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10" DK vs SCT

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#26 elwaine

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 07:30 PM

I notice that all the back slappers appear to strictly be refractor, or dob owners. They never seem to miss a opportunity. If the stock market played out like this forum does, I'd have a $11,000 scope too. It probably wouldn't be a 10" mewlon though.


Not all. While I'm between scopes at present, I've owned a 12.5" RCOS Ritchey, two A-P 130mm Starfires, 6 and 8" Maks, 8", 9.25" and 11" SCTs. And while I can afford a $30,000 telescope, my next scope will be an EdgeHD 1400 (because it will fit my needs and my viewing conditions).

Patrick, apologies if I misinterpreted your remarks.

#27 charlesgeiger

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 08:09 PM

I agree with Patrick. Also, elitism is something we should stay away from...it can easily slip in..."you are just too dumb to know what is good"...well, observe the sky and be grateful for your ability to see it...as I get older and my eyes become worse from glaucoma, I could care less if I have a 10" mak-cas, 10" apo, or whatever; I enjoy the sky with the scopes I have and I don't patronize others...
Charlie Geiger

#28 rainycityastro

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 10:10 PM

I have enjoyed reading these shootouts ever since the ed ting/weatherman days.

I didn't see any comments/disagreements about Daniel's testing methodology so I will assume that everyone found them reasonable.

Given the above, I was quite surprised to see the kerfuffle created by Daniel's post. I must be missing some context here.

Yes, the scopes are indeed mismatched pricewise and if it had gone the other way, we'd have discovered a real bargain.
Several of Ed Ting's observing reviews revealed wonderful bargains.

This wasn't one of those cases and for those not in the market for a $10,000 scope, there is nothing to do. One can hardly blame Daniel for that provided you agree with his methodology.

As someone who owns neither of these types of scopes, I found nothing elitist in the original post.

Regards,
--Ram

#29 azure1961p

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Posted 22 April 2014 - 10:40 PM


I think the comparison is weaker than its actually propped up to be. I like the comparisons - its fun - but its not the last word . Get a top flight veteran observer with his skills hoaned and that sct well just about see God. Yes - a better instrument yields a better image and so on - but over the long haul - an astronomers equipment needn't be the best - just merely good and used often. That's the key to success here: frequency of practice.

Much as lousy carpenters blame their tools, excellent tools don't produce excellent carpenters. There's much too little said about being the proficient in ones craft.

Pete

#30 WesC

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 12:09 AM

Much as lousy carpenters blame their tools, excellent tools don't produce excellent carpenters. There's much too little said about being the proficient in ones craft.

Pete


I like this!

#31 fred1871

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 12:41 AM

Proficiency in observing - or any craft - obviously makes a positive difference. But having good tools enables proficiency to do better than when you have to overcome the inadequacy of the tools.

Regarding the original comparison - not surprising, if we have an average SCT versus a Tak or similar DK. I'd expect a very good Newtonian - closer in price to the SCT than the DK - to give the DK some real competition. The occasional SCT could as well - all SCTs are not created equal, some are standouts. Daniel's post acknowledged that.

I found the initial commentary of interest, and was surprised by some of the strong negative reactions.

#32 Bob Abraham

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 01:02 AM

I think the comparison is weaker than its actually propped up to be. I like the comparisons - its fun - but its not the last word . Get a top flight veteran observer with his skills hoaned and that sct well just about see God. Yes - a better instrument yields a better image and so on - but over the long haul - an astronomers equipment needn't be the best - just merely good and used often. That's the key to success here: frequency of practice.

Much as lousy carpenters blame their tools, excellent tools don't produce excellent carpenters. There's much too little said about being the proficient in ones craft.

Pete


I agree with this and in the context of lunar and planetary observing, the quintessential example is Harold Hill, one of the greats of 20th century visual selenography. He did most of his work with an 8" Dynamax SCT and with a homemade 10" Newtonian while observing in the UK (not noted for great seeing). You can read an appraisal of his work here:

Harold Hill and the South Polar region of the Moon

With respect to the original post, I enjoy reading about comparisons between different telescopes. But the subject of this thread is really pretty misleading... there's nothing magic about the Dall-Kirkham design in my experience, and no reason an SCT couldn't be manufactured to comparable precision and deliver similar performance. And in terms of performance, I believe a slightly larger commercial SCT would deliver similar planetary performance to a Tak Mewlon (this was my experience with a Mewlon 180 and a pretty good C8), albeit with some greater attention needed to dewing up (frankly, I preferred the Mewlon for that reason).

And as for "world class seeing" etc, well, I am certain you routinely have much better seeing at Mt. Wilson than I enjoy here, but most places have decent seeing some of the time if one is persistent. (I've had Pickering 9 seeing here with a 10" telescope last for long periods, though not often; it's relatively routine to have Pickering 7 last for hours, and Pickering 8/9 last for several minutes; certainly it's good enough for very satisfying visual planetary views). And while I've unfortunately not had the pleasure to ever visit Mt. Wilson, and I believe it to be a really super good site for seeing, I don't think it's quite as world class as you think it is. I know many colleagues at Carnegie who spent years observing there and the anecdotal claim I have heard is the Mt. Wilson site often has good seeing, amongst the best in the continental USA (and the data backs this up), but it's not as good as some sites in Chile, nor as good as Mauna Kea (though probably as good as Haleakala) and also not quite as good as it used to be. There's some evidence to support this deterioration too. But fortunately for you guys it seems likely that the deterioration in the seeing conditions enjoyed by the existing telescopes there is mainly due to very local circumstances near the telescopes. Where you guys set up it may not have gotten any worse:

Eight decades of astronomical seeing measurements at Mount Wilson Observatory

Long term periodic behaviour in the sub-arcsecond seeing at Mt. Wilson

#33 freestar8n

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 04:00 AM

My complaint is that the comparison reads like a review by a wine connoisseur rather than a scientific performance assessment. A report like this is somewhat from the late 19th century, where sensitive linear detectors did not exist - and only subjective expert assessments were possible. But now there are many ways to capture these differences empirically - and I'm not aware of results to back the claims here. On the contrary - planetary imaging mainly shows improvement with larger aperture - whether Newtonian or SCT or whatever. This is consistent with my own work capturing Airy patterns with a wide range of telescopes, where decent optics tends to be diffraction limited, and in good seeing aperture rules for resolution.

There may be a different "feel" to the experience of focusing and the behavior of the star through focus that may be more pleasing - but even that is subjective and doesn't directly map to the amount of detail and information that can be seen in an object.

This doesn't mean there isn't something real going on - I'm just saying that if there is, why haven't planetary imagers switched to smaller, lighter DK's, and why isn't there direct empirical evidence of their superiority.

Frank

#34 Astrojensen

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 04:20 AM

My complaint is that the comparison reads like a review by a wine connoisseur rather than a scientific performance assessment. A report like this is somewhat from the late 19th century, where sensitive linear detectors did not exist - and only subjective expert assessments were possible.



That is *precisely* the point of Daniel's comparison! He is a visual observer, not an imager, so to him, and all the rest of us visual observers, linear detectors may as well not exist. To us, it is IMPORTANT to read subjective expert assessments, as these will give a much truer and clearer idea of what *we* can expect, rather than an analysis of CCD images, that while it may tell something about the physics of the telescope, doesn't tell us visual guys anything at all about how the scope handles the visual view.

I think he has done an extremely fine job and I greatly admire his dedication and passion for this hobby and the fact that despite taking all kinds of flak, he keeps posting his reviews and thoughts on visual observing and subtleties between scopes. I mean, here's a guy who has spent years, observing together with some of the most hard-core, dedicated visual observers and telescope makers on earth, from places with seeing good enough to really tell extremely subtle differences between scopes. He obviously spends a lot of time thinking about how the different behaviours of telescopes can be explained, and once he figures it out, he wants to tell the rest of us, most of us who aren't fortunate enough to live in places with good seeing, why he think they behave the way they do. And people just freak out at him. And many obviously don't read what he actually writes, but what they *think* he writes.

And I think some of this has happened to the relatively anonymous observers he often observes with. I know it has happened to me in the past. I am frankly amazed that he bothers to continue.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark

#35 alrosm

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 06:13 AM

Since we don't know anything specific about either of the scopes mentioned other than the optical design, the comparison given is somewhat meaningless. That aside, is it any surprise a scope probably costing 3 times as much as the other ends up being better? :smirk: But we don't know that either because information about what scopes were actually being tested was left out of the report.

What we are left with is 'trust me, me and my buddies are expert observers in world class observing conditions and everyone else is just a consumer...and sorry about your luck that you don't live in a world class observing area because you will never get to really observe fully." :(

I am so thankful that I have the opportunity of sharing my love of the night sky with others whether I'm using a refractor, newt, SCT or whatever design. I hate elitism and false humility in all it's forms. There are many fine amateur astronomers who are doing real work in research, outreach, and education who are inspiring the next generation of observers, scientists, and lovers of the night sky. They are not just consumers, rather they are the true face of amateur astronomy.

Patrick


I agree.

#36 t.r.

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 06:48 AM

My complaint is that the comparison reads like a review by a wine connoisseur rather than a scientific performance assessment. A report like this is somewhat from the late 19th century, where sensitive linear detectors did not exist - and only subjective expert assessments were possible.



That is *precisely* the point of Daniel's comparison! He is a visual observer, not an imager, so to him, and all the rest of us visual observers, linear detectors may as well not exist. To us, it is IMPORTANT to read subjective expert assessments, as these will give a much truer and clearer idea of what *we* can expect, rather than an analysis of CCD images, that while it may tell something about the physics of the telescope, doesn't tell us visual guys anything at all about how the scope handles the visual view.

I think he has done an extremely fine job and I greatly admire his dedication and passion for this hobby and the fact that despite taking all kinds of flak, he keeps posting his reviews and thoughts on visual observing and subtleties between scopes. I mean, here's a guy who has spent years, observing together with some of the most hard-core, dedicated visual observers and telescope makers on earth, from places with seeing good enough to really tell extremely subtle differences between scopes. He obviously spends a lot of time thinking about how the different behaviours of telescopes can be explained, and once he figures it out, he wants to tell the rest of us, most of us who aren't fortunate enough to live in places with good seeing, why he think they behave the way they do. And people just freak out at him. And many obviously don't read what he actually writes, but what they *think* he writes.

And I think some of this has happened to the relatively anonymous observers he often observes with. I know it has happened to me in the past. I am frankly amazed that he bothers to continue.


Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


Thomas nailed it! :waytogo:
Any visual only observer, that attempts to report something that doesn't match the physics of the situation, is beat like a baby seal, until they retract and toe the party line! Daniel stands his ground. While his comments may not be tactfully stated, I don't think anything is meant by it and a cursory read without looking into it further, may imply things. This is hard for some to accept and it is labeled "elitism". :smirk:

#37 David Pavlich

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 08:14 AM

Broken record here, but there's a reason that Car&Driver doesn't compare a Mazda3 Speed, a quick little hatchback with a high quotient of fun getting from point A to point B, to a Porsche 911 GT3. It's those darned ubiquitous apples and oranges.

In the majority of cases, someone that is looking at a 10" Meade ACF isn't considering the Tak Mewlon because of the price difference, not the difference in a view of Jupiter under ideal seeing. That's the flaw here. Trying to compare pedestrian quality SCs to near optical/mechanical perfection of the DK is a straw dog.

David

#38 vahe

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 08:40 AM

Broken record here,



I see this in an entirely different light.

This forum is primarily an SCT discussion forum, yes Maks and DK’s are also considered catadioptric but vast majority of posts are on SCT,

Anything negative said about SCT’s is going to backfire, that is guaranteed, if you are brave enough to post anything criticizing SCT’s, do it quick and run for cover.

Vahe

#39 Patrick

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:21 AM

:funny:

That's true perhaps to a degree. The problem is that the SCT is the red headed step child in the telescope world and it gets blasted by the APO crowd, the Newt crowd, and now the DK crowd! :smirk: It's the 'almost good' telescope...and some of us who own, use and like SCTs because of a whole host of factors (many not related to the actual views) are a little sensitive to the constant negative comments from the experts.

The real problem though is not that a DK may be better than one SCT (really who cares about that...not me. I've seen excellent views in many kinds of scopes and I actually prefer large aperture Newtonian views about the best), but Daniel basically is telling us that SCT owners are kind of stupid for even using one. He knows that. He's a very smart man. I believe he makes the comments he does on purpose, and in a sense he's playing us. It's that simple. That's what people are reacting to.

I can say that with a fair amount of certainty because he did not bother to tell us what specific scopes he's comparing. He's left us to guess at it. An SCT and a DK is the extent of the description. He didn't say it was a Meade ACF or a standard Meade or even if it was a Meade. Maybe it's a Tasco SCT? :smirk: And he doesn't say what DK he has. Is it a Tak Mewlon 250 or something else more exotic? I don't know. We're all out here having a good old time talking about nothing. Why? I suspect it's because he's having fun with us, leading us on. He pulls the chain and watches the puppets dance!

It's funny actually.... ;)

'nuf said, except clear skies!

Patrick

#40 Paul G

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:25 AM

Some random thoughts...

Oh, it took 14" of apeture, but that is the point. You can get a bigger SCT for the price of a refractor or other botique telescopes and get the same result.

Daniel compared his botique telescope ($11,000 on the used market) to a $1300 telescope and golly gee, his scope won and based on this he says that DKs are better.:roflmao:

Of course Danial could not be fair about it and try to find a similarly priced mass produced DK to do his comparisons with.

Only when he can find a similarly priced mass produced DK to compare to similar sized apeture SCT of similar quality will his result be anything close to useful for people.

Otherwise it is an a deeply flawed indictment of SCTs and one that I think is safest to ignore because of the total unfairness of the comparison..


I disagree, Eddgie, it's neither fair nor unfair, it's just a comparison. And frankly, a comparison of equal aperture scopes is much more interesting and relevant to me than the typical "my 14" SCT beats the pants off a 5" refractor" comparisons usually seen here. Sure, you can outgun the DK with brute aperture for less money with an SCT but if price/aperture is considered a dob would win the comparison anyway.

It would be nice to have someone like Roland or Yuri build an SC with hand crafted mirrors and corrector and active cooling so that those proverbial apples we all talk about could be used.


That would be nice, David, if such a scope existed. Not sure that comparing the DK to an imaginary scope is more "fair."

Get a top flight veteran observer with his skills hoaned and that sct well just about see God.


???

My complaint is that the comparison reads like a review by a wine connoisseur rather than a scientific performance assessment.


Like almost every comparison and review here on CN it is a subjective report, not a lab measurement.

Anything negative said about SCT’s is going to backfire, that is guaranteed, if you are brave enough to post anything criticizing SCT’s, do it quick and run for cover.


:) Vahe, I remember talking with Ed Ting after he published the Tak FS152 vs AP 155 shootout and right before he put up the Tak FCT150 vs AP 155 report. He knew he would get roasted by the Tak fans, said he was putting on his asbestos suit. Nobody likes to see their favorite ox gored.

#41 svdwal

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 10:46 AM

Are both these scopes 10"-ers? What about secondary sizes?

Secondly, optical theory is capable of describing all problems in real, physical telescopes. This is the central theme of Suiters "Star Testing Optical Telescopes", what he calls "The Wobbly Stack". So, when comparing two telescopes it should be possible to describe the problems seen in a telescope in terms of optical theory.

#42 Dwight J

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 11:13 AM

Interesting that a SCT was chosen for comparison, not a 10" Apo refractor. Then there would be a worthy contest and the DK may not have fared as well. If I want to make my type of telescope look good I can choose a well known inferior design to compare it to, rather than a real comparison. I mean, was the outcome in doubt?

#43 The Ardent

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 11:51 AM

Recent testing tells me binoviewing with an inferior scope will beat monoviewing with a premium scope. Binoviewing provides a buffer against minor optical problems and poor seeing, even thin cloud cover. Not a cure, mind you, but a buffer.

#44 WesC

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 12:18 PM

I think those complaining about the negative reaction to this thread are missing the point here big time.
  • Comparing two scopes (even complete apples and oranges) and writing about it is NOT the issue.
  • Which scope came out on top is NOT the issue.
  • Daniel's level of experience or qualifications to make comparisons is NOT the issue.

The elitist tone and demeaning commentary on SCT users as "not serious," "consumers," that "we all think we have something special," or that our evaluation of our own equipment is flawed because we haven't his level of superior experience or superior equipment to show us how bad our SCTs really are... plus the implication that only inexperienced persons would choose an SCT is insulting. None of that was remotely necessary in order to compare these two scopes.

Yes, I'm paraphrasing, but still accurate. The subtext was clear. It was as much a commentary on people who choose an SCT as it was a comparison of two telescopes, in my view.

That is what people are not happy with. Maybe it wasn't intentional, but to me it sure came across that way.

And yes, I read it. Fully. More than once. And I thought about it, and kept coming away with the same conclusion. I was being shamed for buying and using an SCT. Maybe when I grew up I could have a real scope. :foreheadslap:

#45 roadi

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 12:31 PM

The elitist tone and demeaning commentary on SCT users as "not serious," "consumers," that "we all think we have something special," or that our evaluation of our own equipment is flawed because we haven't his level of superior experience or superior equipment to show us how bad our SCTs really are... plus the implication that only inexperienced persons would choose an SCT is insulting. None of that was remotely necessary in order to compare these two scopes.

And yes, I read it. Fully. More than once. And I thought about it, and kept coming away with the same conclusion. I was being shamed for buying and using an SCT. Maybe when I grew up I could have a real scope. :foreheadslap:

Reading it a couple of times, you've come to realize its the truth, now next step is to accept it ;)

#46 freestar8n

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 12:51 PM

I think that's a good summary. The OP does describe his conclusion as an "opinion" - but in a very 19th century way he explains that his broad experience with different scopes has made him an expert - and this expertise allows him to recognize expertise in others with whom he agrees, and inexperience in those with whom he does not. As an opinion piece - it is just a subjective assessment of his own skills, those of others, and of telescope performance.

But I don't see anything specifically "visual" about his assessment - and I don't see anything that couldn't be captured empirically. There are planetary imagers all over the world spending money on good equipment and going to places with good seeing - and capturing amazing results - including raw video I have seen from C14's in good seeing that are quite impressive.

The one thing I somewhat agree with is the use/abuse of "optical theory." I am a strong believer in the importance of "optical theory" - but by that I mean the whole package - from the inherent design to mass produced quality and performance under a turbulent atmosphere. None of that can be captured in simple MTF plots - but it can be captured in raw video and stacked planetary images. A "skilled observer" is doing a form of realtime lucky imaging, capturing glimpses of clarity and piecing together an image in the mind. And there is no reason the superior performance of a small DK couldn't be captured with current detector technology.

Frank

#47 gdd

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 01:12 PM

He is saying to get the most visually, especially at high resolution, you need to be:
1. A skilled and persistant observer
2. In an ideal location at an ideal time
3. Using a premium quality instrument optimized for the subject.

For me, that's 3 strikes and you're out!


When comparing instruments of the same aperture I would hope the premium optimized instrument would do better when seeing allows.

But when comparing instruments of the same dollar value, the larger lower quality instrument may do better for some or even most types of subjects and therefore be a better general purpose instrument for most people.

Gale

#48 jhayes_tucson

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 01:19 PM

This is strictly a visual comparison of two telescopes-- not two types of telescopes. Doing a visual comparison is fine, but without knowing something about the alignment and optical quality (eg. wavefront quality,) it is meaningless to try to compare the imaging quality of two different optical configurations. Given two equal systems (in terms of wavefront quality and field size), effects like baffling, vingetting, obscuration ratio and maybe residual color correction might introduce subtle but noticable visual effects but those are likely to be very minor.
John

#49 Dwight J

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 01:47 PM

Experts are oft self-proclaimed and we all cede to them because they are "experts". More often than not, they do not know better than anyone else and are often just wrong. Watch the documentary "The Trouble with Experts" and see for yourselves (YouTube). Wine experts who can't tell white from red wine. Art experts who were fooled by a forger using house paint and egg white, and so on. I would include those "experts" that poo poo SCT's as less than and those that choose to buy a SCT as misguided. NASA should have put up a 4" APO refractor in orbit rather than a RC with it's huge secondary obstruction....what were they thinking. They must not have listened to some of the experts on CN. Now if you will excuse me, I have to go and roast hot dogs over all the hot air coming out of my C11.

#50 Edd Weninger

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 02:03 PM

My take away from the original post is that sky conditions have an impact when scopes are compared. And, in a sensible manner. When seeing was good, the view through the DK was clearly better than the SCT. When seeing became mediocre, the views were less distinctive. Hence, an SCT is as good as you can get under what might be considered normal skies. As a SCT owner, I agree with that premise, though I’ve never done side-by-side comparisons.

I do have very good skies here in Arizona. When I built an observatory, the NX11 was installed, and provided the best views it ever had when the sky was good. It also provided views one would expect when seeing was poor. The reason I say I have good skies up here is because the ratio of good nights to poor nights is in favor of the good nights.

After I completed the pier and mounted an A-P 155 EDF, I was using it visual while planning for imaging. I decided to not do serious imaging and continue casual, visual observing. By then, it was clear to me that there was no reason the replace the 155 with the NX11. So, the NX11 was returned to SoCal where I happily use it, and will continue to use it. It was a pleasurable scope when I first got it new, and still is. However, it could not take advantage of the good sky in AZ.

I continued to use the 155 for a few years. Then it occurred to me that the 155 was probably not providing views the skies were capable of. So I went looking for more aperture. I did a lot of browsing for info on the Meade 16”, found there were some good ones, but too many were reported as sub-par and troublesome for Meade to fix.

I learned of a custom Mak that was commissioned to replace a Meade 16” for an unhappy owner. The new scope worked well for him. So I skipped the Meade frustration and commissioned a similar scope. It’s been in use since 2012 and has been a delight.

The 155 was sold and is doing what its maker designed it for. The NX11 is happy to be home and my small refractors, an Orion ED80 and a Traveler are doing what they do best. I’m an equal-opportunity visual observer.

I think this was Daniel’s point, and to quote him again:

“As I've stated before, SCT's are perfectly fine telescopes for consumers to enjoy astronomy and image with. We should still try to enjoy the night sky with whatever we have.”

I would add all telescopes are fine for people to enjoy.

Cheers,


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