Many thanks, Jeff. I guess I’m suffering from the conceit of trying to answer questions that have no substitute besides experience. What does it fee like to cruise the deep sky in a wide field? How much time do I want to spend on a clear night just zooming in on a lunar mountain range?
More fundamentally, I think I’m struggling most with two questions.
Does a 127/150mm Mak close too many doors to deep sky, or does it just see them differently? I really appreciated the OPs question about adding a wide view EP to his Mak to squeeze out more deep sky capability? Have you ever tried that with your Mak? Does it play well with a 2” diagonal?
And if you’re a snooty photographer who will probably drift into Astrophotography, is an ED refractor just *that* much better at working out details? What are the tradeoffs of better contrast etc at lower magnification versus having Jupiter filling more of your proverbial windshield?
I guess it’s probably time for me to stop trolling the forum and get in the field
Many thanks again,
Yes nothing beats actually getting out there and for the record I am not a snooty photographer (I don't even own a DSLR), my AP comment was meant to say I didn't know if I would want to get into AP, but wanted a scope that would let me grow into it, should I take that path (but I know what you meant, I address that question below).
In fact I was right where you are at three months ago. I just got my gear a couple weeks ago (so I am more than TWICE
as experienced as Echolight who stated "After having an ED80(SW) for 6 nights..."
.) But it has been an intense, grand, enjoyable 2.5 weeks. I have averaged 4 hours a night, pulling almost all nighters when moon allows, so am up to 60+ hours working with the two scopes. So read my inputs as a 'test drive', or 'first reaction'.
WIth that in mind, to answer your questions:
What does it feel like to cruise the deep sky? It is an awesome experience, makes you reverant as you see the majesty of nature and each telescope has its advantages in the Deep Sky (more on this in a bit). But for that feeling I quote Echolight: "wide field viewing with an eyepiece full of stars has become my new passion in astronomy".
After having an ED80(SW) for 6 nights, I'm really loving it. The new has worn off of the three main planets just a bit, and wide field viewing with an eyepiece full of stars has become my new passion in astronomy. Although I do very much enjoy the high contrast features that the moon offers quite a bit. And one of these days I'll start getting out early for Venus.
Aside from the spectacular wide field views, the stability on the Unistar mount is fantastic. I can rack the focuser and bump or rest my eye against the eyepiece with nary a twitch.
But the downside is that I'm loving the widefield viewing in the ED80 so much, that I feel compelled to start planning for a bigger, brighter, farther reaching ST120 so I can fill the eyepiece with even more stars! I just hope that when I get around to getting one that it also is super stable on my Unistar mount.
How much time do I want to spend on a clear night just zooming in on a lunar mountain range? I know this was rhetorical, 'ol Luna is pretty amazing in itself, both an ED80 (or ED100 if you can afford it, nod to gnowellsct) and Mak will rock it.
"Does a 127/150mm Mak close too many doors to deep sky, or does it just see them differently?" The Maks absolutely do NOT shut the doors on DSOs. In fact they are needed for many of them. The 5" and 6" Maks are in a class some call the Messier class because they can see all the smaller Messier objects. Not ideally see them, that is where 8"-plus comes in, but they can be seen. The 150mm Mak does about 0.9 degrees with a 40mm EP, and with 6mm-66 degree, 300x (general atmosphere limit) it is getting down to 0.2 degrees TFOV. Why that is important is that many double stars and planetary nebula are measured in arcseconds, and the high mag and 6" resolution capability are critical. I can see M57 ring nebula at 150X in the ED80, but it is a smaller aperture so details aren't as apparent and the object not as large. While at 300x in the Mak I can definitely see the smoke ring that is M57. Another one is the Trapezium in M42 (Orion Nebula), yes the ED80 at 150x will see it, but it will be twice as large and beautiful at 300x. Globular Clusters are just dust bunnies in the ED80, even at high mag, because aperture is too small to resolve individual stars. In the 6" Mak, it can start to resolve the individual stars (Note: globular clusters are one of the biggest arguments for more aperture, an 11" EdgeHD would do wonders with them as aperture provides resolution along with larger eye pupil at same mag level). And as far as doubles, I did a double star marathon a couple days ago: with the Mak. I needed that 300x for multiple pairs to get them to clearly separate, something the ED80 would not be able to do (ED80 could do about 80% of the hundred double pairs or so I observed).
So along these lines and regarding...
"adding a wide view EP to his Mak to squeeze out more deep sky capability? Have you ever tried that with your Mak? Does it play well with a 2” diagonal?" Astronomers (now including myself
!) sometimes get sloppy when things like "ED80 is a great DSO scope" are said. They mean things like M31 (Andromeda), Veil Nebula, North America Nebula, M45 (Pleiades), Hyades, Double Cluster in Perseus, the large Open Clusters, etc. All these things are over 1 degree, some over 3 degrees. Even with a 2" TV 55mm 50 degree or ES 40 68 degree EP, a Mak 150 won't get there (a 40x68 gets you 1.5 degrees, not enough for what I just listed). So yes a Mak plays well with 2" EP, you get an extra 0.6 degrees, but then you have a more expensive diagonal, more expensive filters, more expensive EPs and note: you can 't do a focal reducer plus 2" EP very well (get vignetting, so have to choose 2" EP or FR) I personally went the 1.25" route, and used some the money save to get the ED80 to give me the wide field (meaning >1 degree) objects while also giving me an all-around scope.
is an ED refractor just *that* much better at working out details? What are the tradeoffs of better contrast etc at lower magnification versus having Jupiter filling more of your proverbial windshield? Actually the 150mm Mak gets better contrast visually and better details at the high mag because of aperture, along this line a 127 mm refractor vs a 150mm Mak would be a fairer comparison. Between the ED80 and Mak150, at 150x the scopes images of Mars look pretty much the same, but only Mak150 can crank up to 300x (where I many times definitely have crosed what seeing can sustain).
It seems like you want the Mak, that is great. A Mak 150 is a great instrument. I started with that as well as my base decision. And if you go that route there are lots of DSOs to see, as indicated: double stars, planetary nebula, Globular Clusters (M13, M15, M92, etc.), small clusters (M37, Wild Duck which are both awesome) in addition to all the Solar System items.
But for me, when I then looked at the big beautiful wide field items I would be missing
and that I wanted a scope for solar as well (not ideal for any reflector bc of need fo big front objective mounted Energy Rejection Filter, ie $$$$), and with all the money I was already spending for the Mak150 kit, a tripod upgrade, filters, EPs, scope covers, dew shield, power supply, focal reducers, filter wheels, books, tarp for the ground, red lights, etc. adding the ED80 and a mount only added ~10% to my total "new hobby" bill, so I went with both, instead of leaving some of the most beautiful objects in the sky behind (DSO family vote was thumbs up on Double in Perseus, M45, Christmas Tree and Beehive, Hyades, area around Mirfak/Mirphak...M1, M57 and M31 were lost on them ("what, that greyish blob?"))
That is why I recommended the ED80 (or a short FL 4" APO if affordable to you) if you were to pick one between the two, because it will do all classes (just not as well as a more specialized scope).
But ideally, to quote my personal favorite handle in all CN, THE one, THE only, Shorty Barlow*, "Probably best to have both."
Long Live Mak and Frac!
* - Shorty, I laugh myself silly everytime I pull out my Shorty Barlow to use, thinking "Hi, I'm Shorty, Shorty Barlow".
I think it's more a matter of which is the better, smaller, more portable telescope than just comparing everything to a 400mm Dob'.
The Synta 127mm Maksutov and the 80ED DS Pro Evostar are popular choices of portable telescopes. I read somewhere that Synta sell more 127mm Mak's than any other Mak' aperture size. If this is in fact true, there must be a reason.
It's easy to recommend a 120mm or 150mm refractor or a 800mm Dobsonian if you live in an observatory or in some parallel dimension where the laws of gravity are different.
It's less easy to recommend a choice between the two to someone who is genuinely trying to make the choice. I have both these scopes and enjoy using both of them.
If I had to recommend one it would be the refractor, not just because of the sharpness and contrast advantage, but because it is a much more versatile scope as a whole. Probably best to have both.