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Cant see the wood for the trees
https://popastro.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=20953
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Author:  spudos [ Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:47 am ]
Post subject:  Cant see the wood for the trees

So, armed with nothing more than a fascination with the stars and a starting budget of £1000 I want to explore.

The problem is, even looking through the forum there is so much variation in the information available it is near impossible to know where to start.

What would be great is someone or something that says "buy this" and gives you an idea of how to find some initial targets of interest, say, for example, the planets.

Is there a course out there? Is there a shop we trust to sell me something and give me a few pointers taking the view that I would be a long-term and profitable customer?

Most of the starter guides I have read don't really address specifics (i might not have found the right one). General explanations of the different equipment are great but how do you make that next step after you know roughly what you want to do and have mastered stellarium :)

Author:  David Frydman [ Tue Nov 27, 2018 5:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

Hi spudos, welcome.

Astronomy is a vast subject, so it is up to the beginner to decide what his or her interest is.

If there is a local astro society, it would be best to go to their meetings.
Do they an observatory?

The main thing is the darkness of the observing site.
If in a town there are problems, but planetary observations may be O.K.

Any shop or outlet is interested in taking ones money, so that is probably not a good place to start.

So, what is your observing site like regarding light pollution?
Would you travel safely to a darker site?
Is someone fit enough to carry a larger scope?
Does one have a car etc.?

And money is not the solution either.
For £1,000 one can get a fine telescope, but £300 or £400 would buy a Dobsonian telescope or good altazimuth scope.
£100 for a 10x50 binocular.

Regards,
David

Author:  skyhawk [ Tue Nov 27, 2018 5:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

Welcome

1. NO ONE can advise you on what to buy unless you ask the right question and give all the info as said above, what, where, how etc, MY advice JOIN a CLUB

2. NO scope is perfect for everything which is why people have more than one scope

3. general rule

a. Short tube refractor WIDE field, nebula etc
b. Long tube refractor Planets and moon
c. Max/Schmidt Cassegrain Planets etc
d. Reflecting scope Deep sky and jack of all trades
e. Get a scope that takes 2" eyepieces from the start

THIS is why people like me have all three/four types.

You may as well ask what car should I buy, without knowing WHAT you want to do there IS no answer.

Author:  spudos [ Tue Nov 27, 2018 7:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

Thanks for the advice.

I live in the Shropshire countryside with a nice big garden and very little light pollution.

My initial interest lies with the planets, maybe because I don't know what else to focus (no pun intended) on but I thought that was a start.

Don't get me wrong, I don't need to spend £1000, I was really trying to demonstrate that I don't need to start at the cheapest end of the price spectrum.

I'm 46, fit, have transport etc so travelling or moving equipment around is not a problem.

There is a local society, maybe others that I haven't found yet - I will try and get some help from one of them.

I was hoping for a fairly quick entry into the hobby but maybe that's reckless given the complexity of the subject.

Maybe if there was a mentoring system somewhere that would be a help :)

Author:  RMSteele [ Tue Nov 27, 2018 10:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

Welcome to the "chat",
Quick entries make quick exits. The method that suited me was to buy a planisphere, a small, popular sky atlas, and a pair of good 10x50 binoculars. I plotted the stars of a major constellation down to about magnitude 4, together with the brighter deep sky objects, onto a sheet of A4 every week or so and kept them in a ring binder: I still have these. That helped me to remember and, after a year I had a good knowledge of the sky and found out what interested me. I learned my way around the main features of the Moon and spotted the major planets. I balanced my binoculars on a wooden broom handle for stability. The cost in today's money would be no more than £150. In fact binoculars of comparable optical quality are probably cheaper these days than they used to be.
I'm sure that if you have any queries, someone here will help.
Kind thoughts to you, Bob

Author:  skyhawk [ Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:54 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

spudos wrote:
I don't need to spend £1000, I was really trying to demonstrate that I don't need to start at the cheapest end of the price spectrum.


Cheap is relative, sorry but £1000 could get you a GOOD scope or just TWO good eyepieces :)

Author:  skyhawk [ Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

RMSteele wrote:
Welcome to the "chat",
Quick entries make quick exits. The method that suited me was to buy a planisphere, a small, popular sky atlas, and a pair of good 10x50 binoculars. I plotted the stars of a major constellation down to about magnitude 4, together with the brighter deep sky objects, onto a sheet of A4 every week or so and kept them in a ring binder: I still have these. That helped me to remember and, after a year I had a good knowledge of the sky and found out what interested me. I learned my way around the main features of the Moon and spotted the major planets. I balanced my binoculars on a wooden broom handle for stability. The cost in today's money would be no more than £150. In fact binoculars of comparable optical quality are probably cheaper these days than they used to be.
I'm sure that if you have any queries, someone here will help.
Kind thoughts to you, Bob


Show me an astronomer who doesn't have binoculars, I know none :)

Author:  skyhawk [ Wed Nov 28, 2018 7:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

spudos wrote:
Thanks for the advice.

I live in the Shropshire countryside with a nice big garden and very little light pollution.

My initial interest lies with the planets, maybe because I don't know what else to focus (no pun intended) on but I thought that was a start.

Don't get me wrong, I don't need to spend £1000, I was really trying to demonstrate that I don't need to start at the cheapest end of the price spectrum.

I'm 46, fit, have transport etc so travelling or moving equipment around is not a problem.

There is a local society, maybe others that I haven't found yet - I will try and get some help from one of them.

I was hoping for a fairly quick entry into the hobby but maybe that's reckless given the complexity of the subject.

Maybe if there was a mentoring system somewhere that would be a help :)


You can get in quick, then spend a lot of time regretting it, mentoring, again CLUB

Author:  mike a feist [ Wed Nov 28, 2018 8:20 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

The vastness of the subject and the many many ways of approaching amateur astronomy / skywatching does mean that it is very very difficult to put ones finger on the best way to get into it. The subject of what to buy and what is the best instrument when asked of ten amateurs will no doubt produce as many answers! I really like Bob's answer, and David's is good and Skyhawk's has much to commend it. Joining a local group may or may not work for you as, depending on the members and your personality, you might feel at home or overwhelmed or find that their approach very helpful or entirely different to what you had in mind. Talks may encourage you , or be so scientific or computeristically about imaging that once visited, you may say never again! Or you may like scientific and computeristic?! Personally I would say do not throw money at it, but do not buy a cheap telescope with lovely pictures of galaxies on the box and with promises of huge magnifications offered. Binoculars, or a spotting scope, which can also be used for other things too, might be a good start plus a star-atlas or handguide. That is my suggestion, others will disagree. Regards maf.

Author:  spudos [ Wed Nov 28, 2018 9:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

Ok, thanks for the advice all.

I'm looking around for clubs, so hopefully, I will be able to go to a meeting soon.

Turn left at Orion will be arriving today and I will get some binoculars and start there :)

Really all I wanted at this stage was to point something at the sky and see some detail on the planets but I can build up to that :)

I really appreciate the input though, thanks again.

Author:  mike a feist [ Wed Nov 28, 2018 12:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

Quote "point something at the sky and see some details on the planets".
Seeing details on the Moon is easy but seeing details on the planets (this it often mentioned by beginners as there first primary aim) is something else. With small telescopes or binoculars, the planets are very small, and beginners often are quite surprised by this, thinking that the planetary discs will be large enough to see lots of detail. This is often made worse by the huge pictures of the various planets in rich colour of the boxes in which some are supplied.
Of course one can locate the various planets, and watch their motion against the starry background but fine details will not be visible in binoculars. Mercury may be located at dawn or dusk but even seeing the phase needs something bigger. Venus, when suitable placed, will reveal the crescent phase easily. Mars is a very disappointing planet for the small instrument user, even when at its best and very bright, just showing just a tiny disc.( I have only seen any detail in someone else's larger reflector). Jupiter is the largest planet and in general one can pick out in binoculars, some cloud-belts (probably a couple) and four moons. Saturn shows that there is something odd about it! Higher power binoculars shows that it has rings but that is about it. Uranus can definitely found in binoculars, as can Neptune but appear as stars. Regards maf

Author:  stella [ Wed Nov 28, 2018 1:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

"Quick entries make quick exits."

I must vehemently disagree.

It took me 5 minutes to enter astronomy, and 66 years later, I see no prospect
of an exit.

Author:  RMSteele [ Wed Nov 28, 2018 2:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

I have a similar experience in cinemas these days, Stella.
Bob

Author:  brian livesey [ Wed Nov 28, 2018 4:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

If I had to choose between binoculars and a small telescope, I'd choose the 'scope. I started with a 3-inch refractor and saw plenty of sights with it, far more than can be observed in binoculars.
Of course, binoculars are perfect for low-power sweeping, but that's all.

Author:  mike a feist [ Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:50 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cant see the wood for the trees

A spottingscope + binoculars make a good combination. The latter for wide -angled views and as a finder, if you like, for locating objects to turn the scope on. If you are looking for something under partly cloudy skies, it can be be very very frustrating using the scope (especially if it has an angled eyepiece!) with it narrower fov. Scanning with binoculars (or monocular) first, you can nail your target, and then if there is time as the clouds roll in again, you can easier zoom in on it. If not, at least you were able to observe the conjunction, comet or whatever at the lower power! Regards maf

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