About a month ago I got a new telescope and I’d like to share my experiences with it so far.
I got my first ‘real’ telescope (not the kind you get in department retail stores) about 13 years ago and it was a 10” Newtonian Reflector on a manual Dobsonian Mount. I chose that one because my favorite things to look at is deep sky stuff – Star Clusters and Nebulae in the Milky Way and other galaxies – so I needed a huge light bucket to resolve those low magnitude targets.
It served me well and the manual mount strengthened my understanding of the night sky as there was some difficult star hopping I had to learn to find those faint fuzzy deep sky objects and I now understand the celestial coordinate systemwell and can point out just about any constellation in the northern hemisphere on any given day.
There is nothing like the feeling I get when I see, with my own eyes, the photons that left those distant objects 1,000’s and millions of years ago. It’s like a real time machine in that you’re seeing what these objects looked like many years in the past.
But after a while I longed for a way I could share that joy with others by sharing pictures of what I was able to see. I couldn’t take very good pics with my 10” Reflector because I’d need to have long exposures for the deep sky stuff and a manual mount didn’t compensate for the rotation of the earth and it was impossible. And even taking a quick pic of a planet was difficult because I was up against the clock to get the planet centered in the field of view then quickly attach the camera before the object rotated out of the eyepiece field of view. It sucked!
So I finally purchased a German Go-To EQ mount that automatically tracks objects with stepper motors on the Right Ascension and Declination axes and an 85mm APO Refractor telescope (pictured below).
I am very pleased with this telescope and I’ll share some pics below but there should be one caveat with my glowing review here. Setting up and using a Go-To EQ mount requires a good knowledge of the night sky and familiarity with celestial coordinates so this is NOT a good telescope for a beginner.
To use an EQ mount you need to know how to polar align the mount, calibrate the finder scope with the actual telescope and perform multiple star alignments which requires you to know the names of bright stars in the sky. All of this would be very frustrating for a novice and would cause them to give up if this was their first telescope.
Having over a decade’s worth of experience manually finding objects in the sky has positioned me well to come up the learning curve quickly on this new mount and I would’ve been lost 13 years ago if this was the first telescope I bought. I highly recommend a lower price, manual telescope if you are a newbie looking to get into amateur astronomy. Get a couple of years under your belt with the manual mount then, if you still love this hobby, make the plunge into a more advanced setup.
I’m very pleased with my purchased and below are some pics I’ve taken with my new telescope and here are a few details on my equipment that was used to take these pictures.
27mm Televue Panoptic eyepiece
Orion SteadyPix Smartphone Telescope Photo Adapter
Aldebaran star in Taurus
Double star cluster in Perseus
M31 Andromeda Galaxy
M42 Orion Nebula
M45 Beehive star cluster
NGC 2264 Nebula
NGC 2392 Eskimo Nebula