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Equipment Discussions >> Refractors

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6073839 - 09/10/13 08:10 PM

Quote:

The 80mm (and I imagine the 130mm) will not be as amazing as the 14" on a clear night in New Mexico, but they will get around the United States and camp sites (car camping). These are simply far more portable.




This is one reason truss tube Dobsonians are popular. A 12.5 inch can travel to those dark sites while using up but a small space, mine has a 19"x20" inch foot print and is 29 inches tall, the seat space of one passenger. When all is said and done, it uses up more room than a 80mm refractor but less than a 5 inch refractor in a case.

Jon


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BillP
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6073882 - 09/10/13 08:30 PM

Quote:



A few thoughts/experiences:

This question does have answers, it has many answers, that is why there are 10 pages of answers. There is no one "correct" answer because indeed it does depend on individual preferences.

The important factors that determine the reasons people actually use different telescopes are not primarily optical, you don't learn them from a Rutten and Venrooij, you learn them in the field. Indeed, it is questions like this one that arise from reading about optics and telescopes without having that experience in the field.

It is the subjective "fluff" that is most important when it comes to choosing a telescope. And that is what members of this forum can provide that a book cannot.

Jon




I think this hits it on the head. It's really all about likes and what dislikes you can tolerate in an instrument and still use it often.

That said, for me my primary preferences are 1) the scope is ready when I am so I hate long acclimation times, 2) small enough that no hassle to take out in one trip with mount, 3) gives me both wide fields and high magnifications without much problem (1 deg FOVs are just too small for me).

So given the above, a 4" or 5" refractor is perfect (I have a 4"). It is a zero problem instrument and like a good dog is eager to go out and have fun.

However, 4" is not enough for me to really enjoy globs...so I have an 8" SCT for that which I mount on a simple Alt-Az so it is light and no hassle. Had it on a driven mount and hated it because just akward. On the alt-az it is a dream to use. But I do get frustrated with the small TFOV since I have no reducer for it and don't like futzing with 2" EPs too much.

Then I have the 10" Dob. Love the pull it has but hate the acclimation time...also not so convenient to take out as an unpleasant carry since not on wheels. But beautiful images when the mirror is freshly cleaned and it is full cooled. Since I got the 8" SCT though I use the Dob even less.

Frankly the 8 SCT and 4" Refractor I find a perfect pair. Oh yes...the 80mm APO is a must for travel, which is usually the only time I use it. But I often wonder if an 8 SCT and TMB 92mm APO might really be the perfect combo :-D

If I had to do it all over having the experience I have now, would probably be a 8" Edge SCT and TMB 92 APO with a Minitower Pro which can drive them both at once if I wanted and a spare alt-az for when I have them separated.

At the moment though, I have the 4" APO and 80mm APO both mounted on the Minitower Pro as it is a joy to have a quality really wide field view and higher magnification view available simultaneously. The the 8" is on an SCT for when I need more light pull. For the past year or so this combo I have been finding quite satisfying and both on their mounts are a quick carry outside...and since the SCT is rarely used for planetary, it is ready quite quickly for satisfying DSO viewing.

Edited by BillP (09/10/13 08:34 PM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: BillP]
      #6074439 - 09/11/13 06:16 AM

Quote:

I think this hits it on the head. It's really all about likes and what dislikes you can tolerate in an instrument and still use it often.




That's about the long and short of it. One's particular situation is very important.. in that sense, I pretty lucky. I can have a big scope out and ready to go in about 5 minutes.

Like Bill, I like smaller refractors, 80mm-100mm is a good place, very easy to setup, easy to use.

But unlike Bill, I frequently observe with larger scopes. Dark skies are within an hour's drive and the scopes are there waiting, ready to go, they just need to be uncovered and wheeled outside. The seeing is generally not as steady as it is down along the coast, so I don't worry too much about thermal issues, equilibrium...

In terms of the effort to observe that Bill mentions, for me, that teeter-totters between the 16 inch and the 25 inch. The 16 inch is easy, that's because no ladder is involved, the 25 inch takes a lot of energy just dealing with it.. to move around the sky, it's something of an operation.

Jon


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Chris Greene
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6090940 - 09/20/13 12:49 AM

Great thread! I've been a casual visual observer on and off for at least four decades now.

After a period of not owning any telescopes for a few years (I'd sold my Vixen made Celestron 80mm back around 1990) I decided to get a small refractor again. I'd moved to rural Idaho and had really dark skies but only so-so seeing (Magic Valley). I became intrigued with the TeleVue Pronto which was a current model from TV and found a used one with a TelePod on AM for $800-900. Over time, I added some TV and Pentax ep's.

Joining the local astro club, I went to a few local star parties and drooled over the big stuff people had. Eventually, I bought a C8 and was pleased with how well it showed globs but found it a PITA to use (I mounted it on a Vixen GP). Then, I came across a nice 4" f/5 Genesis and bought it too. I decided I preferred the design of TV's mounts more than EQ mounts so picked up a Gibraltar. When a nice NP101 came along, I bought it and sold the Genesis.

I figured I was in telescope heaven - a C8 for the fuzzy stuff, the NP for the stars, and the Pronto for travel. Decided I wanted a Questar, just because and got one of those too.

Then, one day at a star party at Craters of the Moon, I set up next to a guy who had a beautiful 18" DOB (Starmaster?) and I had my little Pronto. We both trained our scopes on M81 and M82. Now, without a doubt, his views were better and significantly brighter. But you know what? I could see them just fine in my 70mm Pronto. We both were pretty amazed how good they were in our side by side comparison. Next time I saw him, he'd bought a TV-85.

Back home, I found myself rarely using the C8 and the NP101. The Questar and I never really bonded even though it was a beautiful piece of equipment. I ended up selling all three of them and have kept only the Pronto. I can take it out of my studio, set it on the adjoining patio and be observing in a couple minutes. As I'm now pushing 63 and have seen all the wonders repeatedly, my mind's eye takes care of the rest when I look at the Messier objects and it's terrific for casual sweeps of the Milky Way.

Sure, the NP101 showed fainter stars; you'd see that with the Double Cluster but it's a much bigger scope and the Pronto was so much quicker to set up on the TelePod.

At this point, I'd be thrilled if I could find a nice used TV-76 or, more likely, the TMB 90 that will be back around by the end of the year.

Point is, for me, while the SCT I owned showed nice resolution in globs, the nuisance factor wasn't worth it. The NP101 was a tougher decision to sell but the scope I used the most over these past 10+ years has been the small refractor for its quick and easy set-up. That's why a small refractor over a larger one or even larger SCT for me.

I'll finish by saying that if I had an observatory where I could have a scope or two permanently mounted, a 14" SCT would likely be my scope of choice along with a 5-6" APO.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Chris Greene]
      #6091100 - 09/20/13 04:58 AM

Quote:

Point is, for me, while the SCT I owned showed nice resolution in globs, the nuisance factor wasn't worth it. The NP101 was a tougher decision to sell but the scope I used the most over these past 10+ years has been the small refractor for its quick and easy set-up. That's why a small refractor over a larger one or even larger SCT for me.




It really does depend on how much effort one is willing to put out. Some nights, many nights, a small refractor is plenty good enough for me. But there are many nights when I want the deeper reach, the more detail, the greater resolution of a larger scope.

So many nights, when I have the time and energy, I am willing to make the effort to setup a larger scope.. and a smaller one too... a larger Newtonian/Dob and a smaller, fast refractor, it's a tough combo to beat.

Jon

Little scopes for big objects, big scopes for little objects.
Refractors and reflectors, 60mm to 635mm
Some eyepieces and stuff.


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Chris Greene
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6091517 - 09/20/13 11:00 AM

There was a time I felt like that too. But now, not so much. I'm usually out no more than 30 minutes so quick and easy is most important to me. More often than even moving the Pronto/Telepod out of the studio (detached from the house), I step out my front or back door with some bins.

Last night, in spite of a nearly full moon, I stepped out around 2:30 AM to see Orion and Jupiter. I used my Canon 10x30 IS. I was out for 5-6 minutes. Even the Pronto would have been too much trouble for that quick peek.

That's why an observatory would be nice! One with a cot.


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shkong
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Chris Greene]
      #6091657 - 09/20/13 12:22 PM

I bought a used TEC 140 last week.

I plan to go on 3 days of field trip to dark site late October.

Both TEC 14 and C14 Edge Hd will be brought to be mounted on AP 900 and CGE Pro


I also have Denk binoviewer together with OIII filter and Lumicon Deep Sky filter to enhance contrast of DSO to look though the two scopes side by side


It will be an excellent occasion to compare the visual performance of those two excellent scopes.

The price of new TEC 140 and C14 Edge Hd are similar.


I will report my experience in dark site late October here if this thread continues by then.

Otherwise I will open a new thread reporting my experience of the duel between TEC 140 and C14 edge Hd in dark site in more detail.

P..S.

If you live near Washington State, you are welcome to join me in observing the duel. Please contact me in Cloudy night inbox for the exact schedule considering the weather.

Thomas

Edited by shkong (09/20/13 01:41 PM)


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Jon_Doh
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: shkong]
      #6091910 - 09/20/13 02:25 PM

I know there's a lot of difference in aperture and theoretical light gathering, but I would be very curious in your report and how the two scopes compare on planetary detail and deep space.

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REC
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: shkong]
      #6092081 - 09/20/13 04:31 PM

That should be a very interesting report for sure!

Are you planning on using those filters in the Denk?


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shkong
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: REC]
      #6092266 - 09/20/13 06:26 PM

Of cousre there is difference in aperture between TEC 140 and C14 edge Hd, cool time will not be much issue in October there.

I will make sure to have enough dew prevention including heater strip.


2 inch OIII filter can be used in front of Denk Standard bino viewer, but I.25 inch Lumicon Deep Sky and UHC filters can not be used.


If the weather cooperates, I will also do the imaging using both on the same objects of DSO in dark site for similar condition to compare the details of imaging performance.


I plan to use SBIG AO-8 Adpative Optics unit to adapt to high Fl of C14 Edge with 0.7 big Celestron reducer (even with the reducer its 2,700 mm FL will be challenge for imaging).






Thomas

Edited by shkong (09/20/13 06:58 PM)


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Chris Greene]
      #6092320 - 09/20/13 07:00 PM Attachment (8 downloads)

Quote:

There was a time I felt like that too. But now, not so much. I'm usually out no more than 30 minutes so quick and easy is most important to me. More often than even moving the Pronto/Telepod out of the studio (detached from the house), I step out my front or back door with some bins.

Last night, in spite of a nearly full moon, I stepped out around 2:30 AM to see Orion and Jupiter. I used my Canon 10x30 IS. I was out for 5-6 minutes. Even the Pronto would have been too much trouble for that quick peek.

That's why an observatory would be nice! One with a cot.




It really does depend on ones situation. An observatory does not interest me, I like being out in nature just as if I were observing from my favorite spots on the Navajo reservation, just me and the night sky. I do have what passes for a "natural" observatory. A good sized garage under reasonably dark skies with a small house on 4 acres. Three of my larger scope live in the garage so I can roll them out and have them setup in under 10 minutes.

When I am out for 30 minutes or an hour or even two hours, I use a 3 or 4 inch refractor, sometimes an apo, sometimes an achromat.

But if I am feeling energetic or if I am out under dark skies and have the night to enjoy, I will make the effort to setup a large scope and almost always a smaller one.

Jon


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rayden68
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6093486 - 09/21/13 01:50 PM

I would like to get back to what started the thread for a minute, all to often when someone mentions an SCT compared to a refactor they throw in the caveat, properly collimated, and cooled. why the fine print? The problem to me is an SCT can take forever to cool and if its a night with a fast temperature drop off even longer, i have had reflectors chase a dropping temp half the night giving poor views, in the meantime my refractors have been giving great views since 30 minutes after set up, lost time has to count for something. Dewing is another problem and should be taken heavily into consideration, after waiting two hours for the big sct to cool where it can challenge the refractor it starts to dew up! here by almanac we average 7 clear nights per month so lets say you view from dark until midnight how many nights a month or year will the SCT smoke the refractor just on cooling and dew issues alone. now the next killer is seeing on those 7 nights how many will let you get up above 200x/250x at your viewing location. where i live you might get above that once per 3 months the other clear nights you get the swimming pool effect. so how many nights will the bigger SCT be muzzled by regular conditions. that is wasted aperture. I was at a get together on a clear night 3 years ago and we were looking at jupiter through a c14 it was a big bright mushball, we moved to a friends 100mm achro and it was sharp and beautiful with fine detail. It stayed that way all night. Sure aperture wins but how many days a year where you live? unless you live in the high desert somewhere, not often. Quality..we all know it is lacking even in simple scopes how about in a large SCT especially the ones that are less cost than a 120mm APO. thats alot of mirrors to properly finish and moving parts to rely on. Are most good..yes. Are they high quality?? which brings up mirror alignment, all the moving parts, often complained about mirror flop and now you need perfect collumation to get the sharp view? Just another issue to consider. so you need a dew zapper, active cooling, laser collumator, bought cheap but hopefully not too cheap and you will get to what? It pays to do your homework. Now who wants to chime in on the views looking through either scope.

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Spacetravelerx
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: rayden68]
      #6093541 - 09/21/13 02:29 PM

Quote:

I would like to get back to what started the thread for a minute, all to often when someone mentions an SCT compared to a refactor they throw in the caveat, properly collimated, and cooled. why the fine print? The problem to me is an SCT can take forever to cool and if its a night with a fast temperature drop off even longer, i have had reflectors chase a dropping temp half the night giving poor views, in the meantime my refractors have been giving great views since 30 minutes after set up, lost time has to count for something. Dewing is another problem and should be taken heavily into consideration, after waiting two hours for the big sct to cool where it can challenge the refractor it starts to dew up! here by almanac we average 7 clear nights per month so lets say you view from dark until midnight how many nights a month or year will the SCT smoke the refractor just on cooling and dew issues alone. now the next killer is seeing on those 7 nights how many will let you get up above 200x/250x at your viewing location. where i live you might get above that once per 3 months the other clear nights you get the swimming pool effect. so how many nights will the bigger SCT be muzzled by regular conditions. that is wasted aperture. I was at a get together on a clear night 3 years ago and we were looking at jupiter through a c14 it was a big bright mushball, we moved to a friends 100mm achro and it was sharp and beautiful with fine detail. It stayed that way all night. Sure aperture wins but how many days a year where you live? unless you live in the high desert somewhere, not often. Quality..we all know it is lacking even in simple scopes how about in a large SCT especially the ones that are less cost than a 120mm APO. thats alot of mirrors to properly finish and moving parts to rely on. Are most good..yes. Are they high quality?? which brings up mirror alignment, all the moving parts, often complained about mirror flop and now you need perfect collumation to get the sharp view? Just another issue to consider. so you need a dew zapper, active cooling, laser collumator, bought cheap but hopefully not too cheap and you will get to what? It pays to do your homework. Now who wants to chime in on the views looking through either scope.





Of course you have hit on the other issue - location, location, location.

My 10" LX200 in Michigan got limited viewing windows, and yes, I dealt with dew, freezing temps, snow, and mosquitos, etc. Great views were rare.

I moved to New Mexico (i.e. high desert) and it was like I got a brand new telescope. It was an eye opening experience to say the least. I have a 14" f/8 ACF now and the views are even more amazing for MANY days (outside of the monsoon season of course!). Conclusion - all the large SCTs do wonderful for many days of the year in the New Mexico high desert. I am also convinced big telescopes are useless most of the time east of the Mississippi. Yes, there are wonderful clear nights that are dry, etc. in various locations, but it was rare especially when trying to sync up with other scheduled activities. And lug a huge telescope and setup it up when you have the small observing window? Tiring. Now, observing with a big telescope (or any telescope!) between 5000' - 8000', in dry conditions most of the time with 300+ sunny days? That will win every time.

Which leads me to why I got my Meade APOs:
* I travel A LOT. I want portability.
* Quick cool down
* Quick setup while on the road
* Quick packing
* Spectacular views (and I mean spectacular!), in a nice smaller package. At home, the 14" wins most of the time, but I will not lug that all over the United States (I travel on the road over 20,000 miles alone; flying piles on top of that).

Quality in the Meade 14" ACF is spectacular - though obviously this is more expensive than 120 (or 130mm APO). Collimation has not been an issue yet. No mirror flop with this unit either.

One time I looked through a 25" dob a couple hours out of sunset - view in my book was horrible. It was have massive cooling issues.

BTW, the 130mm and 80mm APOs have pretty much replaced the 10" LX200 and the ETX125. Those are being saved as collectables and for any future grandkids.

Either way, each type of telescope has its place, but location is really critical.


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Jon_Doh
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #6093606 - 09/21/13 03:06 PM

Having owned both an SCT and refractor I have to agree with the last two posts. Under optimal conditions the bigger SCT or reflector will win. But the key is optimal. I can count on two fingers those times when everything was optimal - seeing, transparency and cool down and sure enough my SCT shined. But for everyday or most day observing it's hard to beat a decent size refractor that will give you quality and hence enjoyable, views of the planets, clusters and brighter nebulae and galaxies.

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hfjacinto
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Jon_Doh]
      #6094303 - 09/21/13 11:44 PM

There has never been a time that a larger sct or reflectors showed me more details than a smaller refractor. I own both and if I really to see details I pull out the sct. Just because one pays a lot for a scope doesn't make it better.

If your scope is not collimated than it's the owners fault not the telescopes.


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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: hfjacinto]
      #6094508 - 09/22/13 03:53 AM

Quote:

There has never been a time that a larger sct or reflectors showed me more details than a smaller refractor. I own both and if I really to see details I pull out the sct. Just because one pays a lot for a scope doesn't make it better.

If your scope is not collimated than it's the owners fault not the telescopes.




In my experience, there are times when a smaller scope shows planetary stuff that is not visible in a larger scope, particularly if the larger scope has not sufficiently cooled down. But, if I want the good planetary views or the good double-star views, I pull out a larger scope with a mirror and make sure it's cooled down. If the seeing is so bad that the larger scope does not show more than the smaller scope at planetary/double star magnifications, I point the scope at objects that do not require good seeing.

The reason I use refractors is for the things they can do that a larger scope cannot, low power wide fields of view, portability, easy to use, little effort to prepare, ready to go in an instant.

Jon


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Jon_Doh
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #6094700 - 09/22/13 09:31 AM

This has been a very interesting and informative thread for me. What I've gleaned out of these twelve pages is that if properly collimated and given enough time to cool then under ideal seeing conditions a large aperture reflector or SCT can't be beat for planetary viewing or pulling in dim DSO's.

However, we often don't have time to properly cool our scopes and I would dare say that a lot, if not most folks, who think they have collimated their scope properly haven't and aren't getting the most through them. We also rarely have ideal seeing and atmospheric conditions. With limited cool down time, no worries about collimation and average skies a refractor is superior and will often give a better view of the planets or DSO's under average or poor seeing conditions, not to mention over a scope that's not properly cooled.

Bottom line, both types of telescopes have a place and I understand why folks choose one over the other. For me, I love the ease of setup of an SCT, but prefer the views a refractor gives. But that animal doesn't exist.


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jgraham
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Jon_Doh]
      #6094713 - 09/22/13 09:40 AM

Yep, I use'm both, like'm both, and blessed to own'm both.

Variety is the spice of life.

Enjoy.


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PowellAstro
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: jgraham]
      #6094753 - 09/22/13 10:04 AM

The new production of c6s cools very fast, all most as quick as you can get setup! Also has razor sharp images and is only 8lbs!

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Jon Isaacs
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Re: Why a refractor over a larger SCT at less cost? new [Re: Jon_Doh]
      #6094880 - 09/22/13 11:25 AM

Quote:

With limited cool down time, no worries about collimation and average skies a refractor is superior and will often give a better view of the planets or DSO's under average or poor seeing conditions, not to mention over a scope that's not properly cooled.




I think that might be true of the planets if one is not so fortunate in the local seeing. However, in general DSOs are not affected so much by seeing, they are too dim for the eye to resolve the details that might be affected by the seeing. It really doesn't matter how poor the seeing is, M13 is going to be better in a 12.5 inch Newtonian than in a 6 inch refractor. For nebulas and galaxies the aperture advantage is even greater.

Jon


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