I bought my first "department store" telescope in March 2000 and very quickly started collecting equipment from there. I've done a little bit of astrophotography - mostly moon shots through the department store telescope and a few pictures of constellations with nothing but a camera (since I don't yet own a telescope that tracks the stars and planets). Well I've always wanted to study Astronomy and never have so I enrolled in and have completed an Astronomy Masters over the Internet at the University of Western Sydney in 2002. I had never planned to change careers, but despite the difficulties along the way I'm very glad to have done that course for many reasons. Everything was done online, with tutorials and even exams done over the Internet. Sadly the university has decided that there will be no more intakes for the course, so I feel very lucky that I managed to do this while it was being offered.

Here you'll find:

Early on, I put this page in place to share pictures of some modifications I made to my newest telescope and some of my experiences in using it. The content of this page is all purely my own opinion, but you may find it useful if you're considering purchasing a telescope.

Buying and Modifying a Dobsonian Telescope

I chose to buy a Dobsonian because they have a reputation for being easy to use and are relatively inexpensive. I realized I was limiting my options for persuing astrophotography, but at around a half to a third of the price of a Schmitt-Cassegrain I thought it more sensible to get better acquainted with the sky using one of these first. This section is not about what to look for in a telescope since there are many articles and web pages that already do this very well. This section is about what I needed to do in order to make my telescope, in my opinion, a pleasure to use.

My first serious telescope is an 8" f/6 Dobsonian York Optical Explorer D200. Some of the things I liked about this telescope when I was looking around were:

That said I personally think that unless you're a very experienced amateur, or have access to one, a Dobsonian is almost unusable as supplied. A few modifications make the sky much more accessible to a newer astronomer.