I believe the OP was inquiring about SCTs (or other Cassegrain-type scopes). I'm not aware that Explore Scientific sells any of these.
OP here: I think that's right. Quite honestly, though I've even built my own dob in the past, i am a virtual noob when it comes to SCTs. The fact is that i don't feel confident identifying the difference between these. I know mine is a Maksutov Cassegrain. I know my Comet Catcher is a Schmidt Newtonian, and I understand how they work. Yet I don't know what terminology best describes the entire class of these short-tube, light folding wonders...all I know is they all seem to work well and have such a long focal length relative to their actual length and correlating weight. But I'm quickly becoming a big fan. I just showed my 16 year old daughter the moon and Saturn and got a genuine exclamation of interest out of her typically unimpressed self....that's saying something!
Anyway, my interest is that I think I can move up from my Nexstar 4SE to at least a 5-inch, and maybe a 6-inch and still keep under the weight I'm trying to stay under. However, after reading what I've just read, I may just hold onto my 4SE until after I purchase a 6-inch scope to assure myself that I don't inadvertently release a excellent performer to the wild. For now, I don't know whether what I have is average or above average, but I'm impressed by it...last night I saw the Casini Division boldly...I need to figure out other ways to test it (splitting double stars maybe?)
I can say I do get the manufacturing variability concept. 20 years ago I bought an 6-inch unlabeled circa 1980s Celestron reflector that worked so well that a seasoned amateur looked through it at the cigar shaped galaxy, turned around and said, 'mark my words...never sell this telescope". Yet I did. But thankfully bought it back 10 years later. I need to get that scope up and running, or replace it with a Mak that works as well.
To be brutally honest, i sometimes wonder if I've been lucky with finding better-performing scopes there and there, or whether I'm just easily impressed. I'd like to think the former over the latter, but in the end, does it really matter as long as I'm happy?
Edited by stevereecy, 09 October 2019 - 10:16 PM.