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Trying to get into Solar Observing - Equipment Choice

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#1 trumpetpa

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 07:46 AM

Greetings to all - I apologize for the length, but this is a really important decision for me and kind of an intro

 

I have been lurking, reading posts and looking at the fantastic pictures you all have been posting with great envy! I have been into night astronomy for 25 years and have dabbed a toe into solar observing a few times with your typical "normal" solar filters on my CPC 1100. As big and magnified as the sun looks, I have always been disappointed with the lack of detail besides seeing a few sunspots during high solar activity. A few years ago, I finally learned about Ha filtering but saw the cost and was very discouraged. 

 

Fast forward a few years and I find myself getting really interested in trying solar observing again. I have a pretty big gift card from Amazon and was going to take advantage of the current Meade PST sale but was discouraged by the many posts I see referring to lack of detail, imaging issues, small aperture, inconsistent build, etc.

 

I then found out about Lunt telescopes. Although I don't have a ton to spend right now due to reduced hours, I figured that the 50mm B600 scope would be a big step up from the PST and that I could add the double stack later on when finances allow. It seems to be much better built, bigger aperture, able to be upgraded, and will perform better with my ZWO camera - with some spacers, etc. To add to that, the customer service seems stellar at Lunt, which is a big deal.

 

Then, I fell down the hole of too much research and found this Daystar Quark device being raved about. I originally thought "Wow, that would be great on my 6SE or 11, and quickly realized I would need a very expensive ERF and it would negate the aperture gain anyway. 

 

I then started researching refractors, a telescope type I have never owned (only SCTs.) Achromatic vs apo, 80 vs 100 vs 120, and my head started to hurt. The one thing I did seem to learn is that for only solar viewing, achromat's issues don't seem to matter all that much, which could potentially save me some $. 

 

So, I am left with the decision - the Lunt 50mm B600 (which I can mount on my Nexstar 6SE setup easily, eliminating the cost of another mount), or a Quark/refractor. If I go the Quark/refractor route, I will need to pick out both a refractor and a new mount, since I would not think a refractor over 80 mm would work with my existing mount.

 

Lunt - $900 USD

 

Quark - $1200

Refractor - $300 - 

Mount - $100 - ??

 

I would rather not have to buy multiple times, so I am ok with spending a little more now to not have to upgrade later. 

 

Thanks very much for your patience and time reading this and I appreciate any help/advice you could give.



#2 bigdob24

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 07:53 AM

I think Lunt is an excellent choice, and your right , customer service is second to none.

For a life time scope , I’d step up to a 60mm at least if not 80 and then you can Double Stack down the road.

Aperture wins for detail .

Your going to get several opinions here , all good advise



#3 dhkaiser

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 07:56 AM

If you are willing to spend $1600+ on the quark scope and mount, I would strongly recommend looking at a Lunt 60mm with 1200 blocking filter.  Plenty of future upgrade potential and a better focuser.


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#4 gustavo_sanchez

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 08:16 AM

That's a great problem to have! No matter the solution, you will enjoy it a lot. I went through the Lunt 50 B600 route, then double stacked and added the FT focuser. I have learned a lot about solar imaging, but the "aperture bug" has bitten me and a few days ago pre-ordered a Chromosphere Quark to use with my SV90T fluorite. The Lunt 50 will give me the wide views and the Quark will zoom in into the details.

You can search on my posts in this forum, almost all of them are about images taken with the Lunt.

Sent from my PH-1 using Tapatalk

#5 rigel123

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 08:23 AM

If you are willing to spend $1600+ on the quark scope and mount, I would strongly recommend looking at a Lunt 60mm with 1200 blocking filter.  Plenty of future upgrade potential and a better focuser.

That would be my recommendation as well.



#6 statfreak

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 12:04 PM

If you are willing to spend $1600+ on the quark scope and mount, I would strongly recommend looking at a Lunt 60mm with 1200 blocking filter.  Plenty of future upgrade potential and a better focuser.

I also agree. The LS60 is a better built scope with a better focuser, and you'll need the larger blocking filter if you want to image. It doesn't rule out your quark option but rather replaces your LS50 option. I have no experience with a quark but if you want to image greater detail, a quark with a larger refractor might be worth it.



#7 hopskipson

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 06:32 PM

Step away from the hole while you still have some money 🤪
One more vote for the Lunt 60!
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#8 trumpetpa

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Posted 19 June 2020 - 08:39 PM

Guys - thanks so much for all the replies - you have given me a lot to think about. I think the Lunt 50 is now out, and its between the 60 with the 1200 and the quark/refractor. 

 

Lunt 60/1200 - $1800

 

But, I will say, there is a great appeal to having a refractor that I can also use/grow into other types of AP, not just solar. I know this is a really basic question, but comparing the Lunt 60 vs say, an AT80ED or 102ED refractor with a Quark - I would assume, all things being equal, that I would be able to see more close up detail with the refractor/quark setup due to the larger aperture. Is that right? And I would lose the ability to see widefield, full disc views since the Quark has a built in barlow?



#9 Bokchoy Ninja

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Posted 20 June 2020 - 05:41 AM

Guys - thanks so much for all the replies - you have given me a lot to think about. I think the Lunt 50 is now out, and its between the 60 with the 1200 and the quark/refractor.

Lunt 60/1200 - $1800

But, I will say, there is a great appeal to having a refractor that I can also use/grow into other types of AP, not just solar. I know this is a really basic question, but comparing the Lunt 60 vs say, an AT80ED or 102ED refractor with a Quark - I would assume, all things being equal, that I would be able to see more close up detail with the refractor/quark setup due to the larger aperture. Is that right? And I would lose the ability to see widefield, full disc views since the Quark has a built in barlow?



This is why we end up having multiple H-alpha scopes. Run away while you still have money.

#10 MalVeauX

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Posted 20 June 2020 - 08:01 AM

Heya,

 

Do you have a local club or anywhere with folk doing this that you could go take a look? It helps to see what it's like in each system.

 

Lunt's latest modular series are ED refractors that can be used for anything. I'd look at this over a Quark initially. Yes, more aperture can give you a finer image scale, higher magnification on a single structure, but I think you need to look through a 60mm and a 80mm or larger and see what appeals to you most before just blind-buying.

 

Very best,



#11 briansalomon1

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Posted 20 June 2020 - 08:03 AM

Guys - thanks so much for all the replies - you have given me a lot to think about. I think the Lunt 50 is now out, and its between the 60 with the 1200 and the quark/refractor. 

 

Lunt 60/1200 - $1800

 

But, I will say, there is a great appeal to having a refractor that I can also use/grow into other types of AP, not just solar. I know this is a really basic question, but comparing the Lunt 60 vs say, an AT80ED or 102ED refractor with a Quark - I would assume, all things being equal, that I would be able to see more close up detail with the refractor/quark setup due to the larger aperture. Is that right? And I would lose the ability to see widefield, full disc views since the Quark has a built in barlow?

I have a Lunt LS60Fha/BF600 and a Quark. I use both with an NP101 and also a classic TV Oracle III. Both the Quark and LS60Fha/BF600 give excellent detail of both prominences and chromosphere in either refractor. They will also doublestack without issue. Compared to the Lunt setup, the Quark is not quite as bright but the background around the edge (limb) of the sun has better contrast. Comparing the two images you might say there is some "glow" in the Lunt. If I were imaging, the slight glow might bother me. It seems like it would cause prominences to be harder to see but it doesn't, probably because the view is simply brighter.

 

Quark really won't give me a full disk at f5.4 in the NP101 and while I believe it can give a full disk image at f4.5 I don't think it will have very much contrast and detail. With the Quark's built in 4.3X barlow I get f23 in the NP101 and almost a full disk but it's a little washed out.

 

When I stop down the NP101 to 80mm I'm getting f29 with the Quark and the contrast/detail is greatly improved. Bottom line, Quark works best in about an f7 scope (just about any f7 scope) and really isn't suited to full disk.

 

I wouldn't sell either setup. As Bokchoy Ninja said: That's why we end up with multiple H-alpha scopes.



#12 trumpetpa

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Posted 20 June 2020 - 09:34 AM

Well.... thanks to the advice here, I have just purchased a Lunt 60 PT B1200 scope from a fellow member of Cloudy Nights. I am very pleased and can not wait to try it out! 
 

At the end of the day, the cost of a new mount, refractor, quark, was just getting too high for me for now.


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#13 rigel123

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Posted 20 June 2020 - 10:17 AM

Well.... thanks to the advice here, I have just purchased a Lunt 60 PT B1200 scope from a fellow member of Cloudy Nights. I am very pleased and can not wait to try it out! 
 

At the end of the day, the cost of a new mount, refractor, quark, was just getting too high for me for now.

Looking forward to your first light with your new to you scope!


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#14 hopskipson

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Posted 20 June 2020 - 11:08 AM

Well.... thanks to the advice here, I have just purchased a Lunt 60 PT B1200 scope from a fellow member of Cloudy Nights. I am very pleased and can not wait to try it out! 
 

At the end of the day, the cost of a new mount, refractor, quark, was just getting too high for me for now.

Nice choice, good luck. Close your wallet and step away from the hole if you can!belushi.gif



#15 bigdob24

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Posted 20 June 2020 - 11:46 AM

Well.... thanks to the advice here, I have just purchased a Lunt 60 PT B1200 scope from a fellow member of Cloudy Nights. I am very pleased and can not wait to try it out! 
 

At the end of the day, the cost of a new mount, refractor, quark, was just getting too high for me for now.

You made a good choice . 
Will be watching for an observing report



#16 statfreak

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Posted 20 June 2020 - 01:31 PM

Congratulations on your new acquisition. Clear skies.



#17 gnowellsct

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Posted 20 June 2020 - 07:54 PM

good luck and here's hoping those reduced hours come back up.  



#18 gnowellsct

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Posted 22 June 2020 - 11:03 PM

Looking over this discussion the $100 allocation for the mount caught my eye.    I don't know whether we're talking about $100 for the entire mount or $100 for some kind of dovetail that will allow the solar scope to go on the Nexstar 6 or the CPC 1100 mounts.  I hope we're just talking dovetail.  

 

Personally I have never regretted springing for the Quark combo because it leaves me able to turn any of my four refractors into solar scopes and at the same time they are very good on the night sky.  

 

It is true that mounting a refractor on an SCT (or other scope) is a big challenge to stability.

 

I find:

 

c8 + 80 to 92mm = solid on a Losmandy G11, which is about a CPC 1100 class mount.

C14 + 80 to 92 mm = Solid on an AP900 

 

I did use an ED 102mm doublet on the C14 for many years, that was good too, but when I switched to triplet apo 92 mm I *loved* the new state of affairs.

 

You can also learn a lot....

 

92mm + 130mm refractors = solid on a Losmandy G11, though it's hard to say, since the CPC 1100 is a fork if I remember rightly.

 

Dual refractor observing is surprisingly fun.  It's sort of illogical, but it's fun.

 

Given my personal struggles mounting refractors on SCTs, I would tend to recommend just putting whatever solar + refractor gear you have on the mount without the SCT and hardware required to add the refractor.  I tried half a dozen mounting systems for refractors on SCTs and ended up with a Geoptik, which can be a bit scarce.  But I think they make them still in Europe.

 

If you want an independent mount for solar the Super Polaris and Great Polaris mounts would handle 60 to 102 mm apertures very nicely.  They can still be found on the used market but you have to look.  No fancy go to here.  Just a light weight stable build and a good tripod.  Make sure you get one with RA tracking (not all of them have it.)

 

Greg N



#19 bigdob24

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 01:42 PM

Are you looking for more aperture now you’ve got a taste



#20 trumpetpa

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 02:05 PM

Unfortunately no, I am using it to fund another purchase I have to make due to a dumb buying choice on my part :)



#21 SloMoe

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 06:13 PM

Well, that didn't take very long, already sold,,,,,,,,,,,

 

I'll see it in a week or so, don't no body do anything to slow it's transit, OK?



#22 trumpetpa

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 07:16 PM

If the west coast has clouds towards the end of week, don't blame me! Blame SloMoe!



#23 SloMoe

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 07:18 PM

waytogo.gif



#24 hopskipson

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Posted 18 August 2020 - 07:26 PM

Well, that didn't take very long, already sold,,,,,,,,,,,

 

I'll see it in a week or so, don't no body do anything to slow it's transit, OK?

Congrats on the new scope, I'm sure you'll enjoy it. 




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