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New Guy Dobsonian or refractor?

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#1 Sully606

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 01:28 AM

 Wow what a community!  This is my first post, so bear with me. I’m trying to decide on my first scope. I live in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I’ve joined a astronomy club and have had a opportunity to observe through a 100mm Vixen and a CT-6 early in the evening on what the members said was a poor night for viewing. I thought it was pretty darn amazing!

  I’ve been offered a SkyWatcher 120ed apo with all the extras and an upgraded focuser with an eq mount for $1100. I’m really drawn to an 8-10 inch Dobsonian.  I found this dob hhttps://romer-optics...h-easy-push-to 

  I like the go-to function on this but I’m not sure if the software is mature enough for my old feeble mind. 

  I have messed with the aforementioned Vixen eq mount and found it pretty strait forward. 

  I’m going to mostly view from home but will go to a darker site with the club. Neither scope will be a problem moving and size and storage is not an issue.

  I realize aperture is king but I’m thinking ease of setup may be more important.  I’ve read the dob is easier and I’ve read the refractor is easier. Most of the time I’ll be taking the scope out of the garage and on to the driveway. 

  I’m not sure of my goals as far as seeing. I pretty much want to see all that is possible within the confines of my limit of money spent; about $1000. 

  I’d appreciate any advice.

 

Sully



#2 Sully606

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 01:31 AM

I guess I have figured out how post a link. Romer has an 8” dob with their EZ Push To product. They will also sell a 10” dob with the push-to.

 

Sully



#3 siriusandthepup

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 01:44 AM

You won't go wrong with either option. Both are excellent first scopes and both are potential long term scopes as well.

 

I'd recommend the 8" Dob over the 10" if you go that way. Less weight, easier to move around. Push to is fine - you don't really need go to on the Dob.

 

good luck and welcome the the forums,


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#4 Jond105

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 02:15 AM

I actually sold a 10” dob to get a Sky-Watcher 120ED. So everything I say is biased

 

i live in the suburbs of Detroit. Light pollution is terrible. I also have a young family so I went with ease of set up, quick cool down time, and easy to get up and going with observing. I highly recommend this scope. 

 

But by far the 10” pulls in so much more light. Even an 8” would. It put up the best views of any clusters with the light gathering capability. It showed the most planetary detail. I just didn’t like the spikes. Personal thing. 

 

If if you’re getting to darker skies with your club, possibly grab the dob. You’ll see so much more. 

 

If if you want an outstanding refractor that does a lot of double splitting, still ok on clusters, still great on planets and the moon. Get the 120ED. That’s a rock solid price for a mount  and that scope. 

 

Though i I think you’ll be happier with the dob in this scenario. I think the Sky-Watcher 120ED is a scope you really want to have if your going to spend that kind of money. Otherwise go aperture. 

 

This is just ones opinion though. 


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#5 havasman

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 02:16 AM

Welcome to the forums Sully!

 

An 8 or 10" push-to Dob is a powerful instrument under badly light polluted skies. I have both a push-to 10" Dob and a push-to 115mm refractor and I take the Dob out here at home under the Dallas light dome 90% of the time. It shows more and better too. The smaller scope is valuable mostly under dark skies as a complementary scope to the 16" Dob.

 

The SW120ED is a great scope but you'll see much more with either larger aperture. For example -  https://www.cloudyni...re-surprising/ 


Edited by havasman, 24 July 2019 - 02:24 AM.

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#6 ddegroot

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 06:19 AM

For what it's worth... 

In my experience, you will absolutely *not* necessarily see more with a larger aperture. All things being equal, you will. But all things are rarely equal. The refractor will give you higher contrast, which can matter more for planetary and lunar observing. It will cool down more quickly, ensuring that you attain optimal performance more easily (especially in those cold Chicago winters). It will never need collimation  - which, as a newcomer, may be important to you - and it will be better in poor or mediocre seeing. It will show pinpoint stars, which will make looking at double stars a great deal more fun (depending on your preferences). 

I too live in light-polluted skies, and for me it's refractors all the way. But everyone has different preferences, and an 8" dob is a wonderful scope. Just make sure you don't underestimate the size and weight of what you buy . . . and how much harder it gets to haul (or want to haul) a bigger telescope outside, versus something even a little bit smaller. 


Edited by ddegroot, 24 July 2019 - 06:20 AM.

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#7 tony_spina

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 06:20 AM

Welcome to Cloudy Nights!

 

As others have said both are great choices.  these scopes complement each other. So if you are seriously hooked then you will get both eventually grin.gif

 

I would start off with the refractor. Easier to transport and less maintenance 


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#8 phillip

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 07:32 AM

Tho I use my 8inch dob exclusively now, past great enjoyment with refractors as well. Can't go

Wrong either way.

Far as fast setup my belief goes with the Dob, I even have a youtube showing setup under 2min!

Alignment holds well in mine, do tune things but holds alignment for weeks.

Mine is always trunked and thermal ready.

Lightly snug the holding on mirror rather carefully, slightest over tighten will flex the mirror!

Heck buy them both, hah!

#9 epee

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 07:54 AM

I find a Dob easier to set up than a refractor. This is simply because you must fold the tripod in order to get it through a standard door. If you're hauling your scope through a garage door the effort is simply a case of weight and overall length vs. the door height.

 

You would be well served with either scope.


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#10 SeattleScott

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:10 AM

Do you know what model mount the refractor comes with? Seems like a really good price but hard to say without knowing specifics of the mount. The refractor alone with upgraded focuser is probably worth close to $1,100 so it is pretty much risk free. Like getting a free mount.

Both will probably weigh close to the same. Hard to say without knowing the mount. The Dob is a little simpler to set up but you have collimation and cooling to deal with, so refractor is probably more user friendly. Plus the refractor can go three degrees wide, compared to two for the Dob.

The Dob will pull in more light. Probably around twice as much. Pretty noticeable difference, but some targets will look very similar in either scope. As a beginner, the low maintenance refractor with wider FOV for learning to find targets would be tempting. Especially with darker skies. But 8” is also the point at which you can really start doing justice to galaxies and globs so I would lean towards an 8”. Overall the 8” probably makes the most sense, especially with optional GoTo. But man that price makes the refractor tempting. If it isn’t your thing you could probably actually make a little money flipping it. Here is one way to look at it. If GoTo isn’t important, you can buy an 8” Dob for $400 brand new. It wouldn’t be hard to add one later. Maybe a used one for $200-250. If you pass on the refractor and want to add one later, you probably won’t get a deal like this. So I would likely get the refractor because if you get the Dob, you will likely want to add a refractor later. So the Dob makes a little more sense as a first/only scope. But that refractor seems like a great value where you can’t go wrong, and might kick yourself later if you pass on it.

Scott
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#11 SeaBee1

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:12 AM

I have both a SW120ED and an ATM 10 inch Dob mounted reflector... I enjoy both. My refractor, however is used more, but only because I leave it setup on a near permanent basis, under a Telegizmo 365 scope cover. I simply take the cover off, power up the AVX mount and start looking. For me, where this rig shines is the views of double stars... seeing a near perfect diffraction ring pattern on a good night can't be beat.

 

HOWEVER, the 10 inch has been fitted with a "wheelbarrow" setup and is not much more time consuming to get up and running either. And it pulls in sooo much more under these light polluted skies. It just goes deeper and some of the really faint doubles that I can't see in the refractor, this scope just gobbles them up.

 

As others have said, you can't go wrong with either rig... just be aware that the larger aperture of an 8 or 10 inch reflector will likely take up where the refractor leaves off. It's nice to have both, but either would be a lifetime instrument.

 

Good hunting!

 

CB



#12 Illinois

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 08:21 AM

Welcome CN, I see that you live in Chicago. I grew up in Chicago and light pollution is bad. For me is refractor! 80 or 100mm ED refractor is nice and great grab and go scope. Not worry about clean mirror, cooling time and collimation. Go to AZ mount might be good to help you to find objects because you don't see many stars in your backyard. 120mm refractor is nice and its high contract for planetary, double star, many open clusters, and Moon. You might get many different answer from all astronomers.



#13 Sully606

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 09:59 AM

Thanks for the warm welcome.  Amazing, I wake up and there is already 11 replies!  You’ve all given me much to think about. The perfect solution is to buy both but I’m sure I’d get some push back from my better half. I’m sure also that she would prefer spending $500 less for a new hobby. 

The mount is a Meade LX70. The owner has had the 120 on that mount since he purchased the scope.  It seems to work ok. I have not looked through a Dob yet but the Vixen mentioned in my first post along with a Dob should be at next months meeting. I would keep the dob fully assembled in the attached garage. The SW120 would be disassembled and put in it’s case. 

Thanks again for all the great advice.

 

sully



#14 RobertMaples

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 10:04 AM

...I pretty much want to see all that is possible within the confines of my limit of money spent; about $1000...

If that's truly your main goal then the answer's easy - a 12" dob.  Now there are certainly many reasons to get something else, but the fact of the matter is, more aperture lets you see more stuff, and the largest aperture you can get for about $1000 is 12 inches (unless you can find something on the used market).  A $1000 12" dob will not include push-to, but again, dropping the push-to for more aperture will let you see more.  By the way, I've seen the terms swapped some in this thread so I want to make sure you're clear - push-to and go-to are not the same thing.  With go-to if the scope is properly aligned it will point at the selected object, push-to will tell you where the object is and where the scope is pointing, but you still have to manually move the scope to point at the object.


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#15 Rustler46

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 10:05 AM

I have both a 10-inch Dob and a 115mm APO refractor. I never have them out at the same time. But the refractor rides atop a 11-inch SCT on a permanent mount in my garden. Unless the seeing is very bad I always prefer the view through the larger aperture. The extra light gathering power and resolution benefits globulars and planets with a brighter, more detailed view. In average seeing the refractor makes nice, round, tight star images. The bigger aperture makes smaller blobs, which makes resolution of globulars better. In good to excellent seeing the larger aperture always wins. In this case both telescopes produce nice round star images. For large clusters and nebulae the shorter focal length of the refractor wins with its wider field of view.

 

As for ease of setup, my push-to 10-inch Dob can be hand trucked out and set up in 2 minutes. Cool down is mostly an issue with high magnification when viewing planets or double stars. For other lower power objects the cool down issue is much less a concern. Likewise collimation is easy and again more of an issue when viewing at the higher magnifications.

 

My two cents? - go with the larger aperture.


Edited by Rustler46, 24 July 2019 - 04:17 PM.

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#16 vtornado

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 11:08 AM

Hello Sully,

 

A big variety opinions so you can see it is a personal taste thing.

I live in the far west suburbs of Chicago with bortle 6-7 skies.  

 

I have both refractors and reflectors.

I would go with the dob here is why.

 

1  cost.   $1100 is a good price for the ed scope, but it is still $1100 dollars, a used dob will run you $250.

The ed is on an equatorial mount.  Great for planets, and long duration object viewing, not so great for 

looking for a few minutes then moving on.    Remember the telescope is only part of your expense.

You will need eyepieces, maybe some filters, maybe a chair, and other accessories.

 

2) setuptime.   It is easier to set up an 8 inch dob than a 120mm refractor on an eq mount.  The eq mount has counter weights,

and a gangly tripod.  All the weight is at the top, which makes it harder to carry than an equal weight dob, where all the weight is at the bottom.   If you keep  the dob assembled in the garage, you can put it on a cart and have it rolled out in 30 seconds.

 

3) An 8 inch dob does not take that much time to cool. If it is kept in a garage close to outside temp, maybe 30 - 60 minutes.

The telescope is still usable before cooling, just don't crank  up the power.   If you can remember, you can just wheel the dob

out at dinner and your ready to go afterwards.

 

4) Light gathering is so important.  An 8 inch dob delivers about 75% more light to the eyepiece than a 5 inch refractor.

You will see more detail in planets, moon, dim objects will be brighter than the 120.  If your old like me, you eyes are starving for light.

I'm ready to move up to a 12 inch dob to feed my starving eyes.  The eq refractor will cool faster.  I have a 120mm Achro

refractor and had an 8 inch dob.  The 8 inch is much better at seeing stuff.

 

5) you will have to collimate your dob.  But it does not take long.  After the initial time, it will require a 60 second tweak.

Some people don't collimate them at all, but they are probably losing a little planetary performance.

 

6) You can make a manual push to system for your dob with a digital angle meter and a azimuth circle you can print here.

Total cost might be $50.00.  The system works, not quite as good as intelliscope, but then less money, no batteries.

 

Personally, I think the 120ED is the best all around refractor IF you are a refractor guy.  Since you are just starting out, 

you probably don't know which kind of "guy" you are.  I would go with the low cost option.  If you decide you are a

refractor guy later, and if you get your dob used, you can sell it for about what you paid, and get your refractor.


Edited by vtornado, 24 July 2019 - 11:45 AM.

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#17 mjulihn

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 11:21 AM

Hello Sully,

 

A big variety opinions so you can see it is a personal taste thing. I live in the far west suburbs of Chicago with bortle 6-7 skies.  

 

I have both refractors and reflectors. I would go with the dob here is why.

 

1  cost.   $1100 is a good price for the ed scope, but it is still $1100 dollars, a used dob will run you $250.

The ed is on an equatorial mount. Great for planets, and long duration object viewing, not so great for 

looking for a few minutes then moving on.  Remember the telescope is only part of your expense.

You will need eyepieces, maybe some filters, maybe a chair, and other accessories.

 

2) setuptime.   It is easier to set up an 8 inch dob than a 120mm refractor on an eq mount.  The eq mount has counter weights, and a gangly tripod.  All the weight is at the top, which makes it harder to carry than an equal weight dob, where all the weight is at the bottom.  If you keep  the dob assembled in the garage, you can put it on a cart and have it rolled out in 30 seconds.

 

3) An 8 inch dob does not take that much time to cool. If it is kept in a garage close to outside temp, maybe 30 - 60 minutes. The telescope is still usable before cooling, just don't crank  up the power.   If you can remember, you can just wheel the dob out at dinner and your ready to go afterwards.

 

4) Light gathering is so important.  An 8 inch dob delivers about 75% more light to the eyepiece than a 5 inch refractor. You will see more detail in planets, moon, dim objects will be brighter than the 120.  If your old like me, you eyes are starving for light. I'm ready to move up to a 12 inch dob to feed my starving eyes.  The eq refractor will cool faster.  I have a 120mm Achro refractor and had an 8 inch dob.  The 8 inch is much better at seeing stuff.

 

5) you will have to collimate your dob.  But it does not take long.  After the initial time, it will require a 60 second tweak. Some people don't collimate them at all, but they are probably losing a little planetary performance.

 

6) You can make a manual push to system for your dob with a digital angle meter and a azimuth circle you can print here. Total cost might be $50.00.  The system works, not quite as good as intelliscope, but then less money, no batteries.

 

Personally, I think the 120ED is the all around refractor IF you are a refractor guy.  Since you are just starting out, you probably don't know which kind of "guy" you are.  I would go with the low cost option.  If you decide you are a refractor guy later, and if you get your dob used, you can sell it for about what you paid, and get your refractor.

Great points for leaning toward the Dob. You can get a used one with accessories for much less than your budget, which will keep your SO happy. By the way, I have installed the Romer "EZ Push To" kit on my Dob. It is indeed "push-to" and not "go-to", so be sure you understand the difference.


Edited by mjulihn, 24 July 2019 - 11:27 AM.


#18 Diana N

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 11:33 AM

I'm a refractor person, but I have to agree that a larger Dob will suit you perfectly given that you can store the scope in the garage and use it on your driveway.  One thing you might consider, given that you will be transporting the scope to a dark-sky site on occasion, is a truss-tube design (like the Meade Lightbridge models).  You could leave it fully set up in your garage for everyday viewing, but break it down for transport to the dark sky site.  Broken down, it will take up less room in your vehicle.  If you drive a large SUV, a minivan, or a truck that doesn't matter much, but some sedans can have trouble accommodating a larger solid-tube Dob.


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#19 blange3

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 12:28 PM

At some point in time you will probably wind up with both. I did!

 

I started with a 10" Dob that I carry from the garage to the back yard. I haven't gotten the popular hand truck upgrade yet, but I have added the angle gauge/azimuth circle option.

 

I was looking for a quick grab and go refractor to fill in on those last minute nights when the conditions turn out better than predicted. Well an unexpected bonus arrived while I was shopping and I wound up with and SW 100ED PRO on an AVX mount. I wanted goto to help navigating the heavy light pollution in my area. I am already dreaming of the day when I can afford to swap up to the 120ED PRO!

 

I love both, but the net gain in setup time is zero. It's easier to setup the AVX in pieces, but by the time I finish alignment, it takes the same time to lug, setup and cool the dob.

 

As far as goto goes, with the suggested $50 azimuth circle/angle gauge solution I can find objects almost as quickly as the goto mount.

 

So which do I like better? The Dob gives brighter more detailed images on DSO's. But on planets and the moon I love having the tracking on the goto mount so I can observe and not have to do the Dobsonian Nudge!



#20 dr.who

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 12:32 PM

Both are excellent choices. If you are OK with the intimate nature of working with a dob then it is a good choice. Intimate because you will be pressing your entire body up against it at times. In the beginning and for beginners the general recommendation is to go with the biggest aperture that you can comfortably and easily handle. That is because if it is too big and/or too heavy you won't use it. With that said with the Dob option I would recommend would be one of two. The first one is the Orion Skyquest Intelliscope instead of what you linked to. The Intelliscope is very easy to use and very mature so not a problem to figure out and use. The 8" is $649 and the 10" is $899.

 

The second one is a more travel friendly option would be the Explore Scientific 10" (for a link to it click here on the works "click here" to see it) Is a very compact design that is easy to transport. You will want to take it to the club site and this is easier to move in a car. Add to it the encoder kit (click here for the encoder kit and the Nexus DSC (digital setting circle (click here for the DSC) and you have a fantastic system. It is much better and more flexible than the Orion and the features on the Nexus are really really great. It is a bit more money but well worth it. Of the two I would favor the ES one over the Orion.

 

Ultimately go to the club star party and look through a Dob. It is going to blow your doors off because of the larger aperture than the Skywatcher. But it will also help you decide if a Dob is for you.

 

If a Dob isn't for you then the Skywatcher is a great option as well. So you can't go wrong either way. 

 

A couple of very important things I would recommend for you:

 

1. A comfortable adjustable chair. The Starbound is a good one. It isn't for your rear end. It is for your eyes. You see more when you are comfortably seated.

 

2. Replace the Red Dot finders on the Dobs with a Telrad. Add a Telrad for the Skywatcher. It is a much better way to find things and at $40 it isn't a big cost. 

 

3. Get the following Explore Scientific eyepieces. They are ideal for either scope. 82 degree 18mm, 14 or 11mm, and a 6.7mm. These will have you feeling like you fell into the telescope and are swimming in space. They give you a great range of magnifications and will cover 95% of the stuff out there. 

 

4. Get the Sky and Telescope Pocket Sky Atlas. It is $15 and a great roadmap broken out by season (fall, winter, spring summer) for objects worth looking at.

 

5. A red headlamp. Key for keeping the eyes dark adapted and seeing the map so you know what to punch in to the DSC


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#21 Chesterguy1

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 01:47 PM

I have an 8” dob and the SW 120. Since you can’t have both, I suggest you spend a bit more time thinking about portability vs. aperture gain. There is no doubt that an 8” will ultimately offer a lot more targets, especially if you get to a darker site. The SW 120mm is a remarkable instrument on brighter DSOs, the planets and double stars. It is a very rare night that seeing makes it a reasonable alternative to the 8” (and I have poor to avg. seeing). From my suburban skies the 8” always provides more detail and more targets than the 120mm. For me, the 8” is more easily moved on a dolly (or in two parts), my onetime 10” was quite heavy. Of course, you’ll need a mount for the refractor and mounts vary substantially in weight.

A refractor seldom requires collimation.
A reflector needs regular collimation to extract the full potential

A refractor is nearly always ready for viewing when set up.
A reflector mirror performs best when having reached acclimation.

A refractor can be shipped more easily for resale
A larger reflector (8” and up) most often needs to be sold locally and or is prohibitively expensive.

Chesterguy

Edited by Chesterguy1, 24 July 2019 - 01:48 PM.

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#22 Jond105

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 02:56 PM

Thanks for the warm welcome.  Amazing, I wake up and there is already 11 replies!  You’ve all given me much to think about. The perfect solution is to buy both but I’m sure I’d get some push back from my better half. I’m sure also that she would prefer spending $500 less for a new hobby. 

The mount is a Meade LX70. The owner has had the 120 on that mount since he purchased the scope.  It seems to work ok. I have not looked through a Dob yet but the Vixen mentioned in my first post along with a Dob should be at next months meeting. I would keep the dob fully assembled in the attached garage. The SW120 would be disassembled and put in it’s case. 

Thanks again for all the great advice.

 

sully

The 120ED on a LX70 is a perfect match with one another. Understand that getting that type of deal for the mount and 120ED will be hard to come by ever again.  At least for both in a single purchase. A dob are usually posted used in your local classifieds as they are normally pick up only deals. But at the end of the day, make sure your better half is on board if you this route. 


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#23 Sketcher

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 03:22 PM

The question: Reflector or refractor?  is an age-old question to which either can be the right choice; but with the right attitude (once you have it in hand, use it!), neither has to be a wrong choice.  It's just one of those decisions that many of us have had to make in our astronomical journeys.

 

I could tell you what I prefer and why, but in the end, the choice shouldn't matter all that much.  Continue to look at the advantages and disadvantages that each have for you until you're ready to make your decision.  After that, it's all about making the best of what you decide to get.

 

In due time, many of us end up with telescopes of both types.  This wouldn't be the case if one were better in all situations than the other.  It comes down to a question of balance.  Each of us have different considerations that go into our individual balancing equations.  There's nothing wrong with one person choosing a reflector and another choosing a refractor.

 

I have more than one of each type of telescope.   I have a definite preference for one over the other.  One type I end up using much more often than the other.  On the other hand, I'm not you, and my observing situation is very different than yours.  So, that which I prefer might not be the better one for you.

 

Eventually one learns how to make one's own decisions.  But in order to make "good" decisions we've got to gain a bit of experience.  One of the best ways to gain experience is by jumping into the pool.  Early on it's a bit of a crap shoot, but with time, your knowledge will increase and your decisions will become right for you more often.

 

Seriously though, both are telescopes.  Either would be capable of showing you far more than you can see with the naked eye.  Keep researching.  Keep reading what others post.  Continue until you've decided to throw in the gauntlet and make a decision.  It's not up to any of us.  It's your decision, your responsibility.  Much can be accomplished with either -- as long you use it -- as long as you keep pushing the capabilities of yourself along with those of your telescope.


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#24 Gary Riley

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 05:46 PM

At some point in time most of us end up with more than one scope.  This is a Z12 dob and a SW 120 ED Pro Refractor on a CG-4 EQ Mount.  

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#25 ALskies

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Posted 24 July 2019 - 06:41 PM

I've always been a refractor fan, but I recently acquired my first Dob (8-inch). Refractors are great in many, many ways. They're quick to set up, easy to carry, and provide fantastic views without collimation or extensive cooldown. These are genuine strengths. They're certainly things to consider when making the call.

 

However...

 

It only took a couple of nights to convert me to a Dob fan. It's heavier, bulkier, and demands more expensive eyepieces; but the views out of my 8-inch have been astonishing. I can see much more, and I can see my refractor's targets much better. It has really enhanced my enjoyment of the night sky.

 

I would recommend the Dobsonian. It's worth it!


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