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Appreciating the Questar

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#1 John Zimmerman

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 12:03 AM

It's human nature to take things for granted. And it is easy, over time, to take the Q's attributes for granted. Today I was reminded of just how brilliant the Q's design is.

I received a new Meade AR-6 today. I had one of these before, and they are pretty decent for the money - 6" Achro on a GOTO GEM for $1200.

Well, first light was tonight, and I am exhausted! Talk about fiddling, fussing, balancing, tweaking! I think I spent 80% of my time fooling with the thing, and 20% observing. And to Meade's credit, there is nothing wrong with the scope - it's just that an equatorially mounted large refractor is a lot of work to set up - this was one of the type of telescopes that motivated the design of the Questar.

And just to make sure I was not being overly critical, I took out my Questar. In less than 3 minutes I was observing - what a wonderful difference! Seeing was not very good, and Jupiter looked about the same in both scopes - which in itself is testimony to the excellence of the Q's 89mm versus the AR6's 150mm.

You may be wondering why I sprung for the big refractor. Star Parties! I won't take my Q to a star party, and my 11" SCT is just to heavy to transport. So the AR6 breaks down into 3 pieces I can more easily manage. Plus, it looks magnificent when set up. Also, I get the free eyepiece/filter set by ordering now.

Anyway, tonight just confirmed that my decision to buy a Questar was the right thing to do.

#2 Erik Bakker

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 01:14 AM

It's human nature to take things for granted. And it is easy, over time, to take the Q's attributes for granted. Today I was reminded of just how brilliant the Q's design is.
.......
And just to make sure I was not being overly critical, I took out my Questar. In less than 3 minutes I was observing - what a wonderful difference!
.......
Anyway, tonight just confirmed that my decision to buy a Questar was the right thing to do.




Well said John!

And the 3 minutes to observing even hold true for the Questar 7. It is just a bit heavier .... :-)
The comfort in observing at high powers with the Q7 is just incomparable.

Clear skies,

Erik

#3 NeilR

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Posted 12 October 2010 - 06:58 PM

Quit your whining. John. In the era of the intro of the Q 3.5, the competing Unitrons were f/15 to f/17, compared your ultra-portable modern f/8 refractor. A 4" f/15 would have been 60" long, compared to the rather short 48" of your 6" f/8, which should be a breeze to set up. And that only bought another inch of aperture, not 3, allowing for the obstructed optics of the Q.

Now my turn to whine :grin:

I can't set up my Q7 in 3 minutes, as Eric apparently can. For me it is a bit of an ordeal compared to the 3.5, which gets much more use. And on the average night the Q7's aperture is wasted to a great degree since we only get decent seeing here in the summer when the ecliptic is below the tree line and the sky is so hazy I can't see anything :grin:

I said the above in jest, but to make a point that what you experienced was even more so back in the era of the birth of the Q. But to some extent things don't change, even with fancy fast refractors now...

#4 bmwscopeguy

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Posted 13 October 2010 - 03:14 PM

Hi John,

I think your experience probably parallels anyones' that is lucky enough to own a Q and another, bigger scope.

I myself have a C8 on a Nexstar GOTO mount, and I just can't bear the set-up hassles compared with the plunk and play of the Q...

I suppose I should get the C8 out sooner or later just to justify owning the darn thing....

Malcolm

#5 John Zimmerman

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Posted 14 October 2010 - 12:28 AM

Quit your whining. John. In the era of the intro of the Q 3.5, the competing Unitrons were f/15 to f/17, compared your ultra-portable modern f/8 refractor. A 4" f/15 would have been 60" long, compared to the rather short 48" of your 6" f/8, which should be a breeze to set up. And that only bought another inch of aperture, not 3, allowing for the obstructed optics of the Q.

Now my turn to whine :grin:


I love it when a guy with a 7" Questar whines :grin: - that is a problem a lot of people would LOVE to have. In fact, you and Eric are baaaaad influences! Got me to thinking about the 7.

You are so right about the old refractors. I had forgotten I had purchased a new 4" Unitron in 1967 and kept it for a few years. Darned thing weighed over 100 lbs set up. I kept it in a garage, mounted on a rolling platform. Even with that, it did not get used as much as I had hoped.

#6 akman1955

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 06:14 PM

:grin:John this kinda looks like a questar..maybe a distance cousin :question: but it keeps good company with my questar.. :lol:john

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#7 Mak2007

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 05:04 PM

:grin:John this kinda looks like a questar..maybe a distance cousin :question: but it keeps good company with my questar.. :lol:john


What is that telescope??? :bigshock:
Whatever it is, it looks beautiful

#8 akman1955

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 05:21 PM

:)It's a unitron 75mm compact refractor powder coated too look like a questar. They are rare birds indeed and used to be white..blame preston for that..john

#9 greedyshark

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 10:50 AM

...powder coated too look like a questar.


There's something about that mystic purple :bow:

CS,
Charles

#10 akman1955

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 11:50 AM

:)Yes i totally agree that mystic purple is the best! :jump:

#11 John Zimmerman

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Posted 26 October 2010 - 09:50 AM

What a magnificent instrument! Aside from the gorgeous mystic purple, the folded optics make it so much more compact than the standard Unitron. And I bet the views rival the Questar's!

#12 Michael Lomb

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 06:29 AM

This is my third edit if this post (I did not think the first two edits contributed anything), so last attempt (no guarantee here either :-))

Just checked my post on the Questar annual report page, too late to edit, forum is stuck with it.

 It is often quoted that buying a Questar is like buying a Rolex, Ferrari or Leica. Perhaps Leica is a closer comparison, an optical product that was never to be a large volume sales item (though the lenses are now hybridized into other cameras). The concept was a camera of uncompromising quality at an uncompromising price, and that there would always be a niche market for. (By the way I have always used Pentax cameras.) 

 I talked to an owner of a camera shop and asked who buys Leica cameras. He said they were professionals who made a living from their camera, and could make the most of them. They could be amateurs, not always of great financial means, who prioritized their finances for this one passion in their life. I had a neighbor like that once. They could be rich collectors that bought the new model when it came out and left it in the box. I wonder who the market was and is for the last 50 plus years, and if the Leica/Questar profile is the same?   

A gifted amateur can take a great photo with a Kodak (or a Pentax). An experienced amateur astronomer can skillfully observe the sky with a modest telescope. A picture of Sissy Hass observing and drawing double star images through a 2.4 inch refractor comes to mind here.

American observer Ronald Tanguay, editor of the periodical Double Star Observer uses a Q 3.5 for his work.

Then there is me who has seen Jupiter and the moon and one double star (well I have only had the Questar, second hand for a few weeks, and it has been cloudy).      

If you do not have, or willing to learn some skills, then no telescope is of much use (or are GoTo GPS systems picking up the observing skill slack here?)

How did I end up with a Questar 3.5? I built two previous telescopes, a 6 inch f/8 Dodsonian, and a 6 inch f/8 equatorial. I was about to start building a 10 inch f/4.6 Dobsonian. I have had the mirror in the attic for 20 years. The garage is too cluttered with house renovations and we are trying to get rid of stuff. I gave away my telescopes as they take up too much room, and the equatorial was overbuilt and too heavy. All my building projects take longer than they are supposed to, there are always problems, at at times my wife says it sounds like Hommer Simpson project in the garage. I was more interested in building telescopes than using them. I never fully completed the transition to amateur astronomer.  

Just buy a telescope, a "small one!" I didn't want one made of plastic, glue and bamboo parts. The Questar showed up on an online auction in NZ. I made the only bid?! For now I have lost interest in big telescopes (this has a high wife acceptance factor.) The Questar should last longer than I will. It has certainly aged better. My only regret now is that I should have got one ten years ago. I like the concept of keeping any electronic aids outside the telescope (less to go wrong, and when it does, replaceable.)

My early experience of using the Questar reminds remind me of my Muramatsu EX flute (also second hand) same make as the ones James Galway used for most of his career. You just don't have to struggle with it to make it work. It almost plays itself. (yes you still have to practice)     

I think I will keep quiet for awhile, I think I'm rambling, the post just gets longer. Is there a word limit? I am still not sure if I have contributed anything.     

Thanks for reading.

#13 bmwscopeguy

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 12:03 PM

Hi Mike,

The more the merrier. I am on my second Questar. I had one about 2 years ago that was the subject of my review posed elsewhere on this forum.

I regrettably sold it, telling myself that it tied up too much of my discretionary Astro funds (which strictly speaking it did.) However, what I did not anticipate was how I would miss the ease of use and unquestionable optical quality.

Which led me to purchase another one about 8 months ago. This one should stay around for a long time.

Time and time again you hear people say that the best scope is the one that gets used the most, and the Questar certainly does away with any physical restrictions to use, and makes the time you do spend with it a lot more enjoyable.

Cheers
Malcolm

#14 Michael Lomb

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 03:02 PM

Hello Malcolm,

Thanks for the feed back. It was your review article and that of Allister St Claire (also on this forum) that strongly influenced me the get the Questar.

All the Best from New Zealand

#15 Howard Alfred

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Posted 20 April 2013 - 11:13 PM

I see that it has been a long time since this thread was active. I just want to ad that old adage that a scope used, even a small one is better than a scope unused. I've owned my 3.5" Questar for about 15 yrs now and while I have much larger (Mewlon 250) and arguably even better smaller (Traveler), and yes my Q will sit for years sometimes without use - it's still the one that gets grabbed for the impromptu trip to dark skies because I can't muster even the emotional strength to put together everything I'd need to run those other scopes. I live in NYC where I can't even take a 10 second night sky photo without needing sunglasses when I look at the LCD playback. So while I might wish I'd brought larger with me on those trips, fact is without my trusty Questar I'd have brought nothing and end up watching TV at night but instead I get to sit under the stars - that and a pair of 10x80's and I'm pretty happy. I sometimes think of selling, but it takes up so little space, looks great on the shelf....nah, won't happen anytime soon.

#16 Bill Boublitz

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Posted 09 May 2013 - 05:03 PM

I guess I should come clean. I'm a Questar 7" owner and I've been known to whine;

A.) When it's been cloudy for more than three weeks.

B.) When the transparency is 4.0 or better, the seeing is good - excellent, and I have to be somewhere at 8 am the next morning.

#17 bobhen

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 08:42 AM

I guess I should come clean. I'm a Questar 7" owner and I've been known to whine;

A.) When it's been cloudy for more than three weeks.

B.) When the transparency is 4.0 or better, the seeing is good - excellent, and I have to be somewhere at 8 am the next morning.



Bill,

I also live in PA. I currently own a 6-inch Apo refractor and GEM and have been using that combination for almost 25 years. The thought of setting a Q-7 down on a sturdy table and sitting comfortably is becoming more attractive as I get older. BUT, living in PA cool-down is a BIG issue. I was wondering how your Q-7 deals with the initial cool-down and the falling temperatures that we experience here in PA.

Bob

#18 Bill Boublitz

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 01:05 PM

Hi Bob!

Great question. It's never really been a problem. During winter months when ambient temperature is well below "out of the case" scope temperature, I typically get the scope out there by twilight and let it cool down with the rest of the air. When I polar align or start observing after dinner, it's ready. Usually stabilizes within a hour, two at most - no more.

The most shifting comes in Fall and Spring, when differences between air and ground temperature are greater. On these nights, I experience the mirror phasing slightly out of curve as it attempts to equalize to ambient temperature. Any 6" APO will be less affected in such an environment.

Questar puts a lot into their mirrors to counter these effects, namely using "Zerodur" instead of Pirex as a base. It's an option when you order. I highly recommend the Zerodur. The instrument is so well made and so well designed; if the night is bad enough to make the Q7's stability an issue, I probably wouldn't want to be out observing in the first place.

I tend to go for my 4" refractor when I know my time is limited, preferring the Q7 for longer sessions. Let me know what you decide. Good wishes ~ Bill

#19 Erik Bakker

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 01:22 PM

Bob,

Here is what my Q7 looked like on my picknicktable :)

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#20 Mike E.

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 01:34 PM

Thinking about it, the only issue I have with our Questar is the cord for the hand controler.
I would prefer a coiled, flexible, telephone style cord.

#21 Mike E.

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 01:54 PM

Bob,

Here is what my Q7 looked like on my picknicktable :)


Nothing compares to that Mystic Purple color scheme. :cool: :bow:

#22 bobhen

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Posted 10 May 2013 - 02:41 PM

Hi Bob!

Great question. It's never really been a problem. During winter months when ambient temperature is well below "out of the case" scope temperature, I typically get the scope out there by twilight and let it cool down with the rest of the air. When I polar align or start observing after dinner, it's ready. Usually stabilizes within a hour, two at most - no more.

The most shifting comes in Fall and Spring, when differences between air and ground temperature are greater. On these nights, I experience the mirror phasing slightly out of curve as it attempts to equalize to ambient temperature. Any 6" APO will be less affected in such an environment.

Questar puts a lot into their mirrors to counter these effects, namely using "Zerodur" instead of Pirex as a base. It's an option when you order. I highly recommend the Zerodur. The instrument is so well made and so well designed; if the night is bad enough to make the Q7's stability an issue, I probably wouldn't want to be out observing in the first place.

I tend to go for my 4" refractor when I know my time is limited, preferring the Q7 for longer sessions. Let me know what you decide. Good wishes ~ Bill



Thanks Bill.

Good to know.

I really love my AP 155 BUT I fear that someday a more compact scope might be in the cards – especially for Lunar/Planetary.

And even though the AP155 will cool faster, I don’t set it up unless there is more than a reasonable chance of good sky conditions for at least 3-4 hours anyway.

I use my Tak 120 for the nights that are iffy.

I guess my back will tell me when it’s time.

Bob

#23 greedyshark

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Posted 11 May 2013 - 03:19 PM

Nothing compares to that Mystic Purple color scheme. :cool: :bow:


:waytogo:

Charles

#24 Bill Boublitz

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 07:51 AM

Sweet.

#25 mvw

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Posted 12 May 2013 - 08:38 AM

Just love my Questar too. The design, craftsmanship, optical quality.... :)

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