Which Telescopes and Mounts are best?

Generally, there are three types of Astronomers.

  • Visual – Observers – These types of users are interested in visually observing stars, nebulas, planets, and other objects with their eyes.
  • Astrophotographers – Interested in imaging various space objects, connecting their telescopes to high definition cameras and editing these to squeeze as much detail out of their equipment as possible.  While they may look through a telescope, they are mainly excited about capturing light, and may even view eyepieces as redundant.
  • Armchair – These are mainly interested in the mechanics of space, and may well be interested in radio astronomy and these sorts of matters.  They may never even ‘peer’ through a Telescope.

We cater primarily to visual observers – and also those starting Astrophotography.  Of course, there are good ways and bad ways to get started.  The cheap department store special probably isn’t it.  They are made for people who do not know what they are doing, are advertised as providing unrealistic magnifications, come with poor eyepieces, are almost always put on a terrible tripod/mount and will kill any interest in Astronomy – they then sit in corners until they end up on Gumtree, ready to ruin the next persons experience.  AVOID.

At Astro Dog – we hate returns.  Really.  So it makes sense to try and sell what will really make people happy, rather than a piece of equipment we would hate to use ourselves.  So, allow us to introduce you to the Telescopes we DO stock – and why we do so.  Now, just a reminder, right now with COVID19 raging, and everyone bored out of their mind in lockdown or worse, Telescopes have been a bit hard to get.  Don’t let that discourage you.  Telescopes are not things that should be bought on a whim – If you are interested in one (especially if it’s special order), just send us a message or call us, we may be able to get one in express for you especially – it really doesn’t take that long.  And getting a lovely, custom instrument that’s exactly right for you – well, nothing beats that!

Please understand also that we don’t shoot mass produced cheapie Telescopes out the door – most of the ones we supply are custom.  We are very picky with what we order and when we get stock, they often sell right away, so preordering is sometimes necessary.  We upgrade all our scopes to metal focusers and they usually have extras as well as upgraded eyepieces that drastically improve the experience.  These are keeper scopes.  You will notice all the Telescopes we sell have at least the option of a 2″ focusers (and most include it!) – that is because we made sure they did!  Later, you may well want to experiment with some lovely 2″ eyepieces.  In particular, we have superb 2″ Kellner’s (32mm, 25mm and 18mm) that take your breath away with the lovely views they provide.

The Telescopes we Stock

(What about a mount?  – We’ll discuss these a bit further down – If they are not linked yet, they are new products that are incoming)

80mm Doublet compact refractorINCOMING – PREORDER NOW TO SECURE.  We carry these because they are simple, portable, very light, and problem free when it comes to collimation – they are always perfect to look through!  Refractors provide a great view – and this 80mm is superior to ones that have less aperture (e.g. department store 60mm versions for example) as they absorb far more light, making faint objects much more visible and allowing more magnification (the more you magnify, the less light hits your eye, so if you look at Saturn at high magnification, this will be nicer).    The 80mm size, compared to say a 65mm refractor (which is fine for lunar viewing) makes a huge difference to the planetary detail that you see.  All refractors have an issue with “false color” (also called “purple fringing”.  On one side of the moon for instance, you can get like a blue looking border.  This is natural.  There is nothing wrong with your telescope and it doesn’t bother most people.  It is possible to make a refractor that doesn’t do that, but the costs become prohibitive (a triplet 80mm APO refractor is about $1700).  To go half way (these are called “ED” scopes) will cost about $1000.  So, really, such a inexpensive refractor with a blue is a bargain, right?  The OTA (optical tube assembly) will set you back just $149.95  They are made to last, with excellent optics, and multicoated, which means they are coated from the inside and the out of the lenses.  These greatly enhance the contrast and color control.  How do we supply this scope?  In a really cool way.  We pack these in a backpack, which includes the Tripod, the scope, and all the bits you need.  Take it hiking or camping!  Easiest thing ever.

The “Desktop” scopeINCOMING – PREORDER NOW TO SECURE.  We like these.  These are great – you put a table outside, and you put this scope on top.  You can sit comfortably in your campaing chair, and can watch the stars.  It’s very intuitive and logical to use, and they are made to a very good standard.  It’s compact and lightweight – which means you will probably use it a LOT compared to one you need to take a long time to assemble.  These are made with machined aluminum tube, an erecting prism (when you look into it, everything will be the “right” way up – so you can use this for birding and land use too!).  It’s inexpensive and very good quality.  It doesn’t have a problem with the ‘Yellow or Blue” edges to the moon because it is a reflector instead of a refractor.  You will need to learn how to align the two mirrors it uses to get the possible best image, and keep this tuned right.  That’s the price you pay for this type of telescope – but the skills you learn will help you when you get a larger reflector.

The 160mm x 800mm “Rich Field” Parabolic ReflectorINCOMING – PREORDER NOW TO SECURE.  The fast focal length, combined with a low powered 2″ eyepiece will give you unforgettable “rich field” views – that is, the richest field of stars possible in any single view.   Astro Dog’s version is as usual, upgraded and includes wider, thicker rings for greater stability and includes a 2″, 2 speed fine focuser which allows excellent focus to be achieved.  Many mirrors are ground to a ‘sphere’ shape, which is simple, but these are hand made to a parabola shape which focuses the mirror very precisely at infinity and greatly increases the contrast you will see (in Astronomy, contrast is a biggy).  It’s an f/5 – so pick up a Hyperion wide view to go with it.  Check our eyepiece guide for some suggestions.  Pick a mount of your choice to go with it.

The 90mm x 600mm Parabolic ReflectorINCOMING – PREORDER NOW TO SECURE.  At f/6.6, this is is getting more into a good visual territory and gives good views with a range of eyepieces (you can get away with more affordable eyepieces in this version, as opposed to the 160mm/800mm version above).  Like the 160 by 800 parabolic reflector, it has no problems with purple fringing, resulting in clean, natural looking crisp views.  Being parabolic, it shows remarkable contrast and detail in planets.  It has a 2″ focuser allowing a remarkable amount of light to be gathered at the eyepiece level, resulting in very bright views of a whole range of celestial targets.

The Doublet A102GINCOMING – PREORDER NOW TO SECURE.  This one is a serious visual instrument.  It is quite large for a refractor, 102mm, and takes in a huge amount of light compared to the 80mm.  This scope is f/7, (unlike the 80mm refractor which is f/5) which improves the view you will get with a great many eyepieces (slower scopes like this one help reduce ‘coma’ which makes stars on the edge of the view look a little like comets).  The A102G’s Astro Dog supply have been specially modified and upgraded.  They have a 2″ metal dual speed focuser which makes it easy to adjust to that perfect focus.  The Telescope comes with the bits you need to stick it on a mount properly (rings and a vixen bar adaptor).  The glass used in it is not ED glass (you will recall these cost about $1000 for a 80mm version), but is a very high grade optical glass with a better refractive index than usual (the lens was used as ED before ED was popular years ago) and it has superb optical characteristics.  The A102G has a lovely pearl white finish, very well constructed.  If your a visual observer – you’ll love it – and it’s at a unbeatable price for what it is.

The ED1026-CSOLD OUT – Kson will manufacture a new run in 2021, so if you want one preorder, or call.  This is an unusually good “Grab and Go” Refractor.  It’s dew shield collapses down, making it very portable and easy to take along.  At f/6, it is fast enough to be used for Astrophotography, yet slow enough to give great views with a wide range of eyepieces.  The ED glass used is FPL-53, an excellent ED glass.  The unit feels very solid.  It has wide rings that hold the scope firmly, and the focuser is as steady as a rock and will securely hold your eyepieces or accessories.  It includes a Nylon case, with padding and room for your eyepieces.  To top it all off – it weighs merely 2.6kg – which means it can be put on a HEQ5 or similar mount for Astro and give superb performance.

The Mounts we Stock

The Kson Light MountPREORDER ONLY.  We both love and hate this mount.  We hate it because it costs us a fortune to get over here right now thanks to COVID and there can be delays in getting it here.  But seriously – it is just crazy good value.  You stick a scope in it, align it, tell it what you want to look at, and it will point you right at it.  It will force you to get familiar with the stars also.  Unlike others, we supply this mount with a very good quality 12V adaptor – so your always right to go in your backyard.  It can also be used portably with 10 AA batteries (Don’t skimp – put decent ones in).  In our opinion, it’s nicer than the Skywatcher versions to align as it doesn’t force you to align to the stars IT wants – it allows you to align with the stars you can actually see and know, which is much more convenient – wouldn’t you say?

The KM-3L  – ONE EX-DISPLAY UNIT IN STOCK.  This mount is a beast – it doesn’t object to heavy loads, and it can be very nicely balanced with a counterweight on the other side.  It’s so easy to take with you and isn’t fussy.  The Tripod is tough as.  The only downside we note is that the screw/grip to tighten the ALT/AZ is touchy so it takes a tad of patience to get it ‘just right’.   Kson and Astro Dog are working to introduce a new version of this excellent mount with even more refinements.

The KTA Motorised MountON BACKORDER.  Remember the Kson Light Mount?  This is the big brother.  It is a dual motorized EQ Mount with a tough steel KT7 Tripod.  The height is 66cm to 110cm.  The ones supplied to Astro Dog are modified to work in the Southern Hemisphere.  The way these work is that you point it at the “Southern Celestial Pole” (Sigma Octanis is close enough).  It will then track nicely for you, allowing you extended views of your object, nicely centered.  It is a visual mount – you can use it for Astrophotography if you align it well, but it doesn’t have the inputs to allow you to connect it to a laptop like the HEQ5.  Mind you, it also doesn’t have the $1600 price tag, does it?

Have more questions?  Send us an email, or just call and talk to us.

Clear Skies