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The joy of a good, small refractor

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#1 TNmike

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Posted 03 July 2020 - 09:53 PM

When I was a kid my first telescope was a 50mm (I believe), long focal length alt-az achro refractor with cardboard tube, and a non-adjustable metal tripod. After it's demise I got a Sears 60m/700mm focal length alt-az achro refractor, like hundreds of you also had. I spent many hours using it, and still have it. Yet I never saw anything on Jupiter except two belts and four moons. I decided to get a 6mm ortho, while Jupiter was a little larger and sharper, still nothing new.

 

Leaving out a few details for brevity lets fast forward a few decades to last night. Hadn't had a clear night for a couple weeks or more, but last night looked pretty good. So I set up my AT60ED to primarily look at Jupiter while the GRS was centered. I had seen the GRS and other details for the first time early this year with this little scope, so I was well pleased. So last night it was right there, plus a bonus. All four moons were seen and one of them was just off the limb and its shadow was easily visible, a very dark ink spot; wow, another first. Then the moon eased onto the limb. I would observe for a while and then take a break. I was waiting for it to get higher in the sky and hopefully see more details. The third or forth time I went out the dew had fallen, along with my heart; east TN often has a lot of moisture in the atmosphere. However, despite the dew, I could see the moon on Jupiter along with its shadow. Wow again. I used 5, 4, and 3mm Delites, along with a 2.5mm NagT6. I also looked at Saturn and could barely see some evidence of the CG, and a band, and also looked at the moon briefly. I set the clock and got up a little before sunrise to view Mars. Saw the SPC and some shading on the disc. I know there is a lot more to be seen of the planets with ideal weather and larger apparent sizes.

 

Anyway it was a great night and one I won't forget, despite the sky conditions not cooperating as I would have liked. We are blessed in 2020 to have so many options for good equipment that it isn't funny. Man, if I had this AT60ED when I was ten!


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#2 coopman

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Posted 03 July 2020 - 10:11 PM

An enjoyable read. Thanks.
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#3 Couder

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Posted 03 July 2020 - 10:19 PM

I have the bigger refractors, and the classical cassegrain, but for a quick look at something not much beats a 60MM refractor. If seeing warrants, I get out the 3" refractor. Only once in a while the bigger scopes.


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#4 TNmike

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Posted 03 July 2020 - 10:23 PM

Yep, true G&G is sweet!


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#5 Gary Riley

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Posted 03 July 2020 - 11:06 PM

I was out last night here in Middle TN for a short session with my Meade StarPro 90mm f/6.7 achro refractor. I was able to see the two main equatorial belts, some darker shading at the poles, the GRS and the 4 Galilean moons of Jupiter with one of them just barely off one edge of the planet as it was beginning to transit. Images were not the sharpest due to Jupiter being fairly low in the SE plus battling dew. Got best views using a ES 6.7 82 degree eyepiece together with a Celestron 2x Ultima Barlow that gave me 179x.
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#6 StarHugger

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 12:08 AM

Nice post, Have had a good deal of success with small aperture scopes myself and really do prefer using them often over more to setup and time intensive telescopes with collimation, cool down and cart out...these I like to call the three C's and a good quick light and fast G&G has me briskly waking by them in the hall and that puts more sessions in the log and opens up opportunities otherwise not attempted with all those C's.
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#7 MarkGregory

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 03:16 AM

Interesting how many of us are turning to the smaller aperture scopes for our observing. I just ordered an AT72EDll and will keep the whole setup lightweight for quick grab-and-go views of the Moon and planets. I suspect this scope will get much use. I find it interesting that you noted the vast improvement in viewing you receive with your new 60mm AT scope compared to your old scopes. We are certainly fortunate to be living in a time when optics have become so much better. Galileo would be shocked at how far we have come. Mark


Edited by MarkGregory, 04 July 2020 - 10:31 AM.

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#8 HARRISON SCOPES

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 03:33 AM

I've been fortunate enough to own a TMB LZOS 203 f9, many mid sized premium apos such as a LZOS 152 and Tak FS128, now I find myself enjoying the accessibility of my Telementor and Oracle 76 more and more. Of course age plays a part but a good small refractor is undeniably a very capable instrument.
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#9 coopman

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 10:40 AM

If I ever get to the point that I can't even deploy a 4" refractor, my life will pretty much be over.
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#10 25585

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 11:53 AM

80-85mm & 100mm are my "small" most owned sizes. 120s are great too, but not quite so nifty.  

 

Small scopes score as the step-up from handheld binoculars aperture and magnifications, are person & car portable, doubling as spotters too. Nothing not

to like.


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#11 barbie

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 12:15 PM

I really enjoy my Tak FC76 DCUCQ for the now less frequent and shorter observing sessions I  engage in. It's easy to set up, takes high magnification well, and shows me the brighter objects which I like to view extremely well plus it's portable enough to fit and transport in my small car. It's the perfect scope for my current, and foreseeable future observing needs.


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#12 kmparsons

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 12:25 PM

Give me a quality 60-90mm refractor, dark skies, and a clear horizon, and I will not pine for a light bucket. Ten years ago, I had the opportunity to go to Lake Titicaca and took along my 70mm doublet from Stellarvue. At 12,000 feet and with no artificial light the skies were pristine. All of the famous southern skies treats really popped. My first sight of the Eta Carinae nebula was literally jaw-dropping. Dan Davis and Guy Consolmagno did their observations for the early editions of Turn Left at Orion on small telescopes. They do not state the brand names, but I surmise that they were a TV Pronto and a 3.5" Questar. They were able to see a remarkable amount of detail with quality scopes of a small size. 


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#13 Astrojensen

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 12:46 PM

There are few things as pleasing as coming home from a hard day's work, carry out a small telescope in one go, plop it down in the yard somewhere, and look at the Universe for a couple hours, before turning in. 

 

med_gallery_55742_4772_301848.jpg

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#14 gwlee

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 01:07 PM

Tonight, I will be using my AT72ED2 to view the lunar eclipse because no other “grab-and-go” scope that I own will be sufficiently grab-and-go for dodging among the oaks tonight over rough ground.


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#15 mikeDnight

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 01:48 PM

I bought myself a SW Equinox 80ED in the autumn of 2014. That little scope was a real game changer for me, as I found myself using that 80mm in preference to my Equinox 120ED. Because it was so easy to use, I'd take it out with the intention of doing just five or ten minutes observing before I went to bed, and I'd find myself still sat on a frozen garden bench an hour later. With a binoviewer and Barlow in the diagonal the Moon was glorious. Jupiter revealed five belts along with festoons and the GRS. Shadow transits were as black as Indian ink! In part, it was because of the joy I experienced with that 80ED that i decided to sell both the 80ED and the 120ED, and buy a high end refractor that kind of bridged the two. I decided on buying a FC100DC as a small, lightweight scope that would be virtually as easy to use as the 80ED, and that would give images of the moon and planets that would best the 120ED. The first light with that FC100DC showed me I'd made the right decision, and that little 100mm DC began to wear me out. I dont remember ever using a scope as much in my 40 years at the eyepiece, not just because it was optically excellent, but because it was so light and easy to set up, making it a real joy to use.


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#16 Astrojensen

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 01:50 PM

Because it was so easy to use, I'd take it out with the intention of doing just five or ten minutes observing before I went to bed, and I'd find myself still sat on a frozen garden bench an hour later.

Sounds awfully familiar. grin.gif  

 

 

Clear skies!
Thomas, Denmark


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#17 Bomber Bob

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 02:04 PM

My Grab & Go Options...

 

Ultra-Light (Tak FC-50 + KDS II + Meade 884):

 

Kenko KDS AZ S05 - Meade 884 (Tak FC-50) EQ.jpg

 

Ultra-Capable (AT102ED + FC-50 + Mizar Super Polaris w/ MDS II):

 

AT102ED S21 RS (Mizar SP & FC-50).jpg

 

Ultra-Aperture RFT (ATM 5" F5 non-ED triplet + VersaGo):

 

ATM 5x5T - Restore S27 (VersaGo).jpg


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#18 MarkGregory

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 02:09 PM

I bought myself a SW Equinox 80ED in the autumn of 2014. That little scope was a real game changer for me, as I found myself using that 80mm in preference to my Equinox 120ED. Because it was so easy to use, I'd take it out with the intention of doing just five or ten minutes observing before I went to bed, and I'd find myself still sat on a frozen garden bench an hour later. With a binoviewer and Barlow in the diagonal the Moon was glorious. Jupiter revealed five belts along with festoons and the GRS. Shadow transits were as black as Indian ink! In part, it was because of the joy I experienced with that 80ED that i decided to sell both the 80ED and the 120ED, and buy a high end refractor that kind of bridged the two. I decided on buying a FC100DC as a small, lightweight scope that would be virtually as easy to use as the 80ED, and that would give images of the moon and planets that would best the 120ED. The first light with that FC100DC showed me I'd made the right decision, and that little 100mm DC began to wear me out. I dont remember ever using a scope as much in my 40 years at the eyepiece, not just because it was optically excellent, but because it was so light and easy to set up, making it a real joy to use.

I love your approach to this whole subject. I think many of us would have saved tons of time and money if we had figured this out earlier. Mark


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#19 MarkGregory

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 02:19 PM

Tonight, I will be using my AT72ED2 to view the lunar eclipse because no other “grab-and-go” scope that I own will be sufficiently grab-and-go for dodging among the oaks tonight over rough ground.

Good luck with the eclipse. If you plan on shooting any photos, would love to see them.  Mark


Edited by MarkGregory, 04 July 2020 - 02:30 PM.


#20 TNmike

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 02:33 PM

Thanks everyone for your comments. Really enjoying hearing about the joy you have found with your smaller instruments.


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#21 desertlens

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 02:36 PM

Kudos to Astronomics for understanding the capability and convenience of small instruments for visual use as described by the OP. And the same for Televue for recognizing that many of us aren't drawn to two pound eyepieces. We are indeed fortunate.

 

AT72EDIIsv.jpg


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#22 gwlee

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 02:37 PM

Gpod luck with the eclipse. If you plan on shooting any photos, would love to see them.  Ark

Thank you. I am just use EPs and eyeballs for my stargazing. Suspect the effects of the eclipse on the views tonight will be subtle. 



#23 TNmike

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 02:59 PM

Kudos to Astronomics for understanding the capability and convenience of small instruments for visual use as described by the OP. And the same for Televue for recognizing that many of us aren't drawn to two pound eyepieces. We are indeed fortunate.

 

attachicon.gifAT72EDIIsv.jpg

Yes!


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#24 sg6

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 04:50 PM

I sort of only have small scopes - 60mm to 102mm.

The 102 is a little big for easy use, but has it purpose, also bit too much CA after using ED for a lot of visual.

 

Seem to use 70mm and 72mm most.

Have to make more use of the 60.


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#25 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 07:16 PM

I observe with both small refractors and larger reflectors.  Generally, the longer the session, the larger the scope.

 

For an hour or two in the back yard, it'll usually be a Refractor of some sort, often an 80 mm ED/apo.  For a dusk to dawn (with time out for a nap), it'll be a large reflector and probably a 80 mm or 102 mm, short focal length refractor. 

 

Many new moon sessions, I'll spend 10-14 days observing whenever there moon is not in the sky so the larger scope gives me more to observe.. 

 

Jon


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