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Re: What does it cost for a newcomer to astronomy?

Subject: Re: What does it cost for a newcomer to astronomy?
From: "Stephen Paul"
Date: Sun, 24 Jul 2005 23:15:28 -0400
Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur
"Cherokee" <[email protected]> wrote in message 
news:[email protected]
> Wow - I'm getting some great advice today.  I never imagined so many
> people would step forward and lend me their experience and wisdom.
> Right now I'm researching the suggestions given on  this thread.  I'm
> looking up products and prices across the Internet, becoming familiar
> with what is being discussed here.  Give me a day or so and I should be
> in a far better position to ask more specific questions.
> As far as learning the sky before buying a scope - a great piece of
> advice.  However, from past hobbies I've found the fastest way for me
> to learn is to make a solid first equipment purchase and go from there.
> peace,
> Cherokee

Sage words those may well turn out to be.

I've been at this since December 2000 and like many others here I have been 
through a number of scopes and types, mount types and capacities, gadgets 
for finding, gizmos for collimation, charts of various sizes and content, 
red lights, binoviewing, cyclopsing an undriven scope with ultra wide, wide, 
standard, and narrow field eyepieces.

Untold hundreds (thousands?) of dollars have been spent and recouped from 
sales of unwanted items purchased and sold.

Everything is fun to try.

Still, there is nothing quite like taking out a small scope (something 200mm 
aperture, +/- 50mm) with a Telrad or other unit power finder, a table and 
chair, a chart, and a red light, and working, nay sweating, getting 
sometimes frustrated, impatient, and on the verge of giving up, but then, 
reaching deep down inside to that indominatable will to succeed,  and trying 
once again to find that deep sky object without any thing but your wits, the 
charts, and a telescope with a finder.

I love GoTo and DSCs as much as anyone who has ever experienced their 
convenience, but I'll be damned if it's going to deny me the knowledge of 
just exactly where to aim my little grab and go 80mm ED refractor on its 
undriven altazimuth mount to see M10 as a compact glowing ball of myriad 
indistinct stars under a truly dark sky.

Not to mention using that same knowledge and skill to aim my 12.5" Dob at 
said object and see its full glory from the backyard; a collection of 
thousands of stars all grouped together in a ball, densely packed at the 
core, and spreading out in strings like pearls in tendril fashion.

80mm is both fun and educational, 150mm is starting to show some good 
detail,  200mm is a fine trade off in aperture for portability, and 250mm is 
pushing the limits of unaided transport.  But where 200mm and 250mm are a 
good trade off in portability vs. light grasp, 300mm and beyond on a 
handtruck from the garage to a dark backyard is simply sublime.

Wherever possible, aperture is king.

The good news is this, if you purchase an 8" F6 Dobsonian and the other 
needed accessories to be successful in the hobby of observational astronomy, 
you will always have that 8" Dobsonian, even after aquiring a 12" Dobsonian, 
or an LX200 10" SCT on a wedge, or a 6" F8 apochromatic refractor on a G-11 
and an SBIG CCD imager along with a slew of astro-imaging accessories.

Simply put, the utility of the 8" Dobsonian is never out-lived, so long as 
you are interested in poking around the sky using a chart and your wits, and 
looking at the many bright DSOs that we all enjoy in both the eyepiece, and 
in pictures. 

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