As a kid, I was an astronomy nut. I wanted to be an astronomer, and was learning all things space. As I grew, I got out of that phase, though I still retained my interest. About six or seven years ago I managed to lay my hands on a serviceable 8″ Meade Newtonian reflecting telescope for $20 at an auction. It was older, and made from a kit (cardboard tube, not aluminum, and clearly put together by hand), but worked well enough aside from the dec. motor having a gear broken on it.
A few days after buying it, I got a call from the former estate owner. They had come across a set of eyepieces to went with it, and wanted to send them to me, no additional cost. That was where I really scored. Nine eyepieces and a stack of color filters, including a very nice Plössl and Super Plössl (there was also a laser illuminated reticle, but it was missing the laser).
The telescope itself wasn’t bad. You could easily pull out cloud bands on Jupiter, and the ice cap of Mars. Saturn’s rings were no challenge, and I even picked up a comet and a nebula or two. The problem was the finderscope didn’t have an eyepiece, and the area to thread one in was dented. The spider support for the secondary mirror was actually broken, and I had realigned it and epoxied it in place (this only worked marginally well, and currently is rebroken). And lastly, the tripod was just a nightmare. I know tripods are heavy and all, but this one was also probably twenty years old, and was very much steel and very much lacking in the subtle refinements of tripods today. There was also some play in it, so if you got something in the eyepiece, you had to be careful as not to lose it while tracking it, because you had to overadjust to have it stop where you wanted. All told, it wasn’t particularly portable in the least.
I still have the scope, but it’s not really so usable these days. And last night I caught myself with my binoculars outside looking at the moon and Jupiter. I think I want to get myself a brand new scope, but need some advice on what would be the best choice for me. I know the rule “get the biggest mirror you can afford.” Bigger mirror, more light to gather. Obvious. I’ve seen a lot of suggestions on Google that Dobsonian reflectors are popular for a nicer amateur scope these days. I’d like to be able to use all my old eyepieces if at all possible, most of which are Meades (not sure how interchangeable they are with other brands of scopes). I could also sell them on eBay, and use the winnings to buy eyepieces for a new scope. Here’s some wishlist details
- Compatible with my old Meade eyepieces
- Computer controlled motors (like Autostar or similar)
- 8″-10″ mirror
- Reflector of some kind
Nice to have:
- Somewhat portable (like, the scope can be easily cased, and the tripod collapses or similar)
- Laptop connection
- Auto-tracking of targets (I think this would come with the computer controlled motors in the first place though…)
I’m not looking at getting into astrophotography or anything at this point, and don’t have the equipment for it even if I wanted to. I just want to be able to see the planets, maybe a galaxy or two, and be able to do it without a ton of setup time. I’d like to get into something better than what I had previously. Obviously, I won’t be seeing anything real deep field for the most part, but it would be nice to see a handful of the more common and popular Messier objects in enough detail to tell what they are. So, what would be good for someone like me? I’m open to all suggestions, or information on how to make the best informed decision on buying a good scope. I just have been out of the nomenclature and technology long enough to know that I have a lot of research ahead of me I think.