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.