In the mid 1950's, there was an article in Science and Mechanics magazine about how to build your own reflector telescope. I bought the glass blanks from Edmund Scientific and started grinding. About a thousand hours later, I threw the "mirror" in the trash and stole my Dad's 7x50 binoculars instead. Then I spent two years in college majoring in Physics and Astronomy, but put that in the trash, too. Since then, I've looked at the stars through a sextant while doing celestial navigation, and the planets and moon through binoculars, but never did get around to buying a telescope. For the last few years I've subscribed to Astronomy magazine, and the urge to get a telescope is back. So...
I live six months of the year each in diagonally opposite corners of the country--summers in the foothills of the North Cascades in WA, winters, 10 miles in from the Gulf in western FL. In WA, I live on a ridge 600' up a 3,800' tall hill, back in the woods. I have a clear view to the northwest to north, but view in other directions is blocked by trees and big hills (the hill across the valley is 4,000', but the real mountains are a few miles up the road). In FL, I live in a mobile home park with lots of street lighting and a "ten foot tin to tin" setback. So in either place, getting much in the way of a view will require moving a scope around. In FL, at least, there is a spot a couple of miles away that is on the edge of a 33,000 acre wildlife preserve that I should be able to access without much difficulty--meaning I'll only have to carry a scope for about 100 yards. Most of my viewing will be what I've been doing with my image stabilized Nikon binocs--moon and planetary sighting, but I would like to try my hand at some DSO viewing as well. Astrophotography is well down the pike, if at all
My wife doesn't mind at all the idea of my spending enough to get a decent telescope, but she is not so keen on my buying several, which means that any scope that I get will probably have to be transported on Alaska Airlines (has one nonstop a day between Seattle and Tampa). I did a search here using the words "airline travel" and got a bunch of articles and forum posts, most of which involved small refractors--70 mm or so--but not much else. There were a couple of folks who talked of flying with a C5 or C6, and one who said he flew with a C8 carried as carry-on luggage. The C8 has an OTA diameter of 9" which happens to be the maximum depth that Alaska allows, so that is at least possible.
So what do all of you experts think? The Nexstar 8se is 33 pounds, the Nexstar Evo 8 is 43 pounds, but the OTA is 12.5 pounds in both cases. Then there is the Edge series. From the little I've been able to find out about refractors, it looks like a 102 is about the biggest I can fit into a carry-on bag, and the variety is overwhelming. Most of the refractors that I've looked at don't include a mount, so that is another problem to work through. I'm open to any and all suggestions. FWIW, my favorite picture of a "portable scope" was the guy who had his 16" Dob mounted on an electric wheelchair, including an electric tilt for the base.