy route. I have a tiny preference for Meade scopes because they have been so great about supporting the conference I go to, but they can also be just as snotty as Celestron (and Celestron has been pretty cool about supporting us too. They both are, by and large, good companies).
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