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The joy of a good, small refractor

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#201 Veridian

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Posted 14 March 2021 - 08:27 PM

   What a most enjoyable thread to read on a Sunday afternoon. So many terrific experiences and photos shared.

   Having a room full of small refractors, a suitable, lightweight yet stable and easy to use mount has been a challenge to find. Years ago, a Vixen Mini PortaMount was purchased, but did not come through on the stability end, when my ED80 was put in the saddle. Being undermounted, the ED80 was just too heavy and image shake too much of a problem. Also, balance and clutch adjustment were difficult. 

   This problem now seems solved. Recently, a Meade StarPro 70mm AZ showed up here, after a long back-order wait. At $129 (now $149) it has the lightweight, stable and easy to use mount Inhave been looking for. And, it comes with a pretty nice little 70mm, f/10 that has deep green lens coatings and 3 baffles in the tube. 

   Ordered back in early November, it was a long wait, but well worth it in every aspect. After all, patience is a requirement for adtronomy.

 

-mjd

 

With the 70mm (2.4lbs. OTA) and easy on the controls, settle time is 1.5 - 2 seconds or less.

 

With the ED80 (~6.5lbs. OTA w/tube rings & dovetail) and easy on the controls, 2.5-3 seconds settle time. With a bump, 3-4 seconds.

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Edited by Veridian, 14 March 2021 - 08:48 PM.

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#202 Veridian

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Posted 14 March 2021 - 08:58 PM

My first refractor was a 60mm alt-az from Sears. I opened the package on Christmas eve 1968 and immediately wanted to take it outside to see if I could see Apollo 8, which was orbiting the moon at the time. I was too young to know that was impossible.

That Christmas Eve, you must have been watching the same TV channel I was, when the guy said, "with a small telescope, a person can actually see Apollo 8 orbiting the Moon". It seemed a bit fantastic, but a kid believes just about anything heard and read. There I was, out in a foot of snow, with my little 'Scope' 60mm and hopelessly searching until my fingers went numb. 

 

Jerry, thank you for sharing this story. What a memory that is. I found it most enjoyable and wonder how many others were out there hopelessly hunting. 

 

-mjd


Edited by Veridian, 15 March 2021 - 02:36 PM.

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#203 mikeDnight

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Posted 14 March 2021 - 11:24 PM

That black & white picture looks older than 1980 somehow.  Yup, you still look equally happy.  Still wearing sweaters. Thanks for sharing.

 

Dave

It does look more like a 1960's or 50's photo, but it was taken using black and white film and an old reflex camera, which I'd bought from a flea market so I could take astro photo's. I never did get into photography, I'm a keen sketcher, and the camera is long gone, but my bad dress sense still lingers on. lol.gif


Edited by mikeDnight, 14 March 2021 - 11:33 PM.

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#204 teashea

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 11:10 AM

Purchased that "handle" for my Porta Mount last year and it works great with all of my refractors.

From Agana Astro:  Kokusai Kohki Guide Handle for Vixen Porta / Porta II and Explore Scientific Twilight I / II Mounts.  $70 is a reasonable price for such a robust control arm.

 

Here is the Tak FC-76DCU mounted on it.   Nice balance and good control.

Is a "must have" for those alt az mounts, in my opinion.

You can mount your Takahashi clamshell directly to the Porta II and eliminate that ugly dovetail.



#205 teashea

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 11:12 AM

This is the direct mounting.

 

FS-60Q.jpg


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#206 teashea

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 11:14 AM

Another view

 

7.jpg


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#207 scotsman328i

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 07:33 PM

Such a joy! Always loved this telescope. Just amazing on Lunar and Planetary viewing! Also, incredible on brighter nebulae as in M42, Ring Nebula and the Veil Nebula with an OIII filter. I have always cherished the incredible optics in this fast and compact scope. It is also my eyepiece tester for reviewing. Just so versatile and portable. I love my 8” and 12” Dobs, but they cannot hold a candle to the TV 76 for sharpness, clarity and resolution. Every telescope have their inherent strengths and weaknesses, but owning an 8” and 12” Dob with an Apochromatic Refractor also is just visual Heaven.  

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Edited by scotsman328i, 15 March 2021 - 07:36 PM.

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#208 MartinPond

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Posted 15 March 2021 - 08:42 PM

How about a very small Outstanding refractor:

 

attachicon.gifKenko KDS AZ S08 - Meade 884 (Tak FC-50) EQ.jpg

 

1984 Takahashi FC-50 + Kenko KDS II (EQ Mode) + Meade 884 Tripod

 

Ultra-sharp views at 150x (75x / inch) with a 2" F8 fluorite on a ridiculously light & portable EQ platform... Joy, indeed.

Is that cast iron fitting with stainless tubing?  Very nice.

I'm a Bogen/cast fan, but this looks lighter, still stiff.


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#209 bobhen

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 10:47 AM

Fun thread.

 

Both of my small refractors are used for Night Vision, low power deep sky observing with an image intensifier.

 

Below is my 50mm F3.75 repurposed guide scope that can be used handheld. The big nebulas like the N American, Rosetta, California, etc. and other large objects are well seen in the 50mm.  

 

The 102mm F5, although not necessarily “small” is very short and compact fitting easily in an airline, overhead bin compatible suitcase. Used visually under a dark sky or with the intensifier for Night Vision observing under a heavily light polluted sky, the 102 F5 (or F3.5) is an impressive, wide field sky sweeper.

 

Bob

 

 

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#210 scotsman328i

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 12:48 PM

Another view

 

attachicon.gif7.jpg

Tom, I’ve always loved Takahashi’s color combinations of the white and light gray. Such good looking scopes as well as incredible performance! waytogo.gif


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#211 25585

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 12:50 PM

You can mount your Takahashi clamshell directly to the Porta II and eliminate that ugly dovetail.

Does the Porta 2 take M8 bolts? 


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#212 desertlens

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 12:56 PM

Does the Porta 2 take M8 bolts? 

Yes, at a different angle relative to the slo-mo controls.


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#213 gwlee

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 01:51 PM

Fun thread.

 

Both of my small refractors are used for Night Vision, low power deep sky observing with an image intensifier.

 

Below is my 50mm F3.75 repurposed guide scope that can be used handheld. The big nebulas like the N American, Rosetta, California, etc. and other large objects are well seen in the 50mm.  

 

The 102mm F5, although not necessarily “small” is very short and compact fitting easily in an airline, overhead bin compatible suitcase. Used visually under a dark sky or with the intensifier for Night Vision observing under a heavily light polluted sky, the 102 F5 (or F3.5) is an impressive, wide field sky sweeper.

 

Bob

I need to try something along these lines.



#214 Veridian

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Posted 16 March 2021 - 04:04 PM

   Were only it could be afforded, any one of those Takahashis would be fullfilling a dream. For me, they are the most attractive telescopes in every way. Functionality with fit and finish to die for --  the white with those haze blue accents, oh wow. 

 

-- mjd


Edited by Veridian, 17 March 2021 - 02:18 PM.

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#215 starmason

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 08:31 AM

In 1980 it was a 60mm Prinz Astral ( a tiny scope) that ignited flames of enthusiasm that are still burning strong 41 yeas later. Ive always had a real love for smaller telescopes, partly because they always seem to show more than might seem possible, and partly because when using large scopes, its nearly always an anticlimax and I come away somewhat disappointed. 

 

Me and my 60mm Prinz Astral 1980.

attachicon.gif2012984373_2016-10-2512_30_32.jpg.2dc479d97378854fcea54a55c0156ce8.jpg

 

Me and my FC100DC standing on the same spot 35 years later. 

attachicon.gif2016-12-20 22.56.49.jpg

 

And today, two paces to my left, my FC100DZ on its mount in my observatory. 

attachicon.gifIMG_5971.JPG

 

So not much has changed in that 41 years, other than becoming follicaly challenged, and increasing my aperture to a whopping 100mm. Still got that refractor smile of contentment though!

A wonderful telescope memory pic!  Something very special about a well designed and constructed small refractor from the “hand configured” glass years of Japanese knowhow.  Now we get machine ground and polished barely inspected ed glass. First light with vintage Japanese glass is always a treat.

BTW, what model is that alt az mount and did you paint it?  Looks great with your Tak nestled on it!

clear skies,

George, Winchester, Va - USA


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#216 Kutno

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 11:29 AM

Such a joy! Always loved this telescope. Just amazing on Lunar and Planetary viewing! Also, incredible on brighter nebulae as in M42, Ring Nebula and the Veil Nebula with an OIII filter. I have always cherished the incredible optics in this fast and compact scope. It is also my eyepiece tester for reviewing. Just so versatile and portable. I love my 8” and 12” Dobs, but they cannot hold a candle to the TV 76 for sharpness, clarity and resolution. Every telescope have their inherent strengths and weaknesses, but owning an 8” and 12” Dob with an Apochromatic Refractor also is just visual Heaven.  

 

Nice picture, scotsman!


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#217 mikeDnight

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 11:30 AM

A wonderful telescope memory pic!  Something very special about a well designed and constructed small refractor from the “hand configured” glass years of Japanese knowhow.  Now we get machine ground and polished barely inspected ed glass. First light with vintage Japanese glass is always a treat.

BTW, what model is that alt az mount and did you paint it?  Looks great with your Tak nestled on it!

clear skies,

George, Winchester, Va - USA

Hi George,

 

Japanese scopes and optics are great aren't they!  The Altaz mount is nothing more exotic than a Skywatcher AZ4 that was disassembled and resprayed. It does look nice and just a little bit out of the ordinary with its altered colour scheme. It's actually quite an effective, cheap grab and go mount. When I bought it at first, some of the Chinese castings were a bit rough and catching in places. But when stripped down I filed away the roughness,  ensured that the original grease was where it ought to be, ( the Chinese just stick it anywhere), and reassembled it. It glides like butter now and I've even observed Mars at 474X with this mount. The tripod is a tall, strong aluminium Vixen tripod and is seriously solid, yet very light weight. Once set at the right tension the mount moves in altitude or azimuth with the touch of a finger.

2019-01-28 19.57.27.jpg


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#218 scotsman328i

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 11:33 AM

Nice picture, scotsman!

Thanks Kutno! Because of the ease and portability, I’d still have to say the TV76 is still my most used scope even after all these years. waytogo.gif


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#219 rerun

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 02:53 PM

I cant wait to try out these combination ....  but it is raining now  . My FOA60 is my telescope that is ready for observation the quickest when it is time to start observing

 

clear skies Markus

 

FOA60 and Swan 38mm

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#220 starmason

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 03:38 PM

Hi George,

 

Japanese scopes and optics are great aren't they!  The Altaz mount is nothing more exotic than a Skywatcher AZ4 that was disassembled and resprayed. It does look nice and just a little bit out of the ordinary with its altered colour scheme. It's actually quite an effective, cheap grab and go mount. When I bought it at first, some of the Chinese castings were a bit rough and catching in places. But when stripped down I filed away the roughness,  ensured that the original grease was where it ought to be, ( the Chinese just stick it anywhere), and reassembled it. It glides like butter now and I've even observed Mars at 474X with this mount. The tripod is a tall, strong aluminium Vixen tripod and is seriously solid, yet very light weight. Once set at the right tension the mount moves in altitude or azimuth with the touch of a finger.

attachicon.gif2019-01-28 19.57.27.jpg

I agree that the “Chinese synta glue” “grease” is an issue and I remove and replace it as soon as a new mount arrives.  Repainting looks very nice.  My Vixen Porta works well but is starting to loosen up a bit.  Only so much can be adjusted when it wears over the years.  May look into one like yours or the Stellarvue alt az.

clear skies,

Geo


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#221 desertlens

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 05:10 PM

The phrase "exceeds expectations" springs to mind.

 

Ss76EDPHb.jpg

Sharpstar 76EDPH, ƒ5.5 triplet


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#222 Veridian

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 05:46 PM

Yet even more beautiful "G & G" set-ups here.

 

  When getting started at this, I cleaned out the sticky "Synta Lube" and regreased the focuser on every Chinese refractor purchased. Afterwards, getting the proper backlash on the gear sets was always difficult.

  Eventually, it dawned on me that this infernal, sticky goo was a clever and functional compromise to keep the price low, as precision machining of a proper rack & pinion gear set is time consuming and expensive. The money saved here, by using the Synta Lube to take up the gear mesh slop, can then be applied elsewhere. Now, I have learned to live with it and to keep my hand and fingers off of it. This may apply some to the mounts as well, I don't know.

 

- mjd


Edited by Veridian, 18 March 2021 - 10:31 PM.


#223 scotsman328i

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 06:03 PM

The phrase "exceeds expectations" springs to mind.

 

attachicon.gifSs76EDPHb.jpg

Sharpstar 76EDPH, ƒ5.5 triplet

I use my 20 T5 in my TV 76 also all the time. The views are nothing short of spectacular with it. waytogo.gif


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#224 Veridian

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Posted 18 March 2021 - 10:26 PM

  In the foreground is the 'Jupiter' 50mm/600mm (Asahi Optical) that I use a LOT for quick views and even some extended observing. Very sharp images, when "seeing" allows. 

 

  The mount and tripod were most generously donated by Mike G. (Glassthrower), back in 2007. Siderea donated a dewshield, but have yet to figure out how to thread it for screwing onto the lens cell. 

 

 

 

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#225 Veridian

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Posted 19 March 2021 - 04:36 AM

. . . and the other side of the little 'Jupiter' 50mm f/12:

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