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Equipment Discussions >> Refractors

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JKoelman
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Reged: 05/16/11

Loc: Bangalore, India
David vs Goliath
      #5810443 - 04/20/13 09:24 AM

Contemplating all the posts here on contrast transfer, reflectors vs refractors, and obstructed vs unobstructed apertures, I decided to revisit chapter 18 in Rutten and Van Venrooij's "Telescope Optics, Evaluation and Design". This chapter is entitled "Resolution, Contrast, and Optimum Magnification". It dives into many interesting issues discussed here time and again - such as the effects of central obstructions on optical performance (Did you know that introducing a central obstruction in a diffraction limited optical system reduces its Airy disk?) and the combined effects of eye limitations, object contrast, and contrast transfer on visual performance.

One thing struck my attention: at the very end of the chapter Rutten and Van Venrooij discuss optimum magnification as function of aperture and introduce into this discussion the effects of object contrast and seeing conditions. They show a diagram on optimum magnification as function of aperture for various seeing conditions. For each seeing condition there is an optimum aperture that delivers the largest useful magnification. For instance, at bad seeing (scintillation or seeing disk width of 5 arc seconds) a 6" aperture delivers an optimum magnification of 100x. In contrast, apertures of about 3" max out at 70x, and the same applies to apertures of 12".

This surprises me. I always thought that despite limited seeing larger apertures never harm. At worst a larger aperture would deliver no better views than a smaller aperture. Yet, here it is stated that in terms of resolution a 6" can outperform a 12".

Any views?


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Cotts
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5810605 - 04/20/13 10:58 AM

Johannes. I cannot envisage a situation where a 6" will out-resolve a 12", assuming equal optical quality. The smaller scope is less affected by seeing and will give views that seem more stable or pleasing*.

If the seeing is scintillating to 5" size (I have never seen seeing this bad in 50 years of observing, btw) both scopes will give terrible views on high-resolution targets like planets, the moon and double stars. As the seeing improves down towards 1" scintillation the 6-inch scope's image will appear to tighten up and be more stable while the 12-inch will still clearly show the fuzziness. If the seeing is smaller than the resolving power of the smaller scope then the 6-incher will operate at its resolution limit and give a very nice image while the 12-inch will still show the fuzz. If the seeing continues to improve below 1" the 12-inch will begin to show detail that the 6-inch cannot resolve.

The above paragraph relies on a mostly fictitious scenario - that seeing is constant when, in fact seeing varies from second to second, minute to minute and on longer timescales too. There are moments of excellent <0.5" seeing on many nights which are the moments that the 12-nch scope pounces on to the delight of its owner and which the owner of a 6-inch right beside won't even notice. It is these times that an experienced observer will wait for - often for hours - to get that glimpse with the finest details. If one observes Jupiter, e.g., for 10 minutes there is a significant chance the best moments will be missed by an observer so hasty.

* I have begun to despair about the use of this word which is often used by those with smaller scopes to imply that their scopes are somehow showing 'more' or 'better' views than the person with a larger scope right beside them. Many times my 3.1-inch refractor shows perfectly steady, motionless diffraction patterns while my 6-inch, at the same time, struggles with a wiggly, squirmy mess. But if we are looking at a 1.1" double star the 3.1-incher won't resolve it while the 6-inch shows a nice split during those moments of better seeing. There is no type or category of seeing where my 3.1 will resolve what my 6 will. But the view in the 3.1 is steady, stable motionless and textbook. Of an unresolved double star. (And, by extension to details on Jupiter, etc.) It is this that some call "pleasing".

Dave


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5810918 - 04/20/13 01:31 PM

Quote:

Any views?




Johannes:

Vlad (telescope-optics.net) has done some simulations that show similar results.

Dave's point that seeing is not a constant but rather variable is a good one, those moments when it all clears up, the larger scope can do it's stuff.

But also, look at the magnitude of the bad seeing.. Reading the curves on Page 218... 5 arc-seconds. That's horrible seeing. And yet, a 150mm scope still might be optimal.. For moderate seeing which they classify as a 2 arc-second, I see the peak at about 12.5 inches.

In any event, I am just glad I am not in a situation where I ever feel the need to try viewing the planets or split a double star under such poor conditions. If the seeing doesn't support the good high power views, which it generally does, I go fishing for something else. When the planets and double stars aren't biting, hopefully the DSO's are.

(By the way, it did not that a CO reduces the size of the Airy disk slightly, the energy transferred into the rings has to come from somewhere. The disk is dimmer, therefore slightly smaller, that energy is transferred into the rings which smears the image thus reducing fine scale contrast. Of course that's a small effect, the way to decrease the size of the Airy Disk and increase the contrast is to increase the aperture, CO or no CO. )

Jon


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jrbarnett
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5811736 - 04/20/13 08:41 PM

Under seeing limited conditions it is a fairly routine occurrence that a larger scope cannot resolve severely unequal magnitudes multiple stars (Sirius A and B, Trapezium A through F, etc.) when a much smaller unobstructed scope can. It doesn't take a book or a graph to prove it. It takes a night in the field with both scopes. Seeing is believing. Aperture under some circumstances can be a LIABILITY.

- Jim


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chaoscosmos
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5811832 - 04/20/13 09:20 PM



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amicus sidera
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Cotts]
      #5811903 - 04/20/13 09:45 PM

Quote:

* I have begun to despair about the use of this word which is often used by those with smaller scopes to imply that their scopes are somehow showing 'more' or 'better' views than the person with a larger scope right beside them. Many times my 3.1-inch refractor shows perfectly steady, motionless diffraction patterns while my 6-inch, at the same time, struggles with a wiggly, squirmy mess. But if we are looking at a 1.1" double star the 3.1-incher won't resolve it while the 6-inch shows a nice split during those moments of better seeing. There is no type or category of seeing where my 3.1 will resolve what my 6 will. But the view in the 3.1 is steady, stable motionless and textbook. Of an unresolved double star. (And, by extension to details on Jupiter, etc.) It is this that some call "pleasing".

Dave




I completely agree; whether the view is "pleasing" or not is a function of aesthetics, not formulae. Well-stated!

Fred


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johnnyha
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: amicus sidera]
      #5811929 - 04/20/13 10:01 PM

Who can forget the glorious Questar ads?

"A second reason is the turbulent Earth atmosphere all telescopes must look through. In essence, when observing, you are usually looking through bubbles of disturbed air – microcells typically 4” in diameter in the layer of the atmosphere nearest the surface of the Earth. The image-blurring effect of these microcells is largely invisible as long as the column of light entering the telescope is smaller than the 4” diameter of the cells.

It was for just this reason that an aperture of 3.5” was chosen for the Questar. In average to mediocre seeing conditions, a 3.5” Questar will see through individual 4” microcells undisturbed, showing more detail than a larger scope that has to put up with the blurring of multiple turbulent cells."

It's so wonderful that the Questar is able to shoot perfectly through the center of an individual "microcell" - and astonishing that the microcell could track so perfectly along with the Questar!


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5811940 - 04/20/13 10:08 PM

Quote:


Under seeing limited conditions it is a fairly routine occurrence that a larger scope cannot resolve severely unequal magnitudes multiple stars (Sirius A and B, Trapezium A through F, etc.) when a much smaller unobstructed scope can.




I asked you this before, when was the last time you split Sirius B with an 80mm?

My experience is that when seeing poor, a large scope often out performs a small scope on widely unequal doubles. Rigel is a good example. When it first rises in fall and is low on the horizon, I am often unable to split it with my 80mm's. My old 12.5 inch picks out it ever time.

Jon


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BillP
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: jrbarnett]
      #5811941 - 04/20/13 10:09 PM

Quote:

Seeing is believing. Aperture under some circumstances can be a LIABILITY.

- Jim




Agreed. More is not always better Not with telescope, or with anything else. Imagine thinking this and going rabbit hunting with a 30-06 With the vast range of targets, the tools that work the best will always vary...that is for both eyepiece and telescope.


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JKoelman
professor emeritus


Reged: 05/16/11

Loc: Bangalore, India
Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: BillP]
      #5812208 - 04/21/13 01:42 AM

Thanks all. My key question boils down to: can seeing render "aperture be a liability" (as Jim states) or is the effect of seeing limited to "aperture can be unhelpful"? I take away from this discussion that depending on the seeing conditions there indeed is an optimal aperture beyond which aperture becomes a liability, but that two effects conspire to render this hardly relevant in practice:

1) unless seeing is exceptionally poor, the optimum aperture is rather large (and certainly larger than typical refractor apertures)

2) the theory considers a time-averaged seeing disc. In practice the visual observer can wait for those glorious moments when the fluctuating seeing renders a great view. In other words, for the patient observer the relevant seeing disc is not the time-averaged disc, but the minimum disc that occurs during the observation period. This minimum disc corresponds to an even larger optimum aperture.

If all of this is correct, the interesting fact remains that under typical seeing conditions and in the absence of adaptive optics, resolution-wise a top-quality 20-30" would blow away a 1,200" telescope.


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JKoelman
professor emeritus


Reged: 05/16/11

Loc: Bangalore, India
Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5812226 - 04/21/13 02:01 AM

Quote:

(By the way, it did not that a CO reduces the size of the Airy disk slightly, the energy transferred into the rings has to come from somewhere. The disk is dimmer, therefore slightly smaller, that energy is transferred into the rings which smears the image thus reducing fine scale contrast. Of course that's a small effect, the way to decrease the size of the Airy Disk and increase the contrast is to increase the aperture, CO or no CO. )



I think the effect is more fundamental. By introducing a central obstruction the average distance between points within the area of light gathering increases, thereby decreasing the angular size at which zero crossings of the light amplitude occur. In other words: the central disc plus all outer rings diminish in size.

Unfortunately, and as you state, one does not benefit from the reduced size of the diffraction pattern, as the spill over of light into the outer diffraction rings more than compensates for the reduced sizes.

Note however, that in contrast transfer diagrams central obstructions do lead to better contrast at very high resolutions (and very low contrast transfer values). This is thanks to the smaller Airy disk.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5812432 - 04/21/13 07:25 AM

Quote:


I think the effect is more fundamental. By introducing a central obstruction the average distance between points within the area of light gathering increases, thereby decreasing the angular size at which zero crossings of the light amplitude occur. In other words: the central disc plus all outer rings diminish in size.




Interesting.. Do you have a reference for this. I thought the diameter of the minimums and maximums was determined by the aperture. Looking Rutten and Venrooij's section on COs, I see no mention of it.

Jon


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JKoelman
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Reged: 05/16/11

Loc: Bangalore, India
Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5812434 - 04/21/13 07:47 AM

See this page (most notably the computation with 99.9% obstruction compared to that for unobstructed optics). The math behind this is explained here.

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5812449 - 04/21/13 08:10 AM

Quote:

See this page (most notably the computation with 99.9% obstruction compared to that for unobstructed optics). The math behind this is explained here.




The math on the wiki page is not something I am going to do. I did not see anything in David's work that directly addressed the issue of the spacing of the diffraction rings as a function of CO so one could say that an 8 inch scope with a 30% CO would have a smaller first ring diameter than an 8 inch scope without a CO...

Jon

Jon


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JKoelman
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Reged: 05/16/11

Loc: Bangalore, India
Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5812470 - 04/21/13 08:25 AM

Quote:

I did not see anything in David's work that directly addressed the issue of the spacing of the diffraction rings as a function of CO so one could say that an 8 inch scope with a 30% CO would have a smaller first ring diameter than an 8 inch scope without a CO...



Have a look at his graphs:

The 3rd graph shows the diffraction pattern for an unobstructed 8" aperture with a first zero at 3 micro radians.

The next graph shows this pattern for the same 8" aperture but now with a CO of 34%. The first zero is at 2.65 micro radians.

The last graph shows the same aperture with 99.9% obstruction. The first zero is at 1.8 micro radians.

In the accompanying text he summarizes this with: "You gain some resolution with the huge obstruction, but not a tremendous amount."


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Mark Harry
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5812478 - 04/21/13 08:33 AM

Around here, a scope particularly over about 10" -IS- a liability; Often being where 3 different air masses are colliding. East ocean, Canadian, or south temperate. (more often than not, viewing doesn't allow powers with a 6 past about 125x.) Considering that, the Rutten reference applies well here. And I much prefer to gradually glean info with a smaller ap's pleasing image, rather than look at a pile of mush out of a larger instrument wasting half the night waiting for a split second of superiority. (hi rez planet stuff, or doubles, etc) At least; that's what works for me, and what I find more enjoyable.
M.


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Cotts
Just Wondering
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5812533 - 04/21/13 09:09 AM Attachment (12 downloads)

Quote:

Quote:

I did not see anything in David's work that directly addressed the issue of the spacing of the diffraction rings as a function of CO so one could say that an 8 inch scope with a 30% CO would have a smaller first ring diameter than an 8 inch scope without a CO...



Have a look at his graphs:

The 3rd graph shows the diffraction pattern for an unobstructed 8" aperture with a first zero at 3 micro radians.

The next graph shows this pattern for the same 8" aperture but now with a CO of 34%. The first zero is at 2.65 micro radians.

The last graph shows the same aperture with 99.9% obstruction. The first zero is at 1.8 micro radians.

In the accompanying text he summarizes this with: "You gain some resolution with the huge obstruction, but not a tremendous amount."




Here are the graphs of the 0% and 30% obstructions on a 203mm scope. (Screen grabbed from the article you quote.) My eyes show the same first minimum and the same first maximum. I'm not sure where you got your numbers.

I left out the 99% obstruction because no one has a scope over 40% obstruction that is used for anything but wide field photography where the Diffraction pattern is not resolved at the plate scales in effect.

The radius to the first minimum (and to any other minimum or maximum in the diffraction pattern for that matter) is entirely a function of aperture. The intensity of the light within the pattern varies with central obstruction. To maintain otherwise requires the re-writing of all standard optics textbooks (non-peer reviewed internet 'texts' notwithstanding).


Dave

Edited by Cotts (04/21/13 09:12 AM)


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JKoelman
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Reged: 05/16/11

Loc: Bangalore, India
Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Cotts]
      #5812575 - 04/21/13 09:30 AM

Quote:

My eyes show the same first minimum




If you've that bad eyes, it helps to consider a more extreme case (like 99.9% CO). Amplifies the effect, you know...


Quote:

The radius to the first minimum (and to any other minimum or maximum in the diffraction pattern for that matter) is entirely a function of aperture.



That claim can only be classified as a misinterpretation of the textbooks. Diffraction patterns depend on the full geometry of the light gathering area. For non-cylindrical symmetrical apertures one can not even define a single first minimum.

Edited by JKoelman (04/21/13 09:43 AM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5812867 - 04/21/13 11:45 AM

Quote:

If you've that bad eyes, it helps to consider a more extreme case (like 99.9% CO). Amplifies the effect, you know...




The 99.9% is essentially an end point. One cannot predict behavior in the middle of the curve based on an unrealistic endpoint calculation, it may just be a mathematical artifact. Just for a bit of perspective, a 99.9% CO is a circular slit, 8 inches in diameter whose width is equal to to the thickness of a human hair.

My eyes saw the same thing Dave's did but they are pretty poor graphs. There is an answer to the question we are asking, I don't know the answer, I don't see you deriving the answer, I am sure there a people here who can provide the answer.

Jon


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JKoelman
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5813051 - 04/21/13 01:21 PM

Yeah, there are folks here who have the software to simulate spot diagrams. They will be able to dispel the myth that "the Airy disk size is solely a function of aperture". I can spell out the math and prove that for a fixed aperture Airy disk size decreases monotonously with increasing CO, but I am sure that won't convince you.

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5813116 - 04/21/13 02:09 PM

Quote:

Yeah, there are folks here who have the software to simulate spot diagrams. They will be able to dispel the myth that "the Airy disk size is solely a function of aperture". I can spell out the math and prove that for a fixed aperture Airy disk size decreases monotonously with increasing CO, but I am sure that won't convince you.




The issue is the diameter of the diffraction rings, not the diameter of the Airy disk itself.

Jon


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gnowellsct
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5814220 - 04/21/13 09:58 PM

I guess I don't understand the discussion. I've been observing for 6 or 7 years with a C14 and a 4" ED Vixen doublet. The Vixen is a very nice little scope and shows quite a bit on the planets. But it never ever shows more than the C14. One one or two occasions I've had the FS128 set up next to the C14 and it's the same thing. I have reasons why I like my smaller scopes but putative "better performance in bad seeing" is certainly not one of them: though to be fair the math mavens assure us that there is better wave front and seeing cells etc.

I'm just saying I'm out there with two scopes one bolted on to the other and I can use whichever I want and if the smaller aperture had such an advantage you'd think the night would come when I would say "whoa! I'm not wasting any more time with this ridiculous fourteen inch aperture!"

It is true that purveyors of small scopes tend to say that in areas of unstable skies you "might as well" have a small scope as a big one. But these days I'm not sure why the discussion comes up. You can get a small scope and for the price of a Pentax eyepiece at some point you can pick up a used eight inch dob on the 'mart and then you can see for yourself. GN


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Ziggy943
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5814346 - 04/21/13 10:45 PM

This subject has been the headline of many threads and keeps coming up. Why? Because there is some truth to it and I suspect that most of us have experienced it at some point in time.

As recent as last night people were telling me that my view of Jupiter, in a TEC 160mm F/8 refractor was better than the other telescopes in the field. OK, it's not a technical comparison, and I didn't go up and down looking at the other scopes but those were the judgement calls of a fair number of people.

Personally, and I have related this on several threads, my 9" refractor routinely showed better images of Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon and other solar system objects than larger reflectors in the field. That was the general opinion of the larger reflector owners also. Side by side there are no graphs, no theory, you only have the image in the eyepiece in front of you.


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Mark Harry
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5814690 - 04/22/13 06:53 AM

4" 'fractor against a 14" of any type???
Come on, that's no comparison. (no offense)
M.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Mark Harry]
      #5816029 - 04/22/13 06:25 PM

Quote:

4" 'fractor against a 14" of any type???
Come on, that's no comparison. (no offense)
M.




It all depends on the target.

But I think the original question was whether there were seeing condition when a smaller scope could out resolve a larger scope. I think are.

Jon


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Asbytec
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5817264 - 04/23/13 11:33 AM

Quote:

(By the way, it did not that a CO reduces the size of the Airy disk slightly, the energy transferred into the rings has to come from somewhere. The disk is dimmer, therefore slightly smaller, that energy is transferred into the rings which smears the image thus reducing fine scale contrast. Of course that's a small effect... )

Jon




Jon, seeing is an interesting thing. You and Dave hit on it pretty much. All I would add is "tuning" a scope for prevelent seeing conditions might be a consideration. I conastantly rave about seeing in the tropics. Seeing a nearly perfect diffraction pattern almost constantly is "pleasing." It seems well suited for a 6" aperture, probably more, almost every night. I still have to wait for those almost perfectly still moments, but they are not so few and far between. So, calm seeing affords some jaw dropping views of lunar and planetary frequently throughout the observing session. It's both pleasing and working at full resolution and contrast a 6" is capable of.

As you alluded to discussing larger apertures shining in those calm moments, that's a scope can operating near it's theroetical, unaberrated MTF. When the seeing calms the theroetical plot settles toward "testbook," well, those are the jaw dropping moments in any aperture.

To your above, yes, the CO dims the spurious disc to some extend relative to the surface area of the obstruction, I believe (1 - co^2) normalized. However, the obstruction also adds diffraction to the system and changes the actual pattern of interference forming the Airy disc. The Airy disc is made smaller and the rings shift slightly due to added diffraction as well as obscuration. Both are small effects [in sum according to Vlad, et al, (1-co^2)^2]. When the seeing is nearly perfect those changes can be detected at smaller exit pupils and especially on equal tight doubles. And probably on lunar and planets, too, IME.

It usually bugs me a tiny bit some obstructed designs, CATs especially, and Newts are usually associated with seeing conditions, thermal issues, and collimation. These conditions, which can be minimized and optimized and are not necessarily intrinsic induced aberrations of these designs, are often toughted as reasons why CATs and Newts are Goliath while the humble refractor is David, who slew Goliath...in bad seeing. Its not a story of some noble short guy beating up the evil giant, rather its a story of an inferiority complex. A rationalization of owning 4" of aperture offering pleasing views frequently. I experience the same "pleasing" experience in my own 6" CAT because it is well tuned and operating in excellent seeing (=/> 8/10)almost nightly.

Refractors are great scopes, no doubt some of them high end, that give "pleasing" views. And yes, it is nice to use both designs where they excel. Not trouncing refractors here, just trying to put all those bad things that make Goliath a bad guy into some perspective. There is at least one observing condition I can think of where a 6" unobstructed, finely hand crafted scope can trounce a descent 12" obstructed scope...when the latter is at the bottom of the ocean. The seeing sucks down there.


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Asbytec
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5817276 - 04/23/13 11:40 AM

Quote:

Quote:


I think the effect is more fundamental. By introducing a central obstruction the average distance between points within the area of light gathering increases, thereby decreasing the angular size at which zero crossings of the light amplitude occur. In other words: the central disc plus all outer rings diminish in size.




Interesting.. Do you have a reference for this. I thought the diameter of the minimums and maximums was determined by the aperture. Looking Rutten and Venrooij's section on COs, I see no mention of it.

Jon




Sorry, Jon, yes...one reference follows. Johannes is correct.

http://www.telescope-optics.net/obstruction.htm

He discusses it in some detail, but here is a snippit.

"However, due to the smaller central maxima (primarily; the overall pattern is smaller), the obstructed pattern rebounds in contrast transfer not only above the aberrated clear aperture, but also above clear aberration-free aperture in the range of MTF frequencies where the dominant factor of contrast transfer becomes the size of central maxima, generally from about 0.4 to 1. Moreover, with the central maxima and overall pattern smaller (approximately) by a factor 1-co^2, the obstructed PSF becomes similar to that of unobstructed aperture larger by a factor 1/(1-co^2) having its Strehl reduced to (1-co^)^2 by spherical aberration. In other words, contrast-transfer-wise, an aperture D with central obstruction o compares to a clear aberration-free aperture of D/(1-co^2) diameter with (1-co^2)^2 Strehl due to spherical aberration."


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Asbytec
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: johnnyha]
      #5817401 - 04/23/13 12:53 PM

Quote:

Who can forget the glorious Questar ads?





I dont have their pamplet handy, but Questar also claimed to resolve below Dawes (pretty sure it mentioned Dawes...) limit. They are likely they are warranted in saying so for the reasons found in the discussion between Jon and Johannes: the scope have a very high Strehl and an obstruction, both contributing to that tight PSF that manifests itself at the high frequency end of the MTF.


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BillP
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Mark Harry]
      #5817472 - 04/23/13 01:21 PM

Quote:

4" 'fractor against a 14" of any type???
Come on, that's no comparison.




It is fair when you need to show that you can beat the 'fractor


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BillP
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Cotts]
      #5817510 - 04/23/13 01:36 PM

Quote:

Johannes. I cannot envisage a situation where a 6" will out-resolve a 12", assuming equal optical quality. The smaller scope is less affected by seeing and will give views that seem more stable or pleasing*.

If the seeing is scintillating to 5" size (I have never seen seeing this bad in 50 years of observing, btw) both scopes will give terrible views on high-resolution targets like planets, the moon and double stars.

...

There is no type or category of seeing where my 3.1 will resolve what my 6 will. But the view in the 3.1 is steady, stable motionless and textbook. Of an unresolved double star. (And, by extension to details on Jupiter, etc.) It is this that some call "pleasing".




FWIW, I've come across plenty of an evening here on the East Coast where my 10" shows no more than my 4". So it can easily be the case and strongly location local.

For the *pleasing* category, not only steadiness but also apparent contrast/scatter as well I think can be included. Many refractors are easy to keep their main objectives clean. On the other hand, a typical Dob is a bit of a pain to clean the objective so they are typically more dust encrusted I would say, especially for solid tube designs. This being the case, quite often refractors are seen to produce not only steadier images, but cleaner higher contrast ones as well.

I think many state their preference for the refractor, even though smaller, because of this more pleasing view. It is not something to be taken lightly either IMO, and often trumps resolving power for many. Think of it in another context, if everytime you watch a movie and went to a theater you had this great superwide IMAX screen but what also came with it was an audience constantly chatting on their cell phones during the movie, going to a small home-theater instead, with its much smaller screen, would in the end be the better experience if it was always nice and quiet and calm there so you could get into the movie. So in this analogy, the smaller screen, although less capable than the IMAX, in the end gives a better overall experience, and just plain better! By analogy, same is for refractors for many, and validly so. Taming all the gremlins in a Newtonian, SCT, or Mak takes a lot more skill and patience than it does for a refractor which is fairly effortless in this regard. I think the majority of observers are not in the class that have learned how to handle the gremlins well so the refractor always shows the best view, regardless of aperture.

In an often seen real-world experience, many evenings I view doubles with my 10" that it splits quite well. However those doubles are the typical "wooly" stars that are ill-defined due to thermal activity. My smaller refractor may not split the double on the same evening however it is a textbook airy disk that is perhaps just elongated. In the end, on these evenings, I will ditch the 10" because it is more of a thrill splitting the less close doubles given the "precision" at which the refractor shows the image. So the *pleasing* characterization often trumps many other things, including resolving power.


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Mark Harry
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: BillP]
      #5819962 - 04/24/13 02:45 PM

The break point for my area here-
Planetary; a good 6" will hold the image very well, and maintain detail with an image that quivers around, but doesn't lose the detail until really bad. Then, the image will suddenly "blow" and become a large fuzzball.
8" is different. When it gets to the point of quivering around as in the 6, the detail has become "soft". Fine stuff is simply gone; almost as if it was de-focused. Regardless, when it gets soft you ain't gonna see much of anything useful, than what a 6 will have a good chance of providing useful information.
M.


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gnowellsct
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Mark Harry]
      #5820871 - 04/24/13 09:22 PM

Quote:

4" 'fractor against a 14" of any type???
Come on, that's no comparison. (no offense)
M.




That's entirely the point. It's no comparison, as you say. You have people saying here they prefer to stay under six inches in aperture because large apertures are mush. I've never seen that. When I've side by sided with other apos up to nine inches, I've still preferred the larger apertures.

So the question is at what point it becomes a comparison. There, the likely answer is: subtract the diameter of the CO from the obstructed instrument to get the refractor equivalent; bearing in mind that the smaller instrument will show less color on Jupiter, etc.

GN


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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: gnowellsct]
      #5821004 - 04/24/13 10:45 PM

This is an interesting topic. Anyone well versed on the size of the Airy pattern in various apertures and seeing? The Airy pattern varies inversely with aperture, but probably bloats with seeing and maybe magnitude. It would be interesting to understand those dynamics better.

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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: chaoscosmos]
      #5822428 - 04/25/13 03:27 PM

Quote:






+1


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Jared
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5823311 - 04/25/13 10:48 PM

Quote:

Quote:


Under seeing limited conditions it is a fairly routine occurrence that a larger scope cannot resolve severely unequal magnitudes multiple stars (Sirius A and B, Trapezium A through F, etc.) when a much smaller unobstructed scope can.




I asked you this before, when was the last time you split Sirius B with an 80mm?

My experience is that when seeing poor, a large scope often out performs a small scope on widely unequal doubles. Rigel is a good example. When it first rises in fall and is low on the horizon, I am often unable to split it with my 80mm's. My old 12.5 inch picks out it ever time.

Jon




As it happens, I can answer your first question on Jim's behalf because I was there. March 31, 2011 was the last time, and we were in the Mojave desert--we first picked out Sirius B in my 80mm LOMO and later were able to confirm it in Jim's TEC 140, but it was an easier split in the 80mm for whatever reason. Better glare control? Seeing conditions that were a better match for the smaller scope? Couldn't say for sure. But I know we weren't imagining the Pup because I recorded and later checked the position angle.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jared]
      #5823609 - 04/26/13 05:18 AM

Quote:


As it happens, I can answer your first question on Jim's behalf because I was there. March 31, 2011 was the last time, and we were in the Mojave desert--we first picked out Sirius B in my 80mm LOMO and later were able to confirm it in Jim's TEC 140, but it was an easier split in the 80mm for whatever reason.




Jared:

Thanks for clarifying that. As I understand it, that was also the first time??? The reason I wanted a clarification, was that reading Jim's post, the implication seemed to be that this was a regular occurrence rather than a very remarkable observation.

And it is worthwhile noting that this observation was done with a 80mm F/6 apochromat, short and fast, and not a long focal length 80mm achromat. It is consistent with my experience with faster apos versus long focal length achromats..

Jon


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Jared
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5824986 - 04/26/13 06:02 PM

That was the most recent occurrence for me, and I think for Jim, though with his acquisition of a new-to-him 80mm recently I may be overstepping a bit. Certainly, Sirius B is not a common split for me in my little refractor.

Why it worked that night in particular I couldn't say. Obviously, skies were dark with very low moisture in the air. Zodiacal light was easy to identify. Seeing conditions were mediocre at best, and there was a very stiff breeze with plenty of wind gusts. I was amazed that I was able to do any astro photography at all with my 10" RC since it is a giant sail under these circumstances.

One thing I can confirm is that it's possible for a smaller scope to out resolve a larger one under SOME circumstances. I'm not talking about a more aesthetic or more "contrasty" view here, either--actual detail visible in a small scope that is totally absent in a larger scope at the same magnification. I have seen my 60mm and 80mm refractors show more to me than my 10" and 12.5" scopes when seeing was really bad and the larger scopes hadn't had adequate time to cool. Not certain how much this matters, thoug, since I tend to pack it in when seeing is really bad--even deep sky stuff just isn't rewarding.


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Ziggy943
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jared]
      #5825244 - 04/26/13 08:10 PM

Last Saturday I watched a heavyweight fight between Tyson Fury of England and former Cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham. Fury weighed in at 254 pounds and stands 6’ 9” (Goliath). Cunningham weighed 210 pounds and stands 6’ 3” (David).

This was a fight between a good Goliath and a good David. The fight ended in the 10th round with Goliath knocking out David, BUT, in the second round David knocked Goliath to the ground. There were times when David was dominating the fight.

With our telescopes it’s the same thing, a good big telescope should beat a good little telescope overall. But there are instances where the little telescope will knock down the big telescope.


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JKoelman
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Asbytec]
      #5825958 - 04/27/13 09:56 AM

Quote:

This is an interesting topic. Anyone well versed on the size of the Airy pattern in various apertures and seeing? The Airy pattern varies inversely with aperture, but probably bloats with seeing and maybe magnitude. It would be interesting to understand those dynamics better.



I agree. I am no expert, but the reactions in this thread made me wet my toe into the Kolmogorov theory describing the effects of atmospheric turbulence on telescope performance. One of the outcomes reported in the literature is that taking into account the effects of seeing, a large aperture diffraction-limited telescope will deliver diffraction-limited snapshots only a very small fraction of the time. In other words, the time one has to wait for what is referred to as a “lucky image” increases exponentially with aperture.

Some numbers for poor seeing (at the lower end of typical seeing conditions described by optical turbulence cell sizes r0 in the range 0.1-0.2m), with the leftmost figures giving the aperture in inches, and the rightmost figures the fraction of snapshots that yield "lucky images" (diffraction-limited performance):

4 100%
8 100%
12 98%
16 46%
20 11%
24 2.1%
28 0.27%

When people make remarks about "pleasing views" they probably refer to getting diffraction-limited views at the eyepiece 100% of the time.


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Asbytec
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5826003 - 04/27/13 10:33 AM

Johannes, wow, great stuff. Yes, I agree on getting diffraction limited views most of the time. That is my experience. And under such conditions, the aperture is doing what it can in terms of resolution and contrast, for the most part. So, "pleasing" views tend to be performing views at that aperture.

I started a thread in the General Observing forum, "The Skinny on Seeing" trying to explore that concept.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5826311 - 04/27/13 01:19 PM

Quote:

Quote:

This is an interesting topic. Anyone well versed on the size of the Airy pattern in various apertures and seeing? The Airy pattern varies inversely with aperture, but probably bloats with seeing and maybe magnitude. It would be interesting to understand those dynamics better.



I agree. I am no expert, but the reactions in this thread made me wet my toe into the Kolmogorov theory describing the effects of atmospheric turbulence on telescope performance. One of the outcomes reported in the literature is that taking into account the effects of seeing, a large aperture diffraction-limited telescope will deliver diffraction-limited snapshots only a very small fraction of the time. In other words, the time one has to wait for what is referred to as a “lucky image” increases exponentially with aperture.

Some numbers for poor seeing (at the lower end of typical seeing conditions described by optical turbulence cell sizes r0 in the range 0.1-0.2m), with the leftmost figures giving the aperture in inches, and the rightmost figures the fraction of snapshots that yield "lucky images" (diffraction-limited performance):

4 100%
8 100%
12 98%
16 46%
20 11%
24 2.1%
28 0.27%

When people make remarks about "pleasing views" they probably refer to getting diffraction-limited views at the eyepiece 100% of the time.




Johannes:

I have to think if 98% of the snapshots are diffraction limited, that qualifies as a "pleasing view." If one is getting diffraction limited performance in a 12 inch scope 98% of the time, I have to rate that as very good seeing... But diffraction limited performance implies Dawes limit splits or at least Rayleigh splits, a 12 inch, that's less than a half arc-second.

I don't see being diffraction limited in even a 4 inch 100% of the time as indicative of poor seeing. In the first post, poor seeing was given as 5 arc-seconds... Diffraction limited in a 4 inch is about 1.4 arc-seconds.

Jon


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JKoelman
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5826600 - 04/27/13 03:53 PM

Quote:

If one is getting diffraction limited performance in a 12 inch scope 98% of the time, I have to rate that as very good seeing...



Quote:

In the first post, poor seeing was given as 5 arc-seconds...




Terms like "good seeing" and "poor seeing" are subjective. Obviously, Rutten and Van Venrooij consider seeing conditions worse than those considered by Fried. That creates no problem whatsoever, provided one quantifies the seeing objectively. Rutten and Van Venrooij as well as Fried do so, the first via "seeing disks", the latter via the "Fried parameter" r0.

Let's not fall in the trap of equating person A's "bad seeing" to person B's "bad seeing". We can keep the discussion objective by limiting it to well-defined measures (such as the Fried parameter r0) that quantify the seeing.

The key message I hoped to convey is that overcoming atmospheric conditions and reaching distraction-limited performance in a telescope is a challenge that increases exponentially with the scope's light gathering area. This is a statement build on a body of scientific work that forms the basis for billions of dollars of investments in adaptive optics.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: JKoelman]
      #5826728 - 04/27/13 04:55 PM

Quote:


Let's not fall in the trap of equating person A's "bad seeing" to person B's "bad seeing". We can keep the discussion objective by limiting it to well-defined measures (such as the Fried parameter r0) that quantify the seeing.

The key message I hoped to convey is that overcoming atmospheric conditions and reaching distraction-limited performance in a telescope is a challenge that increases exponentially with the scope's light gathering area. This is a statement build on a body of scientific work that forms the basis for billions of dollars of investments in adaptive optics.




Honestly, I get it and I don't get it. A few thoughts:

- You provided some analysis that suggested that even in "poor seeing" a 12 inch scope would be diffraction limited 98% of the time. That is contrary to my experience. I personally think any amateur astronomer would consider diffraction limited performance in a 12 inch 98% of the time as good seeing. Something doesn't compute, that's all.

- As someone who has a fair number of telescopes over a wide range of apertures, I have no difficulty understanding that as the aperture increases so does the seeing required to achieve diffraction limited performance. In my largest telescope, 25 inches, I have no expectations of ever achieving diffraction limited viewing, that would be approximately 0.2 arc-second seeing.

On the other hand, even without the possibility of diffraction limited images, the real world question is how much of the time will the 25 inch provide superior planetary views to say the 12.5 inch or the 16 inch or a 6 inch... This is the issue I believe we are struggling with.

In the simplest terms, this could be thought of as how often does aperture X achieve diffraction limited status for aperture Y. Of course X > Y.

- Except anecdotally, I am not quite sure how "pleasing views" fits into an objective discussion. By definition, "pleasing views" would be subjective.

Jon

Edited by Jon Isaacs (04/27/13 05:00 PM)


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Asbytec
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5827224 - 04/27/13 08:00 PM

Quote:

...the real world question is how much of the time will the 25 inch provide superior planetary views to say the 12.5 inch or the 16 inch or a 6 inch... This is the issue I believe we are struggling with.



Yes. One of them. LOL

Edited by Asbytec (04/27/13 08:01 PM)


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buddyjesus
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Re: David vs Goliath new [Re: Asbytec]
      #5827295 - 04/27/13 08:36 PM

very useful post Johannes

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