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What is your limit?

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#26 StarmanDan

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 11:40 AM

And now, the question: if someone took away your APOs, your Dobs the size of grain silos, your Ethos eyepieces, your night-vision goggles never to be seen again forever, would you up and quit? What is the "worst" equipment you would use without majorly impacting your interest in the hobby?

This pretty much happened to me many years ago when almost all my equipment was stolen.  Insurance only covered a fraction of the replacement cost due to depreciation.  I was relegated to using 7x35 binos and my old Tasco 60mm "department store" scope to keep me busy till I could save the difference from the insurance claim to get something better.  This actually wasn't that bad.  The Tasco I hadn't used in decades, it was given to the kids to use, and I wasn't much of a bino observer till then, only using them as a glorified finder.  I was quite excited to realize that there is quite a lot of things you can see with such small instruments and an experienced eye.  


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#27 rkelley8493

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 11:50 AM

If there's one thing CN is good for, it's a debate about telescopes. Consensus agreement is hardly ever reached, threads die, new ones start, and the cycle continues. To me, an ignorant newbie astronomer, I am incapable of understanding the passion behind these opinions. I'm pretty happy with almost any telescope I'm looking through.

 

So to understand these positions better, and to maybe put a bottom-line on the opinions held, I have a question and it's maybe not the one you're expecting.  No, this is actually a diabolical, underhanded attempt to push you to your breaking point and question your very existence as an amateur astronomer. Be warned, some may find this topic unsettling.

 

And now, the question: if someone took away your APOs, your Dobs the size of grain silos, your Ethos eyepieces, your night-vision goggles never to be seen again forever, would you up and quit? What is the "worst" equipment you would use without majorly impacting your interest in the hobby?

 

If you're a Big Dob fan, could you amuse yourself night after night with a 3" refractor or 5" OneSky? If you're a super deluxe premium APO fan, could you lower yourself all the way to a plebian achromat or an SCT? If you're a CAT fancier, would you sleep in the doghouse or would you get a divorce from amateur astronomy?

What I love most about this hobby is the awe inspiring feeling I get when observing the infinite beauty of the heavens. The equipment used is just a minor footnote, a vessel to get you there so to speak. It's incredible enough to me just to be able to see what's there that is invisible to the naked eye. I even enjoy the beauty of the night sky without a visual aid. I was a stargazer long before I owned a telescope smile.gif


Edited by rkelley8493, 06 June 2019 - 11:57 AM.

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#28 HydrogenAlpha

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 12:21 PM

Coming from the perspective of an imager here. 

 

I wouldn't use an achromat (unless I have a mono CCD), but I'd use a 6" f/4 reflector. A modified DSLR would be the bare minimum for a camera, although from where I'm at, cooling is almost a necessity as well. Mount wise, I'd only use an equatorial...a tracking alt-az won't do for me. 


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#29 Allan Wade

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 02:22 AM

I guess if I absolutely had to, I would be prepared to downsize to a 30" dob.


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#30 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 07:56 AM

It's a difficult question to answer honestly. I'd like to think if my only equipment was the broken down 60 mm Refractor with you me eyepiece's and no finder that I began with, I still be out there every possible moment looking at the night sky.

 

But realistically, I don't think I'd be spending nearly as much time as I currently do (500-600 hours per year) with my current equipment. 

 

Jon


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#31 treadmarks

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 09:27 AM

Tallying the responses so far, I've seen 60mm refractors, 6" reflectors, and binoculars come up a lot. I guess there's two ways to look at that. (a) you don't need much to fully enjoy this hobby and/or (b) anything more than a 6" reflector is an unnecessary extravagance grin.gif

 

6" of aperture seems like a good lower limit to me. My main question is how well globulars would be resolved, and how much could be seen of galaxies. I know that open clusters, planets, and nebulae look pretty good in my mass market 4" scopes, if conditions allow.



#32 StarmanDan

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Posted 07 June 2019 - 11:53 AM

My main question is how well globulars would be resolved, and how much could be seen of galaxies. I know that open clusters, planets, and nebulae look pretty good in my mass market 4" scopes, if conditions allow.

Here is a good article on what various objects will look like through different sized scopes.

 

http://www.deepskywa...-telescope.html


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#33 rkelley8493

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 01:26 PM

Tallying the responses so far, I've seen 60mm refractors, 6" reflectors, and binoculars come up a lot. I guess there's two ways to look at that. (a) you don't need much to fully enjoy this hobby and/or (b) anything more than a 6" reflector is an unnecessary extravagance grin.gif

 

6" of aperture seems like a good lower limit to me. My main question is how well globulars would be resolved, and how much could be seen of galaxies. I know that open clusters, planets, and nebulae look pretty good in my mass market 4" scopes, if conditions allow.

In Globulars, the larger the scope's aperture, the more detail can be seen in the core [in my experience]. The core seems to be fuzzy or a bright blur the smaller the aperture, but more pinpoint in larger apertures. In galaxies, the larger your aperture, the brighter the "clouds". Most scopes will be able to see the glowing core of galaxies, but the larger your scope, the more you will be able to see the smaller, more faint spiral arms and/or dust lanes. This simulator is pretty accurate [link below].

 

https://www.stelvisi...lator/index.php



#34 rkelley8493

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 01:28 PM

Here is a good article on what various objects will look like through different sized scopes.

 

http://www.deepskywa...-telescope.html

That's pretty accurate as well waytogo.gif



#35 clearwaterdave

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 07:29 PM

I have dark skies and enjoy naked eye views all the time.,What got me started in this hobby is I wanted to "learn the constellations".,and doing this has brought great joy to me.,add a scope of any size and I enjoy the closer up views.,I'm easy but if I could only have one scope I would hope for a 4"frac.,achro is fine.,and the Vite 23+10mm.,$10 eps.,



#36 gnowellsct

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Posted 08 June 2019 - 10:41 PM

The OP really has two questions

 

1.  What is the cheapest rig you'd use

2. What is the smallest aperture

 

2 is correlated with 1, but not completely, since a 76 pronto will easily cost as much as a ten inch import dob.  

 

What I ask of my rigs is that they do what they are supposed to do.  The view should be steady.  The focuser should work at all angles of the sky without jiggling the telescope or making it unusable even for a few seconds.  If there is a go-to or dsc system, it should perform when asked to.    When you point the telescope somewhere, it should stay exactly in the spot where you placed it (not counting the tracking) without jiggles, a lot of play or looseness that causes it to sway away from that spot.

 

These seem to me fairly simple requirements but in actuality they are very difficult to pull off.   If one says, "I like all kinds of restaurants, the cheap dives and the high end five star places overlooking lakes and beaches," that seems simple enough.  If you add, "But I don't like eating in restaurants that leave me feeling nauseous," then I think most people would consider that uncontroversial.  

 

But in astronomy a lot of the gear for sale is equivalent to gastronomics that leave one a little bit nauseous.  It's just a bunch of stuff that doesn't work, it's designed to be sold, not used.  Food that is designed to look good in an advertisement but not actually eaten.  

 

I don't really have much to say about *types* of telescopes but I have a great deal of thoughts about poor quality telescopes.  I'd rather watch TV than use a scope on a mount where you have to go 3 degrees past the object you want to look at and hope that when it springs back it will be more or less where you want it to be.  I like my gear to be usable.  C8 or 81mm apo or C14 or GT130, I can use them all or adapt to any one for long periods. 

 

But there's a lot of bad gear that would drive me away from using it to observe, never mind the aperture or optical type.  

 

Greg N


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#37 Sarkikos

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 06:26 AM

I never consider the telescope OTA and mount as a permanent unit.  Sometimes moderately decent OTA's are packaged with terrible mounts.  Actually, more than sometimes.  Trash the mount and put the OTA on something decent.

 

The same goes for the eyepieces and diagonals that are thrown in with many telescopes.  Throw the accessories in a box at the back of your closet and buy decent accessories.

 

Decent = usable enough to sustain interest and produce some viewing pleasure but not perfect

 

Mike



#38 Migwan

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 07:28 AM

A nice soft patch of grass to lay on and just look up.   Been there, done that, but its been awhile.   jd


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#39 gnowellsct

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 09:38 AM

A nice soft patch of grass to lay on and just look up. Been there, done that, but its been awhile. jd



I had acres of soft green grass patches in my recent trip to the Adirondacks. Lying on the grass is not what it used to be. Lyme carrying ticks, black flies, skeetoes with West Nile. These days I wear solid shoes, spray up to my knees (and arms and face and ears), and use an observing stool or folding chair.
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#40 noisejammer

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 10:05 AM

Living in the city, I'm pretty much limited to the moon, planets and a few bright clusters. Unaided, this is poor fare. So... a 4" scope is about my minimum here. In spite of owning considerably larger instruments, this is the one that gets the most love - go figure.

 

An ETX105 is less versatile than my 4.5" 'frac but it's more suited to lunar & planetary observing. At $250-ish, that's a very good minimalist place to start. Add a sketch pad, some pencils and an eraser and you're ready for the races.

 

Under a good sky - say Bortle 2 or 3 - a pair of rich field bino's are amazing. I built a set of 2x54's - there's nothing quite like them... but I'd still want my  4". :)


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#41 treadmarks

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 10:06 AM

The OP really has two questions

 

1.  What is the cheapest rig you'd use

2. What is the smallest aperture

 

2 is correlated with 1, but not completely, since a 76 pronto will easily cost as much as a ten inch import dob.  

 

What I ask of my rigs is that they do what they are supposed to do.  The view should be steady.  The focuser should work at all angles of the sky without jiggling the telescope or making it unusable even for a few seconds.  If there is a go-to or dsc system, it should perform when asked to.    When you point the telescope somewhere, it should stay exactly in the spot where you placed it (not counting the tracking) without jiggles, a lot of play or looseness that causes it to sway away from that spot.

 

These seem to me fairly simple requirements but in actuality they are very difficult to pull off.   If one says, "I like all kinds of restaurants, the cheap dives and the high end five star places overlooking lakes and beaches," that seems simple enough.  If you add, "But I don't like eating in restaurants that leave me feeling nauseous," then I think most people would consider that uncontroversial.  

 

But in astronomy a lot of the gear for sale is equivalent to gastronomics that leave one a little bit nauseous.  It's just a bunch of stuff that doesn't work, it's designed to be sold, not used.  Food that is designed to look good in an advertisement but not actually eaten.  

 

I don't really have much to say about *types* of telescopes but I have a great deal of thoughts about poor quality telescopes.  I'd rather watch TV than use a scope on a mount where you have to go 3 degrees past the object you want to look at and hope that when it springs back it will be more or less where you want it to be.  I like my gear to be usable.  C8 or 81mm apo or C14 or GT130, I can use them all or adapt to any one for long periods. 

 

But there's a lot of bad gear that would drive me away from using it to observe, never mind the aperture or optical type.  

 

Greg N

If I could rephrase the question, it would be "how much could you downgrade without a significant difference in your observing time?" I leave "downgrade" open to interpretation because everyone is entitled to their own opinion on what constitutes a downgrade.

 

The question was more aimed at telescopes than mounts but FWIW I am beginning to agree with you that the mount may be more important than the telescope. A good mount takes all the pain and frustration out of amateur astronomy - finding objects (e.g. go-to, setting circles), back pains / neck pains, portability, vibrations etc. Whereas with telescopes while I can sometimes say that one view is better than another, the view in the smaller telescope is usually satisfying anyway so I'm not sure if it matters.


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#42 Sketcher

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 02:15 PM

Tallying the responses so far, I've seen 60mm refractors, 6" reflectors, and binoculars come up a lot. I guess there's two ways to look at that. (a) you don't need much to fully enjoy this hobby and/or (b) anything more than a 6" reflector is an unnecessary extravagance grin.gif

 

6" of aperture seems like a good lower limit to me. My main question is how well globulars would be resolved, and how much could be seen of galaxies. I know that open clusters, planets, and nebulae look pretty good in my mass market 4" scopes, if conditions allow.

"We" have differing levels of experience.  "We" observe through differing levels of light-pollution and sky transparency.  And yes; "we" don't all have the same needs in order to fully enjoy this hobby.

 

You say: "6" of aperture seems like a good lower limit to me."  I say: "6-inches of aperture seems like a good upper limit to me."

 

But then, this is what a 1-inch aperture can do for me -- with my experience, from my location.  Would you care to try imagining how much I might be able to see with 36 times the light-grasp and 6 times the resolution -- using a 6-inch aperture?

 

M31 32 110  1 inch aperture 5 Dec 2018 20x Sketcher   text 1
 
Then there's Rod Mollise's M27 observations (using a 10-inch telescope) on page 67 of the July 2019 S&T.  One of my own 10-inch (unfiltered) sketches of M27 shows a large M27 with "tons" of detail along with many stars; but I don't post my larger aperture sketches to CN.  Instead, here's M27 with a 1-inch aperture:
 
M27 1 inch aperture 09 Dec 2018 44x Sketcher   text
 
We don't all live and observe under the same skies.  As I basically stated before:  I have no lower limit.

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#43 Pauls72

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Posted 09 June 2019 - 08:31 PM

I would still keep observing and doing outreach.

I use my Simmons Binoculars 10X50mm ($30 @ Walmart) quite often. Especially when imaging and I don't feel like lugging out a second scope/mount.

I the winter often I use my Orion ST80 as a grab and go scope.

 

My Skies are Bortle class 4, SQM 20.8

 

 

People passions for equipment often come because they spent a bunch of money on equipment and they want to proclaim how great it is and it is better than everyone elses.

On the other end you have someone with the ebay eyepiece that cost $10 proclaiming their views are just as good as the high end ETHOS at a fraction of the cost.

There is also a lot of brand loyalty out there.

No matter what equipment you have, someone will always have something bigger, better or more expensive. The question should be are you happy with what equipment you have.


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#44 Sarkikos

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 12:56 PM

I've had some nights of observing fun with the Meade 76 f/9.2.  That's a Newt with a spherical primary.  Bought it new for about $29.  Hey, it can show a clean split on the Double Double!  lol.gif

 

Mike


Edited by Sarkikos, 12 June 2019 - 12:58 PM.

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#45 InkDark

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Posted 12 June 2019 - 02:19 PM

I don't know for equipment. I guess it would make it less fun without it. But take away the Altas and the feeling of exploring would take a serious hit.


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#46 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 04:22 AM

If I could rephrase the question, it would be "how much could you downgrade without a significant difference in your observing time?" I leave "downgrade" open to interpretation because everyone is entitled to their own opinion on what constitutes a downgrade.

 

The question was more aimed at telescopes than mounts but FWIW I am beginning to agree with you that the mount may be more important than the telescope. A good mount takes all the pain and frustration out of amateur astronomy - finding objects (e.g. go-to, setting circles), back pains / neck pains, portability, vibrations etc. Whereas with telescopes while I can sometimes say that one view is better than another, the view in the smaller telescope is usually satisfying anyway so I'm not sure if it matters.

 

I have the mounts I want, that is, manual alt-az.  For me, finding objects is one of the real pleasures of amateur astronomy, a big part of the fun.  Alt-az mounts, particularly Dobsonian mounts, can be rock solid and easy to setup.  It takes me less than 5 minutes to have the 22 inch ready to go. 

 

There are few things I will not compromise, the right chair, the right ladder.  These are relatively inexpensive and critical for comfort.  And the right clothes. 

 

In terms of what I could downsize without significantly affecting my observing time, I could probably part ways with the 22 inch and possibly the 16 inch but that would require some getting used to.  That's in the high desert.  At home, I could probably part ways with the 13.1 inch Star Splitter and it would not significantly affect my eyepiece time. I would miss it but my 10 inch does a good job.  

 

For me, downsizing is sometime in the future, I am still reasonably strong and healthy, able to manage my larger equipment. But at 71, that time when I am no longer able to manage the 22 inch is probably not all the far in the future.  It might be 5 years, probably not 10, assuming I am still around. 

 

Jon


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#47 Asbytec

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 05:41 AM

Tallying the responses so far, I've seen 60mm refractors, 6" reflectors, and binoculars come up a lot. I guess there's two ways to look at that. (a) you don't need much to fully enjoy this hobby and/or (b) anything more than a 6" reflector is an unnecessary extravagance grin.gif

 

6" of aperture seems like a good lower limit to me. My main question is how well globulars would be resolved, and how much could be seen of galaxies. I know that open clusters, planets, and nebulae look pretty good in my mass market 4" scopes, if conditions allow.

Globulars in a 6"? I actually like the tenuous glow with faint sparkle of stars strew across more than a few of them. Of course, I like the highly resolved ones in a larger aperture, too, but I enjoyed the tease of some of the brighter ones in a modest aperture. 

 

Galaxies in a 6"? Under favorable observing conditions and with some patience more than a few begin to exhibit some detail whether it's a dust lane, mottled core, a stellar nucleus, and possibly occasional faint hints of a spiral arm. 

 

Enough to keep me busy for a long time. 

 

NGC 5128 Centaurus A (rev).png

 

NGC4038-9.png

 

M66.png


Edited by Asbytec, 13 June 2019 - 05:44 AM.

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#48 Tony Flanders

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 05:41 AM

6" of aperture seems like a good lower limit to me. My main question is how well globulars would be resolved, and how much could be seen of galaxies. I know that open clusters, planets, and nebulae look pretty good in my mass market 4" scopes, if conditions allow.

Yikes, how times have changed! I remember when I was a child drooling over the 6-inch Newtonian in the Edmund Scientific catalog and wondering if I would ever be able to afford something so big, fancy, and glamorous. At that point it seemed more like an upper limit than a lower limit.

As for the capabilities of a 6-inch scope for viewing faint fuzzies, it depends a great deal on how dark your skies are. Under dark skies, a good 6-incher resolves many globular clusters, and show spiral arms in quite a number of galaxies. Under very bright skies, it might not even show individual stars in M13 or M5, and barely shows the cores of most galaxies.

My 70-mm refractor under dark skies shows more than my 7-inch Dob from Cambridge, MA in the great majority of cases. The exceptions are objects with high surface brightness, notably the Sun, Moon, planets, concentrated planetary nebulae, and tight double stars.

I am definitely of the no-instrument-is-too-small camp. I'm not sure about no-instrument-is-too-bad. If a telescope's mount is wobbly, its focuser sloppy, and its optics poor, I may decide that I prefer to observe without it. Though if it was my only choice, I would probably still drag it out from time to time to view the moons of Jupiter and the craters of the Moon.

 

In response to the question "If you're a Big Dob fan, could you amuse yourself night after night with a 3" refractor or 5" OneSky?", it is an empirical fact that I do own a top-quality 12.5-inch Dob, which lives at my country home under semi-dark skies. Yet I still get a thrill every time I pull out my 70-mm refractor at my city home, focus on a random patch of sky, and see all the stars that spring into view. For that matter, I get a thrill walking down a street and piecing together the constellations based on what I can see between the streetlights.


Edited by Tony Flanders, 13 June 2019 - 05:47 AM.

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#49 Roragi

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 07:36 AM

I enjoy so much and more with my 4 '' and my 16 '' if the only one can have a 4 '' of bad quality because I continue with the fans, plus 18 beers to compensate for the poor quality of the lenses.

 

Roberto.



#50 treadmarks

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Posted 13 June 2019 - 10:18 AM

Globulars in a 6"? I actually like the tenuous glow with faint sparkle of stars strew across more than a few of them. Of course, I like the highly resolved ones in a larger aperture, too, but I enjoyed the tease of some of the brighter ones in a modest aperture. 

 

Galaxies in a 6"? Under favorable observing conditions and with some patience more than a few begin to exhibit some detail whether it's a dust lane, mottled core, a stellar nucleus, and possibly occasional faint hints of a spiral arm. 

Hmmm, it sounds like I could possibly be happy with a 6", but there's no breathing room. If I can't resolve globulars to more than a few stars or I can't see spiral arms / dust lanes, I would likely drop lots of objects from my observing lists. Last year I looked at M2 with my C8 and it was unresolved. I also looked at M51 and saw its spiral arms. M2 was not totally uninteresting to look at, but it did not create a hunger for more like M51 did.

 

So much focus has been put on aperture. But actually my original inspiration for the thread came from the refractor forum. What are they buying with their $$$? I wanted to put a bottom-line on the value you get out of a telescope: how much time you spend using it. If you would choose to spend as much time observing with a $200 telescope as you would a $2000 one, how can you objectively say that one is better than the other?




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