The first telescope: Step One: Accept that quality has a price!

Once I have made a post called "Things you'll learn when you want to buy a good pair of binoculars," I felt compelled to do something similar about telescopes.

But before I begin, I would say that if you want to get into astronomy and still not have an observation instrument, forget this post and go see about binoculars. Because telescopes are excellent instruments, but for the learning of astronomy binoculars are much better.

The first thing you will learn about telescopes, at least when searching on your new one, is that: In any Brazilian shopping there are any electronics stores or gift stores with telescopes in their windows, usually 50 to 70mm refractors and reflectors of 76 to 114mm and always brands that are considered by experienced amateur astronomers as of questionable quality. These telescopes have always been a little ad on the side that says they increase 300, 400 or even 675 times, and we are led to think that the one that increases the image 675 times is the best among all. Well, if you go looking at a few sites about Astronomy you will discover that it does not exist. Never buy a telescope for the announced increase, and why? Why the rise of a telescope is completely defined by eyepieces or Barlows you put into it. Buynew eyepieces and Barlows you will change the power of a telescope.
The tipical telescope from a store ina mall

It is clear that the telescope advertised as capable of 675 times will increase with an eyepiece and a barlow that will be able to achieve an increase of 675. So I'm talking nonsense? No, because you will get this increase, but what you will see in the eyepiece when looking at Jupiter, for example, will be just a blur not even round. This will be a miracle if you manage to keep the planet in the visual field with the tripod that come with these telescopes. In 675x, even when using Earth observations will be impossible to distinguish what you are seeing, so bad the image will be.

What makes the difference for real in a telescope is called "Opening". It is the size of the primary lens (in the case of a refractor) or the primary mirror (in the case of a reflector). To be clear, this is the thickness of the telescope. The thicker a telescope is, the greater is its opening. The opening is important because the larger the lens or the primary mirror is, the greater the ability to absorb light of a telescope. Opening is so important that it almost always part of the name of a good telescope and not its increasing.

To the right of a 60mm refractor telescope aperture and left a 150mm aperture refractor.

Another bad feature in these telescopes sold in malls is that their accessories are not standardized. Eye of good telescopes for example (the small lenses where you put your eye), tend to be standardized at 1.25 or 2 inches, it fits well in almost all models, but eyepieces of telescopes sold in malls usually have a different size pattern.

But even worse is the quality of these equipment. Parts are usually made of plastic bum. I've had a telescope shopping. Yes, I have to confess, even to show that I really saw how they are. It was a Tasco 50mm refractor. I remember when he looked at Jupiter, it was sometimes difficult to stop the planet before swinging out of my field of vision. When I bought an Orion 90mm refractor, the first difference I noticed was the strength of the assembly. The flickering images definitely were no longer a problem for me.

But there is still a worse thing than buying these telescopes 60mm in malls, which is to buy a telescope in a toy store. If you enter a Toy Store and ask a salesperson if they have a telescope, why your son wants one. You can rest assured, you will be able to make him give up astronomy for a long time. One may say - No! With such a telescope you will arouse the curiosity of the boy. "But I can tell you from experience, I gained such a telescope as a boy, and the only thing you can do with them is some features on the moon, and over! Pointing to the moon will be the starting and the end of the astronomical career of your child. You can put the toy back in the box. 
A Toy Telescope

As with binoculars, you have to accept that there is a price to pay for a telescope at least reasonable. If you plan on taking pictures of galaxies and nebulas with your telescope, do not think you'll get acceptable results without spending too much, and believe. This much can be much more than you're imagining.

I'm telling you that if you do not want to spend, then give up? Of course not. You do not need any money to practice astronomy. There are countless books on the subject that will be a thousand times more useful than a toy telescope, or even a 60mm refractor made ​​of plastic. If your child wants to start astronomy and you do not want to spend 800 reais (400 dollars) with a good telescope, or even 200 reais (100 dollars) with a good pair of binoculars, how about giving a good book of Astronomy for him. There are some excellent. Why not bring it to a library and find books with him.

The colorful sky of Brasilia

Itook this picture from inside the car of a friend yesterday, with a Sony Bloggie camera, which has quite modest resources.

It was a shame I was not able to take a better photo (the car was moving and had a little dirt on the window). Yes, the picture was very beautiful, but with such a sky it could have been much better. The blue and yellow hues of the sky were spectacular!

Astrophotography - The Milky Way as a work of art

Today I decided to blog some photos of the Milky Way, taken with cameras of high exposure and without the use of telescopes. Recalling that the Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy but we do not see it that way, but as a path through the midst of heaven, for the simple fact that we are inside.

The picture below was taken in Arizona, a region called Kofa Mountais. The photographer's name is Richard Payne.


In another picture, taken from an inflatable boat, we have the amazing interaction between our galaxy and a lake, coming to look like a mirror. The streak of light that appears in the flash image is a satellite Irídiun. The credit goes to Tony and Daphne Dallas. from:

This one was taken in Texas, It makes our galaxy looks like a continuation of the road. The author of the photo is Larry Landolfi

When an area is totally free of artificial lighting, and in a new moon night, we can see the sky much like these pictures (without the colors only). And this without any use of the instrument, only with our eyes. It is a unique show and it's free. It's one of the greatest shows that you can see in your life. Unfortunately, due to modern lifestyle, urban living and pragmatic, a very large number of people spend their lives without ever contemplating the galaxy with his own eyes.

Terrifying clouds approaching the Guara (Brazilian Federal District)

I do not remember seeing clouds just as frightening as those that approached the Brazilian city of Guara this afternoon. It looked like the end of the world coming over the satellite city. Notice that the sun still shone brightly as the clouds approached

Plane passing in front of Jupiter while filmed through a telescope

I found this very cool video in Orkut. The guy was shooting the planet Jupiter with his telescope when suddenly a plane passed in front of the view.

Note the turbulence caused the aircraft in the atmosphere, creating a spectacular image, it seems that we are seeing the reflection in the water and someone threw a rock next to it!

Things you will learn when you want to buy a good binocular (in Brazil)!

Excited to be returning to practice astronomy, I decided to compile below some things I learned about binoculars during this time. Some go completely against what I imagined when I started to practice astronomy. I hope that helps those who want to buy a pair of binoculars.
The first thing you need to know is about binoculars that are sold from street dealers in Brazil for US$10 to US$20. They are pure garbage, made with plastic lenses. Comparing the quality of these binoculars with something decent is a joke. In many cases you see better without them than with. If you want to buy a good pair of binoculars in Brazil, You will have to agreed paying a couple hundred dollars. Do not commit the crime of giving a US$10 binoculars to his son, much more if he is interested in astronomy. Unless you just want him to forget this practice.
The harsh reality is that binoculars have absurd prices in Brazil. A US$150 model found in a Brazilian store, costs about thirty dollars in the United States. One that costs US$1000 here, costs about US$ 300 there. Moral: products seen as high level here, as the cheapest binoculars from Celestron or Orion, are seen as toys in the United States, while the products seen by them as quality products, to us are products of the English aristocracy.
It is when you look at the night sky that you really find the quality optics of a binocular. Products that look perfect when you're looking at a landscape during the day will reveal its shortcomings when are pointed toward a planet or star in the night: the picture does not come together, chromatic aberration spreads, reflexes pollute the image, the stars deform approaching the edge of the field of view. Even US$150 will present real problems when looking at the night sky and you'll understand why there are those that cost about 2000 dollars.
Something that will make you confused, is finding that image increase is a totally different meaning than you imagined. The first thing you will hear from experienced practitioners when buying binoculars is to much increase is "very bad, and little increase is good." You will take longo to accept this, but will soon realize that a binocular with too much increase delivery very dark and absurdly blurred image, and a narrow field of vision, making it a great difficulty to find and watch what you want. You will find that the highest good increases are between 7 and 11 times. Above that you will need a very large and heavy binocular and a robust and high tripod (and both will be very expensive.
You will also find that, for astronomy, zoom is a nuisance that can undermine the quality and much observation, mainly to greatly reduce the size of the image field of view.
In the beginning you'll also hear about prisms and BaK4 BAK7 and will not understand the difference, the only thing I understood is that all the experienced say BK4 is best for those who want to use the binoculars for astronomy, sometimes without explaining the law because. When you look at a star with a binocular with BK7 prism and see how it deforms when approaching the edge of the image, you'll understand the difference.
A very common type of nonsense you'll find on sites like "Mercado Livre" are things like "Binocular with a range of 1km." It does not exist and who describes his binoculars so normally do not have the slightest knowledge about the product they are selling. Binocular is a product made by lenses. What they do is give more power to your eyes without changing its basic characteristics. As your eyes, binoculars can see to infinity if there is nothing in front of the opaque object.
If you are in order to find a good pair of binoculars on the Internet and live in Brazil, watch for addresses of two of Brazil's most respected sites:

I believe that a good pair of binoculars to get started in astronomy has the following characteristics:

  • BK4 prisms.
  • increased from 7 to 11 times.
  • opening between 50 and 63mm
  • maximum weight of  three pounds.
  • Fully Multi-Coated Lenses
  • Visual comfort above 11 mm if you do not wear glasses and about 20mm if you use.
  • Price between US$100 and US$200 (in Brazil).
 Good luck with your purchase