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Need recommendations on a smaller telescope

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#1 Beeham

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 05:15 PM

Hi!

 

I was hoping to solicit some advice from the wise Cloudy Nights voices...here's my situation:

 

After years of casual observation using only a pair of Nikon 10x50 binoculars on a tripod, this year I finally made the leap and built a 10" Dobsonian.  The project turned out really well and I've been very pleased with the optical performance.  I went with the 10" size based on my location (Birmingham, Michigan), which suffers from significant light pollution, thinking that 10" would provide sufficient aperture to see interesting things, and so far I'm pretty happy with how it's working.

 

Now, as the weather is getting colder, I am discovering the downside of this scope - in addition to being heavy and awkward to move (53" stem-to-stern and 12.5" tube), the mirror takes a long time to cool down, and it's kind of the opposite of "grab and go".  I'm contemplating purchasing a smaller, more portable scope for short-duration seeing when the conditions don't warrant dragging the "circus cannon" Dob outdoors.  I'm mostly interested in just visual observation (no astrophotography), and it would be great if the smaller scope had some faint-fuzzies capability in addition to planets/moon.  While a go-to might be neat, I'm not going to say it's entirely necessary, as I've had relative success finding stuff just using the alt/azimuth setting circles on my Dob.

 

I've poked around a bit and contemplated things like:

 

- Celestron Nexstar 6SE

- Meade ETX 125

- Celestron NexStar 127SLT

- Orion Starblast 62mm

- SkyWatcher ProED 100mm 

 

Obviously, from the variety of things on this list, it's probably clear I don't really know what I should be looking for.  Really I just need something that can be moved by a single person, fit in the back of a compact SUV, and ideally acclimate to temperature relatively quickly to compliment my existing low-power binoculars and large-unweildy Dob.  I'd like to set a nominal budget limit of $1000USD.

 

Advice is welcome!  Thanks!


Edited by Beeham, 08 November 2019 - 05:16 PM.


#2 macdonjh

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 05:25 PM

Can you store your 10" Dobsonian in your garage on a dolly or hand truck?  What about adding a fan to help cool your mirror?

 

Any of the scopes you list, with the exception of the StarBlast (just too small for me), would complement your Dobsonian well.  Because of their closed OTAs, the SCT and Maksutovs may take as long to come to equilibrium as your Newtonian, though.  Of course, you might have space in your garage for the smaller scope...

 

If it didn't require a mount, I'd recommend looking at one of the AstroTech classical Cassegrains.  Because they aren't packaged with a mount, they might exceed your budget.

 

As silly as this sounds, the Orion XT6 Dobsonian can be carried fully assembled, so it's more grab and go than your 10"...

 

Finally, I like to recommend 6" scopes over 4" scopes specifically because I noticed a huge leap in DSO capability going from a 4" scope to a 6" scope.  However, when I am at home, I still don't look at DSO because of light pollution.  I can see more with a 6" scope at the club dark site than I can with a 10" scope from home.  Sad, but true.  Because of the law of averages, though, my best views of the moon and planets have been from my driveway.


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#3 havasman

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 05:43 PM

The 100mm Skywatcher is a fine scope and the obvious (to me anyway) pick to complement your Dob but it's going to be a good trick to get it mounted and on a tripod w/in your budget.

 

None of the others look as good to me as a $200 AWB OneSky tabletop Dob would.


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#4 vtornado

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 05:43 PM

Hello and welcome to the forum.

 

Be aware that cat's have a long focal length, and have their own thermal issues.

A true companion to a big dob is a short focal length refractor on an alt-az.

 

I don't own it, but I think my dream scope is a 100mm f/7 ED.

If you can give up the aperture an 80mm f 7.5 is much easier to mount.

I have one on a portamount.


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#5 StarryHill

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 06:36 PM

- Celestron Nexstar 6SE

- Meade ETX 125

- Celestron NexStar 127SLT

- Orion Starblast 62mm

- SkyWatcher ProED 100mm 

Some comments...

 

The Celestron Nexstar 6SE, Meade ETX 125 and Celestron NexStar 127SLT, as popular as they may be, have very long focal lengths (1500mm to 1900mm) which means they are designed for small targets and not so great for sweeping views of the milky way, star fields or larger targets (i.e. Andromeda, Pleiades). And with enclosed mirrors, cool-down time might be an issue. Also, do you want to be able to move the telescope manually at least some of the time? With at least the 6SE, you must always use the hand controller. Don't know about the other two.

 

On the other hand, the Starblast 62mm has only 1/3 the focal length (520mm) which means it will be great on the wider targets but not as good on the small ones. I use a 60mm as a grab-n-go and enjoy it immensely but it is limited in its resolution being only 60mm and limited in its ability to let you see dimmer faint fuzzies.

 

From your list, Skywatcher PROED 100 is what I would choose and recommend. A three to four inch refractor is considered by many to be in a 'sweet spot' in terms of size vs performance and a great complement to a large dob. And since you aren't interested in astrophotography, I strongly recommend an alt-az mount rather than an equatorial due to the easier setup and use. Hope this helps.


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#6 aa6ww

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 06:43 PM

I use a C6 OTA on a light weight CG-4 tripod. Its light enough to move around my back yard as one complete unit which I like. I have a small tracking motor on my mount which runs off a 9v battery so it tracks well. If your skies are dark enough to star hop, GoTo isn't really necessary since you've probably already figured out how to star hop.

An ST-120 is another awesome small aperture scope which is a dangerous deep space scope that sets up in minutes and definitely gets the job done.

To me, its the mount that makes a Telescope system easy to set up and a pleasure to use.
Focus on the mount first. Alt Az mounts are popular and they are all capable of holding a C6 and easy to just pick up and walk with.

Starguy is my favorite Alt-Az mount because it has tall legs.

...Ralph
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#7 PNW

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 07:00 PM

It is true an SCT will need a cool down period and possible dew control. Mine is GoTo so I set it up in the front yard at dusk, then spend the next hour or so preparing a target list. The GoTo gets me to places that would be hard to star hop to in light polluted skies. It will have a much smaller FOV. I recently picked up an AR 127 for a wide FOV to compliment it. For no particular reason, I decided light pollution would negate the need for an APO. Wide field scopes are a natural compliment to SCT's. My fall back grab and go is the Infinity 102. It's light and requires little cool down. Good luck on your choices.



#8 Bean614

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Posted 08 November 2019 - 07:58 PM

PNW wrote "It is true an SCT will need a cool down period".

 

Actually, No, it won't.  Mine, also my G-N-G, is insulated with Reflectix.  Take it out of a 70F home into 20F air, and it's sharp and clear from the first second. (Plenty of threads on SCT insulation on CN!).  The C6 makes a great smaller scope, carried out in one piece with a lightweight mount/tripod, and the 6" aperture for a G-N-G is wonderful!



#9 dr.who

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 01:11 AM

Everything on there is a reflector aka mirror based scope except for the Skywatcher 100 ED. This will mean that for everything except the Skywatcher you are looking at collimating it when needed, a central obstruction taking away aperture, and cool down. For a cold climate and grab and go your options are, as Bean614 says, wrapping it in Reflectix or the Skywatcher. With the former you still have collimation to contend with which isn’t hard per se and some light loss due to the CO. In general a well made refractor that is at least a ED doublet like the Skywatcher performs like a reflector that is 1 to 1 1/2 inches bigger. So that 4” refractor is like a 5” or 5 1/2” reflector.

Mount it on a Explore Scientific Twilight I mount, add the Astro Devices encoder kit and Nexus DSC or buy the Skywatcher AZ-GTi and you have a fantastic grab and go system that will show you quite a bit above and beyond planets and the moon. And will bundle up into a compact kit for travel.

#10 LDW47

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 05:55 AM

Also check your ep collection for a good fit with whatever smaller, different type of scope you end up with, you may want to budget a couple of new ones into the mix ! Maybe you will need one 2” low power wide field and one to take you to those higher power levels. And ‘the beat goes on’ as a couple of well known singers from my generation used to say, lol !



#11 LDW47

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 06:03 AM

Wait till you see something like the Double Cluster through your own wide field scope at relatively low power, when the sky is at its best. It sure makes life worth living, worthwhile !



#12 MalVeauX

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 09:31 AM

Heya,

 

Sounds like a good reason to get a decent ED doublet refractor, something around 102mm or so, so that you can at least see some DSO and still perform well on bright subjects like planets, doubles, etc, thanks to the better correction of ED lenses. They're small and light weight and fairly easier to mount.

 

https://www.teleskop...-P-focuser.html

 

Maybe on a Porta II or something similar.

 

Very best,


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#13 Beeham

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 03:32 PM

Hi everyone,

 

First, I'd like to thank everyone for all of the great information here.  Your input has helped me narrow down my choices.  I'm going to need to make a big spreadsheet to compare all of the different options before I make a call here, but I'm not in a hurry; I'd rather make the right call than a fast call.

 

If anybody has any other thoughts, I certainly welcome additional input.

 

Cheers!



#14 wrvond

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 05:25 PM

I also have a 10” reflector and understand the work involved. The reality is that nothing worthwhile is really easy.

I settled on a 120mm refractor to compliment my light bucket. Six inches is just another yard cannon to haul around and four inches is too small to find the things I want to see. 
In any event you are going to be making several trips to get everything set up for the night.

 

1. Mount

2. OTA

3. EPs

4. chair, power,heaters, misc.

 

Lots of people claim they can do it all in one trip. I can’t. ;)



#15 jnmacastro

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Posted 09 November 2019 - 11:11 PM

If you go Skywatcher and new, the Skywatchers are going on sale starting on the 15th thru the end of the year.


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#16 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 12:04 AM

I am a big believer in having two scopes, one smaller and one bigger, that complement each other.. 

 

As a complement to a 10 inch Dob, i like an 80 mm-102 mm refractor, hopefully shorter focal length to provide wide field views and a compact, portable size, hopefully ED/app to provide good views of the planets and double stars.

 

Scope's like the Nexstar 6, the ETX-125 and the 127 SLT are compact but they have long focal lengths, about as long as your 10 inch Dob but without the 2 inch focuser. This means your Dob is more capable, wider field of view, greater light gathering and resolution..

 

The refractor provides much wider fields as well as being thermally stable, and free of a central obstruction... every one needs a 4 inch refractor..

 

The AT-102 ED is $600, a little less with your Cloudy Nights discount, $100 for a 2 inch diagonal, $300 for a mount.. $1000.

 

5949148-Meade 16 inch and AT 102 Starpad 2.jpg
 
Jon

 

 

 


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#17 aa6ww

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 03:35 AM

A C6 will let you recognize deep space objects. They are very very sharp if you dont play with the collimation screws like many do and then wonder why they have to keep jerking with them to make them right. 

SCT's should never need realighment unless someone starts playing with them. Few understand you have to tighten the screws instead of loosen them during the alignment process.

 For deep space, its a tiny scope with a big eye. The messiers, the NCG objects, planetary nebulas, open clusters, galaxies, everything will be more  obvious with more aperture.

Mine on my CG-4 is light enough to pick and move around my back yard easily with one small counterweight. My tracking motors battery is a simple 9Volts. I've yet to replace it this year.

 

We all have our own opinions just dont bite off more then you can chew, if you want to keep it simple.

 

They are all fun. Theres nothing that says you have to keep what you get it you dont like it. So get what feels right and if its not what you want, just get something else.

 

...Ralph

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#18 izar187

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 09:03 AM

Hi!

 

I was hoping to solicit some advice from the wise Cloudy Nights voices...here's my situation:

 

After years of casual observation using only a pair of Nikon 10x50 binoculars on a tripod, this year I finally made the leap and built a 10" Dobsonian.  The project turned out really well and I've been very pleased with the optical performance.  I went with the 10" size based on my location (Birmingham, Michigan), which suffers from significant light pollution, thinking that 10" would provide sufficient aperture to see interesting things, and so far I'm pretty happy with how it's working.

 

Now, as the weather is getting colder, I am discovering the downside of this scope - in addition to being heavy and awkward to move (53" stem-to-stern and 12.5" tube), the mirror takes a long time to cool down, and it's kind of the opposite of "grab and go".  I'm contemplating purchasing a smaller, more portable scope for short-duration seeing when the conditions don't warrant dragging the "circus cannon" Dob outdoors.  I'm mostly interested in just visual observation (no astrophotography), and it would be great if the smaller scope had some faint-fuzzies capability in addition to planets/moon.  While a go-to might be neat, I'm not going to say it's entirely necessary, as I've had relative success finding stuff just using the alt/azimuth setting circles on my Dob.

 

I've poked around a bit and contemplated things like:

 

- Celestron Nexstar 6SE

- Meade ETX 125

- Celestron NexStar 127SLT

- Orion Starblast 62mm

- SkyWatcher ProED 100mm 

 

Obviously, from the variety of things on this list, it's probably clear I don't really know what I should be looking for.  Really I just need something that can be moved by a single person, fit in the back of a compact SUV, and ideally acclimate to temperature relatively quickly to compliment my existing low-power binoculars and large-unweildy Dob.  I'd like to set a nominal budget limit of $1000USD.

 

Advice is welcome!  Thanks!

Consider a 6" f/5 newt, alt-az mounted.

On a tripod, pedestal or table topper. 

Same set of ep's can mostly work for either scope.

If you can keep the 6" at ambient, then it is alway read to observe.

 

Second consideration: 

If a newt fits in your SUV, then open up the tube, and some windows, for the drive out.

The newt be ready to high power observe when you get there.

Blower on for vibration free variable speed active cooling during observing takes care of the rest.

This will work for 10" too.

It is one of the ways my 13" has been grab and go for years.

Negating the need to head out early for set up and cool down.

Just drive out after dark, to the previously known observing spot, and start observing.



#19 airbleeder

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 09:24 AM

    I sometimes drive out to a dark site with my windows open so my dob will be close to ambient temp when I arrive. It works, I am pretty much ambient when I get there and the dogs enjoy the wind in their faces too.


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#20 dmgriff

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 09:50 AM

Entry Level 6in f/6 newtonian ota, 2in Crayford, rings/dovetail/finder. Tube length about 34in. Tube weight a little over 14 lbs. 

 

https://optcorp.com/...g-ota-telescope

 

200usd shipped.

 

Add a mount of choice.

 

Good viewing,

 

Dave



#21 Beeham

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Posted 10 November 2019 - 07:13 PM

Hmmm...much to think about.

 

Right now I am gravitating toward a 4" refractor on a manual mount.  I'm not sure weather an alt/az (easiest to set up) makes more sense than a GEM, but I'm leaning toward a GEM for the ability to add a clock drive at some point, which seems it might be handy.

 

I've been having decent luck cooling the mirror on the Dob by setting it out with the "tailgate" at the end of the tube open.  I drape a (clean) kitchen towel over the exposed mirror just to keep any stray debris (or bird poop!) off the mirror while it cools, but it still makes me a tad nervous having that big chunk of glass out in the open.  The bigger portability issue is just the size/weight/bulk of the thing...I may have over-engineered it with the plywood box, multiple internal baffles, etc. because now it's quite heavy.  I can manage getting it out into the yard OK, but walking it down the street to the local park for a more unobscured view of the sky requires quite a bit more commitment.

 

Next time I think I'l do a truss tube.  Live and learn - this was my first build!

 

Telescope


Edited by Beeham, 10 November 2019 - 07:23 PM.



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