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Best refractor for $350?

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#1 MilkyWayResident

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 05:01 PM

???

#2 Scott Beith

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 05:08 PM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights!
Are you using it for general observing?
Does your budget include the mount and eyepieces?

#3 MilkyWayResident

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 05:10 PM

Thanks!
My total budget is $400, but I'll probably leave $50 left for eyepieces and such, so I'd like to spend no more than $350 on the telescope. It'll be used almost exclusively for planets and the moon.

#4 Scott Beith

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 05:15 PM

https://www.astronom...or-telescope...

This one on the used market.

#5 DaveG

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 05:19 PM

Do you already have a mount? For lunar/planetary observing on your budget, I'd try to find either a used 100ED or purchase the Celestron 102GT achro.

#6 mgwhittle

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 05:32 PM

I love refractors, but, if I had $350 to spend I'd buy an 8 inch Dobsonian reflector like the Orion XT8.

If you are set on a refractor then I agree with trying to find a used ED100. The Celestron 102GT is a good value but my 80mm EON is significantly better than it at planetary/lunar because of the false color the 102GT throws up at high power......which is what you will be using on planets/moon.

#7 nodalpoint

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 08:30 PM

Thanks!
My total budget is $400, but I'll probably leave $50 left for eyepieces and such, so I'd like to spend no more than $350 on the telescope. It'll be used almost exclusively for planets and the moon.


Celestron C80ED is exactly $350 shipped from Astronomers Without Borders. It would serve you well for the moon and planets and has all you need to get started, minus a tripod or mount, out of the box.

Do a search on this forum and you will find many posts about it.

Good luck.

#8 crow

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 08:41 PM

mgwittle is on the mark, look at some cheaper dob reflectors as well, the Orion ones seem to have a lot of fans. Some of them come with an eyepiece etc. Not trying to put you off your refractor though.

#9 hottr6

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 10:29 PM

Here is my suggestion, available on the used market, a rig that fits your budget, and will deliver smiles for years to come:

Posted Image

- 1990s Meade 390/395 90mm f/11 achromat, $80 or less.
- 1980s Vixen Polaris equatorial or 2000s Astro-Tech Voyager alt-az, $180 or less.

I suggest $120 for eyepieces, say a Televue 25mm Plossl and 2x barlow.

Total $380. Most other suggestions are not even close to this amount. You could assemble this combo in less than 8 weeks of looking in the classifieds.

The Meade throws up images every bit as sharp as any ED, and with just a tiny bit of color on the brightest objects. I've had one for 6 years now, while EDs have come and gone.

#10 PeterR280

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 10:36 PM

Dobsonian isn't a refractor

#11 sonny.barile

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 10:54 PM

THis would get you something brand new with a mount and 2 ep's. It isnt the best thing out there but it gets you a goto mount with it.


http://www.telescope...vigator102mm...

#12 PeterR280

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 11:09 PM

I noticed that they have the Celestron 102GT with next star for 299 on the same page.

#13 MilkyWayResident

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 11:21 PM

Here is my suggestion, available on the used market, a rig that fits your budget, and will deliver smiles for years to come:

Posted Image

- 1990s Meade 390/395 90mm f/11 achromat, $80 or less.
- 1980s Vixen Polaris equatorial or 2000s Astro-Tech Voyager alt-az, $180 or less.

I suggest $120 for eyepieces, say a Televue 25mm Plossl and 2x barlow.

Total $380. Most other suggestions are not even close to this amount. You could assemble this combo in less than 8 weeks of looking in the classifieds.

The Meade throws up images every bit as sharp as any ED, and with just a tiny bit of color on the brightest objects. I've had one for 6 years now, while EDs have come and gone.


Now there's an idea. This is a nice rig, and it would be everything that I needed to start me off back in the hobby. Are you sure that I could acquire all of this on CN over time?

#14 jrbarnett

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Posted 30 November 2013 - 11:31 PM

An observing system consists of a telescope OTA, mount and accessories (diagonal, eyepiece(s), etc.). If $350 is for the OTA alone, and you desperately want a refractor, you can't beat this:

http://store.astrono...oduct_info&a...

The finder and eyepiece are okay. The diagonal would need to be replaced with a 90-degree astronomical diagonal.

But then you'd need a mount (something like a Black Friday Vixen Porta II if undriven, or maybe a Celestron VX if driven and GOTO are desired, but then you're way up over $350 or $400.

If you need a complete, ready to use telescope, all inclusive, for $350-400, refractor is probably not the best way to go. Something like this would be excellent:

http://www.telescope...z8deluxedobs...

Refractors are best inch-per-inch in performance, but...

They are also the most expensive inch-per-inch, and in astronomy two things matter most- optical quality and aperture. GSO and Synta both make great quality mirrors these days, and 8" is plenty of aperture for pretty much any class of target.

Worth noodling on, for sure.

- Jim

#15 MilkyWayResident

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 12:38 AM

I suppose I should have given more specifications. i will be using the scope almost exclusively for planetary and lunar observing. I am finally getting back into the hobby after a short hiatus and am eager to get back out viewing.

#16 Skunky

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 12:58 AM



102mm NexStar GT $119 shipped!

OPT still has the Nexstar 102 on sale with a 2" diagonal:

OPT Celestron Nexstar GT 102

#17 SkyGibbon

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 01:32 AM

Can't really beat the 102 for $119.00 if you are just wanting a new lunar/planetary scope. Some CA, but very acceptable.

There is a Vixen A80mf f/11 achro for about $230.00 shipped. Comes with rings and dovetail, diagonal, 20mm eyepiece. Can get it on a porta mount for right at your price range also. It does only have a 1.25" focuser though.

Your best value would be to find a nice used setup though. Maybe a nice doublet.

#18 gene 4181

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 01:56 AM

there is a telescope vendor in maryland that has some older 102 celestron tubes, some with accs. used. an orion az 4 mount called the versago would get you really close to your number. how's that?

#19 Hesiod

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 08:25 AM

Maybe is not the "best refractor for 350 USD" but a TAL 100 is IMHO a strong contender for the crown.

#20 drago

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 08:34 AM

i think, 100ED is a better variant. how is price difference between tal100 and 100ed in your shops? TAL production is not very cheap, as i know...

#21 bobhen

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 11:10 AM

If your goals are:

Refractor, mount, eyepieces, diagonal, finder.
$350 Budget
And you want to primarily observe the moon and planets (and maybe some brighter deep sky objects)…

You can purchase The Celestron 102mm NexStar GT Refractor tube with 1.25” Accessory Pack from OPT for $160. This package comes with a red dot finder, 2 eyepieces, and 1.25 diagonal.

For a mount you can purchase (also from OPT) the Celestron Heavy-Duty Alt Azimuth Mount (also known as the AZ3) for $95.
This mount will hold the refractor and it has slow motion controls for hand tracking – nice for the moon and planets.

You will also need to purchase a set off tube rings that attach to the refractor tube and then to the mount. 100 mm rings can be purchased from Orion Telescopes and Binoculars for $40. OPT might have these as well.

Total cost for the above is $300.

Some have suggested a larger Dobsonian reflector and I used to be in that camp but refractors are more forgiving with cooling, easy to use, and deliver nice sharp images. If at some point you feel the need for a larger scope, you can always get a larger scope later. And after a few years, you'll will have a better understanding of your needs.

Bob

#22 Hesiod

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 11:20 AM

The 100ED is surely a better option (especially the BD version, which has a far better focuser), but it costs circa twice (around 800€ new, while the TAL is about 350€ new); obviously if MilkyWayResident manages to get one of these Skywatcher ED whithin his budget I suggest strongly not to let it get away.
But alas, because "in terra summus rex est hoc tempore Nummus", a used TAL at around 200€ could be a good pick: the optics are very nice, its standard accessories rather good (basically the 2 provided EP, on par whit any EP in the 50s€ range if not better, are enough for any kind of observation)

#23 drago

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 11:32 AM

You can purchase The Celestron 102mm NexStar GT Refractor tube
For a mount you can purchase (also from OPT) the Celestron Heavy-Duty Alt Azimuth Mount (also known as the AZ3) for $95.
This mount will hold the refractor and it has slow motion controls for hand tracking – nice for the moon and planets.


you be sure about 102/1000 refractor and AZ3 mount?
i have synta AZ3, and a 100ed is not to very good on that. even after my modification with add counterweight to those mount for balance an ota.

2Hesiod: looks like, you are from europe, topicstarter is from usa.
these folks in usa often get a fantastic prices on astrogear. i reme,ber, some years ago i see a 599 usd price for new 100ED, and 120ed was about 999 USD!
in that situation, maybe, TAL not the best candidate, even if it sells for 400 - 500 usd.

#24 Hesiod

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 11:42 AM

@ drago
I agree!

#25 MilkyWayResident

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 02:43 PM

Here is my suggestion, available on the used market, a rig that fits your budget, and will deliver smiles for years to come:

Posted Image

- 1990s Meade 390/395 90mm f/11 achromat, $80 or less.
- 1980s Vixen Polaris equatorial or 2000s Astro-Tech Voyager alt-az, $180 or less.

I suggest $120 for eyepieces, say a Televue 25mm Plossl and 2x barlow.

Total $380. Most other suggestions are not even close to this amount. You could assemble this combo in less than 8 weeks of looking in the classifieds.

The Meade throws up images every bit as sharp as any ED, and with just a tiny bit of color on the brightest objects. I've had one for 6 years now, while EDs have come and gone.


I really like this idea. My only concern is whether or nto I'll be able to acquire all of this here on CN.






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