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Are smaller scopes better than bigger scopes

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#1 starman876

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 04:14 PM

I thought we should do the inverse of is bigger better. Now let's find out why we prefer a smaller scope most of the time versus that big light bucket. I know it is ease of use. But what is it about that smaller scopes optics you like so much.

#2 rdandrea

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 04:25 PM

Takes me three trips out the door to use my bigger scopes. One trip to use the smaller scopes. Consequently, unless I need the big scope for something specific, I am much more likely to drag out a small scope.

#3 choran

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 04:45 PM

My experience with very small scopes is extremely limited, but so far it seems to me that they darken the sky better than larger ones. They certainly have their obvious limits, but I happen to like the view characterized by a very dark sky and tiny pinpoint stars. I would not want to have a very small scope as my only one, but they definitely have a purpose. It's just a very pretty, sort of intimate, view. Not to mention the ease to setup and transport. The only problem I've encountered are the very small finders typically involved. I view through my left eye, so most are awkwardly positioned for me.

#4 amicus sidera

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 04:47 PM

Bigger scopes usually have smaller fields of view, are more affected (aesthetically, at least) by poor seeing, take longer to acclimate to the outside air temperature, are heavier and generally more unwieldy.

Beyond a certain point, light grasp and resolution aren't everything; small can be (and often is) beautiful-er. :grin:

#5 starman876

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 05:00 PM

Now these answers are much more freindly to deal with :lol:
seems you guys really like your small scopes and I can understand why. I really enjoy taking a quality scope to view with outside with one hand. And those small scopes do provide you with beautiful pin point stars.

#6 patg43

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 05:04 PM

We like the planetary detail through the baby refractor. It is stunning!

#7 wfj

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 05:10 PM

Smaller scopes are better to travel with.

My daughter went to French Polynesia last semester and had a scope weight budget of 6 pounds for telescope, eyepieces, mount and tripod. Couldn't even take a 6" mirror alone for that.

She then came back and we went for MAVEN's launch at Canaveral - we were viewing the launch from the NASA Causeway at 40x. No way security would let us truck in her SCT with fork and locking triangle tripod :)

#8 CharlieB

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 06:07 PM

There is something very pleasing to my eye when I see a nice double star with almost planetary-like Airy disks surrounded by perfect diffraction rings. Eps Lyrae though a very good 50mm scope is gorgeous. Albireo is stupendous. You just don't get the same kind of view from a larger scope with more resolution.

#9 Geo31

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 06:16 PM

Questar ├╝ber alles... :roflmao:

#10 Geo31

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 06:18 PM

I don't know about you, but every night I'd sure like to look through the 82" I looked through on Sunday night.

#11 John_Gillies

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 06:52 PM

As much as I like having a 102 on top of the 14" for wide field views, I just can't get into a small scope set-up. I'd much rather set up the 15X70 binoculars on a tripod and use two eyes. I've always been amazed at how much one can find with reasonable size binos, and how quickly!

#12 SpooPoker

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 07:38 PM

It would not surprise me if, on average, smaller telescopes were optically of better quality than their larger brethren.

Beyond that, usability / portability is a small scope's main advantage. That and they are better catered for 1 - 2" seeing conditions.

#13 rolo

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 08:32 PM

...not much you can do with three to four inches. I have never seen a small refactor outperferform a larger quality scope....ever!

#14 Mr Greybush

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 08:35 PM

:funny:

#15 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 09:19 PM

Some interesting comments.. I don't think of small scopes being better than large scope or large scopes being better than small scopes, I think that small scopes are better suited for certain tasks, large scopes are better suited for certain other tasks. One of my little saying: Small scopes for large objects, large scopes for small objects...

I do spend a lot of time looking through my smaller scopes, my two favorites are an 80mm F/7 apo and a 101mm F/5.4 apo made by Televue. This pair is pretty much big brother and little brother, both have very good, color free optics, both have focal lengths about 550mm and are capable of fields of view in excess of 4 degrees.. the 80mm is smaller and handier, the 101mm is a bit bigger and more capable and optically more perfect. Both perform admirably, for their apertures, at low magnifications and high, cool quickly and are easier to setup... they represent less effort in preparation...

There are small scopes that are a real hassle to setup and use...There are small scopes that do not provide wide fields of view, the classic 3 inch F/16 refractor with the 0.965 inch focuser is good for about 1.0 degrees....

A few comments:

- The darkness of the background sky is determined by the exit pupil and is pretty much independent of aperture. Smaller scopes are generally worked closer to the limit so small exit pupils are more commonly used.

- I find double stars are quite wonderful in all scopes. Some pairs are better suited for smaller scopes, some pairs are better suited for larger scopes. The mention was made of the double-double (2.3 arc-seconds) in a 50mm, this is the Dawes limit for a 50mm. A very similar view to this would be a 0.46 arc-second double in a 250mm scope. The conditions required for such a split are not so common but when every thing comes together, such splits are very memorable and every bit as pristine and perfect as the wider split in the smaller scope.

- Seeing and small scopes. Small scopes are less affected by poor seeing because they are less capable. But 1-2 arc-second seeing definitely favors a relatively large scope, something on the order of 12 inches, for planetary viewing.

Something else: Small scopes are easier to push to the limit. Objects at the limit are larger, easier to find and working at the limit does not require such favorable conditions.

Another of my little sayings:

I like small scopes, I like big scopes.. both are good.

Jon

#16 actionhac

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 09:20 PM

Yes smaller is better this lens has my helper exhausted!

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#17 youngamateur42

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 09:37 PM

While my little 70mm is no classic, I can say I have seen so much through it. The trained eye can reveal much detail in smaller scopes, more than you would think. My 70 is nice because it weights about 6.5 pounds, so at end of the night it's a quick teardown. The views are of course aesthetically pleasing, the long focal length provides a contrasty. These statements could be made about most of the small 60-80mm range classics, I'm just using mine as an example.

#18 fjs

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 09:50 PM

Robert, I love all your shop assistants, and medical helpers! :bow:

#19 KWB

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 09:52 PM

...not much you can do with three to four inches. I have never seen a small refactor outperferform a larger quality scope....ever!

I firmly believe in different size and design telescopes for different tasks.

For scanning a star rich constellation like Scorpius at low power using Nagler type eyepieces,an 80mm telescope operating at F/6 of F/7 would be my tool of choice. If that were my main target for the evening,a 10 inch Dobsonian wouldn't even be close to coming out of the house.

IMO no one telescope or just one telescope design/type can cover all the bases for my viewing.

#20 rcwolpert

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 09:57 PM

Yes, at times. On the 14th I had quadruple bypass heart surgery. Tonight, 16 days later, I was able to place my 4" Vixen f/6.5 on the Losmandy mount (that stays outside), and enjoy a few minutes with Jupiter before clouds rolled in. The 10 lbs of the Vixen is the most I'm allowed to lift at this time. It great to have a few small scopes around. They certainly have their place.

- Bob

#21 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:02 PM

...not much you can do with three to four inches. I have never seen a small refactor outperferform a larger quality scope....ever!


Interesting.. not my experience at all. But then, I don't think in terms of one telescope outperforming another, I think in terms of one telescope being better suited for a certain task, better at providing a certain view. The right scope for the job. As I said in my previous post, "Small scopes for large objects, big scopes for small objects."

For example, the large scale nebulosity that extends from the region of the Veil Nebula up past the Cocoon nebula is unseen in even a medium aperture scope because the scale is simply too large, the contrast gradients overflow the eyepiece of even the widest field views. A small (80mm) fast (F/5) refractor operating at a large exit pupil and a 6 degree TFoV shows this region in stunning detail..

If you haven't seen a small scope show you things that are impossible with a large scope, well, I don't why that would be, honestly I can't explain it, the only thing I can think of is that you are using the smaller scopes for tasks better suited for larger scopes. Or maybe you don't have the right small scopes.

This is not to say that there are objects that are impossible to see with a 3 or 4 inch scope and better suited for a large aperture scope, this is also true.. Telescopes are like a photographer's lenses.. Some are good for one thing, some are good for another.

Jon Isaacs

#22 fjs

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:04 PM

Yes, at times. On the 14th I had quadruple bypass heart surgery.


Yikes!

Tonight, 16 days later, I was able to place my 4" Vixen f/6.5 on the Losmandy mount (that stays outside), and enjoy a few minutes with Jupiter before clouds rolled in. The 10 lbs of the Vixen is the most I'm allowed to lift at this time. It great to have a few small scopes around. They certainly have their place.


That's great! :goodjob:

#23 Usquebae

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:26 PM

I don't know what qualifies as "smaller" and "bigger." My largest aperture scope is 8", which some CNers would call puny. My 4" scope is a meter long, which doesn't exactly seem small. Anyway, last night for the first time I had those two out together. At the 8" dob I found myself hopping from target to target, swapping EPs, testing filters, etc. etc. The only EP I used in the F/10 achro was a 31 Luminos, which gave beautiful views of approx. 32x, 2.6 degrees, and 3.1mm exit pupil that I could not tear myself away from. And it didn't much matter what the scope was pointed at, though I admit it tended to gravitate towards M35. Views through that EP are of similar size in my Z8 (38x, 2.2 deg) but comparatively sloppy at F/6 and with a much brighter background sky. Maybe a finer 8" mirror, parracor, and T6 31mm could compete on open clusters and aimless wanderings, but I'm happy with what I've got. :)

#24 choran

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:39 PM

Way to go, Bob, quick comeback! You'll be as good as new in no time and be back to doing all the things you like.

#25 DocFinance

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 10:47 PM

...not much you can do with three to four inches. I have never seen a small refactor outperferform a larger quality scope....ever!

I firmly believe in different size and design telescopes for different tasks.


I agree. But I'm always biased toward the scope that gets used the most. Those tend to be smaller for me.






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