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Is a TEC 140 (or 160) a good upgrade from an FC100DL for visual planetary use?

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#1 Ihtegla Sar

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 06:40 PM

So, I'm toying with the idea of getting a bigger refractor for weeknight use at home in Bortle 6-7 light polluted skies primarily for visual use viewing planets, double stars and the Moon. I have an FC100DL, which is excellent but I thought it might be nice to get something bigger. 

 

I live in the Pacific Northwest where the weather changes rapidly, and is often cloudy with frequent sucker holes and warm days with cool nights and the jet stream is usually overhead.   

 

I have an old C-8 and on a perfect night it can provide stunning views of the planets but it gives me endless headaches with cooling, dew and doesn't perform that well in mediocre seeing, which is all too common. I've set it up next to my DL several times and the DL almost always beats it by a large margin due to the C-8 having issues with cooling, dew and seeing. The only time the C-8 beat the DL was once in the middle of the summer on a warm steady night and the experience that one night left me wanting more aperture.  I could try to mount fans on the C-8 or get one of the newer ones with active cooling but I don't really want to hassle with any of that during the week when I am tired from work and need some thing that "just works" for a a short impromptu session. 

 

The DL on the other hand is always ready to go on a moment's notice if we have a break in the clouds, like a few days ago when I got nice views of Mars looking through a sucker hole that lasted less than an hour.  The DL just works. That's what I am looking for only bigger, if that's possible. 

 

I was leaning towards an APM 152 ED but then I read that they typically need 60 minutes or more of cooling. That won't work for me.  I need something that will always be ready to go at a moment's notice and will perform well even in 2 arc-second seeing if that is what the conditions happen to be but will also be ready to knock my socks off if the seeing happens to be better. 

 

I was almost ready to give up on the idea of a larger refractor after reading that other air spaced refractors in the 5-6 inch range like the Tak TSA-120 and the TOE 130/150 or the SW Esprit 150 all need 30-60 minutes or more of cooling for optimal viewing.  

 

Then I saw this thread on the TEC 140 ED oil spaced triplet. From the description in that thread, the TEC 140 sounds like a larger FC100DL. What caught my eye in particular was the fast cooling of the oil spaced triplet design. Maybe the TEC 140 will perform like the FC100DL only with more aperture?

 

But the TEC 140 ED was replaced by the TEC 140 ED FL, with a middle florite element, which sounds good on paper but is considerably more money and from what I have read in this thread the new florite version performs no better and maybe even not quite as well for visual than the old TEC 140 ED since the TEC 140 ED was optimized for visual use but the new florite version is optimized for both visual and AP. So maybe I should look for a used TEC 140 ED?

 

None are available now but there is a used TEC 160 ED on astromart for what looks like a good price. Should I get the 160 ED?  Its more aperture still but requires a beefier (more expensive) mount and will be more bulky for those rare times I may want to haul it to my dark site. 

 

I've also read some good things about CFF scopes but there don't seem to be as many of those here in the US where I am located. 

 

I'm still a ways from needing a new bigger refractor but I have been toying with the idea and thought I would put this out for discussion and advice. 

 

Particularly I'm interested in advice about choosing between a TEC 140 and the 160, whether to get the florite version, whether to look at other brands of oil spaced triplets like CFF, or whether to just stick with my FC100DL and give up on the idea of a larger aperture refractor. Maybe the FC100DL is the perfect balance between fast cooling and planetary performance in a variety of seeing conditions?

 

 



#2 Heywood

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 06:41 PM

"Is a TEC 140 (or 160) a good upgrade from an FC100DL for visual planetary use?"

 

Yes.

 

If you can swing it financially, get a TEC.  They never disappoint.  But the 140 and, especially, the 160ED are much bigger and heavier, and will require a G-11 class mount. 

 

Heywood


Edited by Heywood, 10 October 2020 - 06:48 PM.

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#3 coopman

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 06:46 PM

Absolutely.  40-60mm of aperture increase is a LOT in refractor-land. 


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#4 Scott in NC

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 06:46 PM

"Is a TEC 140 (or 160) a good upgrade from an FC100DL for visual planetary use?"

 

Yes.

+1


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#5 bigjy989

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 06:56 PM

From my experience, by a modest amount the TEC140 will have crisper planetary detail than you C8 up to about 200x magnification. The contrast on the TEC 140 will exceed the C8 on low level surface detail. Globulars and the brighter galaxies are easier to decern (3D pop) from the background with the 140 than with a C8. On the best nights the C8 might be able to push 300x magnification while the TEC will still perform best at up to 200x, however that point only matters if your eyes are not the best. (Exit pupil).

If you have a good mount for the Weight/moment of the 160 go that route, no hesitation (unless you can get the 180 ;) It will generally match a 10-11” SCT on detail and still give a more pleasant contrasty view.

Edited by bigjy989, 10 October 2020 - 06:58 PM.

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#6 Ihtegla Sar

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 07:10 PM

"Is a TEC 140 (or 160) a good upgrade from an FC100DL for visual planetary use?"

Yes.

If you can swing it financially, get a TEC. They never disappoint. But the 140 and, especially, the 160ED are much bigger and heavier, and will require a G-11 class mount.

Heywood


Yeah, I figured I would need a bigger mount than my current LX70. How about cooling? I've read the 140 cools really fast. How about the 160?

That's my biggest concern. I don't want to deal with issues related to cooling (I have enough of that with my C-8 and my dobs). That's my biggest hesitation about going for a bigger scope.

#7 Scott in NC

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 07:43 PM

I can’t tell that my TEC 140 (an oil-spaced triplet) cools any more slowly than my former FS-128 (an air-spaced doublet).  No, I’ve never taken any objective temperature measurements, but subjectively I can tell you that I’ve never noticed any issues.  Several years ago I owned a 115mm air-spaced triplet, and in comparison that scope took a long time to thermally equilibrate during the winter.  


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#8 Neptune

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 07:58 PM

I had a TEC140.  That's 5-1/2 inches of pure APO delight.  That would be about twice the light gathering of your current set up.  You will notice a difference.   The TEC 140 I had was an older version. It still delivered a beautiful image to my eye.  Cooled very fast. The nice thing was, as soon as I set it up outside it was ready to start viewing for a short time, then as the cooling caught up the image was a little wavy, but that went away after about 15min.  You just can't go wrong with a 140APO. unless aperture fever hits then it's off to a 175/180 APO.


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#9 sunnyday

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 08:20 PM

Absolutely.  40-60mm of aperture increase is a LOT in refractor-land. 

+ 1


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#10 Tyson M

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 09:04 PM

This is a fairly easy question and the ubiquitous responses are a sign. Planetary will be a worthwhile upgrade.

Although, to bring us back down to reality, your cool down requirements are likely too stringent for what you want. Big apo glass and sucker hole, ready-to-go-at-a-moments notice for viewing planets will only work if you keep that refractor in a shed outside, or an insulated observatory, ect.

Thermodynamics is a law for a reason. My previously owned oil spaced AP 105 Traveler took 45 mins to 60 mins to stabilize(warmer to colder outside temperatures respectively), and that was measured with a laser digital thermometer from a warm house in winter.

My temp deltas are likely larger than yours but I figure at best your looking at low power, 15 mins...30mins for med mag viewing, and high power minimum 45 mins.

Get an observatory and any refractor you buy should fill that need.

Edited by Tyson M, 10 October 2020 - 09:11 PM.

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#11 vahe

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 10:18 PM

So, I'm toying with the idea of getting a bigger refractor for weeknight use at home in Bortle 6-7 light polluted skies primarily for visual use viewing planets, double stars and the Moon. I have an FC100DL, which is excellent but I thought it might be nice to get something bigger. 

 

Particularly I'm interested in advice about choosing between a TEC 140 and the 160, whether to get the florite version, whether to look at other brands of oil spaced triplets like CFF, or whether to just stick with my FC100DL and give up on the idea of a larger aperture refractor. Maybe the FC100DL is the perfect balance between fast cooling and planetary performance in a variety of seeing conditions?

Your FC100DL is a F/9 refractor. if you can find a larger refractor that is closer to F/9 that would be ideal for visual planetary observation. The TEC 140 and 160 are both F/7 and are optimized for imaging. Since you mentioned CFF as another possibility you can always contact them and ask if they can produce a longer F ratio scope for you, I know that they offer slower refractors on special orders, I once asked TEC if they would make me a 160 FL f/9 the answer was NO.

.
I have a AP 155 EDT F/9 which I use primarily for Planets and the Moon, eveytime that I look at planets in this refractor the first question that comes up is how do people manage to do planetary observation with a 4"? Planets are so hopelessly tiny in my 6.1" that a 4" would be just too small, but that is my opinion of course.
.

Vahe


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#12 Jeff B

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 11:08 PM

I have a TEC 140ED, TEC 160ED and a CFF 160 F6.5.  All are exceptional samples.

 

There is a TEC 160ED on Amart right now:

 

https://astromart.co...double-and-case

 

Buy it.

 

Jeff


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#13 Ihtegla Sar

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Posted 10 October 2020 - 11:49 PM

I have a TEC 140ED, TEC 160ED and a CFF 160 F6.5. All are exceptional samples.

There is a TEC 160ED on Amart right now:

https://astromart.co...double-and-case

Buy it.

Jeff


I was looking at that one earlier today. Can't decide if I should get it or wait for a 140. Does the 160 cool down as fast as the 140 and is the 160 that much better than the 140 for planetary?

#14 Ihtegla Sar

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 12:16 AM

This is a fairly easy question and the ubiquitous responses are a sign. Planetary will be a worthwhile upgrade.

Although, to bring us back down to reality, your cool down requirements are likely too stringent for what you want. Big apo glass and sucker hole, ready-to-go-at-a-moments notice for viewing planets will only work if you keep that refractor in a shed outside, or an insulated observatory, ect.

Thermodynamics is a law for a reason. My previously owned oil spaced AP 105 Traveler took 45 mins to 60 mins to stabilize(warmer to colder outside temperatures respectively), and that was measured with a laser digital thermometer from a warm house in winter.

My temp deltas are likely larger than yours but I figure at best your looking at low power, 15 mins...30mins for med mag viewing, and high power minimum 45 mins.

Get an observatory and any refractor you buy should fill that need.

Well I've been considering an Observatory, but I'm not sure how much that will help with the cooling. Even when my scopes are stored outside in the shade, I've almost never had my dob or SCT reach ambient before about 2:30 am due to steadily falling temperatures throughout the night.

But in one of the threads I linked, it was reported that, unlike SCTs and wide air spaced refractors, "There has never been a session, in any season, at any elevation or in any environment where the TEC [140ED] was not producing excellent visual images from the moment I remove the front lens cap and take my first peek to the moment I take it down and put it back in its case." Another user in that thread reported their TEC 140 performing at 90% efficiency after 15 minutes.

It sounds like your experience with a smaller oil spaced scope was different with longer cool down times, which weighs in favor of me just sticking with the FC100DL since I know I can rely on it cooling to ambient very quickly and keeping up with ambient year round.

Edited by Ihtegla Sar, 11 October 2020 - 12:17 AM.


#15 BKBrown

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 12:17 AM

A TEC 140 would be a significant upgrade. I live in a humid area with occasional wildly varying temperatures and I am still up and operating, generally, in 15 to 20 minutes; really massive swings will result in additional adjustment times. But generally no more than 20 minutes for fully settled viewing. Also, the TEC 140 clean only weighs 19 pounds and rides very comfortably on an Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G...it is a very handy scope smile.png  

 

My apologies to folks who have seen this image before...

 

IMG_6411sc copy.jpg

 

Clear Skies,

Brian snoopy2.gif


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#16 25585

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 06:00 AM

An Agema fluorite 130mm doublet seems like an alternative for quicker cooling.


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#17 Neptune

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 06:06 AM

I was looking at that one earlier today. Can't decide if I should get it or wait for a 140. Does the 160 cool down as fast as the 140 and is the 160 that much better than the 140 for planetary?

Here is my personal experience.  When I had my TEC140 I would use a TeleVue Nagler 3-6Zoom eyepiece. (163x-327x). This was perfect for planetary with that scope. I did notice when zooming from 6 to any setting that provided more magnification the image got bigger, BUT it also got much dimmer (of course).  I found I liked the brightness of Jupiter at the lower power setting but for me, it got very dim when at the higher powers. So, I calculated what it would take to have the same image brightness at the higher powers and 175/180 was the magic place for me. I sold the 140 and got jack pot lucky to get a new Astro-Physics 175 from Roland (long story) and that scope was just right... for planets anyway. Deep sky is another story.


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#18 bobhen

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 06:31 AM

This might help give you a benchmark in regards to cooling an oil-spaced triplet.

 

Here is what astronomy Magazine had to say when they reviewed an Astro-Physics 155 F7 oil-spaced triplet…

 

“Optical performance of the 155 was impressive. It produced nary a trace of false color even on Venus. Equally impressive, this scope provided superb images as soon as it was set outside. Even in sub-freezing temperatures, image quality, though not perfect at first, was surprisingly sharp from the start. In cold weather, after a modest settle-down time of 30 minutes, in-focus star images were textbook Airy disks with a well-defined first diffraction ring and a trace of a second outer ring. There was no sign of spherical aberration, lens figure changes, heat plumes, or distorted Airy disks due to tube turbulence."

 

I owned an AP 155 for 17 years and live in PA and the above is pretty close to my experience.

 

I agree with your C8 (I own a C8 and a Tak TSA 120) versus refractor comparison especially from your location. Living in PA I feel your pain with weather and seeing conditions.

 

Either the 160 or 140 will be a nice step-up. Just get the scope that fits your budget and your tolerance for setup and takedown.

 

You might want to consider an alt/az mount like the DM6 or a Rowan AZ100 for a quicker/easier setup.

 

If all you want are the ultimate views and you are willing to “put-up” with “whatever it takes” to get them (the 160 is not a small scope) then get the 160. If you want a good step-up from the Tak but other considerations like weight and portability etc. are a real consideration, then get the 140. Either will be an observing win.

Good luck with your selection.

 

Bob


Edited by bobhen, 11 October 2020 - 06:32 AM.

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#19 Neptune

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 06:40 AM

Just an idea, but before I got my TEC 140 (used), I contemplated a Williams Optics 132.  There one for sale on the other site. It only gives up about 0.3" Still a pretty large boost in diameter compared to your current scope AND much less $.



#20 Blueox4

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 07:55 AM

I’ve had a TEC140-non-FL and 3 100DL’s over the years. Get the TEC. It can do everything the TAK can and more. There’s 2 for sale now as I recall. Buy that FL and be happy 4 ever with it. 


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#21 Jeff B

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 08:53 AM

I was looking at that one earlier today. Can't decide if I should get it or wait for a 140. Does the 160 cool down as fast as the 140 and is the 160 that much better than the 140 for planetary?

Of course the 160 takes a little while longer to reach a cooled state than the 140 as the volume of glass is larger, but just use a 140mm aperture mask during cooling as lenses cool and distort their figures from the outer rim going inward.  After about 1/2 hour (if not sooner), depending on the temperature delta, simply remove the mask.  Done.

 

I've done side-by-sides between the two and, for me, the differences are not that subtle when the seeing permits it.  Solar system stuff at the margins of visibility in the 140ED are readily seen in the 160.   Stuff at the margins in the 160 are just not there in the 140.

 

Now the 140ED is no slouch by any means and what it really has going for it is its size and weight.  And excellent package.

 

However, don't over think it, get-the-160 ED!  They are rare, the price is good, optics great and you will never, ever, have trouble selling it if you feel, for some crazy reason, it's not a good fit for you (just resell it to me).  I'm surprised it's still available.

 

Jeff


Edited by Jeff B, 11 October 2020 - 08:54 AM.

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#22 RAKing

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 09:29 AM

I owned a TEC 140 for about ten years and it is a wonderful scope.  The acclimation time is not too bad - it's an oil-spaced triplet and it will run rings around your FC-100.  If you can handle the increased weight over your FC-100 (almost double!), then this is a move that will really pay off.

 

One of my best views ever of Jupiter came through my TEC 140 with a 6mm ZAO-II eyepiece at a NOVAC star party.  My good buddy also took a look - then went out and bought a TEC 140 for himself!  cool.gif

 

Cheers,

 

Ron


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#23 michael1959

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 11:13 AM

Others have already addressed the issue of adding 40 to 60mm of aperture for a refractor. The difference is obvious and significant for all kinds of viewing.

 

I own a TEC 160ED and I have owned two different TEC 140ED scopes in the past. Visually, the 160ED is my favorite scope and I've owned (and still own) many high-quality refractors (including a few A-P scopes). My 160ED is truly outstanding. I've never had to worry about cool-down times here in NC, so it's not an issue.

 

The real issue for the 160ED is the bulk. It is *much* bigger than the 140ED. I owned both at the same time. I have gotten away with owning the 160ED because I have it mounted on Wheeley Bars in my garage, so it's simply a matter of rolling it out for an evening's observing session. But I'm moving to a place where I will have to mount it every time I want to observe. I'm not looking forward to that, and I may end up selling it for that reason. I have an AP130GT that I will use as my "big" refractor. And I know I will miss those 30mm.

 

If I had to choose between the 140 and the 160 scopes now, I would pick the 140 because it's much easier to set up. I have not compared the 140ED with the 140FL for visual use, but I would think the 140ED would be very close in performance. The difference is probably negligible either way.  

 

Find a TEC 140ED if you can. You will be glad you did. Also, make sure you get one with the FeatherTouch focuser, not the TEC house-brand focuser (just my humble opinion).


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#24 Scott99

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 11:29 AM

>>I have an old C-8 and on a perfect night it can provide stunning views of the planets but it gives me endless headaches with cooling, dew and doesn't perform that well in mediocre seeing, which is all too common. I've set it up next to my DL several times and the DL almost always beats it by a large margin due to the C-8 having issues with cooling, dew and seeing.

 

Interesting post!  This is like reading a narrative of my own observing experiences, maybe it should be subtitled "tales from the north coast"!  lol.gif lol.gif   Most nights at my club site I've seen my 4-inch Tak refractor give better planetary images than SCT's and dobs of all sizes, right on up to 16".   It's not that the 4 inch apo has some magical ability, it's just the lack of collimation and ventilation in the mirror scopes combined with awful seeing condtions and dropping temps.  Seeing conditions here seem poor 90% of the time.

 

I would also urge you to jump on the TEC160ED in the classifieds.  That scope is rare and a huge bargain IMO.  It's f/8 which is better than f/7 for visual observing (IMO) and has a TEC lens.  I think it's only 25 or 26 pounds.  The increase in planetary detail going from 4-inch to 6-inch apo is enormous.   I would try to make it all the way to 160mm if you can, if not the TEC140 will also give a huge boost over the FC100DL.  

 

I recently downsized my heavy EQ mount to use a DM6 with a 6-inch apo, it's working out great so far.  Very quick setup time means you're going to use it more and get a better chance at good seeing.  If you want amazing planetary views, get the biggest apo you can and worry about the mount later IMO. 

 

Also - I think the "cool-down" issue is massively overwrought in these forums.  I find the larger the lens, the longer it takes to cool....don't see any difference b/w the types of lenses.  I live in a winter climate and cooling is a total non-issue for me.  If you want a big scope it will take a little longer to cool-down...no big deal.  Throw the scope on the mount, take the cap off, it usually takes another 10-15 minutes to get everything else ready.  Spend the next 15 minutes on some low-power views like M42 or the Pleaides. 

 

By then - 30 minutes - the 6-inch lens will be cooled enough for excellent high-power views.  After another 30 minutes, it will be 100% cooled down.  It's never been a problem for me.  If you're at home you can put the scope & case outside earlier in the evening to cool down.  However, that will mean the scope dews up faster as well.


Edited by Scott99, 11 October 2020 - 11:32 AM.

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#25 Salacious B Crumb

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Posted 11 October 2020 - 11:33 AM

I'm not a visual guy but I have a 17 years old 140 ED (I'm the 3rd owner) and it's hands down a better scope than my TAK-106 when imaging. Prove me wrong but I doubt you can tell any difference between the new FL and old ED if you are visually planning to use it for the Planets. If money is tight, there is nothing wrong to wait for an used ED scope so show up. Plus with an used one you'll always get your money back if you ever decide to sell it (I paid more for mine than the original owner did 17 years ago!).

 

 

- Mikko


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