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Best inexpensive travel scope and where to buy??

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#1 Tom T

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 11:39 AM

Since my pronto is gone (but not forgotten) I find myself looking for a nice little travel scope that won't break the bank. I've been thinking about the Orion Shortube 80, and the ETX90 RA for ~$200 and $180 respectively (then add case and finder). Anything else out there in this price range (or cheaper) that would give decent views from any vendors that you would recommend?

Tom T.

#2 asaint

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 12:29 PM

Tom,

It's interesting as I'm contemplating roughly the same thing. I'd like to take a trip or two this year and get some observing done from somewhere warm and fun once winter sets in. Something like a quick weekend trip.

Now, for travel scope - do you mean travel in a car, by plane, by boat?

Allister

#3 Tom T

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 02:14 PM

Hey Allister,

Ideally all of them. Realistically, I'm unlikely to fly this year, and well - boat? The only boating I do is speed boats so that's not really an issue for me either. So I guess for me, it's pretty much car travel.

One thing I really liked about the pronto was the softcase with room for eyepeices. I could squeze some charts in there as well, and only had to take that bag and the tripod.

Travelling with a wife and child, space in the vehicle (no matter how big) is extremely precious. Somehow (I swear
it's an X-files sorta thing) they seem to expand to fill all available space. Personally, I've taken 1 small bag since college, but I'm occasionally caught wondering if there is even room for my clothes, let alone a little scope. :)

Tom T.

#4 Jarad

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 02:20 PM

Hey Tom -
I have both an ETX and a ST-80 - they make a nice combo for quick viewing. The ST-80 is much better as a travel scope (at least for airplane travel) - more compact, and good for wide field views that benefit more from dark skies (which is why I bother to travel with it....). The ETX is nice for planetary viewing, but I can see the planets from my light-polluted back yard (where I use it quite often), so I don't travel with it. The 2 make a nice combination for wide field and planetary work. BTW, I am planning to sell mine soon to help pay for a new scope if you are interested.

Jarad


#5 asaint

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 02:24 PM

Tom,

I'm thinking of flying and have begun to ponder those possiblilities. On the one hand, I can have my ETX-125 checked as baggage as I have a hard case. However, it occurs to me that if I'm flying to a dark site, I would want to take advantage of rich field viewing. I can't do rich field viewing from my backyard and would be the primary reason to fly somewhere.

Now, let's take this a step further. If I'm doing rich field viewing, do I need a full blown APO? Would an achromat suffice?

Allister

#6 Steve Landry

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 02:35 PM

Tom,

I had a Celestron 80/f5 WA as one of my 1st scopes. Got it from Anacortes along with a Bogen 3001 Tripod.

One of the smallest, easist setups to have.

Steve

#7 Jarad

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 02:40 PM

Having been to Costa Rica and Australia with my ST-80, I can say that it was worth carrying around. The ST-80 is just okay for planets (image starts to break down above ~100x), but it is fine for low powers and wide fields. Since you can look at the planets from anywhere (light pollution isn't a problem for them, and they look the same from the northern or southern hemispheres), my feeling is that wide field is more important in a travel scope. You can get some great views of things you can't see from home with an ST-80 or similar (especially if you go to the southern hemisphere - the magellanic clouds are fantastic!). Of course, if you can get an AP Traveler or Televue 85, that would be even better, but I would take a wide field achromat over a similar sized long fl maksutov for travelling.

Oh, and the ST-80 actually worked quite well as a nice fast telephoto lens for daytime photos of the wildlife - I got some nice shots of birds, monkeys, etc.!

Just my humble opinion,

Jarad

#8 rboe

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 04:33 PM

Let's not forget the 15X70 binoculars. Very good wide field instruments. Can't change eye pieces so for Tom, who goes thru eye pieces faster than Henry the Eighth went thru wives, this would drive him nuts.

Being a current Pronto owner, for wide field, APO is just not needed. And is a great airplane scope.

I'd like to see the Orion ST 80 with the hefty build of a TeleVue. Pay an extra $100 to get some HD built in. I think it would travel better. And the focuser can't be too good.

But the darn tripod is the killer when it comes to travel.

#9 Blair

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 09:26 PM

I just bought an Orion ST 80. I have some street lights around and without a finder was able to find the Dumbell and Ring Nebulas. Using Orion's Explorer II 6mm eyepiece I received very nice views of both. I use an Orion 32mm Sirius Plossl as my finder eyepiece which gives about 3.5 degrees field of view and about 7.2mm exit pupil. Ratio wise, the dew shield is longer than on other achromats I have owned. Hope this helps.

#10 Ron B[ee]

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Posted 25 September 2003 - 10:13 PM

Hello there Tom,

Here's an opinion from someone who hasn't travel with a scope but have decided which one to travel with after the last vacation travel :cool:. If you won't be flying on the plane a while, perhaps the Zen of Waiting may work out so that you'll be able to get a Pronto (or Ranger) again, say next year. Meanwhile, the TV-102 ain't that much of a hazzle to travel (especially since you have some sort of AZ mount if I recall); afterall, you don't travel that often you said.

Personally, I see that I'll want a Pronto/Ranger to travel with. It's so small (with retractable dew shield), comes with a nice tiny soft case, works on photo tripod. Great super-wide field view, can take magnifications on planets, Moon, globs and double stars.

Ron B[ee]


#11 Stu_Travelbee

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 01:09 AM

Tom,
Three words, Image Stabilized Binoculars. Bought 'em, use 'em, love 'em! And they are in your price range too.
Stu

#12 Victor Kennedy

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Posted 26 September 2003 - 02:20 AM

I've got a Stellarvue AT-1010 and it gives good views (although I've not compared it to an apo). I carry it around in a soft Orion carrying case that would fit under the seat or in an overhead locker on a plane (although I haven't carried it on a plane yet).

#13 Spyke

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Posted 27 September 2003 - 05:14 PM

One of my first scopes (and one I did most learning on) was a Konus Vista 80mm f5 refractor. I used it on a cheap-ish photo tripod, and saw a whole load of stuff through it! I sold it years ago to fund an ETX-90, but have just bought a 2nd hand Celestron 80mm f5! I can't wait to get it (a real pocket-scope) specially as I have a heavier duty tripod and decent eyepieces now. Excellent travel scope I would think :)

#14 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 07:38 AM

I use an Orion ST 80 and an ETX 90ra as my travel scopes. I house them in their soft carrying cases and they fit under my airline seat with room to spare. I don't think there are much choices in under the $200 bracket though.

#15 IDONTSEEIT

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Posted 28 September 2003 - 10:43 PM

Hey Tom,

You might want to check out Adorama(Adorama.com), they have the celestron version of the ST-80mm for $149, and the 4" version for $199. I have the 102mm Celestron, the C102AZ, same scope, except it comes with an AZ-3 mount and costs $350. I love the 102mm for richfield, and general starhopping, etc. It's only about 21" long without the diagonal, and it fits into an Orion ST-90 padded case I got as a second. The specs on the site say they're both 5-lbs in weight( I can't see how, as the 102mm lens is significantly larger than the 80mm, and the 102 mm has a 2" focuser????) I'd say the 102mm ota doesn't take up much space at all. The spotting scope version at Adorama comes with a tripod mounting block, instead of rings. I suppose the 80mm is somewhat smaller, I've never seen one in person.
These prices seem lower than Orion's and I like the Black on the 102mm, and the apparent dark blue of the 80mm, better than the white of the Orions, just a personal preference. I'm sure the quality of these doesn't begin to rival that of the TV's, pronto and such(I've never met one of those personally either), but at 1/4 the cost, they may be quite adequate.
Just thought you might be interested, Good luck in your decisions, and good luck with your new, future, scope!

#16 Tom T

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 02:36 PM

If I'm doing rich field viewing, do I need a full blown APO? Would an achromat suffice?


Nope. IMO, you want an APO mainly on the moon and planets. A well figured achromat makes a dandy little scope.

Tom T.

#17 Tom T

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 02:37 PM

Tom,
Three words, Image Stabilized Binoculars. Bought 'em, use 'em, love 'em! And they are in your price range too.
Stu


Stu,

What ones do you recommend?

Tom T.

#18 Tom T

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 02:38 PM

Joe,

Thanks much for the post, the Celestron 80mm is extremely tempting - especially at that price.

Tom T.

#19 Tom T

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 02:39 PM

I think I've pretty much narrowed it down guys. If I'm going to stay in the el cheapo range, I suspect I'll be going with Joe's suggestion of the Celestron shortube80 for $150. However, this weekend I had a chance to look through the Orion ED80 and now I'm kinda leaning that way. Still thinking about bino's tho... What ya think Stu?

Thanks for all the great suggestions!

Tom T.

#20 Steve Landry

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 06:39 PM

Tom,

I have an ED-80 and it fits fine on a photo tripod. I would have suggested it earlier, but I didn't think you were spending that much. It's good that you can try one out 1st, I think you'll love it.


Steve

#21 Tom T

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 06:56 PM

Steve, I didn't think I was spending that much either. OTOH, I was considering trading my 10" f7.5 on a TV85 this weekend so it seems like a couple of steps down. :lol:

Tom T.



#22 jrcrilly

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Posted 30 September 2003 - 08:32 PM

However, this weekend I had a chance to look through the Orion ED80 and now I'm kinda leaning that way


Hi, Tom.

I have the earlier Orion ED80 and the Celestron ST80 and between the improved mechanics and optics I think the ED is well worth the price difference.

I took my Canon IS 10X30 binoculars with me on a trip last week but didn't see any sky the whole time; made me kinda glad I didn't lug a scope along. :foreheadslap:

#23 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 12:48 AM

Tom,

I took an Orion ST80 with me to observe the 1998 solar eclipse and the southern skies from Bolivia last year.

Dave Mitsky

#24 Spyke

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Posted 01 October 2003 - 03:31 PM

:bawling:I can't believe it- The Celestron 80mm WA I was waiting for was DROPPED by the seller! Onto cement. Smash. So I have to look for another one.....
:foreheadslap:



#25 Guest_**DONOTDELETE**_*

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Posted 02 October 2003 - 11:29 AM

Tom, if your still up in the air over it, and your price range is moving up....apogge 25x100mm binos are $250. new and what about that AT1010 stellarvue suggestion {used of course}!!


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