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Favorite vendors?

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#1 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 08:28 AM

Who would you send a friend, grandparent, boss, fiance, etc. to for general astronomical equipment?

I know there are a lot of businesses out there who make awesome products and who provide awesome service. I've dealt with several manufacturers who have provided me ridiculous service at stupidly low prices (free in some cases) (TeleVue, Stellarvue, and Astrotrac come immediately to mind).

But which vendors with wide varieties of products (and types of products) do you think provide the best service? In other words, who has responsive, educated sales/support staff, responds to emails almost before you send them, has reasonable prices, and still somehow hasn't burnt out or gone out of business?

I know that Astronomics and Agena Astro clearly (and alphabetically) are on that list. But who else???

#2 MikeBOKC



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Posted 16 November 2012 - 08:54 AM

Astronomics is always my first choice, for obvious reasons. However when they have not carried something I have found Scopestuff to be always responsive and helpful. Likewise Starizona.

#3 star drop

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:15 AM


#4 AhBok


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Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:41 AM

Easy for me. Astronomics, Agena Astro, Scopestuff. There are many other fine vendors, but these three get my calls first and in this order.

#5 csa/montana


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Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:51 AM

Astronomics! Without them, we would not be discussing it on Cloudy Nights; as there would be no CN; since they carry the cost for us, alone. :)

ScopeStuff is one for just about any item not found elsewhere.

#6 Doug Culbertson

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:22 AM

Astronomics for nine out of ten orders (when I buy new anyway). After that, in no particular order:

Agena Astro
High Point Scientific

I have also used Orion off and on for years. Lots of stuff for the newbie, and they often have good sales. Their shipping charges however are legendary.

#7 t.r.



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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:40 AM

Let me share my story...

For years, as a budding amature astronomer, I would have questions about this or that. I would call Astronomics and would speak to Fred. His knowledge, friendly tone and eagerness to help were easy to get attached to, so over the years I continued with my questions seeking advice. As a youngster, with little money, I didn't buy a single thing, I just kept asking for answers to my questions an seeking advice.

As I progressed in the hobby and funds became available (more so just knowing what I wanted), I began to purchase from them, but it was after many years. I haven't spent the most by any means, more so just picking up odds and ends and a scope or two. Fred was the same on the phone no matter.

Two years ago I got a chance to volunteer at my first NEAF to help Astronomics. I was looking forward to it all, like a pilgrimage, and to meet Fred. Much to my suprise, he didn't attend, but his son, Mike did. We met, I worked the weekend and by the end, he and his gracious wife made me feel like family with the rest of the CNer's. I didn't get to meet Fred, but his fine son is most certainly a reflection of his character and if he is half the man Fred is, Fred should be proud. Do you have to ask who my favorite is??? :salute: :usa:

#8 Thomas Karpf

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:51 AM

Thanks all.

As of about a month ago, my list consisted of just Astronomics. Some people don't like lists of just one business, hence my post.

Recently I learned about Agena Astro. I've seen multiple threads extoling their virtues. I'm not sure I've seen a single 'less than glowing' post about Agena Astro.

I've added Scope Stuff (for slightly less common 'scope stuff') and High Point Scientific to my list.

@t.r. I've had a number of conversations over email with the kind folks at Astronomics over the last decade, mostly about equipment that was out of my current price range. I'm not sure the meager profits on my ~ $1000 sales have come anywhere near close to paying for their time chatting with me. There's good reason why Astronomics was originally my entire list.

#9 t.r.



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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:55 AM

Bingo! :bow:

#10 Traveler



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Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:00 AM

Of course, without Astronomics we were not be able to talk like te way we do at Cloudynights. When i am in the neighberhood, i will visit them straight away...

If i may suggest a vendor at the other side of the ocean, i can highly recommended Robtics.nl. The guys who are in the buisiness are 100% amateur astronomers.

Besides them, Markus Ludes from APM is a vendor who comes also in my mind.

#11 csrlice12


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Posted 16 November 2012 - 11:57 AM

+1 for Astronommics. I also like Telescopes.net; which is Woodland Hills Camera in California. Excellent service. When a ES82 14mm was on backorder, the day they received their shipment, they called me and let me know their shipment had arrived and my eyepiece was sent the next day.

#12 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:20 PM

There are a number of top notch vendors out there. Astronomics is certainly one of them and their continued support of Cloudy Nights sets them apart.

Other vendors:

- Woodland Hills, OPT, Agena Astro, AT&WB, Hands on Optics.

- I haven't purchased anything from them yet but Eyepiecesetc is on my list based on past dealings and help I have gotten from the proprietor, Don Pensack, (Starman1)

In terms of manufacturers, there are the big boys like Obsession, TeleVue and Astro-Physics that need no introduction. Dennis Steele at Dobstuff is one I can recommend...


#13 mich_al



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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:27 PM

Well I recently had an experience with one of the vendors on my 'favorites' list that caused me to move them off that list. I won't name them, they are generally spoken of with great esteem here. I decided to buy a recommended book and did a search to see who sold it and at what price. Top of the list where 2 vendors, Amazon and a telescope vendor, each listed the book at $35. Though I'd throw some business to the telescope vendor so I went there and put the book in my cart and proceeded to checkout. Cheapest shipping & handling was over $17! That's just taking advantage of me and it's not gonna happen! I doesn't cost anywhere near that much to package and ship a book. My vendor bookmarks have since been re-ordered. My message for buyers is to always check shipping cost and my message to vendors is if your try to beat me up I'm gonna remember it forever.

#14 turtle86


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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:37 PM

There really are a number of excellent vendors out there. Can't say I've ever had a bad experience with any of them.

Astronomics was always a favorite vendor for me, even before they started sponsoring Cloudy Nights. I remembering placing some orders with them over the phone years ago when I was just starting out in the hobby, and getting some excellent advice.

I've also had great experiences with Skies Unlimited, High Point Scientific, Agena Astro, Scope Stuff, Orion and OPT, to name a few.

As for manufacturers, Al Nagler and Rick Singmaster are tops in my book, both in terms of quality and helping their customers.

#15 jgraham


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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:43 PM

Astronomics, Oceanside Photo & Telescope, Orion, Scopestuff.

#16 RGM


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Posted 16 November 2012 - 12:43 PM

A quick note for Canadians. I have started to keep some of my purchases in Canada, using Canadian Telescopes. They have similar prices to US vendors, and FREE shipping.

US vendors get some of my business, but it all comes down to shipping and handling costs. I have no idea why US vendors ship free to the lower States, but charge astronomical amounts to ship to Canada.

#17 beatlejuice


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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:07 PM

I have no idea why US vendors ship free to the lower States, but charge astronomical amounts to ship to Canada.

I would have to agree to a certain extent, although I believe they are just charging cost when it comes to USPS.
But, if they provide free shipping within the U.S., why don't they subtract the cost of mailing to the U.S.from the cost of mailing to Canada, therefore arriving at a more equitable shipping cost for Canadians?

More to the point of this thread, Agena and Scopestuff get my vote for U.S. dealers.


#18 t.r.



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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:16 PM

But you have FREE health care!!! :grin:

#19 beatlejuice


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Posted 16 November 2012 - 01:56 PM

But you have FREE health care!!!

Well not really, but the details are confounding!


#20 mountain monk

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 03:46 PM

Usually OPT because it is in my old hometown. I have also used astronomics and was always satisfied. I will also, like Jon, start using Don Pensack's new business because I want to support someone who, like astronomics, offers so much to Cloudy Nights.

Dark skie.


#21 Lane



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Posted 16 November 2012 - 04:56 PM

I prefer buying from Astronomics because of this site and because they are so close that items usually arrive within 2 days after I order them. I also had a problem with an item one time and they resolved that problem very quickly.

Unfortunately they don't carry all the items I want to buy so I have to go to OPT or Orion and sometimes vendors that specialize in one of kind items like Hands on Optics, Deep Space Products, ScopeStuff, McMaster-Carr, etc.

I do prefer buying from larger vendors just because they make more money and that means they have more options in dealing with a problem. A small vendor might not be able to eat the cost of a problem if it came down to that, but a bigger vendor could.

#22 Paul G

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 08:25 PM

Company 7.

#23 mikey cee

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 09:58 PM

Well naturally it has got to be ISTAR and owner Ales Krivanek! Anyone who can give me a custom made achromat like mine has got to be on every serious refractor junkies radar screen!! I mean get on board while the gettin's good! :bow: :waytogo: Mike

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#24 JayinUT


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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:06 PM

Astronomics, OPT, Agena Astro and High Point Scientific for eyepieces and such stuff.

I concur with Jon that I strongly recommend Dennis Steele at DobStuff. Great product, outstanding customer service.

#25 Tim D

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Posted 16 November 2012 - 10:23 PM

I really like OPT. I believe they have the best sales around and a great rewards program. Just the other week they had no sales tax for california residents and double rewards discount for people out of state in honor of the elections. They also have currently a PayPal deal with no payments for 6 months! So with deals like that, I had to pull the trigger on a XT10g!! Hope to get it soon! Plus I like visiting their store which is about 25 miles from me.

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

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