I posted this as a reply to a post in the Eyepieces forum, but I wanted to ask it more directly here: At what price-point does it make sense to buy EAA or NV gear rather than a bigger telescope?
For me as a new hobbyist working my way up, the question in my mind is always how best to invest my next N dollars to increase my astronomy enjoyment. Of course, the answer depends on my observing environment (my dark rural yard), the equipment I already have, and the value of N.
- When I had nothing and N=150, I built a 4.5" f/8 reflector. I don't think that there was any way to do NV or EAA at that price point.
- To get better DSO performance and satisfy my aperture fever, when I saved up N=300, I built an 8" f/6 dob. I don't think there are any NV possibilities at that price, but some of the cheapest ETX/Nexstar EAA setups might come into play
- I enjoy telescope building and with my next N=500, I'm building a 12" f/5 dob. I'm very excited about what it can do, but I can see where I could have instead put that money into a 6SE/R2 setup. I have a preference for less computers in my observing, so I'm comfortable with that choice, but other people could reasonably have made the other choice.
- Once I have a 12" dob and a handful of mid-range eyepieces, then N=500 won't get me close to NV, so maybe it's best to get some premium eyepieces? Or maybe I can make an equatorial platform and get an R2 to start doing video astronomy with that telescope? These are the decisions I will be making in a couple months.
But then, once I have a 12" dob and a couple nice, wide-angle eyepieces, then I think that the next step up is about N=3000 for making a 20" dob. At that point, that's a very heavy, very expensive scope and then it feels like maybe NV makes a whole lot of sense. I think that $2-3000, might be the minimum price where I can see NV being a better choice than larger telescope.
Given the large initial expense that image intensifiers require, where do you think that the sweet spot for getting into NV or EAA is?
When I read here about NV, it seems like you've already tried one of every kind of telescope before, but where is image intensification in the cost-benefit landscape for brand new hobbyists? If you didn't already have all the equipment you have, when would you have started adding EAA or NV gear?
Thanks in advance for any perspective you can share,