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Small Cheap camping scope

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#1 SkippyMcSkipperson

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 09:13 AM

So I have a larger newt on an eq6r mount that I use at home quite a bit, but I'm looking for something smaller and lighter to take on camping trips at a price that I won't be sick if something happens to it.  I've read quite a few reviews and suggestions on here for beginner scopes and am curious about the Meade Infinity line (the blue ones).  

 

They have a 80mm with mount for around $150 and a 102mm for $200.

 

Is it worth the extra $50 for 22mm of light?

Will the added weight on that light mount be more frustrating than the 22mm of light gathered by the bigger scope?

 

I know these are not great telescopes, I just want a little something I can set up and hop around looking at things while out at darker camp sites.

 

 



#2 Mike G.

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 09:41 AM

a C90 on a camera tripod with slo mo controls would be more satisfying I think.


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#3 cst4

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:09 AM

I agree with Mike above the on 90mm mak on a camera tripod.  That's what I use for camping and travel... Meade ETX90 OTA on a Bogen 3011 tripod with pan head.  Purchased it all used for about $200 total.  I like this much better than a fast 80mm achromat... I had a Meade Infinity 80 and sold it within a few months.  The 90mm mak and photo tripod are much lighter and easier to set up and such... no false color and better at higher power for planets and moon.



#4 PNW

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:20 AM

I really like my Infinity 102. The standard mount seems adequate. Over time I replaced the diagonal and use better eyepieces I had on hand. The optics are quite good. Recently I put end caps and a shoulder strap on a sonotube for the OTA. I keep the SLT mount and accessories in a soft tool bag. The whole set up is compact and makes for a great grab n go.



#5 SkippyMcSkipperson

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:42 AM

I agree with Mike above the on 90mm mak on a camera tripod.  That's what I use for camping and travel... Meade ETX90 OTA on a Bogen 3011 tripod with pan head.  Purchased it all used for about $200 total.  I like this much better than a fast 80mm achromat... I had a Meade Infinity 80 and sold it within a few months.  The 90mm mak and photo tripod are much lighter and easier to set up and such... no false color and better at higher power for planets and moon.

 

Thanks for the input on the ext90, but at F = 1250mm I'm a bit concerned about the field of view vs the 600 for the 102.  

Then you bring in the false color point, so I need to factor that in as well.  I get caught up in all the options.  

 

I see there is an EXT90 in the classified right now for less than the 102 brand new.



#6 Hesiod

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 10:44 AM

I suppose your aim is to sweep ad moderate/low power the sky for DSOs: in such case a short achro works well.

If already own 2" eyepieces, a refractor capable of using them would be a very nice plan (e.g. the Skywatcher Startravel 102, even if think it comes with a 1.25" stardiagonal)

I am not fond of the kind of mount bundled with the Meade, and would prefer to get a cheap, "department-store" phototripod to use as such

gallery_215679_8115_2334460.jpg

(here is with a 90mm MCT, but smaller refractors works just as well)

 

The price for that solution should be very close to that for the Meade bundle, even if should check whether the stardiagonal is included (sometimes, with OTAs, it is not: a suitable1.25" model would cost you at least 30-40€. I assume will be using the eyepiece already own).

 

If are not interested in very large field of views however the small MCT is a very nice plan too: again, can get the bundle or the OTA (there are several options, I picked the Skywatcher "spotting scope" which came with a nice padded case, a red dot finder*, the stardiagonal and a single eyepiece, while the "astronomical" variant was sold with two eyepieces and was fitted with a Vixen-type dovetail plate, whereas our one has only two 1/8" threaded bores. Since I was planning from the beginning to use it with a camera tripod that was an advantage; and the padded bag was far more useful than another eyepiece of low quality).

 

 

*some are sold with a "crap-grade" small, and basically useless, 6x20 optical finder: I suggest to avoid such bundles



#7 halx

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 11:18 AM

The ultimate small camping telescope is the Astroscan. No mount needed! Imagine observing laying in the sleeping bag... I had no problem observing even from the suspended hammock! Quite hard to find little marvel, though. The only close enough thing is binoculars.

 

IMG_0408.JPG


Edited by halx, 30 June 2020 - 11:22 AM.

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#8 cst4

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 11:24 AM

Thought I would add.... The Meade Infinity 80 package I had came with a diagonal and 2 eyepieces, all of which are quite low quality and definitely need to be upgraded.  The mount was actually not that bad for what it is, but I definitely prefer my photo tripod and pan head... just as sturdy but lighter and more compact.

 

 

Thanks for the input on the ext90, but at F = 1250mm I'm a bit concerned about the field of view vs the 600 for the 102.  

Then you bring in the false color point, so I need to factor that in as well.  I get caught up in all the options.  

 

I see there is an EXT90 in the classified right now for less than the 102 brand new.

 

A 102mm achro is a completely different animal than a 90mm mak.  With the central obstruction, I think images in the ETX90 are dimmer than an 80mm achro.  Star fields and such are still nice, but it's geared toward bright targets like planets and the moon.  The 102mm would definitely be brighter and probably be more versatile. It would blow a 90mm mak away on DSOs and it would also do well on planets if you don't mind chromatic aberration.  The big advantage of the 90mm mak vs. a 102mm achro for camping is the size.  My ETX90 is probably only about 10 inches long and weighs less than 3 lbs.  I can put the whole set up with my tripod, scope, and EPs in a backpack and hike with it... can't do that with a 600mm long refractor.  The field of view is restricted, but you can still view 1.25 degrees with a 32mm plossl which is over twice the width of the full moon.  But my favorite aspects of a 90mm mak is using it as a daytime spotting scope and hooking up my DSLR for long distance photos of birds... You can do those things with a refractor but I find the maksutov design better for this than an achro.

 

Edit:  As Halx above mentions, binoculars are nice to have camping as well. 


Edited by cst4, 30 June 2020 - 11:32 AM.


#9 SkippyMcSkipperson

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 11:34 AM

Thought I would add.... The Meade Infinity 80 package I had came with a diagonal and 2 eyepieces, all of which are quite low quality and definitely need to be upgraded.  The mount was actually not that bad for what it is, but I definitely prefer my photo tripod and pan head... just as sturdy but lighter and more compact.

 

 

 

A 102mm achro is a completely different animal than a 90mm mak.  With the central obstruction, I think images in the ETX90 are dimmer than an 80mm achro.  Star fields and such are still nice, but it's geared toward bright targets like planets and the moon.  The 102mm would definitely be brighter and probably be more versatile. It would blow a 90mm mak away on DSOs and it would also do well on planets if you don't mind chromatic aberration.  The big advantage of the 90mm mak vs. a 102mm achro for camping is the size.  My ETX90 is probably only about 10 inches long and weighs less than 3 lbs.  I can put the whole set up with my tripod, scope, and EPs in a backpack and hike with it... can't do that with a 600mm long refractor.  The field of view is restricted, but you can still view 1.25 degrees with a 32mm plossl which is over twice the width of the full moon.  But my favorite aspects of a 90mm mak is using it as a daytime spotting scope and hooking up my DSLR for long distance photos of birds... You can do those things with a refractor but I find the maksutov design better for this than an achro.

 

More great info, thanks.

 

For camping here, I mean very small trailer with my truck, so I have room for a little bigger, but not enough room for the 8" F/5 newt and EQ6.   I'm not as concerned about being able to backpack with it.  I am enjoying the DSOs more right now than I am planets and moon observation, and I think I can deal with the chromatic aberration as well.  So at the moment I'm leaning towards the 102 achro, but need to read a bit more before I pull the trigger on a purchase.

 

I have been building up a line of 60* eyepieces from the Astro Tech paradigms and Celestron XCel-LX models, and will use those along with what ever I decide to buy.


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#10 halx

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 11:35 AM

But my favorite aspects of a 90mm mak is using it as a daytime spotting scope and hooking up my DSLR for long distance photos of birds... You can do those things with a refractor but I find the maksutov design better for this than an achro.

...which brings in one more option: if you happen to own a telephoto lens you may be able to outfit it to work as a small telescope: 

 

20190104-112937,medium_large.1591380860.

 

(Tair-3 "Photo-hunter" lens, 70/300, with 2" WO 9mm 101°).



#11 halx

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 11:41 AM

For camping here, I mean very small trailer with my truck, so I have room for a little bigger, but not enough room for the 8" F/5 newt and EQ6.

Wow! Truck! Camper! I'm hauling my Zhumell 12" on my bare stock Subaru Forester with 3 people inside for dispersed camping without a single problem for decades! Perhaps, instead of limiting yourself with 4" on DSOs you could find a way to bring your 8"? For DSOs the aperture rulez! Just leave that kitchen sink at home already... wink.gif
 
See how I do that: Part I, Part II, Part III


Edited by halx, 30 June 2020 - 11:49 AM.


#12 *skyguy*

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 01:44 PM

I'd pick the 102mm refractor over the 80mm every time. I used to own an 80mm ED refractor and when I bought a 102mm, I quickly sold the smaller scope. DSO's look much better in the larger scope ... for example, bright globular clusters would begin to resolve individual stars in the 102mm, while the 80mm would show only just a hazy and dimmer blob. For that reason alone, I'd pick the 102mm.



#13 Chuck2

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 03:55 PM

If you tent camp and are concerned about portability or moisture, try a C-70, in a Harbor Freight 'Pelican' case. Travels light, virtually indestructible, and works great for watching wildlife during the day, and the planets at night.

 

I still end up lugging the heavier scopes, hate to get under pristine dark skies without the bigger light cannons!

 

Attached Thumbnails

  • image.jpg

Edited by Chuck2, 30 June 2020 - 03:56 PM.

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#14 tony_spina

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 04:57 PM

You didn't say what the cheap budget is but based on it being ok that it doesn't need to be in a backpack,  but still small, here are some options 

 

https://www.amazon.c...,aps,294&sr=8-4

 

 

 

Deal of the day if price rules everything 

 

https://www.amazon.c...aps,294&sr=8-45

 

 

https://www.amazon.c...3553965&sr=8-26

 

https://www.amazon.c...3554042&sr=8-38


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#15 donvegas

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 05:47 PM

I have an Orion Starblast 62 that I bought used here, a few years back for about 1/2 price.  That on a good camera tripod is what I use for a small easy set up.  Not great on planets with an FL of 520mm but really nice for clusters and such


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#16 Simon B

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Posted 30 June 2020 - 07:14 PM

80/100 Synta short tubes are great budget scopes; we often sleep on the 'quality' of these, but nowadays I see a worrying trend in the budget / beginner telescope market.....

 

e.g. Explore Scientific's cheaper offerings of their 'FirstLight' line have plastic focusers and uncoated (or maybe single-coated) objective lenses - I star-tested a FirstLight 80mm F8, and it had astigmatism

Orion has replaced their classic ST80 with one with a plastic focuser (though this probably had something to do with Synta and Sunny colluding against them)

 

I think the Synta short tubes show great value for money, with fully multi-coated optics, metal focuser, and good optical figure (I've star-tested 3 ST80s, all of them had textbook diffraction rings at 160x, and focused to a tight dot... I was pleasantly surprised by that)

 

 

The Synta 90mm Mak is also a great choice, it just comes down to your style of observing.... do you want to take in wide sweeping vistas of the Milky Way, or do you spend more time on things like planets, double stars...  granted the Mak can produce a decent FOV of 1.3, but nothing like the 4 degrees of the ST80  (6 degrees with a 2 inch focuser)


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#17 Simon B

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 12:52 AM

Sorry I should've added - the Meade infinity OTAs are Synta scopes  : )



#18 MortonH

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 02:21 AM

90mm Maks are horribly dim except on the Moon. Add the narrow FOV and it's the last thing I'd take on a camping trip. I'd go 80mm or 102mm achro.



#19 Hesiod

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 03:03 AM

If used with 25-32m eyepieces the little 90/1250 are not "dim" at all.
The fov is not huge, but neither so small being a bit over 1°
Of course are not my tool of choice to observe large nebulae, but on the other stuff are quite capable

#20 MortonH

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 06:25 AM

When I compared an Orion 90mm Mak with an 80ED side by side I was shocked by how much brighter Saturn was in the refractor at similar magnification. The Mak was near new and clean so it was as bright as it could be. I enjoyed the Mak on the Moon but on everthing else the refractor was much better.



#21 RazvanUnderStars

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 08:58 AM

A telescope's light gathering depends on the surface of the lens, which depends on the square of the diameter. Thus, a 102mm scope gathers 1.6x times more light than an 80mm one, definitely worth the extra $.

 

I have an 80mm ED80T CF which I took camping in a kayak with an AZ-GTi mount, worked wonderfully. But if you're camping with a car, I'd go with the larger scope. 

 

 

Is it worth the extra $50 for 22mm of light?

Will the added weight on that light mount be more frustrating than the 22mm of light gathered by the bigger scope?

 

t.jpg


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#22 dusty99

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 10:12 AM

My car camping scope is a C6, but an 80-100mm ED is also great under dark skies.  As far as a cheap refractor, why would you want an inferior scope under (presumably) better, darker skies?  You will be able to see more under bortle 1-2 skies with a decent 80 or 100mm refractor than with an 8” Dob in typical suburbs, at least in terms of lower-contrast targets like DSOs.  I get to truly dark skies 6-8 times a year for a few days each time, and I’ve always wanted to make as much use of those opportunities as I could.


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#23 halx

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 10:46 AM

My car camping scope is a C6, but an 80-100mm ED is also great under dark skies.  As far as a cheap refractor, why would you want an inferior scope under (presumably) better, darker skies?  You will be able to see more under bortle 1-2 skies with a decent 80 or 100mm refractor than with an 8” Dob in typical suburbs, at least in terms of lower-contrast targets like DSOs.  I get to truly dark skies 6-8 times a year for a few days each time, and I’ve always wanted to make as much use of those opportunities as I could.

That's the very common misconception. As soon as you meticulously follow DAF (Darkness Adaptation First) principles, you will see amazingly more with 8" in an urban sky than with a 3.2" even if from onboard ISS.



#24 dusty99

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 11:00 AM

Not my experience in almost 50 years of observing, and I observe as dark-adapted as conditions allow.
 

That's the very common misconception. As soon as you meticulously follow DAF (Darkness Adaptation First) principles, you will see amazingly more with 8" in an urban sky than with a 3.2" even if from onboard ISS.



#25 halx

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Posted 01 July 2020 - 12:14 PM

Perhaps, you still don't know how to efficiently dark adapt and maintain it when conditions are not favorable? Ever wore an eye patch, for example?


Edited by halx, 01 July 2020 - 12:27 PM.



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