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Just starting

Posted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:15 pm
by Tom_054
Hi all,I would like to start by saying thanks to all that read this post and for you to remember I am an absolute beginner! so all guidance is welcomed.I am happy to announce I have just snapped up a Jessops Astronomical Reflector Telescope 900-114 ( ... /show.html ) as an Xmas present in the sale they are currently promoting.

As i have been trawling the internet I have discovered that some people really don't seem to like even the thought of owning one of these and on the flip side a lot of people love it! As for myself, I have it now and without sounding flippant or arrogant, good or bad, I am going to use this to its full potential (once i work out how), have no intentions of returning it and make the most of it. Ill have to wait until Xmas to see, in the meantime though I thought I would join this society in the aim of developing and building my understanding of what I hope is going to be a very successful and fulfilling hobby. I would like any tips or extras you more experienced guys would recommend for my new scope? and please if you do feel this scope is terrible and a waste of money please keep your views constructive as I am not here for online arguments I am here as a genuine enthusiast, after all everyone starts off somewhere aye?

So yeah anything you feel may help or guide me is much appreciated :)

Many thanks


Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:58 am
by brian livesey
Hi Tom, Are there any particular questions you'd like to ask, relating to your newly-acquired 'scope and observing the sky?

Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:10 am
by David Frydman
Hi Tom, Welcome.
Looking at the scope, I would suggest keeping the mount low as it seems to have adjustable legs on the tripod.
Maybe use it sitting.
If the tripod goes high maybe add a weight such as a weighted sock suspended from the tray.
Perhaps shield it from the wind.
This applies to higher magnifications such as 100x or 120x for planets.
Normally use low and medium magnification.
Is the lowest magnification about 36x?

Maybe start off with the Moon and Jupiter which is high up.
Also Orion.

Good luck with the scope and clear skies.

Regards, David

Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 12:52 pm
by Tom_054
Thanks for the replies guys. Great tips from yourself David and I’ll make sure I bare them all in mind once I get started (can't wait!) and as for the magnification I believe the lowest is 36x yes, in the box I have the following accessories;

-PL 6.5mm and PL 25mm Eyepieces
-Finder scope 6 x 30
-Barlow lens 2x
-1.5X Erecting Lens
-Moon Filter,

Brace yourselves for a Q & A ha-ha....

I have read that it’s possible to purchase some better quality/different sized lenses to add to what I have,(If I need to that is) any recommendations on that front? And whilst we are on the topic I’m guessing there must be different types of lenses that are only compatible with certain scopes given the abbreviation PL before the sizes of my lenses, if you could bestow your wisdom on this matter and the differences that would be great.

Also, once I've learnt the ropes I think im going to start to want to take pictures of what I’m observing, obviously I’m going to need an adaptor and camera for this, any recommendations on these? to me a camera is a camera but are there any given cameras that have qualities desirable for this use whilst at the same time just general use, ill set a budget of about £150

Finally (for now), any recommended websites/tutorial books you think would be handy to a complete beginner like myself? I already have a book of constellations and can spot the obvious sorts of things in the night sky unaided.

Reagrds, Tom

Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:12 pm
by David Frydman
Dear Tom,
The PL means Plossl a 4 element eyepiece (lens).
Any eyepiece nowadays fits any telescope if it is 1.25 inch fit, the inner size of the drawtube and outer size of the eyepiece approx.

I would get a 15mm eyepiece or near giving 60x maybe a Plossl 1.25inch fit. Maybe perfect secondhand here in classified or new.
Then around 9mm giving 100x for planets.
The 6.5mm is a bit high but should work, about 140x. Use 36x first centre planet and swop over noting direction of drift due to Earth's rotation.

Photography through the telescope is another kettle of fish.
Strictly speaking the mount is not up to photography, but you might manage the Moon with the scope.

Others will advise on photography.

You made it clear you want to use what you have and we will stick to that, but as in Ireland one might say when getting directions, ''I wouldn't start from here''.

So maybe piggyback photography would work.
Possibly a web cam, but I am no expert on that.

As to books, I am told' Turn left at Orion' latest edition is good and there is a lot free on the internet. Await others.

Do you have a camera?

A binocular is useful, say 10 x 50.
Jessops are doing their own waterproof roofprism 10 x 42 Ist model half price at £24.99 in store only or Mk II 39.99.
8 x 40 Nikon Action porroprism at Jessops £59.99.

Regards, David.

O.K. you have a book on constellations, that might be enough.

Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:58 pm
by brian livesey
Remeber Tom, to let your 'scope cool down in the colder air outside. Once the optics have adjusted to the change in temperature, you'll get better definition.

Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 7:54 pm
by The Bat
Hi Tom

Welcome! :D
David is right: Turn Left at Orion is a great book and will help you get started with finding many of the best sights out there. The finder on that scope looks like a red dot finder if I'm right. That will make star hopping to some fainter objects a little trickier but you should still be able to get started with some of the easier targets. You could probably upgrade the finder in time.

The Moon and Jupiter are great targets to start on, and the Orion Nebula. The above book will guide you towards some double stars and clusters.

You will struggle with photography with that setup. For any target other than the Moon you'd really need a motorised mount for tracking the sky, which this isn't. You may be able to try some planetary imaging with a webcam but even that could be a bit of a challenge without a motor.

I'd recommend a planisphere which is probably easier to use outside in the dark than a book - you have all the constellations on a single map that way which you can customise for your date & time.

I have The Backyard Astronomer's Guide (Dickinson & Dyer), which is excellent. It's a hefty tome, and one for browsing on those many cloudy nights. It has some good information for beginners on equipment, differents scopes and mounts, what are essential accessories and which are 'nice to have', plus tips on observing techniques ... pretty much everything you need to know to get started in practical astronomy.

You should get plenty of enjoyment out of that scope.


Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:36 pm
by Tom_054
Getting some great responses and tips here guys and its much appreciated, and it’s good to know the general consensus seems to be i have a worthwhile scope here by the looks of things, as for imagery that’s no big deal at the moment anyways, maybe something for future endeavours. Those books and the idea of a planisphere sound good and obviously a good investment. Would you mind explaining the red dot finder a little more?

Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:39 pm
by Brian
Hi Tom, Welcome!

Good advice in the preceding posts 8) . I have a 102mm refractor on a similar mount (EQ1) which has worked well for 10 years now. It's main problem is that it's lightweight and tends to wobble a little especially while I'm trying to focus. I fitted a simple motor drive (don't know if one is available for your mount) and I've done quite a lot of imaging (Moon - and Sun with full aperture Baader solar filter :!: ) using a webcam. The mounting won't really carry a normal camera, it will be too heavy. But as yo say imaging is for the future, first things first :)

If you look on Youtube you can find all sorts of videos covering the care and use of telescopes. For instanc ehere's one on using an equatorial mounting which you might find useful: ... r_embedded

If you've got some binoculars then The Moon and Jupiter are only 1 degree apart on the evening of 28 Nov, nice with unaided eyes as well :)


Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:30 pm
by The Bat
Tom_054 wrote:Would you mind explaining the red dot finder a little more?
The finder is the little scope attached to the side of the main telescope tube. It's used like a gunsight to point the telescope in the general direction of the object you want to observe. There are 3 types of finder:

Red dot - projects a small red dot onto a piece of glass/plastic at the front end of the finder. You would position the red dot over the object you want to look at. Because the red dot finder does not magnify you can only see objects visible to the unaided eye through it so finding your way around faint star fields will be tricky.

Conventional finder - like a small telescope with cross hairs, which will magnify maybe 15x-30x. Stars not visible to the unaided eye can be seen so it is then easier to star hop around, although the image is inverted, which some people find confusing.

Telrad - similar to a red dot finder but a series of concentric circles is illuminated, with apparent diameters of (perhaps) 0.5, 2 and 4 degrees. Telrad finders do not magnify but you would use the circles to move approximate distances from one star to the next.

Whichever style you have, one of the first things you need to do is make sure your finder is aligned with the main scope. This is best done in daytime. Simply look through the main scope's eyepiece and locate a recognisable object like a lamppost, telegraph pole or chimney pot. Look through the finder and make sure that the finder is centred on the same object. If it is not, then you need to adjust the finder (usually 2 or 3 screws) until the view matches the main scope. After that is done then whatever you point the finder at should be visible in the main scope. If your finder is not correctly aligned it can be difficult to even find the Moon!

Hope that helps. :D


Re: Just starting

Posted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:58 pm
by Tom_054
Thanks Brian and Rachel,

From what I’m reading I’m also considering buying a set of binoculars now (i can see you guys are going to love spending my money :P) apart from the ones mentioned, any other recommendations for a decent set of binos that are going to see me through for a while and ill not need to replace or would these ones suffice?

Also logic is telling me; from reading Rachel’s post that once I’m settled in it would be beneficial to purchase a conventional finder for when im ready to star hop and delv a little deeper? Sounds to me like a good option and something I would definitely get on with.

Re: Just starting

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:53 am
by David Frydman
Dear Tom,
10x 50 Nikon Action VII Microglobe £79 plus £8.
10 x 50 Olympus DPS £59 plus £8 Microglobe
10 x 50 Pentax XCF £61 plus £8 Microglobe.

The first was on offer at Sherwoods cheaper but sold out.

However, it is best to buy from a shop and test the binoculars and buy the one you test not an identical boxed one.
It is better to buy the good demonstrator.

Mail order results in out of collimation binoculars, i.e. double images often especially with cheap binoculars.
If out of collimation immediately get a replacement.

I suggested Jessops 10 x 42 as it is good vaule in store if they have it at £24.99. The field is not 7 degrees as stated but less.

Do you wear glasses with binoculars? If so you need good eye relief.

Regards, David

Re: Just starting

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 1:10 pm
by Tom_054
Brian, I do not wear glasses so I don’t need to specifically look for lots of eye relief. I did a little Google search on collimation and looked into the theory behind it, was a good little read. What tell-tale signs am I looking for when testing bino's (pros and cons for astronomy) because it may be cheaper to mail order a pair, but if you suggest against this I know a few good camera stores back home that I’m sure will have some decent offers on, failing that I might be able to bait them into giving me forces discount =D.

From what I’ve gathered, at the moment I want to be looking for 10x50 ish bino's (or as close to), preferably waterproof and a FOV of about 6-7 degrees (is higher always better?), preferably a porro to a roof prism?

Just for anybody who wishes to have a little read up on what I found to be a very informative bino article there’s a good link.

Re: Just starting

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 3:48 pm
by David Frydman
Dear Tom,
Normally for astronomy waterproof binoculars are not necessary.
However, if as part of your job you travel to hot and humid places such as the far east then waterproof nitrogen or argon purged is essential.
Without waterproofing there, 3 to 6 weeks might be all you get from brand new to fungused as happened to most Australian optics in WW2 in Burma and nearby.
They used to just blow dry air through frequently and you see these valves on Ross and Barr and Stroud WW2 binoculars.

There are so many options as to type.
Firstly try them in your local store. And avoid Mail order if you can.
Suggest 10 x 50 Nikon action VII porroprism non waterprooof.
Or 10 x 50 Nikon EX WATERPROOF, £126 Microglobe.
There are others. Weahermaster III Optical Vision website £70 6.5 degrees probably Chinese.
Barr and Stroud ROOF prism Sahara or Sierra 10 x 50s
10 x 56 Savannah or 10 x 56 Savannah ED Barr and Stroud roof prism.

Binoculars go from £25 to £2,000 but £80 or so non waterproof and £70 to £200 WATERPROOF should get you a good 10 x 50 or 10 x 56.

As to a D Discount, I am sure you could persuade the shop to help.

If you want to go low price, the 10 x 42 Jessops waterproof roof is O.K. at £25, basic, but O.K.

Regards, David

It is more difficult to waterproof a central focussing porroprism binocular than an independent eyepiece focus porroprism or a roof prism.
Marine binoculars are usually independent eye focussing.
Some military binoculars like the British Avimo are fixed focus but not liked by the military because of the shape.

Re: Just starting

Posted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 4:59 pm
by Tom_054
Thanks alot David, funny enough I have a pair or works Avimo's right here that i just went out back with and considoring the 7 x 42 I was amazed at how even this piece of kit opened up so much more than the unaided eye! I guess im in for a treat once i start with the proper kit!

I will definately go out when I next get the chance and get me a pair of decent bino's, until then the late nights at work + the Avimo's will keep me ticking over.

Last night I continued looking around the web and stumbled across a few eyepiece + filter kits that come in a swish aluminium case, manufacturers being Celesteon and another beginning with T, i'll stick links up later as I can't get on certain websites on the works machines.