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My experience using two 80-millimeter long-focus refractors

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#1 caussade

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Posted 13 December 2019 - 03:26 PM

The Orion and TMB refracting telescopes are both a joy to use, and will undoubtedly stay with me for life. I sometimes get offers to sell but have politely declined; as the reader will suspect, the thought of a sale has never entered my mind.

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#2 Rock22

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Posted 13 December 2019 - 04:47 PM

Well written!  I did indeed get to the end of your review.  I envy the opportunity to look at the night sky from Puerto Rico.  As for the review, it made me realize that an 80mm long-tube achromat is a tool that in the hands and eyes of a skilled and experienced amateur astronomer can yield very satisfying views.  While large aperture is so often desired, the increased weight and bulkiness of the scope can keep one from getting out under the stars often.  One of my favorite scopes to use is my 102mm f/9.8 achromat, but my ST80s (f/5) get plenty of sky time, too, because they are all grab-n-go scopes for me.

 

I was also very impressed that your review came after many years of using the two achromats.  That you have enjoyed using these telescopes for so many years is a real testament of their performance.  Too many opinions about equipment are based on one or two nights of observing.

 

Again, well done!

 

Best to you and all fellow backyard and amateur astronomers on the Rich Port of the Caribbean!


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#3 davidmcgo

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Posted 13 December 2019 - 05:15 PM

Great review!

 

Dave


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#4 Bean614

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Posted 13 December 2019 - 07:23 PM

VERY well done!   One of the most thoroughly enjoyable reviews I have had the pleasure of reading. 

A sincere Thank You! 


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#5 caussade

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Posted 14 December 2019 - 10:34 PM

Well written!  I did indeed get to the end of your review.  I envy the opportunity to look at the night sky from Puerto Rico.  As for the review, it made me realize that an 80mm long-tube achromat is a tool that in the hands and eyes of a skilled and experienced amateur astronomer can yield very satisfying views.  While large aperture is so often desired, the increased weight and bulkiness of the scope can keep one from getting out under the stars often.  One of my favorite scopes to use is my 102mm f/9.8 achromat, but my ST80s (f/5) get plenty of sky time, too, because they are all grab-n-go scopes for me.

 

I was also very impressed that your review came after many years of using the two achromats.  That you have enjoyed using these telescopes for so many years is a real testament of their performance.  Too many opinions about equipment are based on one or two nights of observing.

 

Again, well done!

 

Best to you and all fellow backyard and amateur astronomers on the Rich Port of the Caribbean!

Thanks for your comment, Jason!  My review is partly a memoir, as I wanted to impart this personal touch.  And yes, I still marvel what an 80-millimeter telescope is capable of.  These two telescopes have brought much enjoyment over the years, and I thought that my experience could be of interest to the Cloudy Nights community.  Amateur astronomy is alive and well here in the island, and what I shared is just a tiny bit of the work done since Halley's last visit.  I certainly look forward to sharing more in the future.

 

 

Great review!

 

Dave

Much appreciated, Dave!

 

 

VERY well done!   One of the most thoroughly enjoyable reviews I have had the pleasure of reading. 

A sincere Thank You! 

You're welcome!  I am truly glad to learn that my story has been found to be enjoyable.



#6 John Miele

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Posted 15 December 2019 - 03:51 PM

That was a great review. Not only for the wonderful technical portion but also for sharing your enthusiasm and joy for observing the sky! I agree with you 100% that field curvature can make or break the view in a refractor. These days I will not own anything less than f7 and look forward to viewing through an f11 tube sometime. Clear skies to you!...John


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#7 jerobe

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Posted 15 December 2019 - 08:29 PM

Armando, this is a very well written, informative and interesting review.  My experience mirrors yours, as my 3 inch f7.6 refractor (TV Oracle 3) is my favorite scope both for personal use as well as outreach.

 

I have such fond memories of Puerto Rico. I lived there during my high school years (IAU HS) in the 1960's and it's where I got my first telescope, a 60 mm cardboard tube refractor. Beautiful island, beautiful skies. A win-win!


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#8 Scott in NC

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Posted 15 December 2019 - 09:05 PM

Very nice article--well written and very informative.  Thanks for sharing that with us! :waytogo:


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#9 caussade

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Posted 15 December 2019 - 11:43 PM

That was a great review. Not only for the wonderful technical portion but also for sharing your enthusiasm and joy for observing the sky! I agree with you 100% that field curvature can make or break the view in a refractor. These days I will not own anything less than f7 and look forward to viewing through an f11 tube sometime. Clear skies to you!...John

Thanks for chiming in, John!  A number of people locally have asked about my refractors, and I thought putting the story into writing would benefit not only them but the larger astronomy community.  Clear skies to you, also.

 

 

Armando, this is a very well written, informative and interesting review.  My experience mirrors yours, as my 3 inch f7.6 refractor (TV Oracle 3) is my favorite scope both for personal use as well as outreach.

 

I have such fond memories of Puerto Rico. I lived there during my high school years (IAU HS) in the 1960's and it's where I got my first telescope, a 60 mm cardboard tube refractor. Beautiful island, beautiful skies. A win-win!

That's interesting, as I had never heard about the TV Oracle 3.  Googling it I found pictures, and what a beautiful scope that is.  Yes, the skies get particularly beautiful here around this time of the year, with amazing transparency that makes deep-sky astronomy possible even under severe light pollution.  And thanks for the compliments!

 

 

Very nice article--well written and very informative.  Thanks for sharing that with us! waytogo.gif

Thanks, Scott, and I absolutely had to share this story.  After reading and enjoying so many fine articles here in Cloudy Nights, the least I could do was to put my two cents in.



#10 careysub

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 11:49 AM

Very nice. It looks like long focus achromats are becoming scarce as hens teeth on the new market these days.

 

Orion still has 60mm and 70mm F/10 - F/11.7 achromats on offer, but Celestron has discontinued its 102mm F/9.8 (I'm glad I got one several years ago).

 

These are good economical scopes.

 

PS

 

I see that Vixen still has long focus achromats as well.

A 50mm F/12 (this is well above the strict Conrady zero CA lhreshold)

A 70mm F/10

A 70mm F/12.9 (probably close enough to the Conrady threshold that is zero CA)

A 80mm F/11.4

And a 105mm F/9.5.

 

This last would be similar to my Celestron GT 102, but this one is not especially cheap $900 (list $1260), by Celestron was $240 with the GoTo mountn (it was a special).


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#11 caussade

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 01:03 PM

Very nice. It looks like long focus achromats are becoming scarce as hens teeth on the new market these days.

 

Orion still has 60mm and 70mm F/10 - F/11.7 achromats on offer, but Celestron has discontinued its 102mm F/9.8 (I'm glad I got one several years ago).

 

These are good economical scopes.

Thanks, and I agree, these are very cost-effective.  Indeed, they are becoming niche items particularly in 100mm and over.  The 60mm to 90mm range (f/8 to f/12) seems better covered with recent offerings by Celestron and Meade, but I see extensive use of plastic parts and I am unsure about optical quality.  If the optics were on par with my Orion refractor, then they would be good beginner telescopes.


Edited by caussade, 16 December 2019 - 01:06 PM.


#12 nirvanix

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 04:00 PM

Nice article. Like you, I have an Orion achromat with a well-figured lens and love it. Keep on looking up!



#13 caussade

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 04:25 PM

Nice article. Like you, I have an Orion achromat with a well-figured lens and love it. Keep on looking up!

Thanks, much appreciated!  I have seen a couple of those 100mm f/6's here and there, and the owners are pretty enthusiastic about them.



#14 Magnus Ahrling

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 05:05 PM

Thanks for your very intressting and well written article and rewiev. I have never looked through a long focus refractor. Only 120 f/ 7,5 and 80 f/7,5. ED doublets

 

Magnus,

Sweden



#15 caussade

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 05:27 PM

Thanks for your very intressting and well written article and rewiev. I have never looked through a long focus refractor. Only 120 f/ 7,5 and 80 f/7,5. ED doublets

 

Magnus,

Sweden

Very grateful, Magnus, and I am glad that you found it interesting.  By the way, f/7.5 is pretty reasonable on a refractor and particularly with ED models.



#16 DeWayne

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 07:19 PM

Beautiful review!  Your writing style reminds me of the elegant, erudite early 20th century authors like Garrett Putnam Serviss.  Precise and scientific but with a lot of class and a touch of personal style.  And the subject, long focus refractors, is also near and dear to my heart.  Thanks for sharing your story.  It was also great to read how your friendships have played a part in the story - a unique and human touch that goes beyond the typical equipment review.  Nice work!


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#17 caussade

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 08:24 PM

Beautiful review!  Your writing style reminds me of the elegant, erudite early 20th century authors like Garrett Putnam Serviss.  Precise and scientific but with a lot of class and a touch of personal style.  And the subject, long focus refractors, is also near and dear to my heart.  Thanks for sharing your story.  It was also great to read how your friendships have played a part in the story - a unique and human touch that goes beyond the typical equipment review.  Nice work!

Wow, thanks!  Back in the 1980s I read a lot by Patrick Moore, whose writing style I always admired (and which now, perhaps, I imitate unconsciously); this is explained here: http://www.cloudynig...y/#entry8378269.  And yes, my review is partly a memoir in the sense that friendships and personal experiences have been influential in my development as an amateur astronomer.  Again, grateful for your reply which I read with much interest.


Edited by caussade, 16 December 2019 - 11:48 PM.


#18 SamTheMan

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 10:00 PM

One must remember that seeing conditions are always paramount, however, a person might think that someone like me, who has owned at least 100 scopes (including 8 Caves up to 12 1/2" and a Meade 16" Newt on a massive GEM) and been watching the sky since 1958 would praise his views of the planets with the largest scopes.  Not so.  My very best views ever of Saturn were a with 12 1/2" F6 Cave (ok it's big), but the next best view I ever had of Saturn was with a 80 mm F15 Towa and a Celestron Ultima 5 mm EP (240x) right in my dreary Northwest backyard in Auburn, WA.  Absolutely the best grab'n go scope I ever had and , like a fool.

 

My next best view of a planet with a small scope ever was Mars... HS Christmas Vacation...a few days after Christmas from my back yard in Garden Grove, CA.  I had been graciously loaned the school's 6" F8 Cave Astrola.  Viewing Mars at about 150x was really nice, then...the image became very still...razor-sharp...breath-taking!...absolutely Palomar text-book picture-perfect. I looked up and fog from the Pacific just 13 miles away was rolling in.  I knew that I had but a few precious moments to view, so I went back to the EP and didn't look up until Mars had vanished.  While observing, I tried to memorize every intricate detail That I had seen.

 

When Christmas Vacation was over, I visited the school library and the Garden Grove city library.  You might be surprised to learn that the libraries had all of the current, land-based pictures available of Mars.  Every single intricate detail of Mars that I had seen that night...I was able to identify in one of these books.

 

You don't need more aperture than 6", but you do need a clear and steady (and dark) portal to the sky. SamTheMan



#19 caussade

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Posted 16 December 2019 - 11:43 PM

One must remember that seeing conditions are always paramount, however, a person might think that someone like me, who has owned at least 100 scopes (including 8 Caves up to 12 1/2" and a Meade 16" Newt on a massive GEM) and been watching the sky since 1958 would praise his views of the planets with the largest scopes.  Not so.  My very best views ever of Saturn were a with 12 1/2" F6 Cave (ok it's big), but the next best view I ever had of Saturn was with a 80 mm F15 Towa and a Celestron Ultima 5 mm EP (240x) right in my dreary Northwest backyard in Auburn, WA.  Absolutely the best grab'n go scope I ever had and , like a fool.

 

My next best view of a planet with a small scope ever was Mars... HS Christmas Vacation...a few days after Christmas from my back yard in Garden Grove, CA.  I had been graciously loaned the school's 6" F8 Cave Astrola.  Viewing Mars at about 150x was really nice, then...the image became very still...razor-sharp...breath-taking!...absolutely Palomar text-book picture-perfect. I looked up and fog from the Pacific just 13 miles away was rolling in.  I knew that I had but a few precious moments to view, so I went back to the EP and didn't look up until Mars had vanished.  While observing, I tried to memorize every intricate detail That I had seen.

 

When Christmas Vacation was over, I visited the school library and the Garden Grove city library.  You might be surprised to learn that the libraries had all of the current, land-based pictures available of Mars.  Every single intricate detail of Mars that I had seen that night...I was able to identify in one of these books.

 

You don't need more aperture than 6", but you do need a clear and steady (and dark) portal to the sky. SamTheMan

An interesting story, and I totally agree with your statement on seeing.  I have watched Saturn through large telescopes from fellow amateurs (300mm to 400mm), but my best ever observation was done using only a 150mm Maksutov-Newtonian at 180×, again from a colleague.  The magic that night (could be 2006, if I remember well) was the unbelievable seeing which came from our location right by the coast in Vieques island, away from greater Puerto Rico and literally surrounded by the ocean on every direction.  Additionally, with Saturn around the constellation Cancer, the planet rode right into the zenith as seen from this latitude.  The air was amazingly calm (seeing was a solid Pickering 9 or maybe even 10) and the sight at the eyepiece was like a smaller version of a photograph by the Hubble Space Telescope.  That view was unforgettable!



#20 m9x18

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 02:03 PM

Wonderful review! I have a TMB/BOC Planet Hunter 80 that I purchased brand new from Astronomics many years ago. I cannot part with that scope. According to a phone conversation I had with Bill Burgess, only 50 were made. A person should consider themselves lucky to have one. It has a certain magic about it I cannot put into words. Perhaps it is the form. Maybe it is the function. Possibly it is both. Whatever it is; it is a true keeper. Thank you for writing about it.    



#21 caussade

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Posted 20 December 2019 - 10:54 PM

You're welcome, Robert!  Your comment on those 50 units is particularly valuable, as it effectively confirms the information that I had obtained from multiple secondary (but reputable) sources.  Yes the scope has a certain magic and, like you, I cannot see myself parting with this scope.  Thanks for chiming in!



#22 M11Mike

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 12:24 PM

I tend  to like longer FL refractors as well (I have a F8.8 APO) / I'm a visual only observer (no AP) ---  a lot friendlier with EP's and how well they perform near the edge of the FOV.  However - since DSO's are my favorite viewing objects - I like at least 4" of aperture.  

 

I would have a AP 130 but I really can't afford it and I have a bad back and need to keep the weight down.  My C102F OTA only weighs in around 10#'s or so - very light weight for a 4" frac.

 

Most longer FL 4" refractors start to get heavy.  The F13's, 15's - unwieldy.  And these limit the FOV that is so wonderful with mid and short FL small refractors.  

 

MllMike    



#23 caussade

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Posted 21 December 2019 - 08:22 PM

I tend  to like longer FL refractors as well (I have a F8.8 APO) / I'm a visual only observer (no AP) ---  a lot friendlier with EP's and how well they perform near the edge of the FOV.  However - since DSO's are my favorite viewing objects - I like at least 4" of aperture.  

 

I would have a AP 130 but I really can't afford it and I have a bad back and need to keep the weight down.  My C102F OTA only weighs in around 10#'s or so - very light weight for a 4" frac.

 

Most longer FL 4" refractors start to get heavy.  The F13's, 15's - unwieldy.  And these limit the FOV that is so wonderful with mid and short FL small refractors.  

 

MllMike    

Yes, more than 100 millimeters starts getting heavy and unwieldy, and less that becomes insufficient for deep space work.  I have read the post at http://www.cloudynig...-amazing-c102f/ on the C102 Fluorite refractor, and I have to conclude that this model strikes the perfect balance of aperture/size/weight vs light grasp.



#24 WyattDavis

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Posted 25 December 2019 - 06:53 AM

Thanks for taking the time to write this up Armando - very informative!



#25 caussade

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Posted 25 December 2019 - 11:10 AM

Thanks for taking the time to write this up Armando - very informative!

You're welcome, Wyatt, and I appreciate your post!




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