I am a complete and utter novice with a telescope and astrology, despite sitting around looking up at the stars in awe for many years I never took the time to learn anything about them ... till now.
After a little research it turns out that the cheap and cheerful scopes I initially considered in Lidl or on Amazon and the like would not really "do the do", and would probably severely disappoint and basically be a total waste of money ... better to get some good binoculars seems to be the word there.
Anyway ... I struggled with my decision, I wanted to keep the purchase relatively cheap, yet get something that will bring years of service not only to myself but also to my wife and our (currently) two small kids ... I also have the problem that being a photographer, I will at some point want to stick my d-slr on the scope and do some astrophotography ... this all pointed at a much larger scope and mount, something like the 200/1000 on an EQ-5 at minimum, but then that seemed just too much money and too large for my ambitious but still very amateur needs.
In the end I decided to get the 150/750 on and EQ3 mount for several reasons:
- size and weight ... once I received this scope I realised just how large it actually is sat in my living room or out on the bacony/patio ... the 200/1000 must be quite a monster and I am quite happy (for now) that I sacrificed a bit of light for a smaller scope and mount! In this respect I think it will get much more use than the larger scope ever would, as its about the limit of what I would want to lug around the place to view the stars, unless it was for a real special occasion.
- eq mount ... to allow for astrophotography (I will add a motor drive for this once I have more idea what I am doing).
- loading and capacity - looking at the specs, the 100/750 on the EQ3 allows for something like 2kg of extra camera equipment to be loaded on to it, whereas I beleive from memory the 200/1000 only allows for something like 1kg of extra weight to be placed on it (calculated from load capacity of mount less weight of OTA). I would in reality have preferred the 150/750 on an EQ5 mount, but the price went up considerably, so I quickly decided against this.
- price ... speaks for itself, but the difference between these two scopes allows me to get a DEC/RA motor or some more eyepieces with the money I "saved".
- accessories ... the eyepieces and 2x barlow that come with this scope allow for 30x,60x,75x, and 150x magnification out of the box ... which is not a bad range in my amateur opion.
First night on my balcony with this scope and knowing next to nothing, I clearly saw Jupiter's bands and its 4 moons, along with a whole host of beautiful constellations and the odd double star.
Two or three nights in and Venus and Mars were on the tick list, along with a crystal clear Saturn complete with rings (both my young children saw it too and were excitedly drawing it the next day, which is very cool as part of the reason for this scope is to allow them to look at and learn about the skies and have fun doing it).
The planets however were very small (see below regarding more eyepieces), but very, very clear so could easily have been magnified much higher without losing too much detail. We are also lucky that we have very little light pollution here, which I guess helps.
More eyepieces are definitely on the list of "wants" - for now I find myself wanting something like a 5 or 6.3mm that would take me up to around 240x or 300x magnification with the supplied 2x barlow (to get right in on the planets etc), and/or maybe a 3x barlow (the larger eyepieces are much more comfortable to look through than the smaller ones).
Collimation is something you will have to do with this scope ... I had no idea about it, but seem to be getting good results with the laser collimator I purchased along with this from Omegon.
Overall, after just a week or so I am very, very happy with this purchase and would easily recommend the scope to anyone starting out, or I imagine will be great for someone with more experience and needs as its size and performance are great ...
One word of warning though - its not a simple "point and shoot" kind of deal ... you have to get your head around quiet a lot with an eq mount, polar alignment, collimation, etc. So if this kind of setup and maintenance is not your bag, then maybe get yourself a refractor instead of a reflector and an alt-azimuth mount to keep it all that much simpler (you can also spend more on the scope and less on the mount).
RE: Goto mounts - I was wondering whether I might like a goto mount, but didn't order one and have found that a good book (Turn left at Orion) and planisphere brings a lot more satisfaction for orienting yourself, exploring and learning about the skies ... it can always be added but I think I will be ok for now.
Astroshop's service throughout this purchase was excellent, some solid advice during the selection process, they offered an excellent price, the shipping (to Portugal where I live) was fast and efficient, everything was well packaged and delivered very swiftly and cheaply.
In conclusion: I can highly recommend both Astroshop and the Sywatcher Explorer 150/750 on an NEQ3 mount, fantastic price performance, and I will be back to Astroshop for all my future telesope needs I have.