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What do you mainly use your refractor(s) to look at?

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#1 25585


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:26 AM

Most posts seem about planets, Moon & double stars, but I am interested in everything CN people look at.


Smaller apertures, but often shorter focal lengths, offer different choices and uses. And most small refractors can take 2 inch eyepieces.


My own uses are for stars in all kinds of arrangements, wider field exploration for familiarisation, cruising the cosmos, and also terrestial use. 


No hassle inpromptu & impulsue viewing, even with a 120mm is easy in alt-az. 

#2 SeattleScott


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:36 AM

Brighter DSO like open clusters, brighter nebulae like Ring, Orion, Swan, brighter galaxies like M31, M81/82. And lunar/planetary with a dew doubles. They tend to get used more for short impromptu sessions in town.

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#3 junomike



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Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:36 AM

Mainly Luna, but also Planets and Wide Field DSO's (Open Clusters).

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#4 Sarkikos



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Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:40 AM

Double stars, bright DSO, large open clusters and nebulae, low-power wide-field views of star fields.  I prefer larger aperture for the Moon and planets.



Edited by Sarkikos, 26 May 2019 - 09:53 AM.

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#5 CHASLX200



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Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:41 AM

This and that.  Planets and moon 90% and then show case deep sky stuff, maybe 30 objects. Smaller scopes the sun with a wedge.  Wished i could use my solar wedge with the 6" ED.

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#6 Vondragonnoggin



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Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:45 AM

I’m primarily viewing emission nebulae, then open clusters, globs, galaxies, and PN’s in that order of frequency.


About 1/10th of the time viewing solar system objects.


This year though it might get some more solar system action. Jupiter definitely will get more than the usual 1/10th this year.

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#7 PNW


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 09:22 AM

I recently discovered colored doubles. There's various list over in the double star forum. These little gems are truely striking, and they don't seem to be affected by moon phase.

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#8 Steve Cox

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 09:29 AM

Pretty much anything within the grasp of the scope's 6" aperture, and yes I like pushing the boundaries of what I can see/resolve.  Specifically though, by order of my favorite objects to observe, it would be open clusters, the moon, planets, galaxies, carbon stars, globular clusters, and finally occasional double stars (though I'm pretty picky about them, they need color or otherwise be able to stand out from the background and present themselves well).


edit - A few nebulae I enjoy observing and revisiting, but as a whole I've never really been attracted to nebulae regardless of scope size.

Edited by Steve Cox, 26 May 2019 - 09:30 AM.

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#9 Dmitrek


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 09:29 AM

80% of time - open clusters, wide star fields, galaxies, nebulae and globs (rich-field 102/600 refractor under dark sky) , 10% - the Moon, 8% - planets, 2% - bright stars and double stars (80ED in the city). 

Edited by Dmitrek, 26 May 2019 - 01:03 PM.

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#10 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 09:42 AM

My refractors do double duty, they're backyard grab and go scopes and they're dark sky companions for my Dobsonians.


In my backyard, I look at a lot of doubles as well as the planets and brighter DSOs.  I have managed to see the Veil in an 80mm with a O-III filter from my red zone backyard.  


As deepsky companions I use them primarily as low power, wide field scopes for scanning star/nebulosity fields as well viewing larger objects, the entire Veil in the refractor and part of the Veil in the Dob.  At times I like to push the refractor, view something that is easy in the bigger scope and see if I can see it in the refractor. 


The other night, I spent about an hour observing 10th and 11th magnitude galaxies in my NP-101. The skies weren't that great but carefully scanning the sky, I was able to see a few and then identify them.  I then proceeded with the Dob.. 



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#11 duoglide98


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 10:08 AM

Anything that's up there


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#12 Sarkikos



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Posted 26 May 2019 - 10:24 AM

The view of bright planets and the Moon through refractors have disappointed me compared to what a 10" f/5 Dob can show.  This includes ED/APOs and an 8" f/15 Alvan Clark. 



Edited by Sarkikos, 26 May 2019 - 10:25 AM.

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#13 gwlee


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 10:56 AM

For now, due to portability requirements, a small refractor is my only scope, so I use it for viewing brighter celestial objects of all types along with a handheld binocular. 


Refractors don’t scale up well; they grow in weight much faster than they grow in aperture. Any refractor that I can carry, or I am willing to carry, with mount and tripod (4-inch or less) is far too too small for me to consider it a good planetary scope or a good DSO scope, so I normally consider a refractor a third instrument that splits the difference in capability between a handheld binocular and a larger general purpose scope (6”-8” minimum).  I really prefer owning and using just one scope though, and it’s the largest scope that I can easily handle on my observing site, which is usually a small reflector. 



Edited by gwlee, 26 May 2019 - 11:15 AM.

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#14 bobhen



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Posted 26 May 2019 - 11:09 AM

What do you mainly use your refractor(s) to look at?...


With the increased rain and clouds we’ve been getting for the last year here in PA, not much. Or, not as much as I would like. 


When the weather is decent, I use my refractors for everything from daytime spotting, to the sun (WL and Ha light), the moon, the planets, deep sky (all types of objects) and from low to high magnification.



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#15 Crusty99


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 11:25 AM

Night sky use: Moon, planets, bright DSOs.

Day terrestrial use: Nature, landscape. 

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#16 Bomber Bob

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 12:10 PM

High F-ratio achromatics:

- Lunar / planetary

- Double stars

- Open star clusters

- Loose globular clusters

Short F-ratio achromatics:

- Milky Way sweeping

- Brightest large galaxies (M31 Family, The Whirlpool)

- Large nebulae (Orion, Veil)

- Very large open clusters / asterisms (Coma Berenices, Pleiades, Beehive)

F8 APOs / EDs:

- Everything!  (My 6" ED delivers from 15x to 400x.)

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#17 F.Meiresonne



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Posted 26 May 2019 - 12:33 PM

As fairly new user of refractors (i Always have been a Newt guy) i was thinking of getting more into double stars. Of course the moon is Always a nice target in small apertures also if you boost the magnification up.

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#18 Eddgie



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Posted 26 May 2019 - 01:32 PM

Pretty much only two uses:  Solar white light with a Baader wedge, and Solar H-a with a Quark.


The 80mm f/7 ED gives a full disk sun in H-a using the Quark with an f/28 focal ratio and the 120ED gives a 95x view.   The 120ED though gets used a bit more for white light because it can go to much lower powers when doing white light than when doing H-alpha sun.


I really don't have much use for them otherwise.  Way to small, and slow for my own observing needs.  Just can't see anything with them. 

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#19 Sketcher



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Posted 26 May 2019 - 02:30 PM

I use my refractors as "general purpose" astronomical telescopes.  Or at least, I start out observing all classes of objects with any new refractor.  I like to see how a telescope performs for different (astronomical) tasks -- even when/if a particular telescope is poorly suited for some tasks.  I'd rather see for myself how a telescope performs.  "Poorly suited" doesn't equate to "useless"-- not for me, and not for those who have no choice but to use one telescope for everything.


Any telescope (within reason) can be used for solar, lunar, planetary, and deep-sky observing.  That includes my 42mm singlet refractor that retains severe CA even when stopped down to a 1/2-inch aperture.  It doesn't hurt to see what things look like when using a small, pre-achromat age refractor.


That being said, when it comes to special (once in a life-time type) events where I want to get the best view I can of this object or that, I'll choose the telescope that's better suited for that particular use -- but far more often I'll use any telescope for anything.

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#20 Astroman007


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 04:09 PM

What do I mainly use my refractor to look at? Star clusters both open and globular, certain select colorful double stars, the finest carbon stars, stellar scintillation, nebulae of various types, galaxies (a personal favorite), the five major planets (and sometimes, rarely, others), comets (a relatively new favorite), Summer Milky Way sweeping, looking out for strange or unusual phenomenon, and, of course, the Moon.

In short, I use my refractor for everything that I use my various binoculars for. The refractor is simply capable of significantly higher magnifications.

BTW, I have a new TV Ethos-SX 4.7mm eyepiece paid for and on the way. Should arrive some time within the next three weeks. I can't wait to try it out! smile.gif

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#21 hfjacinto


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 04:33 PM

As I live 17 miles west of NYC, when not imaging, I generally look at:

Bright star clusters


Colored Doubles



I rarely look for nebula as they are too hard to see from my light polluted back yard.

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#22 Ihtegla Sar

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 05:00 PM

Well, I am just getting back into astronomy after a 25 year hiatus, so I am relearning the sky and everything seems new but so far I've been using my refractors for just about everything on nights that I don't have time or energy to lug out a larger telescope.

The night before last, I was at my cabin and For example, the forecast was for cloudy weather all weekend so I hadn't planned to do any astronomy. But when I stepped into the deck around midnight just before bed the sky was dark and clear above. Much darker than it usually is at the cabin, maybe the clouds were blocking the Portland light dome, which is about 60 miles away.

My cabin is in the trees so I can't do much astronomy without driving but there is a narrow openung in the trees around the zenith. The only telescope I had with me was a inexpensive Celestron 102 wide field f5 refractor that I purchased a while back for bird watching but it set up quickly on the deck and I found the whirlpool galaxy pretty easily in the narrow patch of open sky near the zenith created by the footprint of the cabin.

I was surprised how nice it looked in an inexpensive refractor using 28mm and 15mm RKE eyepieces. I could easily see its companion and could just make out a bit of its spiral structure. After that, I was really tired so I had to go to bed, but it was a fantastic view. Not as bright as when I looked at it in my 12 inch dob last month at much higher magnification but still worthwhile.

I work a lot and only have limited time and energy to set up a larger telescope and wait for it to cool down. So, if I am going to use a larger scope, I am going to want to make a night out of it and need to plan in advance for it, which is challenging with the vagrancies of the weather.

So, I view just about everything in my refractors anytime the skies turn out to be clear and I have just an hour to do some observing.
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#23 Allan Wade

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 05:56 PM

I like that saying “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. So I’m sure this question has different answers for different people. Someone who only owns a refractor is going to look at everything, while someone with lots of different astronomy tools might get more specific.


I think refractors excel over other types at observing bigger and brighter objects, so I think the big open clusters and nebula look particularly great in them and that’s what I spend a lot of time observing, especially from a dark site. The planets and moon get some eyepiece time as well. 

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#24 FeynmanFan


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 09:03 PM

The older and more decrepit I get, the more I use my 80 and 100 mm refractors on the same stuff I used to view in 8 to 11 inch dobs and SCTs. Some photons are better than none. I do also use my 6” SCT when I need a little more “horsepower”.
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#25 barbie


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Posted 26 May 2019 - 09:52 PM

I'm already old and decrepit so all I use are small refractors, for which I like to view the moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, brighter(and more colorful) double stars, and the brighter deep sky objects from my suburban, Magnitude 5 sky in the comfort and pleasantness of my senior apartment complex courtyard's old shuffleboard strip which is also about 50 feet from my front door.  Setup is as easy as it can possibly be!!

Edited by barbie, 26 May 2019 - 10:03 PM.

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