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Best Night Out - What Equipment Do You Like To Mix and Match

astrophotography beginner binoculars eyepieces reflector refractor SCT star party
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#1 GatorStu

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 04:30 PM

Hi Everyone,

I like hearing form all of you, who are more experienced than me, on what equipment works well for different purposes. Therefore, I thought I'd start a thread focused on your best night out. What telescopes pair well together, in terms of different designs, apertures, focal lengths, etc., for making a great night of stargazing?

 

To get this started, I'll share my best night out, which, as you can see in the attached image, included my C11EdgeHD on Orion Atlas GEM, Orion XT10-g and a pair of Nikon 10X50 binos. Note also the iPad with SkySafari Pro, an observing chair for the SCT and a ladder for my kids to reach the eyepiece on the reflector, oh and a hot cup of joe. This combination often provides equally pleasing, albeit different views, of the celestial wonders.

 

Clear skies,

Stuart

 

IMG_8668_3.png


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#2 StarWolf57

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 06:29 PM

On a good night that I'm going "all-in" on, I'll use the C14, AT130 and my Canon 10x42 IS binoculars. I can use the refactor while the C14 is getting acclimated. They pair work well on displaying different type of targets and the binoculars are great for scanning. 



#3 WadeH237

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 06:55 PM

On a night with excellent transparency and seeing, I would spend most of my time with my C14.  This works best when I have a list of objects that I want to view.

 

On a night of casual observing, with no specific goals, I prefer the 14" dob.

 

Sometimes, I will add the 4" refractor to the mix, for wide field views.  With a Panoptic 41, it's a similar field to binoculars, except that you can share the view with others and they don't have to try and find the object.

 

At most star parties, I have one of the 14" scopes, the refractor and an imaging setup (it runs automated while I observe).

 

At the 2017 OSP, which was on the path of totality for the eclipse, I had 22 people in my group.  I had pretty much everything set up at once.  The 14" dob was in use most of the time during darkness, with the C14 also getting a lot of use.  On the day of the eclipse, I had a PST set up on one mount, and the 4" refractor with a Herschel Wedge on another mount.  Even though the PST is an Ha scope, the refractor had a line of people waiting to view for most of the partial phases of the eclipse.  Man, that thing was putting up sharp images.



#4 Luna-tic

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Posted 19 February 2019 - 09:08 PM

If all the stars have aligned, grin.gif  and astrospheric.com says the skies will be worth it, and I have all night (no work the next day), I'll set up two mounts, one with the shorty refractor for the widefield view, and the other with the Edge 8 to see things "up close". At star parties, if there will be public viewing, I set up a 3rd mount with my C6. It gives more people more opportunities to look at things, but can get sort of busy for me, watching three telescopes and readjusting the manual mount every minute or so to keep the target in view. People seem to love the go-to feature of a computerized mount, they ask "How does it know where to point?"



#5 jcj380

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 09:20 AM

ST120 altaz push-to with SS Plus and 15x70 bino on a monopod..  If I ever get around to putting a dovetail back on my old C8, the mix could change.


Edited by jcj380, 21 February 2019 - 09:21 AM.

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#6 aeajr

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 09:33 AM

I can't name a single "best" night, but if you are looking for nights where I had more than one telescope working it would be my Meade ETX 80 and my Orion XT8 Intelliscope.

 

The ETX 80 is a GoTo scope so I can set that up to find and track targets.

 

The Intelliscope is a PushTo Dob that I can use manually or with the Intelliscope computer system, but it does not track.

 

I have used this set-up when I have had friends over, showing them the bright showcase DSOs or the Moon in the ETX 80 while using the XT8 Intelliscope to view the dimmer targets.

 

My own personal star party.

 

My favorite eyepieces are my 8-24 zooms, a Celestron and a Baader Hyperion.

 

 

 

If it is just me, then it would be my 10X50 binoculars and my XT8 Intelliscope.   Binocs for the big scan and to do any star hops I have planned as the binoculars give me a similar view to my 9X50 RACI finder.  Then the XT8 for the real observing.

 

 

 

A fun day was when I had my ETX 80 and ETX 125, both GoTo scopes.  I set them up with solar filters at an Eclipse Party in August.  They tracked the sun all day and provided views for about 100+ peple who were at the party. I managed the scopes and talked to the people about the eclipse and the telescopes.  Lots of fun!



#7 Sarkikos

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 09:34 AM

Generally I only take out one instrument at a time ... unless you want to count a RACI finder as the second instrument.  Otherwise, I seem to futz around more with the equipment rather than actually looking at the objects.

 

I do bring binoculars along with the telescope when I go to dark sites.  I take a break now and then to get a low-power wide-field view with the binos.  But I don't keep switching between binos and scope.  That would be too much futzing around for my taste.

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 21 February 2019 - 09:38 AM.


#8 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:42 AM

My best setups are a couple of pairs of binos,  one being 10x50s,  an 80 mm -102 mm apo/ED with a focal length under 600 mm and a Dobsonian of some sort.  The Dob is the workhorse, the refractor provides a change of pace and rest. 

 

This is a more or less typical night except normally i only setup one Dob. 

 

Starsplitter Jstar Jewel Valley.jpg
 
Jon

 


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#9 GatorStu

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 08:46 PM

Some great responses so far. I like that everyone takes a bit different approach, depending on their interest.

 

Those Dobs are impressive Jon.

 

Thanks for sharing everyone,

Stuart



#10 areyoukiddingme

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 10:51 PM

My typical night is two scopes. Usually an 80mm refractor on a push-to mount, which I use it for wide-field and as finder when necessary for my main instrument (using a green laser), which is a 12.5" Portaball. Typically I use the Portaball more than 90% of the time.

 

I did use a half hitch mount for the refractor, but got tired of its fiddlyness and sold it. I've yet to figure out what I'm going to replace it with, but I'm in no hurry as I'm happy just running the Portaball and Sky Safari on my ipad.

 

Stumbling about lost seems to be my natural state, and I'm always delighted when I finally discover what I'm after.

 

I also leave binoculars in the car at all times, but rarely use them (I think they are 8 x 42). Mostly they get used for terrestrial at the beginning of the evening.

 

Like Mike, I find too much equipment leads to futzing about, and I'd rather be (attempting to) observe.


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#11 luxo II

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 02:18 AM

All in... well with 1 scope and one mount the only decision is whether to set up altaz or EQ. And get on with observing.

Edited by luxo II, 22 February 2019 - 02:21 AM.

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#12 Allan Wade

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 10:17 AM

Sport has always been a big part of my life, and it has ranged from maximum competitiveness to some backyard fun. Interestingly my observing follows a similiar path.

 

There are occasions when I enjoy setting up my refractors or my binoscopes for some side by side casual observing. But mostly I find using multiple instruments at once a bit frustrating. By far my favourite observing occurs when I focus on using one scope for a particular task. I often plan an observing goal with the 32” weeks or months in advance, and when the moment arrives I approach it with total concentration if it is something that requires that level of effort to achieve.

 

I have been fortunate to observe a couple of things that few people ever have, and that is purely a result of the focus I paid to the task. I don’t see the point of having another telescope set up near by for the heck of it when I’m so totally focused on achieving my observing goal. That’s how I do it and I’m well aware it is a lot different to how others approach their observing.



#13 bobhen

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 10:21 AM

For deep sky, any night with reasonable transparency is a best night, as long as I pair one of my 3 telescopes with my NVD Micro Image Intensifier, the intensifier also mitigates my heavy light pollution.

 

For the moon and planets, if the sky is even reasonably steady, the Tak TSA 120 delivers the goods. If the sky is really steady, the Tak Mewlon 210 comes out to play, and that can be an exceptional night.

 

Sometimes 2 telescopes are used side-by-side on my DSV-3 twin mount.

 

Bob

 

The NVD Micro Image Intensifier in the diagonal.

 

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#14 csrlice12

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 10:45 AM

Best night outs aren't planned...they happen, and I use what I brung with me.  And there's a lot to be said for this method.


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#15 Keith NC

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Posted 22 February 2019 - 11:52 AM

no matter which scope it will always be accompanied by 10 x 50 binoculars

 

Keith NC



#16 GatorStu

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 10:07 AM

Those image intensifiers are appealing Bob, but are very pricey. I haven't viewed through one yet, perhaps I'll get a chance at a star party this spring/summer.

 

I like that so many of your posts include Binos. It's great when the simplest solution offers so much.

 

Some great thoughts and posts, from very expensive image intensifiers to those good ol' Binos.  

 

Stuart



#17 bobhen

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 12:33 PM

Those image intensifiers are appealing Bob, but are very pricey. I haven't viewed through one yet, perhaps I'll get a chance at a star party this spring/summer.

 

Stuart

Yes, at first blush Image Intensifiers for astronomy are (or seem) expensive, running from around $3,000 to $4,500. However, many people have 5 or 6 Ethos eyepieces (and some have even more) that if sold would equal the cost of an intensifier.

 

Having owned my intensifier for 3 years and knowing what I know now, if I had 5 or 6 Ethos eyepieces or could sell some eyepieces to pay for an intensifier I would do that in a heartbeat.

 

I haven’t used a wide field  eyepiece for deep sky viewing since I got the intensifier. And if for some reason I feel the urge to use an eyepiece for deep sky viewing, the eyepieces I use for lunar/planetary observing would suffice for a quick view until I put the intensifier back in the diagonal.

 

Bob


Edited by bobhen, 23 February 2019 - 12:35 PM.


#18 Sarkikos

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 12:51 PM

I would not sell my Ethos or other eyepieces to subsidize the purchase of an image intensifier.  If I bought an intensifier, I would accept it as another way to view objects, not as a replacement for the eyepieces I already own. 

 

Standard eyepieces often have an AFOV much wider than an image intensifier … if that matters to the observer.  It matters to me. 

 

Standard eyepieces show objects in their full range of color vs the single color of the intensifier … if that matters to the observer.  It matters to me.

 

Standard eyepieces won't degrade your dark adaptation, unlike viewing an intensifier … if that matters to the observer.  It matters to me.

 

Several years ago I bought a Leica Zoom.  About the same time, I sold a number of my standard, fixed focal-length eyepieces, mostly XW's and Delos.   Over the ensuing years, I've gradually bought more fixed focal-length eyepieces, mostly Ethos, which have a much wider AFOV than the Leica.  In fact, I have more eyepieces now than I did when I first bought the Leica and sold off some eyepieces.

 

So, judging by my previous experience with a Leica Zoom, I don't think I'd have a mass sale of my old-fashioned eyepieces if I were to buy an image intensifier.

 

As always, YMMV.

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 23 February 2019 - 12:54 PM.


#19 bobhen

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 02:23 PM

I would not sell my Ethos or other eyepieces to subsidize the purchase of an image intensifier.  If I bought an intensifier, I would accept it as another way to view objects, not as a replacement for the eyepieces I already own. 

 

Standard eyepieces often have an AFOV much wider than an image intensifier … if that matters to the observer.  It matters to me. 

 

Standard eyepieces show objects in their full range of color vs the single color of the intensifier … if that matters to the observer.  It matters to me.

 

Standard eyepieces won't degrade your dark adaptation, unlike viewing an intensifier … if that matters to the observer.  It matters to me.

 

Several years ago I bought a Leica Zoom.  About the same time, I sold a number of my standard, fixed focal-length eyepieces, mostly XW's and Delos.   Over the ensuing years, I've gradually bought more fixed focal-length eyepieces, mostly Ethos, which have a much wider AFOV than the Leica.  In fact, I have more eyepieces now than I did when I first bought the Leica and sold off some eyepieces.

 

So, judging by my previous experience with a Leica Zoom, I don't think I'd have a mass sale of my old-fashioned eyepieces if I were to buy an image intensifier.

 

As always, YMMV.

 

Mike

Field of view: This comes up a lot. On paper you are correct. But I can tell you that in practice it is absolutely inconsequential. And EVERY person that uses an intensifier will tell you EXACTLY the same. There are so many more stars in the field that it easily translates into a MUCH richer field of view and a richer visual experience in the intensifier.

 

Color: 99% of deep sky objects when viewed visually are monochromatic. Double stars and star colors in a few clusters etc. are better seen using glass but again any regular field eyepiece will show these objects and for the other 99% of deep sky objects the intensifier will show much more detail. Many deep sky objects won’t show color in a regular eyepiece anyway, for the simple reason that they will be completely invisible and only observable with an intensifier!

 

Dark adaption: If you use an intensifier, dark adaption is not required and does not matter, travel to a dark site is not required, your neighbor’s porch light, that bright streetlight or your local light pollution does not matter.

 

Zoom: A zoom eyepiece is nothing like an intensifier.

 

Performance gains: No matter how wide your eyepiece’s field is it won’t show you what an intensifier will. I have doubled the number of objects that I have observed since I got the intensifier. No eyepiece, no matter how expensive, could have delivered that kind of performance or experience. No eyepiece or telescope combination can show me the Horsehead Nebula from my location but the intensifier, and even my small 102mm refractor, shows it every night, and now the Horsehead is a routine object!

 

Seeing objects that were previously completely impossible to observe is what matters to me.

 

Bob


Edited by bobhen, 23 February 2019 - 02:25 PM.


#20 Sketcher

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Posted 23 February 2019 - 02:30 PM

My "best night out" involved no telescope and no binoculars.  Instead, it involved a large, bright, naked-eye comet whose head was near the north celestial pole, whose body extended through my zenith, and whose tail ended near my south horizon.  Myself and my immediate family were among the lucky few who saw Comet Hyakutake on its best night, from a crystal-clear, pristine sky -- zero light pollution, zero light trespass -- zero moonlight.

 

As for mixing/matching equipment, I can usually be found observing with only one instrument on any given night.




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