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Older Celestron and Meade SCTs - Where is the cut off?

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#1 brucemichael

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 04:44 PM

So, I want to get a 8" or so SCT I think.  I may end up going for a dobsonian of the same size, but for now I am liking some of what I see in the SCTs.  I basically want a scope big enough to get into the hobby, but small enough that I can take into the SoCal mountains and deserts on the weekend where there is lot less light noise. I don't want to get something so big as I can't fairly easily set it up myself.  So at least i know as telescopes go, for a number of reasons, size does matter.  wink.gif

I have noticed locally, you can get some decent deals (and sometimes crazy overpriced) on older tech SCTs.   For example, 8" Meade lx200 gps telescope or a Celestron CPC 1100.  In fact the Celestron that i saw, included a case that cost almost as much as they as the current sales price.  I get the Celestron is pretty big, but putting that aside for a moment, I am questioning the old technology.

These 15 year old scopes, assuming everything in good condition, still have fairly old technology.   As a computer guy, i know how just a couple years can make a difference in upgrades, accessories, etc.   So I am wondering from all of your experience, where is the cutoff where it is not worth even looking at regardless of price.   Is the old tech still workable in telescopes, or should I really be thinking that the future is in go-to and wifi tech?  Are these scopes upgradeable to newer tech?   Assuming the telescope is in good working order, do i even need to worry about ugrading the tech?

What is the useable life of these scopes?

 

Would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks in advance!!!

Bruce


Edited by brucemichael, 06 August 2020 - 04:59 PM.


#2 junomike

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 05:11 PM

The CPC1100 is a good choice but any Mount can go at any time (even new).

It's always  risk buying used, hence the reason I wouldn't pay the going rate in my locale (better off to buy new).


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#3 ShaulaB

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 05:11 PM

My friends who have Celestron OTAs with the CPC mounts have had problems with them for years. Dependence on GPS satellites works most of the time, but is frustrating when it does not work. Awareness of updates to be loaded onto to the mount need to be heeded. Regarding Meades, a few folks in my observing circle use the LX200 mount successfully.

 

You will be surprised by even more modern mounts having "antique" ports.

 

Optics can vary. Really old C8 optical tubes from the 1970's can be really great. Optics for Celestrons from other decades vary.

 

Some folks buy an optical tube of one brand and mate it with a mount of another brand. Lots of folks, including myself, have done that happily.

 

For a beginner, I hesitate advising the buying of used gear unless you have a good friend to help you troubleshoot it. Even though the seller says "excellent condition," that might not be true. The optics or the mount, or both, might have problems.

I


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#4 skookum

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 05:11 PM

The answer to your question depends a lot on you.  More specifically, the answer depends on what you want out of your instrument, and your hobby.

 

If all you want is to get out under the sky and observe visually, the you'll want good optics on a stable mount.  Even 30 year old (or older) telescopes will give you that.  Vintage mounts such as the Vixen Polaris line are very popular on the used market because, even though they are old and simple (no goto, often without even a RA drive), they are very stable and reliable.  Such an observer would likely be quite satisfied with a vintage C8 on a Vixen Great Polaris or Super Polaris mount.

 

If you want to observe, but don't want to have to star-hop to find your target, then you would likely enjoy a goto mount.  These have been around for some time and there are many models to choose from several manufacturers.

 

If you want to do astrophotography, then you will want a mount that can accept autoguiding commands from a computer.  This is where mounts in the last 10-15 years have made the biggest strides.  The newest mounts will likely be less hassle to get working properly with modern mount control/image capture software applications.

 

The most recent evolution in Cassegrain OTA technology has been in optimizing (flattening) field curvature to improve astrophotography performance.  If you intend to do astrophotography, a newer OTA might be useful.  If you do not intend to do much astrophotography, then you will likely be happy with an OTA that is a little older.

 

Finally, an well cared for 1970s C8 will knock the socks off an abused EDGE 8 any day of the week.  What matters is the integrity and alignment of the telescope's optical components.    Of course, our pride demands that our equipment be in the best shape possible.  And gadgets can make the observing process more (or less) convenient.  But tolerance for cosmetic defect varies from observer to observer.  And neither gadgetry or cosmetic condition affect your view through the eyepiece on a dark night.

 

In the end, it's up to you to decide what kind of equipment you want.  Older used equipment offers a great opportunity to acquire excellent optics at modest prices.  And that is good, especially if your observing doesn't require the latest greatest gadgetry for you to enjoy yourself.


Edited by skookum, 06 August 2020 - 05:16 PM.

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#5 MalVeauX

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 05:54 PM

Heya,

 

It's all about the corrector's condition and the primary coatings. Then the mechanics. An old scope can be great. You can also get a scope that seems fantastic when you test it on the moon and then you point it at a planet and realize the contrast just isn't there anymore (coatings). Also pay attention to the mirror size if you care about high magnification, some of those old Meade mirrors are pretty thick and take forever to cool. I would be less likely to consider the large 10" or larger Meades that are 30 years old at this point (been there, done that) or ancient Celestron C11's. But a C8 of any age? I'd check that out if it's in good condition and the price is right. I say that because its much easier to off load that C8 than it is to off load a 10" or larger SCT and when shopping used, that's a reality of the gamble.

 

Very best,


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#6 MaknMe

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 09:52 PM

I would recommend searching CN’s classifieds for the going prices on used scopes. Several older SCT have been sold lately. This will give you a ballpark on what others are paying.
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#7 trigger

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Posted 06 August 2020 - 10:15 PM

So, I want to get a 8" or so SCT I think.  I may end up going for a dobsonian of the same size, but for now I am liking some of what I see in the SCTs.  I basically want a scope big enough to get into the hobby, but small enough that I can take into the SoCal mountains and deserts on the weekend where there is lot less light noise. I don't want to get something so big as I can't fairly easily set it up myself.  So at least i know as telescopes go, for a number of reasons, size does matter.  wink.gif

I have noticed locally, you can get some decent deals (and sometimes crazy overpriced) on older tech SCTs.   For example, 8" Meade lx200 gps telescope or a Celestron CPC 1100.  In fact the Celestron that i saw, included a case that cost almost as much as they as the current sales price.  I get the Celestron is pretty big, but putting that aside for a moment, I am questioning the old technology.

These 15 year old scopes, assuming everything in good condition, still have fairly old technology.   As a computer guy, i know how just a couple years can make a difference in upgrades, accessories, etc.   So I am wondering from all of your experience, where is the cutoff where it is not worth even looking at regardless of price.   Is the old tech still workable in telescopes, or should I really be thinking that the future is in go-to and wifi tech?  Are these scopes upgradeable to newer tech?   Assuming the telescope is in good working order, do i even need to worry about ugrading the tech?

What is the useable life of these scopes?

 

Would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks in advance!!!

Bruce

Im new the hobby myself. Both the scopes in my sig were bought from Craigslist for a I believe is lower market value. Some sell just to make space or sell from an estate and have no clue the values. They both are excellent to view through. My Meade is about 20 years old and its awesome and old school. My celestron is pretty new I guess with the go to stuff. But I like knowing I learned via Setting circles than rely on technology. 


Edited by trigger, 06 August 2020 - 10:17 PM.

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#8 PNW

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 12:22 AM

I have a 20 year old Nexstar 8 I picked up for $500 on E-Bay. They promised me I was outbid, but the next day I got the congratulations e-mail. I think the optics are great and it came with a bunch of eyepieces and filters. The GoTo is a little off (to the right and up), but I hit about 75-85% of my targets. For the price, it works for me. I thought about upgrading to a new SE, but ended up with a refractor and AVX mount. That hit's 100% of GoTo's.


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#9 SeattleScott

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 12:55 AM

The 100% accuracy of the AVX might have less to do with the newer equatorial mount, and more to do with the wider field of view of the refractor.

For me I would give preference to Celestron XLT or Meade UHTC coatings.

Scott

Edited by SeattleScott, 07 August 2020 - 12:56 AM.

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#10 JohnnyBGood

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 08:22 AM

I felt like an older scope was actually preferable over a new one because I wanted an SCT that *didn't* have GOTO ability. Ended up deciding the LX10 was ideal for me because it's pretty much the last of the SCTs that can be used completely manually with no power and they have a reputation for consistently good optics (the LX10 and LX200 have the same OTAs). It's got a clock drive and that's pretty much it. Mine came with an optional declination motor but I never use it. That way I was paying for everything I wanted and nothing I didn't want. Got mine for $600 and it included a couple Televue Ploessls, a nice Celestron Barlow, T-ring adapter, and a bunch of other stuff.

 

I like it a lot. After getting used to equatorial mounts and loving the heck out of my little ETX I really didn't want to go back to the alt-az world. That made Dobs actively repellent to me. When the kids grow up and move out I may consider getting a 12" Dob but until then I think I'm happy with my 8" SCT.

 

It *and* the kids (and their little refractors) fit in my Trans Am.


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#11 Blackbelt76

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 08:43 AM

Unless the used scope has a return policy or a "try before you buy", I would steer clear.

As already mentioned, 15 yr old optics, especially mirrors could easily have degraded depending where they were used.

*New* is preferred by me, the extra cash spent is well worth the peace of mind.

 

Case in point: Purchased a new Meade LX 90 a yr ago..motor issues. Vender sent another to me..same problem.

Finally bought something entirely different.

A vender offers a return policy; private sale does not.


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#12 SeattleScott

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 08:50 AM

Yes that is why one can get a used one with TV Plossls for $600. New is better if price isn’t a problem, but some are willing to take a risk to save money. Most of my scopes were purchased new but sometimes you can get a great price used that makes it worth the risk.

Scott
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#13 SloMoe

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 09:07 AM

When I dove back into the hobby about 6 mabye 7 years ago I had always wanted an SCT just because when I left the hobby some years before that they were just making a popular showing and were priced out of my budget as that the family was getting bigger and life demands it's priorities,

 

So when I got back in the first one I found on the local CL was a Celestron 6i I think, silver tube, couple of eyepieces but the tripod was a real mess, barley held the scope up, and that I was able to fix, and it wasn't that hard to do, just replaced most of the factory fasteners with better ones to do the job of holding it together.

Optic's wise and function of the goto were flawless, 

 

Then I caught aperture fever and not knowing of this site I went back to CL, spotted an 8i in Portland, couple hour drive and $600, it was still in the original Celestron box, had the up-grade GPS accessory.

 

Got an AstroZap dew shield, Telrad & Celestron 9X50 illuminated right angle finder, perfect package, thing works great, easy to lift around or transport.

Optic's are great, tracking, slewing, goto all work flawless, so that's a 20yr old scope.

 

then the fov fever hit and I now drive a dob, it's in a large foam padded 1650 Pelican case in my garage.

 

the Orion hard case has the finders in it, and the batteries have been removed for storage, the soft bag has the GPS unit & hand controller.

You can see the dew shield wrapped around the lower leg of the tripod.

 

I'd love to sell it but shipping will be around a million bucks I think,,,,,,,,,,,

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#14 Echolight

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 09:15 AM

I bought a 20-ish year old Nexstar 8 also. But off of CL. Original version, so no upgrades available.

 

The old Nexstar mount is suspect. It works, but I'm not sure how well. I don't have a finder on the scope right now, and I believe I'm limited to about 1 degree with the 1.25 diagonal and 40mm Nexstar plossl. And it's a little shaky for my taste.

 

The OTA appears in excellent condition. And I think it has high potential for planetary, doubles, and clusters. But I haven't really sussed it out yet.

 

Got a CGE rail inbound to try it out on the AVX. And gonna steal the 8x50 finder off my C6R, as I have a 60AZT on the refractor now.

 

If it looks like a winner I'll upgrade to a 2 inch Baader clicklock visual back and maybe a WO diagonal.

 

Anyhow, it came with a Ultima SV barlow, a heavy duty 2 inch steel tripod, a power tank, and a few other gadgets that cost more new than I have in the whole thing. And the tripod is solid, and looks like it would be easy to put a little tabletop dob on, or build a homemade pier for. So I took the chance on it.

 

I doubt I'd have ever bought one if I had to pay full price for it.


Edited by Echolight, 07 August 2020 - 09:16 AM.

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#15 SloMoe

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 09:33 AM

I bought a 20-ish year old Nexstar 8 also. But off of CL. Original version, so no upgrades available.

 

The old Nexstar mount is suspect. It works, but I'm not sure how well. I don't have a finder on the scope right now, and I believe I'm limited to about 1 degree with the 1.25 diagonal and 40mm Nexstar plossl. And it's a little shaky for my taste.

 

The OTA appears in excellent condition. And I think it has high potential for planetary, doubles, and clusters. But I haven't really sussed it out yet.

 

Got a CGE rail inbound to try it out on the AVX. And gonna steal the 8x50 finder off my C6R, as I have a 60AZT on the refractor now.

 

If it looks like a winner I'll upgrade to a 2 inch Baader clicklock visual back and maybe a WO diagonal.

 

Anyhow, it came with a Ultima SV barlow, a heavy duty 2 inch steel tripod, a power tank, and a few other gadgets that cost more new than I have in the whole thing. And the tripod is solid, and looks like it would be easy to put a little tabletop dob on, or build a homemade pier for. So I took the chance on it.

 

I doubt I'd have ever bought one if I had to pay full price for it.

Going to 2" light path won't be much of an increase in anything except expense,

 

1.28° is all you're going to get TFOV wise, you could for less than the diagonal and your first 2" eyepiece get the same TFOV of the scope with a 6,3 reducer and super plossl 32mm.


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#16 Echolight

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 10:49 AM

Going to 2" light path won't be much of an increase in anything except expense,

 

1.28° is all you're going to get TFOV wise, you could for less than the diagonal and your first 2" eyepiece get the same TFOV of the scope with a 6,3 reducer and super plossl 32mm.

Yeah. Maybe. But the reducer is $90. And on the AVX mount I'll still need an easy and secure way to rotate the diagonal.

 

Plus I don't want to buy any wide angle 1.25 inch eyepieces. This isn't my only scope. Everything I own or plan to own will use 2 inch eyepieces.

 

And a 2 inch 38 SWA will give me 1.31 TFOV(maybe less with the added focal length?) and higher power(53x vs 40x) than the 32 super plossl in a reducer.


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#17 SeattleScott

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 11:26 AM

I mostly use LVWs and 2” eyepieces so I don’t have to mess with adapters. Morpheus are basically the new LVW. I have some 1.25” only eyepieces in my small grab and go kit.

Scott

#18 SloMoe

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 11:27 AM

Yeah, I can see your point Echolight but the OP doesn't own a heard of 2" glass and 0.06°tfov gain is virtually nothing, nor is it on an EQ mount, a Bluefireball visual back will let you rotate the diagonal  any way you need it without having to loosen and tighten the visual back if it's on a stock tripod.


Edited by SloMoe, 07 August 2020 - 11:29 AM.

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#19 Galaxyhunter

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 12:45 PM

So, I want to get a 8" or so SCT I think.  I may end up going for a dobsonian of the same size, but for now I am liking some of what I see in the SCTs.  I basically want a scope big enough to get into the hobby, but small enough that I can take into the SoCal mountains and deserts on the weekend where there is lot less light noise. I don't want to get something so big as I can't fairly easily set it up myself.  So at least i know as telescopes go, for a number of reasons, size does matter.  wink.gif

I have noticed locally, you can get some decent deals (and sometimes crazy overpriced) on older tech SCTs.   For example, 8" Meade lx200 gps telescope or a Celestron CPC 1100.  In fact the Celestron that i saw, included a case that cost almost as much as they as the current sales price.  I get the Celestron is pretty big, but putting that aside for a moment, I am questioning the old technology.

These 15 year old scopes, assuming everything in good condition, still have fairly old technology.   As a computer guy, i know how just a couple years can make a difference in upgrades, accessories, etc.   So I am wondering from all of your experience, where is the cutoff where it is not worth even looking at regardless of price.   Is the old tech still workable in telescopes, or should I really be thinking that the future is in go-to and wifi tech?  Are these scopes upgradeable to newer tech?   Assuming the telescope is in good working order, do i even need to worry about ugrading the tech?

What is the useable life of these scopes?

 

Would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks in advance!!!

Bruce

As a computer guy, you know that you are always chasing technology.  So the question you have to ask yourself is, do I want all the bells & whistles & chase that technology year after year, or do I want something simple that will last for a long time.  If you want the latest & greatest, buy new & keep replacing it every few years.  If you want simplicity, get the dob, as it doesn't get much easier then that.


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#20 Andrekp

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 04:05 PM

As a computer guy, you know that you are always chasing technology.  So the question you have to ask yourself is, do I want all the bells & whistles & chase that technology year after year, or do I want something simple that will last for a long time.  If you want the latest & greatest, buy new & keep replacing it every few years.  If you want simplicity, get the dob, as it doesn't get much easier then that.

im not sure it’s really such a binary choice.  I have a 20 year old Meade GoTo scope that still works fine and does exactly what it did when I bought it.  I’m not sure there is anything that is missing that I personally consider must have.  So embracing technology doesn’t HAVE to be embracing the technology crazy-train of constantly trying to keep up.

 

it is true that it may not be functional as is, like my 1970’s reflector is, but it is also true that I can buy a new mount and put the tube on there when that time comes.  If I have to buy a new mount for this tube every 30 years, then that means I might have to buy a new mount once, then I’ll be too dead to care.  Hardly a bad deal...

 

so there are different ways of looking at technology.


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#21 SeattleScott

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Posted 07 August 2020 - 04:52 PM

Agreed mounts do not become obsolete as quickly as computers. A computerized mount will usually die before it is obsolete.

Scott

Edited by SeattleScott, 07 August 2020 - 04:52 PM.

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#22 PPPPPP42

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Posted 08 August 2020 - 11:57 AM

This thread is having some difficulties holding its course hopefully a mount bicker fest doesn't break out.

I have my cpc800 and a nice refractor on a manual alt/az mount so I have a foot firmly in both camps and understand when each is essential.

 

If you are interested in a old meade computerized scope run it by the meade forum first. When I was looking at one used myself I learned  in certain eras there is certain major electronics work that will need to be done not so much as a matter of if but when (very use dependant).  If its already been done or is a newer scope I guess they are great.

 

With the Celestron as was mentioned look for the shiny starbrite XLT coating sticker on the tube, the tubes haven't really changed since that point and its a measurable difference I am told. I wouldn't turn down a super great deal on an older OTA however.

As for the mount if its a currently sold mount its new enough to be fine, I'm not sure I would bother with the older discontinued stuff.  Things wear out on the mounts but most of the motors and parts are available and are more of a disassemble and reassemble type repair following youtube videos or equivalent.

 

You can normally judge an old CPC by taking it outside to see if the GPS locks on (a unit that has been stored for years may need an update for that) and then running the motors around to see what they sound like.

I bought my CPC800 used and its been overall good.  It even came with the heavy wedge in case I ever bother with astrophotography.

Mine needs the OTA completely cleaned and regreased because age had messed the spread and viscosity of the grease up enough that I was getting image jump when focusing.  That is a job that is simple but extremely easy to screw up and make a big mess in the OTA at the same time.

The mount is just fine aside from needing software updates (easy) to get around the "gps issue" that many mounts suffered from due to date rollover.

I just added a good 12v pack and the wifi widget and it works excellent with my ipad. I never touch the clunky old hand controller.

 

Even the CPC800 sucks to haul outside due to the fact that the OTA and mount are all one piece with just the tripod being separate.  Make sure you have a plan to get the 1100 moved outside every night or you will end up like I did, using a very expensive refractor setup every night instead due to sheer lazyness.

Cooldown time of an SCT also got on my nerves vs the refractor, I am bad at planning that far ahead for viewing.

The CPC mount (or any double fork alt/az) is rather cludgy for photography though it can be done with a wedge and the right optical train.

 

See signature for my eyepieces and diagonal choices.  I used the Baader clicklock 2" back on the OTA with the way overpriced (but awesome) diagonal directly in it so its short and simple and I only actually need the 9mm 120 and the 20mm 100 for the SCT.  Its really hard to get any wider a view in that scope than the 20mm 100 without zooming way out with a much lower power eyepiece which I think defeats the purpose entirely.

I really consider the 2" optical train and the parts I got necessary to my enjoyment (addicted to super wide but still zoomed in) but most people aren't going to want to spend another $2500 on top of the scope.


Edited by PPPPPP42, 08 August 2020 - 11:59 AM.


#23 RalphMeisterTigerMan

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Posted 16 August 2020 - 04:11 AM

You would be surprised at how many "vintage" telescopes are out there being used and enjoyed by amateurs. The glass in reflector/catadioptrics and refractor lenses can last several centuries. As long as the material for the telescope tube, mount and tripod are made from quality materials (steel, aluminum, etc.) these can last quite a long time as well. The only problem is the "weakest link" parts of the telescope; the electronics, gears and bearings in the mount.

 

Many modern telescopes have a fair amount of plastic incorporated into their design. Decades ago, most components were made from steel and aluminum, just look at many of the large telescopes that were built in the 1800's that are still in use today. Granted, many have been refurbished due to both age and wear and tear but they are still in use; ie: Mount Palomar Observatory, Mt. Wilson Observatory, Lowell Observatory, the various telescope at Harvard, etc.

 

My current telescope, a Celestron C5+, still works quite well despite being 27 years old (1993 vintage). As long as the telescope has been well taken care of and not abused, dropped or banged or rattled around in vehicle on a rough road going to a remote observing site, it can last many decades. Sure, older reflectors and SCT may have to have their primary and secondary mirrors recoated but other than that many of their components can stand the test of time.

 

So don't worry about purchasing an older telescope. If you are considering a used scope at a local Telescope shop than you have the ability to look thru it and check for any obvious damage. When purchasing from a seller from quite a distance away, ask for enough pics from various angles to see the condition of the scope.

 

The advantage of buying used is that right now, with the ongoing pandemic, is that you have a telescope that is already available and only have to wait for the length od time that shipping may take. Many Vendors will be out-of-stock due to supply problems that the manufacturers are experiencing because their emplyees may not be able to come to work.

 

Good luck and clear skies!

RalphMeisterTigerMan


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