Greetings from eastern NC! This is my first CN post, but hopefully not my last. There are three sections to this long post - please feel free to share your thoughts on any or all.
I am a Ph.D geologist with an above-average knowledge of astronomy, including a bit of experience teaching the basics of the topic at the university level. I have seen a fair number of “major” astronomical events over the years, but I have had very little telescope time. I have followed Hubble, Keck, and other space-related initiatives in some detail over the decades, and I read a lot of science. I am retired, and I now live on the water in eastern NC in a relatively dark-sky portion of the region, specifically on the east shore of Bath Creek. We have one well-lit mining area perhaps 8 miles away toward the south-southeast (not directly visible to me) and a small city around 12 miles to the east that produces a glow on the horizon. My nearest neighbor is 400 feet away, and the next closest is 500 feet in the opposite direction. There are house and pier lights around 1,500 feet to the east, but nothing obnoxious. I have a pier 110-feet long, with a 20x20 platform on the end where I envision starting my observing and (hopefully) astrophotography. I can get wired 120v power to the telescope, but I have access to an even darker area on a nearby farm that would require battery power. I am not “rich”, but I am financially secure and I am able to buy decent equipment. I am certainly no computer geek, but hardware and software aren’t intimidating.
I have a big birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, and I think that it is time to take advantage of my freedom, resources, and location to try some observing. I want the capability of taking photographs, but that is a secondary interest at this time. I am very interested in the moon, partly because of my age (Apollo missions!) and my geologic education, but deep space objects are definitely on my list of early targets. I have been observing and employing star/space apps casually for several years, including spending a fair amount of naked-eye viewing time over the last 20+years in dark areas of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado at elevations between 6,000 and 10,000 feet. However, I am now living at sea level, and I don’t anticipate a lot of travel viewing. While I am not adverse to manually locating my targets, I have relatively limited time left on earth and a computerized mount makes sense to me. I have done a fair amount of reading, research, and lurking on sites like CN. Based on all of this, I am ready to take the plunge, with your help.
Considering everything that I have read, an 8-inch computerized SCT seems to be what will best fill my current needs. I am leaning toward a GEM rather than an alt-az mount, mainly in the expectation of trying some photography, although I list two alt-az options below. Three mount-telescope combo units that I am considering are listed below in alphabetical order. I am a little apprehensive about buying a GEM and a OTC separately and getting everything to work together without drama. That said, I am certainly open to alternatives, but some may be impractical for me (e.g., a 5-foot-tall Dobsonian). I anticipate that there will be “hidden” costs to my three options below, such as a dew shield, so any thoughts, recommendations, warnings, or all-in price cautions are appreciated!
A) Celestron Evolution 8 (sct)
B) Celestron NexStar 8se
C) Meade LX85 ACF
Best Regards, Steve
Edited by GeoNole94, 23 October 2020 - 09:04 PM.