So I have been saving money in the astronomy budget, about $900 so far. Might not be a lot by some measures. But it is a substantial amount in my household.
Here's what I have right now:
- Planetary/Lunar: a beat up (but functionally and optically satisfactory) Meade AR5 on a well-worn LXD55 Autostar mount (new, beefier tripod on its way soon);
- Wide-field: random Synta 80mm F/5 (Vista 508) on a modified EQ-1 mount and tripod (added sliding counterweight bar. Honestly, after I took apart the mount and re-greased it, and added the counterweight bar, the EQ1 is quite satisfactory);
- 3 decent Meade EPs, 32 and 26mm Super Plossls, 18mm Meade SWA, 8mm Paradigm ED, and a 2x Barlow
- Meade Nebula filter. ND filter, and #8 yellow filter.
Here's what I want. I want to be able to hop onto my bike with a backpack, ride a half mile to my super dark and isolated observing site, set up a telescope on a stable mount, smoothly scan the hell out of the sky (i.e. wide field) and zoom in from time to time to study whatever interesting things I see.
I really want to be awed by open clusters, globulars, the odd bright nebula, and the zillions of stars that fill the Milky Way on a dark night. Of course I'll look at the moon and planets if they're up. But I don't need to crush planets and Luna with magnification --- just frame them sufficiently to appreciate their majesty. I want deep sky contrast. Planetary/lunar contrast is good, but not at the expense of wide-field epic-ness. That's what yellow filters are for.
I would take the 80mm/EQ1 Combo with me. But the Tripod is a bit finicky with all the little bolts that hold the spreader tray in place. It's my backyard grab-n-go.
40lbs of equipment is about the most I will tolerate in my backpack.
I am looking for simple. I want to spread the tripod legs, adjust the height, mount the scope, drop in an EP, and observe. Alt-Az or EQ. Doesn't matter.
So, if you had $900 to spend, what combination of OTA, mount, and EPs do you think would best meet the needs listed above?
Edited by skookum, 04 July 2020 - 05:49 PM.