Thanks for the responses so far. Here’s the exact scope under consideration: Astrotech AT-106 LE, 106mm F/6.5 FPL-53.
Why a refractor? Fair question. A: Primarily as an even easier grab-n-go than my 8” dob* for relatively brief, impromptu viewing sessions from home. My local skies are moderately light polluted. I live on the outskirts of suburban Oklahoma City. I do love the idea of being able to have a passive (yet sturdy) alt-az tripod and carry it outside in one trip to be viewing even faster than I can today.
Also, since I know viewing objects are oft asked, my favorite viewing objects so far have been globular clusters (#1 by far), lunar and (attempting) nebulas.
I know that dropping aperture to 4.5” will be significant, but I know that refractors return the best image per aperture. I’ve tried to choose a scope that is economical yet high quality. (This model is used and discontinued yet was and is highly regarded.)
As I live only minutes away from our sponsor Astronomics in Norman, Oklahoma, I called and spoke to Michael briefly at lunch today. He answered one of my questions: The scope I’m looking at is the “LE,” but he said there’s essentially no difference except the weight. (I thought that I had read here on CN that the glass was different. I asked him that specifically and (at least from his memory) he said there is no difference in the optics, only the weight and color of the trim (grey vs black = LE).
So, these remain my question if you can help:
1) Is the age of this scope material to its condition (e.g., is there likely degradation of the coatings) or is only the overall condition of the scope the main point? (The owner, who I trust implicitly) depicts it as an 8.5 of 10.)
2j How can I distinguish whether it’s an original or the “LE?“ Grey accents rather than black?
3) ...would this specific scope be a good 1st refractor for visual for a novice?
Thanks for your time and experience. Tom
*By the way, our local club has a dark site and other members are jealous of how quickly I can set up and be viewing while they’re still unloading (I open the car windows on the drive to let the OTA acclimate.) And more often than not, when I share a view from my scope, the response is, “Wow! That’s a great image for what you call a “beginner’s scope’.” So, I love my dob, the used eyepieces I’ve added, and the time (and money) spent to learn to collimate well.
[edit for typo]
Edited by grahamtv, 12 August 2020 - 08:59 PM.