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80mm long FL refractor -- choose but choose wisely

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#26 nowhere

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Posted 10 January 2021 - 06:07 PM

An excellent condition Vixen First Scope 80 would be my first choice - if one was available locally. The A81M would be my first choice if I was to buy new. I've not heard of ScopeTech before. Zooming in on the tube picture shows "Made In Japan" though which is promising. I'm intrigued by the f15 version that is also on that website. I loved my Polarex 3" and used it for years until one day the opportunity to buy a Skylight 100mm f15 at a good price came up. The Polarex gave me some great views and was a lot easier to pick up and move outside though so sometimes I still miss it.


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#27 castorpolu11

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Posted 10 January 2021 - 09:21 PM

My first 80mm scope was a Stellarvue 80mm D/9 achromat. It was one of the early models with a fixed dewshield and 2" R&P focuser. Not quite real long focus at f/9.4, 750mm focal length, but what a great performer. It was well made and gave excellent views with very little CA. Star colors were just a touch yellow compared to an APO but star images and collimation were spot on, sharp with good contrast. I sold it to get more aperture... a big mistake. 

 

My second 80mm was an early made-in-China Celestron First Scope, f/11.4. Views were very good with great contrast, good baffling, and a smooth tight 1.25" focuser with 6" of travel. Images of Jupiter under steady skies showed multiple belts, barges, faint festoons and sharp moon transit shadows. Star images like the Double-Double in Lyra were easy and clean splits. Star clusters were wonderful under dark skies. this model had a plastic lens cell but performed very well. I lined the dewshield with felt for extra contrast. I sold this one only after buying my third 80mm and comparing them side by side.

 

My third 80mm was an even earlier made-in-Japan Celestron/Vixen First Scope, f/11.4. It was mostly identical to the Chinese model but the quality was noticeably better. The lens cell is metal, the1.25" focuser also has 6" of travel but has additional baffling in it. It is very smooth and tight. The star images are just a little cleaner and the views of Jupiter had a bit sharper detail, not a lot, but noticeable. I am keeping this one no matter what else I get. I paid around $150 for this one, about $125 for the Chinese one on the CN classifieds. You can't go wrong with these or the Meades like Jon mentioned. These are all pretty well-made scopes that can take a lot of use and keep performing. A ScopeTech 80mm f/15 would be an interesting comparison. 

 

Vote with your wallet here. A used older Japanese First Scope is hard to beat. You can get one for not that much and save your money for a nice 102mm ED f/11.

 

Paul  

This is great, it's exactly what I was hoping to read when I started the topic. Anything else you can tell us about the difference between your first C80 and the nicer Japanese made version you got later? I have a really nice Chinese version and have always been curious about the differences. 



#28 castorpolu11

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Posted 10 January 2021 - 09:23 PM

If you absolutely want a long focal length achromat, then the longer the better. One of my first scopes was an 80mm f/15 Vixen achromat and it has VERY good optics. Thus you should definitely go for at least #2 on your list and preferably this one instead:  https://www.firstlig...-refractor.html

 

However, if your budget is around $700, then go for the 102/1122mm ED, as has been suggested. It is WAY more powerful than the 80mm f/15 and not a lot bigger or heavier. I can attest that it still gives that "long refractor feeling". As it has a sliding dew shield and a removable extension tube, it can get much shorter than the classic 80mm f/15, making it much easier to transport. It is overwhelmingly the better choice. 

 

 https://www.teleskop...ularauszug.html

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark

I started the topic with no plans to buy a new scope and now I'm thinking about buying this one! Thank you? Yeah, that's right thank you. 


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#29 castorpolu11

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Posted 10 January 2021 - 09:29 PM

An excellent condition Vixen First Scope 80 would be my first choice - if one was available locally. The A81M would be my first choice if I was to buy new. I've not heard of ScopeTech before. Zooming in on the tube picture shows "Made In Japan" though which is promising. I'm intrigued by the f15 version that is also on that website. I loved my Polarex 3" and used it for years until one day the opportunity to buy a Skylight 100mm f15 at a good price came up. The Polarex gave me some great views and was a lot easier to pick up and move outside though so sometimes I still miss it.

My first choice would be the C80 as well. The scopetechs are nice but I would always just want to have the f/15. I've thought a lot about grabbing one of them...


Edited by castorpolu11, 10 January 2021 - 09:30 PM.

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#30 Gofr

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Posted 10 January 2021 - 10:15 PM

Oof....that F15 looks mighty fine. I do wonder how it would compare with the 80mm F10 ED. https://www.firstlig...-telescope.html

 

However at half the price of the ED, I'd definitely give the F15 a shot. It's just a shame I'm more interested in a 4 inch and not 3 inch. I'm not so sure I'd be happy with less aperture than what my 90mm already gives me. It already sees a lot less use since I got my mak.


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#31 paul m schofield

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Posted 10 January 2021 - 10:25 PM

The visual differences between the Japanese 80 and the Chinese 80 were slight, really only observable with good steady seeing. The finder of the J C80 is better but the mounting stalk is different with a four screw attachment. I actually use a Telrad  instead. Both have heavy duty aluminium tubes, metal dewshields, and nice shiny black finishes.

 

I recently got a Stellarvue 102 Access ED f/7 which is obviously superior to the J C80 although the 80 makes a good showing in comparison. As much as I like a long focus scope I have been pleasantly surprised with the ease of use with the shorter tube, excellent optics, and the excellent 2.5" 2 speed R&P focuser. It rides easily on my LXD75 EQ mount. Used ones are going for about $800 on CN classifieds. The 102mm f/11 Ed's are getting good reviews however. Hmm, a tough choice...

 

Paul


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#32 Bomber Bob

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Posted 10 January 2021 - 10:44 PM

Of the following three options, which would you choose and why:

 

1. Vixen made FirstScope 80mm in excellent shape

2. https://www.firstlig...-refractor.html

3. https://www.vixenopt...ope-p/26062.htm

 

If you wish to select an option not listed it has to be 80mm and no shorter than f/11 and cost no more than $700!

I got my vintage 1980s Celestron / Vixen C80 Premium OTA for $100:

 

Celestron C-80P S21 - Mizar SP (RS Full).jpg

 

Excellent DPAC & star tests.  Sharp planetary limbs at ~75x per inch (225x).

 

However, my 1964 Sears (Astro Optical) 76mm F16 out-performs the C80 at extreme magnifications:

 

Sears 6336 Restore S20 - Full RS Center.jpg

 

This model uses .965" accessories; but, the Yamamoto (SYW maker's mark) version sold by Sears accepts the Vixen 36.4mm to 1.25" thread-in adapter.  Both models are F15/16, and show minimal false color.

 

I can use the longer 6336 on the Mizar EQ, but it's uncomfortable near zenith, whereas the shorter C80 is a natural for this vintage mount.


Edited by Bomber Bob, 10 January 2021 - 11:13 PM.

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#33 castorpolu11

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Posted 10 January 2021 - 11:58 PM

Oof....that F15 looks mighty fine. I do wonder how it would compare with the 80mm F10 ED. https://www.firstlig...-telescope.html

 

However at half the price of the ED, I'd definitely give the F15 a shot. It's just a shame I'm more interested in a 4 inch and not 3 inch. I'm not so sure I'd be happy with less aperture than what my 90mm already gives me. It already sees a lot less use since I got my mak.

This fella on Stargazer's lounge owned both the ST f/15 and the stella. 

 

https://stargazerslo...f15-first-look/

 

"Think the ScopeTech 80 will be my favourite WL scope.

 

In general it will be the case of anything the ScopeTech can do the StellaMira can do better with the possible exception of solar white light. Plus it can do a bit of widefield with the right eyepiece. Is about three times the weight though and built like the proverbial tank and a match for any WO scope in build quality, fit and finish.

 

The optics in the StellaMira are a step up from the SW and do give noticeably better contrast and sharpness  but not surprising given the price difference."


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#34 RichA

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 12:23 AM

An excellent condition Vixen First Scope 80 would be my first choice - if one was available locally. The A81M would be my first choice if I was to buy new. I've not heard of ScopeTech before. Zooming in on the tube picture shows "Made In Japan" though which is promising. I'm intrigued by the f15 version that is also on that website. I loved my Polarex 3" and used it for years until one day the opportunity to buy a Skylight 100mm f15 at a good price came up. The Polarex gave me some great views and was a lot easier to pick up and move outside though so sometimes I still miss it.

I've seen optical tests on Vixens.  They are not in the top of the pile for the most part, not like various apos I've seen and I've even seen scopes from sources like Sky Watcher test better.  Also, their focusers are primitive, mostly lacking fine-focus control.



#35 clearwaterdave

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 12:26 AM

I have this Meade 80mm f/11.,The views are great.,,and it's not to heavy for mounting .,I didn't like the original mount so I put it on pipes.,Very enjoyable to use .,

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Edited by clearwaterdave, 11 January 2021 - 11:21 AM.

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#36 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 02:52 AM

The visual differences between the Japanese 80 and the Chinese 80 were slight, really only observable with good steady seeing. The finder of the J C80 is better but the mounting stalk is different with a four screw attachment. I actually use a Telrad  instead. Both have heavy duty aluminium tubes, metal dewshields, and nice shiny black finishes.

 

I recently got a Stellarvue 102 Access ED f/7 which is obviously superior to the J C80 although the 80 makes a good showing in comparison. As much as I like a long focus scope I have been pleasantly surprised with the ease of use with the shorter tube, excellent optics, and the excellent 2.5" 2 speed R&P focuser. It rides easily on my LXD75 EQ mount. Used ones are going for about $800 on CN classifieds. The 102mm f/11 Ed's are getting good reviews however. Hmm, a tough choice...

 

Paul

 

waytogo.gif

 

This describes my experiences with Japanese versus Chinese 80 mm F/11.3's.  There's little difference optically.  

 

As I said I've owned a good number of 80 mm F/11.3s, I can't remember them all but i'd guess at least 20.  Good scopes but they're all gone.  As a tool for observing, nearly all of them have had to compete with my William Optics 80 mm F/7 Megrez ll FD, a very good FPL-53 doublet.

 

Whether it was the planets and double stars at high magnifications, deep sky including wide fields, terrestrial/birding, the little ED/apo was just better optically.  The virtue of the 80 mm F/11s was their all around performance given their affordable price.  A balance between an ST-80 and a 80 mm F/15, better at high mags than the ST-80, more compact and wider fields than the 4 foot long F/15.

 

4652604-Megrez II FD vs 80mm F11.jpg
 
I could never find a reason to keep the 80 mm F/11s as observing tool. So when someone needed a decent scope, I'd just pass them along, most as gifts, a few were sold. They're scopes that one doesn't have to worry about, no need to explain the severe CA of the ST-80 nor the overly long OTA and narrow field of the F/15.  
 
If one has several hundred dollars to invest and wants an 80 mm to use observing the solar system as well as the universe, based on my experiences, a good 80 mm ED/apo is best way to go.
 
Jon

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#37 daniel_h

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 03:14 AM

i agree with others the 100mm f11-f13 will show more, even a 90mm f11 will be good, celestron still do an astro master 90mm f11 on alt as i’m pretty sure, if you want 80mm try and find a f7.5 ed scope secondhand -can get within your budget



#38 Garyth64

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 08:28 AM

How about an ATCO 80x1200?

 

They have a RAO lens, and are like the Sears 6339a and the Tasco 10TE.

 

777136-2.jpg

 

This is a file photo.  I'm in the process of refurbishing one now.


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#39 Astrojensen

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 10:12 AM

Beautiful scope, Gary. 

 

Here's my 80/1200mm Vixen GP 80L. It's a near perfect combination between the classic 80mm f/15 achromat and a modern, stable, yet relatively lightweight mount. You could even upgrade it with the latest go-to, if you wanted to. 

 

gallery_55742_4249_1407446610_22734.jpg

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


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#40 aa6ww

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 12:45 PM

Sometimes the long scopes are just fun to set up and use. They don't have to complete with anything, they just need to be used and enjoyed from time to time. My Towa 80mm F/15 with the 2" focuser is the sole survivor of my Long tube refractors I've had over the years. I keep it just because its fun to set up and  has excellent optics also. I have lots of tall mounts so its fun to use from time to time.

 

Ralph

 

 

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#41 Astrojensen

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 01:08 PM

Sometimes the long scopes are just fun to set up and use. They don't have to complete with anything, they just need to be used and enjoyed from time to time. 

So true. Sometimes it's just fun to play with them and reminisce a little. I still occasionally use my 85/1576mm Zeiss apo, despite it being outperformed by my 102/1122mm ED and my 152/1200mm ED, which it shares mount with. 

 

gallery_55742_4772_565770.jpg

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


Edited by Astrojensen, 11 January 2021 - 01:08 PM.

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#42 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 03:41 PM

Sometimes the long scopes are just fun to set up and use. They don't have to complete with anything, they just need to be used and enjoyed from time to time.

 

 

A decent 60 mm F/15 can a fun scope. It offers the virtues of a slow focal ratio in a very manageable package.. this a Carton 60 mm F/15 I recently acquired. It's stock except for the 1.25 inch visual back.

 

Carton 60mm F15 1.jpg
 
It's also a Cloudy Nights success story.   The objective was severely astigmatic, something I mentioned in the Classics forum. Tony Spina took note and when he was looking for his Christmas lights stumbled on a 60 mm F/15 objective and sent it to me. It was a perfect fit and optically solid.
 
Thanks Tony
 
Jon

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#43 castorpolu11

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 04:04 PM

I love the spirit of setting something up because it’s beautiful and it’s fun. 


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#44 Gofr

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Posted 11 January 2021 - 09:08 PM

 

A decent 60 mm F/15 can a fun scope. It offers the virtues of a slow focal ratio in a very manageable package.. this a Carton 60 mm F/15 I recently acquired. It's stock except for the 1.25 inch visual back.

 

 
 
It's also a Cloudy Nights success story.   The objective was severely astigmatic, something I mentioned in the Classics forum. Tony Spina took note and when he was looking for his Christmas lights stumbled on a 60 mm F/15 objective and sent it to me. It was a perfect fit and optically solid.
 
Thanks Tony
 
Jon

 

For sure. The Meade Polaris 90 that I have has a built in 60mm aperture mask in the lens cap which you can use to turn it from a 90mm F10 into a 60mm F15, which I though was a neat feature for them to include from the factory. Granted I rarely use the feature as I very quickly begin to miss the aperture the few times I used it, but it serves to show what little CA is in the full 90 that I seem to never notice with the relative apo-like colour free view of the 60mm. I should really try playing with that feature more often.


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#45 Astrojensen

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 01:45 AM

I love the spirit of setting something up because it’s beautiful and it’s fun. 

It helps that the views are good, too. wink.gif

 

 

Clear skies!

Thomas, Denmark


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#46 nowhere

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 02:14 AM

This fella on Stargazer's lounge owned both the ST f/15 and the stella. 

 

https://stargazerslo...f15-first-look/

 

"Think the ScopeTech 80 will be my favourite WL scope.

 

In general it will be the case of anything the ScopeTech can do the StellaMira can do better with the possible exception of solar white light. Plus it can do a bit of widefield with the right eyepiece. Is about three times the weight though and built like the proverbial tank and a match for any WO scope in build quality, fit and finish.

 

The optics in the StellaMira are a step up from the SW and do give noticeably better contrast and sharpness  but not surprising given the price difference."

Nice to see a first hand experience with the scope. If I didn't own a 4" f15 I would almost certainly order one. For some reason I just plain like using long focal length refractors. This is what kept me happy with the Polarex 3" for so many years. I still miss the easy portability of that telescope. A 4" is a big step up in size and weight and so is a mount capable of handling it.

 

The peculiar aperture zero power sight arrangement is something I would actually have found useful myself. Since I never had goto I've always started out by aiming the scope as best I can by sighting along the tube before moving to the finder scope. Even now when I have a Starbeam finder I almost always start out this way from the force of habit acquired over many years.


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#47 rocketsteve

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 03:53 PM

I've been the proud, 2nd owner of a pristine Sky-Watcher 80 AR (f/11.4) for the last 8 1/2+ years. I bought it from one of our very esteemed CNers for less than $80 shipped. The OTA is flawless, the doublet is perfect, and the focuser (metal focuser housing and 1.25" aluminum drawtube) is as smooth as warm butter. When viewing with my TV plossls, the field is evenly dark and stars are perfect pin-points of light. When observing the moon or the planets, there is a tiny bit of CA, but it's not nearly as bad as what I've seen in lesser quality telescopes of this same size. The only negative I have is that the dew shield is just too darn short to be effective for more than an hour or so of observing. All that being said, I love this little telescope and it's going to stay with me for the duration!!

 

Sky-Watcher 80AR Refractor.jpg

 

 

Outfitted with a Baader white light solar filter, solar astronomy is a snap. Once the Baader film is up to full temp and nicely stretched, image detail is amazing and brightness is more than acceptable.

 

Sky-Watcher 80AR 06.jpg

 

 

 

For those of you familiar with "Uncle Rod" Mollise, he owned one of these telescopes and wrote about his experiences in a few of his blogs:

 

https://uncle-rods.b...search?q=Eloise

 

 

 

I've gotta believe that there are plenty of SW 80ARs out there, and if you should happen upon one in good to great condition, snap it up as fast as you can. You won't be disappointed...


Edited by rocketsteve, 12 January 2021 - 03:56 PM.

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#48 MartinPond

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 04:21 PM

Of the following three options, which would you choose and why:

 

1. Vixen made FirstScope 80mm in excellent shape

2. https://www.firstlig...-refractor.html

3. https://www.vixenopt...ope-p/26062.htm

 

If you wish to select an option not listed it has to be 80mm and no shorter than f/11 and cost no more than $700!

The   Vixen made FirstScope is a very nice scope,

    and anything longer gets awkward to drive around.

Yearning for that extra-bit of crispness?

   An 80F5 can never be filtered into an ED,

   but slip a simple Lumicon Minus-Violet onto an 80F11,

   and you are almost to the Airy disk all 80s share.

 

   I ended up slipping to 80F9 with the Minus-violet on it.

   Sold the 80F11.  I know, crazy, but that much more portable.  

  Just a rare "middle way" suggestion.   

   Was going to mount it over'n'under with the 80F5,

    but with 2 tripods you please 2 viewers.  10x---40x w-i-d-e

    with a 2" eyepiece in the Crayford, 50--160x in the F9.


Edited by MartinPond, 12 January 2021 - 04:28 PM.


#49 Bowlerhat

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Posted 12 January 2021 - 09:24 PM

My first choice would be the C80 as well. The scopetechs are nice but I would always just want to have the f/15. I've thought a lot about grabbing one of them...

The scopetech's maker is kubota optical, which has pertnered with vixen for a long time. They also the one making the Takahashi 80mm f/11 takahashi starbase. The 80mm F15 scopetech is a reboot of classic astro optical design, inspired by a scope called mizar kaiser, grinding the lens with old format equipment-hence the production run is low.

 

80mm f15 scopes are fun-always liked the long throw. Mine is Kenko, and it has provided me some good views on mars last year. The long momentum works well with proper counterweights though.

 

Kenko KES-80

 

For practicality though, my 60mm Goto f15 is my choice

 

Goto Kogaku 6,5cm (1)

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#50 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 13 January 2021 - 10:11 AM

Here you go:

 

https://www.cloudyni...1200-refractor/

 

Jon




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