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Best Refractors You Have Used

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#51 Sarkikos

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 07:17 PM

C80ED: This one most people know about, and the optics run out of gas above 225x. Why above? Because 225 is as high as a Baader zoom and a 3x Barlow will go.

 

From an observation report with my C80ED this past summer:
 

During the one clear night, I viewed Lambda Oph with the Vixen HR 1.6 in my C80ED.  375x, 0.2mm exit pupil, 119x per inch.  The seeing was about 4/5, with moments of better seeing.  When the seeing improved momentarily, the two stars looked like billiard balls, the smaller billiard ball just a little behind the larger one.  The secondary seemed to be encroaching on the first diffraction ring of the primary.  There was a very thin black line along the edge of the diffraction disk of the primary where it slightly covered the secondary.  This was not a case of one elongated star image.  Definitely not.  And I'd say it was better than a "peanut."  There were clearly two stars, of different colors and magnitudes, and I could see the disks of both stars.

:grin:

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 09 November 2016 - 07:18 PM.

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#52 JumboFlex

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 09:09 PM

TEC 140: This is the scope that ended my desire for anything more telescope wise. Beautiful congruence of size, portability and image quality.

 

NP101: Still have mine. Legendary scope. Only issue is that it's hard on some EPs given that it cruises at f/5.4. 

 

TV76: First real scope. That scope with 3 EPs and a small mount was my observing kit for many years. Miss the simplicity of those days at times.


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#53 Rich_W

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 09:38 PM

I've owned a dozen or so very good refractors and never had one I didn't enjoy.  Best and most prized, my TEC 140. I bought it new in 2006 and it still thrills me every time I take it out.   Other particular favorites have been a TMB 92L, which I still own, and an SV80S LOMO, a great little scope which I sold for reasons that must have made sense at the time.   I currently have my second TV-76 so that qualifies for the short list too. 


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#54 Jared

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 11:38 PM

The bestvrefractor I have ever looked through for its size would be my 80mm Stellarvue LOMO f/6 scope. On one memorable night in the Mohave desert it showed me "The Pup" (Sirius B) when much larger scopes--up to 12" or so--couldn't. Shows what a well executed 80mm is capable of. Just really well controlled scatter and near perfect color correction. Plus, the 2" Feathertouch reverse Crayford is my favorite focuser of all time.

Best view I ever had through a refractor was the crash of Shoemaker Levy 9 into Jupiter through my Meade 127 ED f/9 scope. It was not a particularly good scope mechanically or optically but that view was the best Inhave ever had through any scope of any aperture. Inky black impact sites when nobody was certain whether anything at all would be visible through an amateur scope. Phenomenal.

The best views I have ever had through a refractor in terms of pure optical prowess were through my former APM/LZOS 152mm scope. When the seeing was good that thing could put up the most stunning views of Jupiter Inhave ever seen in a small scope. Alas, the scope was just too big and heavy for me to thoroughly enjoy. I ended up selling it and "downgrading" to a used AP 130 EDFS. That scope was a much better compromise and a better fit for my purposes, but I sometimes miss that extra inch of resolving power.

Honorable mention goes to the 20" Brashear refractor at Chabot Space and Science Center. On a really good night it can show the moons of Jupiter as very obvious disks rather than points. Wonderful scope, but I have never bonded with it the way I do with my own scopes.

I'd also give an honorable mention to a William Optics FLT110 I owned with TEC optics in it. The contrast from that oiled triplet was just plane astonishing. There is no one night that sticks out, but I can think of multiple views of Saturn that stand out for that scope.

That's my list. I'm really enjoying reading everyone else's.
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#55 Colin exraaf

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Posted 09 November 2016 - 11:54 PM

Best Scope I've used for ' Wide Field Views '  is the Vixen NA140SS with Denk' Bino's followed closely by my TeleVue Genesis ' SDF ' 

 

Col....


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#56 labmand

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 10:29 AM

Celestron Omni xlt100ed


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#57 gfeulner

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 10:59 AM

The best view I had of Antares and companion was with a four inch Celestron fluorite that wasn't mine. Next would be my Celestron 80mm fluorite and my 6 inch 1986 pre ED Astro-Physics. My Explore Scientific 102 triplet and Skywatcher 120ED are no slouches either. There's nothing like a good refractor.
Gerry
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#58 noisejammer

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 05:23 PM

In rough order as I remember them. The very best are bold

 

1973 - 60mm Tasco zoom - my first scope and so it was my very best for a long time

1981 - 4" (1960's) vintage - Molly Geary obs at the Johannesburg planetarium

1983 - 7" f/12 (1900 vintage) - at the Johannesburg observatory

1983 - 6" f/15 (1900 vintage) - ditto

1998 - 26" (1915 vintage) - ditto

2004 - TOA 130 - a friend's - the first truly excellent refractor I used

2007 - FLT 110 - the focuser was flaky until replaced but the optics were good

2008 - Borg 60ED - great lightweight scope, somewhat strange as an astrograph

2009 - TOA 150 - the best optics I've used but the focuser could be a lot better (now replaced with a FTF3545)

2010 - TMB 130SS - a friend's, good optics & excellent focuser

2010 - AP 150/9 - a friend's, very good optics, dated focuser

2011 - TSA 102 - Full Sun's, the best 4" optics I've ever come across

2011 - APM 152/8 - also Full Sun's - optics gave my TOA150 a real run for it's money. Has a much better focuser.

2012 - FS 102 - a friend's - really great scope that cost a song, slight false colour

2016 - APM 115/7 - my current grab & grunt scope

 

Reflecting on this list, it's interesting to see how my eye developed over the years.


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#59 Ziggy943

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 05:51 PM

I wish I could say it was the 24" Clark (stopped to 18") at Lowell but during the nights centered around the 2003 Mars opposition I thought the 12" Clark hanging on its side actually gave better images. But then when we came back home and set up my 9", the consensus was that it was at least as good as the telescopes at Lowell.

 

When you only spend a few night with a scope you just may not hit the seeing you're always hoping for. That has been the case when looking through some bigger refractors. But I have used the 9" so many times, in so many places, under so many circumstances that I have enjoyed some absolutely fantastic seeing. 

I would absolutely give the nod to the 24" as the best refractor I have ever used but my best views have come through my 9" Clark.

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#60 Mike Spooner

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 06:41 PM

Almost 40 years ago the club I belonged to had a night with the 24" Lowell scope. Jupiter was high and while the line viewed through the big refractor I viewed with the 12" that had a yellow/green filter and plenty of magnification. WOW! My introduction to what good glass could do with good seeing. Like Ziggy, I've had some superb moments with my 9" doublet obviously due to seeing opportunities but not sure I've matched that Jupiter image. Don't recall if I even looked through the 24 that night. M3 through the 24 on another night was spectacular and Roland had a 6" AP at RTMC one year that was putting up a perfect star image at Dusk. Those images stayed with me so I guess they were pretty special.

 

--Mike Spooner 


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#61 BRCoz

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Posted 10 November 2016 - 09:32 PM

My scopes and I still have them.  FS102 and APM 130/1200.

 

Not my scopes.

 

12-Inch Zeiss at Griffith Observatory.  Many trips there years ago.

6 inch TMB

FS128

TOA 130


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#62 Disciplus55

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 03:07 AM

Tak FC100-DL

Tak TSA 102

AP 105 Traveler


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#63 cwright

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 04:32 AM

Tak FS 152

 

I bought my FS 152 this summer. The contrast is superb and the optics as sharp as I have ever seen. This scope motivated me to do the most observing in one year than I have done in any of the past 15 or more years.


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#64 ian from blighty

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 04:40 AM

I started with.

 

W.O 110  sold 

Televue 102  sold 

Vixen FL102S F9 920mm great scope wished i kept that.

Tak TSA 102 sold 

FS128  sold 

TSA 120 still have that 

Tak Sky 90  sold that as soon as i found out about the next scope

Tak FC-100 DL  number 49 

Tak FC-76 DCU  number 15 out 30 units made.

 

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#65 noisejammer

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 05:59 AM

I wish I could say it was the 24" Clark (stopped to 18") at Lowell but during the nights centered around the 2003 Mars opposition I thought the 12" Clark hanging on its side actually gave better images. But then when we came back home and set up my 9", the consensus was that it was at least as good as the telescopes at Lowell....

...I would absolutely give the nod to the 24" as the best refractor I have ever used but my best views have come through my 9" Clark.

This was my experience with the Grubb 26.5" refractor in Johannesburg. In truth, a friend's (home made) 10" DK runs rings around it. I'm almost certain that this is because the 26" was corrected for (blue sensitive) film. Even though I was an occasional TO for the instrument, I greatly preferred using the 6" f/15 refractor and 12" Tinsley DK that are located in one of the smaller domes.


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#66 RolandosCY

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 07:12 AM

I have used, and seen through, several refractors, but my Takahashi FS102 of 2002 vintage was (and still is) by far in a league of its own. The amazingly sharp, color-free views even at more than 80X per inch are simply stunning.


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#67 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 07:57 AM

I generally think of telescopes as tools and as such, it's the memorable views they can provide that sets them apart from other scopes, other refractors. It's not the best scope, it's the best view.  I could mention a variety of scopes, the NP-101 is the best at doing what it does best but I think will mention only one scope:

 

An Orion ST-80 fitted with a 2 inch focuser.  Add the 31 mm Nagler, dark skies. a full 6.0 degree TFoV at 13x with a 6.2 mm exit pupil, I know of no other way to get there with eyepieces of the quality of the 31 mm.  Add an O-lll or UHC filter and start looking.  The first night I saw the Heart and Soul nebular region, I couldn't keep my eyes off it.  The NP-101, one of my big Dobs were right there but the ST-80 stole the show.

 

5656641-ST-80 with 2 inch focuser.JPG
 
Jon

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#68 doublecolorball

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 09:52 AM

AP130f6.3 (mine) :)


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#69 Sarkikos

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 10:53 AM

 

An Orion ST-80 fitted with a 2 inch focuser.  Add the 31 mm Nagler, dark skies. a full 6.0 degree TFoV at 13x with a 6.2 mm exit pupil, I know of no other way to get there with eyepieces of the quality of the 31 mm.  Add an O-lll or UHC filter and start looking.  The first night I saw the Heart and Soul nebular region, I couldn't keep my eyes off it.  The NP-101, one of my big Dobs were right there but the ST-80 stole the show.

 

 
 
Jon

 

I'm starting to think of my ST120 in a similar way.  Over the last three weeks I've observed over 200 DSO with my ST120, mostly open star clusters, right here at home in a bright red zone.  The ST80 can go wider, but the ST120 can go deeper.  The extra light grasp of the ST120 really helps in light pollution.  On a little alt-az mount, it is very easy to move around to catch different areas of the sky obscured by buildings, trees and neighborhood glare.

 

And I haven't even taken the ST120 to a dark site yet. :grin:

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 11 November 2016 - 10:57 AM.

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#70 ckwastro

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 11:40 AM

 

Vixen FL102S F9 920mm great scope wished i kept that.

 

A good friend of mine had this scope. An incredibly nice instrument. Put up some wonderful images in the eyepiece. 



#71 semiosteve

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 11:41 AM

I'm so old school...AP 7 inch f/9 Starfire and Tasco 10te f/16 ! Must have missed the memo on f/5's.

 

Best View?

 

As a kid I duct taped a spyglass to a porch post and studied the moon.

 

As a teen I had a Tasco 2.4 (see my avatar) and can still remember the first view of Saturn.

 

Nowadays?

 

M31 with 40mm Polarex with the Tasco 10TE was fun.  I did some Lunar rille and dome searching at 200x and it held up great!

 

Every night with the Starfire is the best view of something. Lately it has been star clusters - the Double Cluster with a Masuyama 35mm was great!


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#72 Fomalhaut

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 11:44 AM

1. Merz 175/3000 (old Bern observatory)
2. My own Royal (Tokyo) 76/1200
3. After this one, my Vixen Fluorite 102/900
4. For the last two decades, my beloved FCT100/640
5. (Not my) Zeiss APQ130/1000
6. Restored Zeiss A-300/5000 (Urania observatory, Zürich)

(Numbers => chronical order only)

Optically, (#3), #4 plus #5 were the most perfect

However, #6 showed me best Jupiter of my entire lifetime.
(#1 and #5 second best Jupiter)

Chris

Edited by Fomalhaut, 11 November 2016 - 12:01 PM.

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#73 John Huntley

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Posted 11 November 2016 - 04:26 PM

Up until the spring of this year the best refractor that I'd looked through would have been my Skywatcher ED120. 

 

During the early summer I acquired a Tak FC-100DL followed closely by a TMB / LZOS 130 F/9.2 and those two have surpassed the ED120 although the latter still acquits itself well in the company of the much more expensive companions.

 

Maybe one day I'll view though something that is even better than the FC-100DL or TMB / LOZS 130 but that will be a very special occasion I reckon :)


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#74 GaryJCarter

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 10:14 AM

My list of refractors used and owned:

Sears and Roebuck 60mm f/11.7, my first telescope; the one that introduced me to the wonders of the night sky. My father helped me locate Saturn on that inaugural Christmas night. As a consequence the ringed planet will forever be my favorite sight through any telescope. I love reproducing the excitement I experienced that first night out for others at Outreach events. I used it extensively to observe the moon, sun, planets, and brighter deep-sky objects from elementary through high school.

Orion ED80mm f/7.5, my return to refractors after many years owning and using other designs. I was in awe of the whispy detail visible in M42 from my back yard (red zone). I especially enjoyed low power views of open star clusters with this scope. This now serves as one of my Outreach loaner scopes.

Televue 85mm f/7, often seen riding tandem with one of my larger scopes as it is used as a finder with a 24mm Panoptic eyepiece. However, I have also spent many nights exclusively with this scope touring Sagittarius and other parts of the Milky Way; visiting a number of my favorite open clusters.

Orion ED100mm f/9. Another fine example of Orion's ED lineup. It was a great planetary performer, however, the spacers protruded into the FOV causing a star test that I decided was objectionable. I returned it.

Televue 102 f/8.6, my current 4" grab-and-go for Outreach events. This ED scope is a great lunar, planetary, and white-light solar performer.

SkyWatcher 120ED f7.5, another fine example of the contribution China has made to bring low-cost and reasonably good quality optics to our hobby at a reasonable price-point. The focuser was a weak point and I soon replaced it with a Moonlite unit. It is my favorite instrument to pair up with a Herschel Wedge for a detailed view of Sunspots in white-light on an active solar day.

Our club owns 6" f/15 OTA, one of several instruments built by a talented group of Junior members in the late 1960s, using an Alvan Clark & Sons lens made in 1884. This classical achromat is a true performer on planets and double stars. Saturn and Jupiter are spectacular objects to see on a night of exceptional seeing. Double Stars are easily split. It is a fine example of the skills this early American instrument maker possessed.

Astro-Physics 178mm f/9 air-spaced APO. This is my personal "bucket-list" scope; probably the largest aperture refractor I would ever care to setup solo. I have thoroughly enjoyed the detailed views of the lunar surface and sun-spots through a Herschel Wedge. Planets are what this scope was made for - Jupiter and Saturn are always a treat. Uranus and Neptune show vivid color. Double Stars - especially colored doubles are sweet, Carbon Stars, etc. With the assistance of a Lumicon O-III and UHC filters I spent a productive night in the back yard picking off a large number of Planetary Nebulae. This is the best refractive instrument I have owned or used, and it is a magnet at Public Outreach observing events.

3RF Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus, a local science-based outreach facility, owns a 15" f/12 D&G achromatic refractor (mentioned elsewhere here on CN). It is the largest aperture refractor I have had the privilege of using. Though its relatively short focal length (for an achromat) contributes to some noticaable chromatic aberration on brighter objects, this telescope is a wonderful visual performer for deep-sky targets, e.g. Globular Clusters, Galaxies, Planetary Nebulae, as well as Colored Doubles and Carbon Stars. This is the centerpiece instrument for Education and Public Outreach activity at 3RF and I highly encourage you to stop in and use it if you are ever in the area.

Regards,

Edited by GaryJCarter, 12 November 2016 - 10:32 AM.

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#75 OleCuss

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Posted 12 November 2016 - 09:01 PM

.

.

.

 

These I have owned in the past. I currently own an Orion EON 80ED that does ok. Even my little SV50 RACI has been known to about knock me out of the observing chair on certain nights. I've found over the years it is the night and not so much the glass that matters.

I'd like to honor this post a little.  It's rather where I'm at.

 

I am truly envious of what some of you have owned and used.  So many scopes I'll never even see let alone own!

 

But in some ways the best scope is the one which does what you need when you need it, and clear dark skies can make a mediocre scope superb!

 

In this regard?  I had my ETX-80 at Glacier Point with a 25 or 26mm Plossl.  It perfectly framed M31 and the view just sorta knocked my socks off.  It was just the right night and just the right FOV. . .  It was the littlest scope in the area and the least expensive and was thus almost totally ignored by all but myself.  I'm sure others could find flaws in the view but I couldn't because it was one of those views where you don't analyze, you just soak it in.

 

My 80mm Swarovski (Habicht) spotting scope now gets more use than anything else I own.  It is a great GNG with great optics (I can get slight false color on the Moon and that is it) to make for superb views in nearly an instant.  I'm not too keen on the focuser and I would like to be able to push the magnification, but even with those limitations it is the most useful/used scope I have since I don't often have long time frames under the stars.

 

I find no flaw in my NP101is.

 

I've had the opportunity to gaze through a few A-Ps.  Superb views each time, but each time I was in very dark skies and at 5,000 feet or more.

 

I get to dream of using a Tak, a TEC, or an APM!


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