Hello Cloudy Nights,
First, I would like to thank you all the members for providing their insightful opinions to beginners. It is really helpful.
My question is regarding viewing planets and maybe some bright enough DSO's and star clusters using a handheld binocular or other portable equipment
I used to have a 8inch dob (back in my home country) with which I was able to view planets, DSO's and clusters in a very light polluted environment. It has been 4 years now and I wanted to kickstart my hobby again but I don't have access to the 8 inch dob.
Obviously the views from dob cannot be matched with a bino or other portable equipment but still I have a bare minimum expectation which I describe below.
My first requirement is portability and my budget is around 150 USD. So I went ahead and bought a binocular - Nikon 8x42 Aculon. Yesterday I took it for first light. My observations are below
1) Sturdy binocular at a very cheap price of 80 USD.
2) The views of terrestrial objects is quite sharp and beautiful. Its almost like you are looking at objects with naked eye and the objects have been teleported near you.
3) Since I live in light polluted area, the number of visible stars is less but still way better than naked eye
4) My primary purpose to buy the binocular was to look at planets, specifically at mars, venus, jupiter and saturn. But I was underwhelmed as all of the planets looked liked stars instead of planets. When I say they don't look like planets, I mean they don't look like round objects but rather just dots. I was viewing handheld so it was shaky but I was expecting the planets to have some shape which was not there. I believe the magnifcation was too low. So now I am thinking of buying a 12x50 or 16x50 Nikon aculon for which I will obviously need a mount. It will be helpful if somebody can recommend a good mount for them which can also be used with a reflector or refractor.
My second option is to buy a refractor 80mm vs 90 mm and keep the nikon 8x42 to watch star clusters.
1) I have researched and found that Meade adventurescope and infinity are good refractors. Before I buy them I want to know if we look at planets using them, will they look like planets(round objects) and not dots.
2) Do I keep the bino or just return it.
My third option is to buy a reflector - 127 mm, 102 mm etc. I will need a good recommendation similar to meade adventurescope
1) How is a reflector of this size compared to a refractor of 80 mm in terms of views. I believe reflector will outpeform given the larger mirror size.
2) Portability. My understanding is refractor should be more portable but reflector is not that bad in portability that it should not be considered as an option
The above three option is to have an instrument which I can take out easily and look at some objects and not worry about setting up or portability and still enjoy the stars. So my questions are below
1) Should I keep the 8x42 ? I think the answer will be yes.
2) Buy a 12x50 or 16x50 aculon and a good mount that can also be used for a refractor or reflector OTA. Please recommend. I will exceed my budget of 150 USD if I buy a mount but I am fine with that if the mount can be used for another OTA (refractor or reflector).
3) Buy a refractor vs a reflector. Obviously both will cost around 150 USD for a good scope but it will not be enough as I will need good eyepieces and a focuser but then I will be able to use eyepieces for the dob, so that investment I am happy with.
Again when I say a good instrument, my only requirement is planet should look like round objects instead of dots. On saturn I should be able to see rings. Even with the 8x42 bino I believe I could see one moon of jupiter but no rings of saturn. Probably given better conditions, I can see more moons of jupiter.
Evenutually I plan to buy a dob and I was comparing the 10inch truss dob from ES and a 10inch tube dob from skywatcher or ES. The first things is the truss dob is more portable than the tube dob. But my understading is both have same weight. The problem with the truss is too much modifcations are required (dakota starry nights and one other box opening thread on CN by Dana) and second is setup time is quite high. Instead the tube is just plug and play. Though not easy to carry around. I will probably go with the tube dob from ES because the tube can be rotated on its axis compared to the skywatcher. I believe the optics of the main OTA will be same for truss and tube dob across brands. The main issue is I am unable to find the differences in accessories of the telescopes, especially the mount, focuser and eyepieces when comparing across 10inch truss ES, 10inch tube ES and 10inch tube skywatcher. Your inputs will be really helpful.
Thanks and clear skies