My first telescope was a new 60 mm F15 long focus achromat on an equatorial mount sold by Sears that I was given as a present in December 1971. I'm told the manufacturer was probably Vixen. It did appear to be made in Japan. It was a fine little scope whose most severe drawback was the smaller than usual eyepieces (something like 0.9 inches diameter). The mount was OK but a little shaky and the clock drive wasn't that accurate. Still I found my first planets with it, had great views of the moon, and saw a good many Messier objects for the first time. In those days I was still finding my way across the constellations.
Again in December, 1979, I got a second hand 8 inch Newtonian F7 on a bulky equatorial mount that appeared to be a Cave Astrola. It was set up as a Newtonian, but the primary had a central hole in it, and it could be configured as a Schmidt Cassegrain scope (but I never did that even though I had the secondary to do so) . This scope had a bulky but quite good clock drive, but moving the scope from target to target was manual with the hands on the OTA as there were no knobs to turn. I still have the OTA but am not sure what has happened to the mount over the years. The scope was probably already 20 years old when I got it.
I used it as my main scope for about a decade. The mirror started to spot and needed to be re-silvered but I didn't want to go through that process and ended up buying a C5 Plus and that later led to a C8 that was computerized and allowed you to find an object by typing it into a keypad. It was a nice novelty and it worked, but I thought that star hopping was more enjoyable... and who knows... maybe I could discover a new comet along the way The C5 Plus was my entry point into astrophotography and I took some pretty good lunar and deep sky photos with it and had more luck than with the C8 because of its longer focus I suppose. Since then I've had a good number of different scopes ranging from a 16 inch Newtonian to a 14 inch SCT, to a 12 inch Gladius. I specialized in looking and photographing planets for a while.
I guess I eventually turned back to deep sky and found the Takahashi Mewlon 250 to be the best all around scope I ever owned, followed closely... very closely by a 9.25 inch SCT which cost a great deal less. This scope may be the best deal out there today in terms of what you see for what you pay. Now days I don't do as much photography and have a lot of fun with a simple 5 inch F5 achromat and when I want a really superior view of something I still take out the 9.25 inch SCT. Light pollution has increased a lot since the 1970s in my area and I still think my best views of most deep sky objects was given to me by the old 8 inch Newtonian under those darker skies. That all represents about 49 years worth of observing and I can't even imagine the number of hours I've racked up with one telescope or another. It is fun to sit and read through the small library of old logs that I kept over the years and to look back at all of those astrophotos. The biggest difference that I noticed was moving from film to digital and using all of that processing software for digital imaging.
It was easy to spend as much time doing that as being at the telescope itself. And it always seemed that the camera always wanted to be just where your eye would have preferred to look, leaving you with a monitor to sit back and look at. After a while, guiding eyepieces were even obsolete and a second digital camera took care of guiding adjustments and then one camera did it all. Amazing progress and a lot of change in the hobby over time. Maybe others would like to share their thoughts on how things have changed in this hobby over time...
Edited by revans, 05 July 2020 - 03:10 PM.