Where to seek new buyers advice?
Posted 30 August 2007 - 05:50 PM
My wife and I are considering an upgrade, and we can perhasp spend upwards of 399. I know that's not a lot for these things, but I see many Meade products at or under this range.
My problem, whats the best to get?
We've looked at the DS 2130, but frankly I don't even know what the categories mean.
Are there suggestions in my price range, or a location I can go for camparisons?
My son is 9, he needs the best possible computer tracking and locating features we can manage without sacrificing view quality.
We live 5 miles from the nearest town, in the country, we have a beautify ununstructed view of the sky.
Posted 30 August 2007 - 06:32 PM
The ETX-80AT-BB package comes with a backpack to store and carry the scope and tripod, and the whole thing is very light and easy to transport (maybe not so important where you live, but still nice). It comes with 26mm and a 9.7mm 4000 series Super Plossl eyepieces. I have found that the battery life (it uses 6 AA batteries) is good. The GOTO and tracking have been great and particularly in dark skies, there are lots of things to see. The "tonights best" tour built into the Autostar would be something you and your son would appreciate if your wanting ease of use and finding objects to observe. The price in in your range too. They are usually in the $299 price range.
The one thing that I would obtain is a finderscope or red dot finder. Personally, I prefer a red dot finder, and I fashioned a two piece mount (the base is held to the optical tube with black cable ties) and a modified BB gun red dot sight. There are several places on the web you can find instructions on how to do the DIY work on the sight. Using the finder makes the "easy alignment" procedure the Autostar takes you through much easier and less sensitive to making sure the scope is perfectly level and pointed north.
Hope this helps, and have fun!
St. Louis, MO
Posted 30 August 2007 - 06:54 PM
Consider the ETX 80 it is a nice scope with nice views.
It also has goto so all you need to do is enter the object and hit a button and it goes to the object.
It does require a bit of learning but 1ce you get the hang of it it becomes second nature.
Fife Lake, Mi.
Posted 31 August 2007 - 05:08 AM
As unaware as I am, might I ask, the difference between the ETX-80AT-BB and the DS-2130ATS-LNT?
I read the marketing material, but that often doesn't say what an experienced user can say.
I went looking some more at both, and it would seem, that the ETX-80AT-BB is now possibly the ETX-80AT-TC?
It also appears, according to telescopes.com that is has less range and ability to see Galaxies / Star Clusters and Nebulae. Not saying we will see them anyway at our experience, but I guess I'm simply asking to be safe.
Posted 31 August 2007 - 09:17 AM
While I still notice that the DS-2130ATS-LNT claims to see more, from what I am reading it would *seem* the ETX-80AT-TC sees better.
If you can't tell, I'm mostly worried about making the wrong choice.
Posted 01 September 2007 - 08:36 AM
St. Louis, MO
Posted 01 September 2007 - 02:23 PM
The ETX-80 is sold in two versions - the AT is sold by most telescope and retail stores and the backpack version only by discovery Channel online (http://shopping.disc...ETX80BBBackpack).
The DS-2130ATS is a short tube reflector with 130mm aperture. This larger aperture and light gathering power is an advantage when looking for faint objects such as galaxies. The disadvantage of any reflector is that it must be periodically collimated (aligned optically) by the user. This short tube version (which uses an internal lens) makes this process more difficult than collimation of standard reflector.
Another option (if you can wait) is to see what Costco will carry during the holiday season. Meade has traditionally provided Costco with an exclusive "special" which is usually a great buy in your price range.
If portability and computer go to are not as important, an 6" dobsonian style reflector will also fit your budget. Used an 8" or 10" are possibilities. The aperture gain with a 6" will pay big dividends in seeing those faint fuzzies. If you have a local astronomy club, you can look through several options at one of their public star parties - several clubs even have loaner scopes.
Posted 04 September 2007 - 05:53 AM
I guess part of all this is, I am hoping once he learns the alignment aspect, this is something he can use without needing a lot of help from me. So for me, the Go To is very important. From the sounds of it, the refractor is easier to align than the reflector. I have seen this a few times in basic reviews as well.
My son loves to use it at bed time, and I have found him on occasion asleep at the base of it in the morning, from when he woke up during the night and used it. Often however, now with the TeleStar, its mostly aggrivation of him telling me how he spent all his time focusing and trying to find things and keep them in view. So, while the rest of us plan to use this with him often, I still want him to be able to use this on a whim. While transportation isn't a priority on our list, I do admit that the backpack is a very nice option.
On a side note, a question about tracking.
Many say they "track and compensate" for the earth and stars movement. By this, do I assume that this works ONLY with the autostar, or, if he finds soemthing on his own, can he lock it in, and have it track the item? I don't expect he will find anything the autostar is unaware of, but last night we saw, clearly, a satellite. We got it in view twice, but it moved so fast, it just wasn't worth the hassle.
Posted 04 September 2007 - 07:05 AM
With AutoStar aligned the scope tracks both the objects found by its go to and those objects found on your own. Satellites can also be tracked, but with more more difficulty.
If you left us know where you are located, we may be able to direct you to a store where you can see the various options.
Posted 04 September 2007 - 07:39 AM
I guess in general one last thing I see a lot of mention is the AutoStar system, the 494 is what many of these list with, but I also see the 497 mentioned. Is that something the 494 can upgrade to, software, or an entirely different item? In other words, do I worry what comes with it?
I like that "night tour" feature I think I see on a few of these scopes, but I'm not sure that's on either the DS or ETX I've looked at.
I assume I will need the computer cable regarless to use any of the downloadable AS features, such as new objects or special planetary occurances?
Posted 04 September 2007 - 06:35 PM
Being an owner of three different reflectors, a 90mm refractor, and a larger scope, I have been thinking about the questions posed. I have a short tube reflector that I use all the time and really enjoy. However, thinking about a 9 year old using it, I think keeping it collimated (internal mirror alignment) correctly would be a bit much and would be very frustrating. The short tube reflectors are very sensitive to this. The ones with permanent barlow lenses installed are even more difficult to work with. Mine is even more sensitive than most since I have had it parabolized for better performance. I generally have to do a little adjustment every time I use it. The longer reflectors do not seem to be as sensitive to collimation error, but being longer and more cumbersome, especially for a young person. I suspect a reflector will require help from a parent fairly often and some might require help every time until the young man gets a little older. The size of the young man may be an issue with a reflector on a tripod.
A refractor, like the DS-2080 is a nice telescope that should be optically locked in and be relatively trouble free. It would have roughly three quarters more light gathering power than the 60mm that he now has and would have more resolving power. It does not, however, have the portability of the ETX-80 or really any other of the Mak Cas telescopes. I am not sure about the price. I do know it does not come with the 497 handset. It has the 494, which is locked in with its programming and cannot be upgraded like the 497.
The ETX-80 does not have the 497 hand set either and comes with the 494 handset also. It is very small in size, which work well for a young person. It will not have quite the light gathering power as the DS-2080 reflector, since it has the secondary mirror in the light path, which the refractor does not. I did see some priced at $299 with some of the on-line stores. To purchase a 497 hanset is somewhat expensive. I saw new ones for sale a prices running from $169 to $199 just for the handset. Since the cable for it is not built in like on the 494 handset, that is maybe another $15. The 497 can be upgraded with the latest software, using a rather simple connector that can either be bought or fabricated. The back pack version of the ETX-80 may have a light tripod that would be very good for transportation, but you might want to pick up a sturdier one for use around the house to keep wobbles under control when you can.
The next step up is the ETX-90, which should have, I think, more light gathering power and more resolution than either the DS-2080 refractor or the ETX-80. It comes with the 497 handset, but is unfortunately priced on-line around $699. By the time you go to the ETX-90, I do not doubt that there are many adults using that scope by choice and enjoying it seriously. The ETX-80 probably also has many fans.
Hope these thoughts help and do not muddy the water.
Posted 04 September 2007 - 07:53 PM
I just stopped by my local Costco and they now have their Meade Holiday special. It is a DS2090AT-TC.
This is a 90mm refractor (10mm larger than the DS2080) on the (newly upgraded) DS mount. It comes with the #497 AutoStar, time chip (to maintain time on the mount), red dot finder, and a set of five eyepieces. The price - $189 - less than the #497 when purchased alone. Your closest Costco is Lima...no I do not, nor I have ever been employed by Costco.
The tour of tonight's best is available on either the 494 or 497. The 497 has much more computer power and its operating software can be user upgraded - a real plus vs. the 494.
As regarding other options, in Ohio there are two telescope dealers:
Eye 1 Dayton, OH 45419 (800)800-3931
Image Mart / McAlister Camera Westerville, OH 43081 (614)794-1865
Inventory levels vary at their showrooms and its best to call first to find out what is on display or in stock.
Let us know if you have additional questions.
Posted 05 September 2007 - 01:51 PM
It is an excellent telescope and I do not think you can go wrong with it, especially at that price.
I own one and thought enough of them to buy one for each of my two married daughters. Since it does not have a mirror in the way, the 2090 will have more light gathering power than either the ETX-80 or 90 and 26% more than the DS-2080. You will loose some portability, compared to the ETX telescopes. But, I think a 9 year old can handle it by himself very well. He will not be able to take a hike into the wilderness with it, like the back pack version of the EXT-80.
I would also get him a 32mm plossle eyepiece to go with it. It will give a 2.08 degree view of the sky while the 26mm eyepiece, as good as it is, will only give about 1.69. This may not sound like much, but it covers about 50% more area of the sky and is much better for finding things. The 26mm that comes with the telescope is a very good eyepiece and is probably a better general purpose eyepiece. At your elevation, I would suspect a 2090 would be effective to at least a magnification of 175X, with a good eyepiece. At high elevations, it might go all the way to 200X. In the higher magnification range, you are generally looking for high resolution and not a wide viewing field. I really like using Orthoscopic eyepieces with mine. They generally have a 40-42 degree field of view instead of a plossle's 50-52. But they have better resolution for finer details. I would not hesitate to purchase a 5mm ortho eyepiece sometime for him. That would give him 160X. A 4mm would make 200X, which might start getting fuzzy. Barlow's or Telextenders are fine. But, I think having the eyepieces to get to the higher magnifications, if you can afford it, give a better view. I have Meade's 4000 series 2X Telextender and like it. It is definitely better than most of the ones you would consider for this telescope, but is in the next class up in price at $90 or so.
If he does not have one already, I would buy him a copy of Norton's Sky Atlas. I am not sure, but I think it is in the $40-50 range. It has all kinds a great sky maps in it, that go into extensive detail, along with lists of interesting things to look at in each sky section. I have about worn out my copy. It is starting to come apart and I may need to buy a new one in a year or so.
With my 2090, I have been able to make out the Cassini Division between A and B rings on Satern...just barely. I could not make out the smaller moons on Saturn, just Titan. But, I live in a light polution red zone. If you have dark skies, he might be able to see them with averted vision. It might be a little frustrating to turn your eye away to see a white spot of one of the little moons. Then, instinctively look back at it with the center of your eye and have it disappear. But, that is good training.
At a reasonably dark site, he should be able to see the centers of several galaxies. Most of the Messier objects should be available to him. That scope can pick up all the double stars on the Astronomy League's list of 100 with no difficulty at all, if he can recognize them.
Anyways, that is enough...just some more thoughts.
Posted 06 September 2007 - 04:18 AM
I'll spend some time today looking at that model on line and then take a look at Costco.
If you won't mind one last general question. If after we set it up and align it in our back yard, is that then able to be moved about the house and yard without a realignment, or is this soemthing that must be done each time it's taken out (or moved a great distance)?
I'll also look at Amazon for that atlas as well.
Posted 06 September 2007 - 06:38 AM
Once moved (even a bit) it will need to be realigned. Alignment is easy and takes no mre than 5 minutes hen you are practiced at it.
Posted 06 September 2007 - 01:54 PM
Something I missed in Russ's description is the number of eyepieces. My 2090 came with two 1.25 inch eyepieces, a 26mm and a 9.7. Both were SP 4000 series, which are very good eyepieces. With five eyepieces as Russ describes, I expect they are 0.965 inch and are probably the Hyugens (hope I spelled that right) design. I do not see how they could possibly put that many 1.25 inch eyepieces in the package at that price. (Russ, correct me if I am wrong!) That design is very honorable and is still used with that diameter in microscopes. Many of the famous astronomers in the past probably used them for their discoveries. However, several hundred years of eyepiece technology has gone by since the design was created. More modern designs are simply better.
I suspect the reason for supplying them with a telescope is that they are much easier and cheaper to make than the more modern designs. Probably the same factories that make microscope eyepieces can really crank them out. By putting them with the telescope, several different magnifications can be supplied and still keep the price at a level that Mom and Dad can afford to buy for their children. Then, if the children's interest stays, better eyepieces can be purchased later.
If it does come with the small eyepieces, they will probably do for an introduction. But, I would get him onto 1.25 inch eyepieces as soon as you can see your way to do it. You may have to change out the adaptor on the eyepiece end of the telescope as well as the diagonal. You can get both of those, I think, at the Meade Factory Outlet for a reasonable price....maybe $10-15 each. I have not looked them up. The telescope could have a 1.25 adapter and a hybrid diagonal, with a 1.25 inch fitting on one end for the telescope and an 0.965 inch fitting on the other for the little eyepieces. In that case, you would only need a different diagonal to use 1.25 inch eyepieces.
The main reason for the change, in my opinion, is to get the wider field of view that the larger format gives you. The resolution of the image as well as any distortion will be better also. Your son will enjoy his telescope much more and will be able to find and see more things while expanding his mind and his knowledge of our universe.
When he looks at the moon, he will need a moon filter. The moon is really too bright and needs to be toned down, at least with the 1.25 inch eyepieces. Other colored filters will probably not do much good. I do not remember the exact density of moon filter you will need. There is a lighter and a darker filter. The lighter one will probably be better for the 2090, but the darker one can work. The image would just be dimmer. It should cost in the $15-20 range, I think. If you decide to stay with the 0.965 eyepieces for a while and the moon is too bright with those, the only place I remember seeing a moon filter in that size is with Telescope-Warehouse on eBay.
Just more thoughts,
Posted 06 September 2007 - 03:39 PM
They are 1.25" eyepieces - that's why I call the Costco holiday sale as a great buy - Meade stopped using .965" eyepieces about 1 1/2 years ago.
Posted 06 September 2007 - 05:22 PM
That is a really fantastic deal!
Makes me want to go buy it even if I already have one.
I won't though, it would not be worth the grief I would get.
Posted 01 October 2007 - 06:01 AM
As it turns out, I called a local Costco, and for good or bad, the cost to join Costco and drive the 2 hrs to my local one, takes the cost beyond what I can spend simply getting it on mail order. So, I may just take that path. However, I did call the places near Dayton and plan to visit them this weekend since I will be there already.
I did have one new question that came up when my son and I were looking at the full moon a few days ago. Are there any lens adapters or anything you can put on a lens to offer a wider view of your target? He sometimes makes comments that its hard to focus his eye on the little view hole to get a good view of the moon or stars.
Posted 01 October 2007 - 06:49 AM
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