rsactuary
rsactuary 
Joined: Sep 6, 2014
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October 20th, 2019 at 7:06:54 PM permalink
Hi all,

In preparation for the solar eclipse in 2024, I'm thinking about getting a telescope (entry level or medium level) to play with so I'm familiar with the workings of it prior to the big event.

Obviously, I'll start with the night sky, but wanted to know if anyone had recommendations on a good telescope?

Nice to haves:

1. Ability to take photos somehow (obviously for the eclipse I'm going to need filters etc, but I'll worry about that at a future point in time)
2. Some sort of coordination with an app on my phone for locating stars and planets and tracking them through the sky
3. Something that's well made that will last a long time, with a good stand

I'm willing to spend up to $2000 for something. Any thoughts?
Wizard
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Wizard 
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October 20th, 2019 at 7:29:39 PM permalink
Is this your first eclipse?

Regardless of the answer, eclipse photography is very difficult. I took great lengths to take great telescopic photos during the 2017 eclipse and the results were pretty bad. Then again, my father took some great pictures of the Feb 26, 1979 eclipse and one of them still sits framed in my mother's dining room to this day.

That said, I can't give good answers to your questions. When I tried two years ago, I used pretty simple gear. If you get too much stuff, it will be too easy, just clicking a shutter button. As a first attempt, I would consider just getting a high-power lens you can mount to a camera, put the camera on a sturdy tripod, and don't forget a solar filter. The lighting of an eclipse is really difficult to capture properly with an electronic camera. I don't know what to say there. Doc took some decent shots, he could advice better than I can. That's about all I can offer you.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
Ajaxx
Ajaxx
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October 21st, 2019 at 12:23:54 AM permalink
Congrats on thinking ahead I haven't even planned when to start planning for 2024.

If getting something that integrates well with your smartphone and other devices is a priority, you might want to start with something like the Solar 60 GPS from iOptron. At ~$400 it's way below your max price, and the telescope itself is nothing special as a result, but the main thing you'd be paying for is the computerized alt-azimuth (which means double-pivot; altitude is up-down adjustments, and azimuth is left-right) mount that comes with it. The mount should be compatible with any telescope that uses the standard dovetail connector, and all the higher-end telescopes are sold separately as OTAs (optical tube assemblies, meaning just the actual scope separate from any tri-pods or mounts), so if you decide you want to upgrade once you've played around a bit you'll have a great GPS mount as your base and the iOptron OTA can become your backup.

Keep in mind as you shop that, unlike the nicer solar telescopes, the solar filter on cheaper models like the iOptron is usually removable, so you can use it for nighttime viewing too. Also, iOptron (as well as other companies I'm sure) offers electronic eyepieces and smartphone adapters so you can take digital pictures.

Regardless, I highly recommend doing your shopping on High Point Scientific's website so you can take advantage of their Ask an Expert service and get a recommendation from someone much more qualified than me. From there, the prices on their site always reflect the latest sales from the manufacturers themselves (plus they have a price match guarantee just in case) and they also do certified pre-owned stuff. So once you know what you're looking for you can just keep an eye on their homepage, which should have a link to all the sales currently happening industry-wide, and when you see a good deal jump on it. At first glance, it looks like the Coronado Personal Solar Telescope just went on sale for $200 off if you're ready to commit right now to a nice telescope that's only for viewing the sun. Good luck!
"Not only [does] God play dice... he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen." ~ Stephen Hawking
Ajaxx
Ajaxx
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October 21st, 2019 at 12:27:20 AM permalink
Also, apologies for the lack of hyperlinks; I haven't hit 20 posts yet so they are blocked from showing up. Feel free to PM me if you have any trouble finding any of the things I mentioned.
"Not only [does] God play dice... he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen." ~ Stephen Hawking
Wizard
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Wizard 
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October 21st, 2019 at 6:35:58 AM permalink
Quote: Ajaxx

Also, apologies for the lack of hyperlinks; I haven't hit 20 posts yet so they are blocked from showing up. Feel free to PM me if you have any trouble finding any of the things I mentioned.



If you PM me the links, I'll post them myself.
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
Doc
Doc
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October 21st, 2019 at 7:26:18 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

... I took great lengths to take great telescopic photos during the 2017 eclipse and the results were pretty bad.
... Doc took some decent shots, he could advice better than I can.


When I posted my photography results, I acknowledged how disappointed I was with both my efforts at eclipse photography and the photo results. I only posted one image, which was a composite that attempted to commemorate the entire experience. You can take a look at it here. There are a few other eclipse photos in that thread.

I don't remember whether I made any mention in that thread regarding the image colors. I had not purchased any filters at all that were designed to help with eclipse photography. I had several pair of the protective eyeglasses, some of which I had purchased well in advance, thinking I might need to share with others who had come unprepared, plus one of the numerous pairs given away by our hosts at Harrah's Cherokee Valley River Casino.

All of the perimeter images in that composite were taken through a lens in a pair of those protective glasses, which accounts for the orange tint. The central image was taken without a filter, and it appears almost monochrome.


(Edit)

My wife and I have numerous photos hanging on the walls of our condo, most of them being reminders of our travels. That composite photo of the August 2017 eclipse is one that we have on display.

Only once before in my life, way back in 1984, had I attempted to photograph an eclipse. It was an annular eclipse for which I was not fully-prepared. However, I liked the results in some ways more than the composite image discussed above, because of an interesting feature that was revealed. Unfortunately, the original negatives are now long gone, but seven and a half years ago I posted in this forum what evidence I still have. That post is located here, with a couple of later follow-up comments, and yes, that photo is hanging on my wall, too.
Last edited by: Doc on Oct 21, 2019
rsactuary
rsactuary 
Joined: Sep 6, 2014
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October 21st, 2019 at 8:27:04 AM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Is this your first eclipse?



No, I saw the 2017 eclipse.

I'm loving all the suggestions.. thanks to all! Keep them coming!
Dalex64
Dalex64
Joined: Feb 10, 2013
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October 21st, 2019 at 9:49:59 AM permalink
You could also peruse https://www.telescope.com/

That is the Orion Telescopes and Binoculars site.

"GoTo" is their identifier for scopes that have a computerized aiming and tracking attachment (though not necessarily a phone app connection)

They sell solar filters and camera adapters as well.
Ajaxx
Ajaxx
Joined: Sep 15, 2019
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October 21st, 2019 at 12:12:16 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

If you PM me the links, I'll post them myself.



Thanks Wiz just messaged you.

Rsactuary, 2024 is far away so it's probably best to take your time and wait for a good deal, but just a heads up that the next transit of Mercury is on 11/11 this year, and it'll be another 13 years after that before there's another transit. Could be a pretty awesome way to break in your new telescope if you're ready to buy now.
"Not only [does] God play dice... he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can't be seen." ~ Stephen Hawking
rsactuary
rsactuary 
Joined: Sep 6, 2014
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October 21st, 2019 at 12:13:47 PM permalink
Quote: Ajaxx

Thanks Wiz just messaged you.

Rsactuary, 2024 is far away so it's probably best to take your time and wait for a good deal, but just a heads up that the next transit of Mercury is on 11/11 this year, and it'll be another 13 years after that before there's another transit. Could be a pretty awesome way to break in your new telescope if you're ready to buy now.



Probably a little too soon to be able to pull this off, but thank you!

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