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Sunday, September 25

Astronomy setup for beginners

The second question people ask when they look through a telescope is "How much do they cost?!"

IF someone had a deck on their house, or an open back yard with a view of part of the sky, and a tiny bit of wonder about the universe, I would recommend this telescope and eyepiece kit as a cheap but high quality way to get started observing.

Orion Telescopes: Orion SkyQuest XT6 Classic Dobsonian Telescope
http://www.telescope.com/catalog/product.jsp?productId=8942

The scope is pick up and move, designed to be hauled around, or up and down stairs. Since aperture really is everything, you can grab more photons with the 8" version of this same scope. Gets a teensy bit awkward because of size, so I recommended the 6". My scope is 9.25", so your milage may vary. Everybody has different perceived levels of hassle. We bought this 6" scope for our cousins & their 3 kids in rural Arkansas last Xmas. They love it. Never an excuse not to head outside with it & this scope can put up with much abuse.

This is a nifty little eyepiece kit that would last one quite a while without modification. Light, portable, fairly comprehensive & good quality without breaking the bank.

Orion Telescopes: Celestron 1.25" Telescope Eyepiece and Filter Accessory Kit
http://www.telescope.com/Celestron-125-Telescope-Eyepiece-and-Filter-Accessory-Kit/p/5631.uts

If you're short on cash, you can snag this bundle that gives you a 2x Barlow lens and some sky maps.

http://www.telescope.com/Orion-XT6-Classic-Dobsonian-Telescope-amp-Beginner-Barlow-Kit/p/27160.uts

A Barlow lens doubles the magnification of any eyepiece, so in this instance, the 25mm piece that comes with the scope is instantly transformed into the equivalent of a more powerful 12.5mm eyepiece.

If one wanted some books to help get started, they could do much worse than these.

http://www.telescope.com/NightWatch-Astronomy-Book-4th-Edition/p/51521.uts

http://www.telescope.com/Accessories/Astronomical-Maps-Charts/Orion-Beginning-Stargazers-Toolkit/pc/-1/c/3/sc/52/p/20034.uts

There are also crazy amazing resources online and via mobile.

So, if somebody me asked for a basic setup to get started, this is what I would recommend. You would likely be shocked! Shocked! at what you can see even under the heinous light pollution of Chicago sodium vapor lamps. If we can see planets, clusters, galaxies, comets, & nebulae here in Chicago, as long as you was outdoors under clear skies, you could see much more.

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