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Need advice for gift - live in NYC and want to see planets

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Need advice for gift - live in NYC and want to see planets

Postby okydoky1979 on Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:56 am

Hello,

I've been reading through the forums and I think I'm getting a little overwhelmed. I want to give my wife a telescope to view planets up close. We live in NYC (heavy light pollution) and based on the forum's suggestions, it is best to get a GOTO computerized refractor telescope since we can't really see any stars as reference and she is a beginner. What telescope and accessories would you recommend to be able to see the planets in great detail and up close in polluted skies with a budget of $450?
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Re: Need advice for gift - live in NYC and want to see planets

Postby Jne_K on Mon Mar 08, 2010 10:17 am

Hi

Okay, if you are primarily interested in planets, a GOTO is really not necessary, since the planets you will be mostly viewing - Saturn, Jupiter, Mars - are bright and easy to locate. Light pollution is more a factor when trying to locate the faint stuff. Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are the planets of choice for amateurs; the others, like Venus, offer little detail or are too small or distant to show you much. You will also be looking at the moon as well. The moon and planets are the mainstay targets for city dwellers, since they are little affected by light pollution and, in fact, the air above cities is often quite stable - a benefit for observing. On the other hand, should you decide to try your hand at deep-sky objects (and you most likely will, if you are a typical beginner), a GOTO is going to be very helpful.

The very best telescopes for planets, in terms of image quality are APO refractors, but you are not going to touch one of these in an 80mm scope (minimum size I would recommend for a serious scope) for $450. That leaves you with achromatic refractors, which do suffer from chromatic aberration (color fringing), especially the short focal length varieties, and chromatic aberration IS going to be a factor at the higher magnifications you will be using for planets. My favorite scope design, at this general price, then, is a Mak, such as the Meade ETX-90 AT or the Celestron Nexstar SE4. These will not offer quite as much contrast as a good refractor, but they do not suffer from detail robbing chromatic aberration. Then, too, both are great choices in a travel scope and if you live in NYC, chances are you will want to travel to a darker sky site at some point. They'll stretch that $450 budget a bit, since you will also want to add some eyepieces, but you won't regret it.
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Re: Need advice for gift - live in NYC and want to see planets

Postby okydoky1979 on Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:44 am

Thank you Joanie. Good thing I posted this question because I was going to select the wrong telescope for viewing planets. Never thought of purchasing a Mak.

I think I'll go with the Celestron NexStar 4SE. I will get the Celestron eyepiece / filter accessory kit in the near future. What other accessories do you recommend for this particular telescope?
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Re: Need advice for gift - live in NYC and want to see planets

Postby Jne_K on Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:01 am

Hi

You are very welcome.

Really all you need to get started is more eyepieces. Those are the most important things. That kit also contains some colored filters which can enhance some detail on planets, but are not really necessary. I would also add the Celestron AC adapter to save the hassle of messing with batteries.
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catadioptric vs Eq reflector

Postby Guest on Wed Mar 17, 2010 5:20 pm

Hi, I have a 10" meade lx 200. { catadioptric } Would I see a considerable differance in viewing { eyepiece } in a 10" eq reflector, such as Meade's lxd 75 10" or Celestron C10N-GT reflector? I have a basic idea but never have looked through a relector of simular size, and thus is really only head knowledge. Thanks for your advice and I'm all ears. De Lorme
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Re: Need advice for gift - live in NYC and want to see planets

Postby Jne_K on Thu Mar 18, 2010 8:22 am

Hi

No, the biggest factor on how much you see is still telescope size, so, in that respect, 10" is 10". However, there will be some differences in particular optical categories between an SCT and a reflector. Your SCT is likely to do a BETTER job at the edge of the field in terms of optical correction than a reflector. Then, too, your SCT is also going to be far more portable, easier to maintain and comfortable to use. Personally, I think you have more to lose than gain by switching to a reflector.
Thanks for posting with us
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Re: Need advice for gift - live in NYC and want to see planets

Postby okydoky1979 on Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:27 am

Jne_K wrote:Hi

You are very welcome.

Really all you need to get started is more eyepieces. Those are the most important things. That kit also contains some colored filters which can enhance some detail on planets, but are not really necessary. I would also add the Celestron AC adapter to save the hassle of messing with batteries.


Thanks. I just saw this post. What eyepieces, in terms of mm's, do you recommend for planet viewing?

Also, I see there are two kits, the 94303 and 94305. Which one do you recommend the most for this telescope - Celestron 4SE?
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Re: Need advice for gift - live in NYC and want to see planets

Postby Jne_K on Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:06 am

Hi

Magnification is focal length of the telescope divided by the focal length of the eyepiece. Your 4SE has a focal length of 1325mm. On a 4" scope, I would not exceed 200x and you will likely be happier with the image you get with a bit less. On this scope, a 6mm eyepiece would get you 189x and that is plenty. See my article, Ten Top Telescope Eyepiece Questions

Your 4SE uses 1.25" eyepieces, so 94303 is the kit you need. 94305 is for scopes that can use 2" eyepieces.
Thanks for posting with us
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