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#208003 - 05/13/08 12:10 AM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: medic8r]
zhimbo Offline
veteran

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 138
Loc: Hanover, New Hampshire
I wouldn't get any of those scopes - I don't know about the "Galileo" dob; there are a ton of odd-brand imported dobs that are actually pretty good...but that may or may not be one of them. Actually, a quick look over at the Cloudy Nights forum suggests the Galileo dobs are vastly inferior to other dobs on the market. Avoid.

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/2357927/Main/2357438

Both Meade and Celestron put out a mix of very good scopes, and borderline scopes, and some not so great cheapo scopes. Those Celestron scopes have some "red flags" on them: teensy 5x24 finderscopes (next to useless), 4mm focal length eyepiece (almost certainly useless in these scopes), spindly looking mounts that probably shake a lot.

So, I'll say it, too: DON'T buy a telescope at Costco. Just don't. Not even for a beginner's scope. ESPECIALLY not for a beginner's scope. Buy from a dedicated astronomy retailer.


Edited by zhimbo (05/13/08 12:11 AM)

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#208005 - 05/13/08 12:57 AM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: medic8r]
JohnK Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/11/02
Posts: 10395
Yeah John, Astronomy Week ended yesterday, but it's still not too late for you to get with the program and order up a scope! I looked at what Costco advertises and I agree with Jim: forget it. Randy supplied some good links and I'd particularly suggest that you consider the 6"Dobsonian from Orion for about $270 delivered. This is a very good buy in a quality beginning scope that's big enough to excite interest(I've heard comments that 6 inches isn't enough, but that was in a different context), but inexpensive and easily portable. If you're willing to go a lot higher(e.g. $1500-$2500), Schmidt-Cassegrains or Maksutov-Cassegrains from Orion, Celestron or Meade are excellent.

If you request the very attractive printed Orion catalog, they'll continually send it to you until you can't resist ordering.
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#208022 - 05/13/08 09:52 AM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: JohnK]
Zarak Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 03/09/03
Posts: 1849
Loc: PA
I have a beginner scope and use every once in a while. For a beginner though, I think I'd recommend my second purchase instead. I got some binoculars, 8x50 if I recall, that are a lot easier to scan the sky with and find objects. I think that is the hardest part in the beginning, even with a book like "Turn Left at Orion" which I have.

So, I would recommend the binoculars. If you use them for a while and feel the need to get into it further, but something better than a beginner scope.

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#208027 - 05/13/08 10:45 AM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: medic8r]
SirQuack Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 13337
Loc: Iowa
In looking at what costco has to offer, I would still purchase directly from Orion, Celestron, etc. Kinda like the good customer service/warranty you receive from Axiom.
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#208028 - 05/13/08 10:47 AM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: SirQuack]
SirQuack Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 01/29/04
Posts: 13337
Loc: Iowa
If your looking at one of the Orion Dobs, their "GoTo" feature is awesome.
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M22-OWM22-VP100-Denon2805
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#208041 - 05/13/08 12:34 PM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: Zarak]
zhimbo Offline
veteran

Registered: 02/15/07
Posts: 138
Loc: Hanover, New Hampshire
The binoculars idea is a very, very good one, I recommend that, too. It's much easier to learn your way around the sky (and sky maps) using binoculars, before going to the extra complications of a scope. With a little practice (and reasonably dark skies), it's amazing what you can see in binoculars. Sure, most things are dim little fuzzies, but that's always the case.

"Turn Left At Orion" is a terrific book, by the way. Aimed at kids, but there's nothing wrong with that.

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#208053 - 05/13/08 02:56 PM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: zhimbo]
Zarak Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 03/09/03
Posts: 1849
Loc: PA
My astronomy knowledge is at the level of a child, so it's a perfect fit!

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#208223 - 05/15/08 12:23 PM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: SirQuack]
PeterChenoweth Offline
connoisseur

Registered: 10/23/03
Posts: 1349
Loc: Jacksonville, IL
As a casual backyard astronomer who's been through several scopes in the past decade or so, I can heartily recommend those Orion Maks (Maksutov-Cassergrain) from telescope.com to anyone looking to buy a good but inexpensive scope. They're really nice little scopes. Extremely flexible too, as they work very well as terrestrial scopes (spotting scopes) too, which is why I'd recommend them to a beginner. You can't use a dobson for anything other than astronomy. But you can use a Mak for terrestrial viewing, even as a huge telephoto lens for most cameras.

I have had an Apex 90 for several years and it's been a darn good scope. With a few good eyepieces it's great for lightweight astronomy. Think the moon, planets, comets, bright messiers, etc. It works really well as a spotting scope too, as it's small, compact and the optics don't flip the image. I have an lens adapter for my Nikon DSLR and it's awesome as a huge telephoto lens for wildlife photography. The 90mm is pretty good but if I had to do it all over again I'd get a 127 (M60 vs M80 discussion ;\) ). Lots more light-gathering (though nothing like an 8" dob).

I can even attest that Orion's tech support is good. The focuser was messed up on the first one that I received. An actual human being that spoke english picked up on the second ring to their tech support 800 number. Within 5 minutes I was talking to one of their experts. 10 minutes of troubleshooting with him deemed that it was indeed defective. Within 3 days I had a new (perfect) scope and a pre-paid return box for the bad one.

Several years ago I had a Meade ETX-70. Not the greatest optics, but it had their 'goto' system, AutoStar. It was very cool - when it worked. Yeah, you just tell it you want to see 'X' and the scope would slew into position. Slick. But setup & calibration was very touchy. You had to have everything dialed in just perfectly for it to work. I later purchased a Meade ETX-125PE scope, by far the most expensive I've ever owned at over $1k. I used it for a couple of weeks but got so frustrated with the electronics that I returned it. Great optics, but it would take me 20-30 minutes to get the system calibrated, and it would slowly 'loose it's mind' over the course of an evening's vieweing. Made the experience of stargazing frustrating, which is exactly the opposite of what it should be.

Not saying to stay away from them, just know what you're getting into. I know some of the newer goto scopes have GPS built into them and that would probably help a lot as that system ought to be able to calibrate itself more accurately.
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#208239 - 05/15/08 01:50 PM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: PeterChenoweth]
doormat Offline
devotee

Registered: 10/28/07
Posts: 395
Loc: Cold Lake, AB
I have a GPS goto, but I'm not really sure how much that helps. You still have to be pretty precise on your reference points to get it to lock on. In light polluted areas in can still be quite the chore, often better off just going manual. However, on those occasions when I have locked on it was golden!

On the other hand, turning those knobs on an EQ mount to find, identify, and track something can be quite rewarding.
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M80s/VP160/QS8s/EP350; M22s; M3s.

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#208241 - 05/15/08 01:52 PM Re: Dug out my 8" Dobsonian today. [Re: doormat]
Ken.C Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 17782
Loc: NoVA
I wasn't aware you could use those systems on a Dobsonian. As I recall, that wasn't possible about 10 years ago.
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