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Old 22-01-2009, 06:19   #1
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purchasing a telescope for live aboard

Hi Folks,

When we push away from shore for that long long cruise, we want a telescope on board. Preferably, a budget of $500 but maybe could squeeze out $1000 for something miraculous.

Want used - why pay retail?

What can you tell me about durability under marine conditions with these toys, which toy is the best for this use, and anything else you think we should know in making a purchase of this nature?

Thanks very much,

First Mate
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Old 22-01-2009, 06:23   #2
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You may find stability a problem on board. Being at sea does provide the best star gazing but without gyro stabilizing...

maybe a good pair of binoculars might be better.

BTW I'm speaking from experience as I tried with my son's telescope.
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Old 22-01-2009, 07:06   #3
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First Mate, I agree with you that a telescope would be a fun toy to have aboard. For four summers in a row I cruised the North Channel and Georgian Bay on an old gaff rigged motorsailer I owned. Usually in the evenings we would row to shore, build a fire and I would always think that it would be great to have a telescope because the star gazing up there was incredible.
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Old 22-01-2009, 07:23   #4
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Quote:
What can you tell me about durability under marine conditions with these toys, which toy is the best for this use, and anything else you think we should know in making a purchase of this nature?
Stability would be the very serious problem. Any slight movement of the boat is going to make the field of view fly around such it will be if no use at all. You might consider the binoculars made specifically for astronomy. Even those work better with a tripod. They have features for gathering more light and increased magnification vs. the standard 50 x 7 marine binoculars.

You might do better still to throw the extra money into a high quality stabilized set of binoculars. They could prove far more valuable at sea. Those get pretty expensive.
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Old 22-01-2009, 08:56   #5
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Yes, stability is the problem. Even on land is there's a bit of a breeze (10 mph) the tripod is often stabilized with sandbags. At sea the sky is so bright binocs can bring out so much. What I've enjoyed is a good star chart. Now, whenever I go out at night with my two year old grandson; he wants to find Orion, Plieades and other constellations. It's great
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Old 22-01-2009, 09:01   #6
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I always thought a dedicated stargazer could just bring their telescope onshore for viewing when anchoring out in the right places. Not sure about which ones might fair better in the marine environs.

I would want a waterproof bag/box with dessicant for the scope.

Chris
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Old 22-01-2009, 10:48   #7
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what refraction can be purchased for $500-$1000? Any manufacturers you can recommend? Any type of scope? Basically I'm ignorant of telescopes. I have an old Meade that works well for gazing at Mars, can see rings of Saturn, but no nebulas, etc.

I'll keep in a waterproof container with dessicant. Either watch from boat on a night when the water looks like glass or will take ashore for stability. I can't imagine being in remote places without a telescope - just too good of star gazing ability there.
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Old 22-01-2009, 11:48   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by First Mate View Post
what refraction can be purchased for $500-$1000? Any manufacturers you can recommend? Any type of scope? Basically I'm ignorant of telescopes. I have an old Meade that works well for gazing at Mars, can see rings of Saturn, but no nebulas, etc.

I'll keep in a waterproof container with dessicant. Either watch from boat on a night when the water looks like glass or will take ashore for stability. I can't imagine being in remote places without a telescope - just too good of star gazing ability there.
Go to www.astronomics.com. Take a look at either the AT 66 or the AT 80. Search. This is a very, very good company. I have dealt with them for many years. They are quick to answer and respond and thier site is full of good info.


Stay away from reflectors -- it will be hard -- and harsh -- to keep the elements clean.

Stay away from Meades and Celestrons. Schimdt- Cassegrains will be suseptible to jostling so their elements could get out of alignment. Plus they are bulky and so are their mounts.

As you are thinking, yes, stay with a refractor. The ATs are a good scope. Of course, do NOT go for power in the eye piece. You will want a rich field telescope with a short focal length. Minimize bounciness. Maybe even spring for a quality bino splitter eye piece. I would.

Most of the stuff these days is made in china -- and the Orion series while in your price range is nothing I would take on a boat.

If you can afford it, my personal opinion is that the Televue would knock your socks off in a dark sky. It is about the best made short focal length rich field refractor made. Plus, as a refractor (other than the eye piece)you will only have two elements to worry about keeping clean.

I bet with a Televue you could likely see a hint (and I mean just a hint) of color in Orions' nebula on a perfect night. But they are very pricey and they are worth every penny.

but for your budget, the AT series I think would give you massive bang for your buck.

again, do NOT go for power. Go for (first) a short focal lenght, (second) rich field refractor and if you can afford it (third) with a qaulity bino splitter. It will double the cost of your eye pieces, but what you gain in image stablization (since both eyes are working together) is worth it.

Michael
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Old 22-01-2009, 11:50   #9
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One more thing: Nothing bad about China. They are making excellent triple element lenses. Just mentioned that alot of stuff is made there so not to be freaked out about it. Sky and Telescope is along the lines of Good Old Boat -- S&T does some damn good reviews. Take a look at back copies.
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Old 22-01-2009, 12:41   #10
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We had a Celestron Nexstar 130 on board for awhile. This was a programable 5" reflector and gave spectacular performance on dark island beaches. We never used anything other than the lens cover to keep it clean and dry, and we never had a problem with it. However, it is useless onboard an anchored boat. Even with the tripod firmly anchored in beach sand, just breathing will send Saturn sliding a million miles out of your view. Eventually we gave it to our land-based son because our cruising style rarely placed us on shore after dark.
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Old 22-01-2009, 15:13   #11
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FirstMate,

What do you want to do with the telescope? You didn't say.

If you don't necessarily want an "astronomical" quality telescope, a good spotter scope with 20-60x zoom and 80 mm objective lens can show you the rings of Saturn, the Galilean moons and red spot of Jupiter, Venus as a crescent, some nebulae, and the craters, mountains and valleys of the moon in fair detail. It's also great for bird watching and boat watching, and they tend to be made to resist the elements and the bumps they might encounter outdoors.

You can see some choices at Cabela's, which is where I bought mine. But what other posters have said is true, you won't have a stable enough platform on a boat. You'll have to use it (even at 20x) on a tripod on a dock or ashore.
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Old 22-01-2009, 15:23   #12
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Hud is right on. Firstmate, tell us about what you are most interested in viewing. I ran the local observatory for a while, and my advice to beginners is often to buy a good set of large Binocs first. Something like 20 X 80 or so... you can find Chinese and Russian versions really cheap, and they really let you learn the sky. As for ANY telescope or Binocs... they will be virtually impossible to use aboard, you will have to take a trip ashore for a good viewing session. Let us know, Chris
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Old 22-01-2009, 17:21   #13
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Thanks, folks, for your responses.

I'm so ignorant on this one, I can barely respond to your questions. I just want to see what I can of a starry sky when we're in the middle of nowhere. It will be helpful to view long distance during the day.

We will go ashore with a telescope. Right now we can see everything HUD noted, except nebulae, and the moons features are clear but could be better.

Someday, we definitely want to view a nebula and see as much as we can with a high quality scope.

Currently we have a Meade Quasar that my husband picked up for nothing one year for me for Christmas - it was a discontinued line on sale cheap.

We used it only in our backyard in Fairfax, VA and were stunned at what such a small scope could do with all the light pollution in that area.

I'll take your advice for how to get started on this hobby - as a complete ignorant novice who will be living on a boat.

I'll keep the Meade on board since it's light and small - just need to figure out how to protect it. We should possibly acquire next a set of high quality binoculars?

Best Regards,

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Old 22-01-2009, 17:52   #14
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Go to www.astronomics.com. Take a look at either the AT 66 or the AT 80. Search. This is a very, very good company. I have dealt with them for many years. They are quick to answer and respond and thier site is full of good info.
....
As you are thinking, yes, stay with a refractor. The ATs are a good scope. Of course, do NOT go for power in the eye piece. You will want a rich field telescope with a short focal length. Minimize bounciness. Maybe even spring for a quality bino splitter eye piece. I would.

....
Go for (first) a short focal lenght, (second) rich field refractor and if you can afford it (third) with a qaulity bino splitter. It will double the cost of your eye pieces, but what you gain in image stablization (since both eyes are working together) is worth it.

Michael
I'm going to start with the AT and look for a quality bino splitter. Could I purchase used equipment from a business - or is Craig's List my best bet for used? caveat emptor of course

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Old 22-01-2009, 19:16   #15
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I'm going to start with the AT and look for a quality bino splitter. Could I purchase used equipment from a business - or is Craig's List my best bet for used? caveat emptor of course

First Mate
You can purchase used /seconds from Astronomics -- I trust them. I have never bought anything from Craig's list. BUT.... if you do not know what to look for in a refractor or a reflector or a Schimdt-Cassegrain (or any variation thereof) I would not purchase used from an unknown party. As a novice, there are many things to look for: too much color on white objects, color around the field of view etc. Astronomics or some place with a history of selling to astronomers is what you need. Beware the photoshop on the net that sells scopes. Cabelas has a good rep.

Personally, I don't agree with selecting a spotting scope for your use. You loose some light through the errecting prism, and while it would be versatile as a terrestial scope, I happen to think (personal opinion!) that the AT 80 would provide a better quality lens.

For nebulae, you need a light bucket -- something with a large aperture. other wise, you might be disappointed. You need a lot of light gathering power for nebulae to fire the color cones/ receptors in your eyes, and you just dont get that until you get up into the 10+inch diameter. But again, if you go with a rich field scope with as large an aperture as you can afford and a short focal length, then I think you will be even more amazed at what you will be able to see between discerning color and details of the cloud belts of Jupiter -- and Saturn too (and I mean the cloud belts and not just the rings -- and larger nebulae.

Remember too that the eyepieces are a critical selection.

And then you have to learn to view.... you will learn to use averted vision. That allows the light to fall on the more sensitive part of the retina in astronomical viewing.

Anyways, please call up Astronomics. They will talk your ear off and help you sort things out. I dont work for them, but I have talked to them off and on now for decades.

Also, don't forget the closest star. You can see some amazing things on our own sun with the right filters.

Michael
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