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Old 06-18-2021, 09:07 AM   #1
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Any Stargazers out there?

Looking to get a telescope for some night time viewing as we go boon docking. Anyone got any recommendations?
~manny
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Old 06-18-2021, 09:15 AM   #2
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Depends on how much you want to spend.
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Old 06-18-2021, 09:15 AM   #3
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Depending of how much you want to spend, Celestron has a good reputation.
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Old 06-18-2021, 09:19 AM   #4
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Celestron makes some nice, reasonable introductory equipment. Personally if that’s what you want to do I’d start with charts or an app and binoculars first. Decide if you really like it or not. Quickly becomes very boring if you’re just staring at things. The learning of what is where, learning how to find features, their physical properties, learning how to transit,, is the truly cool part.
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Old 06-18-2021, 09:55 AM   #5
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I don't want to push you into anything, but I would start with a good set of binoculars with optical stabilization. Doesn't take up much room in the trailer and can give you some great views of the sky. I've been working with and restoring telescopes for over 20 years and I will tell you that magnification is not your friend. Stay away from ads saying 600x! You will get your greatest enjoyment out of the widest view possible.

Once you become accustomed to viewing the heavens I would invest in a good refractor or reflector. The refractor is more compact and normally you can get a case with them to hold eyepieces and accessories. That will make it easier to travel. The reflectors are larger (but shorter) and normally do not come with a case. Pictured is a 102mm Wiliams Optics refractor and an 8" Celestron reflector. Both require a tripod and I would recommend a wooden tripod for the refractor (its lighter weight and folds down) and a steel tripod for the larger reflector. You will also need a telescope mount. You have to decide if you want a full star tracking with search, or just star tracking, or just a manual mount. It gets complicated and you can spend thousands on one of these. That's why it is important to start small!

Pictures below are a Cave telescope for the 50's and a Unitron 5" that's over 11' tall!

My Celestron has a star motor drive and search function controlled by the app Sky Safari.
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Old 06-18-2021, 09:56 AM   #6
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Yeah, amateur astronomy is one of those hobbies like photography or being an audiophile and trying to buy a decent stereo system. It can quickly become a very expensive, all-consuming hobby, or a money pit.

I agree that a good pair of binoculars and a great app is the perfect place to begin. Everyone always laments the lack of a decent quality telescope at a reasonable price.
There is always going to be someone in the stargazing community that has spent more money and gotten more and more elaborate equipment. On the other hand the fact that you have an airstream and can escape the ever increasing light pollution in this country to find some darker skies is a huge bonus. . However I don’t believe anywhere in this country will ever be as dark in my lifetime ( excepting perhaps a during black out) as the middle of Kenya where the entire sky was spangled with enough starlight to read by, once your eyes got adjusted to it.

However You should realize that once you step into this world, you’ll be tempted to spend ever increasing amounts on bigger better glass, clock drives, photography,, and wonderful trips out West or up north in search of darker skies, good seeinig And the periodic meteor showers, eclipses, northern lights, conjunctions, and so on.
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Old 06-18-2021, 10:49 AM   #7
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East coast or west coast if I might ask? Portions or rural Maine are about as dark as you’re going to get on the Easter side of the country.
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Old 06-18-2021, 11:09 AM   #8
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Agree with others, start with a good pair of binoculars. If you move to a scope, consider that the best one is the one that gets used the most, so a small refractor and a simple mount go a long way.

I use a Televue 85 APO, with both a simple tripod (easy to carry) and a Vixen GPD2 mount with the Vixen Go To. Interfaced with a laptop for both telescope control, and astrophotography. Plus a large Televue eyepiece collection. I agree with Scott that it is easy to spend money on this hobby.
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Old 06-18-2021, 11:17 AM   #9
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But the dark night skies are so amazing. People don’t even know what they’re missing.
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Old 06-18-2021, 11:24 AM   #10
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Go to Stellafane in your AS and walk amongst the telescopes and look through them and look at all the homebuilt telescopes and get inspired then decide what you want to get.
https://stellafane.org/convention/2021/index.html
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Old 06-18-2021, 11:41 AM   #11
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East coast or west coast if I might ask? Portions or rural Maine are about as dark as you’re going to get on the Easter side of the country.
West Coast, and price isn't really the issue, Our main issue is space, storage. We're Full time in our 30 Flying Cloud, we started with binoculars and now want to go the next step.
~manny
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Old 06-18-2021, 11:53 AM   #12
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I use an 8 inch Celestron that is easy to carry in the AS, but a good pair of binoculars is a pretty good starting point - and do not forget some good reference guides to help you get started. A friend to guide you around the stars is a good idea too
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Old 06-18-2021, 12:11 PM   #13
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Cedar Breaks, Utah Clear Sky Astronomy

Cedar City, Utah is on the East side of the State. Cedar Breaks is further East on Top. Camping can be found further East on top.

Ephram, Utah is on the East side of the State. Well graded road for easy access to top. Above Tree Line. Find a location once on top as you can see for miles. Often fifth wheels with ATV's. If they get up there... you will also find it possible. We towed our 27 foot with a F350 Diesel which was more than enough.

These sites are in the Mani La Sal National Forest. To the East are many campsites at 8,000 feet or higher, above tree line in some areas.

No Big City lights. This area is used by locals taking their families to use their ATV's.

We used binoculars to view the Comet Neowise last year from this Area. With the naked eye, nothing. Our binoculars found the faint, but easily seen in the Western sky.

Mountain Boondocking sites in Utah, Wyoming and Colorado are great. Often clear skies and the Milky Way covers the sky. Bring a jacket. Once the Sun sets... the temperatures will drop quickly.
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Old 06-18-2021, 12:13 PM   #14
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I use a Televue 85 APO, with both a simple tripod (easy to carry) and a Vixen GPD2 mount with the Vixen Go To. Interfaced with a laptop for both telescope control, and astrophotography. Plus a large Televue eyepiece collection. I agree with Scott that it is easy to spend money on this hobby.
I have a collection of Televue eyepieces that I use with a Celestron C14 in my home observatory. Just before the Pandemic hit I also purchased a Televue 85 to take along when I wanted more light gathering and reach than I can get with binoculars. I'm currently using a Televue alt-azimuth mount with the refractor but would like to step up to a go-to mount similar to what you are using. At some point, though, it becomes an issue with how much stuff you can take along in the trailer, not to mention the cost!
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Old 06-18-2021, 12:15 PM   #15
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So cool. You have access to some awesome spots. NM. Big Bend TX.

I’m an east coast guy so for me remote Maine and Ontario are THE places. The west is breathtaking but for me the big north woods under the stars are heaven.

The area around Katahdin is magical.

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West Coast, and price isn't really the issue, Our main issue is space, storage. We're Full time in our 30 Flying Cloud, we started with binoculars and now want to go the next step.
~manny
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Old 06-18-2021, 02:09 PM   #16
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So cool. You have access to some awesome spots. NM. Big Bend TX.

I’m an east coast guy so for me remote Maine and Ontario are THE places. The west is breathtaking but for me the big north woods under the stars are heaven.

The area around Katahdin is magical.
We were in Big Bend, one of the darkest sites in the United States, and I took my Celestron 8" reflector. After setting up, there was a strange glow on the eastern horizon until it appeared to the naked eyes. The full moon! I was never so disappointed in my life!

We then made it to Josua Tree another very good dark sky site. After spending about an hour and a half setting up in the afternoon, I was ready!

And then . . . . . Smoke from the California fires crossed over the sky and I was once again was washed out.
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Old 06-18-2021, 02:34 PM   #17
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I have a collection of Televue eyepieces that I use with a Celestron C14 in my home observatory. Just before the Pandemic hit I also purchased a Televue 85 to take along when I wanted more light gathering and reach than I can get with binoculars. I'm currently using a Televue alt-azimuth mount with the refractor but would like to step up to a go-to mount similar to what you are using. At some point, though, it becomes an issue with how much stuff you can take along in the trailer, not to mention the cost!
True that.

I was sold on Televue eyepieces when I got the scope many years ago, and tried/bought both a Panoptic 35, and the Nagler 12 mm Type 4. I don't have recently introduced versions, but looked and see that they have updated the range quite a bit. I have two Pelican cases of TV eyepieces now. It seems to be a bit of an addiction.

When I bought the scope we were living in Chile, in the Atacama desert, very close to the VLT project. We had amazing skies (it hadn't rained for 9 years when we were there). No light pollution to speak of. Now, living n the city, it is very different.

The Vixen mount is a quality piece, expensive at the time, and is now outdated in terms of the control box and UI. However, using ASCOM drivers and a laptop it has a new lease on life. Just got a ZWO camera, and am learning how to use it.

The most use I get out of the TV85 is with a simple tripod and a fluid pan head, for quick looks, and for travelling. I have never taken the Vixen mount travelling.
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Old 06-18-2021, 02:54 PM   #18
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West Coast, and price isn't really the issue, Our main issue is space, storage. We're Full time in our 30 Flying Cloud, we started with binoculars and now want to go the next step.
~manny

I moved from binos to a venerable Celestron 8" and have been very happy with it. If a C8 is too big, you might enjoy a TV85 with some good eyepieces. I prefer a motorized equatorial mount so that I can spend several minutes soaking up photons and details in tiny, faint objects while sitting comfortably.
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Old 06-18-2021, 04:17 PM   #19
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Looking to get a telescope for some night time viewing as we go boon docking. Anyone got any recommendations?
~manny
Yes.
First, decide what you want to look at. The Moon? The Milky Way? For the casual star gazer a good set of binoculars is great. I have a set of 10 x 70's*. They're nice and bright, about a heavy as one can manage without a tripod, and anything over 7 power is hard to hold steady. Get coated optics since night time viewing is different than bird watching. Sit in your lawn chair and enjoy.
Unless you provide a good case a real telescope is hard to keep from damage.
If you decide you want to observe deep sky objects like the Messier catalog, then there's no substitute for aperture.
But they get big and viewing from a stepladder is awkward.
I could see an ideal rig would be an Interstate towing a small enclosed trailer with a scope.
Please do not buy the toy "60 mm refractor with 100 power!" It is a waste of money.
I had an 8" Meade for a few years and seriously, I used my binoculars more.
Check the area where you're going for "astronomy clubs" or 'star parties' and visit. They're great folks who are happy to let you share.

There's nothing like dark sky. I remember going into Rocky Mountain Nat. Park at 2 am and pulling onto a side road. After my eyes adjusted, about 30 minutes, I could see the Andromedia galaxy naked eye. It's huge!

* If you take the size of the objective lens and divide by the power, you get the "exit pupil". It's the size of the beam of light leaving the eyepiece for your eye. Ideal is about 7. Why? Because that's as wide as your pupil will go. Any smaller and the image appears dark. So boaters like 7 x 50 (exit pupil 7) binoculars because the image is bright in poor light and they're easy to hold steady. Compare them to 7 x 35 (exit pupil 5) and the image in the less expensive 7 x 35 appears dimmer in low light. In bright light, they work fine because your pupil is closed down more!

Mounting binoculars on a tripod rarely works because you're looking up and can't jack your head around to look in the eyepiece.
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Old 06-18-2021, 04:37 PM   #20
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I was sold on Televue eyepieces when I got the scope many years ago, and tried/bought both a Panoptic 35, and the Nagler 12 mm Type 4. I don't have recently introduced versions, but looked and see that they have updated the range quite a bit. I have two Pelican cases of TV eyepieces now. It seems to be a bit of an addiction.
+1 on Televue.
When I was big into it, I was always looking for good used deals. I now have a large Pelican case with about ten eyepieces including the classic 20mm 2" Televue eyepiece that's always used. Now, my neighbor has them since I sold the scope. Once you've used 2" eyepieces, you're spoiled.
I visited the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff and was lucky enough to look through the 24" Clark refractor in the dome.
It had a 2" 20mm. Televue!
Yes! The wooden dome turns on 48 truck tires!
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