Hmmm, it sounds like I could possibly be happy with a 6", but there's no breathing room.
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?
Good questions. I doubt seriously I've burned through everything a 6" can offer in the last decade. There is more out there to be seen.
One big paradigm change happened when I downsized from a 12" Dob to a 6" Mak. I thought I had given up deep sky for good. Not enough aperture. So, I began to really press myself into observing. I soon realized I could regain much deep sky by learning to employ myself more effectively to the task instead of relying on aperture to hand it to me on a silver platter.
Since then, I never rely on any scope to show me anything. Instead, I take responsibility for what I can make of the often dim image it presents for observation. I learned to de emphasise the equipment, and add emphasis to self. To my mind, seeing a spiral arm is rewarding because it takes some effort and deploying the scope in an optimal way.
After all, the scope does what it does, as observers we are the real variable and we create breathing room, not from the scope, but right down to the very limits of our ability. Not the scope's limits, but our own.
Once we realize that, we can press ourselves with any aperture and find enjoyment with what we did see rather than what we did not see. When we get to that point, observing becomes rewarding in itself and we tend to use our scopes more.
Observing is not a passive pursuit nor is it easy, it requires work and our involvement. Our involvement in the process is key to reaping reward and personal fulfillment regardless of aperture. It's only a matter of scale.
Say for example a 10" can resolve Messier 2 nicely. Okay, great. But we have a 6". Now, suppose over the course of an hour at a productive exit pupil, under the hood, and well dark adapted we manage some granular, appearance, an eerie deep glow, along with an occasional speck or several. Well, we did good to see at least that much. Pat yourself on the back, you earned it from a difficult object.
The object becomes beautiful both because it is and because you know what it looks like to you. You've seen it for what it is, your own very personal image embedded in memory.
This is why I enjoy smaller apertures as much as I enjoyed larger apertures, maybe more so the smaller aperture. Because I realize I am responsible for what I can see at the very limit of my ability. The scope, whether it's a 12" Newt or a 80mm APO, doesn't observe anything. We do.
For me, that paradigm shift made all the difference and cured my hunger for larger aperture because I can make a little rewarding something from thousands of objects within reach. It does not have to be sprawling spiral arms of a large aperture, though arguably very beautiful, just a bit of mottling is often enough to suggest the arms are there.
Heck, I remember trying to see a very faint galaxy. I think I saw something there a precious very few times while staring a mostly a dark, blank sky with some field stars for an hour. Who does that? (LOL) But, in the end, when I stitched together those rare disjointed flashes of something, I was able to produce a faint galaxy. How cool is that?
Edited by Asbytec, 13 June 2019 - 11:10 AM.