I would not start with the ED102.
My initial scope choice was not as good a choice; I got an ED102CF after watching some of Trevor Jones excellent AstroBackYard.com videos (highly recommended). The 714mm FL is a tweenier, too long for most nebulas and too short for most galaxies, and its focuser is seriously lacking. Last spring, I corrected this by getting an Esprit 100, which I have used mostly with a 0.75x FR/FF at 413mm, f/4.13. This is an AP killer scope and a terrific bargain (even at $2500), the ED102CF is not. The Esprit is significantly heavier and requires a beefier mount than the ED102CF (EQ6R-Pro, minimum).
As most will say, for AP you are better off with a 70-80mm APO triplet for your 1st scope, as the FL fits many DSO targets, and they are lighter and easier to guide than longer scopes. I agree, though I think of the Esprit 100 with a 0.75x FR/FF at 413mm, f/4.13, as a faster, more resolving 80mm (similar FL, but at 100mm for speed/resolution).
A scope that looks very interesting, at a little over $1,000 is the new Sharpstar 76EDPH, with its FR/FF, with a great nebula FL of ~340mm, and fast f/4.5.
I did much better with my 1st mount a few months later, after more research, much of it on CN, when I got an opportunity to get a ES/Losmandy G11 at a significant NEAF Demo discount. This has ES's PMC-8 controller system. PMC-8 works well, and ES support has been great. Granted the G11 is MUCH more expensive. In mounts, the SW EQ6R-Pro is the value leader, at $1595 ($1345 sale). The SW EQ6R-Pro is my beginning AP mount recommendation, as its value cannot be touched.
ES EXOS2 (w/ PMC-8) at sales prices do offer some attraction, but they are much more limited than the EQ6R-Pro, much less an iOptron CEM-60 or G11. For AP, I expect an ED102CF is its limit, as with cradle, camera, guidescope/cam, FF, and DSLR you will be ~15 pounds; the metal ED102 will add a couple more pounds. This weight and 714mm FL could pose a challenge for the EXOS2.
Edited by SilverLitz, 19 January 2020 - 01:04 PM.