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Suggestions needed on a new scope for Moon viewing

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#1 Quinn

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 03:40 AM

G'Day

I'm a Lunatik. Just my favorite thing to spend my nights (and sometimes afternoons) observing. Right now I have an Orion 90mm Mak that I am always surprised by how much I enjoy viewing the moon through.

I'm thinking about getting something a step or 2 up from the 90 mm Mak. So I am up for some suggestions.

I am into observing and don't really have a desire for doing AP.

I live in the burbs of Los Angeles and do not get to Dark Skies often. Probably why I enjoy the Moon as much as I do.

My other scope is a 6" Meade ƒ/5 Newtonian mounted on a GEM that I enjoy for more wide angle viewing like Open Clusters and Nebulas.

Thank in advance
Quinn

#2 Tim2723

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 07:48 AM

Hi Quinn,

In our 'Best of" section there's a couple of excellent archived threads that go into great detail about choosing a scope for lunar work. There's a poll thread that didn't quite pan out, so read that one with both eyes, if you catch my meaning. (The data is flawed because a lot of people wrote in saying they used big scopes for the Moon, but it was because they had big scopes, so they used them.)

I've always found 6" to be the best balance between effectiveness and portability. My 6" Mak will show me 99% of what I can see 99% of the time, and that's good enough for my purposes. Others will go the distance and use much bigger glass in hopes of that extra 1%, but personally that just dampens my enthusiasm.

If I were to do it all over again I'd still look at 6 to 8 inches. But I find that quality beats quantity for the Moon. I want crystal clarity right to the edge. No comma or pincushion for me. Otherwise it's just a matter of something that can punch the magnification up there when the night is good, and a 6" scope that doesn't fold up at 400X will do that for me.

I also own one of those 90mm Orions, and whatever you do, don't get rid of it! It's probably the best Moon scope I've ever used in its size and price class. A fantastic little performer. You might want to look into the 6 or 7 inch versions they make. They are nice products.

#3 Tom and Beth

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 05:50 PM

Besides Tim's great suggestions, the best scope for viewing could very well be the easiest to set up. If you have to lug the scope up/down stairs and it's a hassel, you won't view as often with a BIG scope as you will a small one. And what is "too big" to one person isn't so bad to someone stronger.

Your 6 inch F5 would be a good Moon scope. Are you in an Apartment/Condo? Do you have a garage you can leave it set up, and wheel out when you want to observe?

#4 Tim2723

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 06:53 PM

The easy set up is a point I missed, but it's a really important one. I noticed your footnote about your EQ mount being the reason you want a dob. for me, part of a good moon scope is both easy tracking plus portability to get around trees and other obstacles. My SVP Gem doesn't see much use anymore. It's great to have the motor drives, but it's too darn heavy to carry around the yard and align very half hour or so. I'm going with a nice stable alt-az with slow motion manual controls. Something more to consider.

#5 RobertED

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Posted 08 January 2013 - 08:13 PM

I've had some pretty awesome views through an old Meade LX2 f/10 sct. I know 6" scopes are great too, but if you really want your socks knocked off, start with a nice 8" f/10 sct, (Meade/Celestron).

#6 Tim2723

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 12:52 PM

Oh, I went back an re-read my first post when you said that. I'm not trying to sell 6" scopes. The bigger the better, and all that. I was approaching the question more along the lines of what characteristics do folks look for in a Moon scope. for me that's a flat field, no edge distortions, enough aperture to support the highest magnification my skies will normally allow, portable but steady mounting. For me that's the 6" Mak, but that's just me. If I lived somewhere where I could see the Moon at 800x every night and didn't have to move it, I'd have a big honkin' chunk of glass, let me tell you. I'd probably go for 16" or better.

Nice thing about the 8" sct is they're a real workhorse telescope. Very few people actually buy a scope just for the Moon anyway.

#7 Quinn

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 01:54 AM

G'Day

Thank you all for your time, the replies and the info. I really do appreciate this community. Of course now I am looking at bunch of choices.

As pointed out by Tom and Beth, the best choice for almost anything is the one that you will use. My present circumstances allows my scopes and tripods to be jot be next a set of double french doors leading out to the backyard. Since the yard is fairly secure I can set up early for cool down and not have to keep a constant eye on everything. Even the fact I'm in a red zone I imagine some would envy this arrangement.

Question… Mak or SCT? What is the difference between them. Looks like the secondary mirror is a bit smaller than the Mak. I've heard the SCT cools down a bit sooner though.

Tim I notice you have a 6" Newt. Someone local want to unload theirs cheap. This is a Older Orion 6" ƒ/8. I'm not sure how it would compare with the ƒ/5 I already have. How would the moon view through one of these. I'm thinking about getting this for when kids come over.

All The Best
To You And Yours
Quinn

#8 Quinn

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 02:06 AM

Tim, I can't imagine ever letting go of that 90mm Mak. Everyone that has ever look at the Moon through it has been amazed with the view. Also a great spotting scope at the rifle range. I know Orion makes a 180mm (7") haven't seen a 6" though.

Quinn

Tim2723 wrote:

~ I also own one of those 90mm Orions, and whatever you do, don't get rid of it! It's probably the best Moon scope I've ever used in its size and price class. A fantastic little performer. You might want to look into the 6 or 7 inch versions they make. They are nice products.



#9 Tim2723

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:50 AM

I meant to say it's either six or seven inches, couldn't quite remember. As to your friend's 6" f/8, these scopes are iconic for lunar observing. Back in the 50's and 60's (the heyday of the Lunar amateur) they were everywhere. As to being a significant improvement over your f/5, probably not as much as you might think. A bit more magnification for each EP, a bit less distortion maybe. But if you like the f/5 views you'll probably not gain much. You'd be better off with more aperture.

Mak or SCT? The Mak generally takes a little more cool down owing to the very thick meniscus lens instead of the thin corrector plate of the SCT. But neither are true 'fast deployment' scopes. That's the realm of the refractor. But it doesn't sound like that's an issue for you. Many argue the issues of central obstruction, and it is a bit smaller for the Mak. But honestly, I've seen marvelous views through SCTs that leave nothing wanting. You can get a bit more aperture for the weight with one, so consider that.

Really though, the Moon looks grand through just about anything. The only things I don't care for are very fast refractors with lots of chromatic aberration, or very fast reflectors with edge effects. Since the Moon is so very bright and fills whe field from edge to edge, those defects are much harder to ignore. As lunar observing begs high power, slower scopes allow you to bump the magnification with simpler, more affordable EPs and depend less on Barlow lenses. Keeping the optical train simple is important to me.

#10 Quinn

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 04:10 PM

Tim and everyone

Thanks for the time and info. You have all helped in making the decision. I'm going 8" SCT. Over all I think that it will give me the best utility. Time now to investigate what make/model I want, then see what I can track down used in good repair.

I have been surveying the backyard for locations that let me peer through and around the house and trees while letting the same items block stray street lights. Kind a like the ol' fishing hole, 'cept for stars.

I will be getting that used 6" ƒ/8 Dob. Hey at 100 bucks I can't go wrong. It will be good to have for parties here at the house.

I'll post back here as questions arise and progress develops.

Thank again all.
Quinn

#11 Tim2723

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 04:20 PM

You didn't say the Dob was only $100. That's a no-brains call! LOL! You'd be crazy not to have it.

Congratulations on your decision and good luck in the hunt. You're sure to find an 8" SCT to suit you. They are real workhorse telescopes that can do a lot.

#12 azure1961p

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 06:25 PM

I've had some pretty awesome views through an old Meade LX2 f/10 sct. I know 6" scopes are great too, but if you really want your socks knocked off, start with a nice 8" f/10 sct, (Meade/Celestron).


I'd agree with that. The angular resolution in that scope over what you have currently is truly a step up with enough brightness in the image to fuel those sharp high power views you'd like. Particularly over the 90mm though a cleAr margin is ahead of the six too.

The classic 6" f/8 is caps me of near refractor sharpness but you must blow a fan behind the primary at least.

Pete

Pete






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