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Newts for Imaging, Pitfalls, and Lessons Learned

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#1 rockstarbill

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 07:14 AM

Hello Astro Friends,

 

As someone that has imaged for a long time and many hours with refractors, a lot of which I shared here in terms of data, I did step outside of the comfort zone and purchased a Newt. While I will try to keep this as brief as possible, I wanted to share some experiences I went through. 

 

Before I do that though I want to highlight that the common opinion of folks here, to use a short focal length refractor is completely accurate. But, I want to share some hope for folks salivating over the less expensive prices that Newts have in terms of $/aperture and $/speed (which ever way you want to see it). After getting what I considered to be fairly good results with my QSI6120 on the first project I worked on with it and my TOA130 refractor and the TOA67-FL Flattener at F7.7/1000mm, I couldn't help but think I could get even better results for the same time invested. So I did some research and found that people were quite happy with the ONTC Newts from Telescope Service in Germany. The 10" model they sold would work easily on my 1100 mount (speaks to why you buy big to start....) and was 1000mm focal length (same as my TOA130) but was F4 with its 254mm of aperture. Having just completed the project on M51 I was sold on getting data even faster, but I was a bit scared of collimation and dealing with all of that. Regardless, I bought the Newt, and the TS GPU corrector, MoonLite 2.5" focuser, and was all-in on making this work for me.

 

The scope arrives. Well packaged, and looks sexy with its awesome carbon tube. I pull out a caliper to measure the thickness of the tube. They promised 7mm, mine was almost 9mm. AWESOME!. Next I pull the mirrors out of the boxes and inspect them. They look pristine. I dont really have a frame of reference for Newt mirrors, but to me they looked nice. The secondary had a really rigid and nice cell it was in. The primary had this awesome contraption I had never seen before that felt very rigid. Looked cool to boot. 

 

I know nothing about Newts. At all. So I call up Chris White on the phone and I am like... what do I do with these things?!? He helps me get the mirrors installed and asks which tools I had to collimate the scope. Based on some other posts I bought a 2" Glatter and a tuBlug. So I stick the Glatter into the focuser and after a bit we get the laser to hit the center of the primary I had just installed. Then we take that and insert it into the tuBlug. Pop it on in the focuser and move the thing in the view to the center. Looks good. Take the scope outside, mount it up, and snap some photos. Nein gut. We do some star testing and get the center of the image to be acceptable, but the outer edges are all astigmatic. So after reading some posts I loosen up the mirror clips on the Newt.... (big mistake, wait for it...) 

 

Next night I take it back out, laser, tuBlug... perfect. That same thing was centered. So it must be right....  Better, but still not good. After a few emails with Wolfi at TS, he is adamant they marked the secondary at the optical center, the primary mirror was spotted right, the clips were set perfectly, and I must be doing something wrong. Note the bold. 

 

So after a few back and forth discussions with Chris White... I decide to spring for the Catseye system. It comes with a book, written by Vic Menard. Along with that comes a Sight Tube, Cheshire, Auto Collimator and a new center spot for the mirror. So I read through the book, and it talks about proper placement of the secondary, and other matters one will find in a proper collimation guide. So I go through the book, I set up the scope perfectly according to Vics book. I center everything in the Blackcat Cheshire, I get the Auto-Collimator dead on... take the scope outside. Mount it up on my 1100 mount. Go inside, okay stars, but still have problems mad.gif mad.gif mad.gif !! At this point I want to throw this thing out the window. 

 

I completely stop imaging with the Newt, but work on some things on the side with it, like trying to get the drawtube for my Moonlite perfectly centered (which the Glatter really helped with). Chris contacts me and mentions he is going to try out the Paracorr Corrector. I am like, okay dude, you spend your money and let me know! His results come back very good. So I sell my TS GPU (which is a good corrector and as you will see, was not my problem at all) and I get the Paracorr, adapter and all that jazz. I completely re-collimate the scope from soup to nuts on my mount. Slew to some stars, take some photos and excellent data comes in. Cool so now I have awesome data, take images all night and then have Voyager park the mount (Park 4 for A-P). I have a second night clear, so I get everything rolling and fire up the beast....

 

Comets. Stars are literally horrid. At this point, I am trying to figure how much warmth a set of homeless people in Seattle would get if I just dropped this thing in a can, poured lighter fluid on it, and let it blaze up.  lol.gif  Anyhow I go outside, use the tuBlug to check the status of the primary and its off by a huge margin. So I correct it with that view, and pop in the Blackcat from the Catseye system to fine tune and check. All is good, drop in the Auto Collimator, and all is STILL GOOD. I earmark that something isnt right with my primary mirror, clearly. It is a clear night though, and I have things to do, like testing out the new build of APPM.

 

This was the result of that testing:

 

https://www.astrobin.../full/388591/0/

 

I finish with the imaging run, pull the scope inside, and check the collimation. Light years off. I pull the primary mirror cell off of the scope, turn it over.... and one of the clips was way off by about .5"-1" like this:  Mirror -->|_| <-- Clip. shocked.gif I loosen all of the bolts that tighten the cell on the back, set all three clips to the right place, reinstall the mirror.

 

Then, I took the Newt and did the following things, that no one in their right mind would do with any scope: 

  • Collimated scope, locked down rear bolts.
  • Picked up the scope and violently shook it.
  • Turned scope as if it was pointed to Zenith and violently shook it.
  • Rotated the scope tube 360 degrees, 2 times, shaking it as it went around.
  • Put scope back on bench, checked collimation with Sight Tube, Cheshire, and Auto-Collimator. Perfect.
  • Unlocked rear bolts.
  • Picked up the scope and violently shook it.
  • Turned scope as if it was pointed to Zenith and violently shook it.
  • Rotated the scope tube 360 degrees, 3 times, shaking it as it went around.
  • Put scope back on bench, checked collimation with Sight Tube, Cheshire, and Auto-Collimator. Perfect.

I mentioned "Lessons Learned" here are the things I learned:

  • Placement of the secondary mirror is very important when installing a fresh Newt imaging system from the ground up.
  • Lasers are useless for the purpose of fresh set up. 
  • A Sight Tube is likely the most important tool for a fresh imaging Newt set up. Even if you dont have to assemble it from parts, get one. The TeleTube included in the Catseye kit, is adjustable based on focal ratio. Be sure to set it as accurately as you can. It comes with a ruler to help you.  
  • The Yellow HotSpot sticker used by the Catseye system is invaluable. Even if you dont use the rest of their system. Its incredibly great to have.
  • Reading forums about adjusting clips, is a waste of time for ONTC Newts. Wolfi (from TS) was perplexed as to why I even did that, and I get why now.
  • People that have not read Vic's book on Newts have no idea what they are doing. Like me, prior.
  • Newts are incredible imaging systems, if you take the time to understand fully what is happening when you work with them.
  • The thing that was centered in my earlier attempts was the secondary mirror marker. The original circle marker on the primary was nowhere in sight. That is how bad my alignment was. 

So in closing,  Newts are excellent imaging systems if you know what you are doing to fine tune them. If you use a Newt and just crop off the bad, you are missing out. Seriously. Take the time to fight through it, and you will have a great platform. Newts Rock. Big time. Especially the ONTC Newts from TS. I spent more time screwing this thing up, and worked against the product. The data I posted above is evidence. 

 

Next up: Narrowband unguided with my 10" ONTC at 0.56"/px with APPM. ProTrack has reason to shake in its boots. If I can do even 60 seconds (as shown above) with a Newt, you can go way longer with a refractor. That all aside....


Edited by rockstarbill, 03 February 2019 - 02:57 AM.

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#2 RogeZ

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 08:11 AM

Great write up Bill! Hopefully it will inspire some to get out of their comfort zone and try a more complex system.
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#3 HarryRik9

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 08:41 AM

Hi, I didn't understand much of what you are talking about in this post. I suppose that someone with a knowledge of Newtonian reflector photography would find this useful. I didn't. What was the problem that you were trying to solve. I didn't understand that.

#4 ChrisWhite

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 08:49 AM

It's worth mentioning that if you do decide to step out of your comfort zone and get a newt, find someone that knows what they are doing and start a conversation with them.

Bills learning curve was no less steep than mine, but he figured it out much faster than I did because he talked to people and got assistance. I learned from scratch on my own and it took me much longer to fully understand the complexities.

Many people give up on newts because they can't get perfect stars right off, but for data collection (photons per dollar and time spent) it's tough to beat a newt!

The worst part and best part is, you have full control over collimation... So learning how to do it with the right tools is key to excellent data!
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#5 PirateMike

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 08:50 AM

I have been looking at those Newts... if it's good for Bill then... maybe I should spring.

 

Either that or an RC. confused1.gif

 

 

Bill, I'm glad that you finally like your new scope. Nothing is easy in AP!

 

 

Miguel   8-)


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#6 motab

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 09:03 AM

Hi Bill,

 

That's a really great post and helps set realistic expectations with how things will pan out with a newt.

 

How well do those TS ONTC newts hold collimation and do you have any thoughts on combining them with their 0.73x reducer or is that asking too much from the setup?


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#7 sg6

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 09:13 AM

If you hunt out Astro Baby's site she points out that the view of collimating in a fast newtonian looks different to that of a normal one. Whatever normal is.

 

An f/4 will need a coma corrector so comets everywhere made sense, in a perverse way. grin.gif


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#8 nobake

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 09:19 AM

Thanks for the writeup.  Very informative and well written.

 

thanks,

matt


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#9 TOMDEY

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 09:25 AM

I had wonderful experience imaging with a 12.5-inch F/6 Newtonian... for many years! You just gota pay attention to the details. Newtonians, properly configured, are excellent imagers!  Better than Ritcheys, SCTs, Dahls, refractors… far better.

 

[I spent much of my career aligning and certifying compound optical systems for NASA and other such customers.]    Tom


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#10 Jon Rista

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 09:40 AM

Good writeup, Bill. Solidifies my decision to get an ONTC.

 

Just one thing I am not getting. What, exactly, was wrong with the clip? The ASCII art isn't doing it for me...


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#11 Gipht

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 09:53 AM

Very good information Bill and Chris.   What was your thinking going to the 10" versus say an 8".  In my area, imaging at 0.5 "/pixel will only happen a handful of times a year, if that, due to just average seeing.    Would an 8" or even 6" be a more practical choice?



#12 the Elf

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 10:47 AM

I have sent back so many items to TS because they were nothing but crap. Loose parts are just standard. Basically they have a monopoly here when you want scopes in the lower price range. I own two TS scopes right now, sold another one recently. The first a GSO RC6 was WAY out of collimation. A look into the rear and what I could see was far from concentric. Spent a long time to get it right (https://www.astrobin.../full/355156/0/). It was a pain. Anyway, I achived the result without tons of adjustment tools, all by a very well alligned indoor setup and the stars. The second TS scope is the 65mm quad, also sold under AT brand. This time I ordered via astroshop.de because they offered it for a far lower price. This is one of the few exeptions I have to praise TS quality: in my eyes it is simply perfect, nothing to do, just open the box and go imaging: https://www.astrobin.../full/355067/0/ The diffraction spikes in the yellow star at the upper border is caused by the OAG, not by the scope. Third is the RC8 carbon. I was clever enough to buy it used from someone who collimated it before. After sipping I adjusted the secondary and for my skill level this is a decent result: https://www.astrobin.../full/365598/0/ That was still on the AVX which probably is limiting resolution. When it comes to the smaller parts I cannot recommend TS. I once phoned Wolfi and all he had to say was "quality is sometimes not convincing". That is the bavarian translation of the thing fell apart just from gravity without touching it (a finder scope). It took a few very clear e-mails until they stoped spamming my mail box with rating requestes after I already complained and returned the part. Customer relation is not alway convincing. Same is for the call center. After I finally had enough evidence an AVX does not fullfill what I asked for I phoned them again and insested on an expanaition. It was like this: "we recommend it because it is cheap and most customers are willing and able to pay that price. " (not verbouse but that was the main message). Sold, asked some clever guyes at CN and again ordered a SW EQ6-R. It turned out the only one who had it in stock that time was TS. This is why we buy at TS: they always have everything in stock. That's good. Alas I cannot say there are many other reasons. If astroshop has got the same item it is exactly the same price. My 65mm was a great exception. You will probably never see me in a "I love TS" T-shirt.

 

Rockstarbill, what is your final conclusion? Was it just you, was it a bad assembly instruction? Would you recommend that particular scope? Would you recommend TS? Did they contribute to the solution of your problem?


Edited by the Elf, 02 February 2019 - 10:56 AM.


#13 Jon Rista

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 11:44 AM

I have sent back so many items to TS because they were nothing but crap. Loose parts are just standard. Basically they have a monopoly here when you want scopes in the lower price range. I own two TS scopes right now, sold another one recently. The first a GSO RC6 was WAY out of collimation. A look into the rear and what I could see was far from concentric. Spent a long time to get it right (https://www.astrobin.../full/355156/0/). It was a pain. Anyway, I achived the result without tons of adjustment tools, all by a very well alligned indoor setup and the stars. The second TS scope is the 65mm quad, also sold under AT brand. This time I ordered via astroshop.de because they offered it for a far lower price. This is one of the few exeptions I have to praise TS quality: in my eyes it is simply perfect, nothing to do, just open the box and go imaging: https://www.astrobin.../full/355067/0/ The diffraction spikes in the yellow star at the upper border is caused by the OAG, not by the scope. Third is the RC8 carbon. I was clever enough to buy it used from someone who collimated it before. After sipping I adjusted the secondary and for my skill level this is a decent result: https://www.astrobin.../full/365598/0/ That was still on the AVX which probably is limiting resolution. When it comes to the smaller parts I cannot recommend TS. I once phoned Wolfi and all he had to say was "quality is sometimes not convincing". That is the bavarian translation of the thing fell apart just from gravity without touching it (a finder scope). It took a few very clear e-mails until they stoped spamming my mail box with rating requestes after I already complained and returned the part. Customer relation is not alway convincing. Same is for the call center. After I finally had enough evidence an AVX does not fullfill what I asked for I phoned them again and insested on an expanaition. It was like this: "we recommend it because it is cheap and most customers are willing and able to pay that price. " (not verbouse but that was the main message). Sold, asked some clever guyes at CN and again ordered a SW EQ6-R. It turned out the only one who had it in stock that time was TS. This is why we buy at TS: they always have everything in stock. That's good. Alas I cannot say there are many other reasons. If astroshop has got the same item it is exactly the same price. My 65mm was a great exception. You will probably never see me in a "I love TS" T-shirt.

 

Rockstarbill, what is your final conclusion? Was it just you, was it a bad assembly instruction? Would you recommend that particular scope? Would you recommend TS? Did they contribute to the solution of your problem?

The GSO brand and the AT brand are not manufactured by TS. They are simply sold by TS, as they are sold by countless other stores. A lot of "smaller parts" are also just sold in the TS storefront, as they are sold in many other storefronts, and are not necessarily manufactured by TS in Germany. 

 

The ONTC newtonian astrograph scopes that Bill is talking about are actually built by TS, and are of an entirely different class of scope compared to the GSO type scopes (which are pretty much bottom rung for the most part.) 


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#14 rockstarbill

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 12:09 PM

Good writeup, Bill. Solidifies my decision to get an ONTC.

Just one thing I am not getting. What, exactly, was wrong with the clip? The ASCII art isn't doing it for me...


It worked itself outward away from the mirror. So there was a gap about an inch. So the mirror was slightly flopping in the cell. Most assuredly due to me not tightening the bolt down enough.

For folks considering the same scopes, get the Catseye system, read the book, and set up the scope accordingly. Don't fumble in the dark like I did. 😂
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#15 rockstarbill

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 12:15 PM

Hi Bill,

That's a really great post and helps set realistic expectations with how things will pan out with a newt.

How well do those TS ONTC newts hold collimation and do you have any thoughts on combining them with their 0.73x reducer or is that asking too much from the setup?

After the fix to my own blunder, it holds really well. Once the apocalypse occurs and the zombies are roaming, I'll test smacking a few and checking the collimation. In all seriousness though, it's pretty nice and holds collimation well.

Elf,

It's important to understand that there was nothing wrong with the scope, other than being in the possession of a dangerous Newt noob (me). The TS ONTC is an excellent imaging platform and is very well made. Support from TS was great. I chatted at length with Wolfi, who uses the ONTC in an observatory with the ASI1600 camera. If the people selling you the scope, are using it themselves, that is usually a good sign that the product is well cared for and supported.


Edited by rockstarbill, 02 February 2019 - 07:24 PM.


#16 RogeZ

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 12:19 PM

Now TS has a 150mm F2.8 Hyperbolic astrograph. Now things will get even more tempting to get out of the comfort zone! Im extremely tempted :)

#17 rockstarbill

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 12:31 PM

Now TS has a 150mm F2.8 Hyperbolic astrograph. Now things will get even more tempting to get out of the comfort zone! Im extremely tempted :)


Which scope? Can you link it?

#18 RogeZ

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 12:38 PM

Look at this puppy!

 

https://www.teleskop...arbontubus.html


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#19 HarryRik9

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 01:28 PM

It worked itself outward away from the mirror. So there was a gap about an inch. So the mirror was slightly flopping in the cell. Most assuredly due to me not tightening the bolt down enough.

For folks considering the same scopes, get the Catseye system, read the book, and set up the scope accordingly. Don't fumble in the dark like I did.


In addition to the fact that you did not make clear that your difficulty was that the mirror was not properly held in the cell, was that the only problem.

Edited by HarryRik9, 02 February 2019 - 01:31 PM.


#20 lucam

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 01:34 PM

Good post, Bill! I have also enjoyed my experience with the TS 10in f4 ONTC. I have used the same collimation tools and instruction you referenced (Vic Menard's book and Catseye tools) as well as I have availed myself of the knowledgeable bunch on the Reflectors forum, including Vic and Jason K. 

 

Typically, after I mount the Newt on the Mach1GTO, I let the scope cool down and then pop the Catseye autocollimator in for a tweak to secondary mirror tilt. A couple of quick iterations between the autocollimator and the Cheshire or barlowed laser gives absolutely perfect axial collimation in 5 minutes or less.

 

I love that I can move from target to target in completely different parts of the sky without fear of loss of collimation. Also, to connect the Televue Paracorr to the Moonlite focuser without risking not to be able to get it out, as well as having a robust rotator that does not require moving the focuser, I ended up picking this from TS:

 

https://www.teleskop...8x1-thread.html

 

It has worked very well and have not noticed loss of collimation after rotation between targets. The thread size is also perfect to mate the Moonlite focuser with the Paracorr Type 2 and a M48 optical train.  


Edited by lucam, 02 February 2019 - 01:38 PM.

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#21 ChrisWhite

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 03:49 PM

Now TS has a 150mm F2.8 Hyperbolic astrograph. Now things will get even more tempting to get out of the comfort zone! Im extremely tempted :)


This will only be a good setup for OSC or dslr. Anything more on the imaging train side and it will be very difficult to balance. You would need to add weights and such... but if you are okay with that it could be a fun little scope.

#22 ChrisWhite

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 03:52 PM

Hi Bill,

That's a really great post and helps set realistic expectations with how things will pan out with a newt.

How well do those TS ONTC newts hold collimation and do you have any thoughts on combining them with their 0.73x reducer or is that asking too much from the setup?


The setup will work fine but the image scale will be very unforgiving. The .73 reducer is really not the best optically when you put tiny pixels on it. Okay with big pixel cameras. It was just not designed for the new high res cameras.
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#23 motab

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 03:57 PM

The setup will work fine but the image scale will be very unforgiving. The .73 reducer is really not the best optically when you put tiny pixels on it. Okay with big pixel cameras. It was just not designed for the new high res cameras.

Hi Chris,

 

Do you think that also apply to this new f/2.8 6" OTA? TS specifically mentions its suitability to high-res cameras in their product description. 



#24 ChrisWhite

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 04:19 PM

Hi Chris,

Do you think that also apply to this new f/2.8 6" OTA? TS specifically mentions its suitability to high-res cameras in their product description.


I'm specifically talking about the asa .73 reducer. The scope you are referencing is a totally different setup that shoots natively at f2.8 without needing a reducer. I have no reason to doubt the ts claim that the corrector can handle high res cameras.

#25 FiremanDan

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Posted 02 February 2019 - 05:41 PM

Nice write up Bill!! 

 

I have been thinking about giving up on the RC and trying a Newtonian. My two previous newts left a bad taste in my mouth. The Celestron 6in that comes with the AVX, and the AT6IN. Both left a lot to be desired. But the higher quality of the ONTC and stunning results people get with them is very compelling. I am daydreaming about the 10in right now. 


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