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So what telescope do I buy?

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#1 Supergiant


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Posted 27 September 2020 - 08:05 PM

I am going to upgrade--


Here is my situation:  I understand optics and know there is a law of diminishing returns.  I purchased a Celestron 6SE a few years ago and could not figure it out--poor choice for a complete beginner.  I thought the construction/design was good.  I never could get it to align and I sold it.


I started over again and bought a Meade Infinity 102--I have used it for a year, upgraded some eypieces, am very comfortable finding the brighter Messiers and of course the planets.


I have a good system when I do out--charts, chair, I even can get out to a pretty dark sky--15-20 miles away from a city.  About 20 minutes away-- 


So here's the story--I think I have gotten all I can from the Meade--good scope, mount leaves alot to be desired--focus is tricky when going up in magnification.


I want to punch deeper into the cosmos--very very difficult with a point and go wobbly mount.


What are my options?


1. Now that I have a better understanding of the sky, do I try again with the 6SE?  Around $800 

2. Is the 8"SE better or does that push the limit of that mount? Around $1200


3.  How much LESS of a scope is the Celestron 5SE? (5" vs. 6" vs. 8")


4.  I will not be using a camera and do not plan on using WIFI on a laptop.


Do I go all out and buy the Evolution?  Starting at $1400


I really don't want to spend the farm on this--Is the Evolution worth the cost or does the SE do everything I would use it for.  I get out about once a week in the backyard.  I have a truck so a small car is not a limit when I need to pack things up.


Is there another alternative better than average more than entry level scope I am not seeing?

Edited by Supergiant, 27 September 2020 - 08:12 PM.

#2 Spikey131


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Posted 27 September 2020 - 08:12 PM

10" Dob

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#3 Supergiant


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Posted 27 September 2020 - 08:13 PM


#4 Mitrovarr



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Posted 27 September 2020 - 08:33 PM

Dobsonians are a lot cheaper for what they offer, optically, than other scopes. If you're happy with a non-tracking scope you have to aim yourself, it's a good option.


The main advantage the 6-8" SCTs offer is that they can use inexpensive computerized mounts. So the SE or evolution scopes have goto and tracking. That's part of why they're more expensive than dobsonians. It doesn't make them better optically - an equally sized dob is at least as good, and maybe a little better (in particular, it can do much wider fields than the SCT can).


So I'd probably think a bit whether you want your next scope to be computerized or not. If you don't want goto and tracking, a dob is far cheaper. In fact for less than the cost of the 6SE you can get a 10" dobsonian, and that 10" dob is equal to or better than a 10" SCT, not a 6" one!


But, then again, tracking and goto are really nice. I use my 10" SCT at least 3x as much as my 12" dobsonian. So maybe you will want them. In that case, I'd probably try to stretch and get the evolution if you can; first of all, it's a heavier more substantial mount that carries more telescope and carries it better, and secondly it saves you having to buy a bunch of accessories you'll want later. It has an internal battery, so you won't need a power pack, and it has wifi I think, so you won't need an adapter later if you want to use a phone or computer to control the scope.

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#5 ShaulaB



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Posted 27 September 2020 - 08:33 PM

If you are physically fit enough, get a 14 inch Dob. If you are proficient at star hopping, you will save around $1000 by not getting the GoTo electronics and motors.


Many posters here at CN say "aperture is king" and I can't disagree. With more aperture two things happen. #1 Objects are brighter due to more light collection. So you can see fainter objects. #2 Resolution of fine detail increases with aperture diameter. If you magnify Jupiter at 200x in your 100mm refractor, you will never see the greater detail you can see at 200x in a 355mm Dob (14 inches).


Above 14 inches for a Dob and the scope gets much heavier, and a much larger vehicle is needed to haul it.


Or a C14 if you like SCT's. Then the mount needed is heavier, beefier, and more expensive.

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#6 Supergiant


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Posted 27 September 2020 - 08:59 PM

ok--what about 5 versus 6 inch SE?

#7 tony_spina



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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:05 PM

If you can afford the 6" go for it

#8 bjulihn


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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:09 PM

Hey Supergiant;


I am focusing on your statement "I want to punch deeper into the cosmos". I take that to mean you want to see fainter stuff and more. There are ways to do that: 1) greater aperture or 2) a camera to gather light over time. I realize you are not interested in astrophotography but you might want to consider the simple EAA (electronically assisted astronomy) which stacks images on the screen for you to see fainter objects.


If "wobbly" is a problem then a Dob is a great choice. They are very stable and the cost per inch of aperture is by far the best available. If you want goto then a SC is a good way to go. I think you need to decide whether you are going for "push-to" or "goto" on this round of your journey.

#9 bjulihn


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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:10 PM

The choice of 5" or 6" depends on what you are targeting and how. A 5" with an EAA camera would be an interesting option in my mind. If you are going straight visual, I would push for more aperture.

#10 Mitrovarr



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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:24 PM

ok--what about 5 versus 6 inch SE?

6 inch is better. It has a better mount; the SE mount actually comes in two sizes, and the 6" gets the larger one. So that's good. And the 6" is already pretty much as portable as you need a scope to be. There is little advantage to getting a smaller one.

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#11 CN_102NE


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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:33 PM

10" Dob

I second the 10" Dob.


I've been viewing for 3 years now - and my first year was one of total frustration not being able to see DSO objects with the nominal seeing conditions within the area that is available to me.   That was the case until I joined a club and asked long-term members this very question.  And the answer was - if you can do it - get yourself a 10" Dob.


After having the 10" for about a year - it also happened - an 8" Orion Newtonian in excellent condition fell into my lap. 

And even with that 8" aperture - I can tell you - there are DSO objects such as galaxies I've unsuccessfully struggled to see, that I can find in a few minutes with the 10" Dob.


I am personally convinced, if I didn't have that 10" aperture - I would have to accept the reality of simply not being able to see objects I'm interested in regularly seeing.


Looking back - I wish I had joined the club as my first step into the hobby - and asked for that advice in the first place.

I wouldn't have wasted so much money and time struggling with scopes I would end up being frustrated with.


Hope this helps

#12 havasman


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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:46 PM

ok--what about 5 versus 6 inch SE?

They're little. Sure folks have fun with them but you've had a little scope and have "gotten all I can from" it. Adding an inch or adding two inches of less efficient aperture isn't really going to give you much headroom above what you already think you've exhausted. Yeah, if all you ever want is a little scope that's cool. But just keep what you have.

If you want more you need aperture. My friend with big scopes and big bank thought about a TEC200 but in the end it's just a small scope in the world he runs in. Aperture opens doors. Another little scope, well its very best potential is incremental at best.

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#13 Avgvstvs


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Posted 27 September 2020 - 09:54 PM

Aperture is king, no matter if you decide on a SCT or Dob.

Purely visual go the Dob for the shorter focal ratio and price/aperture

That leaves more money for some quality eyepieces

#14 gnowellsct



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Posted 27 September 2020 - 10:30 PM

This man is ready for an 8".  He likes go-to that argues for an SCT.  He has worked with a 4" and stuck with it even after disappointment with the 6".  In my view he should have an 8" Newt or an 8" SCT or maybe a 9.25 or a 10" Newt.    


The mount should be upgraded to CPC.  Really.  The SE is ridiculous.  OK not ridiculous but in observing stability is at least as important as optics.  That would argue for the CPC.  I say this as someone who prefers GEMs.


As to this question:



Is there another alternative better than average more than entry level scope I am not seeing?

There are all kinds of things that one can do if one is willing (and able!) to indulge the expenditure.    I mean really, one could push to a 4 inch Takahashi apo and you are already into "more than entry level" and "better than average--but still at 4 inch aperture.  


Below: a C8 on G11 on Berlebach tripod with 92mm triplet apo.  I think this qualifies as "more than entry level."    You don't need this rig to enjoy the skies.  But I have enjoyed getting to this point.


One could cut the cost: used c8 on used G11 with included G11 tripod with used ED 80mm, maybe an Orion or some such.  That would cut the cost.   It would still be "more than entry level."  


I had some club friends that both got Skywatcher Dobs but they didn't leave them that way.  They got Moonlite focusers, they upgraded the eyepieces, they worked on making the azimuth smoother and the altitude better able to handle weight changes.  The gradually fashioned the scopes into much better than what they got.  The optics were very good.   So you buy a simple Newt for around a grand and put a grand into the scope and into the eyepieces and you are "better than average" and "more than entry level" because you're getting into your gear.   And it's much cheaper way to "better than average" and "more than entry level" than the SCT rig I have procured for myself. 


But a CPC would be a more cost efficient way to good SCT mount performance.


As you mess around with things you begin to get a better idea of where you want to go.  Whatever you do, don't skimp on the mount.  In my view, the astro-game takes a new level when you cut the ties to the "complete systems" sold by the big companies and start looking around for your own mount and tripod preferences etc.   And once you have all that you can swap OTA's.  On the mount/tripod in the pic below, I sometimes use a 130 mm refractor and leave the SCT at home.


Greg N

c8 with stowaway.jpg

#15 rhetfield


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Posted 28 September 2020 - 08:31 AM

I would say go with the dob suggestions.  The dobs put most of the money into optics.  The bases are simple and sturdy.  Dobs tend toward lower F-ratios - which give wider FOV's.  The wider FOV is why the meade works better for you than the 6SE did.  Stick with something in the F5-F6 range.


You will want something big to complement your meade.  If it is a bigger dob, you can set it up to use the meade as a finder scope.  The only real drawback to big dobs is they are big and heavy - you will have to decide how much your circumstances will allow you to transport.  Get a 2" focuser on it to maximize FOV.


Look at the degree circle thread to learn about a cheap way to aim a dob.


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#16 MrRoberts


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Posted 28 September 2020 - 08:56 AM

You might be better served with the purchase of a better mount for now. Like the Ioptron AZMPro or CEM25 (or something in that capability range). You will spend more time observing rather than hand searching and tracking. You may even like your ota even better. And with a CEM25'ish mount you can try some eaa. Then later, when you can afford it, buy more photons.

The pic is my C-8 on the AZMPro (which also worked well on my CEM25 for eaa/vis in NE IL-you don't need the Edge version). This set-up is nownlocated at parents house in southern AZ where the views are better than using my now sold custom 15" dob in NE IL (near Chicago).

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#17 phillip



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Posted 28 September 2020 - 12:27 PM

Admit aperture rules in most situations as using my XT10 dob chasing Mars at the moment.


But years back used nearly 3 years exclusively the mighty mite ETX90, has locator and tracking if the newbie can figure it out. Certainly had my time last getting it to work. Tho small it's sharp optics indeed, course deep sky isn't bright but be amazed what's pulled in in excellent seeing. The smaller little dumbell nebula, and indeed faint owl nebula took awhile, then near obvious as your eye Improves! Found it more than amazing. Caution may not fit every beginners needs. 


Do have an old youtube wnppmy using ETX90, has over 60,000 hits now so least I've confused alot of newcomers but perhaps helped many as well. That puppie fascinated me for some Time! 


But my workhorse was the XT18i, but with tuff Mars detail, tho easier now with its size has my XT10's Attention! 


Check astronomy clubs, get your feet wet, awesome hobby for Sure! 


Clear Sky



Clave 8mm, Pentax 7mm, Takahashi orthos 6mm, 5mm for planets! 

#18 Dave Mitsky

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Posted 28 September 2020 - 01:51 PM

It doesn't make them better optically - an equally sized dob is at least as good, and maybe a little better (in particular, it can do much wider fields than the SCT can).

The Strehl ratio for SCTs can be below the Rayleigh Limit so it's likely that optically the Dob will be superior.  


#19 Supergiant


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Posted 28 September 2020 - 05:17 PM

This thread started out managable and now I am lost.


I would like to spend around $1000--I see some fantastic rigs out there but I am not at that level--


I see the 5 inch option not an improvement--minimum of 6 inch aperture.


I really do not want to try to adjust the scope myself--a computerized 'go to' alignment is more towards my liking.


I see on the Orion website self aligning Dobsonians for around $1000--



#20 BugsInSpace


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Posted 28 September 2020 - 05:58 PM


Some people say aperture is king...

I agree.... but maybe dark skies is the Ace...smile.gif My lowly 8" SCT at our acreage Bortle 2ish or better..(altho just sitting back and gazing up in amazement at the Milky Way does distract one from the scope... and then often there are the Northern lights pollution.....smile.gif    .. beats my 12.5" discovery dob in my back yard in the city... 8 or worse... 

It sounds like you have dark skies available so waytogo.gif


When you buy you should remember you might want to upgrade your eyepieces...50% $ maybe headed toward a nice complimentary eyepiece set cause a fine scope deserves a fine set of eyepieces.... I found from experience.... 1-1/4" eyepieces are great.... 2" are to use a British term... Gobsmacking....


Just my opinion... Your money....


Have a great day...



PS... I am a star hopper push and nudge... The first thing I did when I bought my Celestron SCT was toss the computerized mount as far as I could and got a basic no frills mount.... FYI my local Astronomy club "caught" the mount and sold for some fund raising....

Edited by BugsInSpace, 28 September 2020 - 06:01 PM.

#21 mac57


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Posted 28 September 2020 - 06:29 PM

You can't go deep with a bunch of lp  but the bigger the better.  Mark

#22 Supergiant


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Posted 28 September 2020 - 06:35 PM

"you can't go deep with a bunch of lp"


I do not know what this means--a little help

#23 darkmatter14B



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Posted 28 September 2020 - 06:47 PM

By lp.....the poster means light pollution. 


I bought a 10" Dob two months ago and couldn't been happier with the visuals.    Only downsides are it's a little big/heavy if that's any concern. 

Edited by darkmatter14B, 28 September 2020 - 06:50 PM.

#24 Supergiant


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Posted 28 September 2020 - 06:51 PM

thank you--not 'hip' to all this lingo


Which one did you purchase?

#25 NightOwl07



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Posted 28 September 2020 - 06:52 PM

I recently got back into observing again after being away for a few years due to life and work. After thinking a lot about what I had from before let me offer a few other things to consider.


"Can't go deep with a bunch of LP (light pollution)" means exactly that. The views through a large scope in severe light pollution will be washed out compared to the views through a smaller scope at a very dark site. The point being that you can do a lot more with a large telescope but a smaller one that you can transport to a dark site easily will be better than a bigger one that gets you stuck under brightly lit skies. I am personally much happier with a 3" APO under bortle II skies than an 14" newtonian in the middle of Manhattan.


I would also like to point to observing habits as something to consider. What is your life, schedule, and time demand like?

For me, I have a fairly busy job, long hours, family. Every so often I can have a whole night where I can set up whatever equipment I want and take my time but most nights I may only have an hour  or two tops. A small telescope that I can setup in minutes, weighs nothing, and I don't have to wait an hour for cool-down will allow me to observe a lot more frequently even if they are optically not as capable as something much larger.


What is your situation like? How much time do you want to spend each session setting up and tearing down your equipment compared to how much you can afford to spend? What is the maximum equipment that you can easily transport to a dark site?


Coming back to your question, an 8" SCT is about the largest of what I'd consider a portable general purpose scope. It weighs about 15lb, the mount needed to handle it would be perhaps 30lb if EQ and a bit lighter if it's Alt-az. It'll get you pretty good views in the city and is a big step up compared to a 4". They're generally optically quite capable. The whole package of scope-mount-accessories should also be small enough that you can throw into any car you like and drive to a dark sky site on a whim.


Now if you believe that you're at a stage where quality glass and optical performance trumps everything I said above and you have all the time and money in the world to use them then please ignore everything I've just said, there are some very dedicated people on here that would know much more in depth than I do.

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