Beginner Telescope under 1000$
Many people ask me what equipment I would recommend for a beginner in astrophotography.
It depends on your budget!
I can tell you from the start, astrophotography is a very expensive hobby! But with the right decisions you can keep the costs low. So take you time when you're thinking about purchasing a scope.
I want to present you an option which is under 1000$ and gives you a good first look into the sky.
Scope: Skywatcher Explorer 150P
The Sky-Watcher Explorer-150P is a fantastic choice for intermediate astronomers and also the serious beginner. With a large 150mm of light gathering aperture combined with superb parabolic optics, this telescope is a highly capable all-rounder with excellent performance for the observation of the Moon, bright planets, nebulae, galaxies and star clusters.
It comes with a good quality 6x30 finderscope, two eyepieces – 25mm and 10mm – and a 2x Barlow that is threaded to accept a camera adaptor. I found assembly and setup fairly straightforward, while the system was reasonably stable. Vibrations dampened down quickly when the telescope was gently tapped.
This telescope has fast optics: the focal length is at 750mm, which gives a focal ratio of f/5. The tube length is relatively short, which, along with this being a fairly lightweight system at 16kg, makes it quite portable.
The 6x30 finderscope gave clear views and helped me to locate most of my targets. The range of eyepieces was good for this type of telescope, giving magnifications of 30x to 75x, which could be doubled with the 2x Barlow.
Mount: Skywatcher NEQ3 SynScan
Sky-Watcher offers simple solutions for users who would like to attach their smaller telescope to a convenient computerized system but do not wish to deal with the weight of the HEQ5 or EQ6 mount. The EQ3 Pro mount use the same Go-To system found in the HEQ5 and EQ6 Pro SynScan. It allows you to point the telescope at a specific object or even tour the skies at the touch of a button.
The EQ3 SynScan mount is the perfect instrument for novice visual observers to enjoy astronomy with minimal setup time and in-depth knowledge of the night sky. For novice users, the user-friendly menu allows automatic slewing to 42,900+ objects.
This mount could perhaps be described as the Sky-Watcher EQ5’s little brother. The plain white finish is the same, as is the polar finderscope and SynScan hand controller. Communication with the mount is made via a second black box, specific to the mount, which translates the commands to suit the gear ratios for each product.
The styling of the EQ3 motor casings is different from the larger EQ5, but they are just as quiet as those on the EQ5, while slewing and tracking seemed smooth and accurate.
The quoted load capacity is 5kg, but that could still support plenty of small Newtonians and refractors. It also doesn’t weigh much itself and, if you wanted to, you could carry the whole mount for some distance. It would make a great platform for wide-field astrophotography with a DSLR camera.
For an introduction to Go-To, the EQ3 represents an upgrade worthy of consideration, especially when you take in to account the fact that its light weight and compact size make it very portable.
For me this combination was the perfect first step into astronomy/astrophotography without spending too much money.
Some of my astrophotography results with this equipment. Camera: Canon 450D