Hello everyone! Rank newbie here, looking for a bit of advice on my first setup. Apologies in advance for any and all facepalms below.
I’ve always been interested in astronomy and am pretty well-versed in the big-picture cosmology and physics etc., but actual observing is something I’m new to. I’ve been wanting to start for decades, but living in a small inner-city apartment with freelancer income has made it a non-starter until recently. I’ve been reading a lot here and in print (picked up Star Ware and Turn Left at Orion, which are both excellent so far) and as you might expect, it's been simultaneously very helpful and very confusing. Hoping you can help a bit on the latter, if you don’t mind!
First, some context:
- I live in a one-bedroom apartment (in Brooklyn, light-pollution central) with my wife, dog and cat, so besides moon viewing, this scope will be primarily for trips out of town. So while portability is key, I'd rather find room for the right scope than compromise just for something compact.
- I’m interested in both deep sky and planetary viewing - I think the Cassini division will blow my mind just as much as a good view of the Messier Objects, so being able to do both would be terrific.
- I’m planning to get some binoculars as well, which probably merits its own post. The short version is I’m still deciding, but definitely getting a pair.
- My budget is all over the place. I had originally thought to spend about $500, but I’m thinking that if I can get the same performance for something a little more portable/storage-friendly, maybe it’s worth the price. Since I'll only have room for one scope for the foreseeable future, I'm less concerned with the price than the quality. If I can get something (incl kit/accessories) for under, say, $2000, it'll be worth saving up for.
With all that in mind, I'm now deciding between a Dob - which I know will be economical, high-quality and versatile - and something like an SCT, which is more portable but pricier and not without its drawbacks. I'm currently looking at these three:
- Orion XT8i - perhaps the front-runner here since I’ve heard so much about it. I don’t need a go-to, but I like the idea of a scope that will help me locate something if I want a suggestion or want to give someone a brief tour. I also like the idea of having plenty of budget leftover for eyepieces and filters and stuff.
- Skyline 8” Dob - Does anyone know if the extras (looks like a slightly better mount and a couple pieces of kit) justify the price increase over the Orion?
- Meade LX70 8” - I like the idea of an equatorial mount, but not sure how big a hit I’d take on stability/build quality. Can anyone weigh in?
And a couple SCTs:
- Meade LX-90 - Again, the go-to isn't really necessary, but the size and portability of a SCT is tempting, and the review here on CN sounds great. Is the main tradeoff here price? Or does the quality take a hit as well?
- Vixen VMC200L - I don’t know a ton about these, but I’ve heard good things and it seems like this may be the only scope I’m considering that makes its own optics (which may not matter, but was appealing to me).
That’s it for now. I’d love to hear if you have any thoughts, advice or additional recommendations. Thanks again for your help!