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Old 22-11-2015, 05:09   #1
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Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Our 2 storey house overlooks a bay where keel yacht racing is an every weekend event.
We are about 100m from waters edge and about 8m elevation.
We would like to be able to read sail numbers on boats up to say 4 miles out. There is generally plenty of light.
What kind of tripod mounted telescope would do. We could spent up to around $1000.
Thanks
Chris
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Old 22-11-2015, 06:30   #2
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Probably better off asking this question on a telescope forum.
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Old 22-11-2015, 06:45   #3
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Get a terrestrial one, for starters. Celestial ones reverse the images.
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Old 22-11-2015, 10:53   #4
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

I have no idea how hard it would be to find this type of gear, but video equipment has seen huge advances. You'll certainly want something that will give you a wide field of view and then focus in on specific narrower fields with more magnification (zoom). Just a thought. It would have to be suitably waterproof if used out doors of course. Post when you select what you do get. I have seen some people use high magnification wide field binoculars for this too.
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Old 22-11-2015, 11:40   #5
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Personally, I don't think you could really go wrong with a drone.
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Old 22-11-2015, 11:55   #6
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

I think maybe a good spotting scope with zoom up to at least 60x power and maybe 100mm objective lens (i.e., bright image). Need a very good tripod too. Oh, and hope the boats have large print numbers on their sails.
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Old 22-11-2015, 12:16   #7
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

You want to read numbers that might only be one foot tall, four miles away?


I'd be surprised if a telescope that cheap could do it, but you might try calling a few of the more expensive brands to ask their opinion. And make no mistake, you'll need an expensive "exotic" glass to get high resolution from it.
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Old 22-11-2015, 12:31   #8
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

I suspect that a telescope that can do what you say will have such a narrow field of view that it will be useless for following the rest of the racing. I'd get a really good pair of binoculars on a heavy tripod. It's usually possible to follow boats at a distance by observing other characteristics than sail number: hull colour, crew uniform colour etc.


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Old 22-11-2015, 12:43   #9
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Howdy!

If I were in your boat shoes and had a house situated where I could observe the boats, I would prefer to use and view the scene with a fine set of binoculars mounted on a tripod or stand.

Given your budget, you could get more than one pair, so that you and someone you like or love can enjoy the view simultaneously.

The key thing would be a set that allows for a tripod mount (most larger binocs do).

Viewing with a binocular is much more fun and easier on the eyes (no closing one eye) and can be done easily for a longer time, which is nice if you really want to watch the progress of a race or boating.

For a fraction of your $1,000 budget, I would consider getting one of these first for just about $250. It has 20x magnification, large 80mm light gathering objective lenses, is nitrogen filled (no fog) and from a reputable company for quality optics. It is relatively high power and low cost. It has some nice features that would make it a good choice for outside viewing, especially if it is on a tripod mount.
BAK4 Porro Prisms
XLT Fully Multicoated Optics
Wide Angle Viewing: 64
1.25" Astronomical Filter Compatible
Nitrogen-Filled, Water and Fogproof
Aluminum and Polycarbonate Chassis
Center Focusing with Diopter Adjustment
Built-In Standard 1/4"-20 Tripod Mount
Fold-Down and Winged Eyecups
Detachable Rail for Finderscope Celestron 20x80 SkyMaster Pro Binocular 72031 B&H Photo Video

A quick search of the internet will help you find many brands.

If you don't like the idea of a tripod, and would like to use the binocs handheld (more mobility) then IF you go with a higher magnification than 7x, I would get an Image Stabilized set of binocs.

Another thing I would consider (if you don't want to have a tripod mounted set of binocs or feel you don't want to have something standing) is a good set of stabilized binocs such as these: Fujinon 14x40 TS1440 Techno-Stabi Image Stabilized 7511440 B&H

Those are now $1,000.

Here is a different model from Canon, that also has Image Stabilization (so you can hold them and view with them handheld) AND it has 18x magnification (and 50mm light gathering front lenses). It costs more: $1400

Canon 18x50 IS Image Stabilized Binocular 4624A002 B&H Photo

If you want to see if a 20x set of binocs would give you the field of view and magnification to enjoy the scene of the boats, here is a very low cost set $55 that you could purchase as a test prior to buying something more expensive.
Bushnell 20x50 Powerview Binocular 132050 B&H Photo Video
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If you really prefer a single eye vision (telescope or spotting scope) here is one that is relatively powerful, and also low cost, so you won't lose much if you find you don't like it that much. It costs $200 and has variable "zoom" from 30-90x and has a larger 100mm front objective lens. It comes with a table top tripod too, waterproof/fogproof. Inexpensive but probably would suit most folks for viewing boating.

Barska 30-90x100 WP Gladiator Spotting Scope AD11344 B&H Photo
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Old 22-11-2015, 12:49   #10
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Quote:
Originally Posted by exMaggieDrum View Post
I have no idea how hard it would be to find this type of gear, but video equipment has seen huge advances. You'll certainly want something that will give you a wide field of view and then focus in on specific narrower fields with more magnification (zoom). Just a thought. It would have to be suitably waterproof if used out doors of course. Post when you select what you do get. I have seen some people use high magnification wide field binoculars for this too.
I am drawn to video as it allows viewing on a TV.
The equipment would be behind the windows.
Maybe too much technology for me.
But who would I ask?
Chris
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Old 22-11-2015, 12:57   #11
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Steady Hand
Thanks for the detailed contribution.
Chris
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Old 22-11-2015, 13:01   #12
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cristee View Post
Steady Hand
Thanks for the detailed contribution.
Chris
I am considering these
Fujinon 14x40 TS1440 Techno-Stabi Image Stabilized 7511440 B&H
for on-board glasses.
I could try them ashore as well.
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Old 22-11-2015, 13:18   #13
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
You want to read numbers that might only be one foot tall, four miles away?


I'd be surprised if a telescope that cheap could do it, but you might try calling a few of the more expensive brands to ask their opinion. And make no mistake, you'll need an expensive "exotic" glass to get high resolution from it.
An 11m boat is required to have numbers 450mm tall.
But I agree that may still be very hard to see from 4 miles.
Of course most of the time boats on inshore courses will be much closer.
Chris
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Old 22-11-2015, 13:19   #14
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Steady, & guys, sorry, but 20x is woefully underpowered for those kinds of distances. Especially for literally reading something at that distance.

Regarding telescopes, I know of several which get great reviews (none under $1k by themselves). But one big issue which you're going to run into is that to get the magnification needed to see sail numbers at that distance, is that Any, repeat, Any; haze, moisture, mirage, dust, etc. in the air, is going to make using that much magnification impossible. And such is all but ever present around the sea.

The stuff in the air (denoted above) essentially, well, literally, scatters the light reflected by the target, which you're trying to see. Thus distorting it to the degree that resolving said images is probably just not possible.

Plus, you're trying to resolve a moving target, & one which, at that, doesn't move in a manner which the eye's not used to tracking. Meaning it's moving in a quasi random manner. Not lineally or in an arc. Like your eye's used to. Making it that much tougher to focus on & resolve.
Especially as boats are continually jerked around moving through waves, & sails flap & flutter with the breeze. Plus they're attached to the mast, which is a magnifier of any motion that the boat goes through.

It might be possible using a computer hooked up to a telescope, which has software with algorithms that'll render "it's best guess" as to what it "sees". And then it'll put up (a composite of) said image on your screen.
Oh, & you'll likely also need a motorized drive on the optic to track the target. And track it in a way which the computer's software moving the optic, can predict.
That's how big time celestial is done, & has been for decades. High end amateur, & Professional. Ditto on look down satellites.

Somewhere over land, on a perfectly clear day, with zero mirage it might be possible to get & use that kind of magnification/resolution, but otherwise, you can likely forget it.
I mean you probably can't read sail numbers with the naked eye @ 100yds. And 4 miles = 8,000yds, so....
Though I may be wrong. Then again, this ain't an optics forum. And unless you know guys who build things like the Hubble...

Do some reading on the usual high end models. One other option might be a surveyor's scope, the big ones. Plus astronomical telescopes, as mentioned.
But the thing is, getting into that kind of glass, plus a good tripod, as well as a good tripod head, will likely set you back a good bit more than $1k (several times that is likely).

And you need all 3, as without a steady base, & a smooth way to pan your optic, you're sunk at the starting gate. Especially as with the kind of magnification you're talking about, your field of view at such powers, will be tiny, so following motion via hand operated gear will be a "challenge" to say the least.

Plus, without the premium vibration dampening built into what's holding up & panning the optic, you're sunk again. As the motion of everything which touches the optic is magnified by 80x, or whatever. Such as one's heartbeat & breathing. I mean that's discernable with plain old 7x binoculars.

Maybe using a digi-scoping kit would work. Which is where you have a digital camera bolted onto the same plate as the telescope. Mounted on top of the head on top of the tripod.
Then, as you snapped off pics (using remote shutter activation so as not to disturb your optics), & pulled them out of the camera via your computer, you could magnify them sufficiently (& or with the right software) so that you could read sail numbers. Maybe. Though again, such is a several $K setup.
Ditto on possibly using a high end camera, with image stabilization, & lens the size of a bazooka, on a tripod. Again with a remote shutter, & image downloading to a computer.

A place to start might be www.OpticsPlanet.com But my friend's the astronomer, not me. Neat stuff those astronomers have though. Albeit Really pricey.

I hate to sound defeatist, however, based on what I know, it is what it is.
Though I would be curious to find out if you come up with something which works. So good luck.
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Old 22-11-2015, 13:42   #15
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Re: Which telescope is best to observe yachting from land?

Birders routinely use 60x-70x scopes at distances under 1000 yards. And pay over a grand for top name glass, which is visibly sharper and clearer. All the scope manufacturers and birding suppliers should be familiar with "videoscoping" and similar terms, many of the use a digital eyepiece instead of a plain optical one, to get more magnification from it.


What you really want is the gyro-stabilized camera ball that is under most of the news media helicopters, but for a thousand dollars you won't get a seat at that table.(G)


This may be a case of buying the best you can afford, and then learning how to identify the boats (color of crew wear, rigging, trim, hull and deck, etc.) by other means than the numbers. 450mm at four miles still counts as "tiny".
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