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$900 to burn on a portable field telescope/mount. What would you buy?

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#1 skookum

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 05:32 PM

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.
  • Telrad

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?

 

Cheers


Edited by skookum, 04 July 2020 - 05:49 PM.

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#2 Taosmath

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 05:53 PM

How about a Celestron 6SE with a 0.63 Focal reducer, a 24mm ES 68 degree wide field (or a 32mm plossl if that's your thing and you want to save money) and a decent 8mm-24mm zoom (e.g. Celestron).  If you want a little more magnification and didn't want to overlap any with the 24mm ES, then screw the lens element from a 2x Shorty Barlow on the end of the zoom and leave it there permanently to give you a 15mm to 5mm zoom.  Oh, you'll also need a 6800 mAh Talent cell Li-ion battery to power the scope.


Edited by Taosmath, 04 July 2020 - 05:53 PM.


#3 skookum

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 05:59 PM

How about a Celestron 6SE with a 0.63 Focal reducer, a 24mm ES 68 degree wide field (or a 32mm plossl if that's your thing and you want to save money) and a decent 8mm-24mm zoom (e.g. Celestron).  If you want a little more magnification and didn't want to overlap any with the 24mm ES, then screw the lens element from a 2x Shorty Barlow on the end of the zoom and leave it there permanently to give you a 15mm to 5mm zoom.  Oh, you'll also need a 6800 mAh Talent cell Li-ion battery to power the scope.

Okay. Good start. 

 

How wide will the C6 go with the focal reducer?  As well I'd like to stick to a manual mount if I can.



#4 Taosmath

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 06:25 PM

Okay. Good start. 

 

How wide will the C6 go with the focal reducer?  As well I'd like to stick to a manual mount if I can.

Native, a C6 with a 1.25" diagonal will go to about 0.95 degrees.  With the Focal reducer it will go to about 1.5 degrees.  To get much wider than that you either go to 2" system (which doesn't buy you anything over a FR for the C6) or you go to a shorter focal length system like a refractor - which you already have.

 

If you want a manual mount, you could try an ES Twilight 1, though the Astrotech Voyager sold by Astronomics looks identical and costs about $100 less.  (I'm pondering one of those myself for my ST120)



#5 Echolight

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 10:18 PM

I think what you want is a super duty camera tripod with a sliding hinged spreader for your 80mm scope. And then keep an eye out for a used f7-ish 80 apo.

 

That'd cover the portability part and give you a little more reach, and a little darker background, but a little less FOV.

 

This is the setup I'm looking at for a grab and go. I don't expect to be wowed by globs and nebula with it though.



#6 gnowellsct

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Posted 04 July 2020 - 10:30 PM

I would spring for a used G11 and worry about what new optics it makes available to you down the line.

 

Greg N

 

Edit:  well no I wouldn't do that if I wanted to "hop on a bike".  I'm assuming a motorcycle.  I would think the smart thing to do would be to have one of those motorcycle trailers that I see and just keep your astrogear in that.  You could  get out to where you're going and set up.  When you come back to wherever you're coming back wheel the trailer into the garage and leave the gear inside.

 

Assuming you have a garage...


Edited by gnowellsct, 04 July 2020 - 10:32 PM.


#7 skookum

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Posted 05 July 2020 - 03:54 AM

... You could  get out to where you're going and set up.  When you come back to wherever you're coming back wheel the trailer into the garage and leave the gear inside.

 

Assuming you have a garage...

I didn't even think about a bike trailer.  Wow, so many options just opened up.
 



#8 luxo II

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Posted 05 July 2020 - 06:06 AM

If you’re going to a dark site you want aperture... and that means a compact lightweight dob. There are plenty of threads here on CN re 8”-10” ones that would go on a bike.


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