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Beginner Star gazer
Old 07-29-2020, 03:55 AM   #1
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Beginner Star gazer

I moved out to the country recently away from the city lights. I forgot how incredible the night sky can be when you can really see the stars. I'd like to get a telescope, but I've never had one or studied astronomy (except 50 odd years ago).

I'm looking for recommendations on a beginner's telescope, preferably under $300.
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Old 07-29-2020, 04:26 AM   #2
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I'd recommend searching to see if there is a local astronomy club in your area. They would have experienced users who could offer advice on equipment as well as good viewing locations.
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Old 07-29-2020, 04:26 AM   #3
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goggles your friend, just take all review guidance with grain of salt...

lucky you !!!!!!!!!!!!!

wish i could have pretty sky's at night
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Old 07-29-2020, 05:36 AM   #4
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Before you get the scope, first use some binoculars. The NEOWISE comment really benefited from the binocs.

I've been out of the telescope game for 40 years, so I can't comment. I may need to research myself.
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Old 07-29-2020, 05:46 AM   #5
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funny - I just came in form outside at 5:50 a.m. this morning to grab my iphone and I use this app called "StarRover" to spot out where Venus and Mars were. They were clearly the most visible to me outside (west of Austin TX). There were only a few more naked eye visible stars at this time in what is called "Nautical Twilight"
(below times are CST)
Night 12:00 am – 5:17 am
Astro. Twilight 5:17 am – 5:50 am
Nautical Twilight 5:50 am – 6:21 am
Civil Twilight 6:21 am – 6:48 am
Daylight 6:48 am – 8:26 pm
Civil Twilight 8:26 pm – 8:52 pm
Nautical Twilight 8:52 pm – 9:23 pm
Astro. Twilight 9:23 pm – 9:56 pm
Night 9:56 pm – 11:59 pm

As far as getting a telescope - I have too many hobby's as it is now - maybe someday.
Good luck - I would check out local Astronomy clubs and perhaps one of their members is looking to upgrade and sell his to you.
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Old 07-29-2020, 06:16 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by dirt_dobber View Post
funny - I just came in form outside at 5:50 a.m. this morning to grab my iphone and I use this app called "StarRover" to spot out where Venus and Mars were. They were clearly the most visible to me outside (west of Austin TX). There were only a few more naked eye visible stars at this time in what is called "Nautical Twilight"
(below times are CST)
Night 12:00 am 5:17 am
Astro. Twilight 5:17 am 5:50 am
Nautical Twilight 5:50 am 6:21 am
Civil Twilight 6:21 am 6:48 am
Daylight 6:48 am 8:26 pm
Civil Twilight 8:26 pm 8:52 pm
Nautical Twilight 8:52 pm 9:23 pm
Astro. Twilight 9:23 pm 9:56 pm
Night 9:56 pm 11:59 pm

As far as getting a telescope - I have too many hobby's as it is now - maybe someday.
Good luck - I would check out local Astronomy clubs and perhaps one of their members is looking to upgrade and sell his to you.
Another website I use is Heavens-Above,
https://heavens-above.com/.
It has dates, times, and printable over head charts for finding your object. I use it most for the ISS and satellites, but it has a lot more information.
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Old 07-29-2020, 06:19 AM   #7
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One thing I ask, is that you participate in municipal government to keep light pollution on the table when zoning laws and building permits are discussed.

Nothing personal, but up our way we have too many people leaving the city and coming here, only to try to re-make our town into the city they left. They want street lights everywhere, and every new business or residence has to be lit up like Broadway.

Those dark night skies for stargazing are getting harder and harder to find.
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Old 07-29-2020, 06:42 AM   #8
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One thing I ask, is that you participate in municipal government to keep light pollution on the table when zoning laws and building permits are discussed.

Nothing personal, but up our way we have too many people leaving the city and coming here, only to try to re-make our town into the city they left. They want street lights everywhere, and every new business or residence has to be lit up like Broadway.

Those dark night skies for stargazing are getting harder and harder to find.
Yes, when we moved out to our home just outside the suburban collar counties 30 years ago, you could really enjoy the night sky. Since then the township population has more than doubled and the Milky Way is barely visible.

I agree that a pair of binoculars is a very good starting point for stargazing. I also viewed Neowise through a pair of 10x50 glasses with very good results.

To me, the most impressive views through a good telescope are those of the planets, such as Saturn and its rings.
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Old 07-29-2020, 06:57 AM   #9
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Lucky you. Too much light pollution in my area except directly east over the ocean. Even that is not ideal. Keeping tabs on the replies for a telescope just in case.


Cheers!
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Old 07-29-2020, 07:21 AM   #10
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Before you get the scope, first use some binoculars. The NEOWISE comment really benefited from the binocs.
I'll go even further and suggest to not ever bother with a telescope. With good binoculars and a clear night, you can see amazing things. Telescopes only focus on one point. Saturn's rings is about it.

In my opinion, the beauty of the night sky is in a wide view, not a very narrow one.
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Old 07-29-2020, 07:26 AM   #11
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This question comes up all the time here. Many threads on it like....

Beginner Telescope
https://www.early-retirement.org/for...ope-69915.html

Any Telescope Users Here ?
https://www.early-retirement.org/for...ere-75101.html
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Old 07-29-2020, 07:41 AM   #12
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Lucky you. Too much light pollution in my area except directly east over the ocean. Even that is not ideal. Keeping tabs on the replies for a telescope just in case.


Cheers!

A couple years ago, we had a hurricane knocked out electricity for a large area. The sky was amazing, I took my wife outside for a look telling her we may never see this view again.
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Old 07-29-2020, 07:45 AM   #13
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If you have an Android phone, Sky Map (used to be Google Sky, now open source) is great for locating points of interest. It will use the GPS and positioning sensors to show you a star map of where it's pointed, identifying stars, planets, constellations, and visible satellites.
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Old 07-29-2020, 07:56 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Lewis Clark View Post
I'd recommend searching to see if there is a local astronomy club in your area. They would have experienced users who could offer advice on equipment as well as good viewing locations.
^ This. They may also be able to turn you on to some very good used scopes that would be far superior than a $300 brand new one.
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Old 07-29-2020, 08:12 AM   #15
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Whether you go with a scope or binoculars, look for a tripod as well. I had high powered bino’s and could pull in the rings of Saturn, but the more distant the object, the more shake and movement distract from the experience. I had a good tripod and it made it more enjoyable.
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Old 07-29-2020, 08:14 AM   #16
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Nothing personal, but up our way we have too many people leaving the city and coming here, only to try to re-make our town into the city they left.
Ha ha. Many of us from Southern states get it. People from Northern states say they are moving to get away from certain things --- only to change government in their new state to institute such things.

As for light pollution: you really have to look out for the right kind of fixture to help. I find it very frustrating. Some of the best upward shielded fixtures also have extremely low lumens, to the point of being useless. It is too bad too, because LED technology is perfect for creating directional fixtures, compared to the old globe or bubble vapor lights.
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Old 07-29-2020, 08:54 AM   #17
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I would agree with the suggestions regarding a good pair of binoculars. Much more versatile than a telescope. In my experience the minimum worthwhile telescope aperture is 4" (100 mm). This will give you great detail on the moon and allow you to see Jupiter's moons and Saturn's rings acceptably well and show you some of the nice Messier objects. Over the years I have found that the wow factor of looking through a scope has been greatly diminished by the wonderful pics sent back from the Voyagers, Galileo and the Hubble. As well, unless you are going to get into CCD imaging, naked eye observing is limited. And if you get into larger scopes you run into technical issues that unless you are really into it wind up making the whole thing burdensome. If you do go with a scope definitely get something of good quality with GPS auto-align features. Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazines both have good articles on pros/cons/recommendations on telescopes and binoculars.

IMHO, there is nothing that matches naked eyes in and a dark sky. The Perseids peak this year on the night of August 12. Get a lawn chair stretch out and be amazed. No telescope or binoculars required! It's a third quarter moon so get out before moon rise which is just after midnight. Enjoy!

We are lucky enough to have a cottage deep in a dark sky preserve but agree that one has to be vigilant about people putting up lights and ignoring bylaws. Solar LED lights are a bane in cottage country!
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Old 07-29-2020, 09:17 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
One thing I ask, is that you participate in municipal government to keep light pollution on the table when zoning laws and building permits are discussed.

Nothing personal, but up our way we have too many people leaving the city and coming here, only to try to re-make our town into the city they left. They want street lights everywhere, and every new business or residence has to be lit up like Broadway.

Those dark night skies for stargazing are getting harder and harder to find.
+1
We live in a darker neighborhood, nearest street light is several miles away. Until the tourists show up and turn on every available outside light.
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Old 07-29-2020, 10:17 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by CaptTom View Post
One thing I ask, is that you participate in municipal government to keep light pollution on the table when zoning laws and building permits are discussed.

Nothing personal, but up our way we have too many people leaving the city and coming here, only to try to re-make our town into the city they left. They want street lights everywhere, and every new business or residence has to be lit up like Broadway.

Those dark night skies for stargazing are getting harder and harder to find.
Don't forget to harass Elon Musk, too. His Starlink space trash satellites have made getting decent pictures of NEOWISE pretty difficult for astrophotogs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Cosmic Avenger View Post
If you have an Android phone, Sky Map (used to be Google Sky, now open source) is great for locating points of interest. It will use the GPS and positioning sensors to show you a star map of where it's pointed, identifying stars, planets, constellations, and visible satellites.
Sadly, Sky Map is pretty terrible since it was "abandoned" by Google IMHO. They just recently added NEOWISE to it...just in time for it to be gone. I have used Sky Safari and have been pretty impressed with it. The search function is pretty useful.
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Old 07-29-2020, 12:26 PM   #20
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Ha ha. Many of us from Southern states get it. People from Northern states say they are moving to get away from certain things --- only to change government in their new state to institute such things.

That reminds me of: What is the difference between a yankee and a damn yankee?
A yankee comes down, spends their money and goes home. A damn yankee comes down and stays.
A damn yankee for the last 26 years :-)
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