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Thinking of replacing my 11" Dob with a Cat

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#1 hboswell

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 01:51 PM

Maybe I've lost my mind, but - I have a Starmaster 11" EL that's a wonderful scope.  It's my third Starmaster, and I've loved all of them.  So what's the problem?  Two bad knees, a bad shoulder, a bad ankle, and being older than when I got my first one.  It's just getting to be a chore to get the rocker box and mirror box out to an observing site.  I'm finding myself taking it out less and less.  And, with my soon-to-be full retirement, my wife and I are hoping to be spending more time camping, and the EL takes up lots of room in our truck - more than she will be willing to allocate.  So I've been thinking of replacing it with something like the Nexstar 8se, or Evolution 8 or 9.25. If I reading the specs right, any of those would weigh less than the EL, but would they be more "transportable" when camping?  And most important, would I feel like I've given up too much optically compared to the EL?  Am I nuts?

 

Harry



#2 Eddgie

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 02:05 PM

Yes, you are nuts.

 

Consider having someone like  Dobstuff make you an ultralight setup using your existing mirrors.  It will cost less and in the end, you will have a far more capable telescope.

 

Or, sell it and get a 6" f/4 imaging reflector and small Alt-az mount, and stick an image intensifier in it.   That will give you about the same limiting magnitude as a 12", and you will get out of this world nebula views. No planets, and no colors though, but spectacular astronomy.  Also, amazing for hand held views of the Milky Way and large nebula fields like Barnard's Loop/Angelfish/Horse Head/Flame/Rosette neighborhood (all visible in the same true field!) and with an SLR lens, fantastic for medium size nebula like California and Eta Carina or the giant Cassiopeia complex. Best of all, you can do very effective observing from light polluted skies.

 

And, you can see around your camp in the dark.. Way cool. 

 

I would not take such a big trade down though. The Starmaster 11 so superior to a 9.25" SCT that they should not be mentioned in the same sentence.  And these scopes would probably not be any more compact or easier to put move than your scope converted to Ultra-light configuration. 

 

Just my opinion of course.  Me? I went image intensified and I am doing the most fun astronomy in my 35 years of observing. Small scopes, super simple and portable, and highly effective.  It is different for sure, but maybe after 32 years, I was needing a change.  


Edited by Eddgie, 21 October 2019 - 02:47 PM.

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#3 OleCuss

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 02:15 PM

The 8SE is a good performer and I can literally carry it one-handed whilst set up on its tripod.  (I do recommend a two-handed carry).

 

I'd bet the Evolution would be an even better performer in terms of the mount and convenience.

 

As I get older I increasingly appreciate light and compact.  My biggest optic is a 12" Dob which is now my least-used by far (should probably sell the thing it is used so little).


Edited by OleCuss, 21 October 2019 - 02:17 PM.

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#4 Bataleon

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 02:27 PM

Maybe I've lost my mind, but - I have a Starmaster 11" EL that's a wonderful scope. It's my third Starmaster, and I've loved all of them. So what's the problem? Two bad knees, a bad shoulder, a bad ankle, and being older than when I got my first one. It's just getting to be a chore to get the rocker box and mirror box out to an observing site. I'm finding myself taking it out less and less. And, with my soon-to-be full retirement, my wife and I are hoping to be spending more time camping, and the EL takes up lots of room in our truck - more than she will be willing to allocate. So I've been thinking of replacing it with something like the Nexstar 8se, or Evolution 8 or 9.25. If I reading the specs right, any of those would weigh less than the EL, but would they be more "transportable" when camping? And most important, would I feel like I've given up too much optically compared to the EL? Am I nuts?

Harry

Well, obviously you're giving up aperture so that's the biggest thing I'd look at, but other than that, can't think of much besides the reduced field of view inherent to cassegrains. If one knows what they're doing, that's easy enough to address. Optically, Celestron SCTs are probably best in class as far as mass produced telescopes go so wouldn't worry there.

As for weight, neither the C8 or 925 are particularly heavy (at least not compared to their Meade peers!) and though I don't personally own an Evolution, a buddy of mine does and it really is a remarkably lightweight setup without sacrificing much if at all in terms of stability. I can heft his entire Evo C8 rig in one hand by cupping the base of the mount, OTA and all, which I can't quite say about my CPC that's been transplanted to an EQ6-R (true in both cases!)

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#5 junomike

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 02:44 PM

I agree with Eddgie although an SE/EVO 8" is a quick, light set up. I'm just not sure it will deliver as you're used to an 11".



#6 carolinaskies

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 02:47 PM

The single arm mounts are much easier to transport.  Space wise the 8se will be about the size of a standard footlocker with the tripod set on top.  The EVO mounts are slightly larger but still smaller than your 11" broken down.  The overall weight out of the carry cases will be 15-2olbs average but without all the assembly steps you have to currently go through.  

The main difference you'll notice with the SCT is the F/10 focal ratio knocks down your field immensely so if you liked to pan around with the 11" at low power you will be in for a rude awakening.   The SCTs even when using a focal reducer like an F6.3 won't compare.   

Really a good Dob is such a different beast that if you have to make this move for your convenience and health you're going to need to adjust expectations to what the SCT is going to deliver.  That being said, there are many people who enjoy the 8" and 9.25" models for their simplicity.  



#7 Bataleon

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 02:49 PM

You could always get a 6" refractor.

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#8 Eddgie

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 04:25 PM

To be fair with my earlier response, all of the things you are looking for  home in squarely on the only thing that SCTs are particularly good at, which is packaging.  Even Roland Christen used to have a C8, and I can't imagine he got it for it's optical excellence.  I suspect, that like with your quest, he values the compact size.

 

Nobody is going to call you ugly if you get a C8, but it is a pretty big step down from where you are. 

 

I would still try to find a way to get to smaller, easier to pack setup with your current optics than take the very serious limits of the C8 or maybe an ultra-light 10" f/5 because a C8 is going to leave a lot of performance on the table, and a C9 is going to wind up as heavy and as bulky as a 10" f/5 ultra-light and once again, not have the same performance. 

 

I am a big champion of the smaller SCTs because they can mount on the same mounts as small refractors and give a lot more aperture. 

 

Over 8" though, and to me, the balance of power shifts rapidly and decisively to the reflector, and modern ultra-lightweight designs will deliver a solution to all of your problems. 

 

It is absolutely amazing to see how incredibly light and compact even very large dobs can be made and many of these scopes are stunningly beautiful. 

 

http://www.raycash.org/travelscope.htm

 

https://www.pinteres...36535720/?nic=1

 

So, for the same weight and price, you can probably have someone like DobStuff resurrect your Stamaster into something totally new and amazing and you can keep the original furniture for resale (though if you were selling it to me, I would rather have the ultra-light packaging!)

 

I am just dumbfounded by some of these ultra-light scopes I see out there.   Spectacular innovation on this front. 


Edited by Eddgie, 21 October 2019 - 04:27 PM.

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#9 Bataleon

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 04:29 PM

Eddgie's got a point. Much of the material in a closed tube Newtonian is superfluous when all you really need is two mirrors and the means to adequately space them from each other.

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#10 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 05:38 PM

Even Roland Christen used to have a C8, and I can't imagine he got it for it's optical excellence.

 

 

I believe it was the optical deficiencies of the C-8 that began Roland's quest for optical perfection.

 

In terms of replacing the 11 inch EL, I had a 10 inch EL. Good scope but a modern truss can be lighter and much more compact. Dobs have come a long ways in the past 20 years.

 

Jon



#11 hboswell

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 05:55 PM

After reading through all the responses, and maybe more importantly getting home and checking my secret scope cash stash, I discovered it's a bit bigger than I remembered.  So now I'm thinking I'll hang on to the EL for a couple more years at least, and maybe buy a 6SE (or maybe grab a used 8SE) for camping trips.  That should pack away pretty nicely, shouldn't it?

 

Harry


Edited by hboswell, 21 October 2019 - 05:56 PM.

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#12 stevew

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 07:05 PM

 

 

Nobody is going to call you ugly if you get a C8, but it is a pretty big step down from where you are. 

 

Not really a step down if he is reluctant to take out his 11 inch Starmaster due to the size.

A good C8 is a very capable telescope, showing more detail on planets and deep sky objects than a refractor costing much more.

In the end it comes down to which scope will get him outside more often.



#13 OleCuss

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 08:28 PM

After reading through all the responses, and maybe more importantly getting home and checking my secret scope cash stash, I discovered it's a bit bigger than I remembered.  So now I'm thinking I'll hang on to the EL for a couple more years at least, and maybe buy a 6SE (or maybe grab a used 8SE) for camping trips.  That should pack away pretty nicely, shouldn't it?

 

Harry

The 8SE and 6SE can be considered to be pretty compact but it depends on what you are trying to fit it into and how much other stuff you plan to bring.

 

I store and transport my 8SE in a Beato bag which measures 25"x14"x11".  I tend to transport the tripod un-packed.  The 6SE will be somewhat more compact but since I think it uses the same mount and tripod as the 8SE it won't be quite as much smaller as one might suspect.

 

If you don't mind the narrow FOV one might also consider the ETX-90.  Much less aperture but most have good optics.  Very compact.

 

Another that I like for travel/camping is the backpack version of the ETX80.  Not great optics but quite enjoyable under dark skies if you aren't working the Moon or bright planets.  A sister-in-law conspired with my wife to get the one I had.


Edited by OleCuss, 21 October 2019 - 08:29 PM.


#14 Neptune

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 09:02 PM

I was told by a dealer to stay away from the Evolution 9.25 as he thought the mount was a weak link in that scope. The Evo 8" was ok though.  I ended up going with a 11" HD.  Spectacular scope but heavy.  I would go with the 8" HD on an EVO mount.


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#15 dr.who

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Posted 21 October 2019 - 09:18 PM

Maybe I've lost my mind, but - I have a Starmaster 11" EL that's a wonderful scope.  It's my third Starmaster, and I've loved all of them.  So what's the problem?  Two bad knees, a bad shoulder, a bad ankle, and being older than when I got my first one.  It's just getting to be a chore to get the rocker box and mirror box out to an observing site.  I'm finding myself taking it out less and less.  And, with my soon-to-be full retirement, my wife and I are hoping to be spending more time camping, and the EL takes up lots of room in our truck - more than she will be willing to allocate.  So I've been thinking of replacing it with something like the Nexstar 8se, or Evolution 8 or 9.25. If I reading the specs right, any of those would weigh less than the EL, but would they be more "transportable" when camping?  And most important, would I feel like I've given up too much optically compared to the EL?  Am I nuts?

 

Harry

You may feel like you gave up too much aperture BUT you will face a MUCH lighter setup that goes into the vehicle in easy to lift, easy to setup, and easy to pack pieces. 

 

If you are worried about optical quality then get the EdgeHD version of the scope. And most importantly add the Deep Space Products TEMPest fans to the scope. This, in my view, makes the EdgeHD worth the extra cost. The TEMPest fans, from personal experience, cut the cool down time quite a bit. Well worth the cost when instead of two hours to reach thermal equilibrium you are there in 45 minutes and not facing flairning wooly stars after 20-30! 

 

The 9.25 is the same length as the 11", only slightly less size in circumference,  and is only 8 lbs lighter than the 9.25". The 11" SCT will work perfectly fine on a Celestron AVX mount. I have personally done it, Rod Mollise aka Uncle Rod does it, and several others have as well. So if you are looking at the 9.25 think about going to the 11". It will be the same aperture as your dob but with likely a lot more focal length. 

 

If you are concerned with the health problems then the 8" EdgeHD paired with a 80mm to 102mm APO refractor like the Explore Scientific FCD100 glass APO's is a really really nice pairing. Mount them on either a Losmandy AZ8 with encoders and a Nexus DSC from Astro Devices (or not if you like star hopping) and you have a nice manual system with very little power requirements. If you want GOTO and tracking mount them on a Skywatcher AZ-EQ5 and you are good to go. You cover the small stuff and go deep on the big stuff with the 8" SCT and cover the big stuff with the APO. 



#16 salico

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 05:38 AM

My buddy Reinhard slimmed down a 14" Zambuto Starmaster from as far as I recall 55kg to 35kg. I think with a Ultra light design Dobsonian even more is possible...


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#17 bobhen

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 06:11 AM

I’ve seen a few of these age-related downsizing posts lately. I downsized a few years ago and I am seeing MORE now than ever, and with smaller and lighter telescopes.

 

These days you can replace aperture with technology.

 

A C8 with an inexpensive astro video camera will go MUCH deeper than any 11” telescope. The setup might be a little more complicated than a simple Dobsonian but each piece should also be lighter. The images will amaze.

 

A C8 and an inexpensive fast 102mm F5 achromat equipped with a much more expensive but even more portable image intensifier will give you the ability to see objects in real-time that were previously invisible. And image intensifiers are about the size and as light and as easy to use a TV Delite eyepiece.

 

Imagine taking out a 102mmm F5 refractor on an alt/az mount and seeing the Flame and the Horsehead Nebulas,

 

Imagine taking out the C8 and seeing faint globulars that were previously just a mist or glow become resolved.

 

A couple years ago I downsized and the Image Intensifier has more than made up for the loss of aperture, when it comes to deep sky observing. Now I get both portability and I get to observe objects that were previously invisible – that’s a win/win.

 

Below is my very portable and very powerful, wide field, deep sky, observing machine: a simple 102mm F5 refractor with an intensifier on an alt/az mount. Substitute a C8 for small objects.

 

Bob

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Edited by bobhen, 22 October 2019 - 06:13 AM.

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#18 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 07:32 AM

I’ve seen a few of these age-related downsizing posts lately. I downsized a few years ago and I am seeing MORE now than ever, and with smaller and lighter telescopes.

 

 

That worked for me.. as I was approaching 70 I decided it was time to downsize. I bought a 22 inch F/4.4 and then sold the 25 inch F/5. That knocked about 2 feet off the eyepiece height and allowed me to use a shorter, lighter ladder as well. The smaller scope didn't result in more eyepiece time but it changed the balance between the 16 inch and the larger scope. With the 25 inch, I used the 16 inch more than the 25 inch, with the 22 inch, I use it more than the 16 inch.

 

The 16 inch and the 12.5 inch are my travel/camping scopes as well as my backup scopes for those Nights when it's overly windy or I am not feeling energetic. Here's a photo of the 4 scopes clearly showing the size differences.

 

4 Dobs plus Jon.jpg
 
In the context of this thread:  I'm 71 now, my strategy is to have the scopes already in place so That as I age, the transition to smaller scopes occurs naturally. Hopefully I will age gracefully so as time passes, I will just use the smaller scopes more and the bigger scopes less. There will probably come a day when the 22 inch is just too big and heavy.  If I live long enough,  they'll come a day when the 16 inch is too much. I figure the 12.5 inch will be with me until the end.
 
So I think Harry is on the right path, keep the 11 inch and add something more compact, lighter, easier to deal with. That way, the process, the transition can occur naturally and the decision of which scope to choose can be made on nightly or case by case basis rather than in a "now it's here, now gone" manner.
 
I'd go with the 8 inch SCT, the 6 inch just gives up too much so it wouldn't be as much a replacement as a companion. 
Jon
 
 

 


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#19 descott12

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Posted 22 October 2019 - 08:35 AM

There are definitely some good suggestions that have already provided. I would say that if you do go the Celestron SCT route, definitely get the Evolution over the standard SE. I believe the optics are the same but the Evolution mount is WAY better.  It has much better drive mechanics, wifi, and a built in battery. Those extras really make a big difference.



#20 dr.who

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Posted 23 October 2019 - 09:33 AM

 

That worked for me.. as I was approaching 70 I decided it was time to downsize. I bought a 22 inch F/4.4 and then sold the 25 inch F/5. That knocked about 2 feet off the eyepiece height and allowed me to use a shorter, lighter ladder as well. The smaller scope didn't result in more eyepiece time but it changed the balance between the 16 inch and the larger scope. With the 25 inch, I used the 16 inch more than the 25 inch, with the 22 inch, I use it more than the 16 inch.

 

The 16 inch and the 12.5 inch are my travel/camping scopes as well as my backup scopes for those Nights when it's overly windy or I am not feeling energetic. Here's a photo of the 4 scopes clearly showing the size differences.

 

 
 
In the context of this thread:  I'm 71 now, my strategy is to have the scopes already in place so That as I age, the transition to smaller scopes occurs naturally. Hopefully I will age gracefully so as time passes, I will just use the smaller scopes more and the bigger scopes less. There will probably come a day when the 22 inch is just too big and heavy.  If I live long enough,  they'll come a day when the 16 inch is too much. I figure the 12.5 inch will be with me until the end.
 
So I think Harry is on the right path, keep the 11 inch and add something more compact, lighter, easier to deal with. That way, the process, the transition can occur naturally and the decision of which scope to choose can be made on nightly or case by case basis rather than in a "now it's here, now gone" manner.
 
I'd go with the 8 inch SCT, the 6 inch just gives up too much so it wouldn't be as much a replacement as a companion. 
Jon

 

 

For reference Jon is 6'+ tall. 


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#21 JMP

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Posted 24 October 2019 - 10:38 AM

I agree you should keep the 11 and add a portable scope to your line up. If you go with the SE, I'd get the 6", it's more stable on the SE mount. If you want the 8" the EVO mount is more stable. One of our club members put a C11 on his EVO but I can't recommend that.

 

I do think an EVO 8" might be just the ticket to go along with keeping the 11.

 

JMP



#22 Eddgie

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 09:03 AM

Like Bob, I now use image intensified eyepieces for all of my observing. The scope I use the most for dark sky trips is a 6" reflector, though I just did ad an AT 106LE and it also is a joy to use, and on top of that, I get a 3.5 field of view with a 31mm Nagler, though mostly I use the image intensifier.

 

And of course, I can see stuff from the city that I struggled to see from dark skies in the past.  Even from Bortle 5 skies (SQML 19.5) I can see a great deal of structure in the Helix Nebula.

 

Even from a white zone, I can easily see the great rift of the Milky Way with a lot of structure.  Under dark skies, it is probably better than being in space.

 

I have been doing astronomy for 35 years, and since I started using image intensified, I have have enjoyed astronomy more than the previous 33 years put together. 

 

If your days of using your Starmaster are really ending, consider re-capitalizing and going with a 6" or 8" imaging Newtonian and a good image intensifier.  (I sold a 6" Astro-Physics refractor, binoviewers, eyepieces and several other things to recover the money I spent on my first image intensifier and I never missed any of it for even a nano-second.

 

I used to hear a lot of objections to it, but these days, the number of people that are going intensified is climbing far faster than I would have imagined three years ago. 

 

So, for what you would pay for a C8 and a good mount, and what you could sell the Starmaster and a bunch of stuff you won't ever use anymore and you could set yourself up with a light weight image intensified system.  Just an option, but my own camping system is a 6" reflector, simple Alt-az mount, and image intensifier, and a filter wheel.   And the stuff I can see! 

 

C8s are small and light, and it is a nice choice for sure though.



#23 Eddgie

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 09:51 AM

Also, if you go with a C8, my recommendation would be to go with a Minitower type mount.  These are very compact and have the advantages of being able to work with up to about 5" refractors, so carrying a small refractor is pretty easy for them, and if you get the C8, you can put the C8 on one side and a nice wide field refractor on the other side.

 

The Minotower even weighs less than the Celestron Evolution mount, is more compact, and has higher carry capacity and it is many times more stable and more compact than the 8SE mount (though the 8SE is much less expensive.

 

The Celestron mounts are one trick mounts.  You can mount an SCT on them, or maybe a small refractor, but not at the same time.   The Minitower type mounts are some of the smallest, lightest mounts on the market.

 

The mount head on the Minitower weighs less than a Discmount 6 without DSC computer!  13 lb for the MT Az Mount vs 16.2 for the DM6, and the Minitower has built in GPS, setting circles, computer, and tracking!!!! (Thought to be fair, the DM6 has 40 lb carry capacity, but that is far more than is needed for a C8).  As stated earlier, the MT will also carry two scopes and the DM6 will only carry one. 

 

Now the tripod on the Minitowers is kind of heavy, but again, this mount is quite robust but again, that means that it is capable of handling two scopes at once. 

 

If you wanted to save a bit of weight, you could get a MT head and put it on an Avalon T-90 which weighs only 10 lbs.

 

( I have even considered getting the T-90 for my own MT mount. The 2" steel tripod is very sturdy and carries even long refractors with good stability, but I don't use anything on it but my 6" reflector and 106mm refractor.) 


Edited by Eddgie, 25 October 2019 - 09:56 AM.

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#24 25585

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 02:53 PM

Meade 10" SCT? 



#25 Bataleon

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Posted 25 October 2019 - 02:56 PM

Meade 10" SCT?

Meade SCTs are significantly heavier than their Celestron brethren, so might kinda defeat the purpose of downsizing lol

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