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Televue 85 vs. Televue NP101

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#1 choran

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 03:50 PM

Buying my first scope. This will be for visual use only. I have viewed through televue 85 and televue NP101 and love the wide field views. I'm interested in extreme ease of use, which points to the 85, but after viewing through the 101, I wonder if I'd be giving up significant brightness and detail if I opt for the smaller 85. The weight difference is substantial, even with an increase in only 16mm of aperture. Any thoughts from you folks would be welcome in assisting me in arriving at my decision. Was toying with idea of FSQ85, but price of accessories, waiting time, etc. put me off a bit. Thanks you all very much.
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#2 stratocaster

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 04:07 PM

It will depend on many factors that are based on your personal preference.

For me, for my first visual scope I wouldn't go below 100mm aperture, simply because I want to get the most light gathering capability I can without too much hassle moving the scope. However, I don't doubt many would disagree with me on this.

If grab n go is a primary concern I'd consider a 4" scope on a decent alt-az mount at the limit of what I'd consider gng. I have an SV102ED and would not consider it a lightweight on a decent mount. And I believe the NP101 is a heavier scope. With a TV85 you could go with a less beefy mount.

If you're interested in mostly splitting doubles and planetary/lunar viewing, the TV85 would likely be fine. Though there is no doubt you have the potential for greater resolution for planets/lunar with the NP101.

If you want to optimize DSO viewing, then the NP101 would be a no brainer between the two. But again, many would disagree with me on this.

#3 KerryR

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 04:12 PM

I find one key to pushing the power, under good seeing, of any telescope is rigid mounting. It's a lot easier to rigidly mount the TV 85 than it is the NP101, which is heavy scope for it's aperture, courtesy of the Petzval elements.

So, it'd be worthwhile to think about the mount your interested in buying, and how it's weight and bulk will affect the frequency with which you observe.

I have a Megrez 90, and had a Genesis (predecessor to the NP101). The very slight increase in brightness at 200x in the Genesis was an asset, but it took a much bigger mount to match the stability and lack of focusing wiggles with the longer, heavier Genesis. The Genesis was sold.

Whatever you do, don't skimp on the mount. Alt Az choices will likely get you more rigidity, and thereby lack of focus wiggles, for the money, so consider that route if budget and weight are a concern. I've noticed repeatedly that my perception of sharpness of planetary images at higher powers is directly proportional to the lack of focus wiggles on beefier mounts. Consider 'over mounting' if practical...

I also must humbly submit that neither of those scopes may be the best choice for a first scope-- the lack of aperture tends to punish new observers, particularly on DOS's. More aperture is just about always superior, but depends on where and how you'll observe. Consider-- gulp! I know this is the refractor forum-- an 8" dob for a first scope. Part of your budget will need to be alloted for eyepieces. By the time you get an NP101 and suitable mount, you may not have much left for premium ep's... Not so with the 8" dob...

#4 Calypte

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 04:21 PM

I have both. The 85 is much smaller than the 101. Both are manageable, but if, for example, you see yourself taking the scope and mount, assembled, out into the night to do some quick viewing, then the 85 is much easier. My 101 is the "is" version. I originally bought them "pre-owned" (i.e., "used"), primarily for imaging. The NP101is came later, because, as I got into color imaging, I wanted better color correction. For visual use, this is a non-issue in terms of colored rings around stars or anything like that. But something I rarely see mentioned is that the color of the planets themselves looks somewhat washed-out in the smaller scope. I see this clearly between the 85 and the 101, and the color rendition of both when looking at Jupiter is decidedly inferior to my larger reflectors. Also, even the bright planets are noticeably dimmer in the smaller scope.

Aside from that, I'm not sure that I would recommend either of these scopes if you're just getting into astronomy and don't know what kinds of objects interest you. The optics are very sharp in both, and you don't know what a "clean" star image looks like until you've seen it in a top-notch refractor. OTOH, they are still subject to the laws of physics, and neither is very good for deep-sky viewing. They're just too small to see much. Even for planets, moons of Saturn that are easy in my 8-inch reflector are challenging in the 101 and nearly impossible in the 85. Titan is easy, Rhea a challenge, especially in the 85, and Dione and Tethys nearly impossible in the 85. With the 101, it depends on conditions. All that said, my wife (not an astronomy buff) said that the TV-85 is the one scope she'd keep when I shuffle off this mortal coil.

#5 Mary

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 04:31 PM

Here is my .02 cents worth. I have both the TV85 and the NP101, if I could only keep one, it would be the TV85. Why..because it is compact and would not require as sturdy a mount as the NP101. The NP101 will definately give you more aperture than the TV85 and has no false color no matter how high you push the magnification. The NP101 truly is the better scope, but if you are seeking grab and go and will be doing any type of travel, the TV85 would be a better choice.

Personally I think either scope is a FANTASTIC first scope. You can always add a dob for aperture later if you decide you really need one, but you will NEVER regret having a TV scope in your arsenal. My NP101 was one of my first scopes and it is still with me and always will be.

Mary

#6 choran

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 04:36 PM

Thank you for the responses so far. I have been viewing for 6 or 8 months with binoculars, and love he wide views, but want a bit more oomph. My thinking was to get a good apochromatic scope for these wide field views, which I truly enjoy, and perhaps later obtain a ten inch dobsonian for seeking out deeper and more faint objects. I would dearly love to see Jupiter's moons resolve to disks, for example, and realize that a 3 or 4 inch scope is not likely to get me there. Still, those wide views..,

#7 tomchris

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 04:40 PM

I just always remember that, at the NEAF, David Nagler himself told me that he personally gets more use from his TV-85 than his others scopes.. including a Dob. I agree that, if convenience is a main concern, go with the TV-85. I love mine.

#8 FirstSight

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 05:53 PM

The NP-101 @11 lbs including diagonal and clamshell, 9 lbs OTA alone), 29 in. long with diagonal, is not of itself at all heavy or unwieldy. I often leave mine set up in my garage on a Universal Astronomics lightweight surveyor's tripod and Unistar Light Deluxe mount, and as you can see fron the below picture, it's almost effortless to pick the whole assembly up and carry it outside securely on my shoulder and one hand.

The qualifications are:
1) 11 lbs is right at the limit of many of the sturdiest lightweight mounts, and though the Unistar Light Deluxe functions adequately with an NP-101, it's well short of optimal. The heavier (7 lbs vs 2 lbs) regular Unistar Deluxe mount works much better for higher-magnification viewing and briefer settling times, but even with the extra 5 lbs, the scope/mount/tripod assembly would still be easily portable just on shoulder-and-hand in the fashion pictured.
2) The hard case Televue provides with the NP-101 is the same one used for the significantly larger, heavier NP-127, and this makes the case a bit longer, heavier, and bulkier than it really needs to be for the NP-101. Though the encased NP-101 will easily fit in the seat or trunk of any but perhaps an unusually small car, e.g. one of those 2-seaters frequently used in European cities, it's bulky enough to often require a bit of thoughtful preplanning when loading it wit lots of other gear or suitcases for a trip.

As to any optical advantages of the NP-101 (which is a true apochromat) over the TV-85 (which is an f/7 doublet), from experience I can only compare the NP-101 to my William Optics Megrez-90, also a decent-quality f/6/2 doublet. Even though both the Megrez-90 and the TV-85 are inherently only truly semi-apochromats, i.e. it's technically impossible to bring high (violet), middle (green) and low (red) wavelengths into sharp focus at the same point with a doublet...nevertheless with the Megrez-90 at least, the only noticeable hint of false color I've ever seen with it is a slight yellowish tinge on the limb of the full moon, and that not enough to truly be distracting to my tastes, YMMV. As to resolution, the NP-101 does produce noticeably incrementally sharper images than the M90 and incrementally, though noticeably "flatter" low-power images, though those are not truly fair comparisons since obviously it's not a TV-85 and quite different scope manufacturers are involved.

At 101.7mm aperture, the NP-101 does produce incrementally, though noticeably brighter images and greater depth of reach of objects and can produce a sharp image at moderately higher magnifications than the M90, but NEVERTHELESS four inches of aperture in even the most optically excellent scope on the planet has quite notable inherent limitations. For example, four inches is simply not enough aperture to truly resolve any globular cluster better than to produce a granular "misty" appearance around its edges, with the core region remaining a fuzzball of light. From a suburban light-polluted location, you'll usually only be able to resolve the brighter Messier galaxies, e.g. M81-82, M65-66, M104 etc, and unable to truly see any spiral structure in M51 (just a pair of bright cores surrounded by a small dim halo). It will take really good seeing conditions to resolve E and F in the Trapezium (with a bit of effort), though sometimes you can more often make out the more widely separated E star but not F. What the NP-101 is unparalleled at doing is providing panoramic views of regions densely populated by star clusters within the Milky Way, and also (from a dark-sky site) taking in the whole Veil Nebula at once, albeit rather dimlyand in less detail compared to what is possible seein parts of it at a time with e.g. 12 inches of aperture. By comparison, I've NEVER been able to resolve E or F in the Megrez 90, though perhaps YMMV with the TV-85.

LET'S PUT IT THIS WAY: With my NP-101 available, I almost never use the Megrez-90 any more, except to take it places where I really need its significantly more compact travel case or where I really don't want to risk taking the NP-101, e.g. down into the dunes area near the ocean, or perhaps to a public outreach event of a particular sort where I don't want to risk the possibility of some kid inadvertently knocking over the NP-101 with clumsiness.

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#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 06:01 PM

A few thoughts:

For wide field views, one does not need an apo, a good achromat does a good job. That said, for wide field views, the NP-101 is amazing. Other scopes show field curvature, the Nagler-Petzval 101 does not. It has a shorter focal length than the 85.... There's a clue there.

The NP-101 is reasonably light at 10 lbs, reasonably compact at about 26 inches, I consider mine grab and go.

In my view, the NP-101 with its perfect color correction and flat field is an ultimate scope, the TV-85 is not. If you decide against the 101, there are other scopes by other manufacturers that should be considered.

Jon

#10 Starman1

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 06:02 PM

On a contrary note, the NP101 is a magnificent beast, and not that heavy. It's lighter than a lot of scopes, and the mount doesn't have to be that sturdy to use one (the TeleVue Gibralter is a good mount for it, and it is pretty light).
The NP101, though, has a flatter field, less chromatic aberration (none), more aperture (important on everything in the sky), a great focuser, and is just all-around a better scope.
The NP101/Gibralter combo is an excellent Grab'n'Go combination and the image quality is exceptional.
The logical alternative, in my book, is the NP127, but that begins to get pretty heavy on the mounts likely to be used with it.
The NP101 is easily lifted and transported.

As has been said, this is still a pretty small aperture to be an ONLY scope, and would make an excellent companion to a much-larger newtonian. The larger scope would be used when aperture is critical, the smaller scope when field of view is critical.

#11 FirstSight

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 06:16 PM

The compactness advantage of the TV-85 lies more with the compactness of its provided carrying case over the unnecessarily long, bulky NP-101 case (the same as provided for the NP-127), and not in any sigificant advantage over the NP-101 in actual field use or setup, once it's out of the case. It's only 11 lbs, including clamshell and diagonal, or only 3 lbs net heavier than the TV-85.

The other advantage of the TV-85 is, as Mary notes, that the NP-101 benefits from a sturdier mount than is truly required for the TV-85. However, in the Universal Astronomics family of alt-az mounts, the NP-101 is quite usable on the Unistar Deluxe Light (2 lb) mount (rated 10 lbs), though it does much better on the full Unistar (7 lb) mount designed for up to 40 lbs. That's a $100 difference in mount price and only 5 lbs.

Whether the aperture advantage of the NP-101 or the lighter-weight/compactness advantage of the TV-85, or the cost difference between the two, are enough to significantly tip the balance is of course a matter of personal taste and situation. For me, the NP-101 wins hands down. For you, that's a matter of your own personal tastes and budget, and perhaps how much the picture I included in my earlier posts is convincing of the degree to which the NP-101 is easily manageable or not.

#12 Bill Friend

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 06:46 PM

As Jon mentioned, you don't necessarily need an APO for wide-field. There are several 4" f/6-7 achromats out there that would serve you well for low power viewing (the ES AR102 comes to mind). For the price of a used TV85, you could have the 4" achro, a good alt-az mount and an 8" f/6 dob for resolving fuzzies and great lunar/planetary performance when seeing permits.

Cheers,
Bill

#13 choran

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Posted 28 December 2012 - 11:44 PM

Again, thank you all very much for the thoughtful and very thorough answers. I very much appreciate it. Still haven't made up my mind, but you have all given me much food for thought. I'm at the point in my life where I've retired and want the things I buy to last so that they may be passed down to my kids. Whatever way I go on this, I want a high quality item that will outlast me. Solid, heavy duty, with some actual steel in it. LOL Whatever I get, I'm sure I'll enjoy it. Especially if I have the wherewithal to buy one of those great Ethos eyepieces I tried out on both scopes. Just a very pleasing view, to my old eyes. Thanks again, all. I'm sure I'll have other questions, and it's great to find a place with so many knowledgeable folks.
Cheers.

#14 John Rhodes

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 12:13 AM

The compactness advantage of the TV-85 lies more with the compactness of its provided carrying case over the unnecessarily long, bulky NP-101 case (the same as provided for the NP-127),


No longer the NP101 & 101is case has been changed dramatically inside and shortened outside:

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#15 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 03:34 AM

The compactness advantage of the TV-85 lies more with the compactness of its provided carrying case over the unnecessarily long, bulky NP-101 case (the same as provided for the NP-127),


No longer the NP101 & 101is case has been changed dramatically inside and shortened outside:


There is also the softcase which is about the length of the new hard case. That's what I use.

As far as a mount, I used a Portamount with wooden legs for a couple of years. It's an Ok mount for the NP-101, usable at 300x through not ideal.

Jon

#16 Mike W

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:20 AM

The scope that rarely gets set up (too heavy, complicated) v/s an 85-102 mm is the scope that punishes new and old observers! Terrence Dickenson recommends an 80-90mm refractor (at least) on an al-az mount to start with. I've had every kind of telesope in my 40+ years of observing and my Televue 102 on a Gibraltar mount (w/ sky tour, should have bought that years ago) gets used 75% of the time. When I feel the need to look at something crazy faint there's always somebody nearby happy to show it to me in his (her's) large Dob or whatever. It'll be a long time before you run out of objects to look at with an 85-102, and even longer w/ sky tour!( over 2000 objects for small refractors)

#17 la200o

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 11:34 AM

I'd go with the NP101. As noted above, unbeatable for wide-field views, but also, with the proper glass at the eyepiece end, just superb for high-magnifcation. The NP101 is NOT a heavy scope and can be mounted easily on a number of alt-az mounts; I have mine on a HH Mark III, but a used Gibraltar at 3 or 4 hundred bucks would do just fine.

The TV85 will be a little more convenient to use, but you'll see more with the 101 and you won't always be thinking, "gosh what am I missing?".

Both are great scopes.

Bill

#18 tomchris

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 05:32 PM

The TV85 will be a little more convenient to use, but you'll see more with the 101 and you won't always be thinking, "gosh what am I missing?".

Both are great scopes.


I agree that both are great scopes but I also can relate with the OP in that as one gets older, less weight and simplicity become more important. I miss my old Genesis SDF but I decided to keep my 85 (and sell the Genesis) due to the convenience of set up. I didn't feel I'd be missing much more than I was seeing through the Genesis. I later got my 102mm achromatic for increased magnification but the 85 is still the scope I use the most. Although I'm sure the NP101 is better than my Genesis, I gave serious consideration to the TV 102 before buying the Vixen/Orion listed below. Actually, previous Vixen experience and a '4" refractor comparison list' submitted by our own Jim Barnett helped convince me to buy the Vixen to compliment my 85.

#19 johnnyha

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 06:39 PM

If you are interested in binoviewing, I'd recommend getting the NP101. I had a TV85 for a few years then got some Denk II binoviewers. Within a week the TV85 was sold and I had an NP101, for balance issues alone. Turned out to be a great decision, the NP101 has essentially perfect color correction and I enjoyed mine for years. It not only has that wide flat field but it handles ridiculous magnification.

#20 FirstSight

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Posted 29 December 2012 - 10:18 PM

I agree that both are great scopes but I also can relate with the OP in that as one gets older, less weight and simplicity become more important. I miss my old Genesis SDF but I decided to keep my 85 (and sell the Genesis) due to the convenience of set up.


I'm frankly completely baffled why some folks seem to find the NP-101 awkwardly heavy, unweildy, or inconvenient to set up (especially in comparison to a tv-85), as if we were comparing the merits of 12" vs 8" dobs. It only requires an extremely simple, lightweight alt-az mount, such as the Universal Astronomics Unistar Deluxe, and any needed scope balancing can be quickly and simply done via sliding the OTA within the clamshell, without involving the mount itself at all. I leave a short lightweight 2" rail always bolted to the clamshell of the NP-101, and attach the clamshell to the mount simply by closing the mount's jaws on the rail.

My Megrez-90 (despite being lighter, shorter and of similar size to the TV-85) is actually the more cumbersome and significantly more awkward of the two scopes to mount and balance, because I use rings bolted to a saddle plate to attach that scope to the mount, and I have to first attach the rings to the scope on a flat surface and then attach the saddle plate to the mount. Adjusting the balance requires either loosening the mount's jaws and moving the saddle plate position in the mount, or else loosining both rings, sliding the OTA, and then re-tightening both rings. I find both of these balancing methods cumbersomely awkward, compared to the ease of using the NP-101 clamshell to adjust balance.

BOTTOM LINE: The weight difference between the NP-101 and TV-85 is only 3 lbs. How many of you claimning a significant difference in convenience/weildiness between the two are using significantly different mounts or attachment methods for the NP-101 than for the TV-85? I am not a particularly strong guy, but when I can pick up my mounted NP-101 on a tripod in one hand, sling it over my shoulder and carry it out to my yard (as in the picture I included earlier above)...I am a bit perplexed why one would find that significantly heavy or difficult, unless one's physical condition was such that *either* scope would be challengingly awkward to move and maneuve about. I'm not criticizing anyone who's in that situation, since I'm not so spry or strong myself any more. But if not, I'm not quite understanding what it is you're finding difficult or inconvenient about mounting or manipulating the NP-101, unless there's some significant difference between how you're doing it with the NP-101 vs the TV-85 (or similar weight/size scopes)?

#21 Calypte

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 04:09 AM

I own both scopes and have used both extensively, for my own observing and imaging, and for public star parties. My ownership of the TV85 goes back to '06, the NP101is to '10. I use them on equatorial mounts, earlier a G11, then a Mach1GTO. Of the alt-az alternatives, I have no experience, but I don't find the prospect of manually chasing a planet at 200x very appealing. A heavier scope means a heavier counterweight. For the NP101is it means a larger dovetail plate and rings. The weight difference of the OTAs multiplies. At my previous home, I often left the TV85 on the mount and carried it out to the driveway for casual observing. The NP101is required some additional assembly to prepare for observing. I now have the 101 on a permanent mount (the Mach1GTO) in an observatory, so the 85 may go back on the G11 for casual viewing. The hard case of the 101 is much larger than the convenient soft case of the 85 (see the longer case in John Rhodes' picture). The 85 is much easier to fit into the trunk of a car. I have to put the 101 on the back seat. I took the 85 instead of the 101 to Utah for the annular eclipse, and the choice spared a lot of room elsewhere in the car. My previous opinion -- which I won't retract or modify -- is my honest judgment based upon my experience of actually owning and using both scopes. The OP can weigh the various comments and decide what he deems important. I'm not sure that either of these scopes is the best choice for a beginning observer, particularly if he access to a dark sky. They are superb at what they do, but you aren't going to be chasing down 13th mag galaxies with either of them, and M42 is going to be disappointing compared to the view through a light-bucket that costs a fraction of these TV refractors. Between the TV85 and NP101is, the brighter image of the 101, even on planets, makes it the clear winner optically. Size matters. But without that comparison available, the OP would be delighted with the 85, provided his deep-sky aspirations are kept in check.

#22 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 08:07 AM

Calypte:

I use my 80mm apo and NP-101 on alt-az mounts with slow motion controls. They are easily transported out through the door and out to the backyard assembled and ready to go. With the slow motion controls, tracking at 200x or even 300x, is not a problem.

But that said, a 3 or 4 inch refractor, no how perfect it might be, is a better second scope than as a first scope. My run of the mill 10 inch Dob provides better planetary views and of course goes deeper into the deep sky.

Jon

#23 Paul G

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 10:44 AM

The weight difference is really minimal, a little less than 3 pounds. Either scope will ride comfortably for visual use on a small alt-az mount or a small equatorial mount. To me the decision is easy, the 101 has better color correction and will show a brighter image with more detail.

#24 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 11:17 AM

The weight difference is really minimal, a little less than 3 pounds. Either scope will ride comfortably for visual use on a small alt-az mount or a small equatorial mount. To me the decision is easy, the 101 has better color correction and will show a brighter image with more detail.


:waytogo:

It also is capable of a wider, flatter field.

As I said before, the decision is really the NP-101 versus any one of a number of very good 80mm, 90mm, or even 100mm refractors. The NO-GO101 offers capabilities that are unique, if you want what it offers, it the only choice.

That is not the case with the TV-85, there are other worthy competitors. Myself, I like TV products but I am very happy with my William Optics 80mm F/7 FD, I don't see much reason to swap it for the TV-85...

Jon

#25 FirstSight

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Posted 30 December 2012 - 12:03 PM

But that said, a 3 or 4 inch refractor, no how perfect it might be, is a better second scope than as a first scope. My run of the mill 10 inch Dob provides better planetary views and of course goes deeper into the deep sky.


For visual observation, the most ideal choice is the combination of an NP-101 and a decent 10 or 12 inch reflector. They make perfectly complementary partners, each having respective strengths and capabilities that fill the most important holes in the weaknesses and incapabilities of the other. You want astounding panoramic views and incredibly sharp, pinpoint, perfectly colored stars, the NP-101 cannot be beat. You want the depth of reach and detail only a bit of aperture can give you, to resolve globular clusters and show dimmer galaxies, the 10-12 inch reflector can give that to you.

When observing in my driveway at home, I'll take out the NP-101 three times for every time I'll take out my 12" reflector. When observing away from home at what passes for a dark site, I'll always take both, and go back and forth between them all night. I'll take in the entire Veil nebula in the NP-101 and take in the beautiful intricate detail of individual sections of it in the 12". I'll compare the panoramic view of open clusters in wider context of the dense Milky Way background in the Puppis/Canis Major region in the NP-101, but resolve individual clusters into lots more stars in the 12" reflector. I'll enjoy the view of M33 against a wide stellar background in the NP-101, but begin to resolve its spiral structure in the 12" reflector, and use the latter to go into more ambitous galaxy-hunting. The contextual view of Jupiter and its moons against the background is seemingly more breathtaking and photo-sharp in the NP-101, yet the bigger aperture of the 12" brings out much more subtle detail of the cloudbands than even the finest 4" aperture will ever be capable of doing. It's a real visual treat, a feast, bouncing back and forth all night between the NP-101 and my 12" reflector. Meanwhile, I've got a really nice Megrez-90 doublet which mostly sits on the bench since I got the NP-101. I do agree that it's good that Televue has now redesigned the NP-101 hard case to have a smaller footprint, rather than use the same case as for the larger NP-127. That was always needless overkill for the NP-101 unless you really wanted to make double-use of the case to hold both scope and eyepieces.






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