My wife and I are looking for land in west Texas. It'll likely be within sight of the McDonald Observatory. Within the next year or so I'm hoping to build a roll-off observatory with one or two scopes (or up to three, if you count my current 12" dob).
I'm looking for advice on which scope or scopes to buy. I'd really appreciate the help. A few things:
- I've been using my 12" Sky-Watcher go-to Dobsonian for six or seven years. I live in a city, so for deep-sky observing I have to lug it out to a darker place. Hence, I don't use it as much as I'd like. I do take it out now and again to look at Jupiter and Saturn and maybe a globular cluster or two.
- Right now, I'm still primarily interested in visual observing, but I would like to expand to AP. I think once I get out there, I'll want to invest the time and money into picking it up.
- Budget: I'm pretty open to anything between a total of $2,000 and $12,000. This would be for one or two scopes, including some amount for AP equipment.
- AP equipment: I know this is really open ended. Feel free to ballpark this. No need to list specific equipment. I don't know what I would focus on. I'd like to try photographing planets, but also DSOs. Do you need completely different setups for each? If so, I guess I'd choose a setup for DSOs first. Or both setups if they could fit the budget.
- I imagine I'd have at least one, maybe two piers in the observatory. Can I get a large enough pier to accommodate a big scope, even if I don't get that scope immediately? Like, use a small scope on a big pier? Stupid question, I know.
- My guess is that this could come down to an apo refractor for AP and a bigger dob for visual? Although what about the SkyWatcher 190mm Maksutov-Newtonian? Does a large-aperture scope have to be a dob? That's all I see around 16" to 20" or so.
I'm open to all suggestions. It'd be nice if you give a few reasons for your ideas. If there's an inexpensive scope or scopes that you think would suit a relative beginner, that'd be fine, but I'm also open to more "dream scope" sort of suggestions.
Thanks very much!