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catadioptric equipment Maksutov observing planet
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#1 Bomber Bob

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 12:01 PM

Because both scopes are Classics, my observing report is over on that Forum:   https://www.cloudyni...95#entry9542592

 

I put my 1958 Questar Standard up against my 1964 Sears Model 6336 (made in Japan by Royal Astro Optical).  My Q was serviced once 45+ years ago.  The 6336 is a 76mm F15 achromatic refractor.  I put my Unihex on it, loaded with one 1.25" Edmund RKE 28mm, and 5 x .965" Swiss-made vintage spectros eyepieces (25mm to 7.5mm).  This "Dept Store" refractor has a perfect DPAC & star test, so it's a worthy opponent:

 

Questar vs Sears 6336 Shootout S03.jpg

 

Despite the intermittent / iffy seeing, two objects stood out.  Jupiter was a much brighter & whiter disk, and M57 (Ring Nebula) was also larger, brighter, & more detailed in the Q, with both scopes at the same magnifications.  The F15 refractor was like most long-focus achromatics, and very sharp, but with a slight tinge of yellow.

 

The Q's brightness surprised me, because the mirrors haven't been touched / re-coated in going on 50 years.  Unbelievable!

 

As for use / functionality:  The 6336 on its Polaris mount requires 2 counterweights & a tall tripod, a rig that's at least 4x heavier than the Questar on a Meade 884.  This tripod is much lighter than its original Davis & Sanford, but is every bit as rigid.  And, it has a solid bar (with latitude scale) that holds the Q securely when tilted for polar alignment.

 

Which scope would I rather deal with on a work night?  No question, the old Questar.


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#2 fcathell

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 12:55 PM

Too bad they weren't equal apertures.  It would have leveled the "playing field". The 90mm Q has a 40% aperture advantage, so the outcome would rather obvious.

 

Frank


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#3 Mike Allen

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 01:20 PM

I did a similar comparison between my 1999 Questar with broadband coatings and a 3-inch Unitron equatorial.  The Questar did do better on deep sky objects.  On Jupiter it was a little closer.  The blue color of Jupiter’s festoons, and the reddish-brown color of the NEB were more obvious in the Questar.  Even the coffee color of the EZ was more prominent in the Q.  Other details of Jupiter’s features were nearly the same.  On double stars, the Questar pulled ahead slightly.  Delta Cygnus, for example, looked to be better resolved in the Q.  My physical comfort was far better while using the Questar.  Moving the Unitron 10 degrees or so causes a major shift in body position.  The same change in the Q requires a much less significant change in body position.  Set up and tear down of the Unitron is more awkward.  The Questar finder, and it’s associated control box with internal barlow, is easier to use.


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#4 Bomber Bob

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 02:04 PM

Too bad they weren't equal apertures.  It would have leveled the "playing field". The 90mm Q has a 40% aperture advantage, so the outcome would rather obvious.

 

Frank

When I started going to club meetings in B'ham (late 1970s), "everybody" knew that a 4" refractor was equal to a 6" Newtonian.  Check the Refractor Forum, and you still see some of that.  My own tests with 2 excellent 4" refractors versus my Criterion 6" Newtonian or my Tinsley 6" Cassegrain are mixed -- same as my Questar shoot-out.  There are some objects & magnifications where the 3" refractor cleanly beat the Questar:  The old frac was tack sharp on Jupiter at 200x, but the Questar went soft.  Still decent for a 61 year old Mak, but this Royal is an excellent sample.  And, I've made improvements to it to boost contrast, like flocking the interior, and painting any shiny bit with chalkboard black.

 

One thing I've seen with my Questar (and other CATs) is that eyepiece type greatly affects the views.  I put the Tele Vue 1.25" adapter on mine, so most of the testing last night was with UO HD Orthoscopics.  It's when I put the 6mm in that she lost out to the frac.  But, when I swapped that for a Nagler 7, the Q was sharp again -- but at a lower power than the refractor.  In general, the TV eyepieces give the best views in all my CATs and my APOs.  The ultra-sharp / no glare spectros eyepieces are perfect for my refractors & reflectors (they're vintage, and probably designed for them).

 

Makes me wonder how many reviews / shoot-outs take scope / eyepiece compatibility into consideration.


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#5 Bomber Bob

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 02:19 PM

Yes, the Q's natural colors hooked me when I bought it.  Jupiter was higher back then, and in the clear air it was miraculous to me that this dinky scope could give such crisp & colorful views.  For proof, a bunch of Questar owners have made & posted images that make me do a double-take.

 

Yes!  The Q is much much easier to deal with than my 3" or larger refractors.  My 1995 Vixen FL80S on a Polaris mount & tripod is still heavier / bulkier than my "new" Questar rig.  But it does out-perform my Questar on most objects, and is more versatile -- goes from 15x to 250x and stays sharp. 

 

Vixen FL80S P21 (Unihex).jpg

 

If I add up all the gear that goes with the FL80S, it's about the same cost as my used Questar.  I'd tell prospective Questar owners to buy used, IF the scope has been maintained (not abused).  I saved at least $3500 with mine, and got an heirloom in the process (it's the 59th with a Cumberland mirror rather than Cave).  I'm proud to be its 5th owner.  Besides getting a pretty scope, you get great views from an ultra-portable & self-contained system where they thought of everything to make the observing experience pleasurable. (OK, as you can tell, I really like my Old Questar!)


Edited by Bomber Bob, 01 August 2019 - 02:20 PM.

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#6 fcathell

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Posted 01 August 2019 - 07:15 PM

Long focus refractors are a PIA mechanically unless they are in an observatory or similar.  I've had 80mm and 100mm, F/16 refractors in the past and despite the excellent planetary images, the long moment arm of the tube makes stability at high power in any kind of breeze nearly impossible, even with adequate mounts. I'll take the Maks any day due to the short tube and ease of overall use. As B. Bob said, the eyepiece can make a big difference also.  Assuming reasonable aberration correction, the biggest issue on axis I have had with some eyepieces when planetary observing is internal reflections, even with coated optics.

 

Frank 


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#7 Bomber Bob

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 09:01 AM

I'm crazy about my spectros eyepieces for lots of reasons, but their suppression of glare is a big one.  I think it's attributable to several things:  simple designs that require fewer lenses (Kellners & Plossls), blackened lens edges, and the cases & internal metal parts are all black anodized.  So far, those black components haven't shown shiny metal through scratches.

 

spectros Eyepiece Set 20160721 S01.jpg

 

There's some evidence that Zeiss supplied the lenses.  No matter, those three Big Kellners (50, 40, & 30mm) have 35mm barrels with a 1.25" adapter.  I have a few scopes that accept them without it, and those views are spectacular!  (I'm thinking of Jupiter at 100x with the 30mm in my 6" F20 Tinsley Cassegrain.)  All 9 spectros have flat edge-to-edge fields, but the fields aren't wide...

 

I do see some on-axis glare with the TV eyepieces.  But the wider fields, and excellent contrast & resolution in the Questar are worth it.  I thought the greater weight of these eyepieces would affect the Q's balance, but so far that hasn't been a problem.

 

This focus on eyepieces relates to How we use our Questars.  The accessories matter.  I'm sure lots of Q owners have seen this, too.  So my comments are more for those new to the Q.  If you're disappointed in your first few sessions with your new Questar, try different eyepieces.  My 2 original 1958 eyepieces are Erfles, and the only newer 1.25" eyepieces I have that will focus with the Q's flip-finder are also Erfles.  Not a problem.  I use a 16mm to locate an object, then switch to a UO Orthoscopic once I have it in view.  For this Side-by-Side, I used the eyepieces I know from experience work best with these scopes.

 

In most sessions, I pair my Questar with my 80mm F5 RFT on the VersaGo.  I get both high-power smaller field & low power wide field views -- best of both worlds.

 

Sorry, didn't mean to write a dissertation!  My comments are for prospective Questar owners.  We get so many asking if the Questar is worth the high cost relative to other options.  I say:  Try some of the other scopes, and see the pros / cons for yourself.  This is my 50th year in our hobby.  You can see in my signature inventory that I've tried every type (except Mak-Newtonian), and I bought a Questar.  In 3 years, absolutely no regrets, and no complaints.


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#8 fcathell

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 01:25 PM

Good comments B. Bob. I think for anyone that is NOT into wide AFOVs and who's interest is primarily planetary and double star viewing, should look into the older Brandon eyepieces and the older Vixen "volcano top" orthoscopics that University Optics sold.  I think Celestron and Meade both may have also labeled these latter eyepieces back in the late 70s and early 80s.  These were great planetary eyepieces that didn't deflate your wallet. The eye relief left a bit to be desired but they were superior contrast wise.  If I remember correctly, the later Celestron "Ultima" and Orion "Ultrascopic" Plossls were pretty good. Meade had the series 300 and 400 Plossls at that time and I definitely preferred the series 300 versions.

 

Frank

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#9 BillHarris

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 06:36 PM

BBob said:
Yes! The Q is much much easier to deal with than my 3" or larger refractors.

Absolutely. I recently got a Questar that I have lusted over since '59 and for the first 3 weeks of use I let the truck's tailgate down and set the Q down on it and looked at the Moon in alt-az mode. It was effortless. Later I got a Meade 884 and it's light and stable.
Most useful small scope in the world. Later this Fall, I intend to do some bird watching and photography.

I was in the BAS in the mid-late '70's, too. Did we know each other? Same name then as now. PM me if you need to.
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#10 Matt Looby

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 06:39 PM

Thanks for all the comments Gents.  The famous Criterion A.R. ocular is in  hard to beat in a long focal length instrument.  I use the 18mm and the 12.7mm  with the Quantum, there is little to no light scatter on Jupiter and they are sharp as a tac. 

 

Thee "Questar USA"  are outstanding oculars (24mm and 16mm)  with my Q3.5 and they are called upon if the seeing is good, otherwise I keep the original two in the eyepiece barrel. 

 

I have been using my 5" refractor lately, but Jupiter is just too low for good seeing.  Although the mount for it is set up,

I choose to observe in comfort using a table top.

 

V/R,

 

Matt



#11 BillHarris

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 07:22 PM

Oh, and on eyepieces: the Questar/ Brandons are excellent. My favorite high-power eyepiece is my University Optics 12.5mm Plossl. I have some long focus (28 and 20mm) Meade eyepieces that I'd like to try on deep sky objects, along with a 24mm TV wide angle.
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#12 Bomber Bob

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Posted 02 August 2019 - 08:23 PM

The famous Criterion A.R. ocular is in  hard to beat in a long focal length instrument.

 

I've used them in my Edmund 4" F15 refractor, but haven't tried them in the Q.


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#13 Bomber Bob

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 11:54 AM

I was in the BAS in the mid-late '70's, too. Did we know each other?

 

Hey Bill!  I started driving over in Fall 1977 -- usually about once a quarter.  I was the long-haired Gregg Allman look-a-like with the brown Chevy Chevette, and Tasco 80mm F15 EQ.  I'm 100% awful on names (that's why I never promoted to General), but I never forget a face.  I think the last time I made it over to B'ham was in 1980.  As I recall, it was a great group of folks -- got some very helpful tips.



#14 BillHarris

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 10:57 PM

That was so long ago, you don't ring s bell. Late '70's was pre-Spain Nursery observatory times! I Spain was in use by the early '80's. The new dark site on Chandler Mtn was established in the late '80's. Things happened much faster than they seemed at the time!
After a break, I'm getting back into Astro with a ccd camera on the same old 'scope. And I'm dabbling with Lunar-Planetary photos with the Questar I got for my B'day.

#15 BillHarris

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 11:07 PM

And speaking of eyepieces, I just ordered a TeleVue 8mm Plossl eyepiece for high power Lunar-Planetary viewing. I'll report back on how it works out.

#16 agmoonsolns

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Posted 04 August 2019 - 11:19 PM

I think you might find the 8mm Brandon delivers a slightly better performance and will reach focus with the Questar finder. It's also just a bit more comfortable to view through than the 8mm TV Plossl. The old Celestron Silvertop eyepieces are on par with the TV Plossls, but will reach focus with the Q finder.


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#17 justfred

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 04:42 AM

I like the Brandons too. I agree the 8mm is hard to beat. Truthfully the Naglers may edge it out but you better be looking close. If I have to swap eyepieces more than three times to tell a difference then i call it a draw... :-)

 

Bomber and Bill - the BAS is till going strong! Come visit if you're ever this way.

 

Bill - we were in Florence earlier this year and you don't have to go far from the city to find some dark. Nice.

 

Fred


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#18 Matt Looby

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Posted 05 August 2019 - 09:26 AM

An ortho is tough to beat- 'had my 12.5mm UO ortho in the 3.5 last night on Jupiter, it produces a bright and contrasty image- . 



#19 terraclarke

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 08:04 AM

I EXCLUSIVELY use my five thread-in Questar Brandens with my Q. I used to have the Televue 1.25” adapter and tried others, but for me, the Brandens just make images ‘pop’ in the Questar.


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#20 Matt Looby

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 11:06 AM

Ergonomically, my preferred eyepiece set is the  40x-80x, 80x-160x where the later is the lunar and planetary piece.  Having observed Jupiter, my eye prefers the yellow hue, the amount of detail seen is hard to distinguish between the Brandon, ortho.  The 80x-160x is an excellent finder eyepiece where in my dark sky I can low power all night. The 40x-80x is a deep sky piece, it can handle all objects except Jupiter. With Jupiter there is ghosting.


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#21 rcwolpert

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 12:43 PM

I EXCLUSIVELY use my five thread-in Questar Brandens with my Q. I used to have the Televue 1.25” adapter and tried others, but for me, the Brandens just make images ‘pop’ in the Questar.

I totally agree. I’m a Televue eyepiece fan, but a side-by-side comparison with the Brandens had the Brandens provide just a slightly better view each time. I was surprised. So I sold my Televue 1.25” adapter which I really didn’t need or use. I still use the Televue eyepieces with my other scopes.


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#22 Brent

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Posted 07 August 2019 - 11:44 PM

+1 Terra. I cannot explain why, but the view through a Brandon in the Questar I just LIKE better than through other eyepieces I’ve tried—and I’ve tried many brands and designs.
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