Hello azgarod and welcome to cloudy nights.
An 8 inch SCT is a very versatile scope. That is why they sell thousands every year. They are portable for 8 inches of aperture, and because they are small, they don't tax the lightweight mount a lot.
Here is what I don't like ... (there is always something).
An 8 inch SCT has a very narrow field of view. To an amatuer it is hard to find objects unless it is goto. Now the SE is goto, but do you always
want to do that? Do you just want to move the scope around sometimes by hand? The SE is hard on batteries and you will want to get an upgrade battery soon. Then you have the problem of you have to keep the battery charged which is not hard for an organized person, but hard to remember for a scatter brain like me. I think (i'm not an owner) you, if you slew the scope without using the motors, once you do this you have to re-align. If you move the scope (to dodge trees) you have to re-align etc.
goto is very helpful to find objects in light pollution, but many of the objects in its database will be invisible in light pollution.
Living in Lousiana you will have to get a dew strap. Otherwise the corrector plate will dew over in minutes.
Living in Lousiana, planets will good, they will be higher in the sky than for me, and I think your air will be more stable than mine.
A big decision you have to make is goto vs push to vs full manual. A lot of it is personal taste, do you want view some showcase objects,
that you don't have a good idea where they are, because the computer got you there?
or do you find it more rewarding to find things by yourself?
Another option popular is the orion XT8i. It is a dobsonian so it is much larger than the 8SE, but its geometry makes it just as easy to set up.
It is slightly less prone to dewing than an SCT. The field of view is wider. Is is nicer to manually point than the SE, but ... unlike the SE it does
not automatically point the intellescope feature just tells you which way to push the scope to get an object in view.
Going out of the box the small starter scopes I really like are.
I have all of these and use them regularly.
ST80 on a twilight 1 mount. No frills here, nothing to break, nothing to mess with. The scope's view is so wide it points very easy.
It does not work well on high power. For $500 more you can get an 80mm skywatcher ED. It can be used at high power, and has a better
AWB one sky, a table top reflector. You will have to collimate it, but is points easy, and provides excellent views. You will need something to
bring it up to viewing height, if your wife wants to sit on a chair. Sometimes I sit on the ground with a blanket.
Celestron C5, the most aperture you can get in a super small package. will mount on the same twilight I mount. you will need dew control.
view is not quite as wide as the ST80 or AWB. I use this scope when I have to hike to my observing site. It can fit in a school backpack.
BTW regarding astigmatism. I have it too, if you are viewing at high power it does not come into play that much because you are only using a small portion of your eye lens. It comes into play when you use eyepieces that result in a large exit pupil. Any refractive error can be fixed by the focuser.
Edited by vtornado, 18 July 2019 - 08:07 PM.