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Equipment Discussions >> Refractors

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meigh
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Reged: 11/21/09

Loc: Western PA
Alternatives to the "Best"
      #5625988 - 01/16/13 10:55 AM

I would love to have a AP, TEC, TV, or TAK but the price is not an option. I am looking at 130-150mm refractors for general visual use - love the DSOs. After looking at the archives I have come up with a short list - Celestron Omni XLT 150R, Explore Scientific AR 152, Astrotelescope 152 and the Vixen 140. I want to mount whatever I choose on an Alt/Az mount and tripod and that may eliminate the Omni since it comes with a mount. I will be selling my 10" Dob (getting a little to tough to handle) and 102ED. I am leaning towards the Vixen or Astrotelescope. Am I missing any good choices? And what do you think about the above refractors. Thanks,
Jim


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bilgebay
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Reged: 11/06/08

Loc: Türkiye - Istanbul and Marmar...
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: meigh]
      #5626104 - 01/16/13 12:25 PM

How about TMB 130mm ? There many happy users.

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t.r.
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Reged: 02/14/08

Loc: Upstate NY
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: bilgebay]
      #5626110 - 01/16/13 12:30 PM

Yep...the TMB series and I suppose the AstroTech make both from Astronomics. With their purchase you get this vendors service and support which is EXCELLENT. If you get a bad sample, no problem, Astronomics will work with you to get it right. This alone puts these offerings ahead of others IMO. I've looked through a 130SS and two 90's and owned one, all were of excellent quality second only to the best offerings you mention. In fact, Sky & Telescope did a review of the TMB 92 SS and found it to be very close indeed to the AP 92 Stowaway it was designed to replace for us mere mortals(review can be read at the Astronomics site)!

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Jon Isaacs
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Reged: 06/16/04

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Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: meigh]
      #5626251 - 01/16/13 01:58 PM

Quote:

I would love to have a AP, TEC, TV, or TAK but the price is not an option. I am looking at 130-150mm refractors for general visual use - love the DSOs. After looking at the archives I have come up with a short list - Celestron Omni XLT 150R, Explore Scientific AR 152, Astrotelescope 152 and the Vixen 140. I want to mount whatever I choose on an Alt/Az mount and tripod and that may eliminate the Omni since it comes with a mount. I will be selling my 10" Dob (getting a little to tough to handle) and 102ED. I am leaning towards the Vixen or Astrotelescope. Am I missing any good choices? And what do you think about the above refractors. Thanks,
Jim




Jim:

Looking down your list, I see that you are looking for a fast achromat which makes sense for deep space observing. But I see that these represent quite a range in terms of cost, the ES-152 is about $750, the Vixen 140 is about $1700.

If you are willing/able to spend that sort of money on a scope, I would be tempted to give up some aperture and go with a scope like the ES127ED triplet.. Higher quality optics, cleaner views can make up something in terms of aperture loss and at the higher magnifications, the views will be better.

The large 152mm Achromats like the ES are quite big and heavy, it weighs 23.5 lbs and it is going to require a substantial mount and will probably not be a lot easier to manage than your 10 inch Dob. The 127ES ED, is about 15 lbs.

The Omni XLT 150 is considerably lighter but think the ES scopes are better in terms of mechanical and probably optical quality, you'd probably want to purchase another focuser if you chose it.

Jon


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csrlice12
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Reged: 05/22/12

Loc: Denver, CO
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: t.r.]
      #5626257 - 01/16/13 02:01 PM

In getting rid of the 10" dob, you just lost your best DSO scope (of any and all of them mentioned). It's also on an alt/az mount already, so why go down instead of up??? I know I'm 59, average health, and my 10", while big and bulky, isn't heavy. It's easy to set up, and gives me DSO views my refractor only dreams of......

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meigh
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Reged: 11/21/09

Loc: Western PA
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5626274 - 01/16/13 02:12 PM

csrilce12 I am 66 and in pretty good shape. I used to be able to haul the dob out in the yard and enjoy good viewing. But there is much more light pollution in the neighborhood now. I have been taking my Stellarvue 102 ED out of town about 4 miles to much better skies. The dob is a chore to move that far every time I want to get out and observe. So I am looking for more light gathering than the 102 while still keeping the mobility.

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meigh
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Reged: 11/21/09

Loc: Western PA
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5626293 - 01/16/13 02:25 PM

Thanks. I will look at you suggestions.

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neptun2
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Reged: 03/04/07

Loc: Bulgaria
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: meigh]
      #5626301 - 01/16/13 02:30 PM

The skywatcher 120 ED doublets are also option in this price range. In united states i think that orion offers them. They are very light at around 6 kg and much better corrected than achromat. Maybe the only drawback is the aperture - i don't know if 120mm will be enough for your deep sky work. You can also check for fast f4 10" carbon tube reflectors. Their weight can be around 8kg which i think is also reasonable.

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Mike Wiles
scholastic sledgehammer


Reged: 02/04/09

Loc: Goodyear, AZ
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5626313 - 01/16/13 02:39 PM

Quote:

If you are willing/able to spend that sort of money on a scope, I would be tempted to give up some aperture and go with a scope like the ES127ED triplet.. Higher quality optics, cleaner views can make up something in terms of aperture loss and at the higher magnifications, the views will be better.

The large 152mm Achromats like the ES are quite big and heavy, it weighs 23.5 lbs and it is going to require a substantial mount and will probably not be a lot easier to manage than your 10 inch Dob. The 127ES ED, is about 15 lbs.



My sentiments exactly. The step up in physical size from a 5" to a 6" refractor is significant. I don't know that you'll find the transport of a 6" refractor to be any less cumbersome than a 10" dob. And the ED127 from Explore Scientific is a solid, solid telescope. I think it represents about the best value out there in terms of price vs performance.

Quote:

The skywatcher 120 ED doublets are also option in this price range. In united states i think that orion offers them. They are very light at around 6 kg and much better corrected than achromat.



Back in November we did a side by side comparison of an Explore Scientific ED127 with the Orion 120 ED. While the Explore Scientific scope was definitely a better performer, the Orion 120 ED was no slouch. These are also very good scopes for the price you pay.

Mike


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oldtimer
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Reged: 11/13/08

Loc: Lake County Illinois
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: meigh]
      #5626317 - 01/16/13 02:42 PM

Check out Istar's offering

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KerryR
Carpal Tunnel
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Reged: 12/05/07

Loc: SW Michigan
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: neptun2]
      #5626337 - 01/16/13 02:54 PM

I use a C6R f8 on a Universal Astronomics Unistar on a Universal Astronomics Heavy Duty Wooden Surveyor Tripod.

This setup works very nicely for DSO's, less so for planets. I'm sure that if Jupiter, Saturn or Mars is out, you'll want to take a peek, so I'd say it's worth thinking about the fairly heavy color component of the achros. My 6" refractor was pretty much a money pit in order to get it to do what other options do out of the box.

Since your primary interest appears to be lightness, compactness, and quick setup for transport to darker skies, you might consider a 6" dob instead-- all around decent to good optics that'll cost way less than the other options while providing %85 (or more) of the performance. Best of all, you can carry the whole thing, ota and mount, intact, in one hand, and put it in the back seat of your car, intact, assuming an Orion f8 or clone. This can't be done with the larger refractors... Plus, unlike the achros, there will be no issues should you decide you want to take a peek at some planets. This option is pretty tough to beat for your primary concerns.

When I'm choosing the scope I want to use on a given evening, I rarely choose the 6" achro-- other options are easier to setup and observe seated with.


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Paul Hyndman
sage


Reged: 07/13/04

Loc: Connecticut Shoreline USA
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: KerryR]
      #5626469 - 01/16/13 04:03 PM

Ditto on the smaller dob suggestion, especially if DSOs are on your list. (Some) refractors are great at what they do, but I suspect you'd soon be missing the light gathering power you currently enjoy with the larger aperture. Dollar for dollar, pound for pound, a dob-mounted newt is tough to beat!

Paul


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stratocaster
sage
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Reged: 10/27/11

Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: csrlice12]
      #5626481 - 01/16/13 04:07 PM

Quote:

...so why [not] go down instead of up???




I'm assuming you meant to go down to a smaller dob.

I think this is an interesting idea. While the OP indicates he has concerns about transporting a 10" dob to a darker sky site, I'm wondering if a 6" dob would be acceptable. I'm thinking transporting a 6" dob would be easier than a 5" or 6" refractor with mount. Certainly much less expensive.

For me I find my 'grab n go' sv102ed on an alt-az mount to be not that much easier than my 10" dob to take out to the back yard. When going to a dark sky site I need to break the refractor down and pack it in the case. And, for my car I need to take the mount off the tripod, which is yet just more work. If I could just throw my refractor and tripod/mount in the car I might feel differently, though.

But to each his own, for sure.

[edit] I hadn't read the rest of the thread on the 6" dob suggestions when I posted this [/edit]

Edited by stratocaster (01/16/13 04:09 PM)


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turtledude1
member
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Reged: 10/08/08

Loc: SW Fla.& SW. NM
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: meigh]
      #5626617 - 01/16/13 05:17 PM

I second a smaller Dob also but another seldom looked at option is a Astro Tech Ritchey-Chrétiens Astrograph. I picked up the 6" when they were $299.00 and was suprised at how good the glass was. I use it for viewing mostly AP every once in awhile. For the buck their hard to beat and light weight also. Astronomics now sells them for $499 but they come up on CN used all the time.

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BillP
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Reged: 11/26/06

Loc: Vienna, VA
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: meigh]
      #5626787 - 01/16/13 06:48 PM

Hi. I used to have the Antares 152/6.5 refractor. Wonderful views. Preferred it to my 10" Dob for DSO. However, I thought it was more of a hassle to move around than the Dob...at least in and out the house. The 6", even it being a short focal ratio, needed the tripod legs extended all the way and still viewing object near the zenith was not all that convenient. In the end, I have settled on an 8" SCT OTA that I have mounted on a Vixen Porta-II mount. Very very convenient to move around and use...as convenient or more so than my 102 APO actually...which is what I was after

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vahe
professor emeritus


Reged: 08/27/05

Loc: Houston, Texas
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: meigh]
      #5626866 - 01/16/13 07:43 PM

Quote:

I would love to have a AP, TEC, TV, or TAK but the price is not an option. I am looking at 130-150mm refractors for general visual use - love the DSOs.





You are obviously interested in refractors, but if the image quality of the premium apos are of interest to you perhaps you should at least consider 6” Russian MN’s, they do show up in Amart from time to time. These Mak Newtonians will give you both high and low power in apo like quality.

Vahe


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tomharri
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Reged: 09/19/08

Loc: USA
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: vahe]
      #5626890 - 01/16/13 07:57 PM Attachment (13 downloads)

A 6" refractor requires a big mount, why not add wheels to 10" ?

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JJK
Carpal Tunnel


Reged: 04/28/08

Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5626927 - 01/16/13 08:14 PM

Quote:

Quote:

I would love to have a AP, TEC, TV, or TAK but the price is not an option. I am looking at 130-150mm refractors for general visual use - love the DSOs. After looking at the archives I have come up with a short list - Celestron Omni XLT 150R, Explore Scientific AR 152, Astrotelescope 152 and the Vixen 140. I want to mount whatever I choose on an Alt/Az mount and tripod and that may eliminate the Omni since it comes with a mount. I will be selling my 10" Dob (getting a little to tough to handle) and 102ED. I am leaning towards the Vixen or Astrotelescope. Am I missing any good choices? And what do you think about the above refractors. Thanks,
Jim




Jim:

Looking down your list, I see that you are looking for a fast achromat which makes sense for deep space observing. But I see that these represent quite a range in terms of cost, the ES-152 is about $750, the Vixen 140 is about $1700.

If you are willing/able to spend that sort of money on a scope, I would be tempted to give up some aperture and go with a scope like the ES127ED triplet.. Higher quality optics, cleaner views can make up something in terms of aperture loss and at the higher magnifications, the views will be better.

The large 152mm Achromats like the ES are quite big and heavy, it weighs 23.5 lbs and it is going to require a substantial mount and will probably not be a lot easier to manage than your 10 inch Dob. The 127ES ED, is about 15 lbs.

The Omni XLT 150 is considerably lighter but think the ES scopes are better in terms of mechanical and probably optical quality, you'd probably want to purchase another focuser if you chose it.

Jon




A young chap in my neighborhood has an ES152, and did some nice imaging with it and a DSLR. There's a bit of star bloat on bright blue stars, but I was impressed by what I saw given the price of the scope.


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Jim Curry
Pooh-Bah
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Reged: 10/29/07

Loc: STL
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: meigh]
      #5626954 - 01/16/13 08:28 PM

Meigh:

I have a 6" f/12. If you think a 10" dob is a hassle don't even look at the 6" class refractor. Even if shorter they're going to be beefy. I bought new and I've used my Vixen 140NA for about 5 years. It's had more use than any other scope I've had from 60mm to 12.5". When the atmosphere supports it I've had Jupiter to 250x+ where it looked like a painting on the lens. Deep sky it's taken me to 13+ mag. galaxies. I use it on a CG5 mount. It's about the largest I want for everyday schlepping in a refractor. And the overall views will be far superior to any other type scope, CA not withstanding. If you've been a reflector guy it might be time to treat yourself and move up to refractor views.

Jim


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Pat at home
sage


Reged: 03/16/07

Loc: Campbellton, New Brunswick, Ca...
Re: Alternatives to the "Best" new [Re: tomharri]
      #5627024 - 01/16/13 09:08 PM

meigh,

You asked about some 6" achromats. I have an ES AR152 so I'll talk about that. I also have an SCT, a mid sized dob, a 4" ED scope at f/9, and a short tube 3" at f/5, but I'll not go on about how any of these might or might not do things better or worse than the 6" achromat.

The AR152 is a big and heavy telescope. Once set up with a heavy EP, a diagonal, a finder scope, a telrad and a wide dovetail plate it tips the scale at over 30 lbs. so it does need a sturdy mount. I use it either on an EQ6 or Duo-T both of which perform really well when put on a solid tripod. It's a well made solid telescope. The fit and finish is quite nice and except for the supplied dovetail, nothing feels cheap on it.

It comes with a non rotating 2" 2 speed focuser. Some have talked about issues with the non smoothness of this focuser but after using mine for a few months it is smooth as silk throughout its entire range.

The scope comes equipped with an effective metal dew shield. It does not slide back and forth and is really meant to stay on the scope, although it will come off with a bit of effort. This dew shield does add to the weight.

The scope also comes with a nice dielectric 2" diagonal and an adaptor for smaller eyepieces. Also included is a rather large and heavy 50x6 straight through finder mounted in adjustable rings. A 50 mm right angle finder from Antares or Stellarvue would fit easily in the rings. The view through this finder is very nice and quite bright. The cross hairs are fine but come into focus nicely. They are not big and fat like some from SW which seem like a couple of telephone poles. The ep of the finder is removable and fits into a 1.25 inch ep holder, so it can be used for alignment purposes. However the foot of this finder mount is not of the popular small dovetail type and is mounted by use of bolts to the tube itself and not on the focuser assembly.

The scope is held in a sort of hinged cradle surrounding the tube. The cradle comes a cheap cast vixen sized dovetail. I found this a bit flimsy for this scope and replaced it with a wide ADM plate. The scope also comes with a handle attached to the top of the cradle and has a slot down the middle of that you can use to attach other accessories. The handle is very handy when it comes time to carry this scope and heft it up onto a mount.

This telescope is no longer supplied with a case, so one will have to be made, improvised or purchased for transportation.

I'm not going to tell you tales of near apochromat performance from a sub $1000 6" f/6.5 achromat. This telescope does have false colour on the brightest stars and a nice but slight green fringe around the full moon (Maybe the moon is made of green cheese after all!). I found a semi apo filter does help with this, but I knew what I was getting and I'm not upset about it. I would not recommend this telescope for serious astrophotography pursuits.

However, it is my favourite scope of the ones I own for galloping around in the Milky Way, for looking at planetary nebulas, for splitting difficult binaries, and for open and globular clusters. It has provided me with hours of deep sky views with pin point stars and dark background contrasty views of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Neptune and Uranus. However, these views really came into begin after acquiring some decent TV and ES eyepieces. Truth be told though for maximum details on moon craters and the planets I turn to my ED100. For maximum portability I go for the SCT or the 3" short tube refractor.

This is not the perfect telescope and I doubt there is such a thing. Even though I would love a top of the line perfectly corrected triplet of this aperture, there is no way I could justify the cost of such a thing to my wife and kids. Food and bills must come first before toys, so this telescope has given me the enjoyment of a large aperture refractor at a reasonable cost with compromises I can live with. Maybe it's not for everyone, but I am certainly not regretting getting it.

Sorry I can't talk about any of the others you mentioned as I never looked through or spent any time with any of them.

Caveat: every word of the above are my opinions and observations only, and are obviously influenced by my limited experience and also by my preferences. Others may or may not agree, as might you, depending on what their experiences and preferences are.

Pat


edit: I'm 58 years old, not very stout or very strong, have a dodgy back and beginning to have joint pains. Add general aches and pains to those complaints but I can still quite happily pick up and mount this telescope.

Edited by Pat at home (01/16/13 09:13 PM)


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