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Started by ggalilei, 12/25/2012 01:55PM
Posted 12/25/2012 01:55PM Opening Post
I am building up a set of economical equipment for the astronomy class I'll be teaching in the Spring, where I want to emphasize the observational part. And this is what I'm finding out: very satisfying views can be had in cheap telescopes and eyepieces! My expensive top-of-the-line telescopes provide better views but not by that much. I've now purchased four $ 100 telescopes (used) - Celestron and Meade from 80 to 102 mm refractors - and a bunch of $ 12-40 eyepieces and the views are WAY better than expected, they're pretty good in fact. The biggest expense ends up being the tripod and mount, and it's also difficult to figure out which one will work for your needs, that's the hardest part of the whole process. I have previously used a Vixen L70 refractor and R130sf reflector on Porta mounts (complete systems for $ 350-400 new from the stores) and they gave excellent performance. Now I'm trying even lighter mounts and tripods, but it gets tricky selecting one and they're still in the $ 200-400 range. Anyway, what I'm finding out is that it's just fun to be out there observing and there are many targets and good views even in used, small, and inexpensive telescopes, just figure out which mount will do the job for you.
Posted 12/25/2012 03:12PM | Edited 12/25/2012 03:14PM #1

One can get enjoyable views with inexpensive telescopes. Even the 60mm and 70mm refractors one finds around this time of the year are capable of providing reasonable views. In my experience, the problem areas are tripod/mount and the accessories. The diagonals are poor, the finders and often the eyepieces are weak points.

Last year I bought a Celestron Powerseeker 70 at Walmart for $40. Optically it was decent, it came with a red dot finder that is essentially the same as the Orion Deluxe model but with a different mounting. The eyepieces were 1.25 inch but all three were Huygens, OK performers at F/10 but very narrow fields. The diagonal was a correct image with limited clear aperture. The worst thing about it was the tripod.

It cost me about $6 and an hour's time to make a new set of legs from some rough 2x2's. They were a huge improvement.

Mounts are a problem. Old EQ-1 and EQ-2 mounts are often cheap and can be used as an alt-az mount simply by pointing the polar axis at the zenith. Sometimes one can find an old Meade 4500 for $50 or so.. Lots of good old scopes out there if you watch CL.


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jonisaacs's attachment for post 146394
Posted 01/14/2013 06:43PM #2
6 to 8 inch dobsonians are pretty inexpensive, and will greatly increase your light gathering power, as well as resolving power. It really opens you up past lunar and planetary.

My school uses 6 inch f 8 dobs.
My old school uses 8 inch f 6 dobs.

The mounts are pretty steady compared to GEM's in your price range.

I'll head our program director toward you.