Just got a new telescope! (now what do i do with it...?)

Ever since I moved to Florida, and realized how flipping DARK it was, I have been wanting to get my hands on a telescope. I have been researching them quite a bit, but was afraid to put too much money into one for fear of losing interest.

Anyway I finally scored a Meade ETX-70 AT from a thrift store, which I’m pretty excited about ($66 woot!). :smiley: I know it’s not the nicest scope out there, but figured it’s enough to get started with.

I know there are a few astronomy buffs on the boards here, and not knowing anything about this thing yet, I do have a few questions.

[ol]
[li]Any recommended websites or forums to read pertaining to astronomy?[/li][li]In terms of care, any recommendations, like cleaning, etc? Obviously this thing is used so I’m not sure what I should be checking on it.[/li][li]Any recommendations on the Computer interface? This was one of the main features I liked this scope for, being a computer geek AND loving my gadgets. I know it has the Autostar 495 controller, and I’m not sure if I can / should upgrade to the 497?[/li][li]Any other ideas, suggestions, etc? I’m really excited about giving this a whirl here, hopefully this weekend.[/li][/ol]

Looking forward to fellow dopers feedback!

Look south around 7PM tonight and you can see a half moon, Orion and the Orion Nebula. That’s lots to look at right off the bat.

Well, allright! Welcome to a fascinating and educational hobby.

You already have the most important thing to enjoy astronomy-- a clear, dark sky. All the fancy equipment you can afford won’t improve upon seeing the heavens in the true dark of night.

I recommend taking a look at skyandtelescope.com or astronomy.com to get information on what to see tonight or in the oncoming week. If you can find them, I would also pick up the magazines. Every issue contains a map of the constellations currently visible, with the location of the moon and planets. Learning the constellations will be your ticket to finding everything you’d like to see. Cloudynights.org has forums and reviews and information as well.

And if your scope did not come with a manual, I’m sure you can find it online and print it out. You will probably need this info to set up your computer-controled mount, as many of these need to be pointed at certain guide stars before they can calculate the “longitude and lattitude” they use to locate the object you wish to look at. I don’t have any experience with computer control, sorry to say.

As far as maintenance goes, refractor scopes like yours should last decades without much, if any, tweaking. Wipe/brush your eyepieces with quality photographic cleaning supplies and you’re good to go.

The Moon is the classic first target. Also Jupiter and its moons, 4 of which you will easily see.

Take extra batteries for your computer control!

Oh, and download Stellarium as a reference as to what you’ll be able to see. It’s fantastic.

Great tool, lots of fun.

Just don’t point your telescope towards your neighbors’ windows. Police tend to frown on it.

Well crap. I came here to say spy on your neighbors!

I wouldn’t do that if I were you. Once you look through their windows your next viewing object would be sun so you can burn out your retinas. I gots me some seriously ugly neighbors.:frowning:

I also may be about to get back into the hobby. Any suggestions for the best 8 incher? What is the state of the art vis a vis taking exposures-is 35mm film still used or is it all digital now?

I can’t seem to download Stellarium. Or rather, I can download it but the downloaded file won’t run; error message says it’s corrupt.

you can spend more, you can get more, but I have found that this folding star map meets the needs of everybody but the hardcore.
http://www.telescope.com/control/accessories/astronomical-maps-and-charts/orion-deepmap-600-folding-star-chart