Scopes: Celestron 114az, Orion 127mm Mak-Cass, Celestron C6, Zhumell Z8
Mounts: Orion Starseeker IV, Orion EQ-1, Celestron Alt/Az, Dob 8"
EP's: Meade 5000 5.5 & 8.8mm UWA, Svbony 9mm 66*, Televue 11mm Nagler, Zhummel & Celestron Omni 12mm Plossl, Svbony 10 & 23mm Aspheric 62*, Celestron 25mm E-Lux, Celestron 8-24mm zoom, Baader 8-24mm Zoom, Zhummel 2" 30mm
Barlow's: GSO 2x, Baader 2.25x
Accesories: Telrad, 5 & 6 inch Astrozap Dew Sheild's, Red dot finders, Orion Narrowband Filter, Moon Filter, Celestron F/6.3 Reduce, 9x50 RACI, 6x30 finder, Celestron Red Flashlight, Several books & Sky Maps
You own the Meade 5.5 and 8.8 UWAs (great value), a 9mm expanse clone, the two "good" 62º aspherics (but not the 4mm), and a single Nagler 11mm (No Ethos, Delos, etc). Your choice of Narrowband Filter was Orion's
My take is you are more value oriented, wary of "cheap stuff means buying twice" but also unwilling to splurge on alleged pixie dust.
I'm also guessing your main motivation driver is want of an aperture upgrade from your Z8, which would be why you're skipping the 10" size. So you'll be going from F6 to under F5, so collimation and coma will be more paramount than in your Z8.
I've heard bad things about Meade mirrors from a mirror maker I know. Explore Scientific dobs are rather new, I haven't heard much about them. So I'd stick with GSO and Synta (Zhumell/Apertura, Orion/Skywatcher).
Optical quality will at the same time be "ensured" in the sense that the optics made by these manufacturers is reputed to be "good enough", but at the same time will be a roulette (you might get a lemon, or a peach).
Anyway, my advise is, stick to Synta/GSO and go either for "whatever shows up used" to save the most $$, or choose based on the other non-optics details, such as focuser, weight, solid vs collapsible vs truss, bearings vs pads, transportability, etc.
If "value for optics" concerns you so much, and (like me) you can't afford premium mirrors, you might want to consider adding a coma corrector to your budget equation. Those can be cumbersome, but at F4.8 they improve the optics quite some.
Also, although you don't seem to do any imaging (please forgive me for suggesting this) if your want of aperture is to be able to see stuff your Z8 isn't showing you, be aware that your Celestron 114 OTA mounted on your Starseeker IV mount could show you more than a 12" dob could, if you bought a proper EAA camera for it.
Edited by Adun, 18 October 2018 - 10:44 AM.