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Best Refractors You Have Used

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#126 chuckles



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Posted 09 February 2020 - 02:18 PM

Hi, I'm curious why you conciser your current TEC 160 to be not as good as the 140 you had?

I think the difference is almost totally in ergonomics and not optics. The 140 rode nicely on a Vixen SXP and DM6/Planet. It was shorter and lighter. It also had a slightly wider field. The 160 is not quite as sturdy on the DM6 combo, and I have a hard time balancing it and clearing zenith. Its for sure too much for the SXP (I kinda knew this going in) and now I think I need at least a G11 for it. That's a big move up in mount size.

As far as optics both scopes handle high power work well and deliver pinpoint stars and excellent planetary detail. The 160 does gather more light and should have a slight resolution edge. The only time Ive ever really noticed the difference on planetary was on an Io transit last year. I could see the milky color of the moon and its disk as it exited the limb of the planet. It was beautiful and amazing and slightly exceeded any similar views I had in the 140. I did however have one night in the 140 in which I saw better details on the planets surface. That night was probably the best seeing Ive had in 3 years, and I feel confident the 160 would've been spectacular as well that evening. I think maybe the transit was just better in the 160 due to slightly higher mag at the same exit pupil and the small increase in resolution. I’m also not sure exactly how close to opposition I was on the two nights. That could be part of it. For wide-field work the 140 is wider, the 160 is deeper. If Im honest I like the wider field of the 140 a bit better, but the 160 is not exactly bad at 2.1 degrees in the N31. Just 2.5 in the 140 is better for scanning the skies and immersion. I think maybe beyond mounting requirements that’s the main reason I wrote that the 140 is “better.”

All said at this level its more about my feelings and connection to the scope than about how it performs. Its not like either one is bad or I’m complaining. I’m just splitting hairs.

Edited by chuckles, 09 February 2020 - 02:22 PM.

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#127 Steve Allison

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Posted 09 February 2020 - 04:27 PM

Allowing emotions in to the equation, the telescope I enjoyed the most and now miss the most is the orange tube Celestron C-100 refractor I owned in the 1980s.


At f/13 it was pretty jiggly on its fork-type, alt-az mount and I had to kneel on the ground to look at anything above about 45 degrees. But it was the first 4 inch refractor I ever looked through and I will never forgot my first view of Saturn through it. The objective was nicely figured and I had a lot of wonderful (though physically challenging) evenings with it.


If I ever see another C-100 for sale I will not quibble over the price!



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#128 ltha


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Posted 10 February 2020 - 12:38 PM

With apologies to Gary Carter for stealing his format:


Sears 60mm my first “real” telescope. It was one of the most exciting Christmas gifts of my life and I was out with it constantly. I vividly recall stumbling onto Saturn and seeing the ringed planet for the first time - simply breathtaking! I still have the observing notes written all those years ago. Started me on the road toward aperture fever though the object back then was a Sears 3” refractor.


Meade 127ED - I took a very long break from observing - decades actually - and spent my energies climbing, kayaking, hiking and traveling. Oh, and going to school. One night while Bivouacked on Big Sandy Ledge during a climb of the face of Half Dome I realized I needed to get back into astronomy and bought a 127ED. The scope was a game changer and had really good optics. After hearing about Shoemaker-Levy I was out with the Meade as several black scars rotated into view. The Razor sharp images are forever etched in my mind.


Meade 178ED/AP 6” Superplanetary - owned these at the same time and learned what the jump in aperture from 5” to 6” and 7” scopes looked like. They were so much fun to have out under the stars, and were super scopes on the planets. The Meade was a big surprise as they did not have great reputations, mostly due to the lens cell. Mine took two trips to Meade, but came back performing like a champ. Wish I had never sold it!


D&G 8” f/12 - the scope that brought together large (for a refractor anyway) aperture, Long focal length and stunning sharpness. My goal in ordering it was to have the image quality of a refractor with the light gathering of a 8” Newtonian (my all-time favorite scope). Saturn, Jupiter and Mars were the most impressive images I had seen, especially when using a binoviewer and high end orthos. Up until that time the big D&G provided the best images of Saturn I had ever seen. A bit of color error but not a huge bother.


As a slight aside, somewhere along the refractor path I became friends with Al George who owned the  15” f/12 now located at 3RF Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus. I will never forget visiting him in Puyullap, Wa. and having him turn me loose with the 15”. The view of M13 and M57 were the most impressive, unfortunately the planets and weather conflicted. Al was a wonderful guy, a real character. We lost a good one when he passed!


Takahashi FS-152/Takahashi FC-125 - went down in aperture after selling the D&G, but fell prey to the performance of Takahashi fluorites. Everything I looked at was sharp and detailed. The images were a bit “warm” but to my eye they were incredibly satisfying. So I started wondering about a larger APO.....


TMB 175 f/8 - sold the FS-152 and bought a TMB 175 triplet. The scope I bought was reviewed by Roger Rabauch on CN and everything he said about it was true - in my observing notes I wrote “this is the best scope I have ever used!” Color free, razor sharp and equally at home on deep sky, planets, or double stars. I sold it too, mostly because I was living in a duplex at the beach and found the nose-heavy little brute a bit much to navigate up and down stairs. And, the jump from 6” to 7” though noticeable, was not enough of a “wow!”


TEC200ED - the culmination of all of my refractor experience coupled with moving out of the Los Angeles basin and into rural Oregon. I bought the TEC knowing it would be like the 8” D&G but far better color corrected and that it would be permanently set up in an observatory - this spring if all goes well. The TEC is all I hoped it would be, and maybe a bit more. Lunar and planetary are its forte, but the superb contrast and light gathering of “8” of clear aperture” does a remarkable job on globular clusters and most nebulae as well. I have a one-of-a-kind Cave 12.75” that beats it on nights of very good to excellent seeing when the collimating is dead on and the mirrors cooled - but the TEC runs away from it most nights as it does not struggle with tube currents or diffraction spikes. One night I had the TEC, 18” Starmaster and Cave all tracking M13. I wish anyone reading this could have been here moving from eyepiece to eyepiece. No question that the 18” resolved more, but the TEC and Cave were “better” in terms of “diamonds on black velvet”. Very hard to pick a winner! With the addition of a Pentax 105SD riding on the TEC, I figure I can cover all seeing conditions. What more could one ask? 

Edited by ltha, 10 February 2020 - 12:48 PM.

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#129 SteveGR


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Posted 10 February 2020 - 03:43 PM

Just snagged one of those fluorite babies.  Can’t wait for some clear, calm, moon-free night to really check it out.  

I bet you get killer views.  I may get one as a Christmas or Birthday present to myself.


I've heard of bad Tak refractors, but have never looked through one! smile.gif  All the ones I have seen have been Very Good to Outstanding.

Edited by SteveGR, 10 February 2020 - 03:47 PM.

#130 barbie



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Posted 10 February 2020 - 04:33 PM

Without a doubt, my 1987 Takahashi FC76 Fluorite apo.  It has an even better lens figure than the modern day 4" Tak that I just sold!!   3" F8 of pure, splendid refractor perfection which I will NEVER part with!!

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#131 Defenderslideguitar



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Posted 12 February 2020 - 11:55 AM

Without a doubt, my 1987 Takahashi FC76 Fluorite apo.  It has an even better lens figure than the modern day 4" Tak that I just sold!!   3" F8 of pure, splendid refractor perfection which I will NEVER part with!!

Exactly..............If I ever buy another refractor     this will be the one     the old FC-76.


When one does come along for me   I will probably then sell off three or four of my 3 inch refractors    the Sears 6336 on the pedestal, the Vixen 80fl, the Selsi 247 80mm and maybe the TV Oracle....


Back on point


Best refractor for me    The FS-128  and for other reasons the  TV NP101

and then old FC-100 and  the C-102fl

Edited by Defenderslideguitar, 12 February 2020 - 11:58 AM.

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#132 eros312


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Posted 12 February 2020 - 01:44 PM

Best for me is my Takahashi FC76 DCU.
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#133 Colin exraaf

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Posted 12 February 2020 - 09:45 PM

Takahashi FS102

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#134 Steve Allison

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Posted 12 February 2020 - 11:19 PM

Like Colin, my best telescope optically is my FS-102, with a previously owned FS-78 just about as good. 



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#135 213Cobra



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Posted 13 February 2020 - 09:37 AM

Best overall, due to combination of aperture + sheer optical quality: Takahashi FSQ-106ED.

Best for travel: Takahashi FSQ-85ED. No compromise in optics to get the size; no compromise in size to get the optics.

Most perfect, irrespective of aperture: Takahashi FOA-60Q. Absolutely pristine views.


All comments pertinent visually.



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#136 Reid W

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Posted 13 February 2020 - 01:41 PM

A recent event at our observatory, a colleague had his FSQ-106 and a 100' eyepiece setup.  I don't recall the eyepiece length......


Stars were perfect all the way across.  Superb telescope.

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