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A good back pack scope?

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#1 GageCook

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 07:50 PM

Was wondering if anyone has some suggestions for a good back pack scope? Alternatively, a scope small enough to fit into a back pack and a tripod that is plenty sturdy yet can be collapsed enough to carry easily in one hand or strap across the top of the back pack. Meade makes the ETX 80BB, but I was hoping for something a little more powerful. Preferably a refractor or SCT. Less collimation. I have an astromaster 114 but, I'm looking for something of higher quality. The AM 114 GEM is extremely shaky. I mean... don't look at it too hard or it trembles. :twitch:

#2 SleepyAstronomer

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 11:18 PM

What's your price range?

Celestron's SLT series has some decent sized scopes in terms of power and aperture, and several of them don't seem too large. The mounts are GOTO and seem to be fairly dependable in terms of sturdiness. I've seen several of these scopes at local star parties, and the owners all seemed very pleased with them. I've never personally had the chance to try out any of the SLT's. Hopefully there will be someone along shortly who has more first hand experience with this line of scopes than I.

#3 ZeusB

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Posted 10 September 2013 - 11:53 PM

Sounds like you want something a little bigger, but for what it's worth, I backpacked this scope rim-to-rim in the Grand Canyon:

http://www.telescope...rontravelsco...

It was small and lightweight enough that it didn't cut into essentials for the trip, and I was still able to see the Hercules cluster at Phantom Ranch.

Guess it depends on your definition of backpacking.

#4 t.r.

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 08:11 AM

My travel/backpack scope is the Celestron C90. Light, powerful enough (200xish), very good quality, lifetime No-Fault warranty, capable, fixed collimation, no chromatic aberration, easy mechanics, easy to mount. It even comes with its own backpack!!! :grin:

C90 Kit

Here is a review of its quality...

C90 Vs. Questar




#5 mayidunk

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 12:13 PM

+1 on the C90, However, Celestron is no longer offering a no-fault warranty, but is still offering a limited lifetime warranty to the original owner.

I just got one of these a few weeks ago. It's built solid, and the collimation on mine is pretty perfect. An in-focus star shows a tight, round airy disc that's perfectly centered within 2 faint diffraction rings. Viewing the Moon through it is nice; it's bright, sharp, and contrasty. I hope to try it out on Jupiter later in the week. It's quite nice for a spotting scope, and appears to be pretty rugged! I found a brand new Canon camera case at the local GW that fits the scope, my Celestron Zoom EP, and my 1.25" star diagonal perfectly, with a small tripod strapped to the outside. Perfect for stashing in the car for those moments when you wished you had a telescope handy!

:grin:

#6 Binojunky

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 12:25 PM

+2 on the C90, outstanding for the price of a couple of cheap eyepieces,DA. :waytogo:

#7 Spaced

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 05:48 PM

Yup. C-90 +3. I've backpacked to beaches on the Olympic Peninsula and dang near kissed seals on off-shore islets. I just shoved it, case and all, into the bottom of my old Kelty Tioga then strapped on a tripod.

#8 GageCook

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Posted 11 September 2013 - 10:45 PM

I have been eyeballing the C90. I think it has come down to the C90 or the C5. I will also be using it as a spotting scope for my C14.

#9 MarcF650R

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 09:57 AM

Are you talking about day hiking, or overnighting it? I've hauled my TV76 around in one of those Lowepro Spotting scope bags and it works decently. I don't see a small refractor being an issue for day hikes...

#10 mayidunk

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 03:20 PM

I have been eyeballing the C90. I think it has come down to the C90 or the C5. I will also be using it as a spotting scope for my C14.

Are you referring to using it as a finder scope for your C14? If so, you may want to rethink that, as both the C5 and C90 have about the same field of view as the C14. You want your finder scope to have a much wider field of view, in order to make it easier for you to find your target.

#11 rnc39560

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 07:49 PM

C90 (for the purpose of a grab and go) :waytogo:

#12 Chris Greene

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Posted 12 September 2013 - 07:49 PM

Unless I can carry it in my vehicle (camping van) I carry bins for hikes or when I used to backpack. One of the Canon IS bins might be a pretty good choice for backpacking astronomy.

#13 Usquebae

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:54 AM

I think the C5 is the same length and weight as the C90. If price isn't an issue and bulk isn't a chief concern, I'd take the C5 between those two.

I hike with either C90 or ST-80, and like them both. C90 is better for moon, planets, and daytime high power. Short tube excels at wide field views, and is about as good as the C90 when you crank up the power on galaxies & nebulae. Short tube would also make an excellent finder for your C14.

My C90 came with a backpack, poor finder, good 32mm plossl and 45* correct diagonal for $150. Orion 80 ST-A came with good finder, tube rings & dovetail, 90* diagonal, and good 9mm & 20mm 66 degree EPs for $200. Basically, I bought the pair to cover all my daytime & nighttime grab-and-go / hiking / traveling needs. Also bought the C90 astrozap dew shield, which can fit onto the ST-80.

The DwarfStar mount from Universal Astronomics is ideal for C90 or ST-80, and should work equally well with C5. It weighs 1 pound and costs $149, and screws onto a standard 3/8 camera tripod head. The Manfrotto tripod I have is rated for 15 lbs and works great, though I suspect I could get away with the 8.8 lb rated Manfrotto that folds down 7 inches shorter and weighs a little less.

Good luck!

#14 Tony Flanders

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 10:46 AM

I think the C5 is the same length and weight as the C90.


Dream on! The C90 is tiny; the C5 is not. It has 40% more aperture, which translates to 2.5X the volume and weight.

Although Maks are attractive in terms of size, I much prefer small refractors due to their vastly wider true field of view. That's attractive on two counts: valuable in itself and much easier star-hopping.

It goes without saying that when weight and bulk are at a premium, tracking and Go To are not very attractive.

#15 Adeema

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 11:00 AM

I think the C5 is the same length and weight as the C90. If price isn't an issue and bulk isn't a chief concern, I'd take the C5 between those two.

I hike with either C90 or ST-80, and like them both. C90 is better for moon, planets, and daytime high power. Short tube excels at wide field views, and is about as good as the C90 when you crank up the power on galaxies & nebulae. Short tube would also make an excellent finder for your C14.

My C90 came with a backpack, poor finder, good 32mm plossl and 45* correct diagonal for $150. Orion 80 ST-A came with good finder, tube rings & dovetail, 90* diagonal, and good 9mm & 20mm 66 degree EPs for $200. Basically, I bought the pair to cover all my daytime & nighttime grab-and-go / hiking / traveling needs. Also bought the C90 astrozap dew shield, which can fit onto the ST-80.

The DwarfStar mount from Universal Astronomics is ideal for C90 or ST-80, and should work equally well with C5. It weighs 1 pound and costs $149, and screws onto a standard 3/8 camera tripod head. The Manfrotto tripod I have is rated for 15 lbs and works great, though I suspect I could get away with the 8.8 lb rated Manfrotto that folds down 7 inches shorter and weighs a little less.

Good luck!


Which two tripods are you referring to? I'm going through the same exercise now trying to determine which tripod to buy for my Orion 90mm Mak.

#16 csrlice12

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 01:26 PM

Another consideration...the Vixen VMC110...for a mount, the EQ1 minimount (tabletop EQ1) or even one of the Vixen Porta mounts

#17 Usquebae

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:09 PM

Tony - you do have an aggressive way of telling people they are wrong! Pardon my imprecision. Celestron offers 2 scopes referred to as "C5" - one a Mak, one an SCT. When shopping a few months back I was looking so closely at the 127 SCT versus 90 Mak that I forgot a C5 Mak exists. For everyone's info - Celestron's 5" SCT is listed at 11 inches and 6.5 lbs; my C90 Mak is 11 inches and 5 lbs. Apart from the bulk of circumference (and cost), those two are indeed comparable for transport and mounting purposes.

For the OP - an intriguing 125mm F/3.8 Schmidt Newtonian just showed up in the classifieds here for $145. Worth a look, perhaps!

#18 davidpitre

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:39 PM

Tony - you do have an aggressive way of telling people they are wrong!

I'll second that. A bit of humility and patience goes a long way.
A C5 OTA has an advertised weight of 6 lbs. A C90 is advertised at 5 lbs.

#19 Usquebae

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Posted 13 September 2013 - 09:54 PM

Adeema - my current tripod is Manfrotto 055XDB, which is selling at B&H for $127. The other tripod I've looked at is some version of the MK293, probably the A4. They have a many different versions and packages, but I thought I saw one for under $100. Scrutinizing the MK293A4 again, it appears that the center post is quite short, which makes me think it may not be so close a competitor to the 055XDB. I've tested my new C102 F/9.8 on the DwarfStar & 055XDB a couple of times (5-10 second wait, but actually just usable even at higher mags) and am finding that the tripod seems most stable when the center post is fully extended and only one leg segment is let out. More leg extension and lower center post seems shakier.

So, my O55XDB is a 3 segment with a long center post rated for 15.4 lbs. collapsing to 24", while the MK293A4 is a 4 segment with short center post rated for 8.8 lbs. collapsing to 17". Both actually weigh about the same. If the MK293 were a 3 segment with long center post, I would be more confident it could work as efficiently with the C90. Probably it would be fine, but I can't rightly recommend it. Then, I think your Orion Mak 90 is listed as being a bit lighter than the C90. Anyway, The Dwarfstar & 055XDB perfect for short scopes under 10 lbs, and no great chore to hike with. If you call Larry at Universal Astronomics he can tell you much better than I.

#20 GageCook

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 03:07 PM

Play nice guys! I appreciate all the valuable input. I ended up going with the Orion ED80. I'm using it to learn AP as well as a good grab and go. The main reason I wanted a small, quality scope is because I live on the third floor of an apartment building and sometimes cannot make it out to the storage unit my C14 is at. I also wanted the option of later using it as an easily re-attachable guide scope for my c14 when I am more experienced.

#21 Adeema

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Posted 14 September 2013 - 10:40 PM

Thank you Usquebae, that was very informative!






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