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WO Zenithstar 81 or an AT 102ED Opinions?

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#1 Jacktbm

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Posted 03 April 2020 - 11:26 PM

Hi Everyone - would love your input on getting back into the hobby.  I am looking for a grab and go set-up to cruise wide field views, doubles, planets and bright deep sky (Messier targets or similar).

 

My budget allows about $1,500 all in so considering the WO Zenithstar 81 or the AT 102ED - will put them on a Porta or Twilight alt-azmuth mount and pair them with Baader Hyperion Eyepieces.

 

I've had an 8" SC and 4" Telvue Genesis in the past pared with Neglar eyepieces .  I loved the view and contrast from the Telvue and want to repeat those memories.  Life's issue for me is my wife is handicapped so I will not get to spend hours at a time at my scope like I used to.  Looking to keep this stored in my unheated garage so it is pretty much ready to go when I have a few spare moments, get my wife settled for the evening and head out for a bit of time by myself.  There is a nice field just steps from my place so I am thinking a 5 min walk - 45 min of viewing - back home in an hour or so.

 

My last set-up was back in MN - I now live in northern CO about 4500 feet higher in elevation and much darker skies than the northern suburbs of Minneapolis. Considering these factors I am thinking the 81 will repeat the performance I remember with a lighter, smaller overall package - but the extra aperture sure sounds intriguing as well even at the expense of more weight and slightly lower quality glass.  I have no thoughts of doing anything other than visual enjoyment.

 

Give me your thoughts and recommendations - talk me into one of these or make a suggestion for something I have not considered.  Thanks!

 

 



#2 russell23

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 05:33 AM

Welcome to CN.  I'm very sorry to hear about your circumstances that make it more difficult for you. 

 

Regarding your scope choices.  For comparison I currently have the 102mm f/7 Astrotech (AT) and the Stellarvue (SV) 102mm f/7 Access.  Recently I had the 80mm f/7 SV access which is the same scope as the Williams optics.  I also had the 61mm f/5.9 Williams optics APO.

 

All of these scopes are excellent.  Here are some thoughts:

 

61mm f/5.9 WO -->  I know you are not considering this one, but I mention it just for the purpose of letting you know that I found the scope had outstanding optics and the focuser was possibly the best stock focuser I have ever  used.  So you don't need to worry about the optics or mechanics of the WO scopes.

 

80mm f/7 SV Access --> Again excellent optics and mechanicals.  Here is what I liked about this scope:

 

~Super stable on a Vixen SuperPolaris mount which has a similar weight rating to a Vixen Porta II mount.  

~Nice short OTA length means that eyepiece height changes very little during observing.

~Very sharp optics

~Fast cool down time for short observing sessions

~Impervious to shaking on the mount due to winds.  Not sure if you were to go out in >15mph winds, but at less than that I never had an issue.

 

Here are the potential drawbacks in your decision:

 

~Because of its shorter focal length it does put up a real tough challenge for eyepiece edge performance.

~Compared to the 102mm f/7 scopes the loss of light is noticeable.  I also have a 120mm f/7.5 APO and for me 102mm is the tipping point in aperture/portability.  When I use my 102mm scopes I do not feel like I am losing an important amount of light relative to the 120mm whereas in the 102mm vs. 80mm I thought there was a noticeable light loss.

 

 

102mm f/7 SV Access

 

~Very stable on my Vixen SP mount - usually no vibrations unless there is some wind.  

~Extremely sharp optics

~Forgiving on eyepiece edge performance

~Fast cool down time for short observing sessions

~Nice light grasp for deep sky and planets (Obviously a 6" or larger dob will have a deeper reach, but I love refractors and 4" is enough aperture for me)

~Exit pupil is still larger enough at magnifications of 150-200x for good image scale and brightness on the Moon, planets, and some deep sky.

 

102mm f/7 AT APO

 

Same as above with one difference.  The SV Access is an fpl-53 glass doublet APO whereas the AT102 ED is an fpl-51 or equivalent doublet APO.  The SV102 has essentially perfect color correction visually, whereas the AT102 will have a small amount of noticeable chromatic aberration, but it is much better than a similar specification achromat.  I mention this because the 80mm f/7 SV Access and the WO81mm f/6.9 are both fpl-53 doublets which do not show any false color visually (at least not to my eyes).  

 

Now in comparing the SV102 Access to the AT102ED there is a small amount of purple fringe on the Moon at magnifications above ~100x.  I do not find it objectionable, but the difference is there and becomes more important as you push magnifications above 100x.

 

For both the 102mm f/7 scopes there are borderline assessments as to whether or not the Vixen Porta II with the stock tripod legs is sufficient mount.   Some people think it is fine.  Others do not.

 

 

One other scope to consider is the Astrotech 80mm f/7 ED doublet.  This scope is like the AT102ED in that it uses fpl-51 or equivalent glass.  It will have minimal false color.  But it is $399 so it costs half the Williams optics 81mm scope.

 

The reason I mention the glass types in this is not to confuse the matter, but your initially mentioned scopes are a case of comparing a larger aperture scope with very good but not perfect color correction to a smaller scope with essentially perfect visual color correction.

 

So those are my thoughts about those scopes.  If you reach a point of "analysis paralysis" just try to remember that every one of these scopes is excellent optically and mechanically.

 

Dave


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#3 drd715

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 09:44 AM



Regarding your scope choices. For comparison I currently have the 102mm f/7 Astrotech (AT) and the Stellarvue (SV) 102mm f/7 Access. Recently I had the 80mm f/7 SV access which is the same scope as the Williams optics. I also had the 61mm f/5.9 Williams optics APO.

All of these scopes are excellent. Here are some thoughts:

61mm f/5.9 WO --> I know you are not considering this one, but I mention it just for the purpose of letting you know that I found the scope had outstanding optics and the focuser was possibly the best stock focuser I have ever used. So you don't need to worry about the optics or mechanics of the WO scopes.

80mm f/7 SV Access --> Again excellent optics and mechanicals. Here is what I liked about this scope:

~Super stable on a Vixen SuperPolaris mount which has a similar weight rating to a Vixen Porta II mount.
~Nice short OTA length means that eyepiece height changes very little during observing.
~Very sharp optics
~Fast cool down time for short observing sessions
~Impervious to shaking on the mount due to winds. Not sure if you were to go out in >15mph winds, but at less than that I never had an issue.

Here are the potential drawbacks in your decision:

~Because of its shorter focal length it does put up a real tough challenge for eyepiece edge performance.
~Compared to the 102mm f/7 scopes the loss of light is noticeable. I also have a 120mm f/7.5 APO and for me 102mm is the tipping point in aperture/portability. When I use my 102mm scopes I do not feel like I am losing an important amount of light relative to the 120mm whereas in the 102mm vs. 80mm I thought there was a noticeable light loss.


102mm f/7 SV Access

~Very stable on my Vixen SP mount - usually no vibrations unless there is some wind.
~Extremely sharp optics
~Forgiving on eyepiece edge performance
~Fast cool down time for short observing sessions
~Nice light grasp for deep sky and planets (Obviously a 6" or larger dob will have a deeper reach, but I love refractors and 4" is enough aperture for me)
~Exit pupil is still larger enough at magnifications of 150-200x for good image scale and brightness on the Moon, planets, and some deep sky.

102mm f/7 AT APO

Same as above with one difference. The SV Access is an fpl-53 glass doublet APO whereas the AT102 ED is an fpl-51 or equivalent doublet APO. The SV102 has essentially perfect color correction visually, whereas the AT102 will have a small amount of noticeable chromatic aberration, but it is much better than a similar specification achromat. I mention this because the 80mm f/7 SV Access and the WO81mm f/6.9 are both fpl-53 doublets which do not show any false color visually (at least not to my eyes).

Now in comparing the SV102 Access to the AT102ED there is a small amount of purple fringe on the Moon at magnifications above ~100x. I do not find it objectionable, but the difference is there and becomes more important as you push magnifications above 100x.

For both the 102mm f/7 scopes there are borderline assessments as to whether or not the Vixen Porta II with the stock tripod legs is sufficient mount. Some people think it is fine. Others do not.


One other scope to consider is the Astrotech 80mm f/7 ED doublet. This scope is like the AT102ED in that it uses fpl-51 or equivalent glass. It will have minimal false color. But it is $399 so it costs half the Williams optics 81mm scope.

The reason I mention the glass types in this is not to confuse the matter, but your initially mentioned scopes are a case of comparing a larger aperture scope with very good but not perfect color correction to a smaller scope with essentially perfect visual color correction.

So those are my thoughts about those scopes. If you reach a point of "analysis paralysis" just try to remember that every one of these scopes is excellent optically and mechanically.

Dave


Russell23's points are right on target. For visual the 102's are noticeably brighter than the smaller scopes. In your case you do have to consider portability, but you should be able to carry it in a padded hand case for the ota and a hand strap for the mount. Or a small two wheel hand cart (marine dock cart) is a way to move things around. The above note about the color free SV with better glass is a point to consider. The 102 F-7's being slightly longer and not as steep light cone will give you a better/brighter view at a higher power and larger exit puple (at a given power - different eyepieces to get a comparison at the same power between a longer fl and a shorter fl). Maximum portability for lower power wide viewing might be some binoculars - 50mm hand held or 70mm on a parallelogram mount. But the F- 7, 700mm fl will give you close up crater views on the moon and a better image scale on planets. Also the 102mm vrs the smaller diameter scopes will give you more detailed resolution which is noticeable on the planets and moon. The shorter scopes are excellent at wide views, but for the higher powers the extra aperture will give a brighter view and more resolution detail.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
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#4 Bill Barlow

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 11:14 AM

I don’t think the SV access 80/102 scopes are for sale new anymore.  SV sold the last of them.

 

Bill



#5 russell23

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 11:49 AM

I don’t think the SV access 80/102 scopes are for sale new anymore.  SV sold the last of them.

 

Bill

Correct.  The Williams Optics versions should be optically equivalent to the SV Access.  I mentioned the scopes I have experience with because the OP is deciding between an 80mm class fpl-53 doublet and a 102mm fpl-51 doublet (or equivalent glass).  I have or had the 80mm and 102mm Access and the 102mm AT and the WO61 so I felt like I could cover a lot of ground for reference to both the quality of the different brands (all excellent) and the quality of the color correction for the different glass.

 

At any rate, the advantage of the  WO80mm is more stability on the mount and better color correction.  The advantages of the AT102mm is better light grasp, brighter image at larger image scale, and easier on eyepiece edge performance.

 

I don't want to make a recommendation between the two because it just depends upon what the OP values more.  Both scopes are excellent.


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#6 Jacktbm

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Posted 04 April 2020 - 09:55 PM

First off - thank you all very much - this has been extremely helpful and has really narrowed this down to 3 questions

 

1) Aperture vs elevation - which I do not understand 2)  Mount stability- very important and I get that , 3) Cool down time - I also get that. 

 

So please keep helping me understand

 

Point #1 - Will an 80mm FPL53 at 5400' in elevation perform similar to a 2 decade old 102mm fluorite at 900' in elevation - does anyone have experience in that area?  I don't - I know the view in my binoculars at this elevation is far brighter than in MN.

 

Point #2 - My MN mount was literally power hammered into the bedrock I then placed rebar into the holes and put a 10" pier filled with concrete on top of that - if you hit the mount accidentally with a truck it wouldn't budge...I am thinking stability of the mount is important to me so 6+ lbs versus 12 lbs on a portable mount is a real differentiating factor - and it is windy in northern CO.

 

Point #3 a triplet is not in the cards it will take to long to acclimate and blows my budget. My concern is the AT is 12 lb scope while the WO's is a 6+ lb scope - I don't have a lot of time in my circumstance and basic physics says 6+ lbs cools down faster than 12 lbs...irregardless of where it is stored.

 

Mount stability and cool down time favors the smaller scope.  The real question then is Point #1 will I be happy with the brightness of the images I see based on reduced aperture versus the higher elevation and darker skies I have as a basis now?

 

Thoughts?



#7 NYJohn S

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 09:45 AM

I have the Stellarvue 80mm f/7 SV Access and the AT102ED. Russell23 summed up the differences between the 2 in his post nicely.

 

I can't answer your question in regards to elevation but in most cases I prefer the larger aperture of the AT102ED over the SV80A. It resolves more detail than the difference in aperture suggests. 

 

Out of the mounts you mentioned I wouldn't put the AT102 on the Twilight I. It takes too long to settle at high power and makes focusing a challenge. From what I have read the Vixen Porta II is better in that regard.

 

The 80mm is definitely more stable on the mount and easier to carry. Neither is very heavy but the AT102 does seem quite a bit larger when they are side by side. I traveled with the 80mm in my RV for that reason but missed the extra aperture of the 102 so I made room for the larger scope. 

 

I can get away with using the 80 on a photo tripod with a fluid head. I use it like that when I'm tight for space or just want the lighter grab-n-go setup. It works well as daytime spotter when setup like that.

 

They both cool fast enough for me and I'm in the NE and view throughout the winter.


Edited by NYJohn S, 05 April 2020 - 12:40 PM.


#8 russell23

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 09:49 AM

Here is a photo with the 80mm SV Access, AT102ED, and SW120ED.  Retractable dew shields are fully extended.

 

 

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#9 russell23

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 09:59 AM

Here is the SV102 Access on my Vixen Superpolaris Mount in alt azimuth mode.  The only time I have needed anti-vibration pads is when the ground has been frozen solid during the winter. 

Attached Thumbnails

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#10 Jaimo!

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 09:59 AM

I have both telescopes you mention so let's compare apples to apples, the AT102ED (from 2018 with the non-sliding dew shield) and a new WO Z81.  I think we have thoroughly discussed FPL-51 vs. 53 and 100mm vs 80mm.  But what is not able to be compared without experience are the little extras that WO includes with their scopes.  These two scopes, while similar, are marketed to different segments, much like a Toyota vs. Lexus, both have the same pedigree, the WO has a lot of nice extras that the AT does not, or could not offer at its incredible price point.  The WO includes the, integrated Bahtinov mask, thermometer in the focuser, integrated finder mounting in the grab handle on the top (I really like this), better finish, nicer rings and dovetail; none of which will assist you in visual observing, but these options and the fit and finish are in a class above the AT102ED.   From my experience with both scopes, if I were to only be able to keep one and visual was the only option, I would keep the AT102ED without question.  While people like to talk about the "false color around bright objects"...  I'm keeping the 102 because of its aperature and ability to see dimmer objects.  If you look at my photos, I have both scopes set up for clear nights, and it is obvious that I use the WO with it's better glass, smaller aperature, and all the other options (IMHO) for astrophotography and the AT102ED is my most used visual scope.  Also, the AT102ED is an absolute bargain, with the money I'd save I'd invest in a mount upgrade, if needed.

 

I also absolutely love the red finish of the WO, it compliments my ZWO astrophotography equipment, but that has no effect on visual either...

 

EDIT:  Also carrying the scopes out to photograph, I didn't notice much different in weight, the WO is a stout little scope.  Also the imaging gear is mounted, so take it for what it is worth.

 

IMG_20200405_101813-small.jpg

 

IMG_20200405_101822-small.jpg

 

IMG_20200405_101850-small.jpg

 

IMG_20200405_101856-small.jpg


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#11 Jaimo!

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 10:03 AM

Continued...

 

IMG_20200405_101901-small.jpg

 

IMG_20200405_101919-small.jpg

 

Finish on the AT102ED, is glossy and seems a little thin, more prone to scratches and nicks (first photo below); than the semi-matte, textured finish on the WO (second photo below).  

 

IMG_20200405_102104-small.jpg

 

IMG_20200405_102110-small.jpg

 

Enjoy and if you have and specific questions do not hesitate to ask, except for elevation...  I have no clue, it may depend on atmospheric conditions.

Jaimo!


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#12 russell23

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 10:06 AM

My Williams Optics Z61 had the best finish and mechanical function of any scope I have ever owned.  If I did not pick up the SV 102 Access on the close out sale I might have gone for the Z103 at some point.


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#13 Jaimo!

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 10:44 AM

My Williams Optics Z61 had the best finish and mechanical function of any scope I have ever owned.  If I did not pick up the SV 102 Access on the close out sale I might have gone for the Z103 at some point.

Yea, but you pay for that.  WO sells the Z61 for $480, while the Astro-Tech sells the AT61 (arguably the same scope) for $370.



#14 Jacktbm

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 12:04 PM

So to all of you THANK YOU for your input - so valuable!!

 

Soyuz your candid comments really tipped the scales on the scope - It appears that instead of investing more in a scope I should take the extra $200 and invest it in a more stable mount - or more pertinently in a more stable mount/tripod system.

 

The key here is this is  it is a SYSTEM that is only as good as its weakest link

 

So I am thinking the AT102 with a Stellerview M2C head on a Televue Tele-Pod tripod ($500 investment versus $200 for the Twilight that needs handyman fixes) - a bit over budget but balances aperture and stability...any suggestions here?

 

Also - no one has commented on the Baader eyepieces - Spec wise they seem like a bargain - Back in my day the 13MM Neglar was an obnoxious $299 and a small child couldn't lift it - the 9, 7 and 4.5 were under $200 - I am dating myself but there is no way I am going to afford similar eye pieces today. 

 

I am thinking anything more than 150X is not practical on a portable mount.  So my choices right now are the Baader Hyperion 21MM - 8MM and the 28MM adjusting ring which will bring the 8MM to 5MM thus 142X on the AT scope.  If I am wrong and the mount can support it I can always pick up the 3.5MM and get 204X for another $150.  I will get the 36MM eventually which will give me 20X and a 3.6 degree FOV but for now I'll use my binoculars.

 

So my 2 last questions are - Mount suggestions and comments on eyepieces.

 

I can not imagine how long this would have taken without all your assistance - Thank you again!!



#15 ewave

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 12:21 PM

+1 on the AT102

 

On the EP choices, I would seriously consider the Baader Morpheous  (76o) while on sale, specifically the 17.5mm and a shorter FL like the 9mm.  But if they are still too expensive, have you thought about the Baader Hyperion Zoom?  It could cover a range of EP focal lengths and then you could add a Baader 2.25x barlow.  I like Baader products and happen to own a few of their EPs and diagonals.



#16 Jaimo!

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 01:20 PM

So to all of you THANK YOU for your input - so valuable!!

 

Soyuz your candid comments really tipped the scales on the scope - It appears that instead of investing more in a scope I should take the extra $200 and invest it in a more stable mount - or more pertinently in a more stable mount/tripod system.

 

The key here is this is  it is a SYSTEM that is only as good as its weakest link

 

So I am thinking the AT102 with a Stellerview M2C head on a Televue Tele-Pod tripod ($500 investment versus $200 for the Twilight that needs handyman fixes) - a bit over budget but balances aperture and stability...any suggestions here?

 

Also - no one has commented on the Baader eyepieces - Spec wise they seem like a bargain - Back in my day the 13MM Neglar was an obnoxious $299 and a small child couldn't lift it - the 9, 7 and 4.5 were under $200 - I am dating myself but there is no way I am going to afford similar eye pieces today. 

 

I am thinking anything more than 150X is not practical on a portable mount.  So my choices right now are the Baader Hyperion 21MM - 8MM and the 28MM adjusting ring which will bring the 8MM to 5MM thus 142X on the AT scope.  If I am wrong and the mount can support it I can always pick up the 3.5MM and get 204X for another $150.  I will get the 36MM eventually which will give me 20X and a 3.6 degree FOV but for now I'll use my binoculars.

 

So my 2 last questions are - Mount suggestions and comments on eyepieces.

 

I can not imagine how long this would have taken without all your assistance - Thank you again!!

As for the eyepieces, back in the day the Baader Hyperions were all the rage, and great eyepieces for their price point...  But the Explore Scientific ES82 and ES68 lines, have de-throned to become a leader in the $125-$175 price range...  Although, as mentioned above the Morpheus' are on sale and priced competitively and do get very good reviews.

 

If you already have the Hyperions, use them and with experience with the scope figure where you want to go from there.

 

For my general viewing, I take an old 21mm Pentax XL, and a 7mm and 5mm XW, I'm usually covered for most things.

 

Jaimo!


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#17 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 02:39 PM

It's interesting that so many have had these two scopes are scope so very similar.  I will say that Dave Russell's evaluation was pretty much spot on for me.

 

In my case, I have owned a William Optics 80mm F/7 Megrez II FD since about 2005 and I had the very first Astro-Tech 102ED ever.  The Megrez II was sold as having a Fluorite objective but in reality, it had an FPL-53 objective.  A friend has the second generation AT-102ED, it is very similar to the original with the exception that the new scope has a much better focuser.

 

Review of the original AT-102ED 

 

5428754-Meade 16 inch and AT 102 Starpad.jpg

 

Some comments:

 

- I used the AT-102ED on a Vixen Portamount. I felt it was adequate, not optimal but with the slow motion controls, it does a good job as long as it's not windy.  Today I use that same Portamount, very much the worse for wear, with a somewhat sturdier wooden tripod and my TeleVue NP-101, a slightly heavier and longer scope. I view double stars at about 310x with that scope. I love the ergonomics of the Portamount.. It would be nice if they made one a little bigger but oh well... 

 

- Fit and finish: My friend has had various newer WO scopes.  To my eye as a mechanical engineer, the WO scopes are flashier but mechanically and finish wise, they are very similar to the AT-102ED. My 15 year old WO, the paint has not stood up well. I consider the fit and finish on the AT scopes to be very nice.  In terms of the best fit and finish, that has to go to my TV NP-101.  It's also 15 years old, it's not flashy, kind of boring, but it gets banged around and it's built to be used and paint and finish is still like new.  Mechanically it's a superior, very well thought out, not just your typical upscale Chinese scope. Of course it costs $4000... 

 

- When I owned both the Megrez II FD and the AT-102ED, (about 2 years), the 80mm was used rarely if ever.  The AT-102ED wasn't as perfect but it was plenty good and the added aperture more than made up for it.  

 

I don't think altitude will make all that much different... Eyepieces, those will be a long term project.  Diagonal.. A good 2 inch is what you want.  

 

Jon

 

 

 

 


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#18 Jaimo!

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 02:51 PM

Yea Jon, 

My 12-15 year old WO66SD finish is wearing thin also... but the OP is not asking about that scope.  The new WO's have a completely different finish and I do feel there is a difference in fit and finish between the two scopes in question, just looking at them side by side this morning, but I'm not a mechanical engineer.

 

Jaimo!



#19 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 03:47 PM

Yea Jon, 

My 12-15 year old WO66SD finish is wearing thin also... but the OP is not asking about that scope.  The new WO's have a completely different finish and I do feel there is a difference in fit and finish between the two scopes in question, just looking at them side by side this morning, but I'm not a mechanical engineer.

 

Jaimo!

 

I like the fit and finish of both the Astro-Tech and the William Optics scopes.  They are both very nicely made and very likely come out of the same factories.  For my sensibilities, they are both very pleasing and more than enough to satisfy me. I do prefer white or black.  

 

My main point is that I wouldn't decide between these two scopes based on fit and finish, other factors are far more important.

 

The ZenithStar 81mm is also on the heavy side for a 80mm, according to the website, it's 7.8 lbs.  That is almost 2 lbs more than my 80mm Megrez II.  

 

I think you have it right.  For visual, the AT-102ED, for Astro-photography, the Zenithstar 81mm

 

Jon


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#20 Jacktbm

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Posted 05 April 2020 - 10:20 PM

This has been a big help - thank you for all the input!  You helped me get on the right path

 

- Jack


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#21 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 06:03 AM

This has been a big help - thank you for all the input!  You helped me get on the right path

 

- Jack

:waytogo:

 

Jack:

 

I agree, buying a Dob is your best bet.  :lol:

 

Just kidding. 

 

Jon



#22 NickWDavis

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Posted 06 April 2020 - 08:19 AM

If you can find someone who has a 2MC mount that you can try first I'd recommend doing so. I have not been very happy with mine.

 

I bought it thinking it would replace my Twilight I but it has not. Sure it can carry more weight and is more stable but the motion sticks on both axes making nudging it at high powers quite frustrating.

 

If I'm planning to use any powers over 100x I use the Twilight I for its slow motion controls.


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#23 Jacktbm

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 09:01 AM

Thanks for the heads up on the mount - I decided to go with a Porta II Tall - It appears to have a great following so should be easy to move on the second hand market if I don't feel it is stable enough or I could pair it with a heavier wooden tripod for a bit more stability in the wind.

 

Reading more into the Morpheus eyepieces - Like what I am seeing and will probable go for the 4.5MM and then a couple Hyperion in longer focal lengths as a middle budget approach to get started - I am also considering a 36 Hyperion and a 17 & 4.5 Morpheus if my budget allows for a bit more spending.  I can fill in later as my budget allows.

 

I considered the 24-8MM Baader zoom but at 24MM it only has a 40 degree field of view, I don't think I would be happy with that.  I like my big wide lower power views...


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#24 CollinofAlabama

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 05:47 PM

A little late to this party.  I'd definitely get the AstroTech 102 ED over even an excellent, WO 81mm FPL-53 ED scope, for the extra aperture.  Refractor enthusiast Jim Barnett has noted that, for visual use, every millimeter of aperture is critical in refractor performance, and I wholeheartedly agree.  The AT 102 ED does not have perfect color correction, and I can believe the WO 81mm with the FPL-53 style glass would, but for most folks, the extra sharpness would be offset by the lack of resolving power and brightness of the 102mm optic.  In fact, that'd even be true, for me, for a 4" achromat, having used all three of these extensively, I'd take a 4" F/10 achro over an 80mm ED scope, just for its resolving power.  But the AT102ED has better optics than a 4" achro, for sure.

 

But for mounts, I like this one.  I don't have the Levenhuk variety, I have the GSO, which I got from Agena, but they're not selling it anymore, apparently (it's been out of stock for months, and they can be a bit late on dispensing with things they've ever had in stock, but aren't going to anymore).  This mount can handle the AT102 well.  Might need to beef up the legs with some weight, perhaps replacing them with some heavier duty ones, but the mount head is quite nice.  Also, you'll need this tray, but they're not too expensive, and this will REALLY help make the mount solid (and give you a great place to set your eyepieces, too).

 

I am not a fan of the Morpheus eyepieces.  They're WAY too heavy on the diagonal when swapping between lighter weight models, and may require re-balancing for an F/7 4" refractor if you move from a Morpheus to a plossl or ortho, for example.  I think the AstroTech Paradigm 12mm and 5mm models from our sponsor are pretty nice, for very cost effective solutions, eyepiece-wise.  I am also a big fan of the TV Nagler T6's (and the T5 16mm).  My eye relief requirements aren't very demanding, however, so you might prefer other models.  They're great!  The Baader Classic Ortho 10mm and 6mm ain't half bad, either, but they are tighter, eye relief-wise, and certainly don't have a particularly wide field.  But eyepieces are a discussion unto themselves.  The scope (AT102ED) and mount (GSO/Levenhuk Alt-Az) are excellent choices, and one great way to get back into this field.  Good luck


Edited by CollinofAlabama, 07 April 2020 - 05:47 PM.


#25 Jaimo!

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Posted 07 April 2020 - 10:33 PM

I completely agree with Collin on the mount, Astro-Tech used the sell it under the name Voyager, I used it for years.  Excellent mount for the money and can carry a little more weight than the Vixen Porta.  

 

Jamie

 

Edit: I found an old photo, unlike the photo in the ad which the arm is at 90 degrees, you can adjust the arm to a 45 degree angle with the two silver bolts in the photo this allows you to observe zenith, also you can move it either direction depending which side the dovetail is located...  sometimes an issue with a Cat.  After owning for a few years, I upgraded the tripod to a wooden Oberwerk tripod and it is a great addition, it raises the mount and adds stability.

 

20170517_162645 - Small.jpg


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