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Choosing between Astro-tech AT80ED and AT92

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#1 AdmiralAckbar

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 07:39 AM

Greetings, Friends,

 

I am planning to purchase a refractor in the coming weeks. It will be my first scope since I was a child, and it will mark my reentry into astronomy. Now that my living situation finally affords me access to dark skies, I am very, very excited about rediscovering the cosmos.

 

The two scopes that I am most strongly considering right now are the Astro-tech AT80ED and the Astro-tech AT92. I am hoping that, with the information provided below, you can help me make a decision.

 

  • What I am after is a highly portable, quality refractor that I can “grow with” as a beginning stargazer over the next 3-4 years (before I buy a larger scope), but that I will not necessarily “outgrow” once that larger scope arrives. I am only interested in visual use, and am quite sure that I will never move into astrophotography.

 

  • I am, without a doubt, most interested in DSOs. My assumption is that the 92mm would yield better results on DSOs, although the difference would not be immense, given that the apertures are only 12mm apart. Does this seem like a reasonable assumption? Please allow me to respectfully/preemptively decline the advice that I should get a dobsonian or larger refractor/reflector at this time. I intend to get a larger scope after a few years. I understand the limitations of aperture and, for several reasons, I want a small refractor at this time.

 

  • I am definitely looking for a portable scope. The portability factor doesn’t seem to vary too much between these two scopes. The 80 is a bit longer and lighter. The 92 is a bit shorter and heavier. So I doubt there’s much to say about this… but maybe there’s something I haven’t considered in regard to portability?

 

  • Obviously, the price difference is great. I am willing to pay extra for the 92 if it will really serve me better in the long run. Although this will be my first (in a long time) telescope, I want something that I can really use for many years to come. I would love to avoid buying/selling telescopes. Based on the reviews that I’ve read here on CN, I have the impression that the 92 is a scope that may serve me well for many years, even when I buy a larger instrument eventually. But perhaps that is equally (or almost as) true for the 80?

 

  • And I do wonder if the difference in quality between these scopes is proportional to the difference in cost. The AT92 is 4.5x more expensive than the AT80ED. What I need help thinking through is whether it is really 4.5x better for my purposes... I suppose that's the crux of this thread!

 

Thank you, in advance, for your feedback.

 

With love,

AA


Edited by rgsalinger, 29 March 2020 - 08:05 AM.

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#2 eyeoftexas

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:17 AM

Hi AA, and welcome to CN.

 

The price difference mainly derives from the AT92 being a triplet, and the AT80 not.  The AT92 will thus have much better color correction, but that will be noticed mainly on bright objects, like planets and the Moon.  On the other hand, the AT92 will gather about 1/3 more light than the AT80, so the jump in objective size is significant.  Given that your main objective is DSO's, like mine, the AT92 will give you better views and show more (better chance at resolution of stars in clusters, etc.).  But, given that you know you're going to get a better scope in the future, starting out smaller (and cheaper) might be fine as you can learn the skies and what can be seen.  Finally, the throw a wrench into the thought gears, if DSO's are your main target, you might want to consider a larger aperture Dob.  You'll get a lot more light gathering for the money.  It may not be as portable as a small refractor (depending on what you get).

 

Happy hunting, and Clear Skies.


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#3 MarkGregory

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:19 AM

It think it was a good idea posting your questions and concerns about which scope to buy. I can tell you this right now, Astro Tech refractors are top notch. I own the Astro-Tech AT 111EDT and absolutely love it. Everything about it exudes top quality and the views of the sky, Moon and planets are outstanding. The Astro-Tech folks are real professionals and very helpful. Anyway, before I give you my humble opinion, I will take a look at the specs on the two scopes and then come back and give you my observations. Will do that quickly because I am sure you are anxious for input. I am also sure other Cloudy Night members will give you good advice. Mark


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#4 eyeoftexas

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:21 AM

Forgot to add, the other half of your equation is the mount for your scope of choice.  Considering that you know you're going to get a more substantial scope in the future, take that under consideration when choosing a mount, so that you only need to purchase a new scope in the future and not a scope and mount.  That is, consider going more substantial now for the mount.


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#5 bobhen

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:28 AM

Between the 2 scopes that you list, the 92 would be the better choice, because it will gather more light and have more resolution than an 80 mm. You will have to pay for that.

 

Within a particular category: mounts, refractors, eyepieces etc., with astro gear quality, you “generally” get what you pay for.

 

The AT 92 with its wide field of view, portability, ability to observe the sun (with the right filter), will serve you well in many areas and would be a fine companion to a larger scope, if you get a larger scope in the future.

 

However, it sounds like you really want a high quality, “more general use” and yet portable refractor now. The 80 and 92 mm sizes are IMO more specialized sizes for people that already have a larger scope. This will be your only scope and you may or may not ever get that larger scope in the future.

 

Again, IMO, I find “my happy place” with a “general use”, high quality refractor to be the 100 mm size, especially if it is an “only scope”. There are many fine choices but I would consider a Takahashi FC100 DF or DC. They are very lightweight, have exquisite optics and are designed to be a general use (deep sky, lunar, planetary, solar) refractor. They will cost more than the AT 92.

 

If budget is an issue, look at the used market or run an ad for a lightly used, excellent condition sample. For your stated needs, IMO I would rather have a used Tak 100 DC or DF than a new AT 80 or AT 92.

 

Good luck with your choice.

 

Bob


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#6 Toddeo

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:30 AM

Check out a AT80EDT(triplet)


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#7 rustynpp

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:33 AM

Yeah, tough call. By all accounts the AT92 is fantastic and competes with truly premium scopes at twice the cost, but the price difference between the 80 and the 92 is substantial.

 

Very simply, as you've ascertained the 92 is a better scope but at a much steeper price. I could write 5000 words about why you might pick one over the other, but the bottom line of my opinion is that unless the money is not a factor, you should go with the 80. It's a very flexible package at a very affordable price, and will allow you to spend a little bit more to get nice accessories (mount/tripod, eyepieces, diagonal), which are just as important to the experience as the scope is (remember - it's a system, not just a scope). 

 

To be frank, as a beginner you don't yet know what you like. You say your focus is DSO's, but that can and likely will change over time as you find yourself exploring everything the sky has to offer. Spending 4.5x to eek out a bit more performance on DSO's (and it really is only a bit more, especially for an inexperienced observer) seems unwise, IMO.

 

Having said all that, I'd like to echo Bob's comment above and throw a wrench into your plans by suggesting a 4" apo, like the AT102. Many people, myself included, have concluded that a 4" apo is a fantastic all-around performer that would best the 80 or 92 in almost all aspects of visual astronomy, save portability. It will require a more substantial mount and tripod, but it is absolutely a scope you will not outgrow over the next 3-4 years.


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#8 clearwaterdave

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:38 AM

I suggest the AT,102,ED as well.,priced right,.not too heavy and a great performer.,good luck.,

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Edited by clearwaterdave, 27 March 2020 - 08:42 AM.

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#9 Jond105

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:39 AM

Both these are probably very good scopes. Looking for a first scope since you were a child, I’d hesitate on the at92. Not because it’s a bad scope or not as good as the AT80ED, because that’s more than likely very untrue. I’m just not sure before knowing that this is going to be something I stick with, to spend the money like that right off the bat. Just my honest opinion. For that I’d go At102ED or AT80ED for that matter. 


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#10 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:50 AM

Having said all that, I'd like to echo Bob's comment above and throw a wrench into your plans by suggesting a 4" apo, like the AT102. Many people, myself included, have concluded that a 4" apo is a fantastic all-around performer that would best the 80 or 92 in almost all aspects of visual astronomy, save portability. It will require a more substantial mount and tripod, but it is absolutely a scope you will not outgrow over the next 3-4 years.

 

 

In my mind, an AT-102ED is a viable alternative.  It has more aperture than either, good optics, particularly for deep sky.  At $600, the price is right and it does OK on a Portamount 2.  

 

The down side is a somewhat narrower maximum field of view but with the right eyepiece, it's capable of 3.7 degrees which is plenty for nearly all purposes.  It will have less field curvature than the 80mm and 92mm. 

 

The original AT-102ED was introduced in 2007 but was discontinued for a number of years.  Now there's a new, updated version.  The optics seem to be very similar but the focuser is much better on the new scope.  I had the very first AT-102ED back then and did a review.

 

https://www.cloudyni...h-at102ed-r1690

 

 

AT102ED_html_m56396c59.jpg

 

 

 

 

Jon


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#11 MarkGregory

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 08:50 AM

Ok, my gut observations. First, there is not too much difference between the aperture of the two scopes. However, the 92 will definitely   gather more light so DSO objects should be easier to see. However, as someone already stated, these refractors will not do as much justice to DSO observing as a larger DOB or large reflector. Having said that, I prefer refractors because I spend most of my time viewing planets and the Moon. Anyway, as you rightfully pointed out, there is a huge difference in the price of the scopes. I suspect that is because the 80 is a doublet and the 92 is a triplet. The glass in the triplet is most certainly better, and they cost more to manufacture. Triplets are the Cadillac of refractors. 

 

I really love the small, compact size of the 92. That scope rings my bells. For me, overall size and weight means a lot. The older I get, the less I like shlepping around a large scope on a large tripod. Smaller, lighter scopes are easier for grab and go. You should think about that and decide how much scope you want to tote around. Here is another consideration. If you go with the 80ED you will have lots of money left over to buy all the other goodies you will need to get the most from the scope, Mount, finder scope, oculars, tripod, etc. all of these items will add to the overall cost to get the scope going. 
 

Finally, do you think you will keep this telescope for many years? If yes, then go with the triplet. It is a better scope and I believe triplets keep their value better and if you ever decide to sell it you will do OK. Lucky for you, I think you really can’t go wrong with either scope. You narrowed your choices down to two really beautiful and effective astronomical tools. Hope my input helps.  
Mark

 

p.s. I noticed several members suggest you look at the AT102. That sounds like a great suggestion. 

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Edited by MarkGregory, 27 March 2020 - 09:14 AM.

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#12 Auburn80

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:07 AM

Not sure why you've selected these two to compare; they're quite different. Is it portability? That 80 is a modest ED doublet and the 92 is a better quality, blazing fast (for a refractor) triplet, making it an excellent choice for AP.
If you are absolutely set on those two, I'd suggest the 92. Just make sure you dont skimp on eyepieces. It will have some field curvature but that may not bother you.
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#13 jaraxx

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:13 AM

I have an 80mm, a 90mm and a 102mm scope. The 102 is where I would go if I had to choose one for night skies. The mount requirements are essentially the same - I wouldn't mount a 90 on anything I wouldn't stick the 102 on, and the difference in portability isn't that much - you might use two hands to pick up the 102 where you might get by with one hand on the 80mm.

If I had to choose between the 90 and the 80 for night skies it would be the 90. The 80 I used for night and day on long camping trips, but if the truth be told I'm not using it much currently.

 

If I were to buy the 80 it would be a cheap ST80 to acquaint myself with the sky before investing in another scope.


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#14 AdmiralAckbar

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:17 AM

Hi Everyone,

 

Thanks for the replies.

 

Please allow me to reiterate: I am not considering larger reflectors or refractors at this time. I want a small scope. Portability is one of the highest priorities right now, and a ~100mm scope is not portable enough for my needs.

 

Also, I understand the doublet/triplet difference. I can only refer back to my original quandary of whether the AT92ED is worth (in my situation) the extra cost. As I mentioned originally, I want a scope that I will grow with, but not soon grow past. Right now, I don't mind spending the money for that if the AT92ED will provide it.

 

So, again, thank you for the responses, and I will hope that subsequent replies will more closely take into account the information/questions I provided in my first post.

 

Warmly,

AA


Edited by AdmiralAckbar, 27 March 2020 - 09:18 AM.

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#15 AdmiralAckbar

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:19 AM

Not sure why you've selected these two to compare; they're quite different. Is it portability? That 80 is a modest ED doublet and the 92 is a better quality, blazing fast (for a refractor) triplet, making it an excellent choice for AP.
If you are absolutely set on those two, I'd suggest the 92. Just make sure you dont skimp on eyepieces. It will have some field curvature but that may not bother you.

I selected these two because they're both very portable and each offer a lot of value for their respective prices.


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#16 MarkGregory

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:28 AM

Hi Everyone,

 

Thanks for the replies.

 

Please allow me to reiterate: I am not considering larger reflectors or refractors at this time. I want a small scope. Portability is one of the highest priorities right now, and a ~100mm scope is not portable enough for my needs.

 

Also, I understand the doublet/triplet difference. I can only refer back to my original quandary of whether the AT92ED is worth (in my situation) the extra cost. As I mentioned originally, I want a scope that I will grow with, but not soon grow past. Right now, I don't mind spending the money for that if the AT92ED will provide it.

 

So, again, thank you for the responses, and I will hope that subsequent replies will more closely take into account the information/questions I provided in my first post.

 

Warmly,

AA

Just read your note. If it were me, I’d go for the 92. I love its size, aperture, and features.  Good luck. 


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#17 Toddeo

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:32 AM

I grabbed a    "ASTRO-TECH AT80EDT F/6 ED TRIPLET REFRACTOR OTA" .  It's a triplet, ED glass, only 6.5 lbs.  More on the way. I thought of a AT92ED- just too much $ for the little gain in aperture.  The AT80EDT is a great value for the money!



#18 Auburn80

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:33 AM

I selected these two because they're both very portable and each offer a lot of value for their respective prices.


As I suspected. I think you would really enjoy the 92 and it could be a nice complement to a larger scope in the future.

Best of luck!

#19 bobhen

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:33 AM

Hi Everyone,

 

Thanks for the replies.

 

Please allow me to reiterate: I am not considering larger reflectors or refractors at this time. I want a small scope. Portability is one of the highest priorities right now, and a ~100mm scope is not portable enough for my needs.

 

 

The AT 92 is 7.25 pounds

 

The Takahashi 100 DC that I mentioned above in my post is 6.1 pounds.

 

So you can have your cake and eat it too. 

 

Just because a scope is a triplet does not mean it has better optics.

 

Bob



#20 AdmiralAckbar

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:36 AM

The AT 92 is 7.25 pounds

 

The Takahashi 100 DC that I mentioned above in my post is 6.1 pounds.

 

So you can have your cake and eat it too. 

 

Just because a scope is a triplet does not mean it has better optics.

 

Bob

The Takahashi cake you're referring to is about twice as long as the cupcakes that I am looking at. Light as it may be, it wouldn't fit on the table I'm currently eating from.


Edited by AdmiralAckbar, 27 March 2020 - 09:38 AM.


#21 bobhen

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:46 AM

The Takahashi cake you're referring to is about twice as long as the cupcakes that I am looking at. Light as it may be, it wouldn't fit on the table I'm currently eating from.

Are you planning to travel by air with this scope? Is storage an issue. If not, length at these weights is not an issue.

 

Bob



#22 AdmiralAckbar

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:47 AM

Are you planning to travel by air with this scope? 

Yes.



#23 havasman

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:53 AM

Thanks AdmiralAckbar for your clarity in expressing your priorities and desires. You will likely be best served by the larger aperture AT92. Aperture matters!

 

My AT115EDT triplet has been a fine scope and apparently the optics of the AT92 are at a level above mine while fit and finish and mechanical factors are of the same cloth. It should be great.


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#24 bobhen

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 09:55 AM

Yes.

That makes a difference. The AT 92 makes sense. 

 

And of course you will also need a mount that "travels well" by air as well. 

 

Bob 


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#25 AdmiralAckbar

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Posted 27 March 2020 - 10:06 AM

Some of these responses have really spoken to the questions. Thank you!

 

I also wonder if there are any forumites who specifically use either of these scopes who could comment on the situation.

 

Lots of love,

AA




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