Do you have a telescope? How do these compare?
Twinkle, twinkle, little deal… tell us how these make you feel.
would love to know if people have had success with using adapters to take photos with any of these.
That was going to be my question. I’m looking for a telescope to which I can attach my Nikon DSLRs (D300 & D800.)
StarNavigator 102 is the one to get here.
I never owned one but I used to sell Meade’s telescopes at Brookstone. I would say the 102 is the best overall telescope here but if you’re looking to take pictures it will be easier with one of the short tube refractors. I know on the one we sold, a DSX-90 (which is smiliar to the ETX-80), it had a another viewfinder on the back of the scope where you could attach a camera. That way you could line up your shot with the eyepiece pointing up the in the picture. Then you could flip a lever on the side to switch the view to the back one to take the picture. Granted you still need to order an adaptor from Meade but it was just easier than the long tube refractors because they don’t balance themselves very well with a camera hanging off the end.
I had a friend that bought one of the DSX-125s and took some really great pictures with it. However with telescopes its all about aperture size (not magnification) which makes all the difference. I’m not expert but Meade makes really good scopes that were easy to use with AutoStar. However I can’t speak to these but I would recommend bouncing over to their website before you jump on this deal.
If you want a GoTo scope then these are pretty good deals. I’ve never used a GoTo scope personally but I imagine it’s great if you want to just sit back and relax and view lots of things all in one sitting. I opted for a dobsonian which is where you’re going to get the most bang for your buck if you’re serious about starting out in astronomy. I feel like you’re cheating yourself a bit though with a GoTo scope. For me half of the fine is actually finding the object I’m after. It also forces you to become more familiar with the sky and it’s always fun to learn little tricks on how to find things. For example, I call M81 and M82 the metal galaxies because to find them I put up the horns at arms length and use those fingers to measure the distance from the tip of the big dipper to M81 and M82. I’d recommend going with the Celestron AstroMaster 114 which is only $150 and picking up a spiral bound copy of NightWatch.
edit: Saw that astrophotography was brought up. I’m sure you could get some ok pictures with the GoTo scopes but astrophotography increases prices of things dramatically. If that’s what you’re wanting to get into then you’re going to have to do a lot more research in choosing a good telescope.
I have a different brand of 102mm refractor (Celestron)and have taken photos of the moon using a T-adapter and a Canon xsi. I haven’t tried any planet shots yet. I would also agree on one of the ETX models being good for astro photography. I had an ETX 80 for a short time but never had a chance to use it for photos.
The ‘go-to’ scopes are nice, I have 2, but I did learn the night skies with a small reflector without go-to abilities.
The ETX scopes have a port on the back where you can attach a camera via an adapter. I have an ETX-70 at home. These are short focal length scopes (400mm) which is about 8X the power of a normal lens on a 35mm camera which is also about what a standard pair of binoculars provides. The StarNavigator 102 provides about twice as much magnification. You will still need an adapter to attach your 35mm or digital camera.
Also, the AutoStar controller on the StarNavigators is better (more objects in the database and upgradable). The one on the ETX scopes requires an almost impossible to find (and expensive) cable to upgrade.
I have seven Meade scopes and have been dealing with them for a few years. Customer service is not toll-free, but they are pretty helpful. One scope I purchased came with a slightly damaged AutoStar controller. I contacted Meade and they sent me out another no questions asked. I didn’t even have to return the original.
These telescopes and their mounts are not especially well-suited for astro-photography. It wouldn’t be impossible, but it would be frustrating and the results may not be worth the effort. That being said, some of these are fine starter scopes, such as the 102mm and even the 80mm scopes. Stay away from the lower end rigs, though.
The Star Navigator 102 is such a good deal that I am going to suggest that Woot got the prices backwards for the 102 and the 90. The 90 is cheaper than the 102 everywhere else on the internet.
dslr could be a bit heavy for some of these scopes. you might need a good mount and counter-weight.
the issue with astrophotography, you will not be able to use auto-focus. so with manual focusing you need to constantly check the image and adjust focus manually. so a laptop connected to camera helps.
These scopes are for children. About the only thing they are useful for to an adult is looking at the moon or spying into a neighbor’s window.
If you want to look at nebula, see the planets as more than a smudge, or attach a camera you are going to need to spend some actual money.
That means you want at LEAST 5" of aperture, preferably 8" of more. Shooting images with camera requires a solid base for short exposures and a tracking equatorial mount for longer exposures. Expect to pay no less than $500 to get started - more likely over $1000.
You really need good equipment to achieve impressive results.
I didn’t know Eli Manning use a telescope.
+1 to this statement. You’d be causing yourself a lot of undue frustration by trying astrophotography with one of these. Not to say that they’re not a decent scope for what they are but if you want to get that hardcore, it’s a lot more difficult and expensive than most people think.
However, one thing I do disagree with is the value of an auto finder. Astronomy isn’t for everyone, even the ones that love looking at stars. I think you’d be best served to get a higher entry model like one of these that can take out some of the leg work if you’re really struggling to figure out how to get the techniques down. I don’t believe you HAVE to use the feature on these, but I could be wrong. If you find out this is something you love doing, you’ll quickly move past a $300 scope, no matter who makes it.
I love my GOTO scopes even more than my larger unguided Dobson. They save a ton of time, especially with the kids around. Being able to quickly get from Messier to Messier in a time frame that doesn’t extend bedtime too much is invaluable.
If you really want to have a nice instrument for viewing the stars, even if it is only a few times a year, just spring the extra money. If you start out cheap you will see dim images and finding stuff on a wobbly mount just sucks. It will piss you off more than astound you. Drop the extra money, find a dark place to go, and be prepared to be amazed. I’ll never forget the first time I saw M31 and M57 through an 8" CAT under dark skies. Pictures just don’t do justice to seeing them directly.
I have this one - http://tinyurl.com/azxzr3h - and feel it is better for the money than any of these. Generally speaking, the bigger the light bucket, the better. The 102 might be okay.
Oh man, I cant believe that meade still sells these small refractors. The only one with any possibilities is the 102 refractor. All the other scopes do is make people frustrated and disappointed.
If your serious about a telescope and want to see anything really cool you need to buy a scope with at least 8" of aperture (diameter). The best buys are found on craig’s list used. Look for a Dobsonian mounted newtonian reflector with the biggest aperture you can afford.
I have a 12" dobsonian and a 8" schmidt-cassagrain. I have beautiful views with quality eyepieces.
None of these particular scopes are very suitable for taking more than very simple snapshots. It’s not the optics, it’s the mount. These are all altitude-azimuth (generally shortened to alt-az) mounts, meaning they go up-down and left-right. For good astro photography you need an equatorial mount, one that has an axis that points at the north star (the polar, or declination axis) and the other that rotates from east to west along an imaginary projection of the earth’s equator in the sky (the right ascension axis). Why all this? Because that is the way the stars appear to travel across the sky due to the earth’s rotation. Why do you need to worry about that? Stars are DIM! For good astro photos you take long time exposures. Without the proper tracking, all you will get is streaks or blobs, not nice pinpoints of stars.
These scopes are all small aperture (lens size) and are suitable for looking at the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, maybe some of the very brightest star clusters and nebula like the great globular cluster in Hercules (M13) and the Orion nebula (M42) and the Double Cluster in Perseus (NGC 884 and 869), but that is about it. The best of these are the computerized ones, since they help you find objects and more accurately point to them.
I also have a 12" Dobsonian mounted Newtonian reflector scope, and also a 6" Maksutov Cassegrain. Both are good. I agree that 8" is a good starting point for serious observing, but you can get some nice views with 6" of aperture as well. And those are much more portable. I won’t put a plug here for other brands, and Meade makes some very good larger telescopes. Just Google telescope or astronomy and you will find a lot of sites and Internet retailers selling nice scopes, many for not much more than these scopes. As with the previous posting, I agree Dobs are nice. Inexpensive but solid and stable and very easy to point mounts. Shaky mounts and scopes with inexpensive eyepieces are the biggest killers of interest in stargazing. Get a scope with a good, solid (not necessarily expensive) mount and expect to spend at least $45 per eyepiece for a decent Plossl design eyepiece good for starting out. With that combination, there are many beautiful objects to see. To know what to look for, start at www.seds.org/messier