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What are the best light pollution filters for viewing DSO's in a white zone?

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#1 Xia Rubia

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 10:33 PM

Hello All,

 

I live in NYC where the light pollution is very high. I'm in a white zone. I only see mainly alpha stars and planets, but I refuse to give up the fight. I know that the best thing to do is to drive out to a dark site to meet up with a local astronomy club.... I'll get there. For now, I like the convenience of my own home. I'm looking for filters that will help me with observing DSO's. I have an 8 inch intelliscope (that is currently in the classifieds that I want to sell). I already read that increasing aperture of the scope will not help, but I beg to differ. I think it will help, just not tremendously but a bigger mirror means more light gathering capacity, but I also know that I also have to factor in contrast. 

 

Anyhow, I already have Orion's Skyglow Broadband (and I think I have the Ultrablock Narrowband too...I have to check). They just darken everything including what I'm looking at. 

 

Does anyone know which are the BEST light pollution filters I can buy where I will be able to see DSO's from my Queens, NY backyard? confused1.gif

 

Thanks in advance! 


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#2 onefatguyseti

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 11:09 PM

Some info to help you decide on what direction to go. I have the skyglow and enjoy it for what its worth. Not to throw another cog into the mix, getting a camera and use it for live stacking might be an avenue worth reading into. I have a zwo asi224mc that works well enough with a focal reducer. I hope this helps!

 

 

https://agenaastro.c...on-filters.html

https://www.prairiea...ep-sky-objects/

https://astrobackyar...trophotography/

https://www.cloudyni...for-visual-use/

https://stargazerslo...ecommendations/


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#3 deepwoods1

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 11:27 PM

An 8” Dob is a nice scope to have. Very capable. Why not try some filters first before selling? You can always use the filters on your next scope. Clear and steady skies.......


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#4 Astro-Master

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Posted 15 August 2018 - 11:48 PM

If you are thinking of getting a bigger scope, how much weight are you willing to carry.  Will you be able to wheel the scope out to your yard, or deck.  I live in a Bortle 7 red zone, and observe from my back yard if I cant go to a darker blue zone.  

From my back yard I use a 10" Meade LX200 classic on a CGEM 2 Mount.  A 10" will gather 56% more light than an 8" but it takes a bigger mount, and I usually leave it set up and just cover it.  I have found that the 10" works pretty good on DSO's in a red zone, but in a white zone in the heart of a big city I don't know if it would be worth going bigger.

I would contact an astronomy club and look thru some bigger scopes in the city before buying anything.  You could try some filters also.


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#5 sg6

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 01:34 AM

I would think of a club initially, simply that people there are likely to have gone through the same process and will hopefully have come to an answer. Just half expect that 2 different people will have come to 2 different answers.

 

There are a few people on CN from NYC so maybe one will have a suggestion. I think aeajr is around the same area and it also seems he gets involved in some outreach and viewing. So could be worthwhile making contact.

 

Trouble is that LP filters are being overtaken by LP.

Started out as Na wavelengths and that was easy to block, they could easily chop out the narrow bit of yellow involved. Then Hg was added to the possibilities and yes some filters managed to do a decent job on blocking Hg and Na, 4 or 5 bands needed blocking now. More difficult and more expensive however.

 

After that we ended up with Xenon and assorted gas discharge white, and now we have LED. Likely just too many to account for now. So maybe the thought process has to be to block everything except some desired wavelength. So not really an LP filter anymore.

 

The obvious one for that, at least a first go, would seem to be an OIII visual filter. For visual you may not need a very narrow transmission filter so hopefully not too costly. I would be tempted to purchase an inexpensive one that others may think as "too broad" but the idea would be the find out what you think of it before opting for a more costly item.

 

Targets would need to be selected, they would have to be OIII emission objects, Galaxies are not the right type and there are others also. There is a list of targets and best filters, Author is David (something like Kindsley) and I also forget the club he is in as the target/filter list is on that.  Not much help am I shocked.gif lol.gif shocked.gif lol.gif

 

Stick NYC in your signature, people know where you are then, then put a post up (NYC Astronomers Anywhere?) enquiring about others in the area and potential events or meets or whatever. Could just anonomously turn up at an outreach and see whay you think. Think one was held a couple of weeks ago.


Edited by sg6, 16 August 2018 - 01:39 AM.

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#6 Tony Flanders

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 06:39 AM

I live in NYC where the light pollution is very high. I'm in a white zone. I only see mainly alpha stars and planets, but I refuse to give up the fight. .... I'm looking for filters that will help me with observing DSO's. I have an 8 inch intelliscope (that is currently in the classifieds that I want to sell). I already read that increasing aperture of the scope will not help, but I beg to differ...
 
...
 
Does anyone know which are the BEST light pollution filters I can buy where I will be able to see DSO's from my Queens, NY backyard?


Queens doesn't narrow things down very much; it's an extraordinarily big and varied place. Skyglow's going to be way stronger in Long Island City than in Rockaway!

Regardless, I would expect to see most, maybe all of the Messier objects from a backyard in Queens as long as there's not too much ambient light. Certainly, most of the star clusters in the Messier list should be both easy to spot and impressive.

 

If you have streetlights or other bright lights shining into your backyard, your problems may be insuperable. In any case, your first step should be to block those lights, which would help far more than any technology possibly could.

Filters are definitely not the answer. No filter can help significantly against light pollution for broadband objects such as stars, star clusters, and galaxies. Nebula filters are a big help when they help at all, namely on emission nebulae and planetary nebula. But there are probably barely 20 such nebulae bright enough to be visible from your backyard.

I'm also inclined to think that extra aperture isn't the answer. Yes, it will show more objects -- and far more importantly, it will show better views of the objects that you can already see. For instance, I bet your 8-incher can barely resolve individual stars in M13, right? A 12-incher would show many more.

On the other hand, a 12-inch Dob is way clunkier than an 8-incher, much harder to transport when you do finally make it to a reasonably dark site, and loses the gloriously wide field of view of an 8-incher.

 

Your best weapons against light pollution are high magnification, averted vision, and plenty of practice.


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#7 GaryJCarter

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 07:04 AM

I live near Dallas and have a similar challenge when observing in the city. As others have stated the transition from high pressure sodium to LED light fixtures has dramatically increased the light pollution problem. Larger aperture will certainly collect more light which will help you see fainter objects. Your seeing conditions, however, may limit your opportunity to appreciate that increased aperture when attempting to observe faint fuzzies within city limits. Many LED fixtures are broadband emitters of light, making then difficult to combat using filters.

Stellar objects, i.e. Galaxies, Open Clusters, and Globular Clusters are also broadband emitters of light. All filters are subtractive in nature, e.g. they block specific wavelengths of light. If you attempt to block broadband light pollution, you are attempting to block the very same wavelengths of light from those objects you are wanting to observe. The only exception would be objects that emit light at very specific wavelengths like Emission and Planetary Nebulae. OIII and UHC filters are very effective tools to observe these types of objects.

OIII and UHC filters will greatly reduce the effects of light pollution. By blocking the majority of visible wavelengths of light they darken the sky background and pass only the specific wavelengths of light the nebulae emit. Lumicon is known to make good quality OIII and UHC filters. Cheaper manufacturers tend to be unworthy investments where narrow-band filters are concerned for a variety of reasons. High quality substrate, coatings with narrow passbands, and high light transmission figures in-band require tight tolerances and excellent process control.
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#8 paul m schofield

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 07:08 AM

Tony is spot on about blocking the ambient light. I have a dark corner by a fence and building that blocks the street lights. Some city observers have made portable screens using tarps on a framework of wood or plastic pipe. Use a hood over your head to block light and allow your eyes to dark-adapt somewhat. An eyepatch over your non observing eye can help, too. You have a very capable scope and will be able to see a lot in good detail for years to come. Learning to see detail and faint objects is a learned art that takes time, patience, and hours at the eyepiece.

Wishing you the best,
Paul
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#9 jcj380

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 07:44 AM

I made a screen out of half-inch PVC, a thin blanket and some spring clamps.  Blocks the neighbors' lights quite well.  Cost maybe $20 and sets up and knocks down in about 3 minutes, if even.  I have 40-some brighter Messiers observed since I got back into the hobby last summer.  Not spectacular, but better than none.

 

I also prefer to observe (when possible) early in the morning.  The ambient light level is a lot lower around me since porch lights are off, many businesses are dark, most houses are dark and so on.

 

Nothing better than a dark(er) site though.


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#10 Xia Rubia

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 08:59 AM

Some info to help you decide on what direction to go. I have the skyglow and enjoy it for what its worth. Not to throw another cog into the mix, getting a camera and use it for live stacking might be an avenue worth reading into. I have a zwo asi224mc that works well enough with a focal reducer. I hope this helps!

 

 

https://agenaastro.c...on-filters.html

https://www.prairiea...ep-sky-objects/

https://astrobackyar...trophotography/

https://www.cloudyni...for-visual-use/

https://stargazerslo...ecommendations/

 

Some info to help you decide on what direction to go. I have the skyglow and enjoy it for what its worth. Not to throw another cog into the mix, getting a camera and use it for live stacking might be an avenue worth reading into. I have a zwo asi224mc that works well enough with a focal reducer. I hope this helps!

 

 

https://agenaastro.c...on-filters.html

https://www.prairiea...ep-sky-objects/

https://astrobackyar...trophotography/

https://www.cloudyni...for-visual-use/

https://stargazerslo...ecommendations/

Awesome! Thanks so much for the links! 


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#11 treadmarks

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 09:16 AM

I have not had much success with filters. But I have tried upping the magnification and that does help stars to stand out more. Magnification will darken the sky and therefore the light pollution, but not the stars. It can also help with non-stellar objects, but much moreso when there's no LP. If you get a wide-angle eyepiece like an ES82 you should be able to pump the magnification without losing FOV.

 

More aperture will always help with stars but not usually with non-stellar objects (when LP is the issue). So star clusters are pretty good urban objects. For everything else I would suggest thinking of a nice vacation destination and a travel scope. Have you ever seen the Grand Canyon? wink.gif


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#12 Xia Rubia

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 09:16 AM

An 8” Dob is a nice scope to have. Very capable. Why not try some filters first before selling? You can always use the filters on your next scope. Clear and steady skies.......

I hear you! I LOVE my 8 inch scope. It gives me great views of the planets!  but I've been reading so much about the "goldylocks" scopes (10" and 12"), that they give fantastic views of DSO's, and I did my research and saw that the resolution on these scopes are great. The 12 inch is what I'm looking at, but I'm wondering if I can handle it, lol! Being only 5"4, lol! 

 

Thank you! :) 


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#13 Xia Rubia

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 09:30 AM

If you are thinking of getting a bigger scope, how much weight are you willing to carry.  Will you be able to wheel the scope out to your yard, or deck.  I live in a Bortle 7 red zone, and observe from my back yard if I cant go to a darker blue zone.  

From my back yard I use a 10" Meade LX200 classic on a CGEM 2 Mount.  A 10" will gather 56% more light than an 8" but it takes a bigger mount, and I usually leave it set up and just cover it.  I have found that the 10" works pretty good on DSO's in a red zone, but in a white zone in the heart of a big city I don't know if it would be worth going bigger.

I would contact an astronomy club and look thru some bigger scopes in the city before buying anything.  You could try some filters also.

I hear you! Yes, I consider the 10" and 12" scopes the "goldy locks" scopes ("not too big, not too small") and I've read many posts here on CN that these scopes have the threshold aperture where you begin to see definition in some of the DSO's.  I'm sure you see plenty in your 10" Meade. I'm between the 10" and the 12". I read a lot of posts where people LOVE their 10 and 12 inch scopes! I want to be one of those people!


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#14 Jon_Doh

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 09:30 AM

If you're 5'4" you may need a step ladder to reach the eyepiece, which is near the top of the tube.  Take a look at the diagram here to get an idea how tall the 12" dobs are relative to a six foot person. 

 

If you are like me and don't really have a good dark site nearby within reasonable driving range you have to make do with your drive or back yard.  My suggestion would be to purchase some inexpensive fold-up screens that you can set up to block out the ambient light.  I'm in a red zone and I haven't found the light pollution filters to be very effective.  The UHC filter works fairly well with certain nebulae, but at the expense of darkening the view


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#15 Xia Rubia

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 09:36 AM

I would think of a club initially, simply that people there are likely to have gone through the same process and will hopefully have come to an answer. Just half expect that 2 different people will have come to 2 different answers.

 

There are a few people on CN from NYC so maybe one will have a suggestion. I think aeajr is around the same area and it also seems he gets involved in some outreach and viewing. So could be worthwhile making contact.

 

Trouble is that LP filters are being overtaken by LP.

Started out as Na wavelengths and that was easy to block, they could easily chop out the narrow bit of yellow involved. Then Hg was added to the possibilities and yes some filters managed to do a decent job on blocking Hg and Na, 4 or 5 bands needed blocking now. More difficult and more expensive however.

 

After that we ended up with Xenon and assorted gas discharge white, and now we have LED. Likely just too many to account for now. So maybe the thought process has to be to block everything except some desired wavelength. So not really an LP filter anymore.

 

The obvious one for that, at least a first go, would seem to be an OIII visual filter. For visual you may not need a very narrow transmission filter so hopefully not too costly. I would be tempted to purchase an inexpensive one that others may think as "too broad" but the idea would be the find out what you think of it before opting for a more costly item.

 

Targets would need to be selected, they would have to be OIII emission objects, Galaxies are not the right type and there are others also. There is a list of targets and best filters, Author is David (something like Kindsley) and I also forget the club he is in as the target/filter list is on that.  Not much help am I shocked.gif lol.gif shocked.gif lol.gif

 

Stick NYC in your signature, people know where you are then, then put a post up (NYC Astronomers Anywhere?) enquiring about others in the area and potential events or meets or whatever. Could just anonomously turn up at an outreach and see whay you think. Think one was held a couple of weeks ago.

Yes, Ed (aeajr) is in my area (Long Island). I was hoping he'd see my post. He's always very helpful to so many people here, and gives great advice.

 

Thanks for all your advice, and yes it is a help. I was reading about OIII filter. I will give it a try. 

 

I've seen the milky way many times before, but in a different country. I miss it!


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#16 Xia Rubia

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 09:43 AM

Queens doesn't narrow things down very much; it's an extraordinarily big and varied place. Skyglow's going to be way stronger in Long Island City than in Rockaway!

Regardless, I would expect to see most, maybe all of the Messier objects from a backyard in Queens as long as there's not too much ambient light. Certainly, most of the star clusters in the Messier list should be both easy to spot and impressive.

 

If you have streetlights or other bright lights shining into your backyard, your problems may be insuperable. In any case, your first step should be to block those lights, which would help far more than any technology possibly could.

Filters are definitely not the answer. No filter can help significantly against light pollution for broadband objects such as stars, star clusters, and galaxies. Nebula filters are a big help when they help at all, namely on emission nebulae and planetary nebula. But there are probably barely 20 such nebulae bright enough to be visible from your backyard.

I'm also inclined to think that extra aperture isn't the answer. Yes, it will show more objects -- and far more importantly, it will show better views of the objects that you can already see. For instance, I bet your 8-incher can barely resolve individual stars in M13, right? A 12-incher would show many more.

On the other hand, a 12-inch Dob is way clunkier than an 8-incher, much harder to transport when you do finally make it to a reasonably dark site, and loses the gloriously wide field of view of an 8-incher.

 

Your best weapons against light pollution are high magnification, averted vision, and plenty of practice.

Yeah backyard is neighboring a major highway with lots of lights. My front year has lots of street lights. I really want the 12 inch. I know if I get a 10 inch, I'll be fine, but I would be telling myself "If I paid a little more, I could have got the 12 inch." I know if I get the 12 inch, I would stop there. That would be my final telescope for life. 

 

Thanks for your advice! :)


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#17 SeaBee1

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 09:43 AM

Dang Xia! A 12 inch Dob will be nearly as big as you! At 12 inches, we are talking water heater size! I am thinking a 10 inch would be the outside limit for you, but hey, you know yourself better than any of us. The 8 inch you have is a good size actually. Light pollution is going to have an impact on any aperture. When you live in light pollution, the trick is target selection. Choose targets that are least affected by light pollution when viewing at home, and when the opportunity arises to carry the scope to darker skies, that 8 incher is gonna be that much sweeter... for all kinds of reasons... and no filters necessary...

 

Clear DARK skies!

 

CB


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#18 Tony Flanders

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 09:43 AM

I hear you! I LOVE my 8 inch scope. It gives me great views of the planets!  but I've been reading so much about the "goldylocks" scopes (10" and 12"), that they give fantastic views of DSO's ...

Yes, they do ... but not under heavy light pollution. You would get far better views using your 8-inch scope from Jones Beach than you would from a 12-inch scope in your backyard.

 

For that matter, you'd get better views with a 4-inch scope under genuinely dark skies than you would in either of the above scenarios. I suspect that you're grossly underestimating just how much light pollution interferes with the views of faint objects.

 

As far as aperture increases are concerned, a 10-inch scope would keep you in roughly the same portability class as your 8-incher, but would yield only a modest improvement in views. A 12-incher would yield dramatic improvement, but puts you into the realm of seriously big, heavy telescopes.

 

Trust me -- I own a 12.5-inch Dob, so I know. I frequently use my 7-inch Dob in preference to the 12.5-incher because it's so much easier to set up and move around.


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#19 vtornado

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 10:00 AM

I moved up from an 8 inch to a 10 inch dob, for planets and globs.

Both are visible from my red zone back yard.

I'm tempted to get a 12 inch but just for planets and globs too.

 

Galaxies except andromeda are nearly invisible.  I have to use off axis viewing, and ask a friend to

confirm, I'm not imagining things.

 

Some of the brighter nebula can be seen and a narrow band nebula filter helps a bit.

I have an orion ultrablock.  My skyglow filter (wide band) was about useless to block suburban light pollution.


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#20 Xia Rubia

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 10:02 AM

I live near Dallas and have a similar challenge when observing in the city. As others have stated the transition from high pressure sodium to LED light fixtures has dramatically increased the light pollution problem. Larger aperture will certainly collect more light which will help you see fainter objects. Your seeing conditions, however, may limit your opportunity to appreciate that increased aperture when attempting to observe faint fuzzies within city limits. Many LED fixtures are broadband emitters of light, making then difficult to combat using filters.

Stellar objects, i.e. Galaxies, Open Clusters, and Globular Clusters are also broadband emitters of light. All filters are subtractive in nature, e.g. they block specific wavelengths of light. If you attempt to block broadband light pollution, you are attempting to block the very same wavelengths of light from those objects you are wanting to observe. The only exception would be objects that emit light at very specific wavelengths like Emission and Planetary Nebulae. OIII and UHC filters are very effective tools to observe these types of objects.

OIII and UHC filters will greatly reduce the effects of light pollution. By blocking the majority of visible wavelengths of light they darken the sky background and pass only the specific wavelengths of light the nebulae emit. Lumicon is known to make good quality OIII and UHC filters. Cheaper manufacturers tend to be unworthy investments where narrow-band filters are concerned for a variety of reasons. High quality substrate, coatings with narrow passbands, and high light transmission figures in-band require tight tolerances and excellent process control

Awesome advice! I will purchase the OIII and UHC filters. Thank you Gary!


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#21 deepwoods1

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 11:33 AM

I own a 10” Dob and find it the limit for my portability. I have a friend with a 12” Intelliscope and it is BIG. Heavy to move around even broken down into two pieces. 


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#22 Xia Rubia

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 11:42 AM

Dang Xia! A 12 inch Dob will be nearly as big as you! At 12 inches, we are talking water heater size! I am thinking a 10 inch would be the outside limit for you, but hey, you know yourself better than any of us. The 8 inch you have is a good size actually. Light pollution is going to have an impact on any aperture. When you live in light pollution, the trick is target selection. Choose targets that are least affected by light pollution when viewing at home, and when the opportunity arises to carry the scope to darker skies, that 8 incher is gonna be that much sweeter... for all kinds of reasons... and no filters necessary...

 

Clear DARK skies!

 

CB

Lol! Yes that 12 incher is going to overtake me! But I know I'm going to be in awe when I look into the eyepiece and miraculous images! 

 

I just don't want to get the 10 inch, and be like "dang! I should have got the 12 inch!"

 

I can handle the 8 inch just fine. I pick it up in two pieces. Plus I have a dob pod which I love! I was skepticle about buying the dob pod, but what a difference it makes!


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#23 Xia Rubia

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 11:43 AM

I own a 10” Dob and find it the limit for my portability. I have a friend with a 12” Intelliscope and it is BIG. Heavy to move around even broken down into two pieces. 

Oh that's discouraging to hear. I'm really looking into these two scopes. undecided.gif


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#24 Xia Rubia

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 11:45 AM

I moved up from an 8 inch to a 10 inch dob, for planets and globs.

Both are visible from my red zone back yard.

I'm tempted to get a 12 inch but just for planets and globs too.

 

Galaxies except andromeda are nearly invisible.  I have to use off axis viewing, and ask a friend to

confirm, I'm not imagining things.

 

Some of the brighter nebula can be seen and a narrow band nebula filter helps a bit.

I have an orion ultrablock.  My skyglow filter (wide band) was about useless to block suburban light pollution.

How's the Orion ultrablock working for you?


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#25 Tony Flanders

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Posted 16 August 2018 - 12:06 PM

Lol! Yes that 12 incher is going to overtake me! But I know I'm going to be in awe when I look into the eyepiece and miraculous images!

But you won't! Not if you use it in your backyard.

 

My prediction is that if you got that 12-incher today, and set it next to your 8-incher, your dominant reaction would be "that's not very different at all."

 

On planets, the atmosphere is going to limit your views in both scopes. Yes, there will be nights when the 12-incher shows much more, but they will be rare.

 

On bright open clusters, such as the ones in the Messier catalog, your 8-incher already does just fine. You will see little improvement in the 12-incher, and big bright cluster like the Pleiades may even look worse.

 

Galaxies and nebulae are going to be grossly washed out, shadows of their true selves, as long as you stay in your backyard. Galaxies in particular will be startlingly little improved by the increase of aperture.

 

So for the most part, the only objects that will be dramatically improved in the 12-incher are the big, bright, easily resolved globular clusters.

 

If you want miraculous views of deep-sky objects, you need to get out of your backyard. End of story.

 

I'm half tempted to drive my 12.5-inch Dob down to Queens just to illustrate the point to you.


  • SeaBee1, aeajr and nimitz69 like this


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